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  Reviews by: Ian Sayers  

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Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Review Date: Oct 15, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: F1.4, Sharp, Light
Bit plasticky

This has been my first prime lens and I have been shown what I have been missing up to now. I dont like the effects of flash photography (even with stofen softeners and bouncing off the cealing), and had been trying to use available light with f2.8 zooms for indor photography. Generally speaking the results had not been impresive.

The 50mm 1.4 allows me to take indoor shots, without flash, at shuter speeds fast enough to catch my rapidly moving family, and still be sharp. Stopped down the sharpness is frankly breathtaking. Also the small size allows me to take the lens and camera (20D) to resturants etc with out the attention you would get with a wide apperture zoom (eg sigma 2.8 24-70).

The down side, of course, is that it is a prime and I do find my self using the "Foot Zoom" quite a lot to frame subjects correctly. But that is just something I will have to get used to, and it is worth it for the results.

Build quality is what you expect from canon consumer lenses (ie a damm sight less impressive than sigma or tamron), and there is the usuall rip off over a lens hood.

None-the-less this is an excellent lens and comes highly recomended.

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

Review Date: Oct 15, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Versitle range, Outstanding I.S., Superb Image quality, Light Weight and portable
Probably the worst Build Quality lens I have, RIP OFF lens Hood

I bought this lens on ebay as soon as it was available, hence I paid far to much for it. I am used to the excellent build quailty of sigma EX lenses and was very disapointed with the very poor build quality of this lens. I was also quite angry that canon chose to charge so much for the lens hood, when Sigma/Tamron supply them free. When on the camera (20D) I worry all the time that the lens will hit something and fall to pieces.

HOWEVER -- The photos I have taken with this lens are some of the best I have. The IS works wonders, the hand held minimum is at least 3 stops slower than without it. The pictures are extreemly sharp, even wide open. Focusing is rapid, accurate and can track moving targets with ease. The light weight construction make this lens quite portable so I can take it with me when I visit London on buisness and get street photography/candids walking to and from the station. I dont imagine I could do that very easily with one of the big 70-200 2.8s.

I therefore would recomend this lens, as it offers unusually good value for money for a cannon lens. I just wish canon could put 1/5th of the build quality into their consumer lenses that Sigma manage, and that the lens hood wasn't such a rip off.

Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 EX Aspherical DG DF

Review Date: Oct 15, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Well built, Sharp from f4 onwards, Reliable focusing
Weight, 2.8 at the long end too soft

I have had this lens for about a year but have recently bought the Tamron 28-75 2.8, with the intention of selling the sigma. My main complaints are with the softness at 2.8 at 70mm, and the weight, which often means a lighter, less able lens is on my camera when it matters. I know I am asking a lot for sharpness at 2.8/long end but I now have both lens to compare, and can confirm that the Tamron is sharper wide open.

The Tamron is also unbelivably light and compact, so I can carry it (atached to my 20D), my 3 year old daughter, her toys, and whatever my pregnant wife needs me to carry when we are out. Perhaps if I were a profesional photographer with the time to go out on my own I might use the Sigma a bit more.

However I have decided to keep both lenses as the Sigma scores over the Tamron in a number of ways. Most importintly the focusing on the sigma is much more reliable, the tamron can be a bit hit and miss. Additionally the photos taken with the Tamron have a slightly harsh, non flatering quality compared with the sigma. This may be because of the colour transmission, the light over the past few weeks, or possibly the sharpness itself. Finally the build quality of the sigma makes using it a joy, and sometimes people just expect you to turn up with a big lens (nobody ever takes me seriously with my 50mm f1.4, even though it gives the best shots).

I can recomend this lens to any serious photographer, but would suggest looking at the Tamron 28-75 for those wanting portabilty, or maximum sharpness wide open at the long end.

Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 XR Di Zoom AF

Review Date: Oct 15, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, F 2.8, Light Weight, Very Low Cost
AF a bit hit and miss, Build quality reflects price

I have had the SIGMA 24-70 2.8 EX for about a year, but decided to buy this lens and sell the sigma, on the basis of reports I had read. The Sigma is extreemly well built, and feels like a pro lens. It focusses rapidly and reliably and produces nice pictures. It is however far too heavy to use as a general purpose lens, and more importantly it is quite soft at 2.8, especially at the long end.

The Tamron 28-75 is almost unbelivably compact and light compared with the Sigma. The flip side of this is that the lens hood feels a bit flimsy and I'm not sure the body would survive too hard an impact (unlike the Sigma). The focus ring moves and you need to remeber not to touch it during AF. AF is quick enough for most purposes, but it does miss a good proportion of the shots taken, at least first time. If you have time to get 2 shots in this is fine, if not it is a bit hit and miss. I have also had some trouble tracking moving object with it (e.g. children running towards a camera). Overall focusing is better on the Sigma.

The most important difference between these two lenses is optical perfomace at maximum apperture however. The Tamron is sharp as a knife at F4 onwards, and still very good at 2.8. The Sigma is quite soft at 2.8, but does improve as it is stopped down. The problem is that with such a big lens you realy would expect to be able to use it at 2.8.

I'm still getting used to the Tamron, and the shots I've taken have been in quite overcast light. Although the sharpness is very noticible, there is something less flatering about them than those taken with the Sigma. I'm not sure if its the light, colour transmision, or the sharpness itself, but it is real.

I think I will probably keep the Sigma afterall, as it is a lot of lens for the money. It also has a great effect on people who think having a large lens means you are competent photographer, which can be useful in some situations.

If I could only have one of these lenses however it would be the Tamron. It is simply more likely to be on my camera when I need it, and I can use the 2.8 and still have sharp shots.