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  Reviews by: timbop  

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Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Jun 3, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $980.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, reliable, fast, gorgeous images
none worth mentioning

Obviously it is larger and heavier than the "ideal" walkaround lens, but it delivers the goods in every respect. Mine is sharp wide open throughout the range, with great bokeh, fast reliable AF, and great image quality. I even really like the reverse zoom mechanism - the hood is effective throughout the range which is nice.

For point of reference mine is mounted on my 1dm2 usually with a flash for the better part of the day during a wedding, and you really do get used to the weight. When I travel I put it on my 20D, and it feels pretty light. The only drawback is that it isn't wide enough for architecture in tight spaces, but other than that it performs flawlessly.

Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

Review Date: May 4, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $900.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Phenominal lens - excellent sharpness, AF, and in a lightweight package

This is absolutely a fantastic piece of hardware. It is well on its way to replacing my 70-200/2.8L as my favorite lens (until night soccer season at least). When you buy it, you know the specs - it doesn't have IS or a very wide aperture. Who cares - the images it captures are stunning and the price makes it a bargain. It is absolutely tack sharp with beautiful colors and contrast wide open. The AF is incredibly fast, and it takes a 1.4TC like a dream. My 20D needs a bright sunny day to AF with the TC, but the images even with the cheap tamron TC are extremely good. A little extra sharpening, and you won't know the TC was there. It is easy to handhold because it is very light weight - my tripod + ballhead weight more than the 20D with this baby mounted. I prefer to shoot on a tripod, though - you are guaranteed sharp shots when using good lens technique.

I was concerned not having the zoom for larger critters, but I have not had any trouble with being too close. At normal distances wildlife will grant you, the focal length is not too much. I guess in a zoo or safari jeep the fixed length might be a problem at times, but for ordinary nature shooters it is fine. Combined with my 70-200 (and forthcoming 1dm2) I have no need for a long zoom like the 100-400.

Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF]

Review Date: Apr 12, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $419.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, light, compact, f/2.8, excellent price/performance ratio
No ring USM, reverse zoom direction from canon

This lens hits the right balance of price, performance, and capabilities. Plenty sharp wide open, good color/contrast and bokeh, AF. The build quality is just fine, certainly on par with canon consumer glass including the direct competitor: the 17-55IS. I have no complaints about the noise of the motor, the AF is bang on and plenty fast enough. I was looking for a wider replacement to my tamron 28-75/2.8, which left me with 2 options: this tammy and the 17-55IS. Although I like IS and the canon has USM, I just could not justify shelling out that much more to get those niceties. If you shop around, for the same money as the 17-55 you can get the tammy, an 85/1.8 (giving nicer reach), and even tack on a 50/1.4.

You hear people mention the dreaded "if you get a good copy" clause with third party lenses, and frankly the number of great copies far exceeds the number of bad ones. Bob Atkins did a quasi-scientific survey, and the results show that Canon's good copy rate is around 90%, and Tamron's is in at 85%.

The tammy 17-50/2.8 is a great piece of glass, and I have no complaints about it whatsoever. For a crop body, it does a great job as a standard lens.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Aug 11, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $900.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: fast AF, sharp wide open at all FL, light enough to handhold without collar, build
I can't use it for everything

Bought this baby as a refurb to save cash, and so glad I did. Otherwise I would have waited longer to get it, and missed the great pics I have already taken with it. Wide open at any aperture it is fantastic, I've used it for twilight outdoor basketball with great results. I took the collar off and shot handheld for 45 minutes with no trouble holding the weight. It takes very well to a 1.4TC, so you really get a 70-200/2.8 and 98-280/4. At 280 it's good enough for larger animals or less timid ones. I plan to pick up the 300/4 next for birding and smaller wildlife.

If you've been waiting for the IS and you shoot action, stop waiting! Pick this gem up and shoot with it while you save for the IS (which you may just decide you don't need), you'll be able to resell this baby for almost what you paid when the time comes.

Tamron 28-75MM F/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF)

Review Date: Apr 15, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $280.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp + reliable + fast + inexpensive= excellent value
A little soft below f/4, but still very acceptable

I have been using this little gem for 4 months now, and I have to say it is an excellent value. Before purchasing it I read many reviews that mentioned concerns about quality concerns, and that you have to "watch out" for bad copies. In response to that, I bought the in-store demo copy to be sure I was "getting a good one". After using it 90% of the time with absolutely no focusing issues, I started wondering about the true percentage of "bad" copies that are out there. After going back and reading many reviews I noticed an interesting pattern: most of the reviewers mention that their copy was great but you have to watch out for a bad one. Interesting. To be certain, some have had problems with focusing issues (which Tamron does resolve BTW)- but in most of the reviews that advise caution there was nothing wrong with the owner's copy.

My personal experience has been that this lens is an overall superb performer:

- Using it at f/4 images are tack sharp with nice contrast and good bokeh. I compared it to shots from a 17-40L I borrowed and the L glass at f/4 was not as sharp

- color, contrast, and bokeh are nice

- On a 20D I have no problem taking stop action indoor sports shots

- As a general walking around lens it just shines, provided you can back up some for architecture shots

- It is a little soft below f/4, but that just makes it absolutely perfect for portraits

- The center pinch cap is a nice touch, allowing removal of the lens cap with the hood in place

It balances very nicely on a 300D and 20D, and in general gives me almost everything I would need. For wide landscapes it is a little too narrow, but any 28mm lens would be!

Canon EOS 20D

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

Pros: speed (fps & iso), performance, price, quality
none - worth every penny

Some will nitpick about a smallish LCD, or having to traverse 2 menu settings to enable mirror lockup. I am not one of them. For me the evaluation criterion is simple: can it get the shot I am trying to make. My experience has been that it absolutely can. I have taken indoor soccer/basketball shots with absolutely no trouble catching the action. With the advent of the 30D, for $1100 you can get a camera with: excellent high ISO performance; fast frame rate; great predictive AF; and overall beautiful picture quality.

I took the following shot at ISO 3200/f4 with my tamron 28-75 (I forgot and left it in oneshot AF). I can't imagine any other camera for less than $1398 getting that shot (certainly not a d-reb)

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Jan 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $570.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: IS is fantastic, sharp, great range
rotating front element makes polarizer problematic

I debated between this lens and the 7-200 f4/L, and I am glad that I ended up with the IS. Color/contrast are good (to my untrainied eye). The sharpness is great up to 200mm, and still very good up to 300mm wide open. The IS is unbelievable, and the flexibility it provides is fantastic. I happened to catch some deer coming out of the woods when I was driving home in twilight, and the following pic is a roughly 100% crop of that shot. It was taken handheld at dusk from a distance of about 100 yards. The exposure was 1/100 sec @ f5.6 at a focal length of 300mm. Yep, handheld @ 300mm for 1/100s on a d-rebel:

I am a novice, but the primitive tripod tests I did revealed a very sharp lens up to ~200mm, and then pretty darn good beyond that.