lens

5 May 2015

Canon 16-35 f/4 L IS USM Review

Posted in: lens, review|

lensAs a landscape photographer most of the time I use wide angle lenses, either zoom or prime ones, and have a nice and ever growing collection of them. Recently I added a new item to this collection – Canon 16-35 f/4 L IS USM. Main problem with other Canon ultra wide angle lenses was that although they offered great sharpness in the middle of the frame they were rather soft in the corners. This model according to other tests is sharp corner to corner. Such opinions made me decide to get it.

Another interesting thing about this lens is that Canon decided to offer Image Stabilization with it. You might think that it is unnecessary addition as ultra wide angle lenses are used with a tripod most of the time. That’s true but not always. Read on to find out my view about this.

All tests were performed on a full-frame Canon 5D MK III DSLR (which I reviewed here).

Parameters & Pricing

Let’s start with a short summary of lens parameters and price. Good news is that this lens uses 77 mm filter thread which is pretty standard nowadays (so no need to buy filter specifically for this lens). Also price is very good when compared to eg. Canon 16-35 f/2.8 II USM (which costs 500 USD more).

Focal length
16 – 35 mm
Apertures f/4 – f/22
Field of view 107 – 63.4 degree
Minimum focusing distance 25 cm
Filter thread 77 mm
Dimensions 11.28 cm × 8.26 cm
Weight 615 g
Number of aperture blades 9
Auto-focus YES
USM YES
Image-stabilization YES
Price 1,100.00 USD

Sharpness

First thing I noticed after taking a few images with this lens was how sharp it was! No matter where I looked, whether it was middle of the frame or any of the corners the results were simply outstanding! Prime-grade I would say. In the corners the difference between this lens and any other wide angle zoom lens I used is really huge. (more…)

25 April 2013

Canon 24 f/1.4 L USM II Review

Posted in: animals, astrophotography, Canary Islands, fuerteventura, hdr, landscape, lens, long-exposure, portrait, review|

Canon 5D MK II | 1/160 s | f/1.4 | ISO 200

For a few months now I’m a lucky owner of a Canon 24 f/1.4 L II lens. It’s the fastest prime lens I own and use it for many of my landscape shots and almost for all night landscape shots (including both HDRs and astrophotos).

First some technical specs:

Apertures f/1.4 – f/22
Field of view 84 degree
Minimum focusing distance 25 cm
Filter thread 77 mm
Dimensions 9.35 cm × 8.69 cm
Weight 650 g
Number of aperture blades 8
Auto-focus YES
USM YES
Image-stabilization NO
Price ~ 1800 USD

The build quality is typical for L-series lens and it means it’s excellent. The lens looks and feels very firm, solid and durable (in fact I think this lens looks more solid than most of the other L-lenses). The only downside is that it’s pretty heavy (650 g) and quite large. It also uses 77 mm filter thread.

Sharpness is fantastic across whole frame. It might be a bit soft at f/1.4 (but still sharper than most of the lenses wide-open) but stop it down to just a f/2.8 or f/3.5 to get razor sharp images. However, please note that f/1.4 is still completely usable and I use it with success to capture many night photos.

Chromatic aberration is hard to notice even at f/1.4. There is also no noticeable issues with distortion. Also flares are rather small. Please note that I can compare results here to Canon 24-105 at 24 mm.

One more thing to note is that this lens produces very nice bokeh.

The greatest drawback is large vignetting at f/1.4 (vignetting is really strong!). However, together with very shallow depth of field produced by this aperture it creates interesting effect so it may not be a downside for everyone.

Another is that this lens is quite expensive (it costs about 1800$).

Summing up this short review, Canon 24 f/1.4 II is a truly wonderful lens which I would recommend to anyone serious about landscape photography as well as for anyone shooting in low-light situations (astrophotographers, wedding photographers, etc.).

Pros:
– excellent image quality (great sharpness, low chromatic aberration, low distortion)
– great build quality
– fast and accurate auto-focus
– beautiful bokeh
– very fast aperture

Cons:
– heavy vignetting at f/1.4
– quite expensive
– heavy

Below are a few more sample photos taken with this lens on 5D MK II:

Canon 5D MK II | 1/125 s | f/1.4 | ISO 200
Canon 5D MK II | 1/320 s | f/7.1 | ISO 100
Canon 5D MK II | 1/500 s | f/7.1 | ISO 100
Canon 5D MK II | 30 s | f/1.4 | ISO 100
12 December 2012

My favourite lens is…

Posted in: hdr, lens, Masuria|

I took this HDR photo of a dead tree in Masuria from 5 exposures at 2 EV spacing.

And the answer is: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM. I used it for as many as 21% of my already developed photos since I started photographing with digital cameras back in 2008.

I already mentioned it a few times but I will repeat it once more: it’s a really great lens and very universal one too. At the time I was buying it I was also considering Canon 24-70 f/2.8 but longer focal range turned out to be really helpful in a number of situations. If I go shooting with only one body with a single lens most of the time this is the lens I take with me. It allows me to take both wide-angle landscape shots and some nice close-ups as well (70 mm sometimes wouldn’t suffice). What’s more if you use a crop camera like for instance 7D, the focal range becomes 38-168 so you can have an “entry level” tele-zoom lens if you cannot afford 70-200, 70-300 or similar.

The lens is quite compact and its weight isn’t too heavy. It suits 5D MK II perfectly (it was/is its “kit” lens) but I had no troubles using it with other cameras like 50D and 400D as well.

Canon 24-105 isn’t ideal though. Two biggest issues for me are chromatic aberration and flares. Both are much worse than in Canon 24 f/1.4 L II USM but given that the latter is a one fantastic prime – it is to be expected. But you know when you get used to images which contains very little of them produced by Canon 24 mm prime it’s really difficult to stop comparing the results.

Sharpness is good – it’s all that I can say 🙂 Above photo was taken with this lens and it should appear pretty sharp (at least it does on my monitor at the time of writing). I’ve definitely seen sharper lenses (especially Canon 100 L Macro and Canon 70-300 L lenses) but sharpness is good and with a little of sharpening in post the images can be made very sharp.

Lens could be a little faster but as I use it mainly for travel photography it’s sufficient most of the time – especially as from my tests this lens is sharpest between f/7.1 and f/8.0 and these and slower apertures are the ones I use most of the time with any lens.

So summing up this very short post – it’s a great universal lens that all travel photographers should have with them. If you want to travel light it is perfect choice.

7 September 2012

Finding your lens sharpest aperture

Posted in: lens, tutorial|

Probably you’ve already heard that sharpness of your image depends on many factors and that one of them is the aperture being used. Each lens have its sharpest aperture which is usually somewhere between f/8 to f/11 (but not always). That means that photos taken with this aperture will be the sharpest ones.

Please note, that sharpest aperture differs from lens to lens and it can even differ for the same lens at different focal lengths.

Ok, we now know that being aware of sharpest aperture is useful and important but how can you find it out? It’s very simple in fact.

  1. Put a newspaper (or other text or drawing with strong lines and contrast) on the wall using a tape (make sure it cannot move as it can potentially ruin the test).
  2. Mount your camera on a tripod just in front of a newspaper.
  3. Set your camera to Aperture priority mode (Av for Canons) and set your ISO to 100.
  4. Focus on the newspaper and switch to manual focus to avoid refocusing (what could result in different sharpness due to Auto-Focusing missing the target).
  5. Use remote shutter release to avoid any camera shake and take photos of the newspaper at different apertures. Start with the widest aperture and close it slowly (I used 1/3 EV increment in my test below). To be honest to avoid touching the camera during the test I connected my Canon 5D MK II with my PC via the USB cable and released shutter and changed exposure parameters using Canon’s EOS Utility.
  6. Copy files to your PC.
  7. View your files at 100% magnification and compare them. You will notice that some photos are more blurry than others. There will also be a few which are much sharper than any other. Note aperture of these photos – it is your lens sharpest aperture.

Here are some test shots for my new Canon 24 f/1.4 L lens, taken at apertures of f/1.4, f/7.1 and f/22.

From these images it should be easily visible that for this lens the sharpest aperture is f/7.1. If it isn’t view the images in full size – the difference should be much easier to notice then.

28 June 2012

Canon 100 f/2.8 L Macro lens review

Posted in: lens, macro, review|

As I mentioned some time ago I recently got Canon 100 f/2.8 L Macro IS USM lens. After taking a few test shots during last weekend I can finally write a few words about it.

Despite it has Macro word in name it can be also used for other purposes like eg. portraits. Macro just means that it offers 1:1 magnification (what means that subject will have real life size on the camera sensor). You can go beyond this using extension tubes, close-up filters or reverse-mount rings. I personally use a set of tubes from Kenko to get 2:1 magnification.

As it is a prime lens you might expect great image quality and sharpness. And you won’t be disappointed. Image quality is simply fantastic across whole frame. The lens is extremely sharp. So much that further sharpening in case of some photos I took wasn’t really necessary. The colors and contrast are also very good. You will also notice no distortion nor chromatic aberration. Maybe the vignetting could be a bit smaller on a full sensor camera but it isn’t that bad at all. It isn’t noticeable on a crop sensor.

Another great thing about this lens is bokeh. You’ll love it. It’s really beautiful. Take a look at this photo for a proof:

The bokeh has shape of almost ideal circles.

Moreover, auto focus is fast, accurate and also silent due to ultrasonic motor mechanism.

Also the quality of this lens is typical for other L-series lenses. The lens is solid, heavy and made of metal. The focusing ring is very precise and works with enough friction to allow setting focus at the point you want.

Summing up this extremely short review, it’s a fantastic lens. If you need great lens for macro and/or portraits I can really recommend it. I use it for a very short time but already like it very much.

Capturing broad depth of field in macro world requires taking several shots with different points of focus and then merging them into one photo using focus stacking technique.
To capture sharp droplets it is necessary to use manual focusing.
Although it is a macro lens you can still use it in “normal” photography. Maximum aperture of f/2.8 together with beautiful bokeh makes it a great lens for portraits for instance.

18 June 2012

Canon 100 L f/2.8 IS USM Macro – first photos

Posted in: lens, macro|

Recently I’ve bought Canon 100L f/2.8 IS USM Macro lens (uff these names get longer and longer…). Although I will be heavily testing it in a few days (and after that I’ll write my review) I would like to share some photos and short thoughts today.

I can already say one thing – this lens is ultra-sharp. I used very small amount of sharpening in post – more simply wasn’t required. Also it is unbelievable how much detail you can capture with it. This make it also quite difficult with some subject because you can capture dirt you don’t see with your eyes.

14 January 2012

Canon 70-300 f/4 – 5.6 L IS USM lens review

Posted in: hdr, lens, review, warsaw|

Tiger in Warsaw Zoo

I’m a lucky owner of Canon 70-300L f/4 – f/5.6 IS USM tele-zoom lens for some time now. And here is my short review of this lens.

Parameters

I will start with a few technical information:
Apertures f/4 – 5.6
Field of view 34.3 – 8.2 degree
Minimum focusing distance 1.5m
Filter thread 67 mm
Dimensions 14.3 cm × 8.90 cm
Weight 1050 g
Number of aperture blades 8
Auto-focus YES
USM YES
Image-stabilization YES (4 stops)
Price $1,599.00

Review

What really amazes me in this lens is image quality produced by it.  For me image quality is the most important factor and it was actually the main reason why I decided to get this lens.

Canon 70-300L produces images with great sharpness (really!), very nice contrast and colours. If you’re not convinced after such short statement I would like to mention that some of images taken with this lens didn’t require any sharpening in post-processing. No sharpening at all!

Canon 70-300 L lens review

The new Image Stabilization system (same as in excellent 70-200 f/2.8 L II) offers about 4 stops of stabilization. And it really rocks and works as advertised (in some tests it proved to be even better). On my Canon 50D camera I’m able to hand-hold shots at 300mm and 1/15s exposure time without big problems. On 5D MK III I can hand-hold even longer times due to it having full-frame sensor. I was also successful even with longer exposures but the success rate was lower in these cases of course.

Focus is fast, accurate and silent due to ultrasonic engine.

Another interesting thing is that this lens is pretty compact. Most of the white long tele-zooms from Canon and other vendors are huge and heavy. 70-300 L is just slightly longer that 24-105L lens. If you’re familiar with that lens this tele-zoom will be really easy to handle. It’s also lighter than most of the Canon tele-zooms (still weighs 1 kg) but looks and feels as solid as all other white L lenses.

Moreover focus and focal range rings are well-placed and works smoothly yet with enough friction to allow very accurate adjustments.

So are there any drawbacks or maybe it is an ideal lens? Unfortunately there are two and the first of them may disqualify this lens for many photographers in fact.

It has maximum aperture of f/4 to f/5.6 at 300 mm. For me it isn’t that important as I don’t often need it and shooting mainly landscapes and architecture I hardly ever use faster apertures than f/8. Even for portrait work I often use f/5.6, so for me – it’s not a big deal. But I know that it can be for a lot of photographers.

The other problem is that it’s impossible to use Canon tele-converter with it. After some time I found out that Kenco tele-converters work with this lens without problems, however. So currently I own 2x tele converter meaning that I can shoot at focal lengths ranging 140-600. Not bad 🙂

One thing that I’m missing was tripod mount ring. Unless some other white lenses from Canon, you won’t find it included with the Canon 70-300 L – you need to buy it separately. And its price is around $170.00 on Amazon. Not very cheap.

Summary

It’s a really great lens. Although I’m landscape photographer and thus I’m working with wide angles most of the time, I love shooting with it as it’s a great pleasure. Image quality, sharpness, build – all are excellent and it’s hard to find anything wrong about it.

Pros:
– great focal range
– fantastic image quality
– very good image stabilization (a bit more than 4 stops of light)
– looks & feel solid
– compact size

Cons:
it’s impossible to use tele-converter EDIT: as pointed out in the comments it is possible in fact. One from Canon indeed doesn’t work but one from Kenco does.
– maximum aperture of f/4 to f/5.6
– tripod mount ring isn’t included

For more samples photos see following pages:
http://hdr-photographer.com/2012/04/action-shots-with-canon-70-300l/
http://hdr-photographer.com/2012/04/in-the-zoo/
http://hdr-photographer.com/2012/04/let-me-free/