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Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

ef50mmf_14usm_1_
Review Date: Jun 14, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Large aperture, Light
Cons:
Weak AF quality, build quality.

It's a 50mm f1.4... it's sharp enough at f1.4. Gets better at f2 and keeps getting better as one stops down. It's sharper then any zoom for sure.

It's nice and light, but that's because it's mostly plastic. The build quality leaves something to be desired, it feels like a nice consumer zoom, better then the kit 18-55, but not even close to L glass.

Paired with my 5D MKII, this lens works wonders in the dark, IF you can get it to focus. The AF on anything but the center point is hit or miss in the dark. The lens often misses focus and then freezes, I have to put the lens in MF, move the focus ring around, put it back in AF and then it'll work. Absolutely unacceptable. The AF tracking is slow and can't be trusted.

Apart from expecting better build quality for a $350 50mm, I would expect top notch AF as it needs to be accurate at f1.4... it isn't accurate and freezes when it can't lock focus.

Maybe it's just my copy, but it was disapointing. It's the only lens that will alow me to shoot in such low light, but I'm constantly frustrated at it's shortcomings.

For accurate AF in hard situations (dance, concerts, show, indoor events) I ditched the 5D MkII and the 50mm altogether, and use my Nikon gear when I need to shoot under hard conditions. The 5D MkII and 50mm are great for slow paced studio, portraits and photojournalism, but I'll take something else for dance performances and concerts...


 
Sigma 300mm f2.8 EX APO HSM

300f2_8EX_lg_1_
Review Date: Jun 13, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, well built
Cons:
none

I've borrowed this lens several times and just love it. I've shot it at f2.8 often and have never been displeased. Is it as sharp as it gets at f2.8? Probably not, but then again... who would expect it to be? Nikon or Canon's own 300/2.8 are not as sharp as they get at 2.8. I've shot soccer with it and was satisfied with the AF speed, not blazingly fast, but I could never blame it for missing anything. I can't speak for it's low light AF performance, but if I had a permanent need for a 300/2.8, I would buy this sigma without making any apologies.