REAL WORLD Lens Tests

When I decided to get a little more serious about photography and buy my first DSLR, it was with the knowledge that I'd be also collecting a variety of lenses to go with that camera. I read lots of reviews, did my research, and plunked down my cash on a new lens. I was frustrated and disappointed when my own photographs didn't approach the level of the samples I had seen. Of course, the samples I had seen were enhanced through post-processing by photographers much more skilled than I. Since then, I thought it might help other amateur photographers in their purchasing decisions if they could see the results that other amateurs had gotten with a given lens. To that end, my line of Real World Lens Tests.

Rentals
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS
Is this the lens that every Canon shooter lusts for? (includes Bald Eagle sequence)
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS
Four weeks with this one, the finest rental so far!
Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM
Test failed. With a two-week rental, not one usable photo from this lens. Without IS, this demands a sturdy tripod. I may try this again, as the idea of a 400mm prime is surely appealing.
My Own Arsenal
Canon 18-55mm wide angle zoom Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Wide Angle Zoom
My first "real lens," the one that started it all. Came with my Rebel XT.
An under-appreciated performer?
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro
Tried it out, and had to buy one. An incredible performer for the price, and who doesn't love extreme close-ups?
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
When I bought the 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 IS USM, I threw this one in the order. For less than $80.00 (at the time), this little lens earns "best bang for the buck," easily. This is a no-brainer buy it.
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
My new walkabout lens, arrived 2/14/08. Just a beautiful wide-angle zoom, with never a bad result.
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
This may be the "starter" 70-300mm lens, but is it worth the price?
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L IS USM
More recently, Canon released their L version of the 70-300 lens. Is THIS worth the price?
I first began taking photos on film, using the venerable Pentax K1000 (all manual, all the time). I spent thousands of dollars having bad photography developed, and when digital cameras were born, I jumped on an Olympus D360L 1.3megapixel beauty that ate AA batteries like candy. The memory card that came with the camera held all of TWO shots. Still, the cost of batteries was less than the cost of developing roll after roll of bad images.

I later picked up the Canon S1, an "ultrazoom" (10X) camera with a whopping 3 megapixels available. Great camera, had a lot of fun with that one. When it developed the dreaded screen-zotz, I returned it to Canon, who "repaired" it by sending me a refurbished S3 in exchange. No complaints here, since I went up to a 12X optical zoom and 6 megapixels.

But these were only gateway drugs. I really wanted a DSLR. So I dove in and bought the Rebel XT (2nd generation Rebel with 8 megapixels). To augment the kit lens (18-55mm), I ordered a 70-300 telephoto zoom and, what the heck, threw in the Canon jewel - the 50mm f/1.8. After spending the first month on full AUTO, I started reading through the manual, and have rarely used AUTO since.

The Rebel XT led to the 50D, somewhat more of a handful, and lightyears better in every regard. One by one, my lens collection grows, because camera bodies come and go - but lenses are forever.

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dwight munroe
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