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  Reviews by: dave chilvers  

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Canon EOS 20D

Review Date: Sep 30, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast write times,instant start up, exposure as good as it gets (IMHO) High iso settings are now usuable.AF very fast and positive. decent monitor ,very easy menu and all controls fall easily to hand.
I`m thinking! Still thinking:-)

You might have guessed I like this camera a lot. I got the grip and put the hand strap from my D60 onto it and it made a good camera better. It just feels right in my hands and that will always make for better images.
I wouldn`t say that the viewfinder is much darker than usual but it does make one hell of easy manual focussing. Battery power just goes on and on. I like the two position power switch where the second position turns on the thumbwheel if needed. One of the main things that impressed me was the speed with which it writes to the microdrive. I can now use this camera indoors at 1600asa without a tripod and have some great candids of our pets.In fact, I`m not carting my tripod around with the 20D because of the lack of noise at the higher ratings. I have a D60( very good camera) and a 1Ds and the out of the camera raw images are better than both. This will be my main pick up and go camera( it`s just so easy and enjoyable to use)

Sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX DG Aspherical RF

Review Date: Jun 2, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Very Bright which aids focusing, sharp and fast at the right price.
I suppose you might say that size is bigger than the average but then it is 1.8

I know that some people complained about the lens being softish wide open but to be fair to Sigma the f1.8 is a focussing aid rather than an fully usuable f stop and having said that you can capture images that you wouldn`t have(even if they are a touch soft at 1.8). This focal length(for me anyway) is for landscapes and situations that are tight for space.
I use it on a 1Ds and with that bright full size viewfinder it`s like looking with your eyes and that has a big WOW factor.

Canon EOS 1Ds

Review Date: Mar 31, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Great solid feel, full frame chip, images easy to crop, good AF.
Find it hard to evaluate images on LCD, storage space(not really a fault),battery power could be better.

Is there a perfect product? I doubt it but this is the best that is about at the moment. You have the ability to produce stunning prints but make no mistake ! this aint a point and shoot camera. It feels every bit a pro camera and the viewfinder is second to none but I find I do have to use the historgram more than the lcd to evaluate the images before moving on and because of this(when your looking for the best possible quality you must shoot raw) The metering seems to have a bit of a mind of it`s own(unlike the D60) and noise can be seen on some images where you wouldn`t expect to see it. Dust is a big problem on the AA filter more so when shooting wide and stopped down beyond f8. You might say"with all those minus why the hell did you buy it"? Well, you don`t know all the pit falls before you actually get to grips with one and as i said, it still is the best you can get.I have just had to get a second battery(why the hell couldn`t we have L-ion?)
On the plus side, when you get it all right the results really are stunning and the fine detail you can pull out is superb. Seeing the tests of the Kodak 14N did make me feel a lot better though and it obviously isn`t that easy to get it all right from a big sensor.
If I had to put one mainpoint up that I`m the most unhappy with then it would have to be the metering and the ability to check it on the LCD but the more i use it the better control i have. If it wasn`t for the high storage demands I might well shoot bracket but at only 85 or so images in raw on a 1GB microdrive this isn`t an option. I now have 3 microdrives but still have to justify the shots if I`m out on a long days shoot.
IMHO if you don`t like working for your images then this isn`t the camera for you(more so if you don`t intend to print larger than A3 or intend to crop much) I like the technical side of photography so getting things right is what makes me tick but I`m going to admit that in the first few days I wanted my D60 back, now i couldn`t go back! Combine the 1Ds with the 70-200 2.8 IS and you have a fairly heavy bit of kit that anyone but the strongest will notice(I`m a manual worker now so am not a whimp)A good friend of mine has just upgraded to the 1Ds and all ready he is complaining about the LCD and is shooting 50% of his shots in raw where as he has never shot raw in the past.Don`t forget you must connect the camera to your pc via firewire card to be able to turn on some of the features(God knows why they couldn`t have given you full control in the camera)Taking several shots in raw mode on the trot finds you standing around waiting for the buffer to empty or the viewfinder to show the previews but that is modern technology and large amounts of data just don`t transfer like lightening(not yet at least)
Make sure you have a pretty good pc to handle the images(I have 1GB of ram and find I have to wait for things to happen now) i have just added a second hard drive(120GB) to help with storage, I know you can write to CD but there is nothing like having the last few weeks images on hand.I have found on my pc that times in excess of 10 minutes is needed to download to the hard drive from the Microdrive.
So! all the above points are downers mainly, well this is a review and as honest as I feel it can be.
Would I buy it again?? I`d have to because this is(as i said earlier) the best that is around at the moment and at the end of the day you do get 11million pixels worth of image quality when it all goes right and in general the camera is like using the top of the range Canon film cameras. One more point, any of your lenses that you feel are on the border line with the D60/10D will need to be upgraded with the 1Ds if your going to get the best from that huge chip.

Sigma 15-30mm f3.5-4.5 EX Aspherical DG DF

Review Date: Mar 30, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fantastic value for money, well built sharp as you need(with the 1Ds)
A touch tricky into the sun.

I got hold of one of the first 15-30`s and have never had any problems. Images are sharp and the exposures seem to be slightly better than with Canon lenses on my camera(funny that) I use mine mainly at 15mm and to be honest the only problems that I come up against is the dust on the cameras AA filter shows a lot above f8. When i first bought the lens I was using the D30 and had a 17-35 Canon`L` and I traded the Canon in against it and never looked back.

Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

Review Date: Mar 30, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Bright sharp viewfinder, great out of focus backgrounds, Cost for an `L` lens,easy to carry on camera, usable wide open.
Lens hood is quite large(as it might need to be) but it does make carrying several lenses with hoods a bit of a problem but expecting a built in hood would probably be wishful thinking.

Certainly one of the sharpest lens I have ever used( the only other SLR lens that I think comes close was the Leica 100mm apo macro or maybe the 90 apo Leica`M` lens) I think the ability to throw the background out of focus easily helps to make the image stand out from the background.Can you judge a good lens by the amount of sharpening you require? if so then this is the sharpest. I did various tests against my other lenses (50 1.8, 100 2.8 macro,70-200 2.8 IS) and these three were all very close to each other and it was quite hard to split them but the 135 f2 stuck out like a sore thumb with less sharpening required. Stick on the 1.4 and (IMHO) there seems to be little change, superb sub 1000 L glass and a treat to carry it around with the 1.4 as opposed to the 70-200.Don`t get me wrong, the 70-200 is superb but the 135 is better. This lens is usable wide open.


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