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  Reviews by: Scott Sewell  

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Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 EX DG HSM

Review Date: Oct 1, 2009 Recommend? | Price paid: $1,650.00

Pros: Zoom range is great for sports, great value, quick and quiet AF; solid, sturdy build; sharp images with good color. Feel the same about this lens as I did back in '04 when I had my first copy.
A bit on the heavy side if you want to hand-hold; a bit too small and awkward when using a monopod (compared to something like a 400/f2.8).

Now that I have used this lens again, I think I have figured out how to describe the IQ and some of the focusing issues some might experience with the lens.

First, this lens is a little finicky...if you don't have good technique for following sports action, you might be disappointed and blame the lens. I find I have to ride the AF (using the * button) continually with the lens, where with the 400/f2.8 I can tap and it will catch up a little quicker. I don't believe the AF on the Sigma is slower, but it just seems to perform better when focus remains locked on the subject as one shoots through a sequence.

Where I use to use my 400/f2.8 and a 70-200/f2.8 for field sports such as soccer and football, I am now using the 120-300 instead of the 70-200. The Sigma does get a little heavy carrying over the shoulder all day, but the zoom range is a nice complement to the 400.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Sep 5, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Solid build, yet lightweight; great colors and contrast; pretty darn sharp even at f2.8

I've wanted one of these lens for about the last year and I'm glad I finally picked one up. I wasnt' able to keep a 24-70 and the 16-35 and so far I'm glad I went with the 16-35.

This lens may very well be the most enjoyable lens I've used. The zoom range is great for many fun and cool (and useful) applications.

I always thought the price was a little steep, but I can now say that if you're thinking about this lens, save your pennies to buy one. It is definitely worth it.

Sigma Electronic Flash EF 500 DG Super

Review Date: Jan 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $160.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: About as close to a Canon 550ex as one can get...for less than half the price! Virtually the same functions, power and wireless cabilities as the 550ex.
Build isn't quite as sturdy as the 550ex; no easy way to use external power without making mods to the battery door (that I know of); no off-camera terminal.

First, let me say that if the build quality were just a tad better, this flash would get a perfect "10" rating across the board.

I owned a Canon 550ex flash and sold it to get the Sigma. I was hesitant about what seemed to be a move "down", but have been very pleased with the decision. Basically, I've gotten the same functions and features as the 550ex for half the price.

It has plenty of power and works fine on both my 10d and 20d. High speed sync works well, as does all manual functions. I have not used it as a wireless master or slave, but will be doing so as more of my new flash gear arrives. I'm guessing that this unit will work as expected based on how well it's done in other situations.

If you're a photojournalist who needs rugged gear, this might not be for you. If you're a freelancer or hobbyist on a budget, this flash should not disappoint.

Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 EX DG HSM

Review Date: Jul 8, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: f2.8 through entire 120-300mm zoom range; quick and very quiet AF; solid, sturdy build; sharp images with good color; great lens for sports
Not a lens I'd want to hand-hold for too long; tripod colllar sits rather low...would be nice if it were "taller";

Don't let the bad things you might have heard about this lens scare you away. There simply is no other lens on the market like this and if you think you might need this zoom range at f2.8, it's worth your effort to look into this lens. The HSM focuses quickly and quietly and the lens feels like it's well built and rugged. Images are sharp at all f-stops and throughout the entire zoom range.

I'm not convinced this lens has as many problems as one might be led to believe because, IMO, there are just a lot of factors that come into play when shooting at f2.8 and in this zoom range. Basically, there isn't much room for error! Sequences of shots of moving subjects has resulted in very few OOF shots and those few are related more to the limitations of my 10d and my shooting (in)abilities than the lens.

Granted, there appear to be some legitimate QC issues with some copies of this lens, but find a good copy and it will hang with the best of them. And it does so at a fraction of the cost of a prime 300mm f2.8. Don't let the fact that it's not white and doesn't have a red line around the barrell scare you away. There's simply an awful lot to like about this lens.

EDIT: I'd highly recommend buying the optional TS-41 tripod collar for this lens. It gets the lens up higher from the mount and is much easier to grab.

Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX APO IF HSM

Review Date: Mar 17, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: HSM offers silent and quick focus; excellent color and contrast; sturdy build (it's really not as heavy as some say); no quality loss noticable with 1.4x TC; if you can't afford the "L" equivalant DO NOT hesitate to get this lens
Incorrect focal length readings

If you're looking for a professional lens in this zoom range and f-stop, but can't afford the "L" glass, this lens certainly deserves a look. Buy a new one or a mint used version and you just can't go wrong (and shouldn't need it rechipped)

I shot nearly 7,000 sports photos in the last four months (Nov '03 - Feb '04), including basketball, baseball, indoor football, rodeo, monster trucks, bmx...and this lens never once let me down or disappointed. In fact, once I got the Canon equivalent, I shared very similar photos taken with each lens and most people thought the Sigma images were taken with the Canon! Email or PM me and I'll be more than happy to share those images.

The HSM focuses quickly and quietly and the lens feels great handheld. IMO, it is easier to handhold than the Canon version. Tripod ring is well-designed, too and is very smooth.

I'm not convinced that my version was soft at f2.8 because usually when I was shooting at that f-stop there were many other factors coming into play, such as low light, higher ISO settings, slower shutter speeds. Again, in my attempt at side-by-side comparisons, most people could not tell the difference between this and the Canon.

I would not hesitate to recommend this lens to anyone and if the need arose, I would buy one again in a heartbeat. Don't let the fact that it's not white and doesn't have a red ring around the end of the barrel it scare you away. This lens can perform with the best of them!