Tom's reviews

  • Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Image Stabilizer, Range, Cost
    compared to other lenses I was considering, aperature...

    I just got this lens at a great price at a camera show, practically brand new. I was debating over a Sigma 24-70mm and a Sigma 18-50mm, both f2.8. Then I saw this lens and realized it had the perfect range that I was after. However, it wasn't f2.8. Not such a big deal when you throw in the image stabilizer. I was COMPLETELY amazed by how well it did taking photos indoors. I couldn't hold the Sigma steady enough for my liking plus it was bigger/heavier/bigger filter size/blocking flash, etc. So this lens quickly became my choice. Getting it for about the same price just made it a no brainer.

    The only thing I'm curious about is image quality. Everyone gave wonderful reviews of the Sigma lenses I was after for image quality; however, from my testing today I like the quality of this lens. Though I have no basis for comparison. However, if I had to use the Sigma lens with a tripod .... at 18-50 or 24-70 just to get clear images if it wasn't sunny sounds kind of silly. My Sigma 50-500mm is the same way. I need a bright sunny day or a monopod. Could be me, I mean I could shake or dip the camera yet...could also be the weight of the Sigma lenses.

    So what good is a lens that I personally can't hold? No good, no matter how clear it is - I can't use it. Period. This lens, I can! Quite well too. This is very important because I shoot a lot of indoor shots or on during dusk or darker overcast days. Indoor/party shots are NOT just "drunk" pictures and sometimes it does matter. Weddings, events, etc.

    However, I think the most underestimated part about the image stabilzer is the use in any circumstance - with filters. Even if it's a normal day out - and you have a few filters stacked or even just one that's taking you down a stop or two...not a big deal with the image stabilizer. Think about circular polarizer + enhacning filter... Think about neutral density filters... They suck your light up bad, but not so bad with the image stabilizer..

    SO.. I'm quite happy so far (with a few hours of shooting). I love Sigma, but I'm afraid this lens is better for me at least and my shooting habits.

    Also, I don't really notice bad vignetting....anyone who thinks there shouldn't be any at 17mm better rethink some things. I didn't notice any w/o filters, but some did exist with even one filter. I don't mind though. You won't find any lens in this category to not have vignetting, you need another lens.... a 10-22 or 10-20 or 12-24, etc. if that's your issue.

    reviewed September 17th, 2006 (purchased for $450)
  • Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM APO

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Great zoom range, sturdy, good price
    heavy, hard to hand hold, slow lens

    I love this lens, but like the others said here, it's tough to shoot with because of it's weight. I have also experienced "softness" however I think it's from movement. I have had some very crisp shots with this lens - but it's hard. I need a better tripod, I only have used a monopod with this lens. I did get one very nice hand held shot but it was on a sunny day. So there's a learning curve, you have to get used to the lens.

    I think it's very well priced too.

    If you want to beat the "softness" use a tripod. However, another very important note is the lens says it is a f/6.3. My Canon 20d will actually display f/5.6 as available at 500mm...DO NOT SHOOT AT f/5.6 @ 500mm. I believe it to be an error. Follow the instructions. Shoot at f/6.3 and your softness goes away at 500mm.

    Other than that, good lens.

    reviewed September 18th, 2006 (purchased for $1,000)