CWS Holiday Gift Item #6 was previously featured in a blog post in the fall called "17 Elements Of Awesomeness" & it awesomeness is fully affirmed by this article in the New York Times that appeared last week.
We're talking about the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Art lens, the market’s first zoom lens to achieve a maximum aperture F1.8 throughout the entire zoom range.
This revolutionary, wide aperture, standard zoom lens is created for DSLR cameras with APS-C size sensors, which translates to a focal range of 27-52.5mm on a 35mm camera. With a minimum focusing distance of 11 inches, and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:4.3, the 18-35mm is ideal for landscapes, portraits, still-life, studio, close-up and casual photography.The 18-35mm is the latest addition to the company’s Art line of lenses & incorporates Sigma’s improved AF/MF switch and the use of Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) compound material, which has a high affinity to metal parts, consistently performs well at extreme temperatures, and reduces the size and weight of the lens.
A more detailed review of the lens can be found here from Gizmodo. Available currently in Canon mount (Nikon & others coming shortly) for $799.