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 Thursday, April 11, 2013
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM Lens
I included the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II Lens in my indoor action sports lens recommendation list. Some, in a politely-constructive way (always very appreciated), are questioning my logic for doing so. The big reason for this questioning is due to the 85mm f/1.2 L II's focusing speed. This is not the fastest Canon AF system.
 
So the question: "Can the EF 85mm f/1.2 L II Lens be used for sports action photography?" is one that I want to answer today.
 
The short answer is "Yes".
 
Here is a very slightly cropped sample photo I captured with a Canon 1D X:
 
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM Lens Sample Sports Picture
 
Is it sharp? That is a good question because it is easy to make web-sized images sharp. Even with very light sharpening ("2" in DPP), the eyelashes are sharp as shown in the screen capture below. The screen capture is lower quality than DPP's RAW conversion (the sharpening is not as clean), but I want to show the active AF point placed on the jaw line:
 
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM Lens Sample Sports Picture AF Point Overlay
 
Close and fast approaching subjects present a challenge to the autofocus systems of both cameras and lenses. This runner was very close and moving fast. She was on the inside lane of the track and I was off of the track *just* far enough to not disturb the race. It is going to be hard to get much closer to any action - and dangerous to get that close to anything faster. The 1D X has proven very impressive to me, making it a great choice for finding the limitations of the lens. This shot and a significant percentage of my other 85 f/1.2 action images are in sharp focus.
 
Adding to the challenge of capturing in-focus action sports images with this lens is the razor-thin depth of field at f/1.2. Maintaining a focus point on the same plane of focus as the in-action subject's eyes is a challenge. Do not expect an in-focus hit rate as high as with some good f/2.8 lenses - though the 85 f/1.2 L II bested some other non-Canon f/2.8 lenses I was testing at the same event.
 
You of course do not have to use a wide open aperture, but ... f/1.2 is a leading contributor to the major awesomeness of this lens. It is seldom too dark to stop action with an f/1.2 aperture as the in-action subject's ability to see becomes an issue.
 
Actually, it can be too bright to shoot sports at f/1.2 unless you have the right DSLR camera. Shooting under full sunlight as shown in the sample above? You need a DSLR with 1/8000 shutter speed capability (only higher end models have it) along with ISO 50 to keep images dark enough to avoid blown highlights in some scenarios. These were the settings used in the sample above. Alternatively, a neutral density filter can be used.
 
Returning to the autofocus speed question ... Can other Canon lenses focus faster than the 85 f/1.2 L II? Yes. But, this 85mm f/1.2 action sports sample is far from a 1-off autofocus accident. My overall focus hit rate is decent with this lens.
 
Can any other Canon lens produce the same sports image look?
 
No. I love this lens.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 4/11/2013 9:32:03 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Monday, April 08, 2013
Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens
If you have been following this blog/new page, you know that I have been making a big effort to get good image quality results from the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens. This is currently the only full frame-compatible lens available in the 24-70mm focal length range with both an f/2.8 max aperture and Vibration Control - a combination that many of us find very attractive.
 
Evaluating this lens, as I hinted, has been very problematic. The first lens I bought had a serious image quality issue - Tamron wanted it back for analysis.
 
The second lens I bought performed well, but was noticeably softer on the right side - the side that shows in the site's ISO 12233 image quality tool. I suspected decentering and sent the lens to Tamron for repair/adjustment.
 
The lens came back from repair performing worse than before I sent it in. Tamron sent me a shipping label to take a second try at the repair.
 
The results from the second repair, the fourth test, are now found on the Tamron 24-70mm VC Lens Image Quality page. And, <drumroll>, they look very good!
 
We spent over a full week testing this lens model for the ISO 12233 chart test alone, but persistence has paid off ... I think we have an as-good-as-it-gets copy in our hands now. This process has not said good things about the quality control for this lens model, but again, the image quality looks very nice to me.
 
What is not looking good is this lens' AI Servo AF performance. This lens has not been able to accurately focus on subjects moving toward or away from the camera. One Shot AF has been working fine, so this lens has plenty of great uses available for it. More to come.
 
B&H has the Tamron 24-70mm VC Lens in stock.
Post Date: 4/8/2013 8:19:01 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Thursday, March 28, 2013
Canon EOS 60D ISO 12233 resolution chart test results for most current Canon lenses are now included in the site's camera lens image quality comparison tool.
 
As you can imagine, this was a big project for us. The 60D will become the standard EF-S Lens test camera and we will continue to test EF Lenses with the 60D as time permits.
 
Though the 60D results are useful in same-camera comparisons, you will find that results from this camera are not as sharp as results from the 1Ds III and other impressive Canon full frame cameras - even though identical test and processing settings (with a very low sharpness setting) were used. The T4i would deliver sharper results at the same processing settings (comparison), but the T4i has increased high ISO noise visibility as a result. There is a trade-off. The 60D results can also be given a higher sharpness setting. You are welcome to load 60D results into your favorite image processing application to see how increasing sharpness changes the results for the lens you are interested in.
 
Interesting spec: There are now 25,344 crops from 8,448 ISO 12233 test images available for review on the site.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 3/28/2013 8:25:20 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Monday, March 11, 2013
Gura Gear Bataflae 32L Camera Backpack
I'm just back (and somewhat recovered) from a 2+ week photo trip to Hawaii (Maui, Big Island, Kauai & Oahu). The trip was a great experience with lots of stories to tell and photos to share - though rain, thick cloud cover and high winds left some potential great photo opportunities on the list for another trip.
 
First up is a review of the Gura Gear Bataflae 32L. This is an excellently-designed backpack that worked out very well on this trip.
 
Even if you are not in the market for a high-end backpack, you might like the Kilauea Volcano night photo - and the brief summary of shooting the 500 L II in the rain.
Post Date: 3/11/2013 9:23:44 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Thursday, February 14, 2013
Just Posted: Canon 24-70mm f/4 L IS Lens
The full review of the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4 L IS USM Lens has just been posted.
 
Check out the macro capabilities featured in what could perhaps be Canon's first EF zoom lens worthy of a "Macro" designator in its name. Then share the review with your friends. Thanks!
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 2/14/2013 10:16:46 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Friday, February 08, 2013
Lens distortion test results have been added to the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM Lens page.
 
Lens vignetting test results have been added to the following review pages:
 
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM Lens
Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM Lens
Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Lens
Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens
Post Date: 2/8/2013 10:22:03 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Thursday, February 07, 2013
With a standard thickness B+W 82mm Circular Polarizer filter recently added to our lab inventory, we now have 82mm Circular Polarizer filter vignetting results included in the following reviews:
 
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM Lens (compare)
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II USM Lens (compare)
Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens (compare)
Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AT-X Pro FX Lens (compare)
Coming soon: Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM Lens
 
Because of the thickness of standard circular polarizer filters, mechanical vignetting is sometimes an issue when they are used on wide angle lenses. These tests allow comparison between the bare lens and the with-CP filter results (typically the last option in the focal length drop-down box).
 
In the above examples, the two Canon lenses show some additional vignetting when used with the standard thickness CP filters. While a slim circular polarizer filter is a great option, I much-prefer B+W's flagship B+W's XS-Pro Circular Polarizer Filters (B&H) (Adorama). These top-of-the-line filters are slim, but include front threads that will hold a standard lens cap in place.
Post Date: 2/7/2013 9:49:43 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Comparing the Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Lens with the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Lens - which to choose:
 
If you need the f/1.4 aperture, for the shallow depth of field or for the faster shutter speeds it makes available (key to stopping action in low light), your decision is made. You need the Sigma 35 f/1.4.
 
If you need Image Stabilization, the Canon 35 f/2 IS is of course the right choice.
 
If f/2 is wide enough for you and you don't need IS, the decision becomes a bit more complicated. Here are some comparisons to help with that decision process.
 
The Sigma of course rules all comparisons at f/1.4 - and turns in remarkable performance at f/1.4 compared to other f/1.4 lenses.
 
The Canon joins the comparison at f/2. At f/2, you can expect the Sigma to be noticeably sharper in the center of the image and the Canon to have a slight sharpness edge closer to the corners - where the Canon shows more vignetting. The sharpness comparison at f/2.8 has these lenses performing more similarly in the center (both excellent). The Sigma retains a slight center advantage and the Canon holds the peripheral edge. Beyond f/2.8, both lenses are razor sharp with the Canon retaining slightly better full frame corner sharpness.
 
The Sigma has about 1/2 as much vignetting at comparable apertures until stopped down to about f/4 where the Canon trails the Sigma by a very small amount through f/16. The Sigma has slightly less flare until the aperture narrows to f/8. The Canon then has noticeably less flare through f/16. Neither lens has significant distortion. These two lenses deliver similar (good) bokeh at comparable apertures.
 
The Canon weighs 1/2 as much, is smaller and focuses closer with a higher MM (0.24x vs. 0.19x). The Canon is modestly less expensive at this time.
 
Here are the full reviews for these lenses:
 
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Lens Review Buy
Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Lens Review Buy
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 1/30/2013 11:23:26 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Friday, January 25, 2013
A new set of ISO 12233 resolution chart test results are now available in the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens Review. These results are lens sample "2".
 
I was not satisfied that the right side of my Tamron 24-70 VC lens-captured images was softer than the left. Since the right side is displayed in the site's ISO 12233 chart tool, I decided that Tamron should be given the chance to make the lens perform as I expected (some of you also requested this). Unfortunately, the lens performed better before I sent it to Tamron for tuning.
 
Here is the before and after comparison.
 
The first Tamron 24-70 VC I purchased performed so poorly that Tamron asked to have the lens returned to them. The second (retail-purchased) lens, while good, still had an issue (likely decentering). Now, after an attempt to correct the issue, the second lens performs slightly worse than it initially performed.
 
What to do now? I'll probably send the lens back to Tamron for a second repair attempt. I wouldn't be happy using it and wouldn't want anyone else to buy it on the used market. I will likely re-test the lens after the second repair. This testing process is very time consuming and therefore, very costly. This experience makes it hard to recommend buying this potentially very good lens to anyone.
Post Date: 1/25/2013 8:53:13 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
Clear skies have been in very short supply for us lately, but I was able to squeeze in a flare test recently. Flare test results are now included on the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4 L IS USM Lens Review page.
 
As with the other similar zoom lenses, you will want to keep very bright lights out of the frame when shooting with the Canon 24-70 f/4 L IS Lens.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 1/25/2013 8:47:41 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Friday, January 18, 2013
ISO 12233 resolution chart results for extenders have been added to the Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 L IS USM Lens Review.
 
According to Canon, the EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 L IS USM Lens is not compatible with extenders. Not fully compatible is correct, but ... extenders can indeed be used with this lens as proven by the 420mm and 600mm ISO 12233 chart results in this review.
 
If the 28-300 L is zoomed out to 50mm or longer, the rear element retracts into the lens far enough for the Canon 1.4x and 2x extenders to physically mount onto the lens. Once installed, zooming in to 50mm will result in physical contact between the front of the extender (likely the rubber ring surrounding the glass lens element) and the rear element of the lens. You obviously want to avoid this.
 
You will also likely want to avoid the image quality that the Canon EF 2x III Extender combo delivers at 600mm. The results are not pretty. At 600mm, this is an f/11 max aperture lens that will not AF even on a 1-Series body (tried it - AF didn't work). Better, but still not impressive are the results with the Canon EF 1.4x III Extender at 420mm where this is an f/8 max aperture lens. Autofocusing with the 1.4x attached is very, very slow and very frequently fails completely on the EOS 1Ds III being used for testing.
 
The extender and lens combo's focal length reported properly in EXIF, but the aperture did not.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 1/18/2013 9:05:10 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 1/15/2013 9:36:03 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Monday, January 14, 2013
ISO 12233 resolution chart, distortion and vignetting test results, along with specs and measurements, have been added to the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4 L IS USM Lens Review page.
 
Here are some of my initial comparative thoughts based on multiple copies tested:
 
You will see very low distortion from the 24-70 f/4 L IS relative to similar zoom lenses. Noticeably less than from the 24-105 f/4 L IS - significantly less at 24mm. Landscape photographers shooting over a flat horizon (such as water) will especially appreciate the difference at 24mm, though the 24-70 f/4 L IS still has some barrel distortion.
 
The 24-70 f/4 L IS is nearly void of CA (Chromatic Aberration) until the longer end of the focal length range where mild CA becomes apparent at 70mm. The 24-70 f/4 L IS has noticeably less CA than the 24-105 f/4 L IS at the wide end, but more at 70mm.
 
The 24-70 f/4 L IS is similar to the 24-70 f/2.8 L II in regards to both CA and distortion.
 
The 24-70 f/4 L IS has less vignetting than the 24-105 f/4 L IS at the wide end at f/4, but more at the long end. By f/5.6, the two lenses are close in this regard. The 24-70 f/2.8 L II, with its 1-stop wider aperture, has the comparable-aperture vignetting advantage until about f/8 where the two are nearly equal.
 
If you are shooting at f/11, the 24-70 f/4 L IS, 24-105 f/4 L IS and 24-70 f/2.8 L II lenses produce essentially equal sharpness. The 24-105 has the longest focal length range to its advantage in this comparison. The 24-70 f/2.8 L II lacks IS.
 
At 24mm with a wide open aperture, the 24-70 f/4 L IS bests the 24-105 L IS in sharpness by a modest amount. The 24-70 f/4 L IS gets softer (especially in the mid and peripheral image circle) by 50mm f/4 where the lens performs its worst.
 
That this lens performs its worst at a mid-focal length vs. an extremity focal length is unusual. Since most people shoot their highest percentage of images at the focal length range extremes of a lens, the 24-70 L IS weakness is perhaps well placed. Roger at LensRentals.com has confirmed the 50mm weakness in his vast stock of this lens.
 
The 24-105 L delivers a sharper image at 50mm f/4. Sharpness improvement at 70mm brings the 24-70 f/4 L IS back up to near equality with the 24-105 L. These two lenses perform more similarly at f/5.6 and at f/8, results from these two lenses are nearly comparable. Again, the results are similar at f/11.
 
The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II USM Lens is the sharper lens of this group - even at f/2.8 vs. f/4.
 
Overall, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4 L IS USM Lens appears to be a great lens, but ... perhaps overpriced with the bargain-priced Canon EF 24-105 f/4 L IS Lens remaining available.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 1/14/2013 8:56:15 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Wednesday, January 09, 2013
ISO 12233 chart, flare, distortion and vignetting test results along with measurements have been added to the Nikon 70-200mm f/4G IF-ED AF-S VR Nikkor Lens Review page.
 
This lens is a really nice addition to the Nikon lineup.
Posted to: Nikon News
Post Date: 1/9/2013 9:55:46 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Just posted: Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Lens Review
 
The best Sigma lens produced to date?
Post Date: 1/8/2013 9:53:02 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Friday, January 04, 2013
ISO 12233 resolution chart test results have been added to the Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Lens Review page.
 
The Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Lens results are remarkably better than the results from the replaced Canon EF 35mm f/2 Lens in the mid and peripheral (corner) areas of the image circle. Results in the center appear slightly better in the IS lens, but the differences are very slight - not surprising as the old lens was very sharp in the center.
 
Here is a Canon 35 IS vs. 35 non-IS comparison (use the mouseover feature to see the differences).
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 1/4/2013 9:53:20 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 12/26/2012 8:27:23 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Monday, December 17, 2012
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 12/17/2012 12:06:03 PM CT   Posted By: Bryan
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