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  Reviews by: chinks  

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Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

Review Date: Oct 26, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,700.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp, quick to focus, fast at 2.8, Good focal range from 70 to 200mm, IS.
Chromatic aberration at larger apertures at edge even on 1.6x crop cameras, focus hunting on 20D and 30D in many low light conditions, heavy, price.

Well for this range this is about the best piece of kit you can get. Unfortunately it's pricey. I expected fast, dead on focus locking for this top line lens but I get focus hunting quite a lot in lower light conditions.

Although it fits a 1.4x TC, the picture quality drops to an amount I'm not comfortable with, so does the focusing competency.

Fortunately on 20D and 30D bodies, focus is dead on and quick when the center spot is used in brighter conditions.

The chromatic aberrations at its edges even on 1.6x crop cameras is disappointing. Thankfully it's not that obvious for most pictures. But at f/2.8 edge quality suffers.

I suppose it's fantastic for a zoom and one can't really complain too much but for some work I know I'll be reaching out for some workhorse primes.

Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM

Review Date: Mar 6, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Can be really sharp... sometimes. Nice color & contrast. Fast USM & focussing. f/2.8. Covers a very useful range. Very rarely, but IS can be useful at 55mm.
Quite a few 'miss' shots on sharpness. Bokeh not as good as expected. High price. Big size. No hood. Could be better built.

I've heard and continue to hear a lot of raves about this lens. Not sure if I've got a dud version of it but the most annoying thing about it is that the focus is hit & miss. A lot of my pictures are not as crisp and sharp as I like or expect. Perhaps I just expect the IS to be more wonderful than it actually is, but it's not the first IS I've had, also owning the 17-85 IS and using the 28-135 IS before it.

The bokeh is not as good as I expected either. No objective tests but I just feel at 50mm f/2.8 the background blur of the EFS 17-55 IS is nowhere close to the EF24-70L's. Perhaps because the lens is EF-S?

My third peeve is of course the price. High. And I'm not sure the extra $$$ for the IS is justifiable.

Minor peeve... it's big, I think bigger than all others in the 17-50 range.

Like the hood though... it's awesome. But it doesn't come with the lens... so really, it's a peeve. For the price please include the humble hood?

Canon EOS 30D

Review Date: Sep 23, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,250.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great price, large LCD, 1/3 stop ISO control
Not much difference from 20D.

The 30D is very much, as many describe it, a 20D MkII or 20DN. If you are shifting to it from a 300D the jump may seem huge. Same as the 20D, it uses an 8 megapixel Digic II CMOS sensor, so image quality brags very little if any improvement, although they throw in the fancy pictures-styles which, after some playing with, have never ever used again.

The spot meter, something lacking in Canonís DLSRs until now, appears in the 30D, but the question is if you are going to get the 30D just for the sake of the spot meter? Without the 10 megapixels and anti-dust Canonís competitors offer, you really want to think real hard before plonking your money on this, seeing that rumors a 40D or 50D will be out soon following the launch of the 400D with bells and whistles the 30D doesnít have!

What I do miss when I go back to my 20D though is the large screen. Boy itís nearly double the size and it counts more than I had ever expected! Also, the 1/3 ISO selection is great.

Overall if youíre coming from the 20D Iíd say the 30D is too little of a difference. If youíre coming from an older EOS DSLR or are looking for a back-up body for your pro models, the 30D is great value with good functionality.

Sigma 150mm f2.8 APO Macro DG EX HSM

Review Date: Feb 9, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $526.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Solid build, hood, internal focusing ie; no extension, fast focusing up to 1:1, focal length, pretty good on price, tripod collar especially with quick release.
72mm thread... quite in-between for me.

I come from a skeptic's point of view, having had the 105 macro which wasn't compatible with my digital, requiring an expensive re-chip from Japan and several visits to regional headquarters because workability was still erratic.

However, having seen the results of this lens from several photographers I know, and all their good ravings and write-ups... I decided I'd brave a Sigma lens again!

Fortunately I have nothing but good things to say. The focusing is silent (not really a problem with insects but...) and fast... even right up to 1:1! If you've used other macro lenses you know how unreliable AF can be... slowly hunting when it comes close to 1:1. Not this one! It's a PRO.

The internal focusing might not be such big a point... but not having your front end extend when tripod mounted can be quite significant!

I like everything about this lens! Except maybe the 72mm thread size... since nothing else I have matches it... Sad But that's not a biggie... seeing all the pluses it has Smile

Canon Speedlite 550EX TTL

Review Date: Feb 9, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: The second most powerful flash Canon has in the EX range. Now relatively cheaper than 580EX.
Big. Clunky. Controls cluttered. Sucks more juice than 580EX.

Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Apr 21, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $565.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, contrasty, great colour. Superb zoom range.
A little overpriced.

Another good answer from Canon, the 17-85 IS is very much the equivalent to the 28-135 IS on EF-S mount EOS cameras. Good workhorse and all-round lens with it's large zoom range. The IS, of course, is also most welcome especially for all the lower light shots. If you're wondering if IS is even useful at 85mm, then ask yourself if you need it at 135mm on a film body. Some may not... but I certainly do.

Qualitywise there's really no complaints. Good sharpness, great contrast and colour. Build is solid and though the lens extends on zooming it's nothing worse than it's predecessor on the film cameras.

Price??? Hmmm, even at $50 less I'd call it value, because it does have IS and gives good results overall. But currently may be a tad pricey.

Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Review Date: Apr 21, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $630.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Wide!
Expensive! Huge filter thread.

It IS the widest zoom offering from Canon for an EF-S mount EOS. So finally being able to shoot in the 16-35mm (equivalent) range is great news for all those who've been missing it.

Supposedly, L quality glass has been used in this lens, thus one WILL expect pretty high quality optics and pictures quality. And at just a few pennies short of the price of a 17-40mm/4L, this lens is a pretty penny considering it has no red ring.

It is sharp right to its edge, even at larger apertures, but it does suffer a little wide open. Unfortunately, sharpness and contrast at the centre of the image, even at f/5.6, losses out to my EF-S 17-85 IS. The colours, though good, and far better than the common EF-S 18-55 kit lens, also is slightly duller than the 17-85 IS, which leads one to wonder where all this L glass type quality is coming in???

The filter thread is 77mm. Wow... talk about expensive filters!!! And I'm not even sure it really needs such a large filter thread, since the front element is actually much smaller in diameter. The threads also seems to protrude quite a bit forward. And of course, not being L, you have to buy your own lens hood if you want one... and it's not cheap.

But after all that's said, you just can't complain about the awesome wideness this lens gives you. Sure there's obvious edge distortion of closer subjects, but which wide lens doesn't? And it outperforms the Sigma 12-24mm comfortably. In my books, there is no contender.

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

Review Date: Jul 7, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $340.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: IS is great! Found out all the blur shots from before needn't have been!
Optically no better than the non IS versions. Costs a lot more than the non IS versions. Not an L lens. Gyros clicking on and off can be annoying sometimes. Focus slow.

Bought mine used. Optical quality no better than non IS versions plus this one costs much more. Edge quality drops, chromatic abberations againts high contrasts. Soft at 300mm.

Question is, "Is it worth the extra?" Why yes! Found out make blurred shots I had in the past at 300mm needn't have been. Found out I don't need to lug an extra tripod around. Good range zoom. May be soft at 300mm, but still better than a 300mm L without IS handheld, for me.

Sigma 105mm f2.8 EX Macro 1:1 Lens

Review Date: Jun 26, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $200.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Tack sharp. Works out more than 105mm at 1:1. New, imprved version is out
A tad slow on focussing. Forget AF for macro. May not be forward compatible on Canon. Extending front element.

I have an older version which worked fine on my film EOS... until I got my EOS 300D. Had to order the 'chip' from Japan, which took over a month to arrive, then spent over a week at the Sigma service centre in my country. Cost a pretty penny for the 're-chip' too.

But when it's working, it's working! Solid, easy to use/grip/focus. Tack sharp performance.

The extending front element isn't so hot... but for the most part tolerable. The recessed front element also means no hood required, which is nice.

Lens coating produces slightly 'off' hues, but hardly notcieable mostly.