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  Reviews by: john Paul  

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Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye

Review Date: Sep 2, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Compact, fast, sharp, groovy..
....The lens cap/cover design could be a little better..

I love mine.. Great on a FF body,....kind of strange on a crop body.. It's a very sharp lens,...probably the next sharpest lens I own up the line is the 50mm f1.4.. I wish the rest in the wide range between were as sharp as this lens.. Yes it is a little "noisy" in focusing,...but big deal.. There is hardly focusing needed with this lens to focus on anything.. With the 12mm Ex. tube, really fun photos can come from it.. :-)

The lens cover slips off pretty easily, and I'd like to have had a snap on type cover because mine is now scratched a little thanks to the cover coming off in my pocket, and scratching the lens.. :-( ...but the image quality isn't noticeably reduced by any means.. In fact, everyone I know who owns this lens has managed to scratch it at some point..


Canon EF 35mm f/2

Review Date: Sep 2, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $220.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Size of lens, size of lens hood, f2.0, accurate focusing, sharp over most of frame on FF.
No FTM focusing, or USM..

Best bang for the buck aside from the 50mm f1.8 II..

I use it for event candids with flash, and I get great results all the time. It is pretty sharp wide open in the central portion of the frame, and gets better stopped down.. In the corners it's a tad soft,...but those hardly matter in the shots I take with it.. The lens with it's hood is very compact. The AF is "loud", but not as loud as my former Minolta lenses were.. USM would have been nice, but not needed.. The only feature I do wish it had was FTM focusing, because I often over ride the AF with MF,...and I sometimes forget that I don't have this feature when shooting with this lens... but for the price,...oh well.. I plan to upgrade to the 35 L, but I'll still hang on to this fine little lens.. :-)


Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM

Review Date: Aug 31, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: $370.00 | Rating: 3 

Pros: Nice focal length for portraits / head shots.. Fast, smooth AF.. Build quality is good..
Useless wide open..because of the CA.. Not as sharp as 85 f1.8

Well,....if it weren't for the CA,...this lens would be pretty nice to work with.. It was noticeably not as sharp as my 85mm f1.8 either.. The CA was noticeable up to f4.0..and wide open, it was so noticeable that it made shooting wide open unacceptable. I've shot with many different Canon lenses from fisheye to super teles, and this was the worst as far as CA goes.. I ended up selling it after it sat for 6 months without using it..

It's possible that I just got a body copy, but then again, maybe my standards are higher than most...and for a prime lens, I felt the lens should have performed better than it did, considering my old 85mm is much better and shows no sign of CA....which was what I was expecting from this similar lens design..



Canon EOS 5D

Review Date: Nov 23, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Full Frame, Solid Build, Autofocus, spot meter, large read LCD, quiet shutter, newly designed vertical grip is a big plus, huge buffer, DigicII which is some great plumming, high iso performance.
Some what sluggish shutter release button, rear buttons not very flush, diopter turns too easily.

I have been generally very very happy with the 5D.. The 5D was never meant to take away from the 1DsMKII body, and was intentionally designed to be a lesser of a camera, but overall, quite nice, and I can do 90% of the work I do with the 5D, which makes me pretty happy... Pretty much everything I do regarding action photography, I reserve for my Mk2 bodies..

I was originally planning on keeping my 20D bodies until I used this camera for a day.. I suddenly just hated the 1.6 cropping factor that I had been using since the days when I had a pair of D30 bodies, followed by the 10D bodies.. I ended up selling those and upgrading to the 1DMk2 bodies...which aren't FF, but much closer to it.. I can now use my lenses the way they were be used on a 24mm x 36mm frame format! My backgrounds are softer now,..which allows for much better separation of the subject from the background, while using the same lens as I was on a 1.6 crop body.. The 5D has made my headshots really come alive now.. I often shoot 135mm & 200mm primes where before, I would not venture longer than 85mm..I now use the 24mm TS lens to it's full advantage, and plan on buying the 45 & 90mm TS lenses as well.. I wouldn't even dream of putting those on a crop camera body, which would be pretty pointless..

The biggest complaint I have for this camera is the way the buttons on the back are designed.. they stick out more on the 5D than on any other Canon digital body, which allows my nose to turn on the info & menu screens.. That has caused several missed shots, and lost expressions..which is very irritating to me.. In addition, the view finder diopter turns too easily, which has screwed up a few shots.. but that's what tape is for.. ;-)

The image quality is better than the 1Ds body,..and I have used my 5D side beside 1Ds bodies in the same exact lighting conditions, in a commercial studio setting, and in low light where the higher iso speeds really shine!

This however is not designed to outlast a 1Ds body, nor meant for any real action photography....which doesn't mean you can't shoot action with it,...(having shot pro outdoor soccer with my D30 bodies which were just awful for that type of subject, but I managed to get by)....the 5D can be used to take action shots, but the shutter release is not like that of the 1-series bodies...nor the AI-servo AF.. I'd say the One shot AF is better than the 1-series though.. I talked a friend out of buying a 5D body after I showed him the relatively slow shutter release lag time.. He shoots pro baseball & hockey with his cameras, and they need to be quick...the 5D isn't the best choice for that..

There are a few things that would make it a better performing camera like a faster frame rate...or 1/250ths sync speed..but Canon designed it to be exactly like so we could go out and spend a lot more on the 1DsMk2 body, if we really really needed all that....I can get by without those little differences..and I have been very happy with mine..

Thank you Canon for making FF much more affordable for photographers like me! :-)

Canon Speedlite 550EX TTL

Review Date: Nov 21, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 3 

Pros: Built very solidly, Fairly powerful, 1/2 stop increments to 1/128th power.. the back light was helpful in the dark..If you wanted to completely drain your batteries, you could leave the power switch in the middle "on" position overnight..
Small tricky to use buttons, in the dark, the backlight doesn't illuminate the buttons at all.. accuracy..? well,...ETTL was a joke..

In Manual mode, it worked pretty well.....of course,...

In ETTL mode,.....what a disaster!

I could be photographing a subject wearing a black suit, over a black shirt, with a black tie,..and standing against a black drape background, and the only thing white would be his paper name tag, and in ETTL mode, I'd shoot for normal exposure, and it would underexpose by as much as 2 stops!!

There were times where I nearly wanted to pull the thing off, and spike the thing on the ground as hard as I could!! I can't always shoot in manual mode...action happens too fast for me to fiddle around with those dinky little buttons in time to capture something in a bride & groom walking away from the alter together.. I may try to compensate for it's predicted underexposure,..and I learned how to work with it over the years from making many many poor exposures with it.. Even when it "should" underexpose, times, it would over expose when I would be shooting a white wedding cake, on a white table cloth, against a white wall!! It's a good thing I shoot digital these days, because I can make adjustments right on the spot to compensate for it's awful performance.. & shoot in manual mode..

The wireless feature is at best, hit or miss. I ended up never using it after testing it out a few times, but my friends who are also pros, use the 550EX's in wireless setups and they all complain about just how unreliable they are..

I now own the 580's,...they are noticeably more consistent,..but not a whole lot better... However, because the 550's are so awful,...ANY improvement is worth it to me!!

Canon, time you want to test a flash unit out, give it to me! Let me have at it; not one of your fanboys!!


Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Nov 9, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $369.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast glass, great price, well built, very sharp, compact, & offers full time manual focus over-ride, which the L doesn't..
Hmmm....none really..

I bought mine in 2000, and have been a very happy owner of it ever since.. I often shoot with this lens at f2.0, to f2.5, and get great results.. It's min. focus distance that I hear some reviewers complain about, not an issue for me when ever I use it.. It's made for portraits, right..? Why does someone need to move closer than 2.8 feet to your subject...? Nose shots..? Heck,..if you want to get any closer, it works very well with the Canon extension tubes.. I've even used the 85mm w/ extension tubes instead of my 100mm f2.8 Macro lens for close up work, and have been satisfied with the results..

Mine shows a lot of wear around the front ring,..but that's because I use it an awful lot.. In my studio, I shoot most of my stuff with this lens.. On location, it is a wonderful tool to have in the bag.. It is light weight, performs better than the 70-200mm f2.8 IS L, is small and black,...and doesn't stand out as much,.. it is brighter to look through, focuses faster than the L version of this lens,..and offers full time manual focusing, which the L doesn't....(neither does the MkII version of the 85mm f1.2 L).. For a portrait L lens, doncha think they would include that very important feature on a lens designated for portrait photography..?

Any ways,...I know many professional photographers who use this lens,..and are very happy with the results.. I might upgrade to the L,.. but I might just hang on to this one regardless.....BTW,...if you use a filter on the end of your lens, ans judge your lens sharpness with that junk on your lens,....don't! I never shoot with protective filters on my lenses.. strangely, I get pretty darn good results.....go figure.. :-p


Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM

Review Date: Nov 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: FAST! Yep! Sharp! Quick AF speed! Obviously outstanding in low light.. Great for the ambient light shooter..
Hmm....I can't think of any other than Canon stopped production of this awesome (need to have) lens!

Price ratring.....I just hate that question,... who cares how much it costs... that has nothing to do with its performance!

This is my second copy of this lens.. I love it!

People know you aren't some hack with a camera when they see you walk in the door with this lens on your camera body!

I shoot in available light much of the time when I am covering events..and this lens enables me to capture the things I want, without having to blast the subject with flash!..(from further away than any other lens I have faster than f2.8)..

In addition, I enjoy using this exotic while shooting editorial, and commercial work.. I love the look of this lens at f2.0,..(I rarely use it at f1.8)..on a full frame body, in order to isolate the subject from the background...often, I am isolating their eyes from their ears..and the rest behind them is nicely melted away! Also,...this lens is awesome for head shots!...I mean awesome!!

Mine is NOT for sale! :-)


Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM

Review Date: Oct 13, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $6,700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: I like the low weight, the AF speed, the optical performance is much improved, especially with teleconverters.. & minimal fucusing distance.
I miss the 3 MF speeds that the previous versions of the 400mm f2.8 L lenses had.. The case is nice, but I never use it.. It holds just the lens, without any room for teleconverters like the old trunk type cases had.. However, it is a LOT smaller and lighter than the old (back breaker) trunk style case..and is darker.. I just use my Tenba case for it..

I would like to say that anything that costs next to nothing is a good I which I didn't have to be asked about the price of the lens I bought...yes it costs a lot...who cares..

I owned the 400mm f2.8 USM L, and the 400mm f2.8 USM MkII L lenses prior to buying the IS version, and I am thrilled with it!
I managed to take a usable shot at 1/45ths of a second, in low light hand held! With the non IS versions of this lens, I would never shoot hand held bellow 1/250ths.

The minimal focusing distance is amazing! I *could* use it in my studio for (close up) head shots if I wanted to..

The weight is a huge factor over the previous versions of the 400mm f2.8 L lenses.. yes, 3 lbs is very noticeable,...and I often shoot hand held with this lens.. & I'm not the biggest / strongest guy out there either..

I do miss the three choices of manual focusing speeds, but the new AF is much more accurate than it was in the previous versions, and noticeably faster to me too.. I have yet to master this lens in MF, and I'm sure I'll miss that feature because I'd often change the MF speed selector while shooting field sports on my old super telephoto lenses..and when it comes to shooting sports, you can't always rely on AF no matter how good it is..because things pass between you and your subject all the time, and you may not want those things to take away your focus while you are trying to get the's also a little more difficult to MF (hand held) compared to the old versions of this lens..

The AF preset switch is tricky for me to reach.. I have to get used to using that feature..

It's a nice tool, and I'm glad I finally upgraded to it!

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: May 24, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Coverage range, build, 77mm filter thread, sharpness, fast focus, manual focus over ride, smoothness of the zoom & manual focus rings, much improved over the 17-35mm f2.8 L which I upgraded from, and for a zoom lens that covers all these lens ranges from 16mm, 20mm, 24mm, 28mm & 35mm, it performs better than all of those in Canon's non L primes. Also, the closer minimum focus distance is wonderful too!
Flare is a little more noticable than in my 17-35mm f2.8 L which it replaced.. CA is noticable, but not nearly as bad as what I had to work with before.. A simple adjustment in Photoshop RAW conversion will take that away in no time.. The lens hood is much bigger.. oh well.. no biggy..

After shooting with the 17-35mm f2.8 L lens for the last nearly 10 years, I finally upgraded it to the 16-35mm f2.8 L lens, and right away after shooting an event, I noticed better in focus looking shots than what I had before.. The colours are more vibrant, the overall sharpness is improved, and not just in the middle either.. It feels great on my cameras,.. and is smooth to manual focus & zoom.. The hood stays on snuggly,.. The close focus feature is wonderful,..and makes for more interesting perspectives than before.. I believe it auto foces a tad faster too..

I'm a happy Canon L lens buyer, again.. :-)