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Sigma 12-24mm f4.5-5.6 EX DG Aspherical HSM

l3a_copy
Review Date: Nov 13, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $600.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: WIDE!!!!!!! , not too pricey, pin sharp , amazing on FF, excellent AF
Cons:
Nothing so far

I was hesitant to buy this lens based on these reviews , I must have got a really good one , cos even 200% crops with it at wide open are seriously good. I have a 28-300L on FF and this lens is an ideal compliment. I find IQ BETTER than my 17-40L (which I had stupidly sold)
Flare when the sun is in the frame is a small issue, but understandable. First time I have EVER liked "vignetting" or some light drop off when wide open as it gives a sort of polarising effect with skys. The light drop off on my 17-40 was far worse and used to bug me. I use it for interior and exterior architectural stuff , auto photography (interiors), landscapes etc. I have got some really interesting shots with this lens. I was never really an ultra wide angle fan or indeed WA , but I'm now converted.
Dont really see the use of it on a cropped cam tho in terms of UWA , but have used it to great effect on my 30d
Filter issue is a non issue for me , I dont use polarisers.
I tried the new 14L II , but at it's price it was a no-no
The IQ was no better than the sigma and pop contrast etc was neither , the 12-24 is more flexible. I dont shoot with the sigma wide open 99% of the time , so the 2.8 of the 14L II was academic.
I had bought a Tamron 15-30 real cheap prior to this lens and wasnt all that happy , the 12-24 is soooo much better.
When first mounting the lens , my camera went moggy and I thought "uh uh - some problem" , but it wasnt the lens , it was the fact my battery grip was not tightend properly on my 5d. I just wish I had bought this lens long ago.


 
Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM

ef28-300_35-56lisu
Review Date: Oct 27, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,700.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Range, IS, Build , Image quality, Range ,Range
Cons:
Weight , light drop off

I have to begin by saying I do not think this lens makes much sense on anything but a FF camera. I initially tried it on my 20D and was not convinced of its value
It only comes into it's own if you can use its WA as true WA , otherwise 28mm is not wide enough with any FOV crop camera.

On my 5D this lens is absolutely wonderful , it is pin sharp and is really almost the only lens you need to take out with you to frame just about anything. It makes the 5d (or a 1ds mk II) the heaviest and most expensive point and shoot in the world (but with the best quality) The utility of this lens in composing exactly what you want in miliseconds without lens changes is really the reason to get one , it's close focussing ability right thru the range is another and if you have something like a 5d which is a "dust on the sensor magnet" then not having to change lenses under less than ideal conditions is a boon. Close focussing is particularily effective and 300mm at 70cm (mine seems to focus closer than that?) is great for flowers and suchlike.

The lens is weather sealed , but my camera is not and I doubt I would take out a $5000 combo in really bad conditions to test the lenses ability in this regard. (Im just a hobbyist) For a PJ with a 1ds mkII this must be a killer combo. This lens is heavy , VERY heavy as others have reported , Im no arnie , but It's pretty manageable for me.

At wide open at ANY focal length , it vignettes or has light drop off , especially at the wide end. Compared to a 17-40L at 28 mm at F4 there is just a smidgin more. (my 70-200 2.8 also exhibits this on my 5d but to much lesser degree)
See here for examples
http://www.5d.fotopic.net/c718605.html
This is not much of a problem in real world conditions and can be fixed in Photoshop or with PT lens or better still in Adobe Camera raw (acr has the best fix imho) Using a flash with this lens at wide open at 28mm is a little more problematic as it seems that the flash has spotlit the subject and doesnt have enough coverage , the noticeable light drop off is disconcerting and fixing it in anything other than ACR gives less then desireable results. Stopping down one or 2 stops drastically fixes this. Obviously , compared to primes or shorter zooms , this lens does have a slight disadvantage in terms of image quality. Compared to my 17-40 at the wide end , the 28-300 is much of a muchness IMHO, compared to the 70-200 2.8 thru its focal length , the 70-200 wins by a hair. The 28-300 hits 5.6 round 80-90mm or so, so in terms of the 70-200 2.8 it loses out big time re speed. My copy is pin sharp at 300 despite some saying it might be soft here, but I dont have a 300 prime to compare it to. The viewfinder gets a little dim at the long end where the lens hits 5.6 and AF does slow down in a relative manner here. At 5.6 at 300 , you might not achieve focus on a black dog in real dim conditions , but in general AF is very good in all modes. Not as instant as a lens that is 2.8 or faster as the camera itself actuates "hidden" sensors when using lenses this fast and does AF significantly better especially in Ai servo mode (in one shot mode there is not difference) I havent really used the lens for any action shots barring once when shooting windurfers in a very stiff breeze and it coped admirably (I got some blurred shots , but that was my fault in not realizing I needed a very much higher shutter speed to freeze the very fast action)

In terms of AF on a FF camera , the DOF is less than on a cropped sensor and is surprisingly shallow at the long end , something to be aware of , especially with a 5d where the AF area is actually bigger than the AF box and you can often get lock on something outside where you intended to AF.
This is more a camera than lens issue and is helped vastly if you decouple AF from the shutter button to the * button and use multiple presses on the * button to AF. Contrast and colour and "pop" on this lens is very good , equal to my other zooms. I have mades some really big prints (almost 2m in length) and the results are stunning. The lens hood is useless which is actually its real achilles heel , at the wide end it has some effectivity but at tele lengths well........... If one has to carry 2 lens hoods and attach either depending on where you are in the zoom range , the lenses utility is compromised. I shoot without the hood , which probably might compromise some shots in some circumstances , but so far it hasnt been a major problem to me. The IS works real well , I have taken hand held shots at 1/50th wide open at 300mm which are very good , not quite as sharp as lets say , 1/300th but very useable and good enough to print real big. I have tested the IS down to about 1/10th at 300mm and there is still not anything like huge motion blur , more like a slight "softness". At the wide end , well you can use just about any shutter speed so long is its not real silly. I havent used the IS in panning mode or used a tripod with this lens so can't comment there. I wasnt enamoured with the push pull zoom initially , but after getting used to it , I found it great as its quite easy to use MF when doing so. I have no problem with the friction ring using it at smooth when shooting and locking it when carrying the camera , the only hassle about locking it is the fact that a grabbed shot needs it released to zoom effectively and this is slightly fiddly. So If in that situation , where a grabbed shot might be viable , I don't lock it. I find that the non progressive nature of the zoom a little problematic at the long end as there is very little movement tween 200 and 300 and one can often overshoot and at that part of the zoom , its a teeny bit stiffer. My lens is new so might loosen up over time in that regard , it's a niggle but no disaster. The switches on the side of the lens , as others have reported , can easily be moved when taking the lens out a bag etc , and must be checked or taped over.

I must repeat , the utility of this lens really is astounding if you can use its WA and want a single lens solution.
I actually think its a perfect walkabout lens despite the weight and intend to take it on a once in a lifetime holiday at the year end (21 day cruise from Singapore to Sydney)
One BIG problem is ppl gawking at you with this lens attached to the camera , especially when extended , its not a subtle thing at all Smile I suppose that might preclude it from candid street photography.

From landscape to tele to limited "macro" useage , it does it all very well. Heres a gallery of pics (first time I used it in "anger") taken using it that should illustrate its versatility , have a look at some of the 100% crops and some of the images at full size.

http://www.drgfinger.fotopic.net/c720453.html


 
Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM

efs60_28macro_usm
Review Date: Jun 20, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $390.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Ultra sharp, great colour , good performance stopped down and wide open , Takes mr-14 and Mt-24 Flashes without adaptors , reasonable working distance , lightweight, easy manual focus, well constructed.
Cons:
Poor AF, Price , EFS, no lens hood , not sure where this lens fits in?

I have a lot of macro lenses and use them for various purposes , I have the 50mm 2:1 lens , the Canon 100 and a Sigma 105. I use my lenses on a 10d and a 20d with either the 550 ex , the Mr-14 ringflash and the Mt-24 twinlight.
I use the lenses for product shots , technical stuff , flowers , bugs and general work. I dont always have both cameras and all lenses with me , as one camera , the 10d is always at work and the other , the 20d is mostly at home. On a whim I bought the 60mm as I use the 50mm and the 105 sigma on my 10d and wanted a shorter lighterweight lens to compliment the Canon 100 macro I use on the 20d.
The 100's and 105 are fine lenses , a few problems are the fact that they are long and heavy , the Sigma extends substantially and using the front lens mount macro flashes makes for a rather cumbersome setup. The 100's are a little too long for general usage with 1.6 FOV cameras and also require shutter speeds appropriate to their length (at least double the 50's and 60's). This isnt a problem with tripods and the like , but is not that great for a hand held solution.
At any rate , here's my impression of the 60 and some comparison to the other lenses.
ALL the macros are really sharp , to all intents and purposes there is nothing between them in real life, you might see some differences if you pixel peep and some differences at various apertures. The 60 is up there with them , exceptional clarity and good colour. wide open , it's very good
AF is positive , quick and silent - but this HAS to be qualified. In true close up macro mode , I never use AF anyway so lets disregard this. As far as AF goes in terms of other lenses , the 60 sucks (but so does the 100 and the 105) and IMHO is sucks more then the 100 or 105. This lens hunts like crazy and in lower light with less than contrasty subjects (and even sometime with contrasty subjects) often NEVER achieves focus. We arent talking dim or candle light here. All my other lenses outperform it under those circumstances. As far as action goes with this lens , forget it. The lens DEFINITELY needs a limiter to be more functional as a all purpose. I feel the 50mm is a better bet for general work , it focuses faster and better under low light it is also a LOT cheaper , however it is not 1:1 and the front extends - I paid about $180 for mine
Bear in mind this is MY point of view and you would have to actually try the lens under all conditions to see if its suitable for you.
Of course this lens will never work on older models or the 10d or full frame sensors and this is somewhat of a limiting factor , tho for me it was academic as I have got lenses that WILL work with these, I would seriously consider this tho. I got mine quite cheap , but I also do feel the advertised price is pretty high. I also feel the lens hood could have been included as without it , flare can be problematic under general shooting and if you have the Mr-14/mt-24 attached , a lens hood is out of the question.

I'm not quite sure where this lens fits in if one was choosing one's first and only macro lens. I dont feel it substantially outperforms the others in AF and in fact in my experience it is worse. It does not outperform the others in terms of quality , it *is* lighter and has a shorter focal length then the 100 (not quite sure this is a big plus for macro) , but then it wont work on all cameras as the 100 will, It is also effectively (due to shutter speed issues) a stop faster than the 100 in some circumstances. With a normal flash on the hotshoe (550ex) the 60 does not achieve great coverage up close , whereas , albeit not ideal , the 100 does do better in this regard.
However the 60 with the 580 ex which takes into account distance achieves more consistent results then it does with a 550ex without jumping thru hoops (this is quite important as there are many complaints about inconsistent results with the E-ttl sytem and unless you know your oats as to exactly how the system works , you can get into trouble)
The 580/60mm combo which fully utilises E-ttl II seems to work better than any of my other macro lenses with either the 550 or 580 although I'm not really comparing apples with apples
At the final analysis , I would advise the 100 over the 60 as a first serious 1:1 macro and the 50 as a lower cost all purpose with nice close up ability.