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  Reviews by: cunparis2  

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Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM

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Review Date: Mar 25, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 3 

 
Pros: Very good build, HSM is super fast & silent just like Canon's ring USM. Comes with a case & lens hood. Good price. When you get a good copy, it's sharp and a very good alternative to the more expensive Canon.
Cons:
Absolutely horrible quality control. So many people have decentered copies (soft on one side) that you should only buy this if you can try it out first.

I ordered this lens in preparation for a trip to Yosemite & Grand Canyon. I thought I'd save $250+ by ordering the Sigma instead of the Canon. Instead I just wasted my time and lost money on the shipping. My copy is reasonably sharp in the middle but soft on both sides and extremely soft on the right side. So soft it's blurry. It improves when stopped down but even at f10 it's still blurry. A search on dpreview showed many people complaining of the same thing. I had done my research and thought that only the people with bad copies complain and the chances of a bad copy are slim. In reality there are lots of bad copies. It's just that the people with bad copies don't write reviews. So here you will see mainly the people with good copies.

So I posted a few crops and asked for feedback. One person replied and posted one of his images which had the same exact thing. Another replied saying that it was bad bokeh or focusing error. So I looked at his images and sure enough, the right side was visibily blurry even on his resized images. I think often the people with good copies haven't even realized that they have bad copies. Ultrawides are in their own class and it's not easy to compare them if you only own one. What can you compare them to?

I'm returning mine and will be ordering the Canon EF 10-22. I think the extra money is worth it. If you buy locally and can try before you buy, the Sigma is worth consideration. If you get a good copy it must be a great deal. If you order mail order, I would just order Canon and save yourself time & money.

Finally, it was fun to walk around town with an ultrawide but I am questioning its usefulness outside of landscape photography. In town I found myself having to either zoom or move myself closer to my subject in order to avoid having unwanted items in the view (garbage cans, cars, etc.). It's amazing just how close you can be and still get a shot as if you were across the street. In town or inside I think 18 is good enough. The ultrawides are most useful for landscape photography.


 
Sigma Electronic Flash EF 500 DG Super

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Review Date: Dec 16, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $185.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Price and can be used as an optical slave.
Cons:
build quality, feels a bit cheap and plasticky

I wanted a speedlite that I could use on camera and off camera in the studio. I was ready to buy a Canon until I discovered, to my horror, that they could not be used as optical slaves! So much for using them in my studio with my strobes. This is by design as Canon wants to sell you the STE2 for $200 more. This is when I discovered the Sigma.

At first I had no idea how to use it and was disappointed. But after some searching I found out it needs a FEC +2/3 and I need to use my camera's manual mode. I usually use my Canon 50 1.4 with this flash, and I set my camera to ISO 100 1/200 f7 and the results are absolutely incredible. I very rarely use direct flash, preferring to use bounce whenever possible. Our apartment has 5m (15 feet) high ceiling and I thought I couldn't use bounce. I was wrong. I set FEC +3 and bounce it straight up. The photo is under exposed by 1 stop but that's not a problem when shooting RAW. Using ISO 200 would probably solve this problem.

It's ironic because I bought my 50 1.4 in order to shoot with natural light, but now that I have my Sigma flash, I shoot with the flash 99% of the time when indoors. The quality at f7 is just so much better.

It comes with an adapter to mount it on a stand or tripod. I didn't know that so I bought one with the flash. That's a nice touch. It works great as an optical slave in manual mode. I use it to light my background and never need full power, which means it recycles fast.

I haven't used it in a multi-flash setup mixed with Canon flashes, I've heard rumors of some problems. But that doesn't concern me as I do not plan to buy any Canon flashes in the future. I'm perfectly satisfied with the Sigma.

Overall, unless you're a professional with unlimited budget OR unless you already own some Canon flashes, I would definitely recommend this flash. It's perfect for someone who wants to buy their first flash. And as I mentioned, if you use strobes in a studio then this flash can serve double duty. I paid $185 using coupons, and the Vivitar/Sunpaks with a Wein Peanut optical slave adapter are around $100 so for me there is no comparison.