No, I haven't been abducted by aliens, I've just been very busy with a few other projects and simply haven't had time to write anything for the site for a while!
However I haven't given up on photography and I have a few reviews in the works. I'll give you a really quick rundown on what I've been looking at and what's going to be written up (I promise) over the next month or so:
(1) Canon EOS 7D. I bought one (no deals from Canon, I paid the same price as anyone else). That should tell you what I think about it. I'm not easily parted from my money! Excellent camera. Feels very good, very solid. AF certainly better then the old 40D/50D. Excellent resolution, great HD video and every bell and whistle you may ever need. This is the best crop-sensor camera I've shot with so far. I reviewed the 7D some time back, but I'll have more to say about it now I'm actually an owner.
(2) Canon EOS 60D . I've already reviewed the 60D, but that review was based only on shooting with a pre-production version for a couple of hours. I'll be writing something based on a longer test. The 60D is great value. It has the same sensor as the 7D and the tilt/swivel LCD makes it more useful for video work. It lacks some of the refinements of the 7D (simpler AF system, fewer bells and whistles, slower frame rate, no AF microadjustment etc.), but it's still a great camera for most amateurs.
(3) Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 SP Di VC USD XLD. Tamron are advertising this lens as "best in its class" and I'm not going to greatly disagree with that. Compared with the Canon Canon EF 70-300/4-5.6 IS USM its as sharp in the center at 300mm and it's better at the edges. It's also very sharp at shorter focal lengths. I think (but don't quote me on this yet) that the Canon IS (image stabilization) is slightly better than the Tamron VC (vibration control), but both are pretty good and provide at least 2-3 stops of stabilization. At $399 (after main in rebate) the Tamron 70-300 VC is great value. Recommended.
(4) Sigma SD15. I've been looking at this camera and though it has some very interesting features, I'm not sure it's great value at almost $1000. It uses a Foveon sensor with 14MP, but that 14MP pixel count is for three color sensors (R, G, B) at each pixel position. There are only 4.6 million pixel locations and resolution inevitably suffers, though it's very good considering the pixel count and certainly better than a 4.6MP conventional (Bayer matrix) sensor. The camera does have some unique features, such as a removable IR/UV blocking filter which (when removed) enables high IR sensitivity, but overall I can't see spending almost $1000 for a camera with somewhat restricted resolution and no live view or video capability when there are some very attractive and full featured options from Canon and Nikon (not to mention Sony, Pentax and Olympus) available for lower cost. Next year Sigma promise a high pixel count SD1 camera which could be quite interesting.
(5) Sigma 30mm f1.4 HSM. Unfortunately I only had a Sigma mount lens available and there were some focus issues on the SD15, but using manual focus I was impressed with the overall image quality and sharpness of this lens, even wide open. DOF is narrow at 30mm and f1.4 so you need to focus carefully. If you need a really fast normal lens for a crop sensor camera either for low light work or for selective focus, I'd certainly consider this lens.
(6) Sigma 18-50/2.8-4.5 OS. An interesting lens and 1/2 stop faster than slower lenses like the Canon EF 18-50/3.5-5.6 IS. After a very brief test I'd say that it's not a bad lens. If I was buying such a lens and already had a camera, I'd be tempted to go for the Sigma, since it's only about $10 more than the slower Canon lens. However the Canon lens is available for about $100 less when purchased in a kit with a camera, so if it was included in such a kit, I'd probably go with the Canon lens.
So that's the very brief December update. Once the holidays are over I'll have more time for more extensive review write-ups (I hope!).
I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season.