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  Reviews by: toby creamer  

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Sigma 100-300mm f4 EX IF HSM APO

Review Date: Jun 30, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast aperture +focus, no exterior movement (stays same length at all foacl lengths and focus ring or front element do not move.), just light enough to hand hold relatively comfortably. Sharp! Looks professional with the hood attached! It feels very solid.
Slightly stiff zoom ring but it loosens. I am not a fan of the manual focus ring as it requires just the tiniest of movements to change focus quite a long way which makes manual focus difficult.

Although the price I paid (I have the DG version) seems quite high it included the sigma 1.4x converter as part of the deal, from the same dealer,, the lens by itself costs 750. This is an upgrade for me from the canon 75-300mm f/4-5.6 and it has been worth every penny. The focus is far faster, I have compared the two going from infinity to minimum focus with the lens cap on and it is definately a lot quicker. One thing where the canon is better is closest focus distance, I believe the canon is 1-1.5m (can't quite remember) but the sigma is 1.8m.
My prefered method of using the lens is with a monopod and the tripod ring makes this easy, especially when switching from horizontal to vertical (now all I need is a grip for my 20D).
I also can't get over how sharp the lens is, I was comparing some hockey shots taken the other day with those taken with the old lens and the sigma was infinately sharper even when the canon was shot ISO 400 1/3200sec in bright sunlight and the sigma was shot at ISO 800 1/2000sec as the sun was setting. I couldn't believe that I thought those shots were sharp with the canon.
Whilst it is the perfect length for the sports I shoot at school it does sometimes feel a little short for wildlife but the 1.4x helps (although with a little loss of aperture and quality), however it is probably my lack of ability to approach animals quietly enough more than anything!
My one gripe is that the manual focus ring is just a bit to sensitive with a movement of just half a cm enought to change the focus by several metres, this is mainly an issue when hand holding as I often rest the palm of my habd on the MF ring and, with full time MF this can cause it to move so losing focus. I don't consider it too much of an issue though as I rarely use MF, mainly when the focus is struggling (if I am trying to lock on to a subject through a tangle of branches for example) in which case I will focus roughly on the subject thus allowing the AF to find it.
In all a fantastic lens and well worth the money.

Canon EOS 20D

Review Date: Nov 8, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Controls, quick and easy to use, the wheel on the back is great. Solid feel because of the metal body. High turning on speed and low shutter lag. 5fps, great for sport and wildlife. 1.6x crop for sport and wildlife. Custom functions, great for tweaking the controls/functions to suit you and the situation. Fast 9 point AF and the ability to select AF points. Incredible noise performance, no obvious noise with a 30 sec exposure at iso400 at night. Size and having better lenses and 'twist' zooms.
No Iso in the viewfinder, even when you change it nothing lights up

Jessops had this at the same price as my fave. online store ( which is why I got it from them as it meant I could have a look at it before I bought and compare it with the 350D. I bought it from Jessops for 950 but there is 100 coming from canon soon so overall price is 850 with the 18-55mm lens. This camera is fantastic and infinately better than my Z3 ('all' I need now is some fast glass!). The one niggle I have is that there is no ISO display in the viewfinder, even if it only popped up when you changed it would be ok but as it is you can't change&check whilst still composing the shot. I often need to change when photographing sports if the sun goes behind a cloud, for example, and it means taking my eyes off the action which I find annoying. Other than that it is great. The ability to use a real lens where you make the focus (in mf) and zoom adjustments and not some motor when you press a button is brilliant (obviously AF is good but on my Z3 there wasn't even a MF ring). The AF is fast and the frame rate is fantastic in that you get more shots of a moment but not so many that you don't know what to do with them (such as may be the case with 8.5 on the ID mkII).
In all this a fantastic camera and I would very highly reccomend it.