DimLight's reviews

  • Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    IQ, versatility, image stabiliazion, lighting-fast focus
    None really

    I purchased this lens after reading tests and reviews for several months. I am an amateur photographer and I needed a not-too-expensive lens to complete my 70-300 F4.5-5.6 IS in the wide-angle range. I actually got much more than that.

    I got a superb, compact lens which now sits on my DigitalRebelXT (AKA 350D) almost all the time. I was already familiar with good image quality (look at the test results of the aforementioned 70-300 to see what I am talking about), but I was nonetheless stunned when I saw the pictures taken with this lens. Color is rich and natural, pictures are tack-sharp even if taken with the lens wide open, bokeh is very good. Overall, pictures taken with this lens are very pleasant to look at. There is some mild distortion at the 24mm end, but nothing to be afraid of IMHO. 'L' glass is really up to its fame.

    I was also impressed by how fast and quiet the autofocus is, thanks to its ring USM motor. It can go from macro zone to infinity *and back* in half a second or so. Under normal circumstances it focuses in less than a quarter of a second, even in dim light, and focus is always very accurate. Full-time manual focus is a plus, but I don't actually use it very much.

    Plenty of words have been spent on Image Stabilization, so I won't cover the subject in detail. I will only say that it works perfectly, and it is darn useful.

    One of my major concerns when I chose this lens was that 24mm could be not wide enough on a 1.6 crop sensor. After 8 months of shooting I can say that I almost never found myself in need of a wider angle lens, and in those rare cases I used my 18-55 kit lens. I found that this lens is both wide enough to capture large subjects at the 24mm end, and long enough to shoot candids and portraits at the 105mm end. This makes it a perfect walkaround lens.

    Some might find the f/4 aperture not fast enough. To those people I would recommend to have a look at the 24-70 F2.8L. However, that lens is way more expensive and I personally was (and still would be) willing to trade that extra f-stop for this lens' 35mm longer zoom.

    The only (small) nuisance I could find is that if you walk with your camera on your shoulder and the lens pointing downwards, the barrel will slowly extend itself, increasing the risk of being hit. However, during normal usage this lens won't extend by itself. It will not, for instance, spoil your framing if you take pictures pointing downwards.

    I have not given full marks to this lens' IQ and constuction quality because I am aware that there are sharper (i.e. the 24-70L) and better-built lenses (for example, those with inner zooming are more robust). However I did give it full marks globally because this lens adds versatility to professional IQ and robustness.

    I would definitely recommed the 24-105 F4L to amateurs looking for just ONE good lens (and able to afford the price, of course), and also to anyone tired of carry along an heavy photo bag full of lenses during walks or travels.

    reviewed January 4th, 2007 (purchased for $1,100)
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    good focal length, IS, image quality
    a bit wobbly when extended, front element rotates, hood is hard to find and pricey

    I bought this lens to replace a cheap 55-200 F/4.5-5.6 II. Optically the difference is abysmal, more than one would think from the price alone. Shots immediately became vivid, sharp and full of contrast.

    From 70 to 200 mm this lens delivers very good images, sharp and pleasant. For some months I used it as my primary lens: everything I could fit into a 70mm frame turned out just WAY better than anything I could achieve with my 18-55 kit lens. When I purchased my 24-105 F/4L I tested this lens against it (in the 70-100mm range) and found that the difference is barely noticeable.

    It becomes a little soft from 200 to 300mm, but it is still very usable.

    Bokeh is pleasant, and since on a 1.6 crop sensor it becomes an impressive110-480 equivalent, it enables you to shoot portraits and candids from a distance.

    Image stabilization is extraordinarily useful from about 150mm onwards. It is very difficult to do without it once you get used to it. Focusing is fast, albeit not as fast as lenses with ring USM, and quite accurate.

    Its construction quality could be better, however. The front element feels a bit loose, although pictures do not seem to suffer from that. It extends A LOT when zooming and one has to pay attention not to hit things with the barrel or the front lens. Also, fully extended it looks ugly and definitely not a professional lens. But I can live with it, as I am no professional user.

    Its F/4-5.6 aperture also speaks of non-professional lens, but I find it very good for "prosumer" usage. You can even shoot nightly sport events, although you won't win any photo prize with the results.

    All in all, this is probably the best 300mm zoom you can get for this price, and is probably better than sone more expensive ones. If you really need a pro lens, and are prepared to pay the price, then look at the "white" 'L' tele and super-tele zooms. Otherwise you won't be disappointed by this much cheaper 70-300 IS.

    reviewed January 4th, 2007 (purchased for $600)
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Lightweight, very sharp if used properly
    Unusable ad f/1.8, slow focus

    Before deciding to buy this lens there are two things that you definitely have to consider.

    First, forget the 1.8 advertised maximum aperture, or you'll risk serious disappointment. Pictrues taken at f/1.8 are totally useless, unless rescaled to something like VGA resolution. Also, at that aperture the out-of-focus highlights feature a very distracting thin, greenish ring.

    Second, my (objectionable) opinion is that the usefulness of this lens is somewhat limited on a 1.6 crop body. 50mm is neither wide enough to capture buildings or monuments, nor long enough to shoot details.

    However, if you keep the above limitations in mind this lens can be more than satisfactory. From about f/2.8 onwards it begins to take exceptionally sharp pictures. Colors are accurate and pleasant, geometries almost perfect. Use it as a portrait lens at f/4 and you'll be pleasantly surprised. Once you get used to its limitations, this inexpensive lens can outperform all but the most expensive zooms when it comes to image quality.

    Yes, the autofocus is slow and noisy (it lacks any form of USM) and it feels like a toy, expecially when mounted on 350D, which too is quite toyish. But it is a 100$ lens, you can't have both cool features and good IQ for that price.

    Overall, I think that this lens does perfectly the job that Canon intended for it: a compact, inexpensive lens to introduce novice users to the beauty of primes. If you are new to primes you should consider it seriously. If this is not you first prime maybe you'll want to consider something else.

    reviewed January 8th, 2007 (purchased for $130)
  • Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 USM

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Lightweight, fast AF, great value for money
    A bit soft, CA are quite evident

    I perfectly agree with "random", down there. This lens is cheap and cheaply-built, but it is nonetheless capable of great pictures. One has just to know in advance what they can and cannot do with it.

    First, the focal range is very useful. If you don't take wide-angle photos that often, you can stick to this lens for those shots and purchase a good tele zoom for everyday usage.

    Second, you don't have to worry about dust, weather or blows: this lens is unexpensive, if it breaks you can get another one anytime.

    Shots turn out pretty good when taken around f/8, so this lens is perfectly usable in daylight, less usable indoors and at night. I personally was able to take good photos with this lens. Just remember that it distorsts a fair bit at 18mm and that chromatic aberrations are strong, so avoid shooting buildings and things like tree branches against a bright sky.

    The strength of this lens is clearly value for money and not quality itself. Given that, I would recommend it to people new to reflex photography (I share this opinion with Canon, I guess :) ) and to people on a budget.

    Its obvious limitations can be useful, too: by struggling to get better photos out of this lens I learned a lot about important aspects of photography. Also, keep in mind softness in the corners, CA and distortions are the rule, not the exception. More expensive lens just control them better. A cheap lens is a valuable tool to learn how to evaulate other lenses quality-wise, and in the end this will allow you to make an informed choice when buying your (inevitable) replacement.

    reviewed January 15th, 2007
  • Canon EF 35mm f/2

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Lightweight, fast AF, very good image quality, very useful on 1.6 crop camera bodies.
    Loud focus motor, CA is quite evident

    This is my second prime, the first being the well-known 50mm f/1.8 II, so I cannot avoid comparing them.

    When I got it I was immeditely surprised by its construction quality. Basing on pictures on slrgear.com (and other sites) as well as on my experience with the 50mm, I somewhat expected a plasticy, fragile little thing. I was wrong. This lens is indeed mostly made of plastic, but it feels sturdy and solid and is much heavier than my 50mm.

    I also expected it to focus slowly (it lacks USM), and I was pleasantly surprised on this regard, too. The autofocus motor is very very fast, you will not miss USM from this point of view. What you will miss is USM's silent operating mode: when focusing, this lens lets out a *very* loud whine which reminds me of old 9-pin printers.

    Pictures turn out very good. They are indeed a bit soft on the corners when shooting with the lens wide open (f/2), but it is *way* better that my 50mm f/1.8 II at the same aperture. This is a cheap lens you can actually use at its widest aperture.

    I did notice some bokeh-realated issues at f/2, however: when shooting close subjects, out-of-focus high-contrast areas can turn out greenish or bluish. This effect disappears when stopping down a little.

    Image quality is overall very good: colors are pleasant, contrast is high and details are crisp. The only nuisance here is about chromatic aberrations, which are higher than I expected and than I would like to see. They can be corrected in post processing, however.

    With its 56 mm equivalent this lens gets you as close as you can to a "normal" lens, and it shows. In everyday usage it turned out much more useful on my 1.6 crop body than the 50mm f/1.8, which in most cases its either too narrow or too wide. This is the very reason I bought it for, so I am pretty satisfied.

    reviewed January 15th, 2007
  • Canon EF 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 II USM

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Cheap and ligthweight, not-so-bad image quality, good range, good bokeh
    Cheaply built, slow and a bit soft. But hey, what can you expect?

    I used this lens for 8 months or so, before replacing it with a 70-300 f/3.5-5.6. It is a cheap lens, but I actually enjoyed it. Other reviews have already covered all technical aspects such as sharpness and IQ in general, so I will concentrate on my usage experience.

    Its focal range covers many common situations of casual photography, from head-and-shoulder portraits at 55mm to candid shots. If you are a beginner, it allows you to drop landascapes and concentrate on details. It can turn out quite a valuable tool for beginners eager to experiment on telephotography but unwilling to pay for a "prosumer" zoom lens.

    Far from deliver stunning award-winning pictures, this lens is however capable of taking decent shots, much better than one might expect from price and build quality. Bokeh is surprisingly good for instance.

    When it gets down to it, it is only a matter or what one's real needs are. You will not be able to freeze wild animals or birds with it for example, but you can take good candids of your wife and kids, blur the background nicely around them, and doing that without standing right in front of them and thus distracting them with your aimed camera.

    If your other lens is the EF-S 18-55 "kit lens" I'd give (and actually gave) this tele zoom a try, given its cost it is likely worth the investment. If, after some usage, you find that you like the possibilities that telephoto lenses open, chances are that you will replace it with a better (and more expensive) lens as I did. If you find that you still shoot mostly landscapes, you will not have wasted much money and gained a good "just in case" lens.

    reviewed January 15th, 2007 (purchased for $280)