Canon lense quality

“SLR Gear”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showcat.php/cat/11 has a good analytic review set for lenses. Canon is a focus here, but they have Nikon too of course. Unlike many reviews, this one is quite quantitative with good recommendations for what aperture and focal length to use for maximum sharpness:

“Canon EF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L IS USM”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/77/cat/11. Image quality 8.61/10. Best results at 100-135mm at F/8 or 300mm and F/11. Corner softness at 200mm, but keep it at F/8-F/11 and you won’t see blurring. Undetectable vignette on sub-frame sensor and some on full frame when you are at F/5.6 and below. Very low distortion less than -0.2% pincushioning at most.

“Canon EF 24-105mm F/4L IS USM”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/145/cat/11. On my 350D, this is too slow, but on a new 5D Mark II, it will be great because it is slower than F/2.8 for available light, but the 5D is so sensitive, it doesn’t matter. 8.97/10 image quality. F/4 to F/8 the lense is very sharp at 24mm. At 105mm, it is slightly soft and best at F/5.6 (either end is soft again). Vignetting is virtually nonexistant. Moderate barrel distoration at 24mm (0.6%) and slight pincushion at 50mm+ 0.2%. Basically a superb lense and expensive too at $1,100!

“Canon EF 70-200mm F/2.8L IS USM”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/57/cat/11 is amazing at 9.47/10 image quality but costs $1660. F/4 and above has no blur at all and it is very sligth at 135mm and F/2.8. At F/16, diffraction limiting causes a tiny blur only. Chromatic abberation is low and then become medium toward 200mm. Essentially zero distortion at 0.2-0.16%

For a full frame geek, this is a great set that gets you an everyday lense (24-105), a zoom for those birds and soccer games (100-400) and medium shots too in low ight (70-200), the only one missing is a true wide angle which is the

“Canon EF 16-35mm F/2.8L II USM”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1082/cat/11 which is another amazing 9.67/10 lense. Main bummer is it takes an 88mm filter instead of the 77mm that all of the other lenses above take. These big wide angles tend not to be too sharp, but this one is very sharp wide open at F/2.8 and then gets software at F/4-5.6. The sweet spot appears to be about 24mm at F/5.6. If you zoom out to 20mm, losts of softness goes away. On a full frame sensor thought, it has lots of issues with corner sharpness even at F/8 and there is quite a bit of chromatic aberration at 16mm but does best at F/2.8. It also vignettes quite a bit with a full frame. About 1.75 stops at the corner darker. Low distortion is at 22mm on full frame.

With a fast camera like the 5D Mark ii, the “Canon EF 17-40mm F/4L USM”
“Canon EF 17-40mm F/2.8L II USM”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/31/cat/11 which is another amazing 9.67/10 lense. might be a better choice because it is half the price at $680 vs. $1300.

h3. Subframe sensors

If you have an APS-sized sensor like the 50D or the 450D, then there are a bunch of very nice lenses that take advantage of the smaller frame size:

“Canon EF-S 10-22mm F/3.5-4.5 USM”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/135/cat/11. 8.82/10 quality. Its maximum sharpness is between F5.6-8 at 10mm and F8 at 14mm and 22mm. Chromatic abberation is a little high at 10mm. Shading is a little high as well at 0.85EV at F/2.8 and 10mm but drops to 0.5EV at F/5.6. Distortion is actually kind of amazingly low.

“Canon EF-S 17-55 F/2.8 IS USM”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/353/cat/11. 9.41/10 image quality. It is very sharp at F/4, but at F/2.8, it is OK. Chromatic aberration is a week point, with high CA at 17mm. High vignetter of 0.85 EV at 17mm and F/2.8 but drops at half at F/4. Distortion is modest at 17mm, but gets high at 20mm. Good for available light shots with older generation Canons like by 350D.

Finally point if you win the lottery and want to do really great wildlife or available light soccer games, then the $5000 “Canon EF 500mm F/4L IS USM”:http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/168/cat/10. If you can manage the 13 pounds of weight. You pretty much want to get a 1.4x convertor and use a fast camera like the 5D Mark II to get those wildlife shots at dusk.

Canon 5D Mark II features

Man I sure hope that this camera has great quality, because the “DPReview”:http://www.dpreview.com/previews/canoneos5dmarkii/ and “digitalcamerinfo.com”:http://www.digitalcamerainfo.com/content/Canon-5D-Mark-II-Digital-SLR-First-Impression-Review-19132.htm preview has me drooling as well as “Ken Rockwell”:http://www.kenrockwell.com/canon/5d-mk-ii.htm

* 21 megapizel, full frame, 14-bit (so you can’t use your EF-S lenses like the 10-22 or the 18-55, but it is going to be really good hopefully for low noise and for getting nice wide angle even with a 24-105 F/4 lense)
* 1080i/30 H.264 high definition video (12 minute clips, so great for most home movies really).
* ISO 100-640 calibrated. Will go up to ISO 25600 but I’m sure look like a cartoon.
* LiveView with facde detection and no mirror flip if using contrast detection.
* $2700 list price (gulp for the body only!).
* Vignette compensation
* Relatively compact at 810 grams (1.8 lb) and 152x114x75mm (6×4.5×2.9″)
* 3.9fps upto 310 on a UDMA CF card
* AutoISO mode where you pick the exposure and aperture and it picks the ISO
* Face detection AF where the camera looks for the faces and focuses on them.
* 3″ LCD that is VGA resolution (!!!)

Some of the negatives:

* It doesn’t come in with a flash built in, but with such a fast camera, it is not clear how much a flash really buys you (just boost to ISO 6400 if you need it).
* Stays with Compact Flash even as the world is moving to SDHC. Prices of CF is still decent but in the long term, you can see SDHC dropping.
* It is heavy in 28 ounces plus a lense, so you are lugging around more than a kilo.

The guys are “slashgear.com”:http://www.slashgear.com/canon-5d-mark-ii-video-capture-is-comparable-to-500k-pro-video-equipment-2116819/ did a review of it as a video camear. They say it produces 1080p in very low light. There is a new camera called RED which uses dSLR lenses which are of really great quality, so maybe I don’t need to buy a Canon XH-A1 camcorder.

DxO v5 sadness and alternatives

I’ve loved DxO for a while because it handles distortion correctly. Sadly the move to “5.0”:http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=26493 has gone poorly with lots of crashes and even with 5.2, people are still complaining about poor conversion and so forth. It’s not the only example of software taking giant steps backwards. Kind of sad. I have noticed that Canon’s own software does distortion correction and vignette correction, but in the meantime I’ll stick with DxO 4.5. But this version doesn’t have the latest cameras, so at some point, I’ll probably pray DxO gets better or go back to the manufacturer’s utilities for this all important camera-specific and lense-specific correction of optical distortion and vignetting.

When DxO 5 isn’t “crashing”:http://blog.richnetapps.com/index.php/raw_lightroom_dxo_capture_one, it fairs quite well against competitors like Adobe Lightroom and Capture One. While DxO’s main strength is geometry correction, it does general image correction with everything from smart vibrancy (kind of a intelligent version of turning up saturation). It can overboard with tings like Shadow Recovery which in its default makes pictures too bright (I normally don’t use it).

Where DxO’s new engine seems to have the most trouble is in color artifacts and isn’t very sharp. Lightroom is pretty good at this kind of RAW conversion. And of course, it has terrible stability problems, crashing 80% of the time at least in one review.

The other reason the right tool is important is for something called “demosaicing”, this is how the RAW image which is what comes out the imager (well, raw, 🙂 is turned into a usable picture. Apparently, Canon’s own DPP is very good at this, but its “sharpening”:http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/595717 is primitive. So there is much debate about the best sharpening tool, is it Photoshop’s ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) which is a RAW convertor or is it a third party too like Capture One or more exotic tools like