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  Reviews by: Rob Ernsting  

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Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM "A"

Review Date: Apr 4, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast focus, bokeh, extreme image quality even wide open. Fun to work with, solid mecahnical performance
None found after 4 weeks of usage. Someone mentioned hunting; that can happen with any fast lens in low light or extreme low contrast. I found nothing of the kind, just perfect focusing in AI servo.

Astounding image quality in the corners even at f 1.4 on a Canon EOS 5D mark III full frame. It is the best lens I ever acquired. For the record I have several Canon L lenses including T/S 24mm L to compare with. Amazing fast focus, ease of use and a pleasure to use with f 1.4 to f 3.5 for the selective focus and bokeh.
The points mentioned earlier by others like vignet are common for fast lenses. Using DXO or LR4 will allow for automatic lens and vignet correction. Compared to Canon or Carl Zeiss it is a bargain price and provides better performance than the competitors as shown in several tests.
I have been pondering to either buy the Canon 35mm f/2 IS or this Sigma 35 mm. I am glad I chose the latter.
Admittedly I was apprehensive about buying a Sigma but I am overwhelmed by the image quality and the overall mechanical perfection of the Sigma 35mm lens. Almost every shot is technically a keeper.
A slight autofocus micro adjustment on short focus distance was necessary.

Sigma 150mm f2.8 APO Macro DG EX HSM

Review Date: May 18, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Including tripod mount!!. Fantastic bokeh, sharpness at f 2.8 on a full frame camera. Ease of use. Silent HSM. Feels good and solid. Price.
It does not have a Canon L sign printed on it and really deserves it!

Camera used; Canon 5D full frame sensor.
It took a while and thorough surfing before I decided to buy a non Canon lens. A focal length of 150mm was desirable, f 2.8 was a bonus. The tests at confirm the quality of this lens, admittedly I read those after I had the lens for a while. Having used it for a few months now I can convey that I am very pleased with the quality and the results. It handles well, it feels well and the results in macro and general use are excellent. I own a two L zoom lenses so I can compare what quality it should have. This Sigma prime is better in sharpness certainly and and maybe also in contrast.
What I should mention is that the lens acts typically as a macro lens does in low light. Using any of the the excentric AF focus points of the 5D in low light it tends to hunt. Switching to the center AF point resolves the problem. For macro work not a big deal but for general field or architecteral applications it can be, but I donít consider this a problem since it is common to macro lenses. MF works fine.
The HSM (USM) works great and silently. Surprising is the sharpness full open and up to f 8 after f11 to f 22 it tends to lessen but still great.
I shot handheld pictures in the city and at distances of up to 1000 meter the sharpness is fantastic at f11 even at the border. I was amazed.
The tripod mount IS detachable!!! The tripod mount is a great addition. I use the lens a lot for street shots of people and the bokeh at f 2.8 and f 4 is superb. And the sharpness is unbelievable in those instances.
I started with some reservation and gave it a try with the idea that in the worst case I would sell it. In the meantime it sits on my 5D most of the time for candid portraiture and even landscape views. Magnificent pice of quality glass, highly recommended.
Not any cons? Well I wished it had a Canon logo on it.
I gave 10 for overall rating and qualitly, anyway it is close to 10, a 9 is not a good fit either.

Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Nov 3, 2004 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 2 

Pros: None what so ever.
A dog of a lens for the price to pay. Soft never real sharp only if you shoot well lit daylight objects at f 11 or smaller aperture, f16. A waist of money.

Focusing is slow, the tube is always extending when carrying the camera. Have troubled with this lens so much while not being able to afford a better lens. Making endless tests on tripod and blaming myself until I was convinced that it is poor manufacture that causes this poor result. The IS is expensive and not really a benefit.

Until I got a 17-40mm L USM I have made poor soft pictures. I finally got rid of it and bought a 70-200mm L USM in addition.

Canon lenses are poor performers unless one pays through the nose for an L type lens. It is a shame that Canon still brings out low quality prosumer lenses for a lot of money.

Canon EOS 20D

Review Date: Oct 20, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: It is a good cam, better than 10D in ease of use. Speed of focus, writing to FC, image quality and features vs 10D
Som spots on CMOS, but really minor.

My first 20D I got was the old serial number 430XXX, it had severe spots on the CMOS which were non removeable. They were no dust spots so I returned it and a few weeks later I got a new one with serialnumber 530XXX. This one is great, it had FW 1.0.5 on it and minor spots on the CMOS when photographing a blank sheet and f 22.

The captures I took look good and need less PP. For instance with my 10D I had the EV set constant at -0.6 in order to avoid burning high lights. That is less of an issue with the 20D. Sofar not necessary to do.

Focussing is fast and good I checked that by shooting a brick wall under 45 degrees and aiming a specific point with a 50mm and a 70-200mm lens wide open of course. It looks great.

As I shoot in RAW I use the Digital Professional Photo sofware version 1.1 very much. It is good but not as flexible as the Capture One software I used for the 10D. This software will be improved with a version 1.5 as of November shipments Canon says. I only want to know how I can get a download version ASAP. On the scale of 5 I rate the software 4, we will see what 1.5 brings. Incidently there is a tutorial about DPP

What I like is the parameter settings in general and for B/W, it allows to add a red filter, great for the sky. To my surprise when processing the B/W shots in DPP software the B/W and color filters disappeared and full color version was shown. Going back to the View Filer software the shot is BW as intended by the parameter setting. So RAW retains all the original data despite what filter or B/W you have chosen and ignores the paramater setting, nice to know in case you might prefer color after all.

And guess what? I like the sound of the mirror, it sounds like a real camera.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Sep 22, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $900.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness even at f 4 with a 10D, fast focusing, portability, boket, contrast, FTM, front is fixed. Reasonable priced compared to the 75-300 IS USM
The off white color. The hood can be smaller IMO for a 10D. Wished it was 50-200mm.

The reason that I first chose for the Canon 75-300mm IS USM was because of the IS. (see my commnets in the subject review article). I was afraid not to be able to use it w/o IS. Much to my surprise it is no problem at all. Of about 500 shots only a few were blurred by instabality of my hands. Then again the expsoure time was too long in most cases.
Here are my suggestions.

Set the function of your camera to Time preference Tv and do the following:
1 focal length 70mm set timing to at least 1/100 or shorter when feasble
2 focal length 200mm set exposure time to 1/250 or shorter and use a mean value in between 70-200mm.
The reason is that you can go as low as f4 for diapragm and be sharp with a 10D.
3 Use ISO 200 to gain a little extra exposure time versus F.
4. The focusing is fast and by that one eliminates automatically blur is my experience! In comparison if the focusing is slow one automatically reduces control over holding the camera still. A short exposure time avoids blur. Hence the preference for Tv setting.
5. You can pan easily fast moving objects like a bird, again becase of the fast focusing.

I only wished it had a range of 50-200mm.

I was able to test briefly the 70-200mm F2,8 L USM from the photoshop. It is a lot heavier and I had a lot more blurs, that can also be due to my inexperience and the few shots I made( 25). But I consider the difference in price and weight substantial drawbacks.

Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Sep 22, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $645.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Excellent range, good sharpness, consider focal length above 200mm as a bonus. Good for the price.
Very slow focusing not fit for action shots. Cannot manually relocate the extending focus barrel and no Manual Focus in the AF mode

The opportunity to shoot with it for about 1000 frames in 4 weeks and then trade it in for a 70-200mm F4 L USM is rare, not that I intended such but gradually my discontent grew about the slow focusing of the lens. The sharpness is much better than most people like you to believe. I made excellent shots, slow or non moving objects, which can compare with the 70-200mm L USM.

I quickly found the drawbacks of this lens and adjusted to it.

1. Set F anywhere between 8-11 at least for sharp pictures even with a 10D
2. Set ISO to 200 to get some kind of short(er) exposure time.
3. Avoid flying birds, panning with it is virtually impossible, you might be better of by swithching off the Image Stabilizer if you want to pan.
4. From 75-220mm the pictures are sharp and have a nice contrast and even a fair boket, much better than most people mention in this review.
Consider anything above 200mm as a bonus in focal length. If you use a tripod and can stop down sufficiently you will get surprising results like I did.
5. Like with any other lens stopped down to f8 or more you need ample light. (with the 70-200 L USM you can easily use f4 and be sharp all over with a 10D)
6. The IS allows you to make shots at 1/15th @ 70mm and 1/60th sec. @ 300mm. Again for anything moving this is insufficient.
7. The drawbeck is slow focusing in allmost any light condition which makes it impossible to captured anything moving.
8. While AF is switched on you cannot focus manually, besides you cannot manually relocate the extended focus barrel while in the AF position. You must swith to AM to do so. I found this very unpleasant.
9. Despite the IS I had a fair percentage of captures blurred, about 20%.
(I have a score of almost non-blurs with my 70-200mm L USM which does not have IS).
10. It is a bit noisy grinding back and forth adjusting the focus.
11. If you can afford it buy the 70-200mm L USM, unless you need the extra focal length above 200mm.

See also my review about the 70-200 F4 L USM in the subject review page.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8

Review Date: Jul 12, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $75.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Light, very cheap and I fall in love from the first shot on with 1.8 effect fully open.
None, I have the old version from before the MarkII

I used to have a 1.8 on my Konica FP in the 60's. I had a 1.8 on the Olympus C4040, fixed lens. Now I have it on my Canon EOS 10D and I can honestly say the 1.6 cropfactor makes it a perfect portrait lens. I was lucky to find an excellent item of the original make for a bargain second hand price.
Right away I went into dark corners of a pub and checked it out, superb in color and the focused items are great leaving a nice blur in the for- and background. With f 8 you can make fabulous sharp images. I have never felt so happy with a lens as this one.
I own the excellent 17-40mmL USM and the low quality 28-135 mm IS USM as well.
I can make shots with the 50mm 1.8 and crop those and still be sharper and have more contrast and definition than with the 28-135 at full f.l. of 135 mm
If you own a 300D or 10D try to get one.

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Jun 24, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Quality, weight, dimension, no extending tube when focal length is adjusted, fixed length dimension. Excellent optical characteristics even on f 4 in conjunction with EOS 10D. Large DOF even at f4
The size of the hood, I seldom use it.

The sharpness and detail IN definition of this lens are outstanding. The chromatic abberation is minimum in my opinion. I seldom use the hood because of the clumsy size, even in bright sunglight I can get away with no color fringing or chromatic aberation or vignetting in most cases except direct sunlight. But then the hood does not do any good either. I keep my hand aside as protection against the sunlight, it helps.
I use this lens as a standard lens on the 10D and by that have an effective focal length of 27-64 mm. Great for landscapes, cityscapes and even portraits. The images are such sharp that you can crop quite extensively for A4 size print (letter size). Even 'macros' of flowers are no problem in this way.
I have made over 3000 photos with this lens and almost never use the 28-135mm IS USM because of its poor sharpness and contrast compared to 17-40mm lens. I can afford to crop and still get better quality in contrast and sharpness of the same object by using the 17-40 in favor of the 28-135 mm.