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  Reviews by: dkmiles1  

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Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Jan 12, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $369.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Decent build, great optics for the money, fast accurate focus, smooth and buttery bokeh - one of the single best values in the entire Canon line up
None, especially when you consider the price of the lens

I put together a pretty comprehensive review of this lens on YouTube, you can check it out here;

In a nutshell, the is a top notch lens even when you don't consider the price point, when price is factored in then its one of the single best values (if not the best value) in the entire Canon line up...

As much fanfare as there has been about the new Sigma - and I've seen some of the posts, the results from that lens look great - its nearly triple the cost of the Canon, and its optically maybe 5% better... The 85mm 1.8 is nearly a no-brainer...

Great for portraits and low light shooting, its a great deal, enjoy!!!

Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 IF EX DG HSM

Review Date: Oct 11, 2010 Recommend? | Price paid: $899.00

Pros: 2nd Review - I'd like to revise my rating - Great Color, Fast Focus, solid build
Inconsistent focus, IQ on the edges of the frame not as good as they should be...

Every photographer has had this happen to them, you unintentionally leave a piece of equipment at home, even though you have prepared and prepared and prepared for the wedding day, you can forget something. It happens.

I grabbed my lens case for my trusty Canon 28-70 f/2.8 when I left the house, however when I got to the wedding and opened the bag the lens inside was none other than my backup Sigma 24-70mm... Oops. I made the lens switch from the ceremony to catch the ride from to the reception aboard a horse and chariot... Needless to say and left with no choice, I was forced and anxious to use the Sigma under any circumstance... Bottom line is, the photos came out much better than I thought they would have. Given my experience with this lens and its various focussing issues, it really came through for me. I even used it during the reception and I (as well as the bride) was pleased with the results.

You can check out some of the images here... These were from the ride on the chariot to the reception. Poor lighting - it was DARK - hence a lot of noise - but the focus was pretty good under the circumstances...

I would now rate this lens a 9

Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 IF EX DG HSM

Review Date: Aug 21, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $899.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Good color rendition, fast focus, versatile, *MUCH* better on a crop than the full-frame cameras it was designed for
My first Sigma lens - major focusing issues - it wasn't even close, sent it in three times, the third time was a charm, focusses "good enough" "Most of the time"

I once read somewhere on a random review (I think on Amazon) - someone said that they would never use a Sigma lens on a paid assignment. My experience with this particular lens leaves me with the exact same feeling. When the focus hits (and it hits only about 70% of the time) the results are just stunning, REALLY stunning. I also find that focus is more reliable when I use the center focus point - which makes for more boring photos and more time in post processing to creatively crop the images - however, when I use any of the edge focus points (using a Canon 5Dc) I miss a lot more shots - maybe about a 30-40% keeper rate.

These focus issues still occur after this particular lens has been sent to Sigma service 3 times, TWICE with my 5D.

This is all the more disappointing because I want to love this lens and it has the potential to be something special. It has solid build quality, and focuses quickly and as previously stated when it hits, I simply LOVE the results.

It's a little soft at 2.8 but shines at 4.0 and higher - where depth of field is wider and makes it more likely to obtain an acceptable (in-focus) shot.

Given all of the reviews I've read, no one lens manufacturer suffers from this kind of production variance (focusing issues) more than Sigma. I am not opposed to 3rd party lenses, for example I LOVE Tokina lenses, and I've never had focussing issues with any that I've owned.

So when do I use this lens? When I am at an event that isn't paid and I'm taking photos for fun with family and friends when a lower keeper rate is more acceptable.

So gun-shy am I to bring this lens to a paid evet that I went ahead and bought a used EF28-70 f/2.8 L (Stellar lens, mine is just amazing) for the 5Dc and an EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 to go with my 7D. My Sigma collects a lot of dust unless I'm at a relative's birthday party...

If you're a hobbyist who can live with a lower keeper rate, there is nothing wrong with this lens per se, but given Sigma's EX designation (for Excellence, i.e. Sigma's version of "L" glass) and the price point - its not cheap - if you're a pro, with this kind of focus, its just not acceptable...

Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Aug 21, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $799.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extraordinary image quality when mated with a 7D, great travel lens, Versatile, Fast Focus, Tack sharp
"Slow" i.e. not a constant aperture, no problem if you're outdoors, but low light indoors then this lens need not apply

I bought this lens the day it came available at Adorama, so I was an early adopter. When outdoors, I find the image quality simply breathtaking (you can check my brief review and sample images here especially at sunset.

Build quality is high - for an EF-S lens (consumer grade) its mostly plastic - high grade plastic - and only suffers from minor lens creep.

Focus is ultrasonic and therefore lightening fast.

Some of the best images I've taken have been with this lens and my 7D - they're a great combo, and oh by the way, if your subject is stationary, you can get good results in low light with as little as a 1/4 to 1/10 of a sec - that's how good the IS is on this lens. Moving subjects indoors or in low light is another story completely... Given the "slowness" of the lens f/3.5-5.6, you'd better crank up the ISO (3200 or higher) and use a flash in order to freeze the action... If you're shooting outdoors or in good light, this lens is a winner! If you need a versatile low light lens, then you better opt for the EF-S 17-55.

A little overpriced for a non constant aperture lens, apart from that though, I highly recommend it (outdoors)!

Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM

Review Date: Jul 27, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Stellar Optical Performance! Ultra fast focus, an absolute must for low-light photography and a must for wedding shooters using a cropped frame camera
Help! I'm an L lens trapped in a cheap EFS body!

Hear me out on this one, I just gave up the very well built and excellent Tokina 16-50 2.8, the ONLY reason why I gave it up was because I needed IS in low light situations. Apart from that, I had no desire whatsover to sell it, but I had to given the direction my photography is taken. On to the 17-55 - I can't believe Canon has the gaul to charge this much (Just north of $1,000) for this lens with;

a.) No lens hood - virtually all 3rd party lenses come with the hood, are built better and cost hundreds less.

b.) A mostly plastic body...

Its high time Canon considered making an L series lens with the EF-S designation, especially when the cropped frame cameras outsell the full framers by a wide margin - I'm beside myself when I consider the 70-200mm L f/4 (non-IS) is made of magnesium, has a lens hood, a lens pouch - yet it costs $300 - $400 less than this lens!!

All of that said, and even with all my negative feelings about the build, hood and no pouch - all is forgiven once I see the results of the images.

At the end of the day, optically, this is a stellar lens, killer in low light, the IS is absolute must if you do any sort of event photography, if you're an APS-C user (XXD, 7D, and Rebel series) there really isn't a suitable alternative that gives you the range, the f-stop and the IS in the ef-s (or third party) lineup to suit pros - the new Sigma 17-50 2.8 is a recent possibility - essentially what we have here is an L professional series lens trapped in a consumer body... Optically (and a lack of competition for cropped sensor lenses) the price is justified, but that's about it... Tokina are you listening?

Canon EF 28-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Jul 24, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $850.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Solid Construction, Great rendering of color, Images come to life when paired with my 5Dc
Its a risky investment because at a minimum they're 8 years old. Canon's gotta be getting low on parts inventory so repair could be a costly venture

I agonized over this one for awhile. Do I plunk down the $1350 or so for the 24-70 or do I take a chance on a used 28-70mm, which according to several reviews is just as good if not better than the 24-70 (see - both samples tested better than the three 24-70s he's tested over there) and save $400 - $500?

I saw a mint one on eBay and took a chance. It's been blissful! I've used it in the gym for basketball games under crummy lighting and it just shines. I've used it for portraits and my subjects just LOVE the results. I've used it for group shots and panoramic photos (with photoshop CS5) - in nearly every application the results have been just stellar.

Build quality is excellent - though not weather sealed - the zoom works backwards, the wide end had the glass extended and the zoom has the lens contracted... If you have the big lens hood on no one will notice, just an oddity...

If you're willing to take a chance, you can save yourself some money and grab a good one of these on eBay or here on FM. You won't be disappointed, I'm glad I did!

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 PRO DX SD

Review Date: Mar 19, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $629.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: 2.8, Sharp, Sharp, Sharp! My real estate clients think I am a genius, price, AWESOME Tokina build quality!
Some CA on the edges

I use this lens regularly for my real estate shots. My clients see the pictures afterwards and think I am a genius! What you lose in range, you gain in quality! 11-16mm is very useful and the image quality compares favorably with primes. You can also use this lens on the FF 5D and 5D Mark II (but only at 16mm) - which is wider than the 1.6 crops the lens was designed for and the photos look great. I sold my Canon EF-S 10-22 (which is an excellent lens) to buy the Tokina (which is that much better, really, it is - MUCH MUCH sharper on the edges) - if you're on the fence, buy it, you won't regret it...

Canon EOS 5D

Review Date: Feb 13, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Image Quality is just fantastic - makes my L lenses (70-200 F/4 IS) just shine!
Dust magnet (which everyone seems to already know), clunky controls, no live view, only 3 fps

I use this camera in conjunction with my 7D. I refer to the 5D as my "Artist" while the 7D gets my "Athlete" designation.

Combined with the 70-200 f/4 L IS, the 5D is nothing short of breathtaking for outdoor beach shots - check out this shoot from last week on the beach in Southwest Florida.

It helps when the subjects are just gorgeous and the sunset is perfect and of course the fact that you're on the beach too. But just the same, you get the idea, the camera rocks!

At its very core the 5D is an artistic camera for photographers - it simply takes great pictures.

Don't hesitate to pull the trigger is your most important goal is image quality. You won't regret the decision. Great camera!

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Jan 22, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,129.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Just Dazzling! Sharp, sharp, sharp! Fast focus, great bokeh (as good if not better than most primes), solid build quality, IS makes me 10x the photographer I think I am...
None, zip, zero, nada!

The most dazzling lens in my bag, all of the rumors about how great it is are not overplayed, they're all true. It just doesn't get any better than this!

Check out how sharp here;

The two kids on the front were taken with this lens...

If you have the funds, and you're on the fence, get it, you won't be disappointed!

Tokina 16-50mm f/2.8 AT-X 165 AF PRO DX SD

Review Date: Jan 22, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $549.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, solid, solid build quality, relatively quiet focus, relatively fast focus - is not the buzzsaw the Tamron 17-50 is, manual focus ring, constant 2.8 aperture....
Low light focus tends to search a bit, heavy -

Build quality just doesn't get any better than this! I bought this lens because I have the Tokina 11-16mm which has just been stellar. This lens is sort of the 'red-headed step child' of the Tokina line-up and there aren't too many reviews out there. Not sure why, its an excellent lens and a great alternative to the Canon EFS 17-55 for the budget-challenged. Its priced between the Tamron and the Canon, but the Tamron's AF Motor sounds like a buzz-saw, so not very good during the wedding vows. Admittedly the Tokina is not as quiet as the ultrasonic in the Canon, but its virtually silent compared to the Tamron and not intrusive.

Tamron and Canon get all the headlines and attention in this focal range but the Tokina is certainly worth consideration if you don't have the budget. Build quality wise it is head and shoulders above both the Tam and the Can, optical quality wise it's just under the Canon and the same or slightly better than the Tamron.

This thing literally lives on my 7D and combined they're a great combination. A great deal for the money!