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Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM

Review Date: Apr 30, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: The "HOLY GRAIL" Optically this lens stands alone. Don't question the myth, it's all true.
Niche lens, heavy, cumbersome, with limited application. There are far easier to deploy lenses whose compromises look very good in comparison. If you think you need this optic, first try the 135mm f/2L

The Quest:

I purchased the 200mm f/1.8 "Holy Grail" of Canon lenses under a mistaken assumption.
I shoot wildlife primarily, but also shoot a lot of indoor performance/events in the Theatre I work in.

Low light events, dance, ballet, fashion shows.
My experience with the 70-200mm f/2.8 told me that 200mm was the absolute longest focal length I'd ever need, and that f.2,8 was still too slow often enough.

It was with this in mind that I began the search for the Holy Grail.


The 200mm f/1.8L is obviously legendary.
It took me no time to realize the reputation is warranted.
Upon arrival, I was however shocked at the size. A the time I was shooting my wildlife primarily with a Sigma 500mm f/4.5 EX HSM. This 200mm is nearly the same weight and has the same diameter front element.

i.e.: it's the size of a sawed off 500mm!

Optical Bliss

But oh what images!
No lens I had used is this sharp wide open!
Later I'd be shooting the EF 400mm f/4L IS as my main gun, and found that this amazing detail and clarity is the hallmark of the Canon Big Guns.
But the 200mm is still special, it's light gathering ability is just huge!
Removed from the camera, just looking through the bare lens, one can see details in the tiny image that you will not see in other lenses.

And that razor thin depth of field!
Wide open we are talking small fractions of an inch!

It is this hyper thin DOF that is the lenses hallmark , and contributes to the "3D" look we see in the photos. The area in focus leaps off of the page, leaps from the areas out of focus...

Laying on of Hands:

Ergonomically, I like the lenses controls.
Canon did a redesign of there basic lay out for the big primes with the introduction of the 300mm f.2.8L IS, which they have applied to all of the later IS Super tele primes.
In using the 200mm, I feel they made some errors.
The twist ring for the focus preset return is superior to the 4 little buttons.
The lens collar/tripod foot is mounted towards the front of the lens, creating a much better balance on the collar, allowing easier smoother turning than we get on the current crop of super teles.
SIGMA and Noink also use this forward mount and it is superior.

AF is a little shy of the newer generation like the 500mm f/4L IS and the 300mm f/2.8L IS, but very fast, and accurate.

The images I have taken with this lens are nothing short of amazing. If I do my job, the optic will always show us what itís made of.

The Fisher King

The downside? Back to my opening story, I thought Iíd be using it for venue shooting.
Well, itís not been the perfect lens I thought it would be. Form a practicality standpoint, itís bordering on ridicules to use for the purpose I had envisioned. I later got a 135mm f/2L, and frankly this was the lens I needed.
Swinging a huge white 7 pound lens around back stage and during rehearsals is limiting.
Hand held is nearly out of the question at this weight for any duration.
The 135mm was much more suited to the task, used alongside a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, and either a 28mm f/1.8 prime or the 24-70mmm L zoom I have much more flexibility and more opportunity to get the shot.

The point, people often mention this is a niche lens, and that itís applications are rather specific. This really is true.
I have ended up using it more often for wildlife. Lacking the reach of the 500mm I use primarily, it is very limited in that application as well. But there are times itís length and light gathering are perfect.

If you have the need for the specific applications where this lens excels, there is no better option. If your seeking the Holy Grail, than search no further, this lens is it.
Just be advised that as a tool this is a tight fitting wrench, itís not an adjustable ďdo allĒ.


For samples Iíll show you first two I got from it in the theatre,
No crop on this one!

Next, here is a series of a hunting Great Blue Heron I took a few years back.
This shows the overall image quality quite well, detail sharpness and color quality;
100% crop

Here you can see the razor thin depth of field, look at the sand, what parts of the fish are in sharp focus, what is out..

Some more with 100% crops from the series.;

The whole series can be seen here;

Sigma 300-800mm f5.6 EX IF APO HSM

Review Date: Feb 25, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Amazing quality of build and Image, competes with high end primes. Flexible zoom range, 5 super telephotos in one!
Weight, Needs IS/OS, Size, f/5.6 NO focus limit switch?!

I only kept the "Sigmonster" for a short time.
It's amazing image quality and flexible focal range was not enough to justify keeping it along with my Stand bye EF 500mm f/4L IS.

However during that short year I was amazed at this optic's prime like image quality. It is quite simply the most amazing Zoom I have used. Besting even the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS for that "Prime Look" i crave.

It's zoom range would seem to indicate that this would be a fabulously flexible lens.

However in practice I found this not to be the case as I suspected it would be. To the contrary, I found it's weight and lack of Image Stabilization coupled with slower aperture (and thus slower shutter speeds) to be a huge draw back and made it a lot less flexible in actual use than the EF 500mm Prime with T-cons.

It MUST be used on a sturdy tripod due to weight, and even on a high end Gitzo with a massive Gimble head, camera shake wreaks havoc @ focal lengths beyond 500mm.

On must really learn to be a "Rock" when shooting at these focal lengths. Keeper ratios as compared to the faster primes with IS.

the lens is capable of amazing optical results. There is no question, for the right person this lens CAN be that one lens to fit all. However, I suggest people think carefully about if this is the lens for you. Mastering it is not for the faint of heart.

Ergonomics and the little things SIGMA does with there high end EX lenses are as always superb. You can read my review of the EX 500mm f/4.5mm to see how I feel these ergonomic choices stack up against Canon, but in brief, I think SIGMA tries harder with the little details and succeeds in doing better.
The Focus ring and zoom ring are second to none, and the better balance on the tripod collar means better easier truing on "roller bearing like" rotations from landscape to portrait and back.

In the end, despite coveting it and wanting to hold onto it for the sheer wow factor and it's amazing flexible zoom, (I'd love to be able to afford to keep it for those rare occasions it would be the better choice compared to the EF 500mm)
We did in the end have ti part.

I have great respect for this amazing lens though, SIGMA has once again pioneered one of the best Zoom lenses in the world.
I have greater respect for those that use this lens and get such amazing results from it in use. It takes hard work and discipline IMHO and anyone that tells you differently is Modest!

Some Simple samples for your consideration:
100% crop of above

Canon Extender EF 1.4x II

Review Date: Mar 9, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Best choice for compatible Canon Telephoto lenses. Maintains weather sealing. Small lightweight and affordable way to get more from your telephotos.
Only works with certain Canon and some SIGMA lenses. Not really a con when the fact that this is a design specific part is taken into account. Pricey compared to other options.

I've used this with several Canon L telephotos and some SIGMA's as well always with good to excellent results.

Best used on Primes, on which the Image quality impact is often invisible, it serves well on some zooms too.

Particularly on the EF 70-200mm varieties, it's impact is minimal.

The Most comprehensive compatibility chart on the WEB can be found here;

May be silly posting these without further info, but some samples using Various lenses;

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Sep 12, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Simply one of the top performers in super telephoto. Bullet proof AF, superb.. no astounding image quality and tough build.
Some ergonomic nitpicks in review,. and wow.. $$$ they are dear aren't they.

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS Vs. Sigma 500mm f/4.5 EX HSM

I recently acquired the vaunted EF 500mm f/4L IS which has now replaced my long time standard Sigma 500mm f/4.5 EX as my primary birding lens.

A straight review of the Canon lens is almost unnecessary.. at this point people know well enough that these big Canon primes are almost without fault for image quality and performance. So merely adding my name to the list of fanboys is hardly worth the typing time. Nobody doesn't want the best.. it's just a matter of how to get it and how much it will cost!

However,. I did see that my experience with the Sigma version over the last few years could be a service. To date I have seen but one other side by side comparison.

First Impressions and ergonomics:

Overall Build Quality: TIE
Although they certainly differ in appearance,. both lenses appear to give an equal impression of overall build quality. That being rock solid top notch.

WEIGHT: Winner, Sigma
The Canon weighs in at 8.53 pounds, the Sigma 6.8 for close to a 2 Lb difference.

Manual Focus Ring: Winner, Sigma
On my copies the Sigma focus ring is far smoother to turn and more tactile as far as material. I have found the same conclusion when I compared other EX lenses to Canon L lenses.

Other Controls: Winner, Canon
The Sigma AF/MF switch and focus limit switches, though easier to find,. stand too proud and thus are very prone to being tripped accidentally. In fact it is almost impossible to remove the Sigma from its case without this act turning the AF/MF switch to "manual". The Canon switches are recessed well,. and yet still easy to use. I have yet to see any of them get "bumped". There are also a lot of additional controls, such as the focus stop buttons on the front end of the barrel and the focus preset switches and ring.

Lens Collar: Winner, Sigma
The Sigma's collar is superior in several ways.
It is mounted toward the front of the lens,. as opposed to the rear,. so it is completely out of the way regarding controls on both the lens and camera, and tripod head. I find that this makes the lens seem to balance more easily.
The tripod collar is much smoother,. allowing you turn the lens in the collar easier and with less jerkiness. It is in fact "butter smooth" on the Sigma. It feels like it is on roller bearings. The Canon isn't bad,. but it's not as good. I feel the front mount and larger diameter of the ring on the Sigma must contribute to this,. by balancing the lens better there is less sideways force,. and thus less friction. Canpon got it right on the 200mm f/1.8L which is similar in design to the Sigma.. no Idea why they don't use this design more often.

Tripod Mounting FOOT: Winner, Sigma
Again the Sigma has gone the extra mile on the little things. The Tripod foot is longer,. allowing more leeway to balance the lens with T-cons being added,. and it has four threaded mounting holes,. two 1/4" and two 3/8" The Canon has only two total. The canon is shorter. The grip surfaces when used as a carrying handle are about equal.

Lens Hood: Winner, Canon
This was tougher to call. the Canon is more significant,. deeper and clearly doing a better job. It is easier to mount and remove. But the Sigma hood has a more substantial feel,. and when it is mounted it is far more secure. The Canon will break very easily,. (and is in fact prone to it) The Sigma seems less likely to do so.
That said,. the Canon gets the nod due to it's greater depth and my assumption it is more effective because of it.

Ergonomic impressions summed:
Some of my findings may be a surprise to a lot of you,.
...but it was what I have come to expect in fact.

Sigma may not always be Canon's equal in optics and focus speed etc.. But I have found that with there EX line Sigma seems to try and "outdo" Canon and Nikon on the things that they "can" beat them at,.. and this is where Sigma EX lenses can, and often in my opinion do, succeed in being "better" than the OEM's.

Performance IN USE:

So this is where we get down to the nitty gritty. Shoe size and "smooth rings" are fine for ogling in your living room,. but the real issues are how does it perform Optically,. how fast does it focus,. how accurate. And here is where the Sigma EX often starts to fall behind it's nearest "L" competitor...

Viewfinder Image: Winner, Canon.
Fluorite equipped lenses and .5 on the f/stop do have an effect, bringing a slightly brighter view finder. If you've never seen the viewfinder image that a Supertelephoto will provide,. either of these lenses will drop your jaw.

Auto Focus Speed: Canon!
Sigma's HSM (HyperSonic Motor) focus motor is the second fastest AF you can put on your EOS DSLR,... and on the high end Sigma 500mm 4.5EX it is the fastest iteration of the HSM I have encountered,. equaling and besting many Canon USM lenses,. even many L lenses. Likewise,. the USM (UltraSonic Motor) is at it's fastest when installed on Canon's big primes. You simply can not find faster focus than a 1D with a Canon Supertelephoto L.

Auto focus Accuracy: Canon?
In the two years I have had the Sigma 500mm f/4.5 EX I found it's focus accuracy and speed to be as good as, and possibly better than any lens I own, including a number of L lenses. Mated to the 1D MkII it simply never fails at nailing the focus. However, in my minimal experience with the Canon 500mmL I have noticed that the Canon HAS to be better. Not in use,. but in final product. When reviwing images with the Canon, I see many more birds eyes in perfect focus. Suffice it to say,. if the Canon is better,. it is a small difference , but the devil is in the details.

Focus Tracking: Juries out for now.
Thus far I have used the Canon to track a moving object only once Vs. two years with the Sigma. To me there was no clear advantage given to the Canon in my simple test with some gulls,. but this is a subject that requires more difficult circumstances and much more testing to see what the Canon can really do.

Image Stabilization: winner, Canon
I have now used the Canon 500 f/4L IS hand held! I would never dream of using the Sigma hand held,. and in two years I never once tried it. I shot the Canon hand held on day one out of necessity (it was a timing thing involving a moving vehicle and Cedar Waxwings) and hand held it works! Also,. I am looking forward to using the Canon with just a Mono pod as opposed to always relying in a huge and heavy gimble head tripod affair,. something I would never have tried with the Sigma. If Sigma ever gets it's "OS" but in gear.. we may have a more even playing field.

Aperture: Winner, Canon
F/4 Vs. f/4.5
Not much else to say. 90% of the time that .5 may not amount to much, but it does bring up the shutter speeds which is always a plus. Plus it effects T-con usage. (see below)

Teleconverter Functionality: Winner, Canon
Canon has this wrapped up in two ways.
1st with the f/4 aperture the Canon can AF with the 1.4X T-con on all bodies, and with the 2X T-con on the "1" bodies.
2nd, the Sigma has a "problem" with it's "1" series compatibility. This leaves the Sigma with the 1.4X t-con unable to AF on the newer 1 series bodies despite the fact that it SHOULD AF at the max aperture of only f/6.3? To date we have no explanation.

Weather Sealing: Winner, Canon
Some Canon L lenses including the 500mm offer weather sealing. I can not attest to how well this works in extreme conditions, but I have heard tales of 1D cameras dropped into puddles and surviving. For the full benefit of weather sealing the lens must be mated to a weather sealed camera.. this is the Canon "1" series. The Sigma is very well built,. and unlike the Canon I have had my fair share of run ins with it and weather. No it's never been drenched, but some drops never hurt it either.

Image Quality: ?? So damn hard to say!
And this where the Sigma is really earning it's keep. Again I have only had the Canon for a while,. and I have gotten some STELLAR images with it. But the Sigma has also given me the best images I have ever had with all of my DSLRs to date. Literally thousands of superb images with detail and contrast that no other lens I have owned can equal save for this new Canon 500mm and the Canon 200mm f/1.8L.

If the Image quality of a lens that can be had used for $2,200.00 is on par with .. or even hardly noticeably less than the $5,500.00 Canon.. than that is a feat in itself. Interestingly, the other Side by Side review of these lenses that I have read had about the same conclusion re: image quality. Both perform to perfection wide open.

COST NEW: Winner Sigma
Obviously the Sigma costs less,. but significantly so. The Canon is $5,500.00 @ B&H and the Sigma is about $3,400.00 (B&H suddenly does not carry it?)

COST USED: Winner Sigma
This is where it starts to get really interesting. As the Canon holds it value almost completely, but Sigma's drop about 1/4 - 1/3 in value almost the day they are sold. The Sigma in perfect condition can be had for about $2,400.00, where as the Canon's sell regularly for about 10% less than new price,. still at or over $5,000.00


Well,. as seen in the details above. There is no one lens that wins every category. Even where the pricier Canon excels in many aspects,. some of the finer details of ergonomics and use usability go to the Sigma. Obviously with the dramatic price differential,. a pure value winner has to be the Sigma. For a lot less money... one gets a lens that is very close to the equal of the Canon overall, and better in some ways.

Either of these lenses will go a long way to making any nature photographer's kit better than it is with Zooms or standard telephotos alone. You can't go wrong with either choice.

But if price is no object,. and the extra weight is "doable" then the Canon has to be the overall winner.. the trouble is, the "win" is a remarkably slim margin. This slight lead makes the $Dollar value issue even more compelling.

Cash to burn?
Get the Canon.

Looking for quality the equal of Canon,. but on a budget?
Find a good used Sigma for less than half the price. Enjoy all the benefits of the Canon Supertelephoto and sacrifice only Image Stabilization, AF with T-cons, and weather sealing.


Sample Images taken with EF 500mm f/4L IS

Sigma 500mm f/4.5 EX HSM
Sample Images Taken with 1D MkII
This lens in combo with the MkII offers literally bulletproff AF. I spent about 7 hours on a sunny Saturday shooting Osprey in flight and diving for fish. I took about 300 photos that day.
NONE of them were out of focus.

Sigma Sample Images Taken with 10D;

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

Review Date: Sep 20, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Lightweight, flexible, IS, well built, and easy to use. A Super Sharp Zoom!
AF Performance lags behind some other "L" Zooms.

I added this lens to my collection as a portable alternative to the 500mm prime I usually lug around.

My first day out with this lens I was nothing short of stunned! It is so lightweight and easy to hand hold. It's sharpness is stunning.. coming very close to "L-Prime" territory.

EASE OF USE:I find this zoom very easy to use. The push pull turns out to be a very fast advantage over rotating zooms (I hated it for the first few hours) ...once you get used to it.

I wish Canon had looked closer at this lenses design when making the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS. On the 100-400mm the switches for AF, IS and focus limit etc.. are all well recessed into the body. They rarely get "turned off" On the 70-200mm for some reason Canon changed this and these switches are constantly being knocked into the wrong position.

This lens is very light. Lighter than the "Bigma" 50-500mm by a large margin, and lighter than the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS.

Focus Performance Here is the 100-40mm weak point. Yes,. as an "L" it is no slouch. But compared to other "L" zooms and Primes it is pretty slow. It is by far the worst L I have used when it comes to tracking a moving object on all three bodies I use regularly (1D MkII, 10D, and now 20D)

IMAGE QUALITY (See samples below) Simply stunning. I have a host of images from this lens now that I would easily confuse for images taken with the 500mm prime. If you have enough distance between your subject and a contrasting background you can acheive a sweet "fast prime" looking bokeh at f/5.6

CONCLUSION All in all a fantastic and supremely versatile lens. If you are interested in any out door long range shooting,. this should be the first Zoom you consider. Period.

Images taken on MkII

Images taken on 10D

Coming soon Images taken on 20D

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM

Review Date: Aug 20, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Size, weight, IS, construction, etc...
Cost, and not nearly as sharp as similarly priced L or primes.

I got this lens for one reason,.. lugging around a 1D with a 100-400mm IS L is not allways the best solution! Smile

Let's be serious here and call this lens exactly what it is.

It's a "Sniping" lens,.. for lack of a better term,. "candids" etc..

..this lens on a 10D or 300D will draw far less attention in the city streets than a "Great White Wonder" and that's what this lens is best for.

It would also be a nice lightweight travel lens if ultimate image sharpness were not our highest priority.

My advice.. if you have the SPECIFIC need for a lens with this one's specific "talents" then go for it. But only if you allready have the similarly priced but FAR superior 100-400mm IS

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

Review Date: Jan 1, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,139.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image Stabilization is fantastic. A superb lens, sharp fast AF,... and did I mention IS?
It is heavier than the Sigma competition. Canon makes flimsy hoods, the tripod mount can't be removed while the lens is mounted on a body. It is very expensive.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L Vs. Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX
This is by no means a scientific comparison,. It is more my personal impressions and observations. I realize this comparison review may be a bit controversial. Understand that I have owned the Sigma for about 8 months compared to 4 days with the Canon,. So I am "used to" the Sigma. I admit that this may "color" my opinion.

First,. let's compare;
1st impressions out of the bag
Overall Build Quality: Tie
Both lenses give an equal impression of overall build quality being top notch.

Weight: Winner, Sigma.
The Canon is heavier @ 51.2ounces Vs the Sigma's 43 ounces. I find this amusing as Sigma's are always being classified as "heavy"
The Canon definitely feels heavier!

Controls: Winner, Sigma.
The focus ring and the zoom ring on the Sigma are smoother and more tactile. The focus ring is much larger on the Sigma and the rubberized texture more pleasing to the fine touch. When I use the lens with Manual focus as a macro with rings, this is a help.

Personally I prefer the direction of the Sigmas' clockwise rotation to increase zoom magnification to Canon's counter clockwise. This is totally one person's opinion,. Leaving this an easy 50/50 as to who prefers what.. but to me there is some logic to turning the ring UP to INCREASE magnification.

PLEASE NOTE,.. BOTH lenses focus rings turn in the same direction

The Canon has a more substantial Manual/Auto focus switch.

The Canon also has a focus limiting switch that will exclude the closer range from 1.4m to 2.5m (leaving an effective range of 2.5-infinty) This handy Item helps prevent "hunting" at the close focus distances and speeds AF accordingly.

The focus gauge window on the Canon is taller, where as the Sigma's is wider. The print on the Canon's is bolder larger type. Meters are white on black but feet are green on black making the feet unreadable. Sigma,. Both meters and feet are white on black,. But this creates confusion, as you don't instantly know which is which. I give equal ratings to the zoom mm increment marks, white on black for Sigma and Black on white for Canon. Both legible.

Accessories: Winner, Sigma.
The Sigma's lens collar can be removed from the lens while the lens is mounted to the body. The Canon's cannot. I found this out while the Canon was mounted on my monopod,. I wanted to remove the camera quickly and went to open the collar. It doesn't open. However,. The two collars seem about equal in strength,. And the Canon's is easier to rotate.

If you have not seen a Sigma EX lens hood,. Then you should. Compared to the flimsy items that Canon is selling the, Sigma's are made of far better materials. Not thin flimsy plastic,. But solid chunks of molded hard plastic that have a built in flat rough texture that will not reflect light as much as the shiny Canon hoods. Also the bayonet mount on the Sigma's seem much more solid.

In use.
Viewfinder Image: Winner, Canon.
On my 10D, the image in the viewfinder seems slightly brighter with the Canon.

Overall ergonomic impression: Winner, Sigma.
As a general side by side, many of the details above,. Zoom ring, focus ring and especially weight, the Sigma seems an easier lens to pick up and shoot with hand held. The Canon is a LOT heavier than I was expecting. It is nearly 8 ounces heavier than the Sigma.

Compare this to the Monster lenses like the Sigma 50-500mm EX Zoom,. Which weighs in at 58 ounces, which means it is only 6 ounces heavier than the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS.

Image Stabilization: Winner, Canon.
This is the first IS lens I have owned. I have had occasion to use a few others briefly,. But in most cases I was shooting from a tripod anyway. The IS gives the Canon a clear, undisputed advantage over the Sigma. The question is how much is it worth. There are IS features built into cameras that cost one quarter the cost of the 70-200mm IS,. So I am not sure why it needs to come at such a premium. There is a $700.00 or so price difference between the two Canon versions of this lens. And yet the new IS version of the 300mm f/4 costs no more than the old non IS version did?

Image Stabilization is a boon indeed. As my image quality comparison is in fact only at the beginning stages,. I cannot yet offer my opinion on how much it affects the performance of the lens. But I can tell you it is amazing. I am sure there will be many conditions under which the IS will be a great advantage.

AutoFocus Speed: Canon!
The two lenses seemed to focus at very similar speeds with the Canon's IS ON But I did find that the Canon was indeed faster. Although it was not as large an advantage as I was expecting.
From my initial use,. it seems to me that the IS function slows down the Canon's AF as we have to wait for the IS to "spin up" from a cold start. But once the IS has spun up,.. the AF is indeed quicker. With the IS switched off the speed difference is much more noticeable. Also,. the focus range limit switch helps even more to boost the Canon's AF performance.
The Canon is the clear speed king.

Autofocus Accuracy: Tie?
This really has surpirsed me. If there was anything I expected to be a lock it would be the Canon AF Accuracy. As it turns out, the Canon is no more perfect than the Sigma... it still delivers noticeable flaws on occasion and with about the same frequency (in both cases,.. you get along fine for most shots and then if there is anything that can throw it off there is a chance the focus will be way off. But understand that both are excellent performers) I know I have read many more instances of people unhappy with the Sigma's focus. All I can tell you is mine is very accurate. I will allow you to make your judgements about Quality Control based on your own findings.

Focus Tracking: CANON
No contest. With static objects.. I perceived little to no advantage for the Canon. But with a moving object the Canon camera's tracking works much better with the Canon lens in this case.

Image Quality: UPDATEDCanon
The first few trials with the Canon I perceived little improvement over the Sigma in Image quality. It was not untill I got the Canon into the environment for which I intend to use it,. ie: a dark theatre for performance shots.. that I found what the Canon is made of.

Some Samples

Some performance samples

Sigma 28-300 f3.5-6.3 Macro

Review Date: Dec 15, 2003 Recommend? no | Price paid: $219.00 | Rating: 4 

Pros: One lens for all purposes... good for a trip perhaps?
This lens will turn the BEST DSLR into a reasonable point & shoot digicam!

First,. with a lens of this type we have to have perspective..
We simply can not expect the kind of quality available from more serious glass. If we set aside such expactations,. we may find something to like.

It all boils down one positive,. but its a biggy. (or smally?)

This lens is an entire kit in one lightweight lens. This is where it may have it's place.

But image quality will suffer. Wide is not too bad.. but 300mm is god awefull compared to the real thing.

Focus is actually pretty quick and not too loud,. but it is no USM/HSM focus to be sure. It mis-focuses about 20% of the time forcing you to let it "hunt" for a while.

Put this on your DSLR and you will transform it into a compact 10.8X zoom Digicam. If you compare it that way,. then it isn't soo bad,. but considering that a great 10X zoom digicam can be had these days for $400.00,.. why would you wnat to spend over a graand on a DSLR and this lens to get a similar image?

Don't EVER think of getting this as your first lens or only lens. But if you have a well rounded kit of good lenses,. then something like this may be of interest for certain situations where quality takes a far backseat to ultra portabilty.

Here are some halfway decent shots I got with one;

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Nov 23, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $799.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: A must have for 10D Owners. Super sharp and high contrast. Excellent feel in use.
Canon zoom rings turn the wrong way, the pie plate they call a lens hood is of no use at all.

This was my first "L" lens, and it lived up to there reputation!

A fantastic lens that performs at all focal lengths. Relatively light weight compared to an f/2.8 and yet fast enough fro most applications.

What was Canon thinking about that lens hood. I can not imagine it is deep enough to help even on a 35mm film plane,. of course on the 10D's 1.6 crop factor the hood does absolutley nothing. I replaced the stock hood wth a slightly modified EW-83B who's shape and dimensions nearly match the hood on the telephoto 70-200mm!!!! And this hood works.

I tend to shoot telephoto/wildlife,. so I have not used this lens as much as I'd like to. But when I do go out with my 500mm prime,. this lens is allways with me for those landscapes etc... and it allways delivers.

A few very reduced example images;

Sigma 50-500mm f4-6.3 EX APO RF HSM

Review Date: Nov 23, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $890.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Amazing quality images out of a 10X "Super Zoom". Sturdy build and solid usable ergonomics. Fast quiet HSM focus.
Image quality less usable from 50-120mm. Tripod collar soild but difficult to turn.

This was my first lens of quality to use on the 10D.
Without a doubt this is one of the ultimate beginning nature photographers choices.

It is a heavy lens, but light for 500mm (compared to a Prime) Although a few hand held shots is doable,. it is not recomended,. I had great luck with this lens taking wildlife hikes with it mounted on a monopod.
This is not an indoor lens,. it is happiest outdoors and out of the shade.
The image quality is very impressive given what we would expect from such a mostrous zoom range. At the long distances,. (200mm - 500mm) I am amazed at the quality and sharpness. I am sure there is no other zoom in this range that can offer this quality.

On my example,. quality falls off below about 120mm and it is rather soft at 50mm. But this was of no concern to me as I had no intention of using it as a "normal" lens. That said,. the enormous zoom range can be exceedingly handy in a pinch.
Zoom creep is a problem,. (the zoom does get easier with use) but there should be a lock to hold the zoom at any range. (as opposed to the existing lock that only lock the lens closed at 50mm.

You can use this lens with both of Sigma's teleconverters but you loose autofocus,. and I did not find the quality appealing even with the 1.4X (2X is really not worth using at all)

For nature lovers I feel that this should be among the top of your list if a long zoom is your requirement.
If you want "Prime" quality,. spend a little extra and lose 100mm by getting a Canon 400mm f/5.6 L

And of course the other zoom option is the Canon 100-400mm f/5.6 IS

Some examples; all images taken at large fine on 10D

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

Review Date: Nov 23, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $625.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast focus, solid construction and comes with all the accesories (Tripod collar and hood) Works well with both 1.4 and 2X Sigma T-cons
Some say it is heavy, but it MUCH lighter than the Canon. Autofocus gets thrown off on my unit soemtimes with a Hoya UV filter mounted.

This is a very high quality lens. The f/2.8 aperture and zoom range are perfect for what I use it for. (theatrical photos taken from back stage, wings and audience with no flash)
Ergonomics are great. Focus and zoom ring have positive control and feel. Takes a common 77mm filter size.

I haved used it very succesfully with both Sigma T-cons as well,. with the 2X you get a nice 140-400mm f/5.6 for out door nature shots. (not quite as sharp with 2X,.. but nothing ever is)
Like all Sigma EX lenses,. it is built like a tank,. and thus seems sturdier than other top shelf lenses. It is however much lighter than the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L

The negative,.. I am not sure if this is common or specific to my lens and filter combo,. but under certain light conditions I began to experience times that this lens was NOT focusing correctly at all. Some times it was spot on,. others I could see thrugh the veiwfinder clearly it was waaaay off. Upon further investigation,. I finally tried it with the Hoya UV filter I had recently mounted removed,. the focus returned to "Spot On" I only expeirienced this anomolly shooting out doors. I have not tried it with other "clear" filters yet, but I have not seen this problem using a 77mm Hoya polarizer.

On the whole, a highly recomended alternative to the much more costly Canon lenses. If you need the f/2.8 and can't go for the pricey Canon/Nikon versions, get this one as opposed to the similar priced Canon f/4

See my direct comparison to the Canon IS version here;

Taken with 10D, large fine jpeg,. no post processing 800 ISO @ f/3.5 125

Sigma 500mm f4.5 EX Apo HSM

Review Date: Oct 7, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sturdy build,. yet lightweight compared to other 500mm primes. Fantastic image quality, sharpness and color. Superior autofocusing on 10D (the fastest most precise AF of any lens I have used) Tripod mount provides four holes for balance, lens turns smoothly in mount for quick landscape/portrait switches. Manual focus ring is butter smooth.
Drop in rear filters are difficult to find/purchase

When I first looked through the viewfinder of my 10D with this lens mounted,. it seemed as if I was looking through a whole new camera. The quality and definition of the image was THAT much better through the viewfinder than anything else I have mounted. With my other lenses,. if I am ever relagated to manual focus it is pretty much touch and go as I can not see clearly enough most of the time to be perfectly sure of sharp focus. The 500mm f/4.5 alleviates this feeling completely.

I have taken more than 14,000 photos with my 10D prior to owning this lens,. and I will tell you none of my lenses have produced images as sharp and clear as the 200 or so images I have taken with this lens in the past two days.

The Autofocus is also the best I have worked with. An absolutley fantastic value in a big Telephoto!


Recently my kit has seen the additon of a 1D and a 1DMkII
It should come as no surprise that this lens and a 1D body rsult in faster AF. Althought the original 1D's limited file size led me to continue to use the 10D more often.. now with the MkII I can get all the benifits of the fastest AF on earth and an 8MP filesize for cropping.

This lens in combo with the MkII offers literally bulletproff AF. I spent about 7 hours on a sunny Saturday shooting Osprey in flight and diving for fish. I took about 300 photos that day.

NONE of them were out of focus.

Sample Images Taken with 1D MkII

Sample Images Taken with 10D;