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Sigma 12-24mm f4.5-5.6 EX DG Aspherical HSM

Review Date: Feb 7, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Very wide on full frame, sharp when stopped down, well built, quite inexpensive for the widest non-fisheye available, decent contrast. Remarkably distortion free if kept upright
Very slow at f4.5-f5.6, dreadfully soft at wider apertures, some CA, needs a tripod and liveview to get the best out of it - needs using like a large format lens really

Bought one used, mint.

Astonishingly wide but this is a lens that begs to be used on a tripod and stopped well down, to f11 at least, if not further, where it does shine with some great results.

It's just too slow for general hand-held use (which is not what it's really designed for).

It's very well built and comes with the built-in hood and a nice case.

It's a niche lens - landscapes and interiors - and for that it's really very good. For anything much else I've had some horrid results, especially handheld, perhaps IS would help.

I certainly don't regret the purchase, with it being less than a third the price of the Canon 14mm L.

It does it's job well, but that job is fairly limited

Canon Rebel T2i DSLR

Review Date: Jun 18, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $725.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Small size, brilliant image quality, speed of use, all the functions you could ever need
Needs good lenses

This purchase was as an upgrade to my much-loved 450D, which I used on holiday and as a light-weight companion.

In the few years since the 450D came out things really have moved on, this new camera is a joy.

Fantastic image quality (for a cropped sensor) combined with a superb LCD rear screen, a Q button so you can now change settings on the rear and much better focusing and exposure.

Live view focusing is now very fast and the menu design is vastly improved

I understand it shoots video too, which I will never use

Although it's still rather overpriced over here it's a superb piece of kit if you want a small bodied dslr.

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8

Review Date: Apr 22, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Size, price, performance
Build, no full time focusing

Very underrated lens.

Nothing spectacular, just a good all-rounder for a very cheap price.

A very handy length on crop cameras.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Review Date: May 12, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,925.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Build quality, viewfinder, image quality, small size, LCD screen, almost everything.
Tragically old focusing system was a mistake at this price, just not good enough. Hugely expensive batteries. Movie mode, ugh.

Too expensive, but then again what camera isn't (especially in the UK), this is a terrific camera producing simply wonderful files. It's a massive upgrade to the 5D and really shows an extra few years development.

It is badly let down by an average focusing system that can (once again) only truly rely on the centre AF point. Not good enough on a new pro camera. In fact nowhere near good enough.

Also the ghastly movie mode. Why? Don't want it, don't like it, won't ever use it. If I wanted a video camera I'd buy one. Cheapens the whole thing for me. Gimmicky, poorly implemented and incongruous on a pro stills camera.

I can imagine this being the absolute darling of the wedding pro's.

However, all in all a very good camera with one or two limitations. The RAW files are simply as good as or better than my 1Ds3 and that is really saying something.

Canon missed a trick not making this a '3D' with a 45 point AF though. Big error.

Tokina 12-24mm f/4 AT-X 124 AF PRO DX SD

Review Date: May 12, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Build quality, clutch for manual focusing, price
Average image quality, hideous chromatic abberations at 12mm (even at f8-f9), innacurate focusing

Not nearly as good as I was expecting. Indeed I even sent it back for calibration and testing as I didn't think it could be supposed to be this average. The lab said it was 'within tolerances'. Not impressed.

Nicely built and relatively cheap and the push-pull manual focusing works well, but not properly sharp at any focal length and with simply awful chromatic abberations at 12mm, even at the best apertures.

A big disappointment.

Canon EOS 50D

Review Date: Apr 2, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: 15 meg sensor, nice LCD, very fast in use, takes 20D/30D/40D batteries, charger and grip and 40D focusing screens, 14 bit RAW files, well built, nice to hold, lots to like really
Still a fairly modest viewfinder, big files (but you should know that when you buy a 15 meg camera!) quite expensive. Canon finally give us proper gridlines in liveview and they are so thick you can hardly see through them, daft!

A typical, efficient modern Canon dslr. A proper upgrade to the already very good 40D. I haven't found any of the image quality issues flying around the web, just large, well detailed files and a very fast-in-use camera whose body didn't need redesigning from the 40D, it was good already. Much nicer to look at the the current Nikons I think, not that that matters.

Quite why people complain about the size of the files I don't know - it's a 15 meg camera, it's going to have big files! Good ones too.

I have no hesitation in giving this a high mark, it's a fast, versatile, well built camera whose price will. I hope come down a bit in due course.

I assume the 60D will add movie modes but hopefully no more pixels.

Canon EOS 40D

Review Date: Dec 4, 2008 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Great camera
Small conflict with Sandosk card, see below

In answer to some of the many queries I have been getting, here are some threads about the 40D/4GB Sandisk issue, which definitely, definitely exists. I'm not making it up and have done extensive tests. It isn't a deal-breaker as the camera can still function, even with a troublesome card, it is a small conflict between the new processor on the newer Sandisk cards and the 40D. It isn't lens dependant at all.

The 40D is still a fantastic camera, now at a phenomenal price, buy one (or two) while they're still there




Canon EOS 40D

Review Date: Nov 18, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $650.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Current price, build, speed, LCD, big viewfinder, 14 bit RAW, my menu, grip, silver hotshoe, ISO in viewfinder, interchangeable screens, pretty much everything
Incompatibility with Sandisk Extreme III 4GB cards

This is just a fantastic camera, especially for the now reduced price (thanks to the only marginally improved 50D). I paid less than half what I paid for my 10D and 20D. Outstanding value.

It is fast, beautifully made, has a much improved viewfinder over the 20/30D, weatherproofing, frames-per-second, menu options, I could go on and on.

The 10 meg sensor is very marginally inferior to the one in the 450D/Xsi, but the focusing system is so much better it makes up for it. The overall image quality is superb, especially in RAW.

In years to come cameras like the 40D, 450D/Xsi and 5D will be the markers by which others are judged. It's a great camera. It has no real weaknesses in any area apart from the odd issue with the Sandisk card, which is half a camera issue and half a card processor issue. If you know about it you needn't worry.

Get one cheap while they're still here

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

Review Date: Aug 17, 2008 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 1 

Pros: Cheap
Absolutely everything else: Badly made, not very sharp, woefully slow.

Canon do themselves no favours putting this lens on their EF-S mount bodies. This lens disguises the quality of the Canon sensor to such a degree that many new to digital slr's blame the camera for bad shots when in reality it's the dreadful kit lens.

I've had both IS and non-IS versions and they are both awful, I didn't find the IS version any better at all.

If you are in the market for a Canon dslr, buy the kit, sell the kit lens and buy either a Tamron 17-50 or a Sigma 17-70 and get somewhere near the best out of your camera.

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8

Review Date: Aug 8, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $280.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, light, versatile (24mm on full frame, 31mm on x1.3 crop, 38.4 on x1.6 crop equivalents), good contrast and colour
Too expensive in the UK, much cheaper in the US, no full time focusing, bit plasticky. Once again no hood.

Very good lens, better in fact then my 35 f2 which surprised me.

No vignetting on full frame 5D and sharp at all apertures. A very good general purpose lens on a x1.6 crop camera becomes a good wideangle on full frame.

Not wonderfully well built and without full time focusing, but all in all a good, contrasty lens.

Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM

Review Date: Jul 5, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Good sharpness and contrast, small size, full time manual focusing, decent build. Shares the same hood with the 85 1.8 Cheap for an f2 telephoto. Unobtrusive street-sleeper.
It gets a bit lost alongside the 85 1.8 and 100 2.8 macro, but it shouldn't.

This is a very fine lens, without being stunning in any particular way.

It focuses well, it has excellent colour and contrast, it is a very useful length on full frame and a much better portrait lens than the 100 macro, but it isn't significantly different from the also excellent 85 1.8 to which I think it loses out often.

It's an odd length on a 1.6 crop body, not short, not long, not proper telephoto, but it's excellent for medium length full frame work where the f2 maximum aperture is excellent for out of focus backgrounds.

A very competent all round lens, without being spectacular.

Canon EOS Rebel XSi (450D)

Review Date: Jul 1, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Size, weight, fantastic sensor, My menu, big lcd, doesn't underexpose like 400D did, live view, 12 meg gives more scope to crop.
Viewfinder not much bigger than 400D/Xti, still average grip (much better with BG-E5 attached), average build quality

This is a peach. It's a significant upgrade from the 400D/Xti even if it doesn't look like one.

It's fast in use, accurate focusing, light, has more options than ever at a really good price.

Considering where we all were a few years ago (this has more pixels than a 1Ds for heavens sake) this is a fantastic piece of kit.

A faster frame rate would be nice as would a proper big viewfinder but with care and good lenses this thing can take fantastic quality pictures.

You need to upgrade from the kit lens though, which is better than the non-IS version, but still way off my Tamron 17-50.

You just can't go wrong if you're already in the Canon system.

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III

Review Date: Apr 28, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $9,200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Fantastically well built, smooth lines, improved interface, huge number of pixels, big viewfinder, can use USB (not just firewire), ISO in Viewfinder, My Menu, more latitude in 14 bit RAW files, sRAW, configurable backup, ISO button
Ridiculously expensive (twice 1D3, come on Canon), no mirror lockup button, not significantly better than 5D at high ISO's (although needs less enlargement obviously), dodgy Canon Windows software, expensive batteries

This is a great digital SLR, no doubt about it. But it is TOO EXPENSIVE, especially in the UK. I could have bought in the US but I was concerned with the warranty.

Coming from a 1D2N this feels much more modern, most functions are now one handed and it is easier (if not easy) to use mirror lock up.

Live View is good but a bit incongrous, once you have focused (only manual available) you press zoom-in to zoom-out, daft. Why not a proper grid? If you're going to offer one, why not make it useful for architecture?

It's beautifully made and seems to work well and shift data at a massive rate.

Is there a MASSIVE improvement in image quality? Well, there are an awful lot of pixels so you need to enlarge less and can crop more, but the files are very typically Canon - a bit red heavy and oversaturated by default to my taste.

If I sound disappointed I think I was expecting just a bit more for such a huge amount of money. If it were cheaper I'd have given it a 10, as it is it's 9 for build and features and a 4 for value.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Mar 28, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $600.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Cheap, sharp, good focusing, IS works very well, relatively light
Extends a LOT, no full time focus, a bit slow at the long end, no included hood

A very good general purpose telephoto zoom. Not in the same league as my 70-200 2.8L but much smaller and cheaper.

The IS works very well and enables me to shoot as low as 1/20th at 200mm.

The lens extends hugely upon zooming and sadly doesn't have full time focusing but at this price that is acceptable.

It's good to see that the 5.6 max ap doesn't come in until quite a long way out, unlike the 17-85 for example.

This is a much better lens than I expected it to be.

Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4.5 DC MACRO

Review Date: Feb 29, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $430.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Good range, decent build, included hood, good general sharpness & contrast
A bit slow except at 17mm, extends a lot for a 70mm lens, wide front element means a big hood, a bit patchy - mine has a weak spot around 35mm

This is a much better lens than I was expecting. I have owned (& sold) two previous Sigmas, the 18-200 non OS and 18-125 and both were dreadful - couldn't focus, poor in the corners, low contrast. I have been looking for a good smallish general purpose lens (hate the term 'walkaround').

This lens does fit that bill. It is consistently sharp and contrasty, focuses accurately and has a very useful range. Mine has a dodgy patch around 35mm where it loses some sharpness but I can live with it.

It's good to see it come with a hood (come on Canon).

All in all this is the best of it's type that I have found for a crop camera. 24-105L's and 24-70L's are vastly better lenses but they are just too long to provide a proper wideangle on a 1.6 crop. My Tamron 17-50 is probably slightly sharper, but I do value the extra 20mm so I will probably sell it.

All in all, very good.

Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF]

Review Date: Apr 23, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: $430.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: 2.8, comes with a hood, decent contrast, pretty good at longer lengths, cheap
Awful at 17mm, really awful, unsharp and soft corners right up to f8

I bought it because of all the hype.

It is very good, verging on the excellent from 30-50mm, with very crisp contrast and good colour, but is simply terrible at the wide end, I honestly think the Canon kit lens is better.

Some people honestly say it can replace a 17-40L. Chalk and cheese, no comparison, not even in the same division

In short, not as good as it's cracked up to be - unless you won't need the 17-30 end


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