10 out of 10 points and recommendedSuperior image quality even wide open, handholdability, 1:1 macro + great portrait lensWish it had a focus limiter
I use this lens on a 350D (Rebel XT) occasionally for macro works, but mostly for portaits (and I like close-up portraits), so this is a perfect lens for my use.reviewed December 1st, 2006 (purchased for $500)
The lens size and weight give a perfect balance with the (small) 350D body
With this lens I shoot 80% of the time kids and baby portraits at f:2.8 in the 0.3 - 1.5 m range.
Colors and contrast are great and sharpness is definitely exceptional, even wide open. Maybe a little drop at f:2.8 is visible when shooting charts, but in real life, I have never seen any loss at 2.8 compared to 4 or 5.6. Maybe kids have too thick eyelashes for me to notice... But basically that lens at 2.8 made me realize that my 1 year old baby girl had a moustache... :o)
For tight portraits (and macro too), the background blur is perfectly smooth and progressive, but at longer distances I'd rather use a longer lens and/or a wider aperture (I'd trade the 1:1 macro + f:2.8 for a 1:2 macro + f:2, but that's not the point here...)
Focusing is silent, very fast and reliable, but after a miss when shooting portrait, the time to go back (to 1:1 macro) and forth (to the real focus point) can feel a little long. I wouldn't mind a focus limiter...
All in all, a highly recommended lens
8 out of 10 points and recommendedFast f:1.4, "normal" focal length for DSLR, build quality, very sharp (center wide open, borders past f:2-2.5), silent and fast focusFocus accuracy can be a problem sometimes, a little on the heavy side for a "normal" prime
Like many others, looking for a "normal" prime on a 350D, I hesitated quite a long time between this lens, the Canon 35 f:2, and the Canon 28 f:1.8.reviewed December 1st, 2006 (purchased for $370)
I first eliminated the 28 because of its IQ below f:2.8
As I needed a focal length a little on the wide side and more importantly f:1.4 (shooting concerts in small clubs, there is often no option but ISO 1600 and f:1.4) I was tempted by the Sigma. But I was a little scared by the apparently important number of bad copies of the Sigma (at least in forums...).
Before buying I tested a friend's Canon 35 f:2 during a few hours in various lighting conditions and was quite disappointed : soft at f:2 and a lot of chromatic aberrations 'till f:2.8...
I also shot a concert with the same friend's Canon 24L 1.4 which was too wide (and expensive) for me but damn' fast...
Finally all this made me choose the Sigma...
Luckily (?) I got a good copy, and I'm very happy with it.
Wide open, center sharpness is excellent, corners are softer, but nothing horrible for a f:1.4 lens (comparable with the Canon 50 1.4 for example). At f:2, 75% of the frame is sharp, and at f:2.8, no problem you can shoot a brick wall...
Contrast is good, but nothing exceptional either.
Focusing is silent and fast, but not that good in low light and can be inaccurate sometimes. Compared to modern USM Canon lenses, the difference is obvious, but it remains perfectly usable for low light shooting.
Overall, at the same aperture, the IQ remains a little lower than my Canon EF-S 60mm f:2.8 Macro, but the Sigma is 2 stop faster and you've got to keep in mind that the 60 is one of canon's best primes !
Bottom line, the IQ is very good, but the lens isn't perfect, mostly because of the focus accuracy.
But still, there is no competition for a fast "normal" prime for DSLR (at least at "normal" prices), and I will definitely keep this one (unless Canon decides to make an EF-S 30 1.4 USM as good as the 85 1.8 and at the same price level...)
8 out of 10 points and recommendedRange, IS, IQ at the long endIQ at the wide end
I bought this lens with a 350D (Rebel XT). First DSLR, but after 15 years with SLRs.reviewed December 1st, 2006 (purchased for $750)
The range is extremely useful, and have to be put in balance with image quality.
5x zooms are definitely a compromise... of course, there are better IQ options (Sigma 18-50 f:2.8 or Canon 17-55 f:2.8 or 24-105 f4) but... much higher price tag and/or shorter range.
As for image quality, the wide end (17mm) is indeed on the lower side (distorsion, strong CA, only correct sharpness). Pixel peeping is a little disappointing, but only distorsion is visible on small to moderate sized prints.
On the other end IQ gets better as you zoom in, and 85mm is surprisingly good.
It was my first experience with IS, and to be honest I'was blown off by the result and definitely think IS is useful, even at wide angle.
I had the opportunity to shoot in low light with this lens and with a 85 1.8, and I was very surprised to realize that handholdability of both lenses was quite the same. Apart from DOF, on a static scene 1.8 @ 1/60 and 5.6 @ 1/10 with IS gave roughly the same small amount of motion blur in my hands.
When I need to stop motion in low light, or a small DOF for portraits, I've got fast primes with a better IQ, but as a one lens walkaround solution this lens is extremely useful, has a better IQ than the kit lens, a longer range and IS.
10 out of 10 points and recommendedFast, sharp, light weight, pricenot really...
This lens is really up to what people say about it...reviewed December 4th, 2006 (purchased for $400)
I use it on a 350D (Rebel XT), as a short tele mostly for indoor (tight) portraits, outdoor portraits, and concerts pictures. It is also funny to use for compressed perspective landscapes and sunsets.
The background blur is very nice for portraits, and the subject isolation at f2 is great.
Maybe it's something personal, but I like the focal length very much. I always found 135 mm a little short in my SLR days, so the 160mm equiv. field of view on the 350D is great.
The lens is very sharp wide open, and it gets even a little better when stopping down (but honestly pixel peeping is required to see the difference).
Colors are great, but on high contrast zones, CA (purple fringing) can be seen wide open. It disappears when stopping down, and compared to the 85 1.8, the 100 is better for CA, but still not perfect on this particular point.
The lens is very compact and gives a perfect balance on the 350D, which is great given the equiv. focal length. It really doesn't feel like a tele.
Bottom line, it's close to perfection, and considering the price, let's say "perfect" !
I hesitated with the 135 f2, which is apparently better wide open, and gives less CA, but dropped it because it's more than twice the price, and because of its size and weight (70% heavier and 50% longer)
10 out of 10 points and recommendedPrice, IQ, size, fastCA wide open
I don't own the lens, but tried it extensively before deciding for it's longer twin, the 100mm f2.reviewed December 4th, 2006
I liked it very much for it's IQ (sharpness and colors), but also for it's compact size, perfect on the 350D (Rebel XT).
The fast f:1.8 was great for my use (indoor portraits and concert pictures), but this lens was too close to my EF-S 60mm macro, and I finally bought the 100mm which is great.
The only negative comment I could make on the lens is its quite pronounced CA in high contrast zones (purple fringing) wide open, and still visible at f2.8. My 100mm seems less affected by the problem.
Nevertheless, it appears only in some particular situations, and can be corrected in PP.
It is definitely a lens I would highly recommend (like 99% of the users I believe...), even more when you take a look at its price...
8 out of 10 points and recommendedGood IQ, very small size, priceContrast and sharpness wide open, noisy autofocus
I tried a friend's 35mmf f:2 on my 350D (Rebel XT), before deciding for the Sigma 30mm 1.4 as a "normal" primereviewed December 4th, 2006
First thing you notice is the AF buzz. Not that loud, but feels like my first AF lens nearly 20 years ago... Anyway, it's reasonably fast and accurate, that's all you want...
The Sigma's AF is faster and more silent, but can miss the point from time to time.
I liked the 35 f2 size and weight a lot. On a 350D it's incredibly light, feels like shooting with the body only !
Generally speaking, the IQ was very good.
On the other hand I was quite disappointed by the performance wide open : at f:2, the images were quite sharp (you could see small details), but with a rather poor contrast (hazy edges).
CA (purple fringing) was also very visible wide open.
As I wanted a fast prime, and planned to use it 80% of the time wide open, this was no good for me.
Compared to the Sigma 30 1.4 I finally bought, my conclusions are quite the opposite of the reviews here. If indeed, the Sigma has quite soft borders at 1.4, past f:2 my copy has a better IQ (sharpness & contrast) than the copy of the 35 I tested. Maybe it's just a matter of good or bad luck, but there it is... (The sigma is also bigger, heavier, and more expensive...)
Bottom line, it is a very good "normal" prime for a DSLR, not expensive, very light and compact, but I'd buy it to use at f:2.8 or above
7 out of 10 points and recommendedVery cheap, lightweightImage quality, build
Considering its price is close to zero when bought with a body, this lens has a good quality/price ratio...reviewed December 5th, 2006
Basically, judging this kind of lens on sharpness, contrast, bokeh, etc... is close to nonsense.
For people coming from point and shoot, buying their first DSLR and with no intention of getting deeper into photography it will be the perfect lens, and that's what it's designed for.
It does its job quite well, focuses where you want to, takes the pictures you want to, with a quite good image quality (no pb for standard size prints or web sized pictures).
And most of all, these pictures are clearly better than the same taken with a point and shoot.
On the other hand, any DSLR will be limited by this lens, IQ, DOF control... you can get much better pictures and possibilities with other lenses (for example budget fast primes like the 35mm f2).
So I would have kept it for snapshots, given its weight and versatility, but in fact, I'm now happier with a fast normal prime for this...
9 out of 10 points and recommendedVery fast wide angle, build qualityYou have to pay the price for its qualities...
I had the opportunity to try this lens when looking for a fast normal prime for my 350D (Rebel XT).reviewed December 5th, 2006
I didn't intend to buy it because of the price, but also because using it on a crop body was paying the price and weight for a very fast wide angle lens, whereas I would use it like a ~40mm, that should be light, cheap and easy to design...
Basically, I've been really impressed by the L build quality and feeling.
The contrast and colors were really great, sharpness was just good at 1.4 but got much better past f:2
This lens really makes sense on a full frame body and is not really exciting on a crop body, but the cropped part I saw was realy good...
8 out of 10 points and recommendedFast light, not too expensive, excellent IQ above f:2Build quality, AF, Soft below f:2
Overall the lens gives excellent results : very sharp pictures with nice contrast and colors all over the frame (on crop body at least).reviewed December 5th, 2006
The build quality is so-so, and the AF a little outdated, but the big showstopper for me was softness at from 1.4 to 2. And on the copy I tested, the IQ at 1.4 was really poor, not just a little lower than f:2
I tried this lens, while hesitating with the EF-S 60 macro 2.8, and the image quality at 1.4 finally made the difference for me and I bought the 60mm.
Nevertheless I still miss a fast lens usable at f2 or below in this range...