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  Reviews by: jhapeman  

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Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM

Review Date: Feb 26, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,650.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: F/1.4--need I say anything else? Very sharp (even wide open), virtually no CA, great contrast, fast AF.
A little heavy and bulky, but its the price you pay for fast wide glass and professional-grade construction.

I wasn't sure how much of an improvement the Mark II would be over the original Mark I version of this lens, but as someone who does a lot of low-light and night photography, I wanted it to be sharper and have less than chromatic aberration. It does not disappoint. The center of the frame is much sharper below f/2.8 than the Mark I version (after f/2.8, they are very similar) and is particularly improved at f/1.4. It is sharper farther out to the corners at all apertures relative to the Mark I version. The Mark II has virtually no chromatic aberration, which is a substantial improvement over the Mark I lens. It has excellent contrast, even wide open, giving the images more "pop" than the Mark I version. A very worthy upgrade.

Canon EOS Rebel XSi (450D)

Review Date: Aug 15, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very inexpensive, outstanding image quality, very light, great high-ISO performance.
Small grip is just a bit too narrow and doesn't need to be so narrow just to be light.

I bought the XSi first as a cheap camera I could get modified for astrophotography. I was really surprised at the build quality and even more so with the image quality. I find the images it produces to be slightly better in overall IQ than those I got from my 40D. As a result, I sold my 40D and my XSi is now my preferred travel camera/camera that is always on me. Apart from the too-narrow grip, my only other complaint is that the AF accuracy is less than I would have hoped for, but its still very good, so I can't really complain. Overall a great deal, and a perfect portable camera.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM

Review Date: Apr 28, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very compact and relatively lightweight for the focal length. The small size and black color make it inconspicuous; coupled with the focal range, it makes for a great travel lens.
A bit pricey and a tad soft wide open at 300mm.

I bought this lens for travel; I wanted a compact and relatively lightweight long telephoto. As a result, I accept the relatively slow f/4.5-5.6 range (had to be so for the small size and light weight). When I received my copy it was disappointingly soft wide open and was front-focusing. A trip to Canon service resulted in a lens that is now very sharp except wide open at 300mm, where its a tiny bit soft--but only if you are pixel-peeping. Otherwise its very sharp, has excellent color and appears to be completely free of CA--a characteristic it shares with my 400DO. It is the ideal travel lens, and draws virtually no attention attached to a 40D. Combined with a 10-22mm, a 24-105 f/4L and a 40D, you have an ideal travel package that covers 10-300mm (16-480mm factoring in the 1.6x crop).

My word of advice: Before panning any lens make sure its operating within spec. I have owned many lenses over the years, and have had to return several for adjustment (Nikon and Canon). If you can return it to the store, great, but they should know its faulty so someone else does not get it. Otherwise send to the manufacturer and get it corrected.

Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM

Review Date: Mar 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $5,200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very light, fast focusing, sharp.

Excellent build quality, very lightweight. Focuses very fast, nice and sharp. Not quite as sharp as the 500mm f/4, but close enough--and there is no other lens besides the 100-400L that you can take hiking with you, and this is a much sharper and faster prime. If you can afford it, the perfect hiking/handheld birding lens. Very sharp with the 1.4x TCII as well.


Sigma 8mm f4 EX Circular Fisheye

Review Date: Oct 12, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $609.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Only lens of it's kind that is AF. Sharp and great color. Very resistant to flare.
Could be a bit sharper.

This is a specialty lens that you won't use often. For that reason, it could seem expensive, but lets face it, there is no other option in this class. Great on the 1.3x and FF cameras. Some cropping on the 1.6x that to me ruins the whole point of a circular fisheye, but you may have a different opinion.

Great control of CA and flare--the lens does very well in these areas, better than many other ultra-wide lenses. The color saturation is really lovely--the images look like you have a polarizer on the lens.

You do get a blue halo all around the edge, but it's not a big deal.

I love this lens for astrophotography; see this image for an example: