telecommuter's reviews

  • Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    build quality, very low CA, creative possibility with FF

    The urge to "go wide" has increased my appetite for a lens such as this - a non fisheye super wide.

    This 14mm II unit is da bomb. The challenge is to use it within the constraints of field curvature/DoF, and that requires experimentation.

    Stopped down it is sharp across the entire, insane field of view. Only certain shots reveal minor CA, and that is easily corrected. Color saturation is great, and overall I was surprised at how little geometric weirdness is apparent unless my composition is sloppy.

    I have read bad reviews of the first iteration of this lens. The new version is extraordinary.

    Highly recommended.


    reviewed June 9th, 2008 (purchased for $1,900)
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    weather sealing, build quality, fast speed

    This is my travel and a large majority of the time, walk around lens when not traveling. I use it on a 1Ds MIII.

    It is discreet, very fast and stopped down to 2.0 the sharpest lens I own edge to edge. Wide open it is artistic and requires some care in composition but renders absolutely beautiful images.

    When capped with a UV haze filter (or pick one of your choice) it is fully weather sealed, which makes it very liberating when traveling. I can attest to the sealing, having been in very severe wind/sand/rain with the combination. I'm always completely freaked out, of course, but have not found debris or issues once inside and investigated. The body and lens may look beige once examined but they did not allow stuff in.

    Wide open, it is sufficiently sharp on the edges to do group shots but the narrow focal depth requires some care or the edge folks will not be as sharp as hoped.

    Pretty normal for such large, fast glass. Same procedures required as my 85 f/1.2 require.

    I initially verified the micro focus with my body, and it didn't require any adjustment. So, I cannot comment on the back focus issue reported by others. I have not incurred that issue with thousands of shots.

    reviewed March 31st, 2010 (purchased for $1,400)
  • Carl Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon T* 2.8/21

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    build quality, unique, detailed color rendering
    no storage bag at this price point? WTF?

    I use this lens on a 1Ds M III, and it took me a very short time to adjust to manual focus. In essence this is a special lens.

    It is special due to the edge to edge sharpness, and the wonderful vibrancy of the colors. I am still some way from dialing in the processing of the RAW images as the degree of saturation and contrast are radically different from my "L" series lenses. My initial results have been too contrasted, and the issue is me, not the lens.

    As many people have posted stunning landscapes with this lens, I opted to shoot a street Carnival and included as many faces/people as I could. I blew a few shots due to not having AF, but I also took more time and took fewer shots - so my hit rate was higher than normal.

    One observation, the lens does not appear to be as wide as it is - that is, it is so linear it is easy to forget it is actually very, very wide.

    The focus mechanism is stupidly precise. I use one finger to focus and there is absolutely no slop or wiggle.

    The lens is all metal, including the hood. The hood "snaps" into place with a positive click, and fits perfectly. This is a huge upgrade from the often slightly-off Canon plastic hoods.

    It remains to be seen if I have been bitten by the Zeiss bug. I am not sure how easily I would be able to adapt my shooting style to 100% manual focus. I need to shoot a bunch more before I form any conclusions.

    Suffice it to say, with a tripod and posed shooting - landscapes or group shots, this is my lens of choice as the results are potentially stunning.

    sample images...

    reviewed June 7th, 2010 (purchased for $1,800)
  • Carl Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* 2/100

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    utter clarity
    price, lack of a soft carrying case, odd lens cover

    Stunning resolution, properly constructed, precise manual focus - these are terms I would use to describe the lens. On my full frame Canon, it is rapidly becoming my favorite lens. 100mm seems like a tad long, to be sure. But the results are changing what I previously held as my favored focal lengths - 50 - 85mm.

    I take fewer shots due to the manual focus, but take more time to compose. As a discipline this is a great thing.

    On a recent Holiday, the lens proved beyond capable of capturing nuance as well as three dimensionality. Total bomb of a lens. Highly recommended.

    A few examples below.


    reviewed September 30th, 2010
  • Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2 Distagon T* 2/35

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    build quality, color rendition, transition from focus to out of focus
    slight amount of vignetting on my FF body

    This is another example of how lenses can differ...that is, I previously shot thousands of shots with the "L" series 35mm/f1.4 Canon lens and loved it. After shooting with this I sold the Canon.

    This lens is different in how it renders color and handles contrast. I use it for landscapes and stopped to 4.5 or so it is tack-sharp across my FF body. It is sufficiently sharp wide open, however, to use in very low light.

    The focus ring is like using a microscope, the size of the lens makes it appear insignificant. But, it can render detail and color as well as anything I use. It does not appear as resolute as other Zeiss lenses, slightly, but it can hardly be called lacking in resolution.

    I am finding it to be better used in low light or other than full, bright sun. I feel as though it handles the subtle light better, but that may just be me.

    Some examples at the link below, from a recent holiday trip.

    reviewed October 3rd, 2011
  • Carl Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* 2/50

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Build quality, the way it feels, the details it can render
    pathetic lens cap - insanely poor design

    This is another of the utterly splendid Zeiss lenses designed to mount onto the Canon bodies without any adapters. What a piece of photographic gear, it is just so properly manufactured.

    Image rendering is superb. It is one of the two or three lenses (all Zeiss) which out-resolve my 21mp body. This has the desirable effect or eliminating any manner of dithering or guessing by the camera body - what you see is what you capture.

    I prefer this focal length for portraits but am becoming adept at using it for pretty much anything. Highly recommended for the degree of detail and color rendering. Stop it down to f/4 and it is insanely sharp edge to edge.

    A slowly growing library of sample shots can be found here...

    reviewed November 26th, 2011
  • Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    focus speed, image quality, predictability

    After reading too many long, and arduous threads pertaining to the new Zeiss 135, I felt compelled to share my perspective on the wonderful Canon 135.

    For my purposes, this is a spectacular lens. I need fast auto-focus, predictable focus lock and natural, vibrant color rendition. This lens provides all of these requirements.

    Do I wish it were manufactured with metal? Sure, that would be swell...but it doesn't matter with regard to how it performs.

    I rarely shoot static landscapes or posed, composed images. For that I would investigate alternatives just to make sure. My work requires auto-focus. I do not use burst mode, but the lens would produce movie-like frames. In fact, it might be fun to try!

    On a full frame body, I rely upon this lens and it does not disappoint. If you shoot things in motion on a Canon body, and need some reach without massive bulk, this is the one I recommend.

    A coupe of stage shows, one very recent, and a random collection using this lens exclusively...

    reviewed April 30th, 2013
  • Zeiss 25mm f/2 Batis 2/25

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    weather sealing strip, build quality, lack of distortion
    manual focus by wire

    I'll qualify my pros and cons. The addition of a flexible poly ring imparts a much higher degree of sealing than the non-Zeiss lenses on my SONY A7R II. I consider this a plus. The lack of distortion, well this might incite the pixel peepers since you CAN find microscopic fault with ANY lens. But, for my purposes, edge to edge this is a remarkable and brilliantly engineered device.

    The manual focus by wire is a design choice as you can purchase native E mount lenses with traditional microscope-like manual focus rings. I mention this only to prevent anyone being surprised. This is a superb auto focus lens which can be manually focussed, but not in the traditional manner....that's all.

    A recent holiday allowed me to use this lens extensively and most notably, in low light, it simply made me smile. In proper lighting the urban legend 3D effect becomes real, and very gratifying. It is brilliant wide open, and uniform stopped down. It met my expectations, and use case to a high degree.

    I also shoot quite a bit of video, at which this lens excels, but this specific review is for stills. Link to short gallery below.

    reviewed October 15th, 2015 (purchased for $1,299)