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Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM "S"

Review Date: Jun 23, 2015 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,600.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very Sharp, great build quality, Fast AF, Great Optical Stabilization, Great colors and contrast, No CA (that I've seen)
Heavy and big (but what do you expect for a lens in this class)

This review is for the pre-global vision version of this lens (The EX DG OS APO HSM version). There doesn't appear to be a review page for it, so I'm putting it here. I've talked to Sigma, and they confirmed that the Optical design is the same as the newer version. The newer version just has a different exterior design and electronics.

Image Quality:
The image quality of this lens is excellent. I've also used the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, and it matches very well in regards to sharpness, contrast, colors, and is better at handling flare.

AF is fast an accurate on my 5D, but back-focuses on my 1D, so I just stick with using it on the 5D. Sigma told me they could calibrate it, but I just don't have the time to send off my camera during the middle of the summer wedding season.

The OS unit on this lens does a great job considering the focal length, and size of the optics. Generally about 3 stops of stabilization. The OS unit does make an audible sound when engaging, something that is taken care of with the newer "Sport" version.

Build quality is excellent, and it is partially sealed against elements. I've used it in light rain before without any issues. It is a heavy lens though, as expected for a 120-300mm f/2.8. For those who have used a 300mm f/2.8 before, it is heavier than that. The older version is still a pound lighter than the newer "sport" version, so that is a benefit of the older version (part of why I got it, as well as price).

With the 1.4x = 168-420mm f/4.
With the 2x = 240-600mm f/5.6.
With the 1.4x+2x = 256-840mm f/8.
I"ve used this with both the Sigma 1.4x Teleconverter EX DG APO and the Sigma 2x Teleconverter EX DG APO. Image quality takes a very very small hit with the 1.4x, and a little bit bigger of a hit with the 2x, but both still yield very usable and good images. With both teleconverters in place, there is a big hit in image quality, and most of the time you are better off not doing it. I haven't seen any slowdown of AF with either teleconverter separately, and obviously there is a big hit in AF with both in place as the lens is now at f/8.

With the older version being sub 2K, it is a very good option when comparing to either the newer version, or a 300mm f/2.8 prime or a 400mm f/4 prime. Overall I've been extremely pleased with this lens, and it makes an excellent lens for portraits, as well as wildlife when paired with the 1.4x & 2x teleconverters.

Sample images (Mix of with and without the teleconverters):
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/17094910897/ (5D, 300mm, f/2.8)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/16648391773/ (1DSII, 378mm, f/4)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/17653290441/ (5D, 420mm, f/4)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/17660559554/ (5D, 840mm, f/8)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/17030682004/ (5D, 354mm, f/4)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/17032849203/ (5D, 420mm, f/4)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/17276391636/ (5D, 235mm, f/3.2)

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Review Date: Jun 17, 2015 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: SHARP, beautiful colors, contrast, & BOKEH!, Excellent build quality
Slowish AF (But fast compared to the version 1), manual focus only when on a camera that's powered on, No weather sealing. CA (Potentially more than the first?)

This is one of my new favorite lenses. I love the look that it produces. The images are sharp and have pretty good contrast wide open, with beautiful Bokeh. The colors are beautiful, and match all of my other L lenses (16-35L, 24-70L, 70-200L, 100-400L, 24L, 35L) I don't know how Canon does it, but all the L's match, and all of them look beautiful.

Build quality is phenomenal. It really is build like a tank, and feels really great in the hand. I've shot with this on a 5D, and a 1DS, and it is amazing on both. I only wish it was weather sealed.

AF speed is relatively slow, but compared to the original (which I've used), it is much much faster. The original couldn't even track someone walking toward the camera at a regular speed, where as the version II usually has no problem. I've photographed people running and people cycling with decent results. The AF does seem faster on the 1D series cameras than the 5D. Perhaps this is due to the higher voltage battery used in the 1D series cameras? Its a lot of glass to move back and forth, and you can hear some sliding, but it is relatively silent.

Manual focusing with this lens is very interesting as it is focus by wire. It is much more responsive than the version 1, and actually is quite nice to use. The focus ring is buttery smooth. Only problem is that the lens requires power to focus, meaning it has to be on a camera body that is turned on and providing power to the lens.

The subject isolation ability of this lens, and the bokeh are fabulous. I love to pair this lens with the 35L. The 85L blows the 85mm f/1.8 USM out of the water in almost every regard (except AF speed where the f/1.8 is much faster)

This lens excels at portrait work, but is a lot of fun for street photography too!

Sample images:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/18868047285/ (1DSII, f/1.2)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/18235538928/ (1DSII, f/1.2)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/18235549998/ (1DSII, f/1.2)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/18235722250/ (1DSII, f/1.4)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/18423599065/ (1DSII, f/1.2)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/18680343400/ (1DSII, f/1.2)

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Jun 17, 2015 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Good build quality, good price, great colors and contrast.
Not as sharp as the newer version or other f/2.8 zooms, CA, distortion, AF can be hit and miss, vignetting

Overall, this is a pretty good lens. Sharpness wide open isn't the greatest, especially in the corners. It takes a couple of stops for it to sharpen up across the frame (IE-extreme corners). There is noticeable CA, but is easily removed in post.

Colors and contrast are good and match the other L lenses like the 24-70L and the 70-200L. Flare is handled pretty well, similar to the 24-70L Mark 1.

Vignetting is heavy, and is still present at 16mm @ f/8, and is pretty bad wide open.

Build quality is pretty great-although a little plasticy feeling, and the lens is weather sealed, which is always nice.

AF is relatively quick and silent, but can be hit and miss (on both 1D and 5D series cameras). When in focus, things look great, but when out, it's bad.

Price is great as now there is the second version, the new 16-35mm f/4, and the 11-24mm f/4, which have all helped to push the price of the original 16-35mm f/2.8 down quite a bit.

Sample Images:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/18223894801/ (1DSII, 21mm @ f/2.8)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/18034824058/ (1DSII, 16mm @ f/2.8-Closest focusing distance)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/18222676755/ (1DSII, 19mm @ f/8)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/17748743735/ (1DSII, 16mm @ f/8)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/18096974639/ (1DSII, 16mm @ f/2.8)

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

Review Date: Apr 16, 2015 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great image quality, fast AF, pretty good IS, build quality
IS is only good for about 2 stops, Not weather sealed

I'm currently borrowing this lens from a good friend. I've had it for about 6 months now, and part of me really likes this lens, but part of me doesn't. The image quality is great. It produces sharp images with great colors and contrast. The AF is fast an accurate, and the focus limiter is nice. The build quality is excellent. The lens really feels very solid.

1. IS (while effective) is only effective for about 2 stops of stabilization. Granted it is much better than no IS.

2. Flare resistance. Much like the original 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, the flare resistance is pretty weak, so you have to be careful when shooting into lights. I have found that it is better than the original 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, but not by much.

3. Not weather sealed.

Some personal reasons against the lens:
It's to slow. For most of my work (events & live music), I need at least an f/2.8 aperture in order to get a clean shot, and f/4.5-5.6 is too slow. Granted, that is something you know when you buy the lens. There have been a couple of times where I do have good enough light to get away with a f/5.6 aperture (IE outside, or bright enough stage lights), and that's when I really like the lens. Its a wonderful lens for outdoor sports/events/wildlife.

Some sample images:

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Review Date: Apr 15, 2015 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: SHARP! Beautiful colors and contrast, beautiful Bokeh. Great AF and focus ring
A little plasticky? (Maybe? Its just because of the rear barrel section being made of plastic) Not weather sealed

I picked this lens up used several months ago, and ended up having to send it into Canon about 2 weeks after I got it. The focus assembly had jammed and broke (I didn't drop it, I think the previous owner did)

Either way, it came back good as new in 5 days (Yay CPS!) performing better than when I had bought it. It is crazy sharp, and the colors and contrast are beautiful. Other than the rear barrel section being made of plastic, and the lack of weather sealing, the build quality is great.

In my use, flare resistance has been pretty good. (see last image)

AF is fast an accurate as with most Canon USM lenses.

This lens is wonderful as a walk around lens, or for event shooting/photojournalism. My one complaint is sometimes it is not wide enough, so that's when I grab the 24LII. I usually have the 35L on one camera and the 24LII on a second camera when I'm shooting receptions. It balances quite well on full-body cameras such as the 1D line, or on a gripped 5D.

Some sample images (all wide open at f/1.4 on full frame):

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

Review Date: Dec 11, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great manual focus ring, good build quality, good AF speed, lighter than the Canon, pretty sharp (not quite as good as the Canon)
Reverse zoom ring (compared to Canon), not nearly as fast AF (but close), the "Sigma EX finish"

Overall, this is a fairly nice lens. It is much less expensive than the Canon version, and provides very good image quality. It is fairly sharp wide open, almost as sharp as the Canon version. The out-of-focus areas are very nice, even when stopped down thanks to the 9-bladed aperture.

The Hypersonic-Motor is pretty fast and quiet, yielding fairly quick and accurate AF. The distance scale is large and easy to read.

The tripod collar included with the lens is much better than the Canon version since you don't have to remove the lens in order to remove the tripod collar, which is very very handy, and a clever design.

Build Quality is pretty nice. It feels pretty solid, but uses more plastic components on the outer barrel than the Canon versions, making it weigh less. Although it uses plastic, it is still fairly tough, and the rear section is metal.

Biggest complaint, the Sigma EX finish. It's fairly grippy, which is nice, until it starts to flake off. And trust me, it will flake off. I have 2 Sigma EX lenses from that generation, and on both the finish is starting to flake off.

I used this lens for a couple years on crop sensor cameras as well as the 5D, and it handled well on both.

Here are some examples:
Full-Frame (5D)

Crop-Sensor (400D)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/7672870848 (Shooting into the sun. It handles flare well. Better than the Canon f/2.8 IS)

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II

Review Date: Dec 10, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $600.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent build quality, amazing auto-focus, amazing image quality, great battery life, fast and responsive
Old battery tech, limited ISO range, small buffer for RAW files

I just recently picked this camera up about 2 months ago, and its bloody brilliant. A local camera shop was selling it used for $600, and I couldn't resist because at that price it was a steal.

Overall, I'm very impressed with this camera. I currently also shoot with the 5D, and the 1D IIn, so I'm used to the 1D series bodies and full frame performance, and I was not at all let down by the 1DSII. It is very fast and responsive, great build quality, and the weather sealing is fantastic. The 16.6 MP RAW files are beautiful at every ISO stop, and provide lots of detail and room to push and pull files.

Some people complain about the 2 button operation of the older 1D cameras, but I actually like it, and don't find it a bother at all. I guess its all about what you are used to.

My biggest issues are:
1. Limited ISO range, but the what is there is fantastic. (50-3200) I've also pushed it a stop in post to 6400 on occasion. I think the 5D retains a little bit more data for pushing at 3200 since I've pushed the 5D to 12800, but there is still ample data on the 1DSII.

2. Buffer size. Yes, I know that 16.6 MP RAW files are large, and its an old camera (pre-UMDA support), but I'm still going to complain a little. You only get 10 frames before the buffer fills when shooting RAW, but I haven't had that issue too many times. When it happens, it seems to clear the buffer pretty fast any way. It's certainly a lot better than the EPSON R-D1. That you only get 2 frames before the buffer fills.

3. Old battery technology. You have to discharge and recharge the battery since its an old NiMH design. It lacks the wonderful Li-Ion tech of the 5D. (Side note: A fully charged battery gives me anywhere from 3,000-4,000 shots though, so I can't complain about that!)

Overall, a wonderful camera, and the detail and resolution is amazing. It feels great in the hand, has an amazing viewfinder and AF system.

Oh, and the quiet mode on the camera is really quite nice and useful for noise sensitive events.

View some photos at full resolution taken with this camera in a set on Flickr:

Canon EOS 1D Mark II N

Review Date: Sep 22, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $425.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Brilliant AF system, Weather-Sealing, Excellent build quality, great feel, 8.5 fps! Its Fast!
ISO 3200 looks terrible, no UMDA support, AF performance in low light, old battery tech.

This is an amazing camera. I picked it up as a second body. My main body is a gripped 5D. I love the way the 1D series feels. It just is amazing. The AF system on this camera is a huge step up from the 5D, and the 8.5 fps is quite stunning. There is almost no shutter lag.

The weather-sealing on this camera is great, and the build quality is amazing.

3 issues.

1. High iso performance. 1600 is usable but needs some work, and 3200 is pretty much junk, especially when compared to the 5D. Its about a full stop behind as far as noise, and the tonal range is not as good. I did figure out that if you pull the shadows back in lightroom and the blacks down, it really helps a lot, and gets rid of that purple hue in the shadows.

2. The AF system in low light is not as quick as the 5D's center point in low light. I found this quite shocking. I would have thought the fancy 45 point system would have no trouble, but it does.

3. Old battery technology. You have to discharge and recharge the battery since its an old NiMH design. It lacks the wonderful Li-Ion tech of the 5D.

Other than those 3 things, its a wonderful camera.

Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF]

Review Date: Sep 12, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp! Nice colors and contrast, accurate AF, Constant f/2.8
Slow AF, Noisy AF, Hunts in Low light, DC motor AF, Build Quality

A very nice and sharp lens with great colors and contrast. Nice bokeh as well thanks to the constant f/2.8 aperture. In the day, the auto focus is accurate and does not hunt.

However, at night, the AF tends to hunt in low light. The auto focus is slow no matter what time of day, and it is very noisy because it is driven by a DC motor.

The build quality is not that wonderful. Made of plastic, it feels cheap, especially when compared to Canon L lenses, and mid-range lenses. It still feels cheap when compared to the new Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC, and the new Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 VC.

Overall, a nice lens, with the 2 issues being build quality, and AF speed. The optics are incredible, and on par with the Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 USM IS, and it is much better than the Tamron VC version.

Canon EOS 60D

Review Date: Sep 9, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Nice screen, reasonable fps, average iso performance for a crop, great video quality
average iso performance for a crop, sub-average af system, plastic based body but still good build quality.

This makes a good second second body, and a wonderful camera for video. It handles well, and the movable screen is very useful for video. The screen has a high-resolution, and you can actually see details on it.

The AF system is pitiful. 9 points? Really Canon? How long have you been using that stupid 9 point system? The 60D's don't seem to be as accurate as the 5D, and the files don't look anywhere near as sharp as the 5D Mark 1. (yes, full frame compared to crop. Its like apples and oranges) But, the 60D has 18mp, so you'd think it would be pretty sharp, but its not. It just isn't. Maybe I got a bad copy, but I've never been impressed. Its good enough, but thats it.

The video however looks wonderful. I bought this mainly as a backup camera/main video camera. The video is sharp, with great colors and contrast.

Other than the AF system and my pickiness towards sharpness, this actually is a pretty good little camera, with wonderful video functionality.

Canon EOS 5D

Review Date: Sep 9, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $650.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great IQ, Low noise, sharp, great colors and detail
Handling, Lack of weather-sealing, AF system

I love this camera. The files that this camera produces are amazing. Low noise at all ISO values, including 3200. I have under-exposed 1 stop at 3200, and boost to 6400 in post, and it still is usable.

The colors are amazing, and the level of detail is incredible. The files from this are way sharper than my 18mp Canon 60D. ISO 50 is a very nice as well. Silky smooth with no noise.

The dynamic range is wonderful, with great highlight recovery in raw files, as well as shadow detail. The shallower depth of field achieved from a full frame vs. a 1.6X crop is very nice as well.

Not weather-sealed, but I have shot in light to moderate rain many, many times, and it doesn't seem to care. The AF system is a little weak, especially compared to a 1d series body, but the center point is always fast and accurate. It also has 6 assist points used during af servo mode which work quite well for sports. I have shot several sporting events with it and the 70-200L with out any issues.

Overall, this is an amazing camera, and in my opinion still holds its ground today, and beats any crop camera on the market.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Review Date: Sep 9, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $287.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Nice image quality, great bokeh, good AF, Sharp
Micro-USM, build quality

This lens lives on my camera most of the time. I love the 50mm focal length, its just right. The image quality is great, and the bokeh is quite lovely, but the build quality is sub-par. Its not even on the same level as the EF 85mm f/1.8 USM, and the EF 28mm f/1.8 USM, which in my opinion, it should be on that level at least. The price is very similar to both the 85mm and the 28mm.

My next compliant is the lousy AF motor. It says "ultrasonic" on the lens, but its actually a micro-USM, so its not as fast or durable as a real USM motor, and isn't as accurate in low light. Its also not quiet. You can hear a slight wiring of gears as it focuses. I would have been more than happy to pay $50-$100 more for a lens with a real a real USM motor in it like the 85mm and the 28mm.

Other than the build quality and the AF motor, I love this lens. Its sharp, great colors, and marvelous bokeh.

Some sample images on the Canon 5D:


Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM

Review Date: Sep 9, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,250.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, beautiful bokeh, fast and accurate AF, weather-sealing, excellent build, beautiful colors.
None, (If I had to pick one, price for a new one)

This lens is incredible. The build quality is amazing. The images from this lens are sharp at every aperture. The colors are great, and the bokeh is wonderful. Very fast, quiet and accurate AF.

Some samples on a 5D:

Exif data is available on each image.

This lens also works quite well on a crop camera (becomes about a 35mm) and works wonderfully for video use as well.

No complaints about this lens.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Mar 22, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, Fast and quiet AF, Great Build Quality, Very good Bokeh, Weather-Sealed
AF sometimes hunts on my 5D, even in daylight.

This lens is sharp, and has some beautiful bokeh. I shoot with a 5D, and it is wonderful on a full frame camera. It has now replaced the 28mm f/1.8 as my walk-around lens.

The build quality is incredible. It really is built like a tank, and the reverse zoom design is genius. My only complaint is that it occasionally hunts a little bit before actually locking on to the subject. I'm using the center point on the 5D, and it can happen under any lighting condition. Maybe I got a bad copy. Most of the time though, the AF is quick, accurate, and very quiet, with no hesitation. It doesn't seem to track as well as the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS either, but it isn't terrible. Just not as good.

Here are some sample images:
(5D, wide open):

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 PRO DX SD

Review Date: Feb 3, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, Great Contrast, accurate AF, Amazing Build Quality, Colors are fantastic.
CA, Corner Sharpness on Full-Frame

I got this lens when it first came out, which is why I paid so much for it. This lens is very sharp wide open across the frame, and produces wonderful colors. This lens also has very good contrast, even when pointed at a light source. It is also fairly resistant to flaring.

Its biggest downside is fairly noticeable CA, but that can be easily removed in post-processing.

Added bonus: It works on Full-Frame! Thats right. I said full-frame. I regularly use this lens on a Canon 5D, and from 14mm-16mm it fills the frame. Corners are a little weak wide open on full frame, but it works very well.

Photos taken with this lens using a 400D (Crop-Senor):

Photos taken with this lens using a 5D (Full-Frame):

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Feb 3, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $335.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Wicked Sharp, especially wide open. Great contrast, low distortion, Incredibly fast and accurate AF. Light weight, small.

This is an incredible lens. Wicked sharp, and great contrast and colors. The bokeh is is incredible! The AF is fast, accurate, and quiet.

This lens is small and light weight. I normally have it in a jacket pocket when I'm doing street photography so I can swap it with the 50mm that is mounted on the camera.

This lens is great on crop sensor, but shines on a full frame. I normally use this lens on a 5D, but I've used it on crop bodies in the past. This lens is great for just about everything, and is one of my favorite lenses for portraits.

Here are some shots using this lens and a 5D:


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