pj1974's reviews

  • Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    5x Zoom range, accurate AF, sharp (esp stopped down a bit), USM, useful IS
    No f2.8 aperture (but then it would be bigger & more expensive!)

    After reading various reviews, tests and most importantly seeing real life photos others had made with this lens, I bought it in November 2005. And have been VERY happy with this lens since then! After over 4 years with digital point and shoot cameras, this was my first lens for my first DSLR.

    For me it has a very useful zoom range (with a 1.6x crop factor on my Rebel XT / 350D) - I know this is a personal thing, with many people saying the 28mm (=45mm) is not wide enough for them. However my style of photography tends to go for the medium wide to telephoto end of things more (it's reach gets the equivalent of 215mm in 35mm terms). Anyway I have the kit lens which does a satisfactory job for when I really need 18mm (=28mm) wide angle.

    Sharpness is good, especially so in adequate light and stopped down one or two stops. The sharpness of my lens seems to match the test results that this website found - I get good sharpness at all focal ranges and even wide open apertures are very decent at all zoom levels.

    Of course I would like it to have a constant f2.8, but then this wouldn't be a decently priced, medium weight consumer lens would it! I'm very happy with it: build quality seems ok (not brilliant, but acceptable by my standards). I've heard of people using it for years as their workhorse lens and I can see the same for me. For low light work I have the 50mm f1.8 mark II.

    This 28-135mm lens is on my camera most of the time (about 95% of the time.) It focusses well, has a flexible zoom range, is sharp and has USM as well as IS for added useful convenience too.

    For the price I think this is a great lens: I get good edge and corner sharpness and very good centre sharpness. Maybe copy to copy quality does vary as I've read, so I think I definitely got a very decent copy and I'm thankful! Of course if I was a professional with a big budget I'd probably use an L lens, but as it is I find this lens does a great job in meeting the needs for nearly all of the landscape, nature, portrait / people and even some of the close up photography that I do.

    Well done Canon with this one!

    reviewed February 10th, 2006
  • Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 USM

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Lightweight, cheap, sharp enough stopped down, wide angle
    focus speed or hunting / searching in dark light

    I bought this lens as part of the "kit" with my 350D. Although I use the Canon 28-135mm USM IS as my walk around lens, there are times when I use the kit lens. For example for when I need a wider angle landscape, or when I am touring a city / urban scapes (to photograph buildings and have less weight to carry round my neck).

    I have found my lens to be really decent, both at the tele and the wide angle. Wide open is more than acceptable, and stopped down is good to very good. Anyway most of the time I use this lens stopped down one or two stops, so it's sharp then (e.g. landscapes).

    It works well with my circular polariser for sky or sea photos (I got used to focussing first, then adjusting the polariser, no big drama).

    As for manual focus, I never use it anyway (not really needed) so the small (and indeed hard to use manual focusing ring isn't a problem for me).

    I'm glad I have this lens, it's handy at times and does a decent job! Autofocus speed in dimmer situations is really my only complaint!

    reviewed October 20th, 2006
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    great for low light, portraits, fun lens to use
    a bit soft wide open, autofocus in dim light

    It's true this lens' construction quality is not very good. The focus noise is the loudest of my lenses, and sometimes not consistent in very low light.

    But apart from that I really like this lens. I enjoy using it for portrait photos, stopped down to f2.5 or f2.8 or more it's very very sharp. And I think it gives a good background bokeh.

    At first my camera (350D) had a bit of a front focussing problem, which was especially noticeable on this lens wide open (or nearly wide). But I managed to fix that and now it focusses accurately in most light conditions.

    Although it IS a bit soft wide open, if needed it can really be used at f1.8 - especially if you don't need huge prints or will use it at screen resolution. For example such uses include stopping action in low light (sports, camp-fire scenes, evenings, low light indoors, etc). Coupled with my cameras good ISO 1600 performance, it's very handy to produce good low light photos that way!

    I've had fun using this lens for a number of "non-professional" portrait sessions (mainly of my wife) and I'm glad I got this lens. It's worth the money I paid for it, it was only around £70 (from the UK).

    I'd recommend this lens, it's a good tool to learn photography with and get decent sharp, specific results!

    reviewed October 20th, 2006
  • Canon EF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    USM, zoom rangle, reasonable price, sharp enough
    no IS , lacks some constrast

    This is the 4th lens I own and compliments my existing lenses well. I initially bought my Canon 350D / XT with the kit lens (18-55mm), use the Canon 28-135mm lens as my walkaround lens, and also bought the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens too.

    After half a year I wanted a zoom lens and ended up deciding on buying this lens. I've found it is a very handy telephoto zoom rangle of 100-300mm- I definitely wanted more than just a 200mm limit. This 100-300mm range is especially good on an APC DSLR with it's 1.6x "crop factor"; bringing zoom to a 35mm equivalent of 160-480mm.

    I enjoy using this lens a lot. It's great to be able to zoom up on wildlife well, use for sports or to use for outdoor portraits (with a pleasing bokeh wide open). My copy of this lens is especially sharp (even wide open) between 100 and 240mm, and still quite good between 240-300mm.

    I was toying up between this lens and the Canon 70-300mm IS or a Sigma 70-300mm lens. In the end I got this lens because the "portrait problem" of the 70-300mm Canon lens hadn't been resolved at that time (in the UK during May 2006, and Romania where I live doesn't cover Canon service) PLUS the 100-300mm lens was around half the price of the 70-300mm IS. IS would of course be very handy, but in many situations you can still get good handheld results without having IS if you know how.

    For the performance and build quality I really think the Canon 100-300mm USM lens has a very reasonable price (I bought it for around £200). There were cheaper versions of Sigma telezoom lenses available (and there were cheaper Canon lenses I tried too, e.g. the 90-300mm Canon lens) but none of them had the USM which I really wanted and the "sturdier feel" that I like so much about this lens. (It basically has the same build quality of my 28-135mm lens, which I'm very very happy with!)

    USM provides fast and accurate focussing (especially useful for sports or moving animals). Initially I was a bit worried if the lens' optical quality would be good enough, but in the end I'm happy enough with it. There is a bit of a lack of contrast and colour, but I find with some post processing (mainly a simple contrast & saturation adjustment) I can get really good results! That's one of the great benefits of digital photography!

    It's great for my needs and by bumping up the ISO (to 800 or 1600) I can get good lower light photos handheld (and I can reduce the noise by software if needed). OR, if the situation is needed, I can get fantastic results using my tripod too. but I'm happy enough with this lens. It's size is great too, I have my camera, and all my 4 lenses in a small camera bag which I can take with me anytime I want.

    reviewed October 20th, 2006
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Very sharp wide open corner to corner on APS-C . Useful range. Confident 4-stop IS. Fast, accurate AF. Bombproof build.
    No tripod collar included. Bit expensive, but you pay for what you get.

    What a L lens! It is super sharp, and has also great contrast at all focal lengths and aperture settings from wide open to f13 on my 7D. Then starts to soften due to defraction. I love the 35mm equivalent of 480mm, and can crop heavily still giving great images.
    Colours are vibrant and accurate. The focus and zoom rings work well for me (I like holding the lens by the zoom ring and/or end of the barrel, and having the focus nearer the camera, as some of my other lenses have, eg Canon 15-85mm).
    My previous telezoom was a Canon 100-300mm USM. Didn't have IS (so handholding required high ISO or good light). The 100-300mm does not have good sharpness or contrast beyond about 170mm. The 70-300mm L is just such a different beast, being sharp at any setting.
    It's noticeably heavier, but I find with the weight and 4 stop IS allows good photos (I even have some good photos at about 1/30 sec at 300mm) . It's extra handy that lens IS stabilises the image in the view finder, to allow more confident composition.
    I love Canon's true ring-type USM focus (as opposed to micro-USM), and the 70-300mm L lens doesn't disappoint in that regard either - lightning fast & truly accurate. Even faster than my 100-300mm's already fast USM focus.
    Bit of a shame for the price the tripod collar isn't included, but I'll probably buy a non-Canon brand one for about $25 from ebay rather than $200 odd from Canon. The lens hood is deep and works well. It makes the lens look even more impressive with the lens hood being on it.
    Very little flare problem, low vignetting and minimal chromatic aberrations (the latter two are correctable in post processing anyway). Bokeh can be quite good, especially when the subject is relatively close up.
    The lens just reduced in price the day I visited a camera shop, and I received a good deal (including a 67mm Hoya Pro CPL) - so decided to buy it, and very happy with it's performance! Balances well on my Canon 7D (even will sit on my sturdy Manfrotto tripod ok without tripod collar). When used with my Canon 350D, it feels like I'm attaching the body to the lens - and the smaller grip makes it somewhat uncomfortable. However I will be using it with my 7D 99% of the time anyway. Highly recommended!

    reviewed December 21st, 2010 (purchased for $1,600)
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Accurate AF, really sharp from 2.5, inexpensive, great contrast.
    No IS :( USM would probably still suit me better than STM.

    I have owned the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens for a number of weeks now.

    Below are some bullet point observations, particularly when used on my 7D.
    I am mainly making comparisons to two previous nifty-fifty EF 50mm f/1.8 II lenses I have owned in years past (but which I sold - mainly due to AF inaccuracy & inconsistency issues with those lenses)

    So, in summary - compared to Canon's EF 50mm f/1.8 II, Canon's new EF 50mm f/1.8 STM is:
    - Definitely much improved in AF…
    o slightly faster, with less hunting in low light / low contrast areas
    o smoother & quieter (I don’t really need it STM for video, though handy to have available)
    o most importantly accurate and consistent
    - More pleasing, smoother bokeh (not top quality, but a notable improvement from my old 50mm II’s, particularly between f/2.2 and f/5.6)
    - Closer minimum focal distance really appreciated
    - Acceptable sharpness wide open across most of the frame (on APS-C)
    - Very sharp between f/2.8 and f/8. Capable of extremely great IQ at these apertures
    - Contrast between f/1.8 and f/2.2 benefits well from a little boost in post-processing (PP)
    - CA’s visible at f/1.8 – but reduce fairly rapidly so by f/2.5 they are no longer there
    - Vignetting wide open just noticeable on APS-C (looking forward to the DxO module to correct this and CAs automatically)
    - No apparent de-centring issue at this stage
    - Required a AFMA of about -3 (this might not be the final figure… as I have not conducted final detailed testing on this)
    - Build quality is definitely better (sturdier feel, metal mount, focus ring improved).

    Overall I am a happy 50mm f/1.8 STM owner. Great little lens... I received this lens at a really great price from a store that I have bought quite a bit of photography gear from.
    I was probably the first in my city (Adelaide, South Australia) - to purchase it from a 'bricks and mortar store'.

    Regards, Paul

    reviewed June 30th, 2015 (purchased for $122)