My life in cameras 3b: Canon EOS 20D and Sigma AF 70-300/4-5,6 DL review

Remember that I just bought a camera way over my budget and so could not afford any lenses beside the cheap kit lens that came with the camera? At that time I really thought I needed a telephoto lens so I went to the store (yes a physical store) and bought a cheap Sigma telephoto lens (this is a similar lens). I can’t really tell you why I needed such a lens as I never did much photography that involved those longer focal lengths. I guess it was just something one had to own?

Nevertheless it was a cheap lens with middling sharpness and very slow autofocus. In bright daylight it was alright but indoors or at dusk it’s limits became obvious. Looking through my catalogue of photos I did not take many pictures with it. It also added another 500g to the already heavy camera. After a few years the autofocus motor broke and I sold it on Ebay.

Canon EOS 20D and Sigma AF 70-300: Examples

Canon EOS 20D and Sigma AF 70-300nd: Highrise Apartment Block
“High Rise” (2007) Canon EOS 20D and Sigma AF 70-300/4-5,6 DL 70mm@F13 1/640s ISO 200

I would absolutely hate to live in one of those prefab highrises but I am very intrigued by their design. These blocks are typical for East Germany and were used as a kind of centerpiece for the newly built neighborhoods. They would dominate a central plaza with supermarkets and shops. One floor could house more people than one of the many pre-WWI brick buildings common in Berlin. In East Germany these blocks were often called “worker lockers” because the tenants would commute to work and just arrive in their new flats to eat and sleep. I think on top of this building you can rent an apartment furnished like an 1980s East German flat.

Canon EOS 20D and Sigma AF 70-300nd: A unique apartment
“Loft” (2006) Canon EOS 20D + Sigma AF 70-300/4-5,6 DL 133mm@F6.3 1/2000s ISO 200

Quite in contrast are these old brick buildings dating to the time before World War I. They were build very close together and usually connected with adjacent buildings to form blocks corresponding with the street grid. Many houses were destroyed in the Second World War and rebuilt from the rubble. Sometimes they never rebuild the last floor and just put a new roof over the building, sometimes they added another flat instead of a new roof. I do not know how this construction came to be but it is surely an interesting apartment up there. Because there is a playground below the tenants have a nice view of the street corner.

Canon EOS 20D and Sigma AF 70-300: Commuter Train
“Dirty Commute” (2005) Canon EOS 20D + Sigma AF 70-300/4-5,6 DL 133mm@F4.5 1/125s ISO 400

I have weakness for rail travel and especially like dirty diesel powered trains. Sure sleek electric bullet trains are great but they lack a certain charm. These trains were built from the 1970s up to the 1990s. This one was certainly around 30 years old. They are rather small and slow and mostly used for rural or provincial routes. Taking pictures of trains was one of the uses for this telephoto lens because one could not really get any closer without danger. I was never really into train photography but whenever I had access to a track or went traveling myself I would take a few shots.

Canon EOS 20D and Sigma AF 70-300: Brake Shoe
“Brake Shoe” (2004) Canon EOS 20D + Sigma AF 70-300/4-5,6 DL 300mm@F5.6 1/250s ISO 200

Getting closer. I took this shot from the train station across the tracks. Usually I would just get closer but I could not really cross the tracks here. Besides this is Germany and crossing the tracks can be a criminal offense if something happens. So I took a quick snapshot and used the full 300mm of this lens while waiting for my train. I actually quite like the atmosphere of train stations and when not in a rush like to wait for my train and use the time to take pictures.