7 out of 10 points and recommendedCost, weight/quality, image qualityaperture
This lens is primarily for anybody looking for a zoom lens with good image quality that is also affordable, with the abundance of consumer-quality 70/75-300mm range lenses, most of them really don't provide sufficient image quality for a serious photographer.reviewed December 28th, 2006 (purchased for $550)
This is relatively inexpensive pro-quality lens that offers some major benefits: 1. is obviously the price while supplying great image quality. 2. Is the weight for a pro quality lens.
I recently took a backpacking trip in Colorado (1 week long, so every pound on your back adds up FAST), and this was one of the 2 lenses I took with. On a 20D (also a great camera to bring on these kind of things if you don't want the weight of a pro body), the lens provides sufficient reach for most any purposes except for extreme-range wildlife.
The only thing worth mentioning against it is that because of the slowish aperture (medium-fast for a consumer, but slow for a pro) or IS, the lens has limited use on very cloudy days, or during twilight without a tripod.
The build quality also seemed quite sufficient for me. I'm somewhat clumsy, and never baby my gear, so I've got nicks and scratches all over the barrel, and this lens has never failed me in an operational or image quality standpoint.
All around a great lens for anybody who wants good quality in a relatively light package.
6 out of 10 points and recommendedCost, sizeBuild Quality, aperture
This lens makes a good walkaround lens for somebody who wants something with a longer reach than a kit lens. The IS feature works well for this kind of use, but the slow aperture (especially at the long end) pretty heavily limits it to pretty bright situations if anything is moving.reviewed December 28th, 2006
My personal experience showed that the largest problem with this lens was primarily the build quality. I don't baby my gear, and in the course of scrambling some rocks in Utah the camera swung (it was on the strap around my neck) into the rocks. While it was moving somewhat quick, the scratches on the barrel appeared to be essentially surfacy.
Shortly thereafter, in extremely difficult to predict situations, I noticed massive blurring issues on the left side of my frames (this is on a 20D, so I'd hate to see how bad it was on a full-frame). It made the lens almost completely unusable for serious work, and later sold it as-is.
If you shoot in pretty comfortable situations, this lens ought to serve pretty well. The cost makes it a good choice for a walk-around lens for a non-pro, especially if there is any sharing between film and digital bodies.
9 out of 10 points and recommendedImage quality, cost, size, apertureAPS-C
This is my favorite lens in my arsenal. The lens is usably sharp wide-open and gets better very quickly. OOF areas blur wonderfully, and combined with a shallow Depth of Field, this lens makes a superb portrait lens.reviewed December 28th, 2006 (purchased for $355)
Build quality seems tough, and I haven't had any issues there. The manual focus ring is extremely smooth and has a very good feel.
My only complaint of note is that this lens on an APS-C camera, like a 20D, makes shooting anything other than tight headshots require quite a bit of space. I work in fairly limited studio space, and this makes it a second-choice when shooting even head and shoulders, because I just can't back up far enough.
I highly recommend this lens.