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  Reviews by: Mike Mahoney  

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Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM

Review Date: Jun 2, 2012 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 2 

Pros: Build quality
Inconsistent focus

This is a well made lens and the images are very nice if and when you get one in focus.

And the inconsistent focus cannot be fixed by micro adjusting because the lens does not focus consistently. So even if you do adjust it to be good focus it will still be out-of-focus on the next shot, or the one after. Basically a useless lens for anyone who needs to have accurately focused shots.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Mar 7, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Zoom range, good build quality , lightweight, image stabilization, sharp wide open, great image quality, short minimum focus.
None really

I bought this shortly after I sold my 24-70 2.8 as I needed that focal range for a few jobs .. so without really doing a lot of research on the lens I bought it, and it's become one of the nicer lenses in my bag.

I mostly shoot with very much wider aperture lenses and own the big three fast ones .. 35, 85, and 135. So this is the slowest lens in my bag by far but is still a pleasure to use.

It's seen a lot of use as my studio lens where I usually shoot at F8 and has replaced my 24-70 2.8 for that work.

Anyone looking for a excellent general purpose wide range zoom should consider the 24-105 F4.0

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Review Date: Jun 1, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp wide open, colors, lack of CA and purple fringing, quick focus
Price, build quality, severe vignetting at wider apertures

Based on the many reviews and comments on this lens I was expecting to be blown away, but my overall feeling is just a moderate positive one .. yes it is a great lens, but nothing like the heaven sent experience some reviewers claim to have with it.

It is sharp from wide open and my copy has very little (if any) CA and zero purple fringing, even wide open. The colors are good and the bokeh renders a nice pop to your subject, even if it is a bit nervous. Focus is quick and accurate. And yes, it does have that certain "Je ne sais quoi" about it that separates it from the rest of the pack but let's get over it just a little bit .. it's not the holy grail of lenses.

Build quality is a bit plasticky (think 50 1.4 or 85 1.8), not on par with my 24-70 2.8, or even my 135L. And in $1,350 price range, it is a bit expensive for what you get.

If you're a dedicated prime user needing low light performance or just like wider angle bokeh this lens will suit you. But if you're using lenses in the 2.8 or smaller range look elsewhere.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Review Date: May 15, 2010 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 5 

Pros: Light weight, small size, relatively low cost.
Poor IQ until F2.8 which kind of makes such a fast lens pointless.

My 24-70 2.8 has better IQ at 50mm and 2.8.

Wide open the 50 1.4 is soft with purple fringing as bad as I've seen in any lens, and really does not clean up or get sharp until 2.0. So what's the point of having a 1.4 aperture lens if the IQ is so poor that you need to stop down to 2.0 or smaller until it looks acceptable?

AF is not bad, but is not on par with Canon's other older design lenses such as the 85 1.8. Time for Canon to do a tune-up on this lens.

I was looking for a fast standard focal length lens that offered IQ at least as good as my 24-70 2.8. And I'm still looking.

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

Review Date: May 13, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great optics, build, and price. Fast aperture.
CA and flare.

I'd read all the major glowing reviews like Photozone who concluded "The Tokina AF 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX is currently the best ultra-wide angle zoom lens for Canon EOS APS-C DSLRs"

Pretty heady stuff so I decided to get one and see what all the fuss was about. Now I see.

Image quality is superb, except some CA which is an easy fix in post-processing.

Sharp, sharp, sharp right through to the extreme corners. I've owned the Canon 10-22 and the Sigma 10-20 and the Tokina is sharper throughout the range than either.

Handy to have the 2.8 aperture for some types of work.

Build quality is top notch, and price is very competitive .. Tokina has quite simply hit a home run with this lens.

It does tend to flare somewhat, but so does the Sigma .. the Canon is best for flare performance. I do like the higher number of aperture blades versus the Sigma .. makes nicer (and more) star points when shooting straight into a light source when stopped down.

Overall I agree with what everyone else says .. a standout lens at a bargain price.

Sigma Electronic Flash EF 500 DG Super

Review Date: Feb 18, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Price, features.
Can't reliably use ETTL ratios.

Not a bad flash for the money .. it works well and the build quality is good enough. Reminds me of my old Haminex flash's build .. it always seemed like it was about to fall apart but never did and 15 years later it still works perfect. Anyways, I don't plan to use it as a hammer.

The Sigma works well with the Canon 580 with all single and multi-flash features except the ratios in ETTL multi flash .. they simply don't work. And since I mostly bought the Sigma as a second flash in a multi-flash ratioed setup with a 580 the Sigma was a big disappointment to me there.

So I now use it as a second flash in ETTL (non-ratio) or simply manual mode. And that's a job it does very well.

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

Review Date: Nov 26, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Price, build quality, sharpness,
Zoom ring goes opposite to Canon

This is my second copy (the first was just as good but I made the mistake of selling it) and I've also used a Nikon mount when borrowing a friends D200. So three copies and all performed about the same, which is to say stellar.

In a word this lens is fantastic .. the image quality is superb, and the build is of a dense plastic that gives a very solid feel .. certainly better than most of the Canon non-"L" zooms.

The Photozone MTF numbers are very high and my real-world experience echoes their findings .. this is one very sharp lens wide open and improves when stopped down.

My nit is with the zoom ring .. it goes opposite to Canon and that can be a hazard when zooming quickly when you've grown up zooming in the opposite direction .. you have a lot of muscle memory to overcome and it can frankly become a PITA. While on the zoom ring the rubber is I often slippery .. I suppose it may get better over time as the surface dulls.

AF is quick (ever so slightly slower than Canon USM) and sure, but slightly noisey .. although the Nikon mount is a good bit quieter than the Canon, and my second Canon sample is quieter than the first. So maybe Tamron is addressing the noise which some find irritating. Both my Canon mounts were made in Japan, and the Nikon in Thailand.

All in all the best bang for the buck available today in a lens (maybe not counting the Canon 50mm 1.8) and I rate it a "10" across the board.