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Canon EOS 50D

Review Date: Jun 15, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: produces more detail in images compared to its predecessors, brighter viewfinder, nice high res LCD, frame rate still at 6fps, lens micro focus adjustment
magenta color cast in photos, small but noticeable increase noise at higher ISO speeds, needs lots of memory, quality control issues

The Canon 50D continues the trend of subpar quality that seems to be coming out of Canon lately. When I bought a 40D in 2007 I ended up going through 4 bodies before I finally got one that didn't have some sort of a major defect. When I bought a 50D earlier this year it had the exact same problem as my first two 40Ds: unexplained softness regardless of what lenses and settings I used. The images produced by the 50D with my Canon 300mm f/4L lens looked as though they were taken with a 35 year old lens that was full of fungus. I ended up exchanging the 50D with another, and thankfully the second didn't have this problem. But the second 50D wasn't without its problems either.

Both 50Ds I used produced images that had a noticeable magenta color cast in both JPEG and RAW modes. Neither 50D produced the pleasing natural looking color my Rebels and older x0D bodies consistently produced. In some cases this color cast was correctable, but in most cases I could never get the color to look quite right. After a week of seeing varying degrees of magenta in every photo I took I decided to give up on the 50D and stick with my 40D. Perhaps I happened to get a second bad 50D? I don't know. The problem I had with magenta color casts on the 50D I also see in photos taken by other peoples' 50Ds, and I am now also starting to see it in photos taken by the new Rebel T1i, which uses the same 15 megapixel sensor.

On the positive side, the 50D did pull more resolution out of my L series lenses than the 40D does - more feather detail in birds and finer detail in flowers. The viewfinder on the 50D was also noticeably brighter and the rear LCD was much more pleasing to use due to its higher resolution. As for noise, when comparing RAW images between the 40D and 50D I did notice equivalent ISO speeds from ISO 400 and up on the 50D showed more noise. At ISO 400 the difference was minimal, but at ISO 800 I felt like the 50D was more equivalent to ISO 1000-1200 on my 40D. Finally, I didn't notice any differences in focus performance between the 50D and 40D.

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

Review Date: Jun 13, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: $369.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: front element recessed (protects the front element), sharpness
switching between AF/MF, no FTM, AF very noisy, AF hunts often, AF very slow, lens extends as you approach 1:1

I owned this lens and eventually bought the Canon 100mm f/2.8 instead. My primary use for a macro lens is to take photos of flowers at a wide range of magnifications. The two lenses produce similar sharpness but the Canon to me seemed to produce more pleasing colors. The biggest differences between the two lenses are regarding focusing. The Sigma lens has an awkward two step process to switch between AF and MF and has no FTM. The AF motor on the Sigma is also by far the nosiest and slowest I have ever used. I have also never owned a lens that hunted for focus as much as the Sigma - it hunted constantly, and the slow speed at which it went through the focus range resulted in plenty of frustration. Focus performance is why I ended up buying the Canon equivalent instead - its focus performance is light years ahead of the Sigma in every respect. That being said, I have many great photos in my collection that were taken by the Sigma. Optically, the Sigma is a great lens. But at the time of writing, the Canon equivalent with rebates is about $30 more than the Sigma, and that small difference is well worth the large gain in focus performance, even if you primarily use MF.

Sigma 24-60mm f2.8 EX DG Lens

Review Date: Feb 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $379.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent contrast and sharpness at all focal lengths at f/4 and above, f/2.8 good between 35-50mm but a little soft at 24mm, includes a lens hood and padded bag, comparable image quality to Canon L glass
Does not AF properly with AF assist lights on Canon Speedlite flashes, HSM would be nice

I bought this lens to replace my Canon 17-40 f/4L. For my purposes 24-60mm is a more useful zoom range. I thought I would be sacrificing some image quality but Iíve found this lens to be sharper than the 17-40 at all equivalent apertures and focal lengths. Sharpness at f/2.8 is very good between 35-50mm. At 24mm I find f/2.8 to be a little on the soft side, but stopping down the lens to f/4 increases sharpness back to excellent levels. My copy produces neutral colors with very good contrast.

AF is not as fast as Canonís USM or Sigmaís HSM, but it is better than most non-USM lenses Iíve used.

The one big disappointment with this lens is its inability to properly auto focus using the AF assist lamp on my 580EX flash. This is a known problem with some Sigma lenses, and this lens definitely has that problem. In order for me to obtain proper auto focus in low light I need to disable the AF assist lamp on the flash unit (via custom functions). With the AF assist lamp disabled AF works fine in most low light situations. Iíve never had any focusing problems in any other situation including when using the built in flash on my 350D for AF assist.