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  Reviews by: LMCasey  

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Gitzo 2220 Aluminum Explorer

Review Date: Oct 29, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Very versatile and stable
A bit heavy and packs a bit long

Everything you've read about this tripod is correct. It is very versatile. The legs that lock at any angle is a feature that I have used many times. The twist locks are OK, although I like the newer G-locks on the CF models better. It takes perhaps a little longer to set up this tripod than most others which is a drawback in my opinion. This tripod is steady even with fairly heavy lenses such as 400 5.6. The length when fully collapsed is a bit long to pack, so it's not very good for travelling. The weight too is a bit on the high side when outfitted with a good ballhead; you will be at 6 to 6.5 pounds.

This is a good tripod, and a big step up from a typical "starter" tripod.

I think this equipment will last a good long time.

I heartily recommend this to anyone looking for a good mid-weight tripod.

Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM

Review Date: Jan 27, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $635.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp from corner to corner even at f2.8. Light, excellent build quality, great focus on my crop bodies. Quite a bargain

This lens is flawless optically as far as I can see. I am using it on crop bodies only so far. Shoot it wide open and look at the great corner to corner performance. Sharp, nice bokeh. Unlike other users, I have no problem with the hood. This lens is much lighter than the 70-200 2.8 zooms, so if you don't need a zoom, this might just be perfect for you.

This lens is quite a bargain.

Sigma 80-400mm F4.5-5.6 EX OS APO

Review Date: Sep 11, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Relatively inexpensive
Not sharp enough, very slow autofocus

At 400mm, even stopped down, this lens is not as sharp as it should be. Images are just barely passable. The wide end of this lens is outstanding, but this is not what you buy a long telephoto for.

The autofocus sounds and performs like a first generation system, it is buzzy and slow.

I've looked at this lens and the Canon 100-400 and 400 5.6; do yourself a favor and opt for the Canon 400 5.6.

This lens is disappointing.

Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM

Review Date: Sep 7, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great resolution, color, contrast
Build quality for the price; flare.

Overall this lens is excellent. On the wide end, the extreme edges show minor softness (not perfect). On the long end, this lens is nearly perfect. At f2.8, results are very good in the center at all focal lengths. Corners are a bit soft on the wide end, but very good on the long end. This is one lens you won't hesitate to use wide open.

The focus is USM, and virtually perfect on my XT. Focus even in low light is very, very good.

Minor CA can be seen sometimes, but it never gets to the point where it is a problem. PF can also be seen occasionally in extreme contrast situations.

Flare resistance is not as good as it should be. You will want to be conscious of the suns position. Ditto with bright lights. Flare doesn't always show up in these situations, but it will at times. This is the price for a lens with 19 elements; too many surfaces for reflections to occur.

Stabilisation works very well.

Build quality is not what it should be for a $1100 lens. No wobbles or anything of that sort, but too much plastic. The lens is not internal focus, nor is it sealed. Dust gets inside a bit too easily in my opinion. This does not affect the IQ, but it's maddening for such an expensive lens.

My conclusions:

I've lived with the lens for several months before writing this review, and have taken a couple thousand photos with it.

1. Very sharp in the center at all FL and apertures. Some corner softness on the wide end (more so at wide apertures).

2. Edges sharp at most FL and apertures. This puts it in a league of its own. Not perfect though; soft edges at 17mm.

3. CA is well controlled.

4. Flare and PF are issues. Depending on your style of photography it may or may not be a major issue for you. Of the ten lenses I own for my XT, this lens shows more flare than any of them. Just telling it like it is.

5. Weight is fine. Some people have complained it is too heavy. I do not find it overly heavy.

6. Build quality is only OK. Lens sucks dust noticeably. Too much plastic for the money. Extending design.

7. Focus and IS work extremely well.

8. Price is a bit high in my opinion.

9. Very useable at all focal lengths and apertures (once again a league of its own).

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Review Date: Dec 7, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very good and useable at 1.4. Excellent from f2 on. Beautiful contrast, color sharpness from edge to edge.

There is a reason this lens has such a good reputation, it really doesn't have a major weakness. You do pay for the quality though.

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Dec 7, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $560.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, Excellent color and contrast. Very reasonable price. Excellent overall performance at all focal lengths and apertures.
Lens hood is rediculously big.

I really can't find much to fault with the 17-40. It just does what it's supposed to do. A great lens.

Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Review Date: Dec 7, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Very good optics, fast focus, WIDE
Some softness in the corners. Aperture is a little slow. Price is high; too high.

I got the 10-22 when it first came out, so I've been using it over a year. The first time I tried it, I was very impressed with the color, contrast and sharpness. Now that I've used it for several thousand shots though, I can evaluate it less emotionally. First, it's too expensive. Second, while it's very sharp in the center, it's just a little soft in the corners; definitely not as good as my 17-40. This lens is pretty much flare proof. OK, you can get some flare in certain conditions, but it's very rare. CA is noticeable, but easily correctable in ACR. 10mm is very fun on APS-C DSLR's. For those of you that like wide angle, I can recommend the 10-22 as long as you've got the $.

Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Dec 7, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 3 

Pros: Reasonable price
Poor optics and build quality

A couple of years ago, after all sorts of raving on Dpreview, I bought the 28-135 IS. The lens I received is not good optically. It's never really sharp at any focal length or aperture. The build quality is quite poor. The lens barrel has a great deal of play. The whole thing rattles. This lens is very disappointing optically. I know others swear by this lens; but my experience is different.

Too all potential buyers, just beware there are quite a few bad copies of this lens floating out there.

Good luck.

Sigma 8mm f4 EX Circular Fisheye

Review Date: Dec 6, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: WIDE, Autofocus, Autoaperture
Quite soft at the edges. Significant CA.

The Sigma 8mm is bound to be popular due to the extreme wide AOV, but it is lacking in other areas. I picked this lens over the cheaper alternatives because it was autofocus and autoaperture. After using the lens for a while though, you come to the conclusion that you can use it completely successfully in manual mode (manual focus and in Av mode). The depth of field is incredible even at large aperture. The max aperture of f4 is just a bit disappointing seeing that the diagonal fisheyes are 2.8 lenses. The lens is sharp in the center, but suffers at the edges. In addition you get a blue ring surrounding the image. On Canon cameras, the image is not centered on the center of the sensor (this may or may not be an issue for you). There is good resistance to flare. CA is plentiful, and you will probably want to implement some type of software solution. Light falloff is very, very noticeable as well; once again, a software solution is necessary. For general purpose photography, this lens is a bit disappointing, especially for the price. If I were to do it again, I would probably opt for the cheaper Peleng fisheye.

Not enough lens for $450.