Canon today announced their latest consumer-oriented digital SLR camera – the EOS 650D. The xxxD series of camera bodies have been traditionally aimed at the beginner photographer and this model is no exception, although an estimated retail price of over £700 might be a bit off-putting for newcomers. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Canon
I managed to grab a couple of sample images from the Canon website from the new EOS 5D Mark III before it ground to a halt. There are more but haven’t been made available yet. Happy pixel peeping!
As many of my more attentive readers will already know, I’m a Canon shooter, and this Friday 2nd March we will almost certainly see the announcement of the new Canon 5D Mark III. Commenting on rumours and new gear releases is not something I want to make a habit of, but since this is the camera that will officially make my 5D a geriatric (heck, it’s already informally known as the 5D classic) it is worth a few thoughts… Continue reading
I stumbled across these videos on how lenses are manufactured and realised it’s not something I’d really looked into before. I can sit for hours watching How it’s made so I enjoyed them – maybe you will too! Continue reading
I’ve been weighing up for a while whether to get a general purpose zoom in this range, but I chose to wait and make a considered decision. I originally looked at the 24-105 f/4.0 L IS USM, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I would probably really miss that extra stop of light. I see this as a factor that will become less important over time as ISO performance increases on newer cameras, but right here and now I have a camera body that tops out at 3200 ISO and an extra stop indoors can mean the difference between a sharp and blurry shot if you’re down to 1/60 or 1/120. I was leaning more and more towards the 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM. Continue reading
Built like a toy and with a focusing ring that turns like a limp pepper grinder, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II is the cheapest of the cheap. The auto focusing is slow and jittery, and there are horror stories in the wild of this lens completely falling apart altogether.
But you know what? I love it.
And I’m not alone. The ‘nifty fifty’ and ‘plastic fantastic’ are just a couple of the nicknames given to this lens – and for good reason. Bang for buck, this 50mm packs an almighty wallop. No, it’s not perfect, but if you accept it for what it is then you could learn to love it as well.
So what is it?
It is, put simply, a very inexpensive 50mm fixed focal length ‘prime’ lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.8. Most people looking at this lens today will be mounting it on a crop sensor DSLR which gives the lens an equivalent focal length of 80mm. And therein lies its first caveat – this is a little long for indoor use, particularly for group shots. On the flip side however, it makes a good focal length choice for portrait-type shots and combined with the fast aperture you can get some pretty impressive images if you work to its strengths.
And speaking of strengths, the outstanding feature of this lens is the sharpness. If you’ve been using kit zooms and this is your first foray in the world of primes, then you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. In today’s digital workflow it’s hard not to pixel peep, especially when you’re starting out, so you’ll be forgiven for wearing that grin whilst looking at your images from this lens on your monitor. Sharpness is not something you should obsess over, but it’s okay to admire it from time to time.
Another thing you might find yourself admiring is the bokeh, or out of focus blur, you can get out of this lens. The nifty fifty isn’t renowned for the quality of its bokeh, but there’s no doubting the quantity that’s on offer when used at its wider apertures. Again, if you’re used to kit lenses with maximum apertures of f/3.5, f/4.0 and f/5.6, then shooting at f/2.8, f/2.0 or f/1.8 will open the door to creative options that are simply not achievable with slower lenses. If you’re worried about the quality of the bokeh then you’re looking in the wrong price bracket.
The lens has an optional (read: not included) lens hood available – the ES-62. I personally don’t think it’s worth buying since I’ve never had a problem with flare on this lens. For me, the small size of the 50mm 1.8 is one of the great things about it, so adding bulk for little or no benefit is a non-starter. If you’re concerned about the other reason to use a lens hood – protection – then consider using a filter. With a thread size of 52mm a decent UV filter can be picked up quite cheaply. I use a filter on mine, but the front element on this lens is recessed to such a degree you’d be extremely unlucky to damage it. At this price point, and for such a small lens that weighs only 130g, think carefully before buying and adding accessories.
The verdict? This 50mm probably gets my most unreserved recommendation out of all the lenses I own. The autofocus, if a little bit slow, is at least accurate. And the build quality… well, it might be almost completely plastic but that also means it weighs very little. No, they don’t zoom, but that’s the whole point – a fixed lens can change your whole approach to getting that shot. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
This lens does the important things well, and if you’re new to fast primes then I can’t think of a better introduction.
A new lens arrived in the post the other day – the Canon 17-40mm f/4.0 L! Ever since picking up the Canon 5D I’ve been lacking anything in the sub-50mm range so this will be a welcome addition.
There are a few reasons why I decided on this lens. The first is that I needed something that would fit on both my 5D and my 500D. I previously had a Sigma 10-20mm and a Tamron 17-50 but I decided to abandon the idea of having a mixture of EF and EF-S fit lenses. It didn’t make much sense having two camera bodies and lenses that weren’t fully cross-compatible, especially if I was relying on one or the other as backup.
The second reason is this lens represents great value for money. For me, it serves as two lenses in one – on my 5D it will be my wide-angle and on my 500D it will be used as a general purpose zoom. The focal length when mounted on the 500D is equivalent to 27-64 (approx) which is not a million miles away from the classic 24-70 zooms.
Would I recommend this as a general purpose lens on a crop sensor camera? Well, yes and no. Yes because the range is useful, the autofocus is quick and very quiet, the build quality is excellent and the image quality is very good. No because… well, at f/4.0, it’s going to struggle a bit in low/indoor lighting. I have faster lenses for these situations but not everybody has, and although some people will suggest using a flash it’s not always appropriate or convenient. I should really describe this as my general purpose outdoor zoom. If you’re looking for an upgrade from your kit lens, then I highly recommend you consider the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 (non-VC version).
So that’s about it for now – I’d love to be out taking pictures but it’s currently raining quite heavily. I hope to return with a “verdict” on this lens after using it for a few months so watch out for that.