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  Reviews by: John H Smith  

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Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 EX DG HSM

120_300_1_
Review Date: Sep 26, 2010 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Zoom capability - no other lens in this class. Solid build, excellent performance at this price point. Remarkable performance with 1.4x and 2x converters
Cons:

In my original review, 2007, I said....

"I also got it to use as a 600mm when coupled with a teleconverter. Performance with sigma 2x converter is remarkable: v.good at f5.6 and absolutely superb at f8. If you can't afford a 600mm L, this is very good indeed and certainly the best performance I have ever seen with a 2x converter. In effect I'm using it like two lenses - fast 300mm for sports (handheld or monopod) and a 600mm for wildlife (tripod or beanbag). "

I am now using a Canon 7D, 2007 review was on a 30D. On the 7D I would now have to rate the performance of the lens with 2x converter as even better - comments regarding f5.6 vs f8 are now very difficult to detect other than by 'pixel peeping'

This is with sigma converter, tripod, cable release and using centre focus point on 7D


 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

ef50mmf_14usm_1_
Review Date: Feb 8, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Good image quality with large aperture at a reasonable price.
Cons:
How does Canon have the cheek to charge seperately for a hood when Sigma etc provide them free at a lower price point?

What a lovely little lens. Currently my only prime. Very pleased with image quality.

Just used it today for several hundred indoor, natural light shots. Much superior to my 24-70L for this purpose.


 
Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 EX DG HSM

120_300_1_
Review Date: Mar 2, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Versatility - no other zoom with this specification. Amazing with a teleconverter. Good warranty service. Excellent value.
Cons:
Sigma needs to work on it's quality control

I don't know of anything else with this specification - ie 300mm f2.8 and zoom. If you can't zoom by moving yourself backwards and forwards, then this has big advantages over primes.

I also got it to use as a 600mm when coupled with a teleconverter. Performance with sigma 2x converter is remarkable: v.good at f5.6 and absolutely superb at f8. If you can't afford a 600mm L, this is very good indeed and certainly the best performance I have ever seen with a 2x converter. In effect I'm using it like two lenses - fast 300mm for sports (handheld or monopod) and a 600mm for wildlife (tripod or beanbag).

Build quality is good, built like a tank. Value for money is excellent.

My only moan is that my copy back focussed on purchase. Only visible at f2.8, but I have much smaller/lighter lenses if I only wanted to use f5.6. Sigma calibrated it free of charge under warranty and it is now spot on. If you get one and it's soft, then either exchange it or get it calibrated. Warranty service was GOOD, but I believe that lenses costing over 1000 should be tested by the factory, not the customer.

I put my overall rating down to 8 because of the quality control. Once working correctly I would rate it as a 9-10.

(I got a non 'DG' model at a much reduced price. Most reviewers say this is every bit as good as the newer DG models. Service center in UK told me that the DG can be software adjusted in their workshop. My non-DG was tested in the UK workshop, but then a circuit board had to be made up at Sigma in Japan and flown over. Obviously slows things down. Small thing, but it is an advantage for the newer DG models)


 
Canon EF 28-105 F/3.5-4.5 II USM

ef_28-105_35
Review Date: Feb 11, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Good solid lens at this price.
Cons:

I use this lens a lot and rate it highly. Good range for general use and this tends to be my standard lens when I am not using long telephotos for wildlife. 28mm at the short end is a bit tight on a digital with 1.6 crop - but the specification is there in black and white before you buy. Sharpness, colour, focussing accuracy are more than acceptable for a lens of this price.

 
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

ef100_400l_1_
Review Date: Dec 20, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Generally good image quality. Excellent focal length coverage for wildlife/sports when on foot and shooting hand held. IS makes handholding practical at 400mm. Built like a tank.
Cons:
Some softness at f5.6/400mm. (f8 fine) Any white lens does attract attention in public. Goes MF if you add an extender.

I've used this lens for about 2 years for wildlife and sports (eg. horse cross country eventing). On foot and shooting handheld I haven't seen anything near as good, let alone better. Some slight softness if you shoot f5.6 at 400mm, but f8 is plenty sharp. Extenders turn the lens to manual focus only, but you already have 640mm when it's fitted to a 1.6 crop digital camera, so I don't find extenders essential for what I want the lens for. Image stabilisation works just fine for 400mm at 1/100 handheld. All the white L lenses attract too much attention in public places ("are you the official photographer?") and for wildlife I add a camouflage cover from Wildlife Watching Supplies. Heavy? Not as heavy as a 300 f2.8, and you won't be needing a tripod. I use a padded/stretchy strap over my shoulder, not neck, with a small camera back pack for long walks. I don't find it a problem. The flip side to weight issues is that it is built like a tank. I read a lot about dust in the camera from the push-pull design but I just don't get this. There is a solid piece of glass (a lens element) sealing the back end of the lens, so I just don't understand how it is supposed to be blowing dust into the camera. Certainly, I haven't seen any more dust than with any other lens. Overall: great lens for outdoor work.