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Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM

ef20mmf_28usm_1_
Review Date: Aug 18, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Extremely sharp in the center from f/4, very useable wide open. High resistance to flare. Good colors and contrast. Fast and accurate focus. Good build quality.
Cons:
Corners are not very sharp, even on a 1.6x camera, until f/8-f/11. Vignetting at f/2.8 even on a 1.6x. Some red-green CA at the corners. Quite bulky.

I used the 20/2.8 on both my film camera (shooting slides and scanning them on a hi-res film scanner) and my 10D.

I'm more than happy with this lens.

The center of the frame (actually almost the whole frame... up to, say, 3/4 width on a 1.6x camera) is extremely sharp from f/4, and very useable even wide open (very handy in low-light shots).
The corners are less sharp even on the 10D; they somehow catch up at f/8.
Distorsion is reasonable, flare is not an issue, and there's almost no coma even in the corners; a very weak point of the 16-35L, which I found to be sharper in the corners than the 20/2.8 at wide apertures, but with visible coma.

CA shows up in the corner; it's the red-green type, fixable in Photoshop (Camera Raw or Lens Correction).
No PF issues.

Some tests and comparisons I've done:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1029&message=14363894

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1029&message=14358679

Some real world shots in challenging situations:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1029&message=14535576

Hope this helps.

All in all: there's no better (ultra)wideangle prime in the Canon lineup, and I'd say this lens get the job done. I recommend it, if you can live with not-so-sharp corners or if your photography style allows stopping down (so the corners become good).

Fernando


 
Sigma 50-500mm f4-6.3 EX APO RF HSM

50_500EX_mdl_1_
Review Date: Jan 3, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Useful range, cheap price, very sharp from f/6.7 at any focal length, well built; no CA to speak of, no distortion nor vignetting on a 1.6 crop camera. Focusing is fast, accurate and silent (HSM).
Cons:
A bit soft (but not very noticeable) at 500mm full open, vignetting full open on a full frame camera. Large and heavy, extends a lot at longer focal lenghts, thus varying the balance.

This lens is really good, so if you don't want to spend big money on say the 400/5.6L, this could easily be the lens you're looking for!
It's very sharp even at 500mm from f/6.7, no strange color casts, no CA.
Impressive from a 10x zoom that doesn't even cost an arm and a leg.

Of course, I'd like the 400/5.6L more. Smile


 
Sigma 15-30mm f3.5-4.5 EX Aspherical DG DF

15_30f35_45_1_
Review Date: Jan 3, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $600.00 | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: Wide, sharp *at the center of the frame*, contrasty; focus is fast and accurate. Good build quality for the price.
Cons:
Terrible edge softness (on my unit at least), heavy barrel distortion, flare-prone (not too much with a 1.6 DSLR since you can leave the cover ring on); bulky; uncomfortable MF due to odd controls (switch + clutch)

My unit has excellent center sharpness from f/5.6, but poor corner sharpness even when used on my 10D (1.6 crop).
Has a warm, almost yellowish color response (I like it; someone don't).
Focusing is fast and accurate, though no HSM.
CA is well controlled, and actually better than my Canon 24/2.8!
Barrel distortion is heavy, and noticeable even on my 10D.
Flare is a fact with this lens when used on a full frame camera. You have to find proper shooting angles to avoid flare from sun or other strong lights. On the 10D, due to the crop factor I can leave the cap retention ring on, and the situation gets much better; still prone to flare, but to a way lesser degree.
No vignetting on the 10D; visible vignetting on full frame at < f/5.6.

The main problem I see with this lens is the edge softness. I sent it to Sigma and they say it's within acceptable limits.


 
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

ef85mmf_18usm_1_
Review Date: Jan 3, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp from 2.8, ultra sharp from 4.0. Fast focusing. Well built. No CA to speak of. No distortion. Quite small and light. Ring USM with full-time-manual correction.
Cons:
Quite soft at f/2 (but still very useable), occasional front-focus on my 10D (only in low-light and at short distances; and even then, only in a small percentage of the shots).

An excellent lens. I use it for rock concert shots, so it has to be sharp at least from 2.8, and has to work reliably with low light levels. Has to focus fast, too (subjects move fast).
This lens does it all, and then some! I'm very pleased.
Other good things: it's small and light, so you don't get tired after 2-3 hours of shooting and the camera+lens doesn't get in the way while shooting in crowded places.
Has a very nice bokeh, excellent for portraits.

It's a bit soft up to f/2.8, but still very useable with some USM. From f/2.8 is sharp, and from f/4 is very sharp.


 
Canon EF 24mm f/2.8

ef24mmf_28_1_
Review Date: Jan 3, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 2 

 
Pros: Small, light, reasonable AF speed and accuracy, reasonable distortion, very small vignetting.
Cons:
Lack of sharpness, visible CA.

I may have a lemon, but I'm really disappointed with this lens.
I already have a Sima 15-30 and a Tamron 24-135, but I needed a faster lens for concert shooting (I already have a 85/1.8 for tight shots).
I figured this Canon should fit the bill, expecially after having worked with the beautiful 85/1.8.

I was very wrong. This lens gives me worse pictures than my Tamron 24-135 at 24mm at the same aperture. We're talking about a Canon prime vs. a 3rd-party 5.5x zoom!
The edges (1.6 crop here: 10D) are expecially bad.
Focus speed and accuracy is OK, and manual focusing is doable, even if the ring isn't exactly buttery smooth (too short a throw, BTW).
Not quite useful to buy a full-frame prime if you get soft (and fringed) edges up to f/8 on a 1.6 crop DSLR...!

On the plus side, it's small, light, reasonably built, barely visible distortion on 1.6 crop.

I'll ask Canon service to check it... I can't believe it's really meant to perform this way.