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Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

ef17-40_4l_1_
Review Date: Apr 27, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Great build, USM focusing, fairly inexpensive for an "L" lens, good color and contrast
Cons:
Softish wide open, very bad corner performance on full frame digital

I am not very impressed with this lens.

I have tried six (6) copies of it, and while some were better and some worse, none lived up to the "L" moniker in terms of image quality.

Color and contrast are good, but sharpness is not that great wide open. Stopping down to at least 5.6 definitely helps.

The worst thing about it is the poor corner performance on full frame digital. I guess it's not designed for digital, since it performs pretty good on film. Light hits the sensor at too narrow of an angle, so the corners look very mushy and muddy. Stopping down helps, but even at f/13 the corners are still not that great.

Good all-around lens for 1.6 crop cameras, or even 1.3 crop bodies.


 
Sigma 18-125mm F3.5-5.6 DC

4882618_125dc_1_
Review Date: Jun 9, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $225.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Small, light, sharp, good color & contrast, price, zoom range
Cons:
Slow aperture, distortions on wide and long end, focusing can be iffy at long end

This is a great, great little lens. I bought it to use as a walk-around when I don't feel like lugging my bag full of primes, and was I pleasantly surprised.

The lens is SHARP. If you stop it down 1 stop from wide open, you'll get some impresivelly sharp pictures.

At 125mm, it gets a bit soft, so stopping down to F8 or F11 is a must.

There's very noticeable distortion on wide and long end. There is also vignetting wide open, but only noticeable in shots of clear blue sky.

Either way, those things are very easily corrected using PTLens. Lack of detail, however, that you'll have if you use any other zoom in this price range, cannot be recovered.

No CA to speak of at any focal length or aperture.

Focusing can be a bit iffy at full zoom. At other focal lenghts, I use a parfocal focusing tecnique: zoom all the way in, focus, then zoom out and compose your shot. Works like a charm.

If you use this lens as a 18-105mm walkaround, use the 125mm end only for focusing, and don't mind correcting distortions or vignetting in software now and then, it is a fantastic little lens that has no alternative for the price. Highly recommended.