I want to get a wide angle lens for my Canon Rebel XT. Do I have to go with a Canon wide angle lens for quality? The price seems kind of prohibitive. Does anyone have experience with some of the less expensive brands?
I have a Sigma 10-20mm 4-5.6 I use on a Nikon. About $500 new. It is a little slow but for what I use it for mostly I don't need a really fast lens. So far I like it although I don't use it as much as I thought I would when I first bought it. I will try to post up a pic or 2 taken with the lens.
I tend to patronize one local camera shop. When I have something on my wish list they keep me in mind. I recently picked up a used Nikkor Zoom lens (widish angle) through them for $75.00. It is super clear.
I have mostly Sigma lenses and love them. I think they have quality lenses and I saw something on their website that stated they DO NOT sell lenses that don't meet their quality standards. I bought many of their lenses for my old film camera and they work fine on my digital camera (same lense mount). If I would have bought the camera manufacture's lenses for the camera I would have spent a great deal more for the same lense. In fact, I plan on getting a Sigma Macro (the 105mm which is an actual 1:1 macro) in the near future. I have a macro but it is not fast enough and is not a 1:1 which makes a huge difference in what I want to do.
One thing to consider, when looking at what lenses to get, really think about the pictures you take. Sure it is cool to have a super fast lense but if you would rarely use the max speed of the lense do you really need it or could you save a few bucks and go with a slower lense (ie F1.4 vs F3.5)? Just my thoughts.
Not sure if you get your lens yet, but here is my experience with Canon lens. I agree with what above said about Sigma lens. They are pretty good. I have use several of them without any problem, the 10mm/2.8 is excellent for the 1.6x factor bodies that you have now. The only problem I have "heard" about Sigma is the consistency of quality control. There are consistence reports about "lemon" lens in sigma. This might be the risk in buying Sigma lens.
Overall, I feel Nikon are better at the wide angles range lens than Canon. But reverse it true in long range lens. (well... personal opinion again). So if I were you (a Canon user), I will try try out the sigma lens, because the Performance versus price ration are higher.
Just as there's no free lunch in life, you get what you pay for in camera lenses, especially wide angle zooms. Inexpensive zooms frequently exhibit barrel or pincushion distortion, soft focus at the edges, and vignetting (images that are darker in the corners than in the center.)
Try this simple test: stand directly in front of a doorway, set your zoom to the widest angle, orient your camera to portrait (vertical), and take a picture of the door head on. Inexpensive lenses will produce an image in which the sides of the door frame seem to curve outward or inward. Expensive, pro-quality lenses are designed and manufactured to reduce or eliminate such image imperfections.