Canon EOS 1D Mark II versus Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi

You’re probably reading the title and thinking, no way, not even close, not a fair comparison. That’s like comparing apples to oranges. I would definitely agree. But what if you had some money to spare, found a great deal on a 1D Mark II and was wondering, is it worth it or should I just get the XTi? Let me save you guys the trouble of having to read the entire post if you are in a hurry: despite the Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi utilizing many new Canon advancements, it still does not come close to the 4 year old Canon EOS 1D Mark II.

While these two SLRs are not even close to being in the same class (amateur stepping up from point-and-shoot camera vs. pro shooter), it’s still fun to just to compare. So let’s lay it out in an easy to read table (information compiled from dpreview.com):

SLR Cameras Canon EOS 1D Mark II Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi Winner
Year Introduced January 29, 2004 August 24, 2006
Sensor Size 28.7 x 19.1 mm 22.2 x 14.8 mm 1D Mark II
Viewfinder 100%, 0.72x magnification 95%, 0.8x magnification 1D Mark II
Max Resolution 3504×2336 3888×2592 400D/XTi
Megapixels 8.2 10.2 400D/XTi
ISO rating 100-1600 in 1/3 stops, with 50 and 3200 as options 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 1D Mark II
Auto Focus type TTL-AREA-SIR 45 focus point CMOS sensor Multi-BASIS TTL 9 focus point CMOS sensor 1D Mark II
Max shutter 1/8000 sec 1/4000 sec 1D Mark II
Metering 21 area eval, partial, spot (center, AF point, multi-spot), center weighted average 35 area eval, center weighted, partial 1D Mark II
Crop Factor 1.3 1.6 1D Mark II
Continuous Drive 8.5 fps for 40 JPEG or 20 RAW 3 fps for 27 JPEG or 10 RAW 1D Mark II
Storage Types Compact Flash (Type I or II), SD card, and SDHC (with latest firmware) Compact Flash (Type I or II) 1D Mark II
LCD 2.0 inches 2.5 inches 400D/XTi
LCD Pixels 230,000 230,000 Tie
Battery Canon Ni-MH NP-E3 (12v 1650mAh) battery Canon Lithium-Ion NB-2LH (7.4v 720mAh) battery 1D Mark II
Weight 1565 g (55.2 oz) 556 g (19.6 oz)
Dimensions 156 x 158 x 80 mm (6.1 x 6.2 x 3.2 in) 127 x 94 x 65 mm (5 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)

It’s pretty obvious, side-by-side, which is the superior SLR: the 1D. There are a couple areas where the 400D/XTi has an advantage over the 1D, but it’s a slight advantage such as the LCD size. While the 400D/XTi has a bigger LCD (2.5 inch), the 1D has as better resolution screen. The most noticeable difference is megapixels. For those concerned with megapixel sizes, the 400D/XTi has nearly 2MP more than the 1D. But you have to consider from a relative stand point, that 8.2 MP on a 1.3 crop factor sensor versus 10.1 MP on a 1.6 crop factor sensor will result in lower noise. The pixel size on the 1D Mark II is 8.2µm versus 5.7µm (figures from the-digital-picture.com) meaning that the 1D Mark II is able to capture more light per pixel resulting in higher sensitivity meaning less noise in the picture. That’s why more mega pixels is not always better and the Canon EOS 5D has such fantastic low noise capabilities because of it’s full frame sensor with 12.8 megapixels.

So Which Camera Is Right For Me?

Unless you make serious money from photography or you just make serious money, I would recommend the Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi (or the newly released Canon EOS Rebel 450D/XSi). The 400D/XTi and 450D/XSi has some very useful features and should not be easily discounted as merely an amateur camera as Peter Gregg found out. Read his informative post about the Canon EOS 400D/XTi as a sleeper camera on his website, abetterbouncecard.com. It’s small and portable and can utilize Canon EF and EF-S mount lenses, unlike the 1D only taking EF mount lenses. The battery is small and lasts forever and is cross usable with other Canon point-and-shoot cameras. It will do a decent job for amateur sports, event photography, party photography, etc.

If you need the serious frame rates because you’re shooting sports, professional auto racing, etc., then definitely spring for the 1D. The prices for the 1D are pretty good, if you can get a good condition used one for under $2k, it’s definitely worth doing. The 1D Mark II may seem old, but it’s still performs as good if not better than a lot of the new SLRs right now. The Canon EOS 1D Mark IIn is also worth considering if you can find it for a good price. I generally see some once in a blue moon at BH Photo’s Used section and occasionally on Craigslist. There aren’t really too many major differences between the Mark II and Mark IIn other than bigger LCD (2.5 inch vs. 2 inch), you can write different file types to either card, slightly faster Digic II CPU, and a few other minor things.

My Dream Comes True At 8.5 frames per second

I was able to realize one of my long held photography dreams on Saturday. It has been something I have long had my eyes on but no justification to purchase, but that’s now things have changed. As you can probably surmise from the picture, what I’m talking about is a camera. But it’s not just any camera, it is the Camera. Many amateur and pro photographers dream of owning a fine tool such as this, and as of Saturday, I join the ranks of 1D owners. That’s right folks, I am now a proud new owner of a Canon EOS 1D Mark II.

I know some of you may be wondering, why not a Canon 1D Mark III or Mark IIn for that matter? Well, it’s simple, it’s still hard at the moment to justify the cost of the Canon 1D Mark III (~$4,000) and for the price I paid for the Mark II versus what I would have had to pay for the Mark IIn, it was was simply too good a deal to pass up. Especially since the Mark II and Mark IIn are virtually identical except for a few key differences ( it’s like the difference between the Canon EOS 20D versus the Canon EOS 30D), they are one and the same.

Initial test shots and some light use with the Canon EOS 1D Mark II, all I have to say is that it is absolutely amazing. You don’t know how nice it is to have 45 AF points versus 9 on my Canon XTi. Even though this camera is about 4 years old now (first announced in February 2004), it still performs better than a majority of cameras currently out on the market. How many other cameras can do 8.5 frames per second or faster? To my knowledge, only 3 other cameras: Canon EOS 1D Mark IIn, Canon EOS 1D Mark III, and the Nikon D3. I did like my dad’s Canon EOS 5D to a certain extent, but I’m loving the 1D much more.

In case anyone is wonder, yes, I am still keeping my Canon EOS Rebel XTi, it’s still a very handy and versatile tool. And, yes, there is a very specific reason I purchased the 1D, which I’ll be announcing very shortly. As I get a chance to play with the 1D Mark II more and get more acclimated, I’ll post a review.

Canon EOS 5D Digital SLR

Introduction

2006-09-17 - Canon 5D - 005The Canon EOS 5D is pretty much about as professional of an digital SLR as you can get. It is one of the few full-frame sensor digital SLRs on the market. It feels very well built and handles like a charm. Plus a CMOS sensor of 12.8 megapixels definitely make for a lot of pixel details, so on paper it sounds quite promising, so how does it shape up in the field and in reality?

First, I must say I’m a bit biased against full-frame SLRs. I know there are a number of people who relish the fact that there are now a couple SLRs (both Canon) that are full-frame sensors similar to the ones found on film cameras. So what are the advantages of a full-frame sensor?

Advantages

  1. The focal length of the lens attached to a full-frame slr, such as the Canon EOS 5D, is precise versus the same lens being attached on a smaller sensor that results in a crop factor. So if I was to attach a 24mm focal length lens on a full-frame slr, it is precisely 24mm. But if I was to take that same 24mm focal length lens and attach it to, say an Canon EOS Rebel XTi/400D, the 24mm focal length becomes ~38.4mm because of the 1.6x crop factor.
  2. Bigger sensor will resolve higher quality because there is more surface area to gather more light. And in relation to how closely or loosely packed the pixels are on a given sensor, there will be less noise on a full-frame slr versus a non full-frame slr given the same amount of megapixels.
  3. Lower noise. This relates to #2, with a bigger sensor that can gather more light because of its larger surface area, less amplification is needed to boost signal thereby producing lower pixel noise.

Disadvantages

  1. Cost is considerably higher. More raw materials are needed to produce a larger sensor and a larger body is necessary to house a larger sensor.
  2. The weaknesses in cheaper and poorly produced lenses are much more apparent and blaring.
  3. Similar issues with the full-frame film sensors: vignetting and softness in the corners.

So what are my thoughts after using the Canon EOS 5D for two weeks so far (which I must warn is no where near enough time to get an accurate feel)?

Weight and Dimension

2006-09-17 - Canon 5D - 007The Canon EOS 5D is definitely not a light digital SLR. It weighs 810g (892g with the battery), which is about 1.78 pounds. It is quite large in your hands, not quite as large as the Canon EOS 1D line, but definitely bigger than the Canon EOS 20D/30D and hugely bigger than the Canon EOS Digital Rebel line. The exact dimensions are 6.0 x 4.4 x 3.0 inches. Because of the huge grip, it is comfortable to hold and use.

Construction

Much like its younger brothers, the Canon EOS 20D/30D, the entire body is made up of magnesium alloy right down to the EF mount. It is not weather sealed, unlike its bigger brother, the 1D line.

In the tradition of professional level SLR, there is no built on pop-up flash (partly due to the huge viewfinder), so an external flash unit would have to be used. The buttons are slightly different than the Canon EOS 20D/30D. The four buttons (Menu, Info, Jump, and Preview) that are left of the 2.5″ LCD is slightly raised higher than on the Canon EOS 30D. The On/Off switch is also more pronounced. The two buttons on the back upper right hand side is also different than the 30D. The Auto Exposure Lock/Zoom Out button is larger than the Zoom in button whereas on the 30D, it is the reverse being that the Auto Exposure Lock/Zoom Out button is larger and the other is smaller. And the final major difference is the jog dial doesn’t have the Picture Style selection that the 30D has.

Field Test

It’s definitely wild to be able to have a wide angle lens really be a wide angle lens. My walk around lens, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM is amazingly wide allowing me to capture more than I was able to capture before. The catch-22 to having no a full-frame sensor is that while my lenses are all now wider like it should be, I don’t have the same focal crop I had before. At times I am finding the 70mm focal length on my walk around lens to be lacking that extra little field of view I used to have with my Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi/400D. I find myself switching lenses back and forth more often with my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM.

2006-09-17 - Canon 5D - 001I also do find that both my lenses are better counter-balanced on the Canon EOS 5D because of its weight than when the two lenses were mounted on my XTi. I don’t find my trigger finger and hand to be as sore because I’m not having to support all the lens weight through the smaller grip. I do find myself garnering more attention these days because everything looks so big now. Before the lens was intimidating for people, but with the 5D now, everyone is just surprised by the sheer size.

Having the extra megapixelage is quite nice. It allows for some amazing crops that I could never have achieved with my Nikon D100. While the Canon EOS 5D only has a 2.8 megapixel advantage over the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi/400D, the differences in the pictures is quite evident. This also further proves that megapixels do not mean everything. I would have personally preferred a faster burst rate (3 frames-per-second), but it has the highest buffer of all the other Canon dSLRs, except for the Canon 1D Mark III, with 60 JPEGs. The XTi could only manage 27 JPEGs at best before slowing down to 1 frame-per-second. The 3fps is quite adequate for most and many occasions, but having an additional 2fps would be great for sports photography.

The ISO noise suppression on the 5D is amazing. When I have to use ISO 800, there is less noise in the pictures than my Canon EOS Rebel XTi/400D at the same ISO level. ISO 800 on the Canon EOS 5D looks equivalent to the XTi/400D’s ISO 400.

Final Thoughts

The Canon EOS 5D is very, very nice, but I wouldn’t buy it. It is three times as much as my XTi/400D and double the price of the Canon EOS 30D, but doesn’t offer enough over the 30D and the XTi/400D to be worth it. But then again the 5D is a very specific niche dslr. It has a full-frame CMOS sensor at about a third the cost of the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II with a few less megapixels also. I would rather spend the extra $200 and purchase the Canon EOS 1D Mark IIn or Mark III over the 5D. But if you need full-frame and top notch ISO noise control, then the Canon EOS 5D is your choice. Full-frame is nice, especially when you need wide angle, but I personally need more reach than I need wide and the 1.3x crop factor of the 1D is a good compromise between full-frame and 1.6x crop factor.

[rating:4]

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

Specification

Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM on Canon EOS Rebel XTi/400D.

[TABLE=8]

Introduction

2007-02-11 - Stripes Bui - 006This is the lens that my dad purchased to use with his Canon EOS 5D. This lens definitely wouldn’t be my first choice if I had a 5D, it’s kind of like buying a Ferrari but filling up with 87 unleaded, but to each his own I guess. My dad and I traded lens for a while back (just to try), my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM for his Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM.

I didn’t use the lens as often as I would have liked to, a combination of bad weather days and being busy, but I used it enough to get a general idea of the lens.

Weight and Dimensions

Well compared to the Canon L series lens, this lens feels like nothing. At about 540g, it is almost half the weight of the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM’s 950g. It is also smaller, coming in at 78.4mm x 96.8mm. Very easy to carry my Canon EOS Rebel XTi around with this lens attached.

Construction

This lens is made of nothing but plastic. The only metal on the entire lens are the screws and the lens mount. There is some noticeable “wiggle” when the barrel is extended to its full length of 135mm. Turning the zoom room feels ok, not very smooth though. The focus ring is the same.

Unlike the L series lenses, you definitely do not want to drop it at all.

Field Test

The focal range on this lens is excellent! 28mm to 135mm is very nice to have in one lens. I did find starting at 28mm is definitely not wide enough for me, especially on a 1.6 frame of view crop factor, turning this2007-02-11 - Stripes Bui - 026 28mm to 44.8mm. But on the other hand, having a lens that is versatile such as this is great, especially when you have no idea what kind of reach you need to get a shot.

The IS is a great feature to have, as with all the other lenses that have IS also. This lens needs it a bit more so because of it’s maximum aperture of 3.5. IS does drain the battery, so use it when necessary if you need to conserve battery juice.

Because its a small and light lens, but covers an expansive focal range, I find this lens is perfect for hiking or just walking around. This lens performs quite poor in low light because of its maximum aperture. You’ll have to dial up the ISO.

Worth mentioning is that there is some noticeable barrel distortion at 28mm which becomes pincushion after 45mm.

Getting nice bokeh from this lens is difficult for two reasons, f/3.5 and a 6 blade aperture. Easiest way to accomplish it is to stand close to the subject but using a long focal length.

Final Thoughts

This is actually a pretty good lens for the features versus price. You’re getting a great range, 28mm-135mm, ring type USM, limited macro and IS all for under $500. It’s actually quite amazing that Canon decided to include not only IS but ring type USM that is generally found on the more pricey lens such as the L series. For those that don’t know, ring type USM is the super fast and quiet focusing system that Canon utilizes that allows for Full-Time Manual (FTM) without having to toggle a switch. Nikon’s equivalent to this is AF-S.

This lens also has limited macro capabilities like the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM, which is great for people who take macro shots occasionally but not enough to spend money on a true macro lens.

The build quality isn’t so great, but perhaps I’m biased and the optically quality is decent. This is a very popular lens with many users from beginners to pros alike, can’t go wrong with it.

A great lens for those on a budget and also a great backup lens.

Canon EOS Rebel XTi/400D Digital SLR

Introduction

It took a bit of agonizing trying to decide what would be the replacement SLR to my Nikon D100. I knew for sure that I was making the switch to Canon. Ironically my friend saw it coming before I even realized it. It had just come time to upgrade.

So at first I was not even considering the Canon EOS Rebel XTi/400D because I felt it was too “entry level” SLR for me, so I was considering a used Canon EOS 20D instead. I really wanted the Canon EOS 30D because of the improvements over the 20D, but the cost of the SLR alone would make it difficult for me to have any quality lenses. I was considering a used Canon EOS 30D at one point, but figured it might be too dangerous of an investment considering buying used electronics, too unpredictable when it may just decide to crap out especially without a warranty. So I was considering a Canon EOS 20D again because of its price and it still had many of the features I wanted despite a new model being out. After number crunching, I decided perhaps the Canon EOS Rebel XTi might be a good idea after all.

For the cost vs. what it offers, you can’t really beat the price. I got mine brand new from a Canon authorized dealer, Beachcamera.com, body only, for under $700 dollars.

Weight and Dimensions

2007-01-08 - Canon EOS Rebel XTi - 009They weren’t kidding when they said this SLR was small. It’s practically the size of a larger point-and-shoot, in fact it probably could be confused for a point-and-shoot if not for larger lenses attached. My finger tips feel practically smashed against the lens mount, that’s how tiny it is. At first it was quite uncomfortable to use, especially since I was using a Nikon D100 before, but after you get used to it, its not so bad. I’ve used my friend’s Canon EOS 30D and my Dad’s Canon EOS 5D, and when you have been using the XTi for awhile, holding the other two bigger SLRs feels completely different.

The XTi is very light, almost feels like there is nothing inside. The lightness can be both a good and bad thing. It’s good because you’re carrying less, but it’s bad when you have a big lens attached such as the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM. Without the top LCD, Canon has achieved a SLR the size of mid-sized point-and-shoots, which makes being stealthy easier.

Lighter lens mounted to the XTi is no issue, but when you mount an L lens, it becomes very front heavy. Everything time I have my 70-200mm f/2.8L mounted, I’m bracing the lens rather than the camera.

Construction

The XTi is primarily constructed of polycarbonate with magnesium around the lens mount and CMOS sensor. It definitely feels plastic, but don’t let that detract you from how great this camera really is. It definitely is very well constructed and put together despite being plastic. I have my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM attached to it primarily, and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM for special events, and it doesn’t feel like the lens mount is going to break off. Take it from a guy, who at times, carries his camera with the 24-70mm or 70-200mm attached via the neck strap slinged on one shoulder walking around. I know some people would cringe at the thought…

I know many people and many sites have commented on how much more comfortable the Nikon D80 and even the Nikon D40 (despite being smaller than the XTi) is. I have held both for a bit and agree that the two Nikons are definitely more comfortable.

Field Test

2007-04-26 - Canon Photo Equipment - 005Because this is my primary (only, currently) body, I use it whenever I need to take pictures. It gets a lot of use and while I don’t baby it, I don’t abuse it either. The body still looks relatively new other than for a few cosmetic blemishes such as my fingertips digging into the rubber inserts to hold the camera.

I always get looks when I pull out my XTi because I have two main lens, the 24-70mm and the 70-200mm both f/2.8 which means big lenses, and the 24-70mm is usually what I have mounted. It looks a bit comical at first, such a small camera but such a big lens.

The small size of the XTi makes traveling with it very easy. I can easily stow it away in my car and carry it with me to snap nice high quality shots. My lenses do kind of negate the smallness benefit of the XTi though…

2007-04-26 - Canon Photo Equipment - 031The 2.5 inch LCD screen is great, I love it, especially since I went from a 1.8 inch LCD screen on the Nikon D100. One major thing I highly recommend doing to protect your LCD is purchasing the Palm Premium screen protectors multipack and applying it to your LCD. You will have to do a bit of measuring and cutting, and it may take a few times before you get it perfect, but it is all worth it. It doesn’t affect the color or view angle of the LCD in any way. Worthy investment.

In the beginning, I figured the dust sensor cleaning feature was a gimmick by Canon, but after a bit of comparison with my friend’s 30D, it does in fact work. I change my lenses much more often than my friend does (he only has one lens…at the moment…), but I have hardly any sensor dust compared to him and he is much, much more careful about how he changes his lenses to prevent dust such as facing the camera downwards to avoid introducing new dust artifacts on the sensor, me, I just plop it off and on.

The battery life is actually quite good. I don’t have an exact count of how many shots you can take before you have to recharge the battery, but I find that I rarely have to recharge the battery. When the battery is depleted, it doesn’t take long to recharge the battery back to full either, some three hours I believe. And in no accident, the Canon NB-2LH battery is compatible with the XT, Canon PowerShot S30/40/45/50/60/70/80, and the Canon G7.

Final Thoughts

2007-04-26 - Canon Photo Equipment - 010While I am definitely overall very happy with the SLR, there are a few points that do irritate me. First and foremost, the limited ISO steps. My ISO choices are: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600. The jump from 400 to 800 is ridiculous! Sometimes I need 600 or around 600 and 800 is a bit overkill. The XTi does do very well in noise suppression, but going from 400 to 800 is a bit much in my opinion. I would definitely like to be able to adjust my ISO in 1/3 steps versus full steps, but I guess this is where entry-level comes into play.

There is no easy way to change the focus point. On the Canon EOS 30D and Canon EOS 5D, there is a little independent mini joystick that you can set to be a dedicated focus point changer. On the Rebel XTi, I have to press the focus point button, then use either the four point cursor keys or the jog wheel near the shutter. This results in missed shots because of having to press the button and then search for where I want the focus point set.

I’m not a big fan of the limited buffer. While the frames per second (3 FPS) is decent, the buffer of 27 high quality JPEGs feels limiting, although there is very few reasons to deplete the buffer. But somehow Nikon’s D40 and D80’s 100 picture buffer seems much more appealing.

If the Canon XTi’s body was made of all magnesium alloy, I think it would be perfect, although it probably would cost almost as much as the Canon EOS 30D.

Also having 10.1 MP is nice, makes having to do drastic crop downs still look pretty damn good.

This camera is definitely worth having as your primary and/or secondary camera. It has many features of the Canon 30D, but at nearly half the price. Eventually I would love to have the Canon EOS 1D Mark IIn or even the newly released Canon EOS 1D Mark III, I probably would still use the XTi a lot. It’s small, portable, cheap, and can use all the lenses so it makes a perfect backup camera or a traveling camera.

[rating:4.5]

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM

Lens Review

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM on Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi.
[table=7]

Introduction

2007-04-26 - Canon Photo Equipment - 011There are many reasons as to why you would find this lens in virtually everyone’s bag, it’s probably Canon’s best lens for its focal range, build quality, and sharpness. This lens easily becomes anyones favorite after one or two uses. It’s solidly built and very well constructed.

With a 1.6 frame of view (FOV) crop, the 70-200mm becomes a 112-320mm, quite a usable range. Whereas my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM is my carry around lens, I find myself using the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM for outdoor and indoor events such as the Cherry Blossom Festival and the Grand National Rodeo.

Weight and Dimension

This is definitely not a small lens by any means, its dimensions are 3.3″ x 7.6″ at a smudge under 3 lbs making it heavier than the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM. With the 70-200mm attached on small SLRs such as the Rebel line, you find it is noticeably nose heavy. It doesn’t start getting balanced out until you attach it to a Canon EOS 1D line, but by that point, you’re holding onto more than 6 lbs!

As with almost all the other Canon L lenses, the filter size is the 77mm. I’m currently using a B+W 77mm MRC (010) UV Filter which The-Digital-Picture.com exclusively uses. Originally I was going to go with a Hoya Super HMC Pro, but kept hearing so much about B+W filters that I figured why not. If I was going to buy a Ferrari, I wouldn’t fill it up 87 gas.

Construction

Built like a tank, just like the other Canon L lenses. Every piece is so meticulously constructed, you could use this lens thousands of times and it would still look new. Even if you dropped it from on top of an elephant, it still works great! Also worth mentioning, the non-IS version is not weather sealed. Of the four Canon EF 70-200mm (f/2.8L, f/4, f/2.8L IS, f/4L IS), only the image stabilizer (IS) versions are weather sealed.

There is really not much more to mention about its construction that hasn’t already been said by many people already.

Field Test

2007-04-26 - Canon Photo Equipment - 014For day-to-day shooting, I rely upon my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L because of its semi-wide angle and allows me to get close up to subjects and objects and its limited macro capabilities. For events such as concerts, festivals, and what not, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L becomes the lens I use for many reasons, but usually because I need the extra reach.

The picture quality is superb on many levels. The colors are vibrant and jump out at you and the sharpness is next to none. This lens is definitely sharper than my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L and has slightly better colors, contrast, and saturation using all the same camera settings. Very little post processing is needed when using this lens.

The bokeh achieved by this lens is nothing less than fantastic. The background is always nicely blurred out when using f/2.8 or a long focal range (100mm+) on a nearby subject. It is definitely not difficult to get great looking bokeh with this lens.

The AF on this lens is lightening fast and focuses accurately on subjects and objects. I rarely ever have cases where the 70-200mm is “hunting” for focus. Precision is very important, especially when shooting sports, which makes this lens a great lens for fast moving subjects or objects.

Overall Thoughts

There is only one reason I would part with this lens, to get the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM. While the difference in the price is quite a bit, it is very much worth it to get the IS version. This lens also attracts a lot of attention, being the trademarked “white” L lens and its size (especially with the pedal hood on).

The lens comes with a very nice canvas carry case, pedal hood, and most of all, a tripod mount which the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L versions do not come with.

Check out these shots (Cherry Blossom Festival and Grand National Rodeo), all made with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM and make your own decision if it’s worth it or not, in my opinion, it is worth every penny.

[rating:5]

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Specifications

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM on Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi.

[table=6]

Introduction

2007-04-26 - Canon Photo Equipment - 001From the first time I heard about the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens, I had a feeling it would be a lens I would really like. I was wrong. I am absolutely in love with this lens. It is amazing! From the feel to the picture quality, superb. There are few people who say this lens is way too overrated. Some aren’t as impressed as others and claim that the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 performs just as well for a lot less in price and is smaller, more compact and supposedly the Sigma AF 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DF performs about as good as the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L and better than the Tamron. I personally have not used the Tamron or the Sigma and can’t comment.

This lens is my walk around lens. It may seem a bit *big* at first to be a walk around lens on a Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi (hell, it’s still not even considered small on the Canon EOS 20D or Canon EOS 30D), but you get used to it quite quickly especially after seeing the the sharpness and performance of the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L

The focal length of this lens on a 1.6 FOVCF (frame of view crop factor) SLR such as the Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi is 38.4mm to 112mm, somewhat odd range, but still usuable.

Weight and Dimensions

This len isn’t small. It’s a bit longer than the Canon EF 17-55mm f/2.8 IS and is only a bit shorter than the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L. It weighs 950 grams (or 2.1 pounds), so it’s heavier than the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L, but not as heavy as the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L. The actual dimensions are: 4.9 inches length-wise and 3.3 inches in diameter. It has 13 groups and 16 elements; definitely a lot of glass in this lens! With this lens attached to the Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi, I find myself sometimes holding the camera/lens by the lens body rather the grip because it feels a bit more comfortable and I’m not as afraid of dropping this $1,000 lens. I see many people complain about the weight of this lens. It’s not light, but certainly not heavy like Canon’s super telephoto lens, the 500mm and 600mm. Those that complain of the weight don’t seem to appreciate the superior build quality and the picture quality achieved by this fantastic lens.

Construction

2007-04-26 - Canon Photo Equipment - 002Because this is an L lens, it is primarily constructed of magnesium alloy and most certainly feels like it can take a pounding and continue taking great pictures. The barrel that extends is also constructed of magnesium alloy and you can feel how well its built when the barrel is fully extended out. There is virtually no significant wobbling of any kind with the lens when the barrel is collapsed or fully extended. This L lens is black in color, unlike it’s bigger brothers, who are painted in the now famous Canon color, off white (or putty). Because of that, it may not garner glances as quickly as a white L lens usually does, people still notice that it is not a small lens either. When you attach the flower hood (EW-83F), it really stands out.

The focal length ring rotates smoothly and tightly allowing for precise adjustments. It feels great when you spin either the focal length ring or the focus ring. This is definitely an excellent engineered lens. One thing that many people may find a bit odd at first is how the focal lengths work. When the barrel is fully collapsed, it is at its fartherest focal length, 70mm. To use 24mm, the barrel is focused out. I believe part of the reason that Canon designed the lens this way was because of the huge hood. The hood attaches to the body and not the barrel like some other lenses does (for example, the Nikon AF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF) and if 24mm was when the barrel was completely collapsed, parts of the hood would appear in the shot. One added bonus is that with the hood on and the barrel fully extended, the barrel remains inside of the hood still, which is great protection in the unlikely event you drop the lens.

Field Test

I usually have the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM attached to my camera; as it is my walk around lens. There are a few times that I feel a bit limited by 70mm and want to be able to zoom more and other times I feel that 24mm isn’t wide enough.

The maximum aperture of 2.8 allows me to get shots in dimly lit areas, which is a great bonus. This is definitely not a lens I would use for shooting sports because of its limited focal range, but using it for portraits is very satisfying. It creates a very smooth and buttery blurred background (bokeh) at 2.8.

Auto focus is extremely fast on the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L because of ring type USM. It also2007-04-26 - Canon Photo Equipment - 007 focuses accurately and does well under low light conditions.

I’m unable to use my built on flash with this lens attached because it will cause very noticable lens vignetting on the bottom center of the pictures. It doesn’t bother me too bad because I try to avoid using flash as much as possible.

Another great thing about this lens is the macro feature. It can focus as close as 1.25 feet, much better than my Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L‘s 3 something feet. While this isn’t quite super impressive, it’s very usable for me. There are times I like to take macro images, such as product images and what not, so I need a good macro lens, which I previously was using the cheapy kit lens, Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6.

It’s a great lens with decent focal range. Good enough to spend 85% of the time on my SLR body. The weight isn’t too big of an issue, you get used to it, especially when you see the image quality.

Overall Thoughts

This lens would be perfect if it had Image Stabilizer (IS) on it. There are just some times in some dimly lit areas (such as indoors) where IS would help quite a bit! I highly recommend this lens.

[rating:4.5]

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

Lens Review

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM on Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi.

Introduction

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM is perhaps one of Canon’s most favored lenses by professionals and serious amateurs alike. Great range, internal focusing, weather sealing, great build quality, heavy duty, and a maximum aperture of 2.8 makes it a great lens for portraits, sports, and even landscape.

The two major reasons why anyone would choose the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L‘s little brother, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L is: 1) weight and 2) value to cost.

Weight and Dimensions

2007-01-21 - Canon EF 70-200mm L USM - 001The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM weighs in approximately at 705g (1.6lbs) versus its bigger brother, the f/2.8L at 1,473g (3.24lbs)! So the f/4L is definitely a lighter and more convenient lens to carry around especially if you’re going hiking or doing a lot of walking.

This lens is almost 7 inches long (6.8 inches) with a 3 inch diameter with a 67mm filter size, unlike the normal 77mm filter sizes on all the other Canon L lenses. This lens fits snuggly into my Lowepro AW 200 slingshot backpack with the Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi attached. The 70-200mm by itself fits perfectly in, making it easy to pack along as an additional lens and still have room to bring a few other lenses.

Construction

As with all of Canon’s L, or Luxury, line of lenses, it’s almost exclusively made of magneisum alloy making it very durable and able to stand up to punishment. I personally would never want to do a drop test to see how rugged it is, but if Ken Rockwell’s test on Karl Grobl’s dropped Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM is any indication of its well built quality, then I’m sure this guy will take a bit of a beating and keep on kicking.

The only major difference between the f/2.8L (IS version) and the f/4L‘s construction is that the f/2.8L (IS version) is weather sealed while the f/4L is not, but the f/4L IS version is. This may not make a whole of difference to most people, but worth mentioning just in case.

2007-01-21 - Canon EF 70-200mm L USM - 002Another thing I’ll mention here is the color. I have always been under the impression that all of the L line lenses are white (except for the smaller focal lengths), it’s not paper white. It seems (I’m not 100% sure, based on observations) that the only paper white L lenses are the 400mm, 500mm, and 600mm. The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L and f/4L are more of a putty color. Originally I thought maybe it was because it was an older lenses or faded, but I’ve compared it to other 70-200mm both f/2.8L and f/4L and they are in fact all putty color. Odd. If someone knows the answer to this, please email me with the explanation as I’m curious. I do in fact know why Canon makes the L lenses “white”, what I’m not sure of is why some are putty and others are actually white.

Field Test

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM is a great carry around lens because of its size and is almost as good, if not just as good, as its big brother, the f/2.8L. The most amazing thing about this lens is the bokeh produced. The background blurs to such a smoothness that I could never quite achieve with any of my Nikon lens, even the Nikkor AF 180mm f/2.8D ED-IF.

The pictures taken with this lens is very crisp and sharp and the colors are excellent. The Fluorite elements, in terms of the picture quality and clarity, are absolutely amazing!

Because this lens has the more expensive ring USM focusing (versus the micromotor USM), focusing is superbly fast and precise with FTM (full time manual) focus. If you’ve never used a ring USM lens, once you try it, you’re sold.

The major drawback of this lens for me is the maximum aperture of f/4, while this is not super bad considering you are getting f/4 through the entire range, it does have limitations in low light such as indoors photography. This probably wouldn’t be an ideal lens for indoor sports photography, but it is still usuable, the ISO just has to be increased to 800 or 1600 to get speeds necessary to hand hold at f/4. I have seen pictures of people using this lens at indoor high school basketball games and what-not and it seems to be fine, but grain is noticeable at higher magnification. But out doors on a sunny day, it works great!

Overall Thoughts

This is a great lens to have, especially for its cost in relation to its value. It’s relatively light, built like a tank, optically superb, and definitely draws stares and gawkers because of the famous “white” Canon lenses.

Even though I have the 70-200mm range covered with this lens, I will eventually get the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS. There are many situations in which I need a higher maximum aperture than just f/4, such as indoor sports photography or just indoors shooting. The image stabilization (IS) definitely doesn’t help do stop action sports photography, but will definitely come in handy for pictures of singers at concerts. And even though I would get the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM, I would still keep the f/4L because it’s a great lens and more portable than its f/2.8L brother.

By the way, I highly recommend getting the Canon tripod ring. It doesn’t come with it, and will set you back another $120, but it is well worth it because it keeps the lens and camera more balanced on a tripod. You could get a black one, it cost some $30 less, made of the same material (magnesium alloy), but doesn’t look as appealing. The Canon tripod ring also fits the Canon EF 300mm f/4L USM. It also comes with a nice Canon suede pouch to carry the lens in.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Lens Review

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM on Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi SLR

Introduction

We all hear about how sharp and how fast prime lenses focus. I had bought a Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.8D on this very premise, and had absolutely loved the picture clarity and quality. So I figured that with the Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi, I should get a 50mm once again.

I rented the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM from Calumet after doing a bit of reading and finding that many people do like this prime lens. The rental fee was reasonable, so I got it for a week and used it primarily on my Rebel 400D/XTi. It did fine. All-in-all, its a great prime lens to have. Lets hit the in-depth review.

Lens Construction

The lens is well built. It is mainly high impact plastic, black with a gold band. Doesn’t weigh very much (10.2 oz/1090g) either. Very well built lens; the focus ring moves smoothly and it connects solidly to the lens mount on my EOS Rebel 400D/XTi.2007-01-08 - Canon EOS Rebel XTi with 50mm - 002

Auto Focus Performance

While this lens is labeled as a USM (ultrasonic motor), I believe it is only a micromotor ultrasonic, the slower type of USM versus the super fast and quiet ring USM on the L lenses. It is never the less fast because of USM. The lens locks on to its intended target quickly and precisely.

It works quite well in low light conditions because of an aperture of 1.4. I was able to hand hold in many cases in-door because I was able to get fast enough shutter speeds.

Overall Thoughts

It’s a good size lens and easy to carry around. It’s a bit soft at f/1.8 and doesn’t start getting very sharp until it’s stepped down to f/2.8 or more. Achieving nice bokeh isn’t difficult with the available aperture range. It’s fast on the auto focus, very well built, and also being small and light enough to 2007-01-08 - Canon EOS Rebel XTi with 50mm - 010carry around.

Having a 50mm is somewhat limiting because in order to frame a shot, you’re going to have to physically move yourself rather than turn a focal ring. It’s a great lens to take pictures of people with (thought I was gonna say shoot people with didn’t you?). The colors are superb and very pleasing.

I would definitely get this lens, but it wouldn’t be my first or even first few lenses. But because of how light the lens is and how small it is also, I would definitely carry it around with me in my bag.

My rating: 4.0 stars
****

Canon EOS 400D/Digital Rebel XTi

Wow! Quite amazing, Canon has just announced their followup to their entry level DSLR, the 350/Rebel XT. The new 400D/Rebel XTi is amazing! A few of the major differences is that the XTi is now 10 mega pixels versus the XT’s 8 and the LCD has gone from a mere 1.8″ to an astonishing 2.5″! Here are just a few specs:

Sensor 10.5 million total pixels
Sensor Size 22.2 x 14.8 CMOS
Output Formats RAW, RAW + JPEG, JPEG
Sensitivity (ISO) 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
Shutter 30-1/4000 sec (0.5 or 0.3 EV steps)
Continuous 3 fps up to 27 JPEG/10 RAW frames
LCD Monitor 2.5″ TFT LCD, 230,000 pixels
Dimensions 127 x 94 x 65 mm

For more info, you can see DP Review’s initial release. Here’s the best part, the XTi will debut at $100 less than the XT! I would think this is going to piss off some 30D owners…