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Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM

ef300mmf_28_1_
Review Date: Jan 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,000.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very sharp and fast AF. IS is effective as low shutter speed as 1/20s.
Cons:
expensive

I have used my non-IS version of the 300mm f2.8L. The old version was famous for being sharp and was Canon's flagship for a long long time.
However, I have compared side-by-side images of both versions and noticed significant improvement in resolution and contrast in the IS version. It seems as sharp as the 200mm f1.8L wide open. Autofocus speed is also noticetably faster than the old model. Other improvements include: lighter and stronger carbon fibre hood, versatile IS functions (effective for tripod, monpod, panning in both vertical and horizontal directions),removable tripod mount, water droplets resistant, more convenient location of the focus pre-set ring and lighter weight. Unlike the old version, the protection front element is not flat but spherical so it minimise ghosting reflection from the digital sensor.
This lens is easily handheld and is light (if you have ever used a 400mm f2.8L, you will see what I mean.)


 
Sigma 50-500mm f4-6.3 EX APO RF HSM

50_500EX_mdl_1_
Review Date: Apr 26, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Compact, hugh pulling power, affordable. Very sharp at about 200mm.
Cons:
A bit soft wide open at 500mm

When this lens was introduced, I was very sceptical of the massive x10 zoom range . But I changed my mind completely after reading many positive reviews. I am mainly appealed by the 500mm focal length
for bird photography and its compact size. The slow aperture means that it is not so good for sport unless it is outdoor and very bright. It is almost about the same size as my Canon 70-200mm L before zoom extension. The lens is made of light metal and reasonably well-built. Optically it is relatively good considering the hugh zoom range. Around 200mm, it is excellent, almost as sharp as my 70-200 f2.8 wide open. At 500mm, I can see noticetable softness however it is still acceptable (softer than my 300mm f2.8L with x2 TC II wide open). Sharpness improves a bit at f8 and further at f11. A monopod or tripod is recomended for 500mm. I rarely use the 50mm focal length and i wish Sigma could optimise the sharpness at 500mm with shorter zoom range. Having said that I can't complain too much considering the price. It is nearly costs half the price of 100-400 f5.6 L. With 1.6x crop factor of the 10D, barrel and pincushion distortions are much less noticetable than full frame film camera. The HMS motor is swift and responsive.


 
Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM

ef200mmf_18l_1_
Review Date: Mar 18, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Great for low light indoor sport like gymnastics. Razor sharp and dazzling contrast. Very fast AF speed. Beautiful out-of-focus boken.
Cons:
Very expensive. Mighty weight and size.

I can only sum up this lens by one word: awesome! It is razor sharp even wide open at f1.8. The light gathering power of this lens gives very bright images on the viewfinder. It produces very beautiful out-of focus boken that makes it suitable for portrait or sport isolating the subject from the background. The subject simply "pops" out of the background. The DOF of this lens at 2.5m is about 2cm. This lens uses a large ring type L-2 USM and it is extremely fast and responsive, in par with the AF speed of my 300 f2.8L. The wide open aperture performance of the 200 f1.8L is noticetably better than that of the 300 f2.8 (non-IS) version based on my experience with both lenses. Weighting 3kg, handholding is still fine but a monopod can help a great deal. I frequently use this lens for indoor gymnastics, fashion, wildlife, outdoor sport and portrait, sometimes with 1.4x mk II convertor. Full time manual focusing is available at 3 different speeds. Focus preset function allows you to store the AF setting at any time which is very useful in sport applications. The hood is hugh and made of metal. With the hood attached, this lens looks like an imposing beast. It comes with a heavy duty aluminium trunk and leather lens case.
Too bad Cannon discontinued this great classics last year with no immediate replacement model. OK it was introduced in the 1989. By today standard, it is still unsurpressed by any other lens in terms of specifications and performance at this focal length (well until the recent introduction of Nikon 200mm f2 AF-S VR, vibration reduction lens). People who think this lens is obsolete don't know what they miss!

Samples of photos taken with this lens can be found here:
http://www.comaneci-salto.com

or in fashion and diving galleries:
http://www.pbase.com/singlo