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Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM

Review Date: Jun 24, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ, speed, size, weight -- everything
Absolutely nothing.

It is my most used lens on the 5D, usurping the 85 / 1.8. I have nothing bad to say about the 85 / 1.8, and, in fact, the 85 / 1.8 and this lens are basically the same. I guess I just prefer 100mm.

I used to own the 135 / 2L. However, I found that I almost always used the 100 / 2 and got closer instead. The IQ is identical (if there was a difference, I never saw it) as was the AF speed. Actually, truth be told, if anything, the 100 / 2 might be a bit quicker on recovery from a miss.

But the size and weight of this lens makes is a joy to use, and, as I mentioned, the IQ is *top rate*.

Let me put it this way -- the lens is so good, that you will find a way to frame a shot at 100mm even when you want something different, and be happy with what you got.

That said, I own a few other lenses, too. : )

Oh yeah -- pics. Millions of them. Here are a few:

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Apr 18, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent FL on FF, fast AF w/ USM, IF
The hood pisses me off, but what can you do? : )

It was quite a debate for me to go FF. The two biggest factors holding me back were the 10-22 and 60 / 2.8 macro -- two of the finest pieces of glass out there, and, methinks, two of the biggest reasons for many not to go FF.

But, in the end, I jumped to the 5D since I'm a high ISO shallow DOF shooter, and those needs override all other concerns for me.

So what was the first thing I did when I jumped to the 5D? I sold my beloved 35 / 1.4L to fund a 24-105 / 4L IS. And, while I have nothing bad to say about that lens (except for the vignetting at the wide end), it was not for me. So I quickly sold it and got a 16-35 / 2.8L.

I can't remember how many seconds it took me to realize that this lens was a must have on the 5D, but it wasn't many.

As I mentioned further up, I'm a high ISO shallow DOF shooter. But for WA, you generally don't want shallow DOF, which is why I felt OK getting rid of the 35 / 1.4L, which is equivalent to a 22 / 0.9L on a 20D in terms of FL and DOF), but I do need a fast shutter, and I thought that f / 2.8 and ISO 3200 would be good enough.

In the beginning it was, but I'm now wanting the 35 / 1.4L back, as I'm beginning to see that shallow DOF, even at WA, has its place, and even faster shutter speeds is certainly needed. But, I have no regrets getting the 16-35 / 2.8L, and would not trade back. I just wish I still had the 35 / 1.4L. [sniff]

Perhaps I'm fairly unique in my use for this lens, most using it mainly for deep DOF landscapes or architectual and the like. There is an important difference in these needs. I need strong center sharpness, with edge sharpness not being so important, since the edges are normally out of the DOF for me, anyway. Now, I do landscapes, but rarely, so I can't really comment on the edge sharpness except to say that for the few I've taken, it looks good to me. However, the center sharpness, even wide open, is excellent.

As for distortion, I don't have a clue. WA distorts a lot, duh, but my RAW converter, BreezeBrowser Pro ( has PT lens distortion correction built-in as an option, so I don't really know. Plus, like I say, I'm a shallow DOF shooter for the most part, and don't really notice distortion like a landscape shooter would, anyway.

And, lastly, vignetting. All I can say is that it's been a non-issue for me, even wide open. Pics are below, so you decide.

So, in conclusion, because all good essays end with "in conclusion", especially with commas outside the quotation marks, this lens is a "must have" on the 5D, is my most fun lens, and I cannot recommend it enough.

OK, pics, right? Here we go, all on a 5D:

16mm, f / 2.8, ISO 1600:

16mm, f / 2.8, ISO 1600:

35mm, f / 2.8, ISO 3200:

16mm, f / 5.6, ISO 100:

20mm, f / 7.1, ISO 100:

22mm, f / 8, ISO 100:

Canon EOS 5D

Review Date: Mar 17, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Everything. Seriously.
Viewfinder dust -- it bugs.

First, let me say that this camera is 10/10. No joke. Thinking about it? Just get it. Now I'll tell you why I got it.

I'm a shallow DOF shooter, and the only way to get a more shallow DOF than what I was getting with the 20D and all my fast primes was to get a larger sensor camera. The DOF of FF is 1 1/3 stops more shallow for the same FOV and aperture. Cool.

I'm also a high ISO shooter. There is a difference and it is noticable.

The camera is basically identical in function to a 20D, and I *loved* the ergonomics and layout of the 20D, and the 5D is the same. Bigger LCD, though, which is way cool (the 30D will have the same size LCD, though).

Now to the bad. There is sensor dust, but no worse than the 20D, I think. I shoot wide open all the time, so I rarely notice it, but when I do shoot shallow, I don't see more dust than I did with the 20D. I don't think, anyway.

But the viewfinder dust. F--k! I can't stand it! I want to send it in to clean it, but I use my camera everyday and you know it's gonna be a month before the fix it. I happened to be in the area and dropped by Canon Irvine to fix this, but they said I'd have to leave it for a few days. Aaaargh! They cleaned my sensor, though. That was nice.

Oh yeah -- my left most AF point light went out recently. That bugs. I need that fixed, too. The AF point works, the light just doesn't come on. On one of my 20Ds, that same AF point stopped working all together, so I sold it (and yes, I said why I was selling it) and bought another. I may do the same with my 5D. So, if you're reading this review, and want a deal on a 5D, email me. There's a catch, though: I use it everyday, so, you have to send me the money, I buy a new one, when the new one arrives, I'll send mine out. Should be a week delay or so. But I'll give you a good deal. If mine breaks or something else stupid happens in the week, I'll refund the money (of course!).

Anyway, back to the camera. It's everything I want in a DSLR. Except for a few things. One, I want more cross-type AF sensors, at least on all the horizontal AF points, and I want AF points closer to the edges, especially on the thirds. Why are all the AF points clustered in the center? Anyway, I don't care if they add more, or spread the ones they got out, but do something!

Then I want that inane Direct Print button to be changed to a Custom Button. In fact, I'd like to see three custom buttons, but *at the very minimum* change that useless Direct Print Button to a custom button. And I want to be able to program it for One Button Set WB. Here's how it would work: put your gray card, expodisk, paper towel, or whatever, in front of the lens and press the button. The camera will use AWB (no matter what WB you're using), will *not* AF, take the pic, set the WB, and put the camera into Custom WB. Simple. Why has this not been done yet? Also, to make it work, since your left hand will be holding the WB stuff, this custom button needs to be on the right side of the camera.

Next, I want Auto ISO. That is, I set my aperture and *minimum* shutter speed, and the camera sets the lowest ISO possible to get the shot. How hard is that? Why has that not been done? Bueller? Bueller?

And, yeah, fix that friggin' dusty viewfinder problem. ASAP. It's pissing me off. I mean, in all honestly, I rarely notice it. It's just knowing it's there that bugs me. Like a few dust specks in a lens. Even though it doesn't affect anything, it just bugs. Like when your wife won't let you go out with other chicks. I mean, it's a fact of life, but it bugs you after a while.

That's about it. Just so you know, I gave the build quality a "10" even though there's the viewfinder dust issue. But the camera feels great. I don't think it should be included in Build Quality. There should be a different category, like "Things that annoy you besides your wife" or something like that.

And the cost. I gave it a "10" for price, because, well, c'mon, FF for less than half the cost of the next cheapest FF camera? That *was* a breakthrough. But, of course, $3000 is nothing to sneeze at, unless, of course, you still got a bad coke habit, in which case you have other worries.

Bottom line: far and above the best camera I've ever used, do not regret upgrading from the 20D in the least (and I loved the 20D!). Just get it.

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

Review Date: Dec 29, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,150.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Crazy sharp, even wide open on a 5D, killer IS, excellent range.
Slow (f / 4) and I don't like where the zoom ring is. Handling of flare not as good as the Tamron 28-75 / 2.8, but still good.

I only owned the lens for a week, so take all I say with a grain of salt.

For it's range, this lens simply cannot be beat. I was blown away by the sharpness of this lens, even wide open. The image quality is basically the same as the Tamron 28-75 / 2.8 from f / 4 and up, but the Tamron handled flare a little better, but was most noticeable when aimed directly into the sun, such as sunset.

The reason I opted to keep the Tamron over the Canon was due to the size, weight, the speed advantage of the Tamron, and the *slightly* better handling of flare. If the 24-105 / 4L IS had either the same size and weight as the Tamron, had the same speed (f / 2.8), or handled flare better than the Tamron, I would easily have kept it. However, money not being infinite, the 28-75 / 2.8 is a better lens for me, but I bet that this lens is definitely better for the vast majority.

As for price, while very expensive, it is definitely in line with Canon's pricing. It's basically the same price as the 24-70 / 2.8L. The trade-off is one stop for greater range, IS, and considerably less size and weight. Having owned the 24-70 / 2.8L in the past, I'd definitely take this lens over it.

So, even though I kept the Tamron over the Canon, this lens still gets 10/10.

Below is a link to test pics I took with it on a 5D -- it is very difficult to find fault with this lens. Who knows, I may even get one in the future.

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Review Date: Jul 27, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $420.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extremely sharp, internal USM focusing, small
Will hunt on occasion, hood doesn't fit on tight

The below text is from my review here: The advantage of going there is all the pics! : )


I'll state the conclusion first: for a good-light "walkaround" lens, this has come to be my favorite lens in the short time I've owned it -- usurping the Sigma 18-50 / 2.8 for now (that may change when the novelty wears off, though!). I have since purchased the 85 / 1.8 to complement this lens for low light situations since it's usability under low light is marginal at best. Nonetheless, I have no qualms about going right to ISO 3200 with this lens to get the shot.
However, for macro I would prefer a longer lens like the Canon 100 / 2.8 macro, or, even better, the Sigma 150 / 2.8 macro. The reason is that when shooting macro, the to-and-fro motion of not being perfectly still has far greater consequences than the camera shake. Obviously, this applies mainly to hand-held shots but also can affect tripod shots as well since your subject may move slightly (a flower in a gentle breeze, for example). If you or your subject is wavering back an forth a few millimeters, this will be much less of a problem at 150mm than at 60mm and will even outweigh camera shake in terms of getting a sharp pic.

The EF-S 60mm / 2.8 macro is "wicked sharp" across the entire frame from f / 2.8 to f / 11 and gradually goes downhill until a horrible performance at f / 32 (albeit f / 16 and f / 22 are still fairly good). There is no PF (purple fringing), or color fringing of any type, at any aperture, and flare is extremely well controlled. However, vignetting is an issue below f / 4. Nonetheless, if you're shooting that wide open, I imagine that vignetting will rarely be an issue for the type of pictures you are taking since the DOF is more shallow. Interestingly, the Sigma 18-50 / 2.8 (reviewed here) shows the same pattern.

The AF is quick and accurate except at macro distances and low light where sometimes it just plain sucks (it can hunt a lot under this circumstances). Honestly, and I know this sounds weird for this FL (focal length), but an AF limiter would have been useful. Anyway, the minimum focus distance is reported as 7.9 inches (from the sensor), which has translated to about two inches from the end of the hood. The lens is 1:1 IF (internal focusing -- in other words, the lens does not extend). The 1:1 magnification has nothing to do with EF-S. 1:1 is 1:1 no matter the sensor size.

All shots are unsupported hand-held on a Canon 20D except for the "aperture" test where all the shots were on a tripod. For most pics here, that is not an issue, but for some it is. For example, due to my inability to remain perfectly still, that the macro shots are most likely not as good as they could be. In fact, I learned that IS would help little as the to and fro motion caused way, way, way more problems than the side to side motion (not that IS wouldn't be great for non-macro!). Even the smallest motion produces from soft to OOF shots. Obviously, the macro shots were selected as the best of several similar shots. The non-macro shots, however, were just a single quick point and shoot (which should be obvious due to the lack of care I took to make them level!).

Additionally, it should be noted that all pics are at ISO 100 unless otherwise specified. The images were converted from RAW to 90% jpg with BreezeBrowser Pro using combined conversion method, +0 saturation, -2 contrast, -2 sharpening, and HQ style sharpening in the RAW PP (post-processing) stage. No other processing on the images has been performed. All pics (except for the vignetting pics) begin with the full size image, followed by the same image resized for web, followed by one or two unedited 100% crops. The focus point is always the first crop, with, on occasion, another area crop to demonstrate a weakness or strength of the lens. Often, due to DOF, it didn't make sense to post more than the AF point crop. Regardless, the full size image is available for inspection. However, only 1024 x 682 resized pics were posted for the vignetting examples, as that size is more than sufficient to see what is being tested.

Incidentally, I'm not a macro photographer (I got this lens to have a ring-USM close focusing -- not macro -- lens in the 50-80mm range). The 50 / 1.4 I owned had occasional problems at f / 2 and below (inconsistent AF), the 85 / 1.8 has PF wide open and a long minimum AF distance. If I can deal with the f / 2.8 limitation, and this lens is at least as good as the aforementioned lenses with macro to boot, then it's served its purpose. Nonetheless, it would be interesting to do a shoot-off between the three lenses and compare them from f / 2.8 onward. Perhaps the 50 and 85, stopped down to this extent, would do as well, and perhaps even better, than the 60. But I'm just being open minded here -- I would be shocked if they did better, but would not be surprised that they were so close that any differences were meaningless. Still, those lenses wouldn't give you macro, but they would give you speed for the times you need it. That's the painful trade-off as I'm a shallow DOF speed freak. Can I say again how much I regret this lens not being f / 2? : )

Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC

Review Date: May 10, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image Quality, Range, Size/Weight
EF-S, vignettes until f / 4, no HSM (although its AF is very quick and pretty silent), not f / 2, AF issues with external flash and AF assist lamp

It's my only zoom. That says it all right there. Let me be more specific: as of now, here are my other lenses:

35 / 1.4L, 60 / 2.8 macro, 85 / 1.8, 135 / 2L, 200 / 2.8L.

I know what quality glass is, and this lens belongs in the line-up.

What really blows me away is that such an obviously good lens is made by Sigma and Canon has no answer for it -- amazing!

I do wish it had HSM, despite the fast that it focuses very quickly, 'cause HSM is much better for servo mode. I also wish it were f / 2 even though that would double the size and cost. An f / 2 zoom would be so, so, so very useful to me! I mean, where are the EF-S f / 2 lenses? I was also very disappointed that Canon's EF-S 60 / 2.8 macro was not f / 2. But, that's just me, I guess!

It's important to note that this lens does not AF properly with the AF assist lamp and an external flash on a 20D (I think it works on a 300D, don't know about the 350D). However, supposedly Sigma can rechip it and fix that. In fact, my lens is at Sigma as I type for this exact reason. However, I rarely use flash, so it was never a major issue with me.

Anyway, here's my test of the lens: While you're browsing those images, don't forget to keep asking yourself why you don't have that lens yet! : )

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Review Date: Jan 23, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Color, contrast, sharpness, speed
Price, size (not that it's too big, but too big for a 35mm, f /1.4 or not!)

This is it, man, this is it. At 35mm, that is. It used to be my favorite lens, but the 135 / 2L has usurped it (for now). But they're two totally different FLs, so they don't compare. I think I like the 135 / 2L better 'cause I can get a more shallow DOF with all the other prime perks -- speed, color, contrast, and sharpness, but it's more of an outdoor lens or indoor headshot lens. Otherwise, it's the 35 / 1.4L.

It's sharp even at f / 1.4. I don't mean it's sharp *for* f / 1.4, I mean it is sharp *at* f / 1.4. That's when you nail the focus, though. Hard to hit it at such a wide aperture.

There is PF (purple fringing) wide open, of course, and it's what, 8 million times bigger and more expensive than the f /2 version? But it's the bomb (don't say that to someone in an airport, though!).

Some might say that when you pay $1100 for a lens, you have to like it. Can't answer to that, but I could sell it today for nearly that, so it ain't the case with me. I did trade it (gasp!) for an 85 / 1.2L since I couldn't afford the 85 / 1.2L at the time, but was going to re-buy it at my first chance (as it turned out, we swapped back lenses, anyway).

What does it have over the 35 / 2? An extra *useable* stop and USM. Hell, have you had to listen to that whiny bitch motor on the 35 / 2?! It's worth it just not to hear that again! : )

Honestly, I don't know how the IQ (image quality) compares between the two from f / 2 and up, so maybe the 35 / 2 is the way to go for a lot of people.

But I'm a perfectionist (pay no nevermind to the pics I take!), and the 35 / 1.4L *is* perfection. Should you get it? Yes. Definitely. Is it worth it? Pfft. Would you be reading this if you thought it wasn't? : ) But, is it the best bang-for-the-buck? Hell no. Get a Canon G3 for that. This is the best lens at 35mm -- period.

Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

Review Date: Jan 18, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp wide open, fast (aperture and AF), beautiful color, contrast, and bokeh.
No IS version of it.

No doubt my favorite lens. Previous favorite was 35 / 1.4L. Not that you can use the 135 like a 35, but I'd rather take pics at 135 than 35 now! : )

Anyway, the lens is perfect all the way around. My only complaint, if you can even call it a complaint, is that there is no IS version of it. Yeah, I know -- waaah. But seriously, I do use it indoors (often), and even ISO 800 is still about 1/60 sec. Of course, there are ISOs 1600 and 3200, and yes, I do use them (a grainy sharp pic is better than a smooth blurred pic!), but honestly, IS would be so, so, so very helpful. Since Canon is seeming uninterested in an AS body like Minolta, they need produce an IS 135 / 2L *without* sacrificing IQ (image quality).

Costs too much, though. Yeah, you should get it, but why is it only $300 less than a 300 / 4L IS and $200 more than a 200 / 2.8L? Of course, if I'm gonna bitch about that, may as well drag that 35 / 1.4L into the discussion! : )

Oh yeah -- one more complaint: doesn't fit in my camera bag with the hood on. Misses by one inch. So the lens, or hood, should be an inch shorter! : )

Bottom line: get it. If you don't find it's for you, sell it for almost what you paid for it. If you don't get one, you'll never know what you're missing. Make sure you use it at f / 2 often, though -- that's what you're paying for!

Too long indoors? I think not!

Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM

Review Date: Nov 17, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $535.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Small and light, super fast AF, excellent IQ (image quality)

I use primes pretty much exclusively (except for the Sigma 18-50 / 2.8 -- a *great* lens!), so I have a bit of a bias towards them. The reason I prefer primes is due to their smaller size and weight and their speed. In the case of the 200 / 2.8L, however, there are equally fast 70-200 zooms but they are much more bulky and the AF is slower.

Anyway, primes make you suffer the fixed FL. However, and this could just be a personal thing, it's amazing how small of a problem this is for me. If you're locked in at 200mm, sure, you'll miss some shots at other FLs, but you'll find other shots you wouldn't normally have looked for. It would be interesting to compare how many shots I would take in a day with just a 70-200 versus just a 200. I bet they'd be close!

Primes are easier for me to use, too. I don't have to waste precious brain power trying to frame with the added variable of FL. I can use those freed up brain resources to concentrate on sex instead! : )

Seriously, there are times a prime will cost you a shot. For some people, it might be most of the time, and for them, primes are not an option. But, for me those lost shots are easily outweighed by the convenience of a smaller and lighter lens. Also, since the AF is a tad faster, I get some shots I would have otherwise missed (yes, even at 200mm!).

Anyway, this is a great lens, no doubt about it, and I use it often. Some say to use a 135 / 2L with a 1.4x TC. Well, I have a 135 / 2L (another great lens that I also use often), but haven't used it with a 1.4x TC (since I don't have one). My feelings are that the IQ would be close, but I bet the AF speed would suffer. That's just an unsubstantiated opinion, however.

So, my recommendation: get this lens if you need 200mm and are comfortable with primes! You can see pics with it on my pbase account:

Sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX DG Aspherical RF

Review Date: Sep 19, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $330.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extremely sharp (yes, even at f /1.8)
Big, no HSM

I rate this lens as "excellent" because there is no other answer for a fast 20mm (or thereabouts) lens. The lack of HSM simply bites -- what is Sigma thinking?

Anyway, the sharpness is striking. Either I have a great copy, or for others they are confusing sharpness with lack of focus. I have a 300D, and it has it's fair share of missed AF at f /1.8. Also, no worries about color cast. I'm not saying it doesn't have it, but if it does, it's so minor that I don't notice it.

Another big plus is that you can focus quite close.

The AF speed is OK if from near to near or far to far, but not from near to far or vice-versa. It's a bit loud, too, but not so bad as the Canon 35/2.

But, just to make it clear how good this lens is -- I compared it with a Caon 24mm f /1.4L, and chose this over the Canon. The reason was that I could not tell which lens took which pic. In addition, while the USM of the Canon was quick and quiet, it hunted more than the Sigma. Lastly, the 20mm of the Sigma was more useful than the 24mm of the Canon (to me).