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  Reviews by: rfernatt  

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

Review Date: Dec 24, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $799.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: This is the newer Macro model. Great value for the money (included lens hood, carry case, and tripod collar), fast and silent AF, sharp images, good performance at F2.8, quality feel of lens and super smooth zoom/focus rings.
On the heavy side, but to be expected in this class of lens.

I've only used this lens for about three weeks, but it has been great out of the box. It has been used primarily for indoor basketball photos and some other indoor photography. The F2.8 is great and the images are very clean and sharp even at 200mm on my copy.

The heft of the lens makes it a bit heavy, but adds to the quality feel. Unlike other zooms I've used, the focus and zoom rings are silky smooth and very wide/easy to operate.

I can't compare it to Canon 'L' glass, but with the performance of this Sigma thus far, I can't see paying much more for the Canon unless you really need the weather sealing.

Sigma 80-400mm F4.5-5.6 EX OS APO

Review Date: May 3, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $990.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp images; OS seems to work well; good build; great reach; reasonable price.
Heavy - to be expected, but still; slow focusing (pre-focus helps).

In my short time with this lens, I can appreciate it's use for nature photography. Images are sharp on my 20D, color reproduction is very good and contrasty. There are trade-offs (weight, slow focus), but for the price and image quality, it has been a great performer thus far.

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

Review Date: May 3, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $360.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Constant 2.8 aperture, reasonable price, solid construction, good image quality, includes hood.
Cost of filters, zoom is a little difficult to get used to, a little heavy.

I wanted a wide to short zoom lens that would be usable for indoor sporting events (karate, etc.) and was reasonably priced. This lens fits the bill.

Canon EOS 20D

Review Date: Mar 6, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,140.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Speed (tracking focus, writing to CF card, burst shots, etc.), solid feel of the camera, resolution/image quality, reasonable price and great battery life. A noticeable step-up from the Digital Rebel.
Nothing major, but a couple nit pickings would include the strange on/off switch placement/function and the 'joystick' functionality doesn't work smoothly for me in picture preview.

I'm a newbie, but stepped up from a Digital Rebel to the 20D during a recent Upward basketball league at our church. The number of usable photos I was able to obtain with the 20D and a 50mm f/1.4 lens was a dramatic improvement over the DR and kit lens. Of course, it was a few more dollars in equipment, so one would expect better results for the amateur photographer not familiar with compensating for a camera's shortcomings.

The 20Ds tracking and focus abilities were very impressive to me and the ability to fire off a burst of shots to make sure you got the picture was amazing to someone with relatively little SLR camera experience.

I'm sure I will run into limitations someday, but for the beginning amateur, the 20D offers a large learning space with few barriers.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Review Date: Mar 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $309.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent sharpness, low light capabilities, lightweight, quiet focus, reasonable price.
Focusing seems to be a bit finicky at times, but is probably related to extremely shallow DOF.

I am a newbie to photography, but have been very impressed with this lens. I had previously used a Sigma 28-300 zoom and the 18-55 kit lens on my Digital Rebel which worked well enough for a beginner. However, I recently tried my hand at basketball photography and had a steep learning curve dealing with dim lighting, fast action, etc. I started the season with the DR and the kit lens, but ended the season with this 50mm f/1.4, a 20D and 430EX flash. Needless to say, the number of usable photos increased dramatically. I was also volunteered to make individual portraits and team photos of the players in the league. This 50mm lens delivered some very nice portraits, considering the inexperience of the photographer, of course.

One last word about sharpness - it's addictive. When I only had the kit lens and Sigma zoom to compare, apparent sharpness was one thing. This lens takes it into a whole new ballpark! I've learned that prime lenses like this one can take truly superior pictures when it comes to detail and sharpness. This lens has spoiled me - now I'll never be able to look at sharpness the same again.