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Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherical

Review Date: Apr 17, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Good sharpness at f/1.4, smooth bokeh, relatively light and compact, well built, accurate and well damped focus ring, ridiculous low priced in 2nd hand!
Of course it's a full manual lens (but people don't complain with Zeiss lenses...). Minimum focus distance a bit too long (1m).

After having a Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 (Contax mount adapted), then shortly a Canon 100mm f/2, now my ultra-wide aperture portraits lens is this underrated - but very good - Samyang 85mm.

This Samyang solves the main lacks of the 2 other lenses: sharp enough at f/1.4 (better than the Zeiss which has "halo" and more chromatic aberrations) and a very buttery bokeh (the Canon 100mm was correct on this point, but nothing magical). I find the colors vivid, with good contrast, even wide open.

Of course focus could be difficult so prepare to use live-view magnification or high precision matte viewfinder, like ee-s for 5D series.

This lens complements well a fast autofocus tele, like a 70-200 f/4, when you need low-light/magic bokeh take this 85mm!

Try to find one 2nd hand of this jewel and you will have a fantastic tool for portraits, especially on full-frame cameras. And its compactness & light weight is a bonus.

Canon EF 35mm f/2

Review Date: Apr 7, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, lightweight & compact, minimum focus distance, low distorsion
For the price, nothing

This little lens (I have the f/2 without IS) is a little gem, underrated. I use it on my full frames 5D Mark II and EOS film body (for black & white photography)

Optically, the results are great (sharp enough at f/2!), and at small distance and wide apertures the bokeh is very good.

What I really like is its light weight while it's a large aperture and very sharp lens. And 35mm focal length is very useful for me.

I had some months ago the 40mm STM pancake which is a more modern lens, but the f/2.8 aperture and the too short barrel (for steady shots when light is poor) disappointed me.

The build quality & autofocus are correct, though not stellar. Try to find a good sample in 2nd hand, you will appreciate if you need a light but great 35mm!

Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM

Review Date: Mar 6, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness, Contrast, Bokeh, Build quality (last "silk" version)
Autofocus is a joke

After having this Sigma 50mm f/1.4 since 1 year, I would like to share my experience.
I use it on 5d MkII (and some months before on Canon 5D)

The bad: the Autofocus is not enough reliable, particulary in poor lights, and that's a pity. I've micro adjusted it (+4) on my camera but the main problem is the "inconsistency" of the Autofocus system. So I consider this lens more like a "Manual focus" with an autofocus usable when light is enough.

The pro: everything else! I really like the shape (relatively short and fat) and the new materials build quality (now "silk" instead the previous "velvet") used. Even the lens-hood is of good quality.

The IQ is fantastic (I've certainly a good copy for the optics) and at f/1.4 the sharpness is enough good, with a good contrast, vibrant colors (I've got in the past the Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM and the Sigma is really the winner at wide apertures...). I really appreciate that the chromatic aberrations are very well controlled, unlike some other wide aperture lenses.
The bokeh is gorgeous! In the same league as the Canon 50mm f/1.2L. The distorsion is better than Canon's 50mm.

In summary: a great lens with a not-so-great autofocus ! If like me manual focus is not a problem, this is the best option to consider, for a Canon full-frame owner, between the 50mm lenses.

If autofocus is a priority, consider the Canon 50mm or wait for the ART version of Sigma which should arrive this year (but certainly with a jump on the price...)

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8

Review Date: May 14, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: very sharp on FF, moderate distorsions, very light, standard 58mm filter size

I've bought this fix lens to complete my new 5D's package....

I've hesitated between this lens and the best-seller 17-40L, but as I've a fisheye Zenitar 16mm and a nice zoom beginning at 28mm, its range has appeared to be ideal.

The most important : its incredible sharpness on full format cameras like my 5D, with very moderate distorsions.
Very useful for architecture or seashore landscapes... And its lightness allows you to keep it always in your camera's bag. Its small filter size (58mm) is very useful to exchange filters with other lens like Canon 501.4 or 100mm2.8Macro.

I bought it at second hand, 200 Euros so the third of a 17/40L.

I think this lens is under-rated because of its medium performances on APS sensors cameras, but on a FF like 5D it's a gem !