freetoken's reviews

  • Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    color, build, AF speed
    on a FF camera - the corners

    Bought this lens initially when purchasing the 300D as the crop factor made my previous Canon lenses not wide enough. Currently using this lens on a 5D, but it sees less use than it did on the APS-C camera due to not needing an ultra-wide very often.

    The color and contrast of the images are very good, up with the EF135/2 as a comparison. However the resolution is no where near that L prime, or even several of the good but affordable non-L Canon primes. The tradeoffs of making a very wide zoom lens shows when using a FF camera. Resolution drops off away from the center, and vignetting (correctable with software of course) is very strong in the corners.

    Many people complain about the corners on wide angle lenses but few of them realize that on a FF camera the corners in the image likely are not going to be in the plane of focus anyway. Thus corner issues in real life are not common, unless you happen to be photographing brick walls all day long.

    Fortunately distortion is not a real problem. Bokeh is average - nothing objectionable.

    Build quality is good, with the added seal in the rear a nice touch. Zoom ring is very easy to turn. Regrettably (as with most Canon lenses) the DOF and IR marks are lacking.

    For use on a FF camera this is a useful, AFFORDABLE, ultra wide angle zoom. As wide angle is not my thing I do not feel motivated to search for a better replacement as the 17-40L is satisfactory.

    reviewed November 19th, 2006
  • Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

    6 out of 10 points and recommended
    very convenient range for FF, decent close focus capability
    distortion at 28mm

    This is my walkaround lens on a 5D. On a FF digital or a film camera 28-135 is an ideal range, less so for an APS-C crop camera.

    No need in restating the tested results, but here is how the lens' attributes affect me:

    On occasion the distortion at 28mm is bothersome. No issues at the other focal lengths.

    Vignetting is noticeable at the wider apertures, but easily correctable in software if needed.

    The IS may only be first generation but I find it very useful and effective. IS is a bit noisier than on some other Canon lenses.

    Resolution is adequate and indeed I have found (as other members here have noted) that in the middle focal lengths resolution is very good.

    Color is a warmer than some Canon lenses and the contrast is a bit less than other lenses I have in these focal lengths, but still capable of high quality results.

    Build quality is adequate but the front element wobbles a bit when extended, and there is no lock to keep the lens from extending accidentally.

    Close focus ability is useful - it can get to about 1:5 magnification.

    Over all it is a very useful though not outstanding lens. I do not feel the need to buy the newer 24-105L zoom as if I really want higher resolution images (or a brighter viewfinder) I just use one of the single focal length ("prime") lenses in this range.

    On my 300D I find this still a useful lens but not wide enough for a walk around lens. Those of you with an APS-C camera probably should look at the EF-s alternative (17-85IS).

    reviewed November 19th, 2006
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Extraordinarily convenient, black
    The DO "look"

    First off let me emphasize that even though I gave this lens a "yes" recommendation it is a qualified yes. Buy this lens only if you look at many (preferably hundreds) of images from this lens and decide for yourself if the "look" is for you.

    What is meant by the "DO look"? Essentially two qualities: (1) out focus areas have a strange non-smoothness to them, and out of focus light sources can have concentric rings around them, and (2) low local contrast and low overall image contrast making for very flat images and somewhat powdery highlights.

    So why would anyone buy this lens, especially for the >$1000 price tag? One word:

    This is the only 300mm lens, and the only 70-300mm lens, that is short enough to fit in a small bag. I use this on a 5D (whose high acutance ability helps counteract some of the DO look) as a walk around lens.

    While it is not a fast lens the IS does make handholding possible is low light.

    AF is fast.

    As with other users I have found the short end of this lens to be optically superior to the 300mm end.

    The black color and small size mean that you can use this in a crowd and not be too noticeable. Have any of you tried to carry a white 300mm lens (with hood) around, and noticed how people look at you?

    Bokeh lovers tend to go apoplectic over this lens. This is one lens that would be very interesting to see how it performs on this site's test bench.

    Key to getting the most out of this lens is processing raw files with higher contrast settings, and sharpening with local contrast enhancement in mind.

    PS: on the zoom ring difficulties, all you have to do is learn to tilt the camera but a bit (say 10 degrees.) Tilt camera down to zoom out, tilt camera up to zoom in, and the zooming becomes much easier.

    reviewed November 19th, 2006
  • Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    You don't have to worry about shopping for a better lens anymore
    creates lens-lust

    So, let's see where it falls short of perfection:

    1. Lens hood - when I bought this lens years ago the included hood was rather cheap (perhaps Canon has updated the hood) by comparison with other hoods. Just plain black plastic (no interior felt as in newer lens hoods). Plus it is harder to attach than other lens hoods.

    2. No rear seals - since the 17-40 Canon has added rear seals to L lenses, to help in weather sealing. On the 135/2 all you've got is the bare metal.

    So there - it is not a perfect object.

    I used this lens quite a bit years ago as my main working lens. The side effect of using this lens is that many of my other lenses don't seem so good anymore....

    reviewed November 19th, 2006
  • Canon EF 35mm f/2

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    lightweight, low cost, good images
    a bit of CA, small AF ring

    This lens is very useful as a walk around lens for both APS-C and FF cameras. It is very light weight.

    The only objection I have to the optics is that the CA can be noticeable enough to want to correct it - which is very easily done with some raw converters such as Adobe Camera Raw. Other than that, this lens is a very affordable alternative for those looking for higher quality images than what the normal zooms give.

    The focus ring is small and does not inspire confidence.

    I found out the hard way that the construction quality is not quite the rough-n-tumble type as some other lenses; dropped this lens about a foot and the AF/MF switch broke off and had to pay Canon to repair it.

    The lens hood is a bit fiddly.

    reviewed November 19th, 2006
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

    4 out of 10 points and not recommended
    light weight, bright
    Just not a very good lens

    Let me be the contrarian here and NOT recommend this lens.

    Save your $80 and apply your money to a better lens. Obviously I do not believe this is a "must have" lens.

    For an APS-C camera the 35/2 is a much better deal, and only goes for about $160 more. On the crop body 50mm is no longer the ideal focal length for a "normal" view anyway. If you feel you still need a 50mm lens (say for portraiture), Canon makes two others that are not too expensive, and Sigma makes a very good 50mm macro that is inexpensive. It is true that these other lenses cost a bit more, but you get what you pay for. Apply your $80 to one of the above better lenses.

    I bought this lens years ago when I first bought an EOS camera. Never used it much then. Now with digital it is all to easy to see its flaws. The image quality is nowhere near Canon's better prime lenses. On my copy the image does not become acceptable until f/5.6 and not decent until f/8.

    reviewed November 19th, 2006
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    very fast focusing, mostly defect-free images
    not very close focusing

    The perfect people-lens for FF and head-shot lens on APS-C.

    The AF on this lens has to be among the fastest for any lens of similar focal length.

    Wide open the images are just a tad bit soft, compared to Canon's better lenses. Nevertheless this lens has never left me wanting.

    Unfortunately a lens hood is not included and when you buy the hood you'll wonder why such a small piece of plastic costs so much.

    The only downside is that the closest focusing distance is not short enough.

    This is a lens I've used for years and feel it is unlikely to ever leave me.

    reviewed November 19th, 2006