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Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM

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Review Date: May 19, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: As sharp, or sharper than, my Canon 50mm f1.4 or 100mm f2.8. Better build quality than non-L Canon lenses. Fast focus. Hood included. Nice color and contrast...slightly warmer than my Canons.
Cons:
Green ghosting of bright points of light/spectral highlights if used with a cheap UV filter. This is my only lens that really can't be used with anything but multi-coated filters. AF is susceptible to front focusing if the camera is not calibrated spot-on.

You can't beat this lens for the price. This is _the_ prime to own on an APS-C sensor camera.

For those experiencing front focus issues, here's my experience.

When I got my 40D, all my lenses produced a bit of front focus. The Canon primes front focused, but it was almost unnoticeable. My Sigmas (70-200 f2.8, 18-50 f2.8, 30mm f1.4) front focused A LOT. I sent each Sigma in for calibration, and it didn't fix the problem. Eventually I sent the 40D (and my 20D) in for calibration, and lo and behold, the problem with the Sigmas went away.

It seems that if your AF is slightly miscalibrated with Canon glass, the Sigmas will focus even worse...multiplying whatever error is in the system. If it's calibrated correctly, both manufacturers' lenses focus great.

FWIW, Sigma customer service was MUCH better when I was going through this. Quicker turnaround time and an actual human picks up the phone when you call. Crazy, I know.


 
Canon EOS 40D

40d
Review Date: Sep 12, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Major upgrade over 20D. Essentially everything is improved: Much faster/more accurate A/F, better viewfinder (though still no 5D), better build, quieter shutter, etc.
Cons:
Number of buttons starting to get more awkward than the 20D, LCD is not nearly as snazzy as the current crop of Nikons, still not fully sealed.

One of the things I appreciate about Canon's design is its consistency. Picking this camera up, it takes no time at all to adjust from any of the previous cameras in the model line (D30, D60, 10D, 20D, 30D). It feels almost instantly like my old 20D and that's a GOOD thing. Of course, after using it for a while, the 20D stops feeling as good as I remember it feeling. The 40D definitely feels more substantial.

It's still too early for me to say how the image quality has changed. Certainly it's better, but not astonishingly so. That's hardly a surprise, since the 20D already produced fantastic images that, unless you're a serious pixel peeper, rival those out of any DSLR.

What is improved, though, is the user experience. Image quality is a moot question if you don't get the picture in the first place, and that's where this camera is a big improvement. Quieter shutter, faster mirror blackout, bigger viewfinder (the extended eyepoint might be even more important), VASTLY improved autofocus. Live View is actually very nice for tripod work; with the ability to zoom in 10x into the viewfinder, you can always get the focus a little sharper than the AF system can.

My only complaints would be that this camera is starting to experience a bit of feature creep, and Canon still hasn't given us complete weather sealing (what would that cost, $5 in rubber?). I could do without the sports mode or the night portrait mode or the landscape mode or the different color profiles, or the print button, especially if it meant having fewer buttons to accidentally push. Otherwise, though, it's not a 1-series...but it's getting closer.


 
Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM

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Review Date: Sep 5, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Wide, sharp, good color, IQ as good as the canon 10-22, build
Cons:
lens had to go back to sigma for calibration due to soft left hand side, slow at f/4

I've had this lens for a year and a half and shot probably thousands of pictures with it. For a 1.6x crop sensor, you don't have a lot of choice...it's this or the canon. IQ is as good as the Canon, though obviously limited by the distortion you get on a 10mm lens.

The canon has moderately better autofocus and probably build, BUT autofocus is almost pointless on this lens. At 10mm and f/8, your hyperfocal distance is just over 2 feet so the A/F becomes kind of redundant. You're never waiting for it to focus, trust me. Smile

The only reason to avoid this one is if you plan to switch to a full frame camera in the near future...