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Sigma 24-70mm f3.5-5.6 Aspherical HF

Review Date: Feb 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $109.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: For the price ($109.00) it has a good build quality, fast enough focusing, decent images, and includes a lens hood.
Fine detail on things such as hair, grass, leaves, etc., has a distinct digitized "patch-worky" mush look to them. Images can lack contrast and punch.

It's always hard to rate an inexpensive lens, because your mind TRIES to compare it to lenses that cost much more. Forgetting the price, if you put this lens up against any number of mid-range ($400+) lenses, then you would be disappointed due to the fact that fine detail such as hair and grass has that mushy digital patch-worky look to it. In a vague way when viewing at 100%, it kind of reminds me of the way HP camera images look when viewed at full size, only you get the benefit here of it being on a Canon (in my case) DSLR with much better iso capability.

You have to pull yourself back a bit though, and remind yourself that this lens costs just BARELY over $100.00, and for that price, you have to readjust the way you see it.

The key words here are "for the price", and for just over that hundred dollars, you get decent build quality, reasonably smooth focusing and speed, and a lens hood included. If you were to submit images made with this lens to a stock agency to sell, I'd say most likely they will be rejected due to the artifacting and lack of sharp details, but then, are you going to use a $100 lens for professional stock photography? I doubt it. For general "everyday" photos of the kids, pets, festivals, casual vacations, etc., this isn't that bad of a lens - about on par perhaps with many of the kit lenses you see included with DSLR packages. You get what you pay for and for the price, this is more than decent.

Canon Speedlite 420EX TTL

Review Date: Nov 27, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $229.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Reasonable price. Good features (swivel, etc). Decent coverage.
AF assist light is not bright enough, causing some focusing problems.

Well I won't repeat everything else that's already been said by others on this. I use the 420EX on a Canon 10D, and for the most part in the short time I've had it, I like it.

There is ONE quirk, however, to be aware of. Especially if you're also a 10D user. The 10D usually uses it's pop-up flash as an AF assist light, giving out a "strobe" as the assist, locking focus, and then taking the shot. With the 420 attached it of course, can't do that, and relies on the built-in AF assist the 420 has, which is MUCH weaker.

So long as room lighting is fairly decent and the subject is pretty close it's fine to finetune the focus, but I have found that when this is not the case, the 420's AF assist will fire, and the camera will give a confirmation beep as though focus is locked on correctly, when it is not. It gives a false-positive lock, giving you a blurry photo as a result. It would have been better if Canon had incorporated a much stronger AF light on this flash unit, or, used a laser focus light similar to what Sony uses on it's cameras which works very well.

With the exception of this one quirk however, everything else is fine. It's worth adding this to your collection as you will soon discover that "bounce flash" effects are much better than using direct built-in camera flashes.


Sigma 18-50mm F3.5-5.6 DC

Review Date: Sep 10, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $114.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Price. Reasonable images. Light weight.
A little stiff and loud, but hey, it's not a thousand dollar lens!

It's funny when I read some of the other comments on this lens in this thread. "Not good for professional use" is one - please tell me WHAT "professional" would buy a lens that costs barely over a hundred U.S. dollars, and expect it to perform to professional standards??

Let's lower our noses and come down from Mount Olympus to the real world, shall we? This is a plastic bodied, third party, barely over one hundred dollar lens. FOR THAT PRICE, you are getting a lot. The images may have very slight softening in the corners, and under the right condition you may see some CA (purple fringing), but I see this on cameras that cost nearly a thousand dollars in the consumer level of digicams! If you expect perfection from a $114 lens, you're being very very unrealistic.

For everyday and casual uses, the Sigma is just fine. I've done real estate pics that "wowed" the owners, and with some very minior tweaking the images are in the very good category for their intended uses. Since I don't try to take wide angle shots in completely dark rooms, I've not seen the AF problems I've read about. In "normal" lighting indoors and good lighting out, the AF is fine. If it's midnight and you're in a room with one lamp lit, yep, you'll need the camera's AF assist light, as you would with 98% of all other cameras out there.

So if you want "professional" quality, then you need to expect to pay as much for you lens as you did your camera. If you just need a decent lens to take everyday wide angles with, this lens is just fine.

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

Review Date: May 28, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $399.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Good sharp images (for the price). Decently quick AF on the 10D.
For the price, none I can see so far.

Well, after reading the reviews for this lens on here, I guess it's true about the rumor that Canon "secretly upgraded" this lens, because I've not experienced any of the complaints others have posted. I'm using this on a 10D, using center focusing, and a polarized filter - autofocus is working just fine for me, and at the camera's normal speed, too.

Images are just as sharp at least to my eye, as the 28-135 IS lens I use. Now, image stabilization is only going to help you SO much... you still have to have a "reasonably steady hand" at 300mm, or you'll still get some camera shake - maybe this is causing the unsharp comments? Not sure, but I'm happy with it.