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Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM

EF17-85
Review Date: Nov 8, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Image stabiliser & light weight.
Cons:
17-24mm range, Chromatic aberations & price.

This can be a good lens. That is if you ignore the 17 - 24mm zoom range.

In this range the lens exhibits some terrible aspects. Huge amounts of distortions, Chromatic aberations and softening of the corners and then toss in a good dose of Vignetting, at least a stop's worth.

Sounds like a bad lens huh? Well, wind the zoom ring around past the 24mm and suddenly most of these problems go away.
The distortions are gone, the corners are much better and the vignetting is almost unnoticable. There is still a bit of CA, but hey. The lens makes a remarkable transformation.

Imho, this is really a 24-85mm lens. Resist the tempation to venture below 24mm and you have a fine lens. It's light and the IS works a treat. A great walk around lens. If you have a UWA lens such as the 10-22mm EF-s, then this lens makes a great partner. Use the UWA up to 22mm and this lens from there on up.

The price is the big hurdle for this lens. Shops want over $1,000 aus for one which is absurd. But this lens is plentiful and picking up one second hand with little use for around $300-400 aus makes it good buying.


 
Sigma 135-400 MM f/4.5-5.6 ASP AF APO

18499135-400
Review Date: Aug 8, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Image quality, Build quality, compact size and weight, Included lens hood, tripod ring and carry case.
Cons:
Lens creep, el cheapo sigma lens caps (both ends), mf/af switch. Focus ring spin when focusing.

This lens does nothing wrong. Image quality is good and consistent thru out the zoom range apart from getting a little bit soft over 350mm. Images wide open at 400mm are still very usable for a enthusiast like myself. I haven't noticed the IQ getting any better stopping down. I did try this lens in store before buying and i'm pretty sure I have a good copy optically anyway.

CA is well controlled needing pixel peeping to detect. Colours and contrast is good, though not as good as my Canon 70-200mm F4L in the same zoom range at least. I have not noticed any distortions at all though I do not use this lens normally under 200mm, not after doing some comparisions to my 70-200mm F4L which showed the expected differences.

Focusing is a bit of a mixed bag. It is way faster than the 80-400mm OS sigma lens, yet slower than the canon 100-400mm IS. Focus speed is what I would call good for a consumer lens. It can hunt around a fair bit at the longer distances and zoom reach though once it decides on what It want to lock onto, it does so well, unlike the older Canon 75-300mm F4-5.6 IS USM lens which was a focusing nightmare.

The build quality I describe as solid. The lens is small and compact for what it is though you should note that I have very strong hands and arms and have yet to find a lens I would call heavy, including a 300mm F2.8 L. Others would consider this lens heavy. The classic sigma wrinkle finish gives the lens a solid and quality feel but is sadly let down by the cheap af switch and lens caps. I have to take my hat off to sigma for the included carry case. It's the best I have ever seen on a non Pro class lens and very similar to the case that is included with sigma's 100-300mm F4 and 60-400mm F4.5-5.6 OS lens, both aimed at the pro's.

The focus ring I found annoying initially. When using AF the focus ring will turn and catch on your fingers when your hand is positioned on the zoom ring. Changing my hand position prevents the problem but would make holding the len's wieght harder for others.
Finally the lens creep is a problem. Considering other opinions on this matter It sounds like mine is a "bad" copy in this regard, but I'll put up with it or perhaps put it in for warranty. For now I have to use the lackey band trick for stuff like moon shots off a tripod with out a hand on the zoom ring to prevent creep though I dont quite know what to do with a downwards shot off a tripod. It'll probably have to be at 400mm only!

Overall I recommend this lens. If you can't afford the IS/OS lens or want the longest lens that you can hand hold this is a good bet.


 
Canon EOS Rebel (300D)

300D-2
Review Date: Jun 11, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Price. Excellent performance ISO 100-400 and still good at ISO 800. No problems with the camera so far after 4,000 shots.
Cons:
Four shot buffer. Occasionally over exposes. Long time to boot up compared to 30D.

Four shot buffer fills up too quickly leaving you holding the shutter button waiting for the camera to fire again. But for most occasions you ca live with it.
Occasionally the camera will blow a shot way out for no reason, 4-6 stops over. I check my shots on the screen and when I see a blown shot, I retake immediately with the same settings. Even the exif reads the same but one shot is properly exposed and the other blown way out.
The power up time doesn't worry me much. I just keep the camera powered up and pack an extra battery. The battery is good for 250-300 shots without flash and lots of reviewing.
Mirror lock up would be nice. I guess I'll get around to loading the hack up one day!


 
Sigma 100-300mm f4 EX IF HSM APO

100-300if_1_
Review Date: Feb 6, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, beautiful pictures. It isn't a Canon. Great range and speed on a 1.6x crop digital slr. positive and big zoom ring. Included tripod mount. etc etc everything about this lens, blah blah blah......
Cons:
Um, errr.... It doesn't press the shutter button for you? Big front filter is a nightmare to keep clean. hey, i'm really scratching for con's here!

What a lens! Sharp and contrasty. F4 at 300mm simply leaves everything else eating dust with the only possible exception being white primes made by Canon.
Compares with Canon's 70-200mm F4L really well making it immpossible to tell their shots apart. The only difference is the focal lengths, wieght and colour. I could not see any difference between the two, try as I might.

Thankfully, I don't have a problem with this len's weight on my 300D with battery grip but it can be said that it is heavy for some users.

Claims that this could be Sigma's best lens could be right on the money. Buy this lens and start building up those wrist and arm muscles!!


 
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

EF10-22
Review Date: Jan 3, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: 10mm focal length, build quality, colour saturation, distortions, chromatic aberations, resolution.
Cons:
Lack of carry pouch & lens hood. Not white in colour with a red ring.

Ultra wide angle lens are supposed to have Chromatic aberations? I had to overexpose tree branches over cloudy sky back grounds by 2 full stops to get CA out of this lens and even then I had to pixel peep to see it.

Ultra wide angle lens are supposed to have distortions? The distortions this lens has are hardly even worth correcting. I tried a brick wall shot with this lens wondering where the distortions where.

Resolution? Only beaten by my 70-200mm F4 lens which happens to be an "L" lens. Not really a fair comparision, or is it?

Colour saturations where superb, a tad warm perhaps, I cannot be sure but look fine on my Sony cdpe-230 monitor and in my prints.

I wonder if Canon have decided to not label any APC-S lens an "L" pro lens for marketing reasons?


 
Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM

111_small
Review Date: Jan 3, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 3 

 
Pros: Build quality, 10mm focal length, included bag & hood, Price.
Cons:
Heavy distortions that change depending on focal length making correction difficult. Chromatic aberations. Poor resolution, soft corners, sigma lens cap, af/mf focus switch.

A lens that will quickly disappoint. The odd shaped distortion curves made leveling my shots difficult so I had to level my shots and try to correct the distortions in post editing. This made post processing slow as the distortion changed depending on the focal length. The lens displayed soft corners, more prominent in the corners where the distortion was most prominent, top left hand corner in my copy.
Detail in my shots was very poor. Compared to the Canon kit lens, 18mm on the kit lens, 17mm on the sigma, distant building windows, sign boards, symbols where quite legible with the kit lens but where unreadable blocky chunks with the sigma. (back to back from tripod, same F stop and time of day)

Chromatic aberations where to be expected I guess. Everywhere though not bad enough to show in prints up to 5 x 7. Larger prints could be done after editing to correct the chromatic aberations.

So what does this lens have going for it? Price and 10mm. This lens would suit somebody who is happy with small prints, but totally unsuited if you want to blow your images up to a decent size.

In the end I returned the lens to the store of purchase for exchange on another, dearer lens. Been happy ever since!


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

ef70_200_4_1_
Review Date: Sep 14, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Picture quality, Build quality, light wieght, fast focus speed, Length does not change when zooming, excellent grip from both zoom & manual focus rings.
Cons:
The lens hood is big. But it works well. You can access the lens cap with the lens hood on which is probably a "pro". Hmmm. It doesn't do the dishes?

Absolutely a dream lens. Easily walked thru every test I could throw at it. Chromatic aberations on plants/overexposed sky backgrounds only visible when pixel peeped to 200%. Perfect contrast and resolution I didn't think was possible with my digital rebel. I noticed what looked like some very slight barrel distortion at 70mm, but it was so slight that I could easily be mistaken.
The AF speed is quick. Quicker than any other lens I have owned or tried. I think that could be due to the focus length selector. A feature that I have never had on any lens before. Some people may think that it is a gimic but it really helps. I easily took my first "bird in flight" shot the other day. It was easy. Point, lock, plenty of time left to shoot before the bird was out of range. Something I have never been able to do with any of my prior zooms. (75-300 IS usm last)

Overall I heartedly recommend this lens. Makes myself want to throw all of my other len's away and only use this one.


 
Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

ef75_300_1_
Review Date: Aug 9, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 3 

 
Pros: Image stabiliser, build quality.
Cons:
Slow focus, focus hunt, Very soft at long end.

Not a great lens.

The focus speed will drive you nuts. By the time it locks onto a flying bird, the bird has already landed and gotten comfortable in its nest.
In this case, USM stands for ultra slow mechanism.

Its also very soft the longer you zoom it. At 75-200mm it is good. 200-250mm needs to be kept on a F8 or lower leash.
At 250 - 300mm, just expect soft focused pictures.
Forget using any teleconvertor with it as well. I used to have 2x, which I sold. On a manfrotto tripod, 500ms shutter at 300mm + the TC on a stationary object, it was horribly blurred. Like I was handholding at 60ms with IS off and half drunk.

On the other hand, the build quality is good. Mine has taken a few knocks and survived them all. No zoom creep and the manual focus ring is large and easy to make small adjustments with.
The image stabiliser really works. I have often hand held this down to 60ms at 250mm. The lens needs it. at 250mm at F8, you wont get fast shutter speeds so in a way, the IS helps overcome the lens short comings.

I hope to upgrade this lens ASAP. It was great when I first started, but compared to my other lens, it is now the weakest link.



 
Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

ef_24-85_35_1_
Review Date: Aug 9, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: Light weight, build quality.
Cons:
Some distortion at wide and long ends, zoom creep, low light focus lock.

I originally bought this lens with my EOS-300v film camera, I think it's the Kiss model elsewhere, and tranfered it to my drebel.

Overal it takes good pictures. Bright and contrasty. The auto focus speed is good and focus lock is great, It has never hunted like the 75-300 IS usm does. I find it has some trouble in low light focus locks in situations where all my other lens will focus lock.

At the 24 and 85mm ends its pretty soft. But I avoid that by using my other lens, 18-55mm kit up to about 30mm and my 75-300mm from 75mm and up.

The zoom creep came in after about 18 months. But, I keep my camera in a top load bag (lens pointing down) and I used to keep this lens on the camera at all times.

In general, it's streets ahead of the woeful 28-80/90/105mm, basically all the plastic mount lens, but it won't compare to the 24-70mm L. You get what you pay for.