Ok, so rented the lens from LensRentals, first shots with it tonight. I was shooting the technical/test performance for a burlesque holiday show. Small space (bar performance area), lighting was mostly small spots, so pretty bad most of the time, and then a bit too bright over part of the image some of the time. All in all, very challenging lighting. I'm downloading the images as we speak, but here are my first impressions based off of what I saw on the back of the camera (5d3, MFA via FoCal, +14 wide, -1 tele).
The VC (image stabilization) works well. Did a few test shots at 1/10 sec f/2.8 and zoomed in some on the camera, looked quite good, although I haven't extensively tested it yet.
So, for starters, the zoom ring is nice and wide, but reversed from what I'm used to. It's at the far end of the barrel, and you rotate to the left to zoom out, not to the right like the rest of my Canon lenses. The focusing ring is fairly narrow, but the grip is quite good. It's right where I'm used to resting my fingers when I'm holding the camera, and I suspect I might have confused the lens as it thought I was trying to do FTM, when I was just resting my fingers or accidentally shifted it trying to zoom in/out.
The focusing is a bit slower than the L lenses I've used (24-105, 135, 17-40, rented 14L, 24-70L v1, 70-200 2.8 IS v2). Not bad really, but not snappy like I'm used to. I shot most of the night in AI-Servo, since they were dancing and moving all around. As I said the lighting was quite challenging, but even when the AF points I was using was over the subject in decent lighting, I always felt like I had to wait a second or two for the camera to lock focus and start tracking. Quite annoying actually, and nothing something I'm used to. Part of it may have been, as stated above, my fingers rested right on the focusing ring so I may have confused it.
Otherwise, based off of the back of the camera, IQ seems pretty good, bokeh is nice, and colors are good. Seems sharp, although some of the shots the focus was off and I suspect it's because the AF motor couldn't keep up, or the AF on the 5d3 couldn't keep up, or whatever it was that made the AF seem to hesitate. I'll have more to say on this after I finish downloading the shots from tonight, and tomorrow night during the actual performance, and then process through everything.
Leaving aside the IQ, if I can't figure out the AF in this kind of lower light, I might have to not get this lens, which would make me sad as this is exactly the environment I'd use this in. I'll try using my 24-105 briefly in the same lighting conditions to see if it shows similar hesitation, and if so it's the camera/lighting, and not the lens and I'll have to test out in other dim lighting conditions.