8 out of 10 points and recommendedSharp, light and joy to focus manuallyFilter effect ring can cause problems with macro flashes
As far as I have seen, the picture quality is excellent. The only reason I refrained from giving 10 is that I have not checked the sharpness sufficiently for that - it has been enough for me. The bokeh is nice enough as are the colours.reviewed October 20th, 2005 (purchased for $640)
Using this lens for macro is a pleasure. The AF/MF switching is by the huge manual focus ring. It is easy, but USM-type override would be even better. There rotates enough for accurate focusing if you don't want to move the camera.
As a normal tele the AF behaviour is not as nice. It is fast enough if the focus is found immediately, but if that misses you are in for a long wait. There is no focus limiter switch and that really shows.
The build is plastic, but that is not entirely a bad thing. The lens is quite light and easy to carry around for a whole day if necessary. The construction also seems quite tight - the only play is in the filter effect ring.
The down side of plastic is in the wear resistance - the barrell scratches a bit too easily. On the other hand, it certainly seems strong enough. This was tested the hard way by falling on asphalt with a camera hanging from my neck. The lens hit first and the UV filter frame was slightly bent. There was no change in lens performance.
The filter effect ring can be a problem with macro flashes. It moves very easily and there is no way to lock it. Also, the tripod collar works, but it could be stiffer.
All in all, this is a good lens, but not entirely without quirks.
9 out of 10 points and recommendedImage quality, size, IF, USMEF-S
I think the test results pretty much say it all. The sharpness results are in perfect agreement with my own tests. The difference between 2.8 and 4 is there, but it is very close to the limits of detectability and same goes for 16 (on 20D).reviewed October 25th, 2005
The bokeh seems good (I'm not an expert), but it is often much harder to get a good BG with a shorter focal length. Don't blame the lens for that, though.
The lens construction is quite nice and light. I would not want to use this as the proverbial "blunt instrument", but it should handle normal use for a long time.
The focusing is by USM and almost silent. However, this is a macro lens without a delimiter and the focusing time can feel long when it starts hunting. It is much faster than others in that situation, but that is partly a function of focal length.
You can use extension tubes with this lens, but my initial impression is not to overdo it. It SEEMED that going over 1.5:1 the image quality begins to suffer. I've also tested this with 250D close-up lens and the image quality suffers considerably. Stepping down will improve the situation, but not even near to original level.
What is this lens good for? In the macro and close-up world it is perfect for flowers and product photography, especially in confined spaces. Bugs work well too, if they are not skittish. For butterflies I'd opt for something longer. And it is a good short tele as well with everything that goes with that.