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Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

ef17-40_4l_1_
Review Date: Oct 24, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $600.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, Fast/Quiet/Accurate AF, Build Quality, Feel
Cons:
none

I bought this lens for wide-angle portraits and events, and so far I am very impressed. My copy is sharp, straight from f/4, and the AF does a good job in low-lights, considering the maximum aperture. At events, the "natural lighting" is usually terrible so I tend to use a flash anyway, so the f/4 max-aperture wasn't a deal-breaker for me. I am very pleased with this lens on my 20D and will probably continue to use it for a long time Smile

 
Sigma 24-60mm f2.8 EX DG Lens

24-60mm
Review Date: Jan 27, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, completely usable starting right at f/2.8, solid, small and light (relative to competition), nice finish, very nice bokeh for a standard zoom, PRICE!
Cons:
Poor quality control (I'm talking about focus-alignment, although they are usually good at setting it right after sending it in), No HSM (though the auto-focus speed and noise could be far worse and has never presented me with a problem, even in low light).

In my opinion, this is the lens to get if you want a standard zoom with a large constant aperture and don't need to go super-wide. To me, it is an ideal portrait lens. At the wide end, it is plenty wide for full body shots and looks good doing it. It controls distortions well. At the long end of the focal length you have a perfect head-shot or shoulder shot portrait lens that, when the aperture is left wide-open, produces punch, sharp, images with smooth backgrounds. I don't think it gets any better than this in those regards at these focal lengths in a zoom lens. I have used expensive L primes, and yet, you get what you pay for with those, but compared to Canon's 24-70, you aren't missing much as far as image quality goes, if anything, and it's MUCH more portable. I haven't had the chance to compare it to Nikon's 24-70 f/2.8 lens, but from what I hear, it is worth the money.

This is my workhorse lens, even on a 1.6X sensor. I don't need to go any wider than 24 for shooting people, and that's mostly what I do, so this lens takes care of me 80% of the time.


Now to what truly makes this lens great: the price. It can be had new for about $240, $250 if you include the shipping costs it will take to send it back to Sigma after you receive it to have it calibrated. I have bought 3 of these lenses, and two of the three had to be sent back, and I never felt quite the same about the third one, but it was probably fine.
(I sold the first one, bought the second because I missed it, bought the third as a backup)

Here are a few examples of what this lens can do:

http://flickr.com/photos/s4ltm4n/2852780105/sizes/l/

http://flickr.com/photos/s4ltm4n/2981736676/sizes/l/

Note: These were taken with the third copy, which was never calibrated.

More sample images can be seen here:

http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=392699

and here:

http://www.pbase.com/cameras/sigma/24-60_28_ex_dg

Buy it and love it!








 
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

ef85mmf_18usm_1_
Review Date: Aug 19, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharp, good color and contrast, usable large aperture, useful FL, decent build quality, fast/accurate AF, affordable
Cons:
the only bad thing I have to say is that it makes you second guess the quality of your other lenses

I bought this lens as a replacement for my Canon 70-200 f/4L, and I haven't looked back...not too much anyway Smile

I only have good things to say about this lens, but I'm sure everyone else has already said it all.

The 70-200 I had was great, but I preferred the compactness of this lens. I do most of my shooting indoors, so I rarely used the longer focal lengths of the 70-200 anyway, and f/4 just wasn't fast enough.

If you do mostly indoor shooting, I would recommend to pass up the 70-200s, even the 2.8 IS, for this lens. It will save you a lot of money and give you almost everything they have and more. I have used the 70-200 2.8 IS, but I found myself reaching for my 85 too often to justify owning one myself. If you MUST spend over $1000 and you MUST have L, then go for the 85 1.2, otherwise, enjoy the money you've saved and the beautiful lens you've gained.


 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

ef50mmf_18_1_
Review Date: Aug 19, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $90.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: sharp, cheap, light, compact, usable large aperture, usable FL
Cons:
plastic, poor build quality, slow, but not loud or inaccurate AF

Let me start out by saying that this was the only lens that I had for my first six months with my 20d. Those first months were some of the most inspirational and fun times of my life, and I owe quite a bit of it to this little lens.

This is a perfect lens for those learning that aren't quite ready to invest a lot of money on equipment. It won't limit you in low-light situations like the kit lens, and the image quality won't disappoint beginners, or anyone, considering the price.

Not only is it great for beginners, but it is small enough to be worthwhile for more advanced photographers to keep on hand for low-light shooting.

One of my favorite uses of this lens is portraiture, but I wouldn't hesitate to use it as a walk-about lens, even on a cropped body like the 20d or 400d. Many will say it is too long to be useful as a walk-about on anything but film or full-frame bodies, but in using it as my sole lens for months, I can't think of a single situation where I couldn't frame all the shots I wanted by backing up.

If you're new to photography, or if you're an old veteran just looking for some inspiration, the 50 1.8 is sure to please.