Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

Michael: Canon`s best ultra-wide angle zoom, with a wide aperture of f/2.8.
I use it whenever I need real wide angle, for landscapes, aviation, in tight corners combined with autofocus on a full-frame body. On a crop sensor, like the
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV it makes a great moderate wide angle zoom (equivalent of 20.8-45.5 mm) and on the Canon EOS-7D a great general purpose zoom (equivalent of 25.6-56 mm). Very sharp in the centre from f/2.8 onwards, the corners get sharper with stopping down.
This lens often sits on my
Canon EOS-5D Mark II together with the
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM on the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV as part of a two bodies and two lenses kit to cover all preferred focal lengths without changing lenses.

for
VFX photography: *** / *****
While a great professional ultra-wide angle lens, for VFX photography I prefer prime lenses in that focal length range like the ultra-sharp
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8 / 35. It is sharper from corner to corner, has less distortion and less chromatic aberration. The Zeiss ZE / ZF lenses are generally in another league:
Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2 ZE: best moderate wide angle featuring ultra sharpness, low distortion and fantastic overall image quality, so perfect for VFX photography.
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Michael: This is my walk-around lens, when one body with one lens is all I want to carry. I chose the 24-105mm f/4 over the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM because of the image stabilization (rated for 3 stops) and the longer focal length range, sacrificing the wider aperture.
Apart from that both are sharp and deliver great image quality (for a zoom lens). The decision between them will be easier, once Canon designs a 24-70mm f/2.8 with IS, but that remains to be seen.

for
VFX photography: *** / *****
While a great professional general purpose lens, for VFX photography I prefer prime lenses in that focal length range like the world class
LEICA APO-Macro-Elmarit-R 1:2.8 / 100 and the ultra-sharp
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8 / 35.
Canon EF 1.4x II Extender


Michael:
Great companion to Canon's super tele and the 70-200mm lenses, the 1.4x extender is always in the bag on a shoot. It turns the 300mm f/2.8 into a 420mm f/4 losing 1 stop of light and some, but not too much sharpness. So with the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV it sums up to the full-frame equivalent of a 546mm f/4 and with the Canon EOS-7D a 672mm f/4. The new version III of this converter is said to improve even further the image quality with all compatible lenses and the autofocus with the new Canon series II super tele lenses.

for
VFX photography: **** / *****
The 1.4x converter should always be with any of the long tele lenses, as it is a light weight solution to extend the reach with minimal loss in image quality.
Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM


Michael: Canon's super-tele lenses (200/2, 300/2.8, 400/2.8, 500/4, 600/4 and 800/5.6) are all "as-good-as-it-gets" in modern autofocus tele lenses, they are the white lenses one can see on the sidelines of sports events around the globe.
The
300mm f/2.8L IS USM delivers incredible resolution, detail, high contrast, negligible distortion and great color. This awesome image quality is available already wide open at f/2.8 and only slightly improved stopped down to f/4 or f/5.6. While big and heavy (2.55 kg), it is my favorite lens, that I take on almost any assignment. The image stabilization is good for 2 stops of slower shutter speeds.
Together with the
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV you have the field of view of a full-frame equivalent 390mm f/2.8 and on the Canon EOS-7D a 480mm f/2.8, which is a big deal.

Update (10.10.2011): The new version II of this lens improves even further the image quality, the very fast autofocus, the IS (4 stops) and weights less. Since the version I is discontinued, you can get it used or go for the new version II.

for
VFX photography: ***** / *****
For everything that can be shot or needs to be shot with a long tele lens, this is the first choice, as the image quality is outstanding.
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM

Michael: Many photographers around the world cover most of their shooting with just 2 lenses: a 24-70mm and a 70-200mm. This is Canon's top of the line 70-200 with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and image stabilization good for 4 stops slower shutter speeds. It delivers fantastic image quality, bokeh is very nice, autofocus very fast. It is the first choice as a short to medium tele zoom.

for
VFX photography: **** / *****
One of the sharpest zooms available (very good at f/2.8 and only slightly better stopped down), with low distortion and very low chromatic aberration. So very well suited for VFX photography.

The following images have been shot wide open at maximum aperture of f/2.8 with the discontinued original version I of the lens, the new version II produces even better results.
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LEICA APO-Macro-Elmarit-R 100mm f/2.8

Michael: LEICA R APO lenses are legendary. Leica discontinued them in 2009, but you can still buy them used on ebay. I got mine on ebay and sent it to Leica in Germany for cleaning and re-adjusting. This returned the lens with performance set to factory specifications (they service these lenses in the original Leica factory line only).
What to say about a legend: resolution and sharpness from corner to corner, awesome color rendition, only very tiny mount of chromatic aberration. This is a lens that will serve for years to come, well prepared for future high resolution cameras beyond todays 21 or 24 Megapixels. It needs an adapter like the
Novoflex EOS-LER Leica R to Canon EOS adapter.
The only thing that is as good:
Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 100mm f/2 ZE: The decision between them is tough, you get the Zeiss new for a little less than the used Leica (plus cleaning and adjustment from Leica and a lens adapter), the Zeiss performs better at distance (the Leica shows some field curvature, the Zeiss not), can be used without an adapter, the aperture is driven by the camera body (manually via aperture ring on the Leica) and the focus ring has less throw, which is a little more comfortable for general shooting.
for VFX photography: ***** / *****
No better 100mm Macros available for VFX photography, so the Leica or the Zeiss goes onto the camera whenever the absolut highest performance is required.
Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f/1.4 SL-II

Michael: Cosina Voigtlander produces a few great lenses, that are true bargains in terms of great image quality for a small price. The Nokton has the solid feel and build of classic metal manual focus lenses and delivers great results even wide open at f/1.4. I use it as my main low-light lens and it is great for portraits on either full frame or crop sensor cameras. I use it mainly on my
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV in "darkness" at up to ISO 12800. Bokeh is very nice.
As the Nokton comes in Nikon mount, you need a lens adapter for Canon. I only use high quality adapters from Novoflex , as cheap adapters can degrade performance due to construction tolerances and whacky build quality. This
Novoflex EOS-NIK Nikon to Canon EOS adapter works great.

for VFX photography: **** / *****
The Nokton 58mm f/1.4 SL-II can be used for VFX photography with great success, as it delivers high-end image quality stopped down a bit. It is very compact and lightweight so it finds a place in the bag on most assignments.
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2.8

Michael: Zeiss is known for producing some of the finest lenses available. If you don't need autofocus, the Zeiss ZE line for Canon EOS has some unique offerings, that are superior to Canon's or Nikon's alternatives in terms of overall image quality and the destingtive look of the images shot with them.
The
Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2 ZE is such a lens. While you can get the ZE lenses new, I bought a used Contax Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2.8 instead at a real bargain. It came with a matched EOS adapter and I saw images shot with it beforehand from the well known lens tester, from whom I bought. So I was sure it had what I wanted: fantastic sharpness corner to corner and lovely smooth bokeh that looks quite unique and different from what I get from my Canon lenses in that focal range.

for
VFX photography: ***** / *****
The little gem is first choice for VFX photography: ultra sharpness, low distortion and well controlled chromatic aberration. It constantly delivers fantastic results with highest resolution.
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Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L

Michael: Tilt and shift lenses are favorites for landscape and architectural photography. The ability to shift (moving the lens parallel to the camera's sensor plane) can correct perspective distortion (like the converging lines of a building), while the tilt (rotating the lens a few degrees around an axis that lies parallel to the sensor plane) causes the plane of focus to rotate in the direction of the tilt (the plane of focus is parallel to the sensor plane without any tilt applied). So you can place your plane of focus creatively in various ways, to either get more subjects in an image into focus or blur parts of the image on purpose. This can create the miniature look, you can see in the pictures below.
The
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L is discontinued and is replaced by the version II:
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II is sharper than the original lens, has less chromatic aberration, the tilt can be rotated independently from the shift, it is overall a fantastic upgrade, albeit for a much steeper price than the original.
As all tilt and shift lenses it is manual focus only.
I use this lens to spark creativity in a variety of situations, like aviation and nighttime photography, HDDSLR filming and time-lapse photography. Don't overdo it, but get inspired.

for
VFX photography: *** / *****
I rarely use the original
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L on film sets for VFX as the Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8 / 35 is much sharper and has less chromatic aberrations (the difference in focal length between 24mm and 35mm is in most cases not an issue). That will change once I upgrade to the version II. I have taken a few test shots with the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II and it delivers the top notch image quality, which is required for technical photography.
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Canon Fisheye EF 15mm f/2.8

Michael: Fisheye lenses offer the intended ultra strong barrel distortion, which rectilinear wide angle lenses avoid, thus resulting in the well known "fisheye look". The Canon Fisheye EF 15mm f/2.8 delivers high image quality even wide open at f/2.8, although chromatic aberration and sharpness improve stopping down to f/5.6 or f/8. Main use for the Canon Fisheye EF 15mm f/2.8 is 360° panorama shooting, but it also works great for some unusual perspectives in tight corners, night time star photography or aviation.

for
VFX photography: ***** / *****
This is a must have for full-frame VFX photography to shoot 360° HDR panoramas for lighting and scene recreation in computer graphics. If you shoot on a tripod with a special panorama head, you can produce high resolution spherical panoramas with as little as 8 shots (6 around and 1 up, 1 down). It can also be used on a 1.3x crop frame camera like the
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, needing 16 shots (8 45°-upwards, 8 45°-downwards), but for the 1.6x crop cameras like the Canon EOS-7D you need a fisheye with an even wider field of view, like the Sigma Fisheye 8mm f/3.5 EX DG or the Sigma Fisheye 10mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM.

Update (10.10.2011): The new
Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM delivers class leading results and as a zoom works on full frame as well as APS-H and APS-C cameras, albeit at almost twice the price of the EF 15mm f/2.8.
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The short flange-focal distance of the Canon EF mount makes it compatible with adapted Nikon, Olympus OM and Leica R lenses. This allows one to chose among a vast variety of high-end glass like the legendary Leica R APO lenses.
Michael selected certain lenses for their high quality and ability to meet the requirements of visual effects photography, others for his creative ventures. So you will find adapted manual focus lenses from Leica, Zeiss and Voigtlander along with Canon's professional lenses: the weather sealed L lenses. If you use these L lenses on Canon's professional bodies then you will be prepared for shooting in harsh and extreme weather conditions.
Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM
Canon EOS-1Ds Mk III - EF 300mm 1:2.8L IS USM - iso100 - f/8 13 sec - Michael Grobe
100 % crop showing the incredible detail captured
Canon EOS-1Ds Mk III - EF 300mm 1:2.8L IS USM + 1.4x - iso100 - f/8 8 sec - Michael Grobe
100 % crop showing the great detail captured with the 300 f/2.8 and the EF 1.4x II extender
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Canon EOS-1Ds Mk III - EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM - iso100 - f/2.8 1/1250 sec - Michael Grobe
Great portrait lens shot wide open at f/2.8 with nice bokeh.
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Canon EOS-1Ds Mk III - EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM - iso1600 - f/5.0 1/8000 sec - Michael Grobe
Splendid lens for reportage: people gather after work in Mumbai, India.
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Canon EOS-1Ds Mk III - EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM iso50 -f/2.8 - 1/2000 sec - Michael Grobe
Another great use for this lens is landscape photography.
Canon EOS-1D Mk IV - EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM iso100 - f/2.8 - 1/2500 sec - Michael Grobe
With fast autofocus this lens is also at home at sports photography.
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Canon EOS-1Ds Mk III - EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM - iso3200 - f/5.6 1/30 sec - Michael Grobe
Indian tranportation, a whole family on one bike. Shot at dusk from an overtaking car.
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Canon EOS-5D Mk II - EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM - iso100 - f/5.6 1/30 sec - Michael Grobe
Great wide angle range for aviation photography, this image is not presented for sharpness of the lens, it is deliberately soft.
Canon EOS-5D Mk II - EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM - iso100 - f/5.6 1/30 sec - Michael Grobe
A fine lens for event photography, when a wide angle of view is required to capture the scenery. The aperture of f/2.8 makes the lens usable for low-light photography, albeit even wider apertures in the range of f/1.2 - f/2 are desirable, which you can find in prime lenses only.
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Canon EOS-1Ds Mk III - LEICA APO-Macro-Elmarit-R 100mm f/2.8 - iso100 - f/2.8 - Michael Grobe
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Canon EOS-1Ds Mk III - LEICA APO-Macro-Elmarit-R 100mm f/2.8 - iso100 - f/2.8 - Michael Grobe
100% crop shows the outstanding detail captured: hair and dust on the keys, fantastic sharpness and resolution even wide open at f/2.8. It doesnt get better than this.
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Canon EOS-1D Mk IV - Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f/1.4 SL-II iso12800 - f/1.4 - 1/60 sec - Michael Grobe
A fantastic lens for kids photography and portraits, here the little girl is only lit by one candle in darkness, so ISO 12800 and f/1.4 were necessary for a decent shutter speed. Wide open depth of field is very thin, away from the eyes everything falls smoothly out of focus.
Canon EOS-1D Mk IV - Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f/1.4 SL-II iso12800 - f/4 - 1/40 sec - Michael Grobe
Lovely and smooth bokeh also here. Shot handheld at ISO 12800, the skyline of New York at night.
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Canon EOS-1Ds Mk III - Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2.8 - iso100 - f/2.8 - Michael Grobe
The Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2.8 produces this very smooth velvet like look, while still very sharp wide open at the plane of focus.
Canon EOS-1Ds Mk III - Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2.8 - iso100 - f/2.8 - Michael Grobe
The bokeh is very smooth and pleasing, the lens produces a unique look, that can't be replicated by my Canon lenses.
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Canon EOS-5D Mk II - TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L - iso100 - f/3.5 - 1/160 sec - Michael Grobe
Miniature Germany: The tilt of the TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L results in unusual image rendering in aerial photography: the "miniature effect".
Canon EOS-5D Mk II - TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L - iso1600 - f/3.5 - 2 sec - Michael Grobe
Close Encounter: The mystic feel of the image is nicely supported by the applied tilt and the resulting rotation of the plane of focus here.
Canon EOS-5D Mk II - Fisheye EF 15mm f/2.8 - iso100 - f/11 - Michael Grobe
Lighting The Moon: The ultra wide view of the fisheye is erfect for this view of the LACMA lightsculpture in Los Angeles.
Canon EOS-5D Mk II - Fisheye EF 15mm f/2.8 - iso100 - f/11 - Michael Grobe
Here the ultra strong barrel distortion is intentionally used as an effect.
Canon EOS-5D Mk II - Fisheye EF 15mm f/2.8 - iso100 - f/11 - Michael Grobe
Once in a while I use the fisheye for aerial photography in the tight space of an cockpit or to gain a nice curved horizon of the landscape.
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The Voigtlander LH-58 screw-in metal lenshood is an accessory. Get it with the lens to protect it from impacts and prevent unwanted stray light entering the lens. Unfortunately Voigtlander has designed the lens cap so that it can't be used with the LH-58 screwed in. That is really annoying, as you probably want to leave the hood permantly on the lens like I do. Some research brought up a solution: The Nikon LC-52 lens cap fits nicely into the attached lenshood.
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Canon EOS-5D Mk II - Fisheye EF 15mm f/2.8 - iso100 - f/11 - Michael Grobe
This image is a captured frame of a 1080p video clip. The clipped highlights of the clouds are a concession to the lower dynamic range of the 8bit video capture as opposed to the dynamic range of 14bit RAW still images.
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