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Sigma 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 DC OS

18-200OS
Review Date: Oct 9, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Light, cheap, versatile, good starter/learner lens
Cons:
Loud/slow AF, small apertures, IQ so-so.

This is a great upgrade from the kit lens that you get on the entry level DSLR. It is definitely a jack of all trades master of none type of lens. Which is great if you
-never want to change lenses (for travel)
-want to learn what you like to take
-don't need to shoot fast moving subjects
-want a cheaper lens that has OS.

However, if you do know what kind of pictures you will most likely take (focal lengths, apertures, AF requirements, low light, etc.) then skip this lens and go for nicer stuff.

For me, this was more of a "noob tax" type of lens and it performed its task nicely. Now I know what I'm going to shoot and what I need in a lens.

Keep in mind however, this lens will still let you clean the floor compared to any P&S.


 
Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM

l217_efs1755
Review Date: Oct 8, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, really sharp. Great colours & contrast, almost no CA, light(er) weight, good bokeh, versatile.
Cons:
Cheaper build, Crop only.

Uses: Street, landscape, indoor lowlight, candids, children, portraits, group shots.

If you want a fast zoom lens and don't need anything longer or wider, and you don't want to upgrade to FF, this is the last lens you'll ever need to buy. This zoom range covers basically 90%+ of what I take. Take this into consideration when considering how much to spend. If you are planning on going FF, then skip this and go 24-70L or wait for the rumoured V2. Compared to the 24-70L though, I don't think I could live without the extra 7mm or the IS for what I take.

IQ: Why didn't I buy this before? Oh right, the price, and the wife. The IQ on this is really really good. It is super sharp wide open, no more stepping down like a some of the primes or cheaper zooms. Colour and contrast makes all of my photos pop. Forget a better camera, this will make your current one look good. Honey, I can make you look GOOD with this one! Promise!

Bokeh: Bokeh is good and acceptable. But after using my friend's 70-200 f2.8 IS II, I've been corrupted. If you want better bokeh for portrait work and for cheaper, then go for something like 100L macro. Although secretly, we all know the 85L is really what we want for the ultimate bokehliciousness.

Colors & Contrast: Not sure how to describe it, but they just look eye popping. Reminds me why I went Canon in the first place.

AF & IS: Both are what we expect as with other Canon USM and IS lenses. Fast, accurate, quiet and extra few stops of stability. Moving children are no problem, but then again I only have a XTi, I would only imagine what this thing could really do on a 7D.

Weight: Well it's not the lightest thing around, but it's no 24-70L. Feels a little off balance on the lighter Rebel cameras but it's acceptable. The zoom ring has just enough tension to make it feel right.

Build Quality: It's no 24-70L, but hey, it doesn't weigh as much either. It is made out of plastic but it doesn't feel as cheap, it's still quite solid on the hands. Lack of weather sealing isn't a problem: Let's face it, there's only one Canon cropper with weather sealing anyways. If you're always in rough environments, then look elsewhere.

Price: Well, I hope I've convinced you that it's worth its high price.


 
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 PRO DX SD

atx116
Review Date: Aug 19, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $660.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Fixed aperture, decent price, decent build, AF/MF clutch mechanism.
Cons:
Color fringing wide open at the edges Distortion near the edges Too bad it only works on a DX.

This is a great lens for those fun ultra-wide angle shots. The large and fixed aperture makes it a very good combo for low light work. The build quality feels solid for a 3rd party lens, much better than my Sigma 18-200 OS. AF is pretty good because of the f/2.8 aperture. The only down side is that it isn't a USM but the motor is pretty quiet: much better than the nifty fifty canon 50 f/1.8.

The AF/MF switching is done via a "clutch" mechanism, that means when it's spinning in AF, you don't have to worry that you'll jam up the motor or grab the wrong ring and hear that dreaded focus motor grinding noise Sad The included lens hood is always a bonus but it's kinda big so sometimes I leave it at home so I don't take up all my space in my bag.

There's a bit of distortion that you can see if you put a straight line (like a staircase) right near the edges of your images. Try to keep lines out or correct them afterwards if you like. The problem is with this wide of an angle lens (small movements can have dramatically different image effects) and with non-100% viewfinder coverage of a DX camera that you will miss this but I wouldn't sweat it.

An ultra-slim UV filter isn't a requirement, (although I did order one, be careful as the lens cover has a hard time hanging onto a threadless ultraslim.) I've tried my friend's 77mm UV filter off his 24-70 f/2.8 lens and I can't see any vignetting.

I would definitely recommend this lens.



 
Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM

ef28mmf_18usm_1_
Review Date: Aug 18, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $470.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Fast AF, lightweight, normal lens on crop body, good build, depth of field index
Cons:
A little pricey

I'm using this as a normal lens on my XTi for all kinds of pictures: From landscapes to people to whatever I see.

The first thing I want to say is wow, this lens is perfect for use as a normal on crop bodies! Composition is a no brainer, what you see with your eyes normally, then put your camera up to your eye and just take the picture. The lens is light and compact, AF is fast and very accurate and the pictures come out sharp. (Disclaimer: I don't pixel peep and I don't shoot wide open in the bright sunlight.)

If you use the lens to take close up objects like 1-3m away, you'll need to keep in mind that the DoF is pretty shallow. Try an online DoF calculator and you'll know what I mean or use the DoF meter on the lens. I shot f/8 and expected more to be in focus but I was surprised how shallow it can be depending on subject distance. Don't mistake a seemingly non-sharp lens for user error!

The other reason I got this lens is so I can do low light and it doesn't disappoint. AF is still quick and smooth but watch that DoF and AF point!

I use this in concert with my 50 f/1.8 as a substitute for not buying a 24-70 f/2.8 and having to deal with the added weight. Just walk forward and backwards to get the extra angles Smile The extra stop of light is also much more useful for movement in low light. With a bit of practice, you can switch lenses quite fast. (Hint: don't bother with the front caps, that's what your UV filter is for. A little dust on there won't even register.) I also carry a Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 with me and all 3 lenses combined is the same weight and roughly the same price as the 24-70 f/2.8 and I get more low light performance and wider range of angles. Well worth it in my opinion.