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  Reviews by: normski  

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Sigma 18-50mm F3.5-5.6 DC

Review Date: Sep 5, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: cheap, light, metal mount, better build than canon kit lenses, comes with dedicated hood, sharp pics, good colour, no nasties.
tricky getting hood on and off - switch to mf otherwise you turn the af motor. lens turns with focusing = more hassle with polarising filter.

It's the best bang for the buck if you want a cheap light walkaround w/a zoom for the Canon 10D which doesn't take ef-s lenses. I'm very impressed with the results - and I'm fussy! In the real world (forget Ls - they're in a different league) this is amazing for the price. it's better built than the canon cheapo ef-s kit lens. And it produces noticeably sharper pics with better colour. (One English photo mag this month gave it a much higher rating than either the canon or nikon cheap kit lenses - so I am not alone in my views) One caveat: do check the lens before you buy. One I encountered had something which looked like a twig in the elements when viewed through the lens off-camera. Another had a rough zoom ring which tightened midway through the action. The third is a gem. Typical Sigma!!

Canon EOS 1D Mark II

Review Date: Nov 6, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharp images packed with detail and accurate colour. flexible set up. fast af.
manually having to switch from the cf card to the sd card during a shoot.

this camera inspires confidence because it just delivers. it has a totally flexible setup to suit different requirements. the images it produces are outstanding, very sharp with an accurate colour balance. overall performance is second to none. fps and af are breathtaking. i think this is as good as it gets for an all round canon dslr.

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Sep 4, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: well made, well corrected, low barrelling
cost, sample variations

can't complain apart from price. my first copy was a dog (how many are out there?). never really sharp at any aperture and went really soft in the centre of the image from f8 - f16 while the surrounding stayed relatively ok. came back from canon repair exactly the same - unuseable. second copy - amazing - sharp at f2.8 and all the other stops to f16. talk about a night and day difference. BUT this should not be the case for a low volume high end lens. my conclusion is that canon qc leaves something to be desired. however based on my second copy of this lens i can recommend it.

Sigma 12-24mm f4.5-5.6 EX DG Aspherical HSM

Review Date: Jul 6, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharp edge to edge on a 10d. little distortion. good colour and contrast. price.
some are better than others.

barrelling is barely noticeable at 12mm, and at 24mm there's just a hint of pincushion. it's acceptably sharp wide open at f4.5 - similar in fact to the 14mmL at the same stop. sharpness improves up to f11. c/a is well controlled, colours are saturated and contrast is good (not quite L but still punchy) but watch for flare (similar to any other w/a). A friend of mine says it's pretty impressive on full frame too. N.B. there are variations. look through the glass from the mount end and make sure there are no imperfections. i rejected one which produced images soft on the right hand side, i looked through the glass and saw 3 marks with jagged edges deep inside the lens that looked like stone chips on a windscreen, not air bubbles which are uniform. ( i think Q/C is iffy - hence the low price). I exchanged it for another which is perfect. i will never part with it. for the price it's awesome. aps crop sensors get a 19mm equivalent using it's sweet spot. check this out too:

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L USM

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

Pros: it's super fast for a wide - also it's acceptably sharp wide open.
canon's w/a lenses are not as well developed as their telephotos

- no it's not as sharp as an ef 135mm f2 or similar but it's sharper than the ef 16-35L at f2.8 and the 17-40L at f4 - stop for stop, but remember you also have f1.4 at your disposal which is 4x faster than f2.8 and 8x faster than f4. colour and contrast are impressive too. it's not a "must have" lens but equally don't think of it as a luxury think of it as a treat which you deserve as an "L" addict. (i have 24mm covered by 2 L zooms) if you use it in bright light situations it won't necessarily appear to be "amazing" but in those low-light and indoor situations it will give you a very accurate facsimile of "what you see" ie. "wysiwyg" as a result w/b is very good too. it's like having a vintage cognac in the drinks cabinet - you'll always reach for it in those special times and you'll know it's money well spent.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Apr 1, 2005 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: well built - feels like an L. behaves like an L. wide open it's fast with sharp images, it has quick accurate autofocus, and it's ridiculously cheap.
some obvious purple finging wide open in strong backlight (it's not alone in this).

this lens is good - really good. IMO it's canon's best value lens. i have several L's and i would suggest the 85mm f1.8 deserves the red stripe. It's obviously not as "amazing" as the f1.2 (from what i've seen of that lens it is truly fantastic - and if you've got the dosh go for it) but the f1.8 is 4 times cheaper! if this lens cost twice as much as it does it would still be good value and i would still buy it. i don't think you'll be disappointed. it's impressively sharp wide open and the colour is also very acceptable - almost L. (in comparison, the much vaunted 50mm f1.4 feels cheap and nasty and is no big deal wide open. get the 50mm f1.8 instead - it has no pretentions).

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Apr 1, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: end results are quite superb and as an added bonus the build quality is very good and when you take the price into account it's almost a gift.
some purple fringing wide open against strong backlight (and this lens is not alone in that)

let's not beat about the bush here. this has got to be canon's best value lens: think about it - the quality of its build with a proper USM ring motor with full time MF and an autofocus that snaps into action. It's fast, it has stunning definition and very acceptable colour - not quite L colour but pretty close. ok so there's obvious purple fringing wide open in strong backlight (this lens is not alone in that) but otherwise i've noticed no gremlins. the f1.2 version according to all accounts is superior because it's 1 stop faster and the bokeh blows you away, and yes if you've got the cash go for it but remember it costs 4 times as much (which is always the case when seeking the holy grail!). bottom line - if canon charged twice as much for this f1.8 lens it would still be a bargain.
p.s. the 50mm f1.4 (which is supposed to be another fab non-L lens) feels really cheap and nasty in comparison. IMO stick with the 50mm f1.8 - it has no pretensions.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

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

Pros: it really is the most stunning zoom i have used in every respect - colour, sharpness, bokeh, and focus speed. in the right lighting you get cover mag quality without having to use PS.
it's big and heavy, (but it delivers - so why complain!)

i bought this lens new in august 2004. assuming one gets a good copy i can't understand why people complain about it. in my experience any bad results come from either operator error or camera malfunction. it is without doubt the best zoom in my bag. in the UK we pay in pounds sterling what our US cousins pay in dollars (more or less) and i still think for what we pay this lens is good value. go get it from an authorised dealer who doesn't recycle rejects and you won't have any regrets. it will more than likely become the zoom you reach for, for that "special" shot. why? - because it never fails! trust me - go and enjoy.