PhilUKNet's reviews

  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Light, small, cheap, excellent image quality, fast AF, reliable, consistent

    I bought this lens on a whim to give me something new to play with because a new 'L' lens I'd ordered hadn't shown up. It has since become possibly my favourite lens.

    It is now the fastest lens I own, and the only lens with which I find that 1/8000 shutter speeds sometimes aren't fast enough. It can be used in very low light.

    The image quality is nothing short of amazing. With some recent portrait work, I did a direct comparison with this 'old' lens and Canon's latest EF 100mm f/2.8L IS macro lens.

    The shots using the new 100mm macro lens were good, but the ones using the 85mm had the edge.

    It is extremely sharp and produces wonderful colour, contrast and bokeh. The AF is fast and accurate. With the wide aperture I don't find myself wanting or needing IS.

    The minimum focusing distance is 2.8ft, but add an extension tube to reduce the minimum focusing distance and you have a cheap - but very competent - entry level macro lens.

    Even with 100% crops of macro shots using a 25mm extension tube the 85mm f/1.8 loses none of its sharpness.

    With portrait work now, this is my first choice lens - even though I have 'L' lenses to choose from.

    I really can't praise it enough, and the more I use it, the more I like it.

    However, it is pointless trying to describe a lens using words and graphs. The only way is by looking at sample images.

    A few of my sample images can be found here:

    reviewed April 25th, 2010 (purchased for $450)
  • Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Small, compact, light, amazing image quality, highly effective IS

    Conventional wisdom tells us that primes are sharper than zooms. So much for conventional wisdom.

    I have never owned a lens sharper than this one. I owned the non-IS version previously and that was a great lens.

    This one is even better, and the 4-stop IS feels as if a giant pair of hands have come down to steady the camera.

    Look through the viewfinder with IS off and everything keeps wobbling around. Press the shutter half-way to activate the IS and everything just freezes.

    The IS technology used in this lens is a big advancement on earlier versions.

    My keeper rate with this lens is so high that I find it almost impossible to take a bad photo. There is no 'technique' to learn, as is the case with some lenses. It is a joy to use.

    The focal range is very useful for general use and the lens is easy and light to carry around. The 70-200 f/2.8 lenses get great reviews but they are big and heavy beasties compared to this one.

    If you want a bit more range, add a 1.4x converter. This combination works exceptionally well and you will be hard pressed to see any deterioration in image quality.

    I'm gradually building up a collection of lenses that perform flawlessly. This is one that I prize highly. I can't imagine wanting to part with it for a very long time to come.

    Many people seem interested in the non-IS version as a way of saving money. The non-IS version is very good but after you've used the IS you won't want to be without it. I strongly believe the extra money is well spent.

    The lens comes with a hood and case but no tripod ring. However, because the IS is so effective I have never seen the need to use a tripod.

    Some sample images here:

    reviewed April 25th, 2010 (purchased for $1,358)
  • Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    High build quality, none of the AF problems of its predecessor
    Expensive, new IS system is of limited use, not the greatest telephoto lens

    A 100mm macro lens always figured in my lens requirements list but I had problems with the old Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro. It was OK in macro mode but the AF was hopeless when I used it as a telephoto lens. I got frustrated with so many OOF shots that I sold it.

    I was pleased when Canon announced this lens and I knew that I would buy it. It's a very good lens but I haven't been quite as blown away with it as I thought I would.

    As a macro lens it performs well, but as far as being better than the old macro lens for close-up work that is debatable.

    The new whizzy hybrid IS system gets turned off when I do macro because I always use a tripod.

    As a telephoto lens it has none of the AF problems of its predecessor, but I've compared it directly with the cheap EF 85mm f/1.8 and I prefer the photos from its poor brother.

    When used in telephoto mode I also prefer the EF 70-200 f/4L IS - better colours, image quality, and IS.

    Where does this leave the new 100mm f/2.8L IS macro?

    The new hybrid IS system was apparently designed for macro but I don't use it when doing macro.

    The image quality for macro isn't a great deal better than its predecessor, and if I want a medium telephoto lens for portrait work I prefer my 85mm f/1.8 or my 70-200 f/4L IS.

    If you plan on doing mostly macro work, with a little bit of telephoto, this lens might be for you.

    If you plan on doing mostly telephoto work, with a little bit of macro, you might be better off buying the 85mm f/1.8 plus an extension tube. The 85mm is a better portrait lens (in my humble opinion), and used with an extension tube it becomes a useful macro lens.

    reviewed April 26th, 2010 (purchased for $1,082)
  • Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Reasonable price, reasonable weight, great image quality, fast and accurate AF
    No IS, minimum focusing distance not that close

    In theory the EF 300mm f/4L IS lens plus an EF 1.4x extender should be a better choice than the EF 400mm f/5.6L lens. Instead of just 400mm @ f/5.6, you get 300mm @ f/4 OR 420mm @f/5.6 PLUS Image Stabilisation.

    That's the theory. In practice, it didn't work out for me because the EF 300mm f/4L IS lens I owned never really delivered the results I was expecting. I sold it and bought the EF 400mm f/5.6L.

    So far, this lens has exceeded all my expectations. The image quality is very good, and with small subjects I think the limiting factor is my 40D's sensor. I'm sure the extra pixel density of a 7D will help, and that will probably be my next acquisition.

    Autofocus is accurate and very quick. The image quality is still perfectly acceptable with the Canon EF 1.4x extender but - of course - autofocus ceases to function on bodies other than 1-Series cameras.

    When using an extender, manual focusing using Live View works adequately but the process is slow and not really suitable for photographing birds. The lens isn't too bad for hand-holding but after a few hours my forearms start to ache a little.

    The biggest drawback is the lack of IS. After using lenses with the latest IS, it is something that I miss very much. I feel happier using the lens on a tripod but it isn't possible all the time.

    I won't get into the EF 400mm f/5.6L vs the EF 100-400mm L zoom lens debate because I've never used the 100-400mm.

    My buying decision was based on the theory that with the zoom I would probably be using it at 400mm most of the time. The prime was cheaper, and probably sharper - although I know some people say it isn't.

    I'd love an updated version with better optics and four-stop Image Stabilisation. When/If Canon announce that lens I will upgrade, but until that happens I am happy with the old version.

    It can be used for portraits or compressed landscapes, but I would imagine that most people (including myself) use it for wildlife, especially bird photography.

    A few image samples at:

    reviewed May 7th, 2010 (purchased for $1,360)
  • Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Size, weight, image quality, IS
    Only available in certain parts of the world

    This was my third EF-M lens and it is now the lens that stays attached to my EOS M most of the time. The focal range is excellent for general photography, as is the image quality. I can make 30" x 20" prints from this lens and the IQ is fine.

    Image stabilisation is less necessary on wide angle lenses, but the IS on the 11-22mm is effective and surprisingly useful. I miss IS when I go back to the EF-M 22mm f/2.

    My only real gripe concerning this lens is the difficulty I had buying it. Despite buying my EOS M and other EF-M lenses in Thailand, where I live, Canon (in their infinite wisdom) decided that they wouldn't sell the 11-22mm in Thailand. I therefore had to cross an international border and drive to Malaysia to make my purchase.

    This situation also exists in other parts of the world, with Americans having to buy the lens from Canadian outlets.

    I am still very pleased with the EOS M system and this lens was the icing on the cake. It's a beauty. See more here:

    reviewed March 30th, 2015 (purchased for $340)
  • Canon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Size, weight, image quality, build quality, IS, flexibility
    None really

    There's not really a bad word to be said about any newly released Canon lens in recent years, and that applies equally to the EF-M lenses.

    I am a big EOS M fan and initially bought an EOS M body along with the 22mm f/2 lens, 18-55mm f/3.5-f/5.6 lens and EOS M to EF mount adapter so that I could use my EF and EF-S lenses with the EOS M.

    As it turned out, the lens that I used 95% of the time after I bought the kit was this one. It lacked some speed, but made up for that weakness in zoom range flexibility and being able to offer IS.

    I used it virtually all the time until I bought the EF-M 11-22mm, after which time the EF-M UWA lens became my regular lens. However, I still use the 18-55mm when I require a little more focal length.

    It's small, light, compact, the IS works effectively even though you are unaware it is there, and the image quality is excellent with great colours and contrast.

    I would not hesitate at all in recommending this lens. For some more of my thoughts, information, and a few image samples, see here:

    reviewed March 30th, 2015 (purchased for $215)
  • Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Small form factor, light, fast accurate AF, great image quality
    43mm is an unusual filter size

    Some people swear by fast prime lenses, such as this one. The big aperture enables fast shutter speeds and ISO is kept lower in low-light situations. However, I actually find the EF-M zooms (18-55mm and 11-22mm) more useful in most situations.

    The EOS M system is small - I usually carry the EOS M body, one zoom lens and the 90EX flash in a small LowePro case - but when I want the smallest possible configuration I opt for this lens and leave my 90EX at home. The EOS M body with this lens attached can be stored in a small pouch designed for a 100mm lens and fastened to my belt. It's extremely light and compact.

    As with all the EF-M lenses the image quality is excellent. I noticed on the review here that vignetting was described as a problem, but I leave the Lens Aberration Correction options enabled on my EOS M and this fixes any problems. If I were to shoot in RAW I would problem notice some vignetting, but I don't.

    There was a time when I would have said that IS is completely unnecessary on a 22mm lens, but when switching between this lens and the EF-M 11-22mm f/4.0-5.6 STM IS I do notice the difference. IS would be useful, but it's not completely necessary and the addition of IS would probably have made the lens bigger.

    Focusing is fast and accurate, image quality is good and sharp with great colours and contrast, and it comes in a tiny, inexpensive package. All told, it's a great little lens. For more of my thoughts, impressions and some sample images, see here:

    reviewed March 30th, 2015 (purchased for $215)