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

Review Date: Nov 7, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Range of course, very good image quality, HSM, EX quality, comes with a soft-case & hood, price.
86mm filter size, wish it was at least a constant F4.

I will use as a reference for this review the Canon 70-200 F2.8L which, I believe, is one of the greatest sub-2k lens available:

The main reason why I actually sold the 70-200 was the "short" range, and I have to say this is the MOST impressive feature of the Sigma all-in-all. I knew from the beginning this "extra-range" was going to cost me some "image quality", but to be honest, image quality was not that much compromissed and, to my surprise, the lens even shows some highlights where it outperforms the Canon. For example: Though overall image quality of the 70-200 is better, the 50-500 produces a better bokeh in about every situation.

HSM and EX finish are two very pleasant details (even though the lens is not weather sealed, but for a sub-1000u$s this is not surprising).

Another plus: the lens comes with a soft-case and hood.

Now the minuses:

86mm filter size is not cheap at all, but well, considering this lens is "only" about 950u$s and the only comparable lens in the market, the Canon 100-400L, is almost 500u$s+ (talking always about the Canon mount version)...then spending an extra 70 bucks for the UV filter is still a good deal.

Lack of stabilization and excessive weight are complains you can usually read here for this piece of glass, but IMHO any serious 300mm+ lens should be used with, at least, a monopod to achieve better results, and since I always carry a monopod in the backpack, neither of these are considered as minuses by me, but have in mind before buying that this is an almost 2 kilo (4 pounds) non-stabilized lens.

My biggest complain with this lens is the aperture. The F4-6.3 is a real limit to the posibilities of it. Though with an appropriate camera and a careful setting you can almost override most of the "light requirement" limitations and shoot everywhere-anytime. Of course you wouldnīt have to care for all that with a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM but well, you need an extra 5.5K to get one of those, so in the end this Sigma jewel is kind of a real deal.

Some pics:





Canon EOS Rebel XT (350D)

Review Date: Oct 11, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Features, 8 megapixels, size (a negative on one side and a plus on the other - for portability). Great camera to switch from P&S to d-SLR.
None for what you pay but I would love it bundled with PC-synchro port, slightly bigger body (when used with big lenses it becomes sort of unconfortable and unprecise) and a brighter screen,

I switch from P&S with this camera. Found it to be an awesome compromise between price and features. No negatives about it except for one time I wanted to connect a radio slave trigger for a flash & of course coulndīt because of the lack of a PC-Synchro port (you can solve this by using a shoe to PC adapter though, but at the time I chose not to do it). Besides that, I think itīs a solid product. Sold it about 4 months ago to get a 30D. The 400D seems to be an even better deal nowadays.

Some pics taken with it & a Sigma 30mm F/1.4 EX DC HSM lens:

XT + Sigma 24-70 F/2.8 EX DG Macro:

XT + Tamron AF70-300 F/4-5.6 LD Macro (low Q lens but another good beginnerīs deal for around 100u$s):

Canon Deluxe Backpack 200 EG

Review Date: Aug 3, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Big...carries a lot of equipment. Not as expensive as Lowepro/Tamrac. Very decent built quality.
Not as well built as Lowepro/Tamrac. You can read the work "Canon" looking at it from about every angle. A notebook won't fit when fully loaded.

Bought mine from B&H, not quite the best price but I needed it to be sent fast & reliably to my country.
Before this one I had a Tamrac Adventure 6 backpack which I actually never get to use because it was too small to carry "all the-stuff" so, since I needed something bigger but I was on a budget I went for the 200.

The size is very good: not that big from the outside, huge on the inside. I carry all this stuff on it:

Canon EOS 30D body + grip.
Sigma 50-500 w/hood
Sigma 30mm w/hood
Canon Speedlite 430EX
Stroboframe QF 350
Lastolite Micro Apollo Soft-Box
Canon off-camera shoe cord
Rocket-Air "like" dust blower
30D Battery + Charger
4AA Batteries
A4 Notepad
Lens cleaning pads from Canon & Marumi
62" Tripod (placed @ one side of the backpack)

...and still have space for a couple more "primes" and other small stuff.

IMHO you get more than what you pay...the only true complain I have with it is that is says "Canon" everywhere...that word is a well-known thieve-magnet. It won't fit any notebook either BTW.

For me it's a deal. ; )

Canon EOS 30D

Review Date: Jul 22, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Built like a tank, size (feels "right"), improved shutter life, 2.5" LCD panel, wheel & hat instead of buttons (compared to a 350D), better "menu" layout (once more compared to a 350D), spot metering truly works (though is not what I appreciate the most).
Mine had dust on the sensor right out of the box too, but I have to admit that I didn't check on my 350D when it was new if it had it too. Wish it had more resolution (megapixels).

I was a happy 350D owner when the opportunity to switch to a 30D came...and since I knew that opportunity may not knock twice my door I decided to inmediatelly sold my (loved) Rebel XT body and got myself the newer 30D.

NOTE: all the comparisons mentioned here are between the 350D and the 30D.

The good:

It's built to last longer: You can feel it as soon as you see the 30D. Anyway I have no complaints about the build quality of the 350D.

Size/Weight: Besides this camera weights a bit more than the 350D, it size makes it more "enjoyable" when you hold it in your hands. It seems like the bigger grip makes it easier to your hands to hold that extra weight. This is definitelly a plus.

Shutter-life: According to the documentation the shutter is rated to last some 100.000 cycles...and, to be honest I expected that to be true on the 350D as well but...anyway that is a plus too.

2.5" LCD: This is really usefull for reviewing....the 350D was a bit small.

Wheel & Hat controls: This is an awesome become addicted to it. Once you try this you don't want to go back to the "control by buttons".

The new menu is "faster" than the 350D's and that is something I wasn't expecting. Interface and controls are so much better and easier to use...

Finally "true spot-metering": All I have to say about this feature is that it works. Though I still haven't taken advantage of this and to be honest it's not the more exiting feature about the least to me. But it works very well.

The bad:

Dust in the sensor right out of the box. This is kind of can that be possible?

I would have traded any of the good things above for some more megapixels....but of course, that could kill the 5D.

All in all, a great camera. And quite a good upgrade from a 350D.

Some pics taken with it:

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Jun 27, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Prime-like overall image quality (simply beautiful and sharp images). Impressive bokeh. Usefull 1.5m minimal distance focus switch. "L standard" 77mm filter thread. Best USM lens I ever used, period.
Price, but you get what you pay for (worth every penny). White...but you get used to it and in the end you start loving it. The original hood is very expensive.

My best lens ever. If you hear someone say "the image quality is similar to primes" believe him. It is a prime with a 70-200 range.

This lens produce an impressive bokeh, one of the best I've seen. And what can be said about's just addictive. Fast, silent and precise. Once you try it, you don't want to go back to enything else.

One thing to note about this lens is the price for a replacement hood (ET-83II). I bought this lens second hand and since the hood had some marks over it but the rest of the lens was mint I decided to go and buy a new hood just to match the awesome conservation of the lens. 45 bucks was the cheapest I could find...if you add the delivery cost to that you have a lot of money for a piece of plastic...of course you can get a 77mm hood from some other brand...if you don't mind going < 100% original. Besides that and the 1k+ price tag, this is a dream lens to have. I would only replace it with a bigger range lens with similar performance.

Some pics taken with it:

Tamron 70-300MM F/4-5.6 LD Macro AF

Review Date: Jun 25, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Range. Cheap. In general it is a good perfomer (for the price you have to pay for it, of course).
CA. Cheap build.

This was my first lens back when I switched from compact "point and shoot" cameras to SRLs so the quality of the pictures I took with it where very nice (compared to the ones I could get with a P&S Camera) and the results exiting.

All in all the lens is great for what you pay. Image quality is very acceptable and the range is very usefull.

On the down side: lots of chromatic aberration and very cheap build, but for 150 bucks that is more than acceptable.

Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 EX Aspherical DG DF

Review Date: Jun 25, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Inexpensive for a 24-70 F/2.8. Sigma EX = Great build quality. When the AF works fine you can achieve impressive results. 82mm hood included.
If you have a bad copy you will ocassionaly have front focus problems. No HSM. 82mm filter thread. A bit big and heavy.

After using it for portrait photography for a while I realized that about 35% of the pėcs I took with the lens where out of focus. In my case there was not a defined pattern for this behavior, some times it was obviously front focused while some others it was back focused.

That seems to be the Aquiles Heel of this particular lens from Sigma, everything else is great for the price paid. It`s a deal as far as you get a good copy.

On that 65% of perfectly focused pictures the quality was impressive.

Sold the lens a couple of months ago. After analizing the different options I decided to switch to primes for portrait photography.