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  Reviews by: gazzajagman  

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Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

Review Date: Mar 6, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: The IS System really works and is nearly silent too. Quick AF (fastest macro AF so far) and the IQ is just superb!
A little pricey compared to the older non - IS version....but that's a pretty old lens now. It's a shame that the tripos collar isn't the usual 70-200/f4 unit.

Many reviews cite this lens as "sharp as the old version". I beg to differ, my copy is a lot sharper wide open than my non IS version. After 10 mins of using, my 2nd Potographer ran out and bought's THAT good.

Hand held macro is now possible in good light...although tripodding for bugs is still neccessary. I use it for Ring shots at weddings and it's fantastic in this capacity.

It shares the same filter size as the 70-200/f4 IS L and my only gripe is that the tripod collar isn't the's yet another design and isn't included in the price.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: May 11, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Small Size and weight...pluss stunning optics wide open. Quiet AF and IS system
The lack of a tripod ring is shamefull.

Optically, it's a gem. Wide open performance is top tier stuff and I can see no IQ improvement when stopped down.
This lens easily matches the 135L and 200 2.8IIL primes for IQ at f4 but looses out on Brightness. But lets face it, who what's to lug about a bag full of primes when travelling.

It's a wee bit less sharp on my 7D than on my 5DII's, but that's not a big surprise. The 7D isn't as pixel sharp as the 5DII anyhow.

This lens makes a perfect travel tele. Mated to a 16-35IIL and a 24-70L and it's a three lens heaven.

If you really what to see how sharp this lens is, switch off the IS system and pop it on a tripod. It's abilities far out resolve hand holding....even with an IS unit.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Mar 24, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: It's just SO versatile on a FF camera
It's heavy for what it is....even Sigma's version is lighter (and they make heavy lenses).

This is quite simply the most versatile f2.8 lens there is...period. It's short MFD allows you to get really nice portraits with great thin DOF. At the wide end, who really needs more than 24mm for every day work?
It's built like a tank and it's a bit over-heavy as a result.
The hood is great, because this lens is short at 70mm and long / extended at 24mm, the hood really works very well at both the focal ends.
Colours and contrast rival primes and other L lenses, this is my most used lens. Worth every penny!

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM

Review Date: Nov 7, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, Colour rendition, Out of Focus smoothness, Weather sealing, Contrast
Erm...Price is about the only thing, other than the hood.

I have a stellar 35L, 85IIL and 135L and a not so stellar 50L. I place this lens slightly above my 35L in terms of sharpness, clairity, colour and contrast. It's out of focus rendition is superior to the previous 24L (it's bokeh looked harsh to my eyes).
But I seriously think that a comparision of my 35L and 24IIL would yield much of a difference on a printed A4 (except for the Focal difference).
I use mine on both a 5D and 5DII and it's certainly sharp wide open and it's genreal look in consistant with the other L primes.
I like it's size and weight. I have had no Focus issues with mine, but I'm not very trusting with AF anyhow.
The hood is a dissapointment (like the 35L) in that it's heavily curved and can't be placed hood down on a table for lens swapping like other L primes. This is very irratating.
It's not a cheap lens but it really does perform very well. It is probably the finest 24mm lens you'd expect it to be expensive.

Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

Review Date: Jun 8, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp wide open. Very fast AF. Integrated lens hood...a very nice feature. Quite reasonable price. Solid L build.
Tripod collar isn't so nice to use. Erm, that's about it. IS would be nice but not essential. monopodding is fine. Very poor min focus distance. 3.5m???

I love this lens. It's AF speed and "lock on" ability is quite astounding. Many shots that I have got were grab shots and I didn't expect this lens to lock on so well. Birds in Flight ect are easily shot, assuming you have a good pan technique.

The retractable hood is a really neat feature too and I like the way it turns the AF ring like it's an extension of the AF ring.
f5.6 is a bit dim, but it's has 2 distinct advantages here.
Firstly, the images from this lens wide open at f5.6 seem very bright compared to the darker 100-400 IS L images, which leads me to suspect that the zoom isn't really an f5.6 lens.

The croppability of this lens is also impressive. The IQ at 100% shames a lot of good zooms. Optically it's a gem and has simular sharpness charectoristics with the 135L wide open.
Often I see shots from 400mm f2.8 and 400mm f4 DO lenses that are stopped down to f5.6 to get a deeper DOF. So why not just jump straight for the lighter and cheaper version and shoot wide open for a simular result?
The redition of the out of focus areas are very pleasent too. The images I get near the Min focus distance have a 100mm macro look about them. Which brings me onto the min focus distance...
3.5m isn't very close at all, especially if I try to shoot some large sized flowers with this lens. Both the 300mm f4 and the 100-400mm IS seem to be able to focus a lot closer, so why not this lens? I have used extension tubes, which work well. But forget the 12mm tube, it hardly does a thing. Go straight for a 25mm to really improve the min focus distance.

I have used this lens on a 5D and it's produces great results, but where this lens really shines is on a 40D. The extra reach, fast AF system and faster FPS really give this lens what it needs.

This is my first big white that I've bought and owned, but I have used a 100-400mm IS L, a 300mm f4 IS L and a 300mm f2.8 IS L and 70-200mm f2.8 IS L on occasions.

Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 EX Aspherical DG DF

Review Date: Aug 29, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: f2.8, focal range, price, build is good too. Close focus distance is excellent
MF clutch is a poor design. No HSM. Odd 82mm filter size. Useless hood.

The hood is a joke, my Tamron 17-35mm has a bigger hood. At 24mm it does little to prevent flare and has no effect at 70mm.
The AF is actually very fast and accurate. It's no HSM but it's no slouch either. The AF/MF clutch is a joke too, a very poor idea for a modern lens.
I seem to have got a good copy, on my 5D using the central AF point, I get sharp images. My copy is blisteringly sharp at 24mm and very sharp at 70mm. Over all I'm very happy. It's the cheapest zoom in my bag and it's the one that I use the most.
It's close min focus distance at 70mm is almost like a mini-macro lens. It can through the background out of focus so easily. It seems sharp both close up and at infinity, which is rare too.
Over the years I have tried 4 Canon copies, each was soft or had serious AF issues, this is the second Sigma copy that I've tried and I'm very happy with it.
I just wish that Sigma would sort out the clunky clutch and give us a cool HSM version.

Sigma 100-300mm f4 EX IF HSM APO

Review Date: Aug 29, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ, AF is fasted Sigma I have tried. HSM is nice and each control has a nice damped feel. Not too heavy. Removable tripod collar is excellent to use too.
It's a big lens to lug about and the hood is huge. This lens suffers badly from lens flare,

This lens offers a nice wide zoom range at a fixed f4 through out the range. It's well balanced on my 5D with a grip, but I often shoot by taking off the tripod collar (which is so easy to do and you don't have to remove the lens from the body to do so). It's a big lens and looks very paperazzi, which is a shame, it's not a discreet lens to use.
The AF is increadibly fast and quiet. Noticably faster than my Siggi 70-200m f2.8 DG. It's optics are sharper and clearer but slightly less contrasty than it's short focal length cousin. But i think that's becuase the contrast of the Siggi 70-200/f2.8 is unusally high. I can regularly track a seagull in flight with astonishing accuracy. It hunts a bit in low light, but who's gonna use a 300mm f4 at night? I get best images shooting over 1/2000th sec or on a monopod. In fact images taken on a monopod are noticbly sharper..must be my poor technique.
It takes a 1.4x tc very well. I use the Sigma DG version and I can see only a tiny drop in IQ and contrast. It's AF slows by a barely descernable amount to, but it's just a tad.
The Zoom and AF ring are so well damped, they just feel so nice. It reminds me of how the older Canon FD telephoto lenses used to feel. It's a shame that Canon's don't feel like this any more.
The 82mm lens cap is very loose and drops off if it gets knocked. I'm looking to replace this cap with the newer 82mm Canon version (once it becomes available).
The hood is so long, it look stupid and I feel embarrased using it. But it does cut down on flare, which is this lens' achillies heel (every lens has one). Maybe the newer DG version fares a bit better with flare?
Shooting between 100-250mm, this lens is prime lens sharp. Sharper than any other Zoom that I currently own. At 300mm it's still stunningly sharp. Bokeh is excellent too.
The Black painted finish is an aquired taste. I prefer it to Canon's big white look, but I wish that the matt finish was as durable as it's older semi matt black finish.
It's a top performer and esily equals the Canon 300mm f4L, if not in absolute 100% pixel peeping, then certainly in versatilty, AF and size. It's also about half the Canon prime price too.
I think that if Sigma made every lens this good then Canon and Nikon should watch out. The 5 year Sigma warrenty is attractive too.

Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX APO IF HSM

Review Date: Oct 22, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Smaller and lighter than the Canon version. Very very sharp.
Obvious vignetting wide open. Had focus issues (see below). New EX pain finish chips easy. Sigma lens cap is rubbish. MFD is poor compared to Canon and Nikon versions.

I love this lens and it's perfect for my needs. I use it on my Canon 5D regularly. It's smaller and lighter than the Canon version but just as well built. It's also black, so it's far less obtrusive than it's white cousins. The weight drops a lot if you take the tripod collar off.
Wide open performance: At 70-135mm it is very very sharp, astoundingly so. At 200mm it softens noticble but is still very sharp. Stopped down to f4 and it's very very sharp across the whole focal range.
Lens hood os great, and the knatty lans bag is nice. On this lens the 77mm filter thread is slighly loose and the Sigma supplied lens cap kept falling off in my bag. No problems with the Canon 77mm lens cap. Which is odd because my Sigma 135-400mm doesn't have this problem (and it's the same cap and size).
I sent my copy back to Sigma when I noticed that it was front focussing by a tad. This made my images look soft, Sigma sorted this out with in a week so I have no real complaints at all. I'm glad to have it sorted, but sometimes the Sigma seems to not focus exactly where I point it. I think that the depth of field is really shallow at f2.8 and the size of the focus spot comes into play here too. It's focus is fast and silent, it may be a tad slower than the Canon version but we are talking hair slitting here. My copy of this lens is sharper and my friends Canon IS version...but there's not a lot in it to be frank.
It takes a 1.4x TC well but it does drop IQ a tad. A 2xTC is quite soft and smeary and I would advise against it unless you have no other choice.
It's a shame that Sigma have just put their prices up in the UK again (for no good reason).

Sigma 135-400 MM f/4.5-5.6 ASP AF APO

Review Date: Oct 22, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: The price and focal range. Hood and tripod ring and lens case included. I like the 77mm filter size. Excellent contrast and good enough IQ.
The AF is a joke really. It's noisy, crass and slow. The focus ring rotates when it focusses too. Not HSM or EX. It's very heavy too. A very stiff zoom ring. The lens REALLY extends in length at 400mm.

OK the weight is an issue but lets be real is a 400mm f5.6 lens. It weighs about the same as the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 and it's physical size is comparable. But the build isn't quite comparable, the base of the lens is made from metal (which is why it's so heavy) and feels cool to the touch. The weight drops a lot if you remove the tripod collar and it's the same collar that the 70-200mm f2.8 uses. So I only take one collar is I take both lenses. The same colar can also be used on the Canon 100mm USM macro too. One collar for 3 lenses...nice (and the Sigma version is better than Canons because it can be loosened and removed with out taking the lens off the camera)

Some copies of this lens are very soft, mine seems to be a lot better than most. It's real strength is it's contrast and colour. It gives very very pleasing real world results. Some say that the Sigma 70-200 f2.8 with a 2x TC is a better option but from my experience of owning sharp versions of both is that it really isn't. The Image quality of this lens at 400mm is a lot better than the 70-200 combo, as is the contrast. But it's a heavy beast and to have both lenses in my kit bag is a real drag.
I find this lens sharp but not "L" quality, but much better then a normal consumer zoom. maybe a bot soft wide open for Pro use but much sharper than the usual 100-300xx cheapies. This lens is very sharp at 135mm-300mm and softens slightly at 400mm. Stopping down 2 stops helps a lot but then light and shutter speeds often limit here.
Optically, this lens' contrast is really very very good and makes up for any wide open softness. Most review sites rate this lens as slightly soft, but my copy seems sharper.

The AF mechanism is really old fashions and tedious. It's fast to focus but the motor is very cheap and noisy. It can take a while to lock on focus to. The focus ring moves when the motor actuates which adds to the "cheap" feeling. But the AF seems accurate enough though - so little to complain about there.

There aren't a lot of options in thi range and I just wish that Sigma would make a HSM EX version of this lens. But for the money it's a steal, but cherry pick and get a good copy. I like this lens a lot but it could be better.