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Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

Review Date: Dec 2, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $179.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Optics for the price, IS, light weight.
Build feel.

Crops of center and corner of the wall where I test lenses and such.

In terms of build feel, it's light and they have a paint that is blotchy like on the L lens barrels so it's not so smooth as before. Changing the rubber pattern on the zoom ring is a big improvement in making it feel like a more serious lens in the hand. The IS is dead silent, I can't tell if it's on. Initially I thought this was good but now I think it's a bad idea b/c unless I physically check the button with my finger while composing or look down, I can't tell if it's on or not. So at times, I had it on when I didn't need it but more importantly, it was off when I thought it was on. The MF and zoom rings are not damped so it feels cheap just like the old kit lens. AF speed and noise is about as same as the older kit lens.

Optically, it's not as sharp as I thought it would be. Perhaps due to my high expectations after reading the reviews. It's still very nice and sharp with good contrast and responds well to sharpening but I'm finding that I have to sharpen a lot to get it the way I like. I find that one stop down or so is generally the sharpest. So that's about f5.6 for the wide end and about f8 for the long end of the focal length. By f16, diffraction sets in and things start to go softer. I don't find the corners getting soft that much just as the reviews from photozone and slrgear shows. Unlike the older versions, there really isn't much if any CA. The color cast seems about as same as other Canon lenses. Flare is also well controlled.

Overall a very nice $180 walking around lens. From memory, a big immediately noticable improvement in IQ from the kit lenses I've used in the past. I think this lens offers the most if you are starting out and a casual shooter or an enthusiast that wants a cheap lens for occassional use with great optics. Kind of like a zoom version of the Canon 50mm f1.8. If you are looking for a walking around lens for a serious use, consider the Canon 17-55IS or equivalent lenses from Tamron, Sigma, and Tokina.

Sigma 28mm f1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro

Review Date: Jun 26, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great Price, speed, very short min. focusing distance, bokeh
Two step AF/MF switch, noisy AF, Poor low light focusing, hood is extremely tight fitting.

As above. I got this for walking around. Since I've a cropped body, it's about a 45mm lens for me which is nice. The short min. focusing distance really allows for nice bokeh and really creative compositions. Based on experience with the lens, three others have bought the 20/24/28mm primes from Sigma with one more who will order one.

Here is my review of the lens here.

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

Review Date: May 10, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $899.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Versatility, HSM motor, build quality/feel, price
Could be a touch sharper at 500mm

This is such a versatile lens, as I've heard before, the bigma is a 500mm supertelephoto that you can zoom back to 50mm if you need it. For a 10X zoom, the optics are very good, even at 500mm, using good technique and good processing technique will yield very good to excellent results in my view.

I whole heartedly recommend this lens for anyone interested in an affordable supertelephoto zoom.

Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM

Review Date: May 10, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $469.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Price, HSM, optics, relative lack of distortion at 10mm, focal length range.

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

Review Date: Mar 28, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $430.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Optics and price
so so build feel, AF noisy

As said, great optics with sharp center and corners. Good control of CA.
Build quality is so so, AF is fast but noisy.

Definitely worth the cost if optics if your main concern.

Canon EOS 1D Mark II N

Review Date: Oct 7, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,999.95 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Feels like a solid piece of magnesium covered in rubber. All the buttons and controls feel more precise than 20D/300D. Large viewfinder now with ISO. High buffer, two cards for memory, 2.5inch LCD, fast autofocus, extremely robust performance, and 8.5fps.
Only one or two current RAW converters right now. LCD needs to be brighter. Usually requires two buttons to be pressed to make changes to avoid accidently changing settings. Price is a bit high considering this camera is almost 2 years old now.