David Hay's reviews

  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharp, lightweight, excellent image stabiliser.
    Rotating front cell.

    This is the fourth Canon 70/75-300 lens I have owned and is the best by some margin. All the rest were good from 70/75 to 200 but were less sharp at 300mm. This lens beats my much more expensive 70-300 DO IS lens at 300mm by a substantial amount, producing sharp detailed photos without the hazy look of the DO lens. My 70-300 IS was one of the first batch and suffered considerably from the 'portrait problem'. After spending rather too much time with a Canon repairer, it returned transformed. No zoom creep, no soft tops and bottoms of vertical shots from 200-300mm. The image stabiliser is as good as the DO lens. It also balances better on a 20D than the heavier DO lens.

    reviewed November 7th, 2006 (purchased for $723)
  • Canon EF 28mm f/2.8

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Small, light, cheap, sharp.
    Noisy AF.

    I bought this lens second-hand. It is well corrected with little barrel distortion. It produces high contrast images sharp from edge to edge. It came with a lens hood but I rarely need to use it as flare is not a problem. Manual focus is light but rough and AF is noisy although quite quick.

    reviewed November 7th, 2006 (purchased for $143)
  • Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Good value, bitingly sharp, flat field.
    Noisy AF, light but rough manual focus.

    A workhorse lens for use on a copy stand. I also used this lens hand held for nature details. Often used in manual focus mode when the focussing ring can be spun round with a fingertip, it is so light. Sometimes used with a 25mm extension tube for 1:1. Well shielded front element so no flare problems. Was used to take a photo that appeared in Nat Geo.

    One of the sharpest lenses I have used.

    reviewed November 7th, 2006 (purchased for $476)
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM

    7 out of 10 points and not recommended
    Short, excellent image stabiliser, almost no chromatic aberration .
    Heavy, expensive, hazy reproduction at full aperture at 300mm.

    It seemed like the ideal travel lens for me but the image quality at 300 mm let it down. White subjects had a hazy fringe and ring shaped flare patterns were produced by the DO optics. The out of focus areas had a 'broken' quality.

    Image stabilisation was very impressive with a steady viewfinder image rather than a floating one. Af was fast and accurate.

    The zoom control was too far back and too heavy. With the lens pointing down it zoomed easily, almost too easily, but zoomimg back was very difficult with a heavy, sticky control. Most users learned to zoom it by pushing/pulling the end of the lens rather than using the zoom ring.

    I sold mine and bought the 70-300 IS instead.

    reviewed November 7th, 2006 (purchased for $1,900)
  • Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Solid build, good stabiliser, quality images.
    Heavy, push/pull zoom.

    This is the first long-tele zoom I have used which doesn't fall off markedly at the longest zoom setting. I now use whatever focal length is needed to get the correct framing without worrying about the quality, although, with a 20D, I don't need to use the long end as much of the time.

    Good image stabiliser. I have got excellent shots of horses galloping past using the panning setting. Follow focus is fast and accurate. Pulling back the zoom as subjects approach is only easy if you adjust the friction control correctly, otherwise it can be jerky.

    The lens is supplied with a hood, case and tripod mount.

    I do find it heavy to hand-hold for a long time and the white colour and large size make it too conspicuous for candid photography.

    reviewed November 11th, 2006 (purchased for $1,900)
  • Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Short,fast, black.

    Mine is a Mark 1. I bought it second-hand from a professional, battle scars and all. It had a filter on the front from new so the front element was unmarked.

    Very,very sharp images. Fast AF but the manual focus on mine is very slack feeling after a lot of professinal use. The built-in lens hood is not long enough to make much difference.

    I used it recently at the Edinburgh Festival (while my 70-300 IS was getting fixed) and the results were excellent. You could cut out street performers from the crowd with the shallow depth of field. It was so sharp it was cruel. You could even see skin blemishes under all their make-up.

    reviewed November 11th, 2006 (purchased for $570)
  • Canon EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Light, well priced, good quality images.
    Mine came apart.

    This lens has an internal flare cutting, rectangular, plate which is visible looking into the front of the lens. It does a good job for a multi-element wide-angle zoom with flare rarely being a problem. The ring type USM is fast and quiet. The (expensive) lens hood is very large, makes the lens look huge and doesn't make much difference to flare.

    There is no serrated area at the back of the lens to grip it when attaching/removing it from the body. My problem came about when I mounted it by holding the (fixed) front part of the lens. Over time the front started to come loose. After repair by Canon there was more barrel distortion than before at 20mm so I sold it.

    reviewed November 16th, 2006 (purchased for $560)
  • Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Light, fairly cheap, good performance.
    Sometimes fails to focus first time at the wide-angle setting.

    This is a very useful zoom range on a full frame camera. The difference between 28 and 24 mm is well worth having. Focus is usually fast and quiet but it seems to fail to focus first time at the wide-angle setting more often than other full time USM lenses I have.

    Image quality is quite good for the price. A friend does weddings with his one despite it not being an L-series lens. Distortion is quite well controlled.

    reviewed November 16th, 2006 (purchased for $490)