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  Reviews by: Kagetsu  

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Lowepro Pro Mag 2 AW

Review Date: Jun 29, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: More room then it looks from the outside, comfortable to wear.
A little on the tight side (inside), forward compartment a bit flimsy, hard to open top of the bag while shouldered.

There's no doubt that Lowpro make excellent bags, and this one is no exception. I don't believe anybody could fault build quality, so I'll jump straight into the other areas.

This bag is deceptively roomy, which it gets from its height. On a normal day, I can use it for one body with grip, my 70-200, 16-35, 24-70, and 50 prime, with a host of other gadgets. (ie. P2000, extension tubes, filters etc)

What really suprised me, was that I could pack a second full size body for transport on aircraft with this bag. It doesn't leave a lot of room to handle on the move, but as far as transport goes, its brilliant.

My only complaint is that the inside is just a little too tight. I would have liked to see just a few milimetres more on all sides, just to give that extra support for lens hoods etc.

Word of warning, if you plan to use this as a transport dog, you may wish to invest in some extra shoulder padding, as it can get very heavy.

Canon EOS 5D

Review Date: Dec 28, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,330.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Solid construction, Excellent photographic ability, impressive selection of options. Generally, a wonderful addition to the Canon range.
No weather sealing, no option for alternative battery types, mirror slap a little too much force.

For me, I paid 333,000Yen, and must say it's the best camera I've ever owned. Prior to the 5D, the only option I had for full frame, was to go with film, or a 1Ds or the equivilent Kodak series... The reality was, that only the 1Ds would offer the use I wanted.

I've only owned the 5D for a short time, however, from what I've seen of it, it's definantly taken on the role as my primary camera. It's the little things that have really made the difference for me, and I hadn't really read or heard anything of them prior to using it.

Firstly, the bokeh of the Full frame. I never thought much of it, I'd always let it go without worrying too much about it on my 20D, which I still use and love. However, to see the difference for me was breath taking. Using f/1.4 was simply amazing, and I'm looking forward to really pushing my lenses as far down as they go. I love the effect, and it's given a whole new dimension to my work, and given me an opportunity to expand.

ISO adjustability is superb in this camera. It can be pushed as low as ISO50 equivalent, and as high as 3200... Everybody is pretty much aware of that, but for me the suprise was the intermediate ranges... 100/125/160/200/250/320/400/500/640/800/1000/1250/1600 makes it much more accessible. More refinable.

It's allowed me to moderate to a slightly lower ISO for night shooting. Not that it's a problem at ISO 800 anyway, but lower ISO is always better I believe.

Being able to see the fStop in the view finder is also a plus.

General usage wise, I have my fitted with the grip, and must say it's a whole new beast to the 20D, it simply feels big. It'd probably be interesting to see it size wise next to a 1Ds/1D Mark II.

I like the photo's it produces, though by default it's a little soft, and a little to saturated in the colour. After adjusting it slightly, the result is nice, and crisp images.

On the negative notes, I would have hoped that with the release of this Canon, a new set of battery type would be released along with it, giving people in colder area's something to work with. Still, we can only hope soon.

Naturally weather sealing is there, but not a major issue. It'd have been nice, but it's nothing I'd hold against this camera. The build quality is very good, and for the most part, it'll deal with some punishment (I believe, as my 20D has, in bush hikes past waterfalls, and crashing waves, and it's still going strong).

The only big thing is mirror slap, which I find to be very much noticeable. It's not major, but you certainly feel it, and if you're not holding it well enough, can result in a slightly (ever so much so) distorted image. It's not bad though.

Over all, I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who's in the market for a new System. Canon really have thought this one through very well. Considering what they've achieved, the cost, and the ability, this camera is incredible.

In comparison to the 20D, it's solid, really solid. It feels a million dollars, and anybody who's played with a 20D, know's it's not half bad itself.

Lowepro Mini Trekker AW

Review Date: Aug 21, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $160.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Easy for hiking, all weather cover, secure and generally well made.
Unconformable/unnadjustability, could be a fraction wider. Not so great as a general storage solution, but it's not designed for that anyway. Can be very uncomfortable on longer trips with heavy equipment if you don't have the chance to put it down.

This was my first camera bag, I bought the AWII, so there may be differences here and there, but I assume they're still fairly similar.

Overall, the bag is good, plenty of pockets, plenty of room to put most stuff that you could ever need and a little more to get you by. If the bag itself isn't loaded up, it's quite comfortable to wear, though can be a little tense on longer hikes and journeys, if loaded up, it can be very uncomfortable after a even short trips. This could probably be resolved with a rethink on how the shoulder straps are sewn to the case, nad if they're made a little thicker, and softer it might resolve the intensity of what I see as a major issue.

I would have liked to see more adaptability to the bag, as there's really only one way to setup the inside. When attempting to move parts around, you realise there's not enough soft velcro surface to attach the partitions. With a little more, this bag could compensate for two larger telescopic zooms (70-200 f/2.8 size) with one attached, and a few primes as well. Without the added contact area's lenses may be forced to 'float' around inside when held upright or worn.

Over all though, it's a good simple getup for those who won't be lugging around a zelous number of lenses.

Sigma 50-500mm f4-6.3 EX APO RF HSM

Review Date: Jun 16, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $989.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp at all levels, High build quality, Quick focus, Impressive range, and price. Focus ring doesn't move while autofocus is active (good for hand held shots).
No OS, Tie possition for neck strap, Zoom ring very stiff out of the box, takes time to wear into a nice smooth feeling.

At first I was reluctant to purchase this lens, as I should have focused more redily on the lower focal lengths, but on its arrival, I was more then happy with the purchase.
I have purchased the DG version of this lense.

Before I go into my thoughts on it, my experience consisted of using the Tamron 28-300mm lens and the EF-S 10-22mm lens. Relative to them, this unit completely obliterates the Tamron, but can't really be compared to the 10-22 lens.

The first thing that struck me about this lens, openning the box it arrived in, was the size of it. I knew it would be big, but due to my lack of experience, I'd underestimated it it. That said, for what it achieves, it's quite small, and very acceptable.

After reading reviews here, and people mentioning the weight of the lense as an issue, I'd brushed it off, with the thought that it requires a strong arm. I realise now of course, that this is not the case. The reality is, that the lense weighs in at 2kg's, adding to that, the camera (in my case a 20D and battery grip), it becomes a cumbersome lens to use freehand, but not impossible, with the short rests between captures.
A monopod helps quite a bit to relieve the weight of the lense, and help to stabalise it (as it should). I would definantly class this lens as a built for monopod/tripod use only, though doesn't completely rule out hand use. The experience I've had with it, and hand held use, has been interesting and awkward at the same time, though works itself out in the end. I've found the best way to achieve an ideal hand held shot, is to have a remote trigger held between the pointer and thumb in the hand that's holding the lens leg, while using the other to zoom.

I've found that between approximately 100 to 500mm this lense is very sharp at the lowest corresponding aperture setting (4-6.3) and has resulted in some lovely action bokeh in my photographes of horses, and birds. All out, f/8 is sharp at every level, though probably as if not the same as it's lowest setting up to 100mm.

Focus hunt does occur sometimes, but I've found this more to be an issue with the camera then the lens itself, as the camera's AI is the unit that focus' for it. There are times, I've found the focus to be slow, and at other times, I've been honestly suprised by how quick it can be. I don't know if this is due to a problem with the camera's AI interacting with the focus mechanism of the lense or not.

It would have been nice had Sigma decided to add OS to this lens, it may have made it a little more useable in low light situations, but for the most part, even in well shaded area's, the lense is quick and responsive at ISO 200-400 and low apertures. I honestly don't feel that I should need to sell this lens unless one came with that option in the near future.

The accessories the lens comes with (namely the bag) is nice, but if you already have a kit bag of some kind, then it's probably better as something else (maybe a drinks carry bag on hikes).

For me, I'd recommend this unit to anybody. It's well built, has a great range, and sharp at any level you'd like could use it at. While OS would make it an even better unit, I feel that with it's current weight, OS would add a further amount to it, possibly causing greater issues with hand held photography.

For the beginner photographer, or people in my shoes, this really is a fantastic unit to use, and probably would recommend it as a second lens, simply because it is very large, and not very street walkabout, and stands out quite a bit in places such as clubs and parties. Start with something a little smaller, with a lower fStop.

For the more experienced, I feel this lens would benifit any collection. It's range on its own makes it a great choice, and would certainly be rugged enough to handle the rough terrain.

Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Review Date: Apr 3, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Solid build, possitive feedback from manual control, full time manual focus. Colour reproduction is excellent, with little unexpected distortion.
No carry bag (not really a big one), but no lense hood. Attachment of more then one filter causes vignetting when wide out.

The EF-S mount wasn't really something I considered an issue when purchasing this lense. And to be honest, if you're looking at the uncropped focal length on a full frame camera, it's really digging into a different sort of lense in any case.

It becomes clear when using this lense, that someone in Canons R&D really likes their 1.6 crop sensors. It really is a stunning lense to use and hold. Everything is solid, from the focus to the zoom, to the way it reproduces vivid colours, with wonderful distortion that is a wide view lense.

In my opinion the lense does produce L class results, but like any lense, it still has it's draw backs too.

The front attachment ring is too small for the lense, which may have been made so, to help avoid the extra cost of larger filters. If you're after it's full range, then attaching any more then a single filter is too much, vignetting occurs in the corners when a second filter is added, almost right through to 16mm (25mm). Many polarisers will also cause vignetting as they're a little longer, though my current Hoya UV filter sits just off it's edges, and doesn't interfere with the picture.

If you have a cropped sensor camera, I personally believe this is a must have lense in the series.
I'm far from an expert, but have had immense success with this lense in some of it's results, and it won't dissapoint if a wide angle is what you're after.

Tamron 28-300MM F/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD VC AF

Review Date: Mar 16, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 5 

Pros: Light, fairly universal, and easy to manage.
Build quality, generally soft, with heavy softness at full length, flimsy and hard to activate lock/AF switch. Poor autofocus

I have mixed feelings about this lense... It's not bad, but it's not great... But as far as saying it's good... The jury is still out on that one.

I've never used a more temperamental lense in my limitted experience with camera's. There are days when I couldn't imagine a better photo and there are other days when I wonder why I bothered with it in the beginning.

At full extension, the lense produces heavily softened photo's, though at close up ranges (not more then 80-100mm) it can produce some very nice images, where softening is a benifit.

It's not really an all out lense, if you're really looking for something great. Even amatuers will be annoyed by it's temperamental nature.

On the other hand, it does produce some very nice shots, sometimes, in ideal conditions, but it's really, a hit and miss sort of thing, mostly miss.