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  Reviews by: mbarrow67  

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Sigma 100-300mm f4 EX IF HSM APO

100-300if_1_
Review Date: Jul 20, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Amazing images, super fast focussing, makes my L-lenses look bad!
Cons:
size/weight, but this is a fair compromise, 1.8m min. focus

I spent a long time trying to decide between this and the three 70-200 Canon lenses, but in the end I decided I needed the extra 100mm more than IS, and if anything the images from the Sigma were more pleasing than with any of the Canons (I think the 70-200 F4 came closest).

I have been using this on a 20D for 9 months, and have always been pleased, but I purchased a 5D last month, and since then I haven't been able to put this lens down.

I took it to the zoo this weekend, and found that 19 out of 20 shots are perfect. Focussing was always lightning fast, and extremely accurate - shooting running animals and flying birds in low-contrast and low-light situations still worked well.

Build quality is excellent, and there is a small amount of over-run on the very large focus ring, and the both Zoom and Focus rings feel smooth and solid.

As mentinoed, image quality is excellent with no noticable vignetting or C.A. (unlike my 17-40L and 24-105L which suffer from both on the 5D).

Be prepared that this is a big lens, and is quite heavy, but it comes with a tripod collar, so monopod use is recommended.


 
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

ef17-40_4l_1_
Review Date: Nov 1, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Price (especially compared to the 16-35 f2.8), image quality, build
Cons:
Range (but I knew this when purchasing), hood fitting

I have owned this lens for around a month, and have taken around 300 shots with it. On the 20D, the range makes it very nice 'walk around' lens, although a slightly longer range would be nice (maybe 17-50). That said, I knew the range when I bought it, and chose the more pleasing pictures and fixed apatrure of this lens over the better range of the 17-85; this is the personal choice you need to make.

Build quality and ergonomics are excellent, with one single exception, my lens hood does not sit tightly, but wobbles slightly. This makes no difference to the excellent optical quality, and really is only a small complaint. The camera mount is tight and rubber sealed.

I tend to keep the lens attached to the camera most of the time, and have had a few interested looks and comments on it's size, albeit a factor of 10 fewer than with the 70-200 IS mounted!

If you're reading this, you're probably trying to decide between this and either the 16-35 or the 17-85. I decided to save $700 and take a risk on the f4, and have not had a problem yet. I regularly use the lens handheld around dusk without problems, and for important shots that I will enlarge (sunsets/skyscapes/landscapes/indoor group shots), I always use a tripod, so a longer exposure is much less critical. I believe the 16-35 performs maginally better corner-to-corner on a FF camera, but on the 20D, this 17-40 really is excellent.

Whilst not quite as sharp and vibrant as the 17-40, the 17-85 was still excellent, but with rumours at the time of something in the 24-105 f4 range, I decided I'd rather have the quality and long-term residual values of two L's, than the more economical, but more versatile 17-85.


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

ef70-200_28lisu_1_
Review Date: Nov 1, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Results, handling, F3.8, IS
Cons:
Weight, cost, hunting

I will be travelling to Masai Mara during the dry season migration next year, and have been looking for a high quality but versatile safari lens for my 20D (1.6x FOV). With the demand for internal focussing/zooming, and a limit on the number of lenses/bodies that I can take, I had discounted the 100-400 vacuum pump, and 300mm primes and narrowed the choice to either the 70-200 2.8/2.8IS with occasional 1.4x teleconverter, or the Sigma 100-300 F4 EX, with a 1.4x teleconverter for absolute emergencies.

I owned this lens for 24 hours through the Jessops (UK) 30-day money back guarantee, and took around 700 pictures around the centre of York. In the good light on Saturday, this lens was nothing short of excellent, however the less favourable conditions of Sunday resulted in lots of hunting and missed focus, almost to the degree that I doubted that the AF was fully functioning (my f4 L worked fine in the same conditions)

The IS was very nice, but for the safari, I'll probably have to attach a 1.4x TC, so when compared to the Sigma, the choice is either 1700 for a 100-280 F4 IS Canon with TC degraded images or 700 for a 100-300 F4 (non-IS) Sigma, and as an amateur, I could not justify this extra cost.

I would recommend this lens to anybody handholding for indoor small-court sports, where f4/no-IS would just not suffice, but the limited range and high price meant that I couldn't justify it.

Until Canon release a 100-300 F2.8 IS L, I'll stick with the Sigma.