Wolfini's reviews

  • Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    IQ, size, weight, f2,8, price

    This is my favourite walk-around lens for standard use, including landscape, cityscape, people, etc. (on a Canon 30d)

    IQ is really right up there with the big boys, and I can compare it to a 85/1,8 or a 200/2,8L.

    Contrast is great, and I also like the colors although there is definitely a yellow cast. (Let´s call it "warm")

    Sharpness is very good at 2,8 and gets even better when stopping down.

    I also have to mention the very compact size and weight, which make it very useful to carry around all day long, which is really impressive for a constant f2,8 zoom.

    So, the AF .... I consider myself lucky, as my specimen focuses fast and accurately - AT 50mm!

    At WA settings the focus is more hit and miss (more miss then hit) - BUT: fortunately this lens is parfocal, which means, that focus is not changed by zooming. So I always focus at 50mm, and then zoom out to the appropriate setting. Yes, that is annoying sometimes, but the great IQ I get from such a small and light lens makes it worthwhile for me. (I should add that I have put AF on the *-key, so I do not have to refocus for every shot).

    I also have an AF-issue when using the AF-illuminator of an external flash unit. Unfortunately my local Sigma service (Vienna) was not able to fix this, although I have read on the internet, that a solution for this specific issue exists. Pity. But I do not use flash very often anyway, and when I do I use other lenses.

    Still: despite of its flaws I love the lens and even more so the pictures it produces, am very happy with it and will recommend it to anyone who asks me.

    reviewed January 5th, 2007 (purchased for $580)
  • Tokina 12-24mm f/4 AT-X 124 AF PRO DX SD

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Build, AF, IQ, Range

    Actually I wanted to buy a Sigma 10-20, but I was leaving for vacation and the Sigma was not yet available back then, so I got the Tokina und use it now on my Canon 30d. So far I feel no regrets whatsoever about this choice. Actually 12mm is very wide indeed, and I am glad to have 24mm with this lens, as this is a wide-normal focal length that IMHO is very useful.

    The build quality is great. Maybe I would wish for the lens to be a bit smaller and lighter, but it is still very compact und handles nicely.

    In practical use I always was very happy with the pictures it produced, although you have to closely watch your exposure, to make sure to get best contrast - but I guess that is the nature of ultra-wideangle.

    When I was doing some real test shots lately (straight wall etc.) I noticed for the first time, that at f4 and f5,6 the borders are noticeably softer than the center, but from f8 on sharpness is very nice all over the frame - and I guess you will use this at f8 and f11 mostly.

    Although I have to say that I found another unexpected use for this lens, which is indoor night pictures. When only one lamp or two are lit you get very nice "isles of light" in a dark picture by using a wide angle, and the short focal length and f4,0 make the lens very handholdable for such a use.

    Sharpness may be not quite as great as with eg my primes (24, 85, 200), but it is still very good, and eg much better than my 28-135 IS.

    The only real optical flaw are quite strong CAs- but I can live with that.

    So: Highly Recommended

    reviewed January 5th, 2007 (purchased for $650)
  • Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Range, IS, AF, close distance
    Contrast, long distance

    This is a little difficult to review, as I have many different experiences with the optical performance.

    To concentrate on the good things first I can say that the range is very useful for some applications, the build quality is absolutely satisfactory for my needs, AF is fast and accurate, and IS can be quite useful at times.

    IQ is a mixed bag. After shooting with the lens for about 3 years, I have the feeling that results at close range are really great. So for portraits and walks with family and friends this is really a very good lens with great IQ. Also the focal length range is ideal for this purpose.

    On the other hand long range results are often quite disappointing, with low contrast and resolution, dull colors and some decentering flaws appearing here and there. So although this would be a great kit together with an Ultra-WA, I prefer to leave the lens at home for landscape outings, as I know I might be disappointed (although some shots may still turn out very nicely).

    Perhaps I should also add, that I have very high demands about IQ, and compare this to some of the best glass out there (85/1,8, 200/2,8L, Sigma 18-50/2,8).

    reviewed January 5th, 2007 (purchased for $450)
  • Sigma 24mm f/1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    IQ, build, price
    size and weight, performance wide open

    I use this lens on a Canon 30d and like the range as a "wide normal" (38mm equivalent) very much.

    Because of the large aperture you can shoot indoors at normal lighting without flash - although I usually stop down to at least f2,2, as 1,8 is very soft (hazy).

    In very low light the AF is not very reliable, and manual focus is hard, too, when you´re using a large aperture. At least the manual focus ring is very good, and personally I like the clutch mechanism and do not mind the two-step progress for MF/AF.

    Apart from 1,8 IQ is great: very sharp and wonderful contrast and colors. Shooting directly into the sun or lamps will produce some small flare spots, but contrast hardly suffers.

    My gripe with the lens is the size - a normal prime should be small and light to carry, and this one is neither. So I do not use it very often, also because I have a very good Sigma 18-50/2,8, which is almost the equal in IQ.

    Still: for those moments, when you need the fast lens or just feel like shooting prime I can recommend this.

    reviewed January 5th, 2007 (purchased for $360)
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

    6 out of 10 points and recommended
    light weight, small, cheap, optical performance stopped down
    IQ wide open, AF

    I got this lens in a kit together with a used D30 I bought some years ago.

    This is not my favourite lens for several reasons:
    - on crop I personally don´t like the focal length very much
    - my copy is quite weak wide open, I have to stop down to f2,2 for accetable and f2,8 for good results. From f4 it´s really very good.

    AF performance on my old D30 was hit and miss, on my new 30d it´s much better.

    Still, I can recommend this lens to anyone who is looking for a cheap, light weight lens mainly for outdoor use stopped down or for low light use when needed.

    reviewed January 5th, 2007
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    IQ, AF, weight, size, price - almost everything
    CA at harsh contrast edges, tendency to overexpsose outdoors

    Now THIS is a lens after my taste :)

    Very very sharp even wide open - I really don´t notice any improvement by stopping down.

    Great color and contrast. Creamy bokeh.

    Fast and very accurate AF.

    Very compact size and relatively light weight.

    I love to use this lens for portraits in studio settings, but also at informal gatherings to pick out faces from the crowd (I use it on a 30d). It´s also nice as a small tele solution for landscape shooting. It even combines nicely with my Kenko 1,4 TC - although some contrast is lost there, but the sharpness remains great, especially stopped down a little.

    And the best: it´s cheap, I payed EUR 300 for mine (used). Compare this to the offerings of other brands - Canon is really nice to us here ;)

    My only two complaints:
    - CA wide open (rather purple fringing?)
    - my copy seems to overexpose outdoors, which can be easily handled with -2/3 EC.

    reviewed January 5th, 2007 (purchased for $300)
  • Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    IQ, AF, size, price
    (focal length on crop, weight)

    This is a really great lens. Actually I have the "old" version with the built in lenshood.

    IQ is great in every way: sharpness, contrast, color, flare, CA, I really cannot imagine a better lens here.

    Combined with a Kenko 1,5 TC it´s still very good, and even with a 2x TC (Kenko Pro300) it´s very usable as a 400mm, although there is some softening with a halo-like effect.

    Construction is also very good, but the downside of this is, that the lens is quite heavy when you want to carry it eg on hiking trips.

    Unfortunately I don´t use this very much, as it´s too long on crop for my everyday needs like portraits, and for outdoors it´s a bit too heavy. But it is a wonderful zoo-lens!

    Still, as I payed only EUR 400 (used) I cannot imagine to ever part from this great lens.

    reviewed January 5th, 2007 (purchased for $520)
  • Canon EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

    5 out of 10 points and not recommended
    build, AF
    contrast, distortions, range

    This lens has a nice feel and build, and a fast and accurate AF.

    But the IQ never could convince me. As a wideangle I used it for landscapes and cityscapes, and found the contrast and colors to be lacking. Also straight lines in the middle of the frame got distorted.

    I also felt that the 35mm was too short for me, as quick portraits turned out strangely distorted.

    So I switched to the Sigma 18-50/2,8 which is a much better lens IMHO (apart from some AF issues).

    reviewed January 5th, 2007 (purchased for $415)
  • Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    IQ, IQ, IQ!! IS; reasonable weight and size
    prize, white color

    What a lens. IQ is fantastic: sharp to the edges from wide open, wonderful contrast and colors, no ca, no flare.... The resolution is so high, that on my 30d I often see jagged pixels on diagonals at 100% view. Last weekend I took some flower pics, and the colors were wonderfully rich and saturated even in Neutral Picstyle.

    I have compared this to the marvelous 200/2,8 L, and the zoom is better by far in the corners down to f8,0. In the center there is no visible difference. Only in use with a TC the prime wins in the center, but again loses in the corners.

    My only (small) niggle is, that the AF hit rate seems to be not as high as with the prime, probably because the special AF-Sensor of the 30d is only actitvated with f2,8 lenses. Still this far from a problem, just that from time to time the AF is a bit off (not systematically).

    IS is good, 1/15s is possible with luck.

    I just bought the lens a few weeks before Cashback began in Europe, which is a pity, because now it would cost me EUR 200 less... and for (now) 880 Eur after CB this lens really is worth the money. Most Highly Recommende!

    reviewed April 19th, 2007 (purchased for $1,490)
  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    f1,4, size, HSM, build, general IQ
    AF, corner sharpness

    I bought this lens for available light pics in social situations like parties etc. For this purpose it works well, and even at 1,4 I can get super sharp pics.

    Unfortunately the AF is a bit hit and miss in low light. I would say I get 80% usable pics in low light, or 30% very sharp. That´s not so bad in my view, I just take more ;)

    In good light the AF is much more reliable, though with very large apertures you get AF-misses as well.

    The corners are very soft at large apertures, but so far that was no problem, as usually the center is more important than the corners when taking pics in bad light. The soft area gets smaller when stopping down, but is fully gone only at f11.

    I had the Sigma 24/1,8 EX before, and the 30 fits my needs much better (sharpness wide open, AF, size). The 24 is much softer wide open, but the corners clear up sooner and are great from 2,8 or f4 on.

    I can only recommend this lens when the large aperture is needed und often used in available light situations, whereas for a real "normal" lens the drawbacks (AF; corners) might be annoying.

    reviewed April 19th, 2007 (purchased for $400)