mxwphoto's reviews

  • Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    The most versatile long tele zoom there is!
    Gives your arm a workout, always room for more improvements.

    It may not be the sharpest, fastest and lightest lens in Canon's line-up, but for the money, it packs quite a lot of bang. The IS helps substantiably while hand-held, a zoom of 1-400 is highly flexible, it does accept both Canon TCs (it's the 28-300 that can't) and will even AF if you tape down some pins, and is still light enough to use as a walk-around. Image quality won't be as razor sharp as primes but that's to be expected. The merits/demerits of push-pull design is highly subjective, but it does allow for fast zooming when needed. Friction ring takes some getting used to, just learn to not twist it while adjusting focus manually. Overall, the lens will take some getting used to at first and has a learning curve before one can capture great images but it's highly worth it!

    reviewed December 11th, 2006 (purchased for $1,320)
  • Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Best wide L zoom within limitations
    Would like lower distortion on wide end

    By saying "within limitations", I mean as far as what this lens can offer. If you absolutely need a f/2.8, wider views for crop cameras, or the extra steadiness of IS, then this is not the lens for you. However, if a f/4 and 17mm is good enough, this lens will deliver with grand results. The first thing I noticed was the color reproduction - it is many times better than my old kit and 28-135! Nothing to complain about on the sharpness either. Weather sealing and solid construction along with buttery smooth focus ring makes holding the lens a joy. To complete the weather sealing though, you will need to buy a clear protector or uv filter (preferably high quality). On the bright side, the lens is IF (internal focus), so you will never have to worry about dust etc once it is sealed. I often shoot by the sea and the weather sealing is very helpful in keeping my gear clean. Distortion on the wide end means buildings will look bulgy and will need some software touch-up, but it's not big problem. IS would always be a plus, but if it means adding an extra $4-500 (see 70-200 IS f/4), I'd much rather have the current configuration. A great lens that has become my favorite walk-around!

    reviewed December 11th, 2006 (purchased for $600)
  • Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 USM

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Good starter lens, multi-function (explained below)
    Cheap build, but can't complain for the bundled price

    As a cheap kit lens, image and build quality definitely suffers compared to better alternatives. But it's a good lens to start out with and will teach people the basics of slr photography without costing an arm and a leg. This lens will also serve as a impromptu manual macro lens once you get a reverse mount adapter off of e-bay and adds a fresh new element of slr to play with. Other lenses can do the same, but I certainly wouldn't want to expose the rear elements of much more expensive lenses. A good little work horse till you can upgrade to some stallions.

    reviewed December 11th, 2006 (purchased for $100)
  • Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Great walk-around without breaking your wallet
    28mm on crop camera = 45mm full frame equivalent - not wide enough

    For over a year, this lens has been my walk-around of choice. It's light, provides good zoom, and has IS. IS helped a lot when my hands weren't very steady early on, less so now, but still handy to have. The tele end allows for good captures of close by wildlife while the entire range makes for good portrait lengths. It's not as sharp as can be, but for the price, it's not expected to be. The only problem is that as a 45mm equivalent wide, it's just not wide enough sometimes. If you don't shoot a lot of grand landscapes, it shouldn't be a problem - but keep the kit lens close by in case you need it. If you do need a lot of wide but are on a budget, the 17-85 IS might work for you.

    reviewed December 11th, 2006 (purchased for $450)
  • Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III

    6 out of 10 points and not recommended
    Long zoom range
    Image quality & build

    I got this lens soon after I first started into DSLR. 300mm zoom... wow, I can get a lot of far off objects/wildlife with this, or so I thought. I soon found out that without USM, it focuses quite a bit slower than other USM lenses and hunts for focus if lighting conditions aren't optimal. Also, you have to stop down quite a bit for decent image quality, especially on the long end. Colors seem a bit washed out and since there is no IS, the lens either has to be placed on a monopod or tripod (severely limiting its bird tracking abilities) or the ISO has to be cranked up till it's fast enough (degrading the image further). This lens is the tele equivalent of the kit lens, but the reason I don't recommend this while I do recommend the kit is that at wider angles, image sharpness and shake aren't as apparent nor as important as the overall composition while at long tele ends, one would often want to see more detail than just a blurry shape.

    reviewed December 11th, 2006 (purchased for $150)
  • Canon 1.4X Extender EF II

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Weather sealing, solid construction
    Pricier than competition

    I have this TC mated to my 100-400L. There's nothing to complain at all here! The build is as solid as the best L lenses, it includes a weather sealing O-ring, and the image degradation is minimal. In fact, I have to squint hard between an image with and without the TC to even notice a difference at 100%(other than one being more magnified, that is). For those who worry about having a lens that will stop af because it's not f/2.8, simply do a tape mod and things will work well again. The only downside to this TC is that its 3rd party competitors can be had at similar optical qualities for roughly $100 less. But then again, they lack the solid L build and weather sealing. You do get what you pay for!

    reviewed January 2nd, 2007 (purchased for $260)