Friday, November 21, 2008

Canon EF 70-200mm 2.8L - Lens Review

An Unscientific Review by Morten Byskov -

I added the 70-200 2.8L in the fall 2005 after selling my EF 70-200 4L. While I had been happy with the 4L the 2.8L is a much better lens for me. It is sharper and the extra stop adds so much in the form of being able to control depth of field and of course makes it possible to shoot at lower ISO maintaining faster shutter speeds.

I also have the EF 135 2L and the two are close in performance. The 135L still looks that little bit sharper to me and is a favorite for portraits due the great bokeh. The shot below was taken with the 70-200 2.8L.

In many shooting situations however the 70-200 2.8L adds so much in the form of versatility. When looking at the 70-200s the 2.8L IS of course was an option but I chose not to get it after trying it out. I find the non-IS sharper and easier to handle. Perhaps a non-issue for some but I found the IS just that little bit too heavy. While the IS is paramount to some I found it a bit gizmo like and found the picture quality better for the non-IS. The new EF 70-200 4L IS is getting rave reviews from most users and should be considered if you are looking for lighter weight option and image stabilization. It would indeed be a great lens for travel use. I mostly use my lens for sports and as of lately in the studio.

I've used this lens with a 1.4x converter on the 5D with acceptable results. I've shot sports, events, some scenics, concerts, theater and much more with the lens and warmly recommend it.

View photos taken with the 70-200 2.8L in my SmugMug Gallery.

Canon EF 135mm 2.0L

An Unscientific Review by Morten Byskov -

The Canon EF 135 2.0L has a perfect weight balance on the camera. It is a light weight lens and features the very fast f/2. This comes in handy in for low light photography and has helped me immensely for stage photography especially. Pictures from this lens are full of color and are contrast rich even at f/2. The ability to throw the background out of focus is the other real strong point with the 135L and it produces a very pleasant looking bokeh.

I often use this lens in portrait session paired up with an EF 85L II. I find that some people do not like the camera too close. The 135L solves this problem and is still a very good focal length for portraits.

The extra f/ stop gained with this lens compared to my EF 70-200 2.8L has saved me many times especially when shooting concerts or theatre.

The lens is very sharp, even wide open. I rarely leave home without it and on two recent trips it was a part of my 3 lens kit as I wanted to travel light.

View shots taken with this lens in my SmugMug Gallery.

Canon EF 85mm 1.2L II - Lens Review

An Unscientific Review by Morten Byskov -

When I decided to go to a full frame sensor with the Canon EOS 5D, a natural companion to this camera would be the EF 85 1.2L II. I had tested the original Mark I version a couple of year prior to taking the plunge for the Mark II.

Going back to the film days I’ve had different portrait lenses over the years; the Canon FD 85 1.8, Nikkor 105 2.5, Zeiss 85 1.4, Zeiss 135 2.8. I have also had a couple of Canon EF 85 1.8s. The 85 1.2 can be a tricky beast to shoot with especially when shot wide open. You have to know its strengths and limitations. The difference really comes in to effect when shooting at f/1.2 – 1.4 -1.6. In this range the 85L really shines. It creates a distinct look which is very appealing to me.

Many photographers often find themselves debating the EF 85 1.2L versus the EF 85 1.8 due to the exuberant price difference. I like the 85 1.8 but once you have used the 85 1.2L there is no looking back. It is a piece of photographic equipment in a league of its own. Also photographers often debate the Canon EF 135 2L versus the EF 85 1.2L. The 135L has faster focusing and works better for close ups or candid. You can also add the 1.4x converter to the 135L which makes it quite versatile. I rarely use the 135 with a teleconverter. Then why the 85L? It is a pleasing focal length for portraits and the look of your f/1.2 will have you wondering – how did I do that?

I have used this lens for a huge variety of topics, from portraits to landscapes - from weddings to travel - from product photography to tourism. It is easily my most often used lens.

Check out shot taken with the EF 85mm 1.2L II in this SmugMug Gallery:

Canon EF 300mm 2.8L IS - Lens Review

An Unscientific Review by Morten Byskov -

I first set out to get the Canon EF 300mm 2.8L IS back in 1992. I had actually ordered it and before it shipped I got cold feet and went for the f/4 version instead. Clearly I had wanted this lens for quite some time before I acquired back in November 2007. I have now had the lens for a little over a year and feel I can give some input.

First of all I debated between the 400 and 300 as I shoot a bunch of soccer. The weight and not at least the price made the decision quite easy though. I’d have to say I am glad I went with the 300 as it is very versatile. I use the lens mainly with a 5D and the setup is much lighter than I expected – especially if you take the grip and tripod collar off. I’ve used it like that for a few cross-country ski races where I find myself running all over the place. For soccer I use the grip and stick the combination on a monopod.

The 300 2.8L IS is everything I knew it would be. Great color, great bokeh, focuses fast, it’s sharp and a delight to use. I rarely leave for a shoot without it. I’ve shot a variety of sports, theatre, landscapes, birds and more.

Feel free to check out some of my shots in this EF 300mm 2.8L IS Gallery

Thursday, November 6, 2008


What a City. I haven't been in Toronto since 1994 and it is every bit as big as I remember. Coming into the city on the 401 you have eight lanes of highway going in each direction. When you drive in over a hill this sight is quite amazing and most certainly a contributor to some carbon monoxide release.

I was in Toronto to visit friends but also to pay a visit to Vistek - one of the largest, if not the largest, camera store in Canada. I am shopping for studio lights these days and I am going through the usual research. Getting into to lights is new to me but I have decided to make the move so I can offer studio sessions, corporate portraits and in general being able to light my scenes differently. We did make a quick stop at the CN Tower. Amazing at 563 meters I believe it is the third tallest in the world. The picture above is from the CN Tower.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Jenn & Don's Wedding

We are back from Ontario. We were guests and photographers at Jenn and Don's wedding, which took place in St.Marys at the golf course where Don works. It was great to see everyone again but what mostly sticks out for me from this wedding was the look in Jenn and Don's eyes. It was easy to see that they are head over heals in love and really enjoyed the day. Here are a couple of my favorite captures. You can see many more in Jenn and Don's wedding gallery.

A little bit about gear. The Wedding was shot with my 5D exclusively. I had my 20D as a back up but did not use at all for this wedding. I had only brought three lenses to Ontario: EF 16-35 2.8L, 85 1.2LII and the 135 2.OL. It ended up being a good choice in the end. Although it was a nice day in St. Marys it was still too cold to shoot outside for longer periods of time so we ended up doing family photos inside by the fireplace in the club house.