Rover's reviews

  • Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    versatility, large max. aperture, stabilization
    build quality, price

    This was a dream lens on my 30D and for over a year, I was making do without any other lenses. Despite that, I was able to shoot pretty much everything in any environment - except sport (which I rarely do) or concerts due to its focal length. The only notable shortcoming is the fact that it's not sealed and therefore vulnerable to dust.

    I had to sold it to get a 70-200/2.8 and a couple more lenses but I still miss it a lot. It would do me no good once I upgrade to 1D anyways but for 30D (and of course 40D/400D/450D) this is the ultimate companion lens.

    reviewed July 28th, 2008 (purchased for $1,350)
  • Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    build, stabilization, image quality, pretty much everything
    weight, color of the barrel

    This is the ultimate tele lens in the Canon lineup... bla bla... to put it short, this lens absolutely friggin' rules.

    And although my primary lens is a wide angle I can't help but marvel the image quality of this optic whenever I put it on. High max aperture is a must for me as well since I'm an "available light" nutter, and I got what I wanted with this lens. Indoor concerts, portraits or outdoor events - it's all no problem for this baby.

    The stabilizer does help out a lot in either dark rooms or at night. Guess I'm a bit spoiled by it because I moved from Minolta where it's body integrated but I just adore it. Even though I have no problem with non-stabilized optics (such as the puny 18-55mm/3.5-5.6 kit) it's a huge asset and to me, well worth the extra money I had to spend on it.

    When I hold it, I get the impression of handling a tank gun. That's actually both a PRO (it's tough like nails) and CON (I never thought that I'd be the one to complain about weight... but using it all day does put a strain on me). Last (and least) it's an attention grabber with its white finish.

    reviewed July 28th, 2008 (purchased for $1,800)
  • Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    wide as hell, good IQ,
    slow max aperture at tele

    I didn't own this lens, just borrowed it from a friend for a business trip because I knew that 17-55 was going to be too narrow for that occasion. And what a trip this was...
    This lens turned out excellent and I soon got addicted. With an UWA like this you can get shots you never thought were possible. It was decent even for indoor shots despite its rather slow and variable maximum aperture (4-5.6). All in all, a really good choice.

    Long story short, eventually I got myself a Tokina 12-24 instead but I still remember this one fondly. Unless you hit a bad sample (it's a Sigma after all) you'll have a lot of fun.

    reviewed July 28th, 2008
  • Sigma 15-30mm f/3.5-4.5 EX DG Aspherical

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    versatile wide angle, alright IQ, great build
    awkward filter system, no HSM

    I had this lens on a Sony / Minolta system I was using awhile ago. While not stellar, it was a very good wide angle lens. It required stopping down to /5.6 and beyond to get a reasonably sharp image but was otherwise quite fine for the price.

    The only real drawback was the awkward filter system - a 82mm glass could be mounted on a front cap adapter, and this caused vignetting on a KonicaMinolta D7D (1.5x FOV crop). It wasn't a HSM lens - not even the Canon / Nikon versions of this Sigma have this - so the AF was a bit slow at times. But again, I got what I paid for.

    reviewed July 28th, 2008 (purchased for $450)
  • Tokina 12-24mm f/4 AT-X 124 AF PRO DX SD

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    wide angle, build, image quality, reasonable max. aperture
    slow AF

    This is currently my mainstay lens. I bought it before the vacation as a replacement for my venerable Canon 17-55 and wasn't disappointed. The extra reach (when compared to the zooms that start at 17 or 18 mm) is immense (maybe I should have gotten a Canon 10-22 because you simply can't go TOO wide!). The image quality is great although I need to stop down to 5.6 or 6.3 (especially at 24 mm) to get the most out of this Tokina.

    Oh yes, and it's of a very solid build. I dropped it on to a pavement once but after the few moments of dread I put it back on my 30D and it worked like nothing has happened.

    The only drawback is a noisy and rather slow (though still snappy) AF. I'm yet to determine if this will preclude me from using this lens efficiently for the general journalistic photography.

    reviewed July 28th, 2008 (purchased for $460)
  • Konica Minolta 28-75mm f/2.8 D AF

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    sharp, well built but compact
    not exactly good range on a D-SLR

    I had this for awhile on a KonicaMinolta 7D. Great sharpness, excellent vivid colors, very pleasant to use. Build quality was good though not spectacular.

    But after some time I found that I didn't use it all too often - a wide angle and tele lenses saw the light of day far more often. Guess it depends on what type of shots you're after.

    reviewed July 28th, 2008 (purchased for $450)
  • Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM APO

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    a well balanced telephoto optic
    slightly yellow tint, not really sharp at 2.8

    I had an old sample of this on a KonicaMinolta body (therefore, the version was non-HSM). It was still much faster than an old Minolta "beercan" (70-210/4), contrast was also better. Sharpness was about the same (read: very good a little stopped down). I liked it a lot, and I've heard that the new version for the Sony/Minolta mount even has HSM. With Sony having their built-in stabilizer system, this Sigma a very good purchase (as the native 70-200/2.8 costs 2.5 times more). For Canon and Nikon, it depends on whether you need stabilization.

    reviewed July 28th, 2008 (purchased for $800)
  • Sigma 14mm f/2.8 EX Aspherical HSM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    wide; great center sharpness at f/4 and less; solid build; autofocus is fast, silent and decisive
    hard to find; bulbous front element - flare and damage/rain/fingerprint risk; you have to use f/8 or less for great sharpness across the frame

    It was a real pain to find one today and get it to its new home. But that is beside the point.

    This lens is a gem. Most of the time it delivers outstanding images with dramatic perspective. Despite the 3mm difference in focal length it's very different (and much wider too) than my 17-35 L. Center sharpness is good from about f/4; corner sharpness is not something to write home about even at f/6.3 which I'm used to for outdoor work; I have to stop down more. At f/2.8 it's a little hazy overall (reduced contrast) and vignettes noticeably even on an 1.3x FOV crop body I'm using.

    The bulbous front element makes this lens near useless in rainy conditions - the image becomes covered with splats. I always find myself shielding the lens with something and always worrying not to get it damaged. However, I knew it was coming, so it's not so much a detracting element for me.

    Flare, however, is this lens' major weakness. You can forget aout this 14mm if you have sun anywhere near the frame, nevermind IN the frame. Maybe some people use it to their advantage; I'm yet to learn this. On the other hand, it's not this particular lens' flaw because every lens with a "lightbulb" front element is doomed to get flare.

    So, a 7 for image quality (technically), a 9 for build quality, and overall a 9. A very special lens which can only be highly recommended (if you can find it) despite the technically "average" image quality.

    reviewed May 2nd, 2010 (purchased for $750)
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    very sharp, silent and accurate AF, tough build, ...

    I bought this lens rather cheaply because of the damaged front part of the barrel with warped filter thread. Looked horrible but the filter could still be mounted. I got that fixed later while repairing an unrelated damage case.
    This lens is very sharp except in the outer corners at wider apertures (usually doesn't matter much). The AF is fast, silent and very accurate - addictive! :) Great weathersealed build that helped me a lot in the deserts of China and the dusty highland of Tenerife.
    I really can't think of any meaningful cons within the specification (16-35mm, f/2.8). It could've been wider but it would've been a different lens already...

    reviewed December 9th, 2011 (purchased for $1,250)
  • Sony E 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS SEL1855

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    fast and silent AF, decently sharp, great build quality
    poor (but better than average in class) aperture, somewhat awkward to MF, visible distortion at 18mm

    Today even the kit lenses are (mostly) decent performers and this lens is no exception. My wife has it on her NEX-3 but I'm using this camera sometimes as well - enough to make an impression.

    The build quality is very good; the only (minor) reasons that prevent me from giving it a "10" are the slightly wobbly plastic inner tube, the slippery metal of the rings that sometimes makes them difficult to turn (esp. when wearing gloves), and lack of distance scale (which, coupled with the fact that manual focusing can only be engaged from the depth of the menus, makes MF rather awkward). The AF is fast, silent and accurate - not something we're used to getting from Sony.

    Optical quality is quite fine. Barrel distortion is visible at the wide end and there's some CA. The sharpness is very decent overall, especially stopped down to f/6.3 or thereabouts on the wide end where the lens is insanely sharp. f/3.5-5.6 aperture is nothing to write home about although this lens is better than most here because it maintains the f/4.5 aperture up to about 48 or 50 mm - not bad! To a point this can be offset by the ability of the NEX to go to very high ISO levels.

    All in all, a very worthy representative of the kit lens category.

    reviewed December 9th, 2011