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Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Review Date: May 15, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $410.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Weight, Image Quality, Low Price
Build Quality, Noise, Sturdiness

This is the standard lens (at least for full-frame / becomes moderate tele on APC-C). It is small and delicate. And with f/1.4, it is the cheapest "light capturing giant".

50 mm are suitable mainly for torso or full body shots. For pure head shots, it is not appropriate so much because it leads to slightly visible distortion (although this can be corrected in PP). The greater the distance to the subject, the smaller this problem becomes. But let's be honest, with the 50mm lenses, generations have photographed everything before the appearance of zoom lenses; and it is still the standard. With a fixed focal length, one is forced to think more about composition. Since you can not zoom easily, you have to move around the subject in the viewfinder.

Primes are unbeatable in terms of light intensity, but you cannot use this in every picture. In principe, primes are weaker in terms of resolution , sharpness and chromatic aberrations at your maximum aperture. Therefore one must close the aperture if absolute quality is desired. From f/4 on this lens becomes even better. In extreme low light situations you can use the maximum aperture of f/1.4 because resolution , sharpness and chromatic aberrations are not that visible in such ambient anyways.

It has a metal mount (as opposed to the 1.8 version that uses plastic) and eight aperture blades (important for nice round shapes in the bokeh) . Micro USM (no ring USM would be even faster) with FTM (full time manual, you can set the focus manually at any time) , which is not common in itself. In contrast to the 85mm lens , it is a bit more noisy and a little bit slower.

However, with an aperture of f/1.4 this is a "light giant". The focus moves inside the "tube" of up to one centimeter. Luckily the front element does not move, so you can use polarizer flters easily. The Lens Hood ES- 71II is not included.

You will find no better quality lens for the Canon in this price range. The only about 1 /3 stop faster than the 50mm f/1.2 that is almost four times more expensive.

I've used all three 50mm lenses from Canon. The f/1.8 is just cheap and fun, no regrets, but not serious enough. The f/1.4 is good for enthousiast amateurs - amazing image quality and a decent lens! The f/1.2 is for those that can acually earn money with what they do, otherwise it's just too much money for the differene in image and bokeh quality.

I am a wedding photographer, so you can see some pictures where I used the 50mm 1.4 (the dancing pictures)
Photographe de Mariage à Montreux

In comparison to that, here I used the 50mm 1.2 (the close portraits):
Photographe de Mariage à Lausanne

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

Review Date: May 9, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, Bokeh, Build Quality, Image Isolation Qualities
Weight, Price, Size

I now work for several years with this lens and DSLRs and I can only report good things about this lens. The focus accuracy is really impressive on the entire zoom range. The build quality is as it should be for an L lens, extremely good and robust. This is a workhorse, using it everyday will not wear it down. This is also one reason why this lens still enjoys great popularity with the press, sports and wedding photographers since its release almost 16 years ago. The value for money at for this lens is very well done. Only the new version of the 70-200 2.8 L II may still show better sharpness values ​​and a nicer bokeh, but also it costs almost twice as much. The bokeh is really wonderful, even when shooting wide open at f2.8. For portraits, this lens is really very good. Only specialized prime lenses are of course even more beautiful in terms of the exemption possibilities and the bokeh . If you like extreme subject isolation qualities and absolutely creamy bokeh, take a look at the primes like 85 f/1.2 L, 50mm f/1.2 L or the 135 f/2L . But the 70-200 2.8L IS has a great advantage against fixed lenses: It's flexible! practise and get to know this lens, it has to deliver good images under allmost all conditions. For wedding photography or similar activities this lens is simply better because it is more flexible than fixed lenses. Only the weight can be a limiting factor, it's really heavy.
What about the corresponding alternatives? There are still 2 70-200 4,0 L USM lens from Canon. Both very sharp and also a still image stabilization. However, F4 is sometimes simply not fast enough, especially since the 70-200 4,0 L IS USM also has a pretty high price. Alternatively, there is also the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8. It is quite sharp (if you get a good copy), but much slower in terms of autofocus speed. Furthermore, there is also a Sigma 70-200 2.8 which is not necessarily super sharp at maximum aperture, and autofocus is by far not as reliable as with this Canon lens.

For me as a wedding photographer, this lens is simply a must, even with the relatively high price and weight. The fact is that there is really no alternative to it if you need nice and sharp pictures from further away or if you need to isolate your subject from the background. Don't think about saving some money by going without the IS - the stabilizer helps a lot at long focal distances and handholding this thing is tough.

One word about the version II of this lens - yes, it's sharper and a bit better. But really - this lens has been top notch and best in class for 16 years, it has not gotten any worse since the new version came out!

Take a look at real life examples (not brick walls!!) of this lens in action in a couple shooting that I did recently:
Photographe de Mariage à Genève

These pictures were shot with it:

Photographe de Mariage à Genève

Photographe de Mariage à Genève

Photographe de Mariage à Genève

Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Review Date: Mar 4, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Light weight Good color and sharpness across the range Cool effect of creating depth through ultra-wide look of picture
Limited use for some types of photography Distortion (can easily be corrected in post production) Vignetting (can easily be corrected in post production) Price (Tamron 10-24 mm is much cheaper and not much worse)

I just bought this 10 -22mm lens and I must say that I'm already hooked! I was pleasantly surprised from the first photos ...
Just for the record - I had the Tamron 10-24mm before, but the Canon is sharper, especially wide open.

I have used it on a 600D and 60D and the lens and the body get along very well. This objective is rather lightweight and compact but without too much plastic. Instead, it gives an impression of solidity. Its minimum focus distance of 24 cm.
Photos show excellent sharpness and microcontrast, including in low light. So I could take pictures of night lit buildings, freehand (to ISO 2000) without obtaining any blurry photos!
As this is an ultra wide angle lens, distortion is quite noticeable close to the edges when the subject is close enough. It is therefore necessary to rework these photos in post-processing software to correct perspectives, remembering to leave a little room to the right and left when the photo was taken. The automatic lens profiles in Lightroom work very well for me for automatic correction.
Now, these distortions can be used to produce "special effects" ... and make more original pictures.
In any case, I think it's very nice not having to move backwards too much (if even possible) to bring an entire landscape or a building face on one photo!
USM is very responsive and allows to focus quickly and accurately.
Technically, this lens has an optical system 13 elements including a Super UD (Ultra-low Dispersion) glass lens and two aspherical lenses divided into 10 groups. The front lens does not rotate during focusing, the use of polarizing filters and gradients is perfectly possible.
In the end, I believe it is almost perfect for landscape photos, indoor and for panoramic shots incorporating the effects of original perspective.

I also use this lens for wedding photography for shots of sourroundings. As someone said, always try to capture a scene with a close-up, normal and wide perspective or things tend to get boring.

On my site Photographe de Mariage, I did a shooting at a wedding hairdresser and incorporated an ultra wide shot (I even had to bring my APS-C body for this)

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Feb 17, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great image quality Sharp from f/4 on Great range on both Full Frame and APS-C
f/4 not always enough Not so light to carry Vignetting on full-frame (can easily be removed in PP though)

I have been using this lens for 3 years now. Initially I had the Canon 450D and now a 550D . It's just a pleasure to use, silent USM and ultra fast. The image quality is top right from F4.

The only fault we can sometimes read about on some specialized sites is that the extreme edges are not great on a full frame sensor (24x36mm) but that "problem" does not exist on a "small" APS-C as the sensor is smaller so I would venture to say that this is not really a problem with XXXD, XXD or 7D.
I removed a star for the price that is still quite high, especially at this time , and then the range could annoy some people. In my case, this 27-64mm is perfect for my way of shooting, excellent in every way.
A purchase you will not regret!

Don't forget that Canon L lenses keep their resale value very nicely, so even if you want to buy, try it for some time and then move to another lens, this is not a problem because you can sell it easily after some time.

As for the f/4 - as you shoot wide, you want great DOF so f/4 is not really a limiting factor for such a wide lens.

Posted by Photographe de Mariage

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

Review Date: Feb 12, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $100.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Price, Weight, Quality, Does not look professional
Focus hunting in low light, Feels very cheap, Does not look professional

Strengths that I find are: a very good quality / price ratio. The optical quality is very good, good sharpness even wide open, very low distortion, vignetting is very low at 1.8 (at least on APS-C) but, a very nice and especially very bright bokeh. I use it for portraits, for night landscapes and indoor photos without having to use the flash.

Two of the weaknesses that I found: in very low light or when the object distance is very small, the AF does not work very well. In order to still use this great lens, I switch to MF mode which not bother me as long as the the scene is static. By day with plenty of light, the AF works very well. The AF noise is overrated in my opinion as long as you don't shoot wildlife animals (but this lense is not made for that anyways). Another weak point is the plastic construction that seems fragile. The lens must therefore be used with care but with this price, you can not ask for too much either. Then again, I have never met anyone with a broken 50mm 1.8 either.

One last point, generally speaking about primes: they make you learn so much! After all, good photography is more about framing and composition and a prime forces you to think more about that. Zoom with your feet!

In short, for the price it's very worth it, I would say it is almost a "must". It does not take much space in your bag so you can take it anywhere to accompany a bigger (and slower) zoom lens. Of course there is the f/1.4 (3 x the price) and 1.2 (prohibitive price for most people) that are even higher quality but for a photographers with a modest budget, the 1.8 responds to most needs.

I do use the 50mm 1.2 for professional use. You can see some use of it here: Photographe de Mariage en Suisse Romande. On that page you can see a portrait taken with the 1.2 so you can see forself that the is nice but for most people, the 1.8 is enough.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Feb 12, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Weight Versatility Sharpness
Only f/4 Distortion Quality of bokeh

Photographing with an objective of the "L" series from Canon, is really a luxury and comfort that can not be topped. It is sure that the Canon Marketing does their job well, and the Canon EF 24-105 zoom is quite expensive, but it is really a very good product. Only the good primes that are at this level of quality. This is the main difference to other brands, that are sometimes 4-5 times cheaper like Tamron & Co. Quality has its price.

Noise: Just like the zoom Canon EF 100-400 Series "L", I hear nothing, no noise at all, not even from the IS. It's kind of the selling point of the USM "engines". In everyday shooting, it does not give you a big difference, unless you are a nature photographer photographing animals and you do not want to attract any attention.

Technically spoken, the zoom Canon EF 24 -105mm is super sharp and has a very effective image stabilization. Remember that shooting below f/4 is not always an option as you need enough depth of field, so the f/4 is not necessarily a limiting factor in all types of using this lens. On the everyday tasks, you'll forget that this lens is even on your camera, and that is what makes a good objective for me: An objective that does the job so well that you completely forget about it. This allows you to focus on something else, more important things like the composition.

As zoom lenses can rarely do everything perfectly, the Achilles heel of the Canon EF 24 -105mm is its distortion and bokeh. Apart from high quality portraits and precise and geometrically perfect architecture photography, the lens will be a faithful companion. And if you acquire this objective in a bundle, probably a Canon 5D Mark II or III, what more do you need?

For more details, please have a look at my page here: Photographe en Suisse romande. On the page, the picuture of the couple with the mountain range is taken with the 24-105mm, at f/4 to separate the couple from the background.