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  Reviews by: David Baldwin  

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Tamron 70-300MM F/4-5.6 LD Macro AF

70300mm
Review Date: Mar 7, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Price, light weight, good image quality if used carefully
Cons:
No image stabilization, but what do you expect for this price.

Tamron 70-300mm F4/5.6 DI LD Macro

If you need a reasonable longish focal length lens, but money is a problem, this Tamron is well worth a good look.

Its basically a middle of the road lens for those who can't afford to spend a lot of money on a pro level zoom.

The build is quite good and is surprisingly light. The image quality is good (not incredible) even on a 20 mpx full frame sensor, as long as you shoot in the range f9-f11 and use a tripod for longer exposures (this lens has no image stabilization). I shoot using RAW with a 5D2 and process in ACR and on the basis I don't have 1200 for a pro level zoom at present this 95 Tamron is allowing me to take shots I wouldn't otherwise be able to:

http://www.nightfolio.co.uk/subpages/la35.html

In short, if you don't need to shoot at wide apertures, don't need ultrafast AF for sports or flying birds, and can use a tripod in lower light, then this is a good lens photographically speaking. If you factor in its incredibly affordable price tag and low weight its a wonderful deal, just don't expect top of the line features!


 
Canon EOS 5D Mark II

5DII_1_
Review Date: Aug 26, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: IQ! High ISO performance in low light is amazing. Batteries last a long time between charges Lovely white balance with studio flash. Anti dust features work well.
Cons:
Prefer the AF on my 7D

I was a relatively early adopter of the 5D2 which I bought for night landscape/architectural photography. I have been very impressed with the camera's low light, high ISO performance. Pairing a 5D2 with a 24L f1.4 results in a wonderful night outfit for my purposes:

http://www.nightfolio.co.uk/subpages/sm001.html
http://www.nightfolio.co.uk/revisit/pges/ch005.html
http://www.nightfolio.co.uk/revisit/pges/ch009.html
http://www.nightfolio.co.uk/revisit/pges/ch002.html
http://www.nightfolio.co.uk/revisit/pges/ch004.html

I am very pleased with the camera, and consider its price to be money well spent. I do prefer the AF on my 7D however. Very pleased with Canon's anti-dust technology as the sensor has required very little cleaning.


 
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM

EF24_14LII
Review Date: Sep 23, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent sharpness once stopped down a bit. Excellent CA control compared to the Mk1. Superbly built.
Cons:
Sharpness at f1.4 disappointing. For astrophotography at f1.4 corner coma is still a real problem. Expensive.

I bought this lens for lowlight and astro photography as I used the Mk1 but was unhappy with the old lens' extreme chromatic aberrations at wide apertures.

On the Mk2 I should say at once that the CA correction is superb. I use my lens for astronomical imaging, and for this I subjectively find the lens' performance showing stars as round points of light at f1.4 and f1.6 disappointing, there is still a large amount of coma particularly in the corners. This is one weakness of the old Mk1 that I had hoped would have been significantly improved in the new lens.

However there is a large jump in quality at f1.8, and in the range f2-f.2.2 the corners improve dramatically. Once stopped down further the lens is superbly sharp even into the corners on the 5D2.

The lens is large but stunningly well built.

I am glad I upgraded for the CA improvement which I feel is this lens real improvement over its predecessor, but I do feel the price here in the UK is very high.


 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

ef50mmf_18_1_
Review Date: Nov 26, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

Pros: Price, light weight
Cons:
Disappointing optical performance on a 5D2. Build Quality poor. Focus ring difficult to use even if you have small hands. Unhappy with my purchase frankly.

Not impressed with image quality on full frame. Canon can do better than this lens.

For example I've owned the relatively cheap Canon 35/2 and loved it even on the demanding 5D2, thought this 50mm would be as good. Its not.


 
Tokina 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 AT-X 840 AF-II

atx840af2
Review Date: Jul 4, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp image quality, strong build, size, versatile
Cons:
When pixel peeping some CA

I needed a longer lens for my 40D but couldn't afford Canon prices. I imported this lens from a well known ebay dealer in Hong Kong and so got an incredible price compared to the very high UK price.

When configured to be physically shortest this lens is surprisingly compact in the camera bag. Optical quality is quite impressive IMHO, at f8 or f11 sharpness is very good even at 400mm. There is some CA when you pixel peep, but no problem on actual prints.

If you are an action or BIF photographer then I suspect this lens doesn't autofocus fast enough and you may have to shell out on more expensive Canon glass. But for tripod based work this lens is very capable and extremely good value.

The foot for the tripod mount is rather small, and the plastic catch that locks focal lenght doesn't inspire confidence, but overall the build is very solid indeed.

I am very pleased with my purchase, which I need for landscape, architectural detail and occasional moon photography.



 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

ef50mmf_14usm_1_
Review Date: Jun 5, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Cost, size, very sharp (once you have stopped down), fast focus
Cons:
Sharpness in range f1.4 - f2 is questionable

I specialize in low light photography and I bought this lens for use in the range f1.4 - f2. The performance of this lens at these apertures is a little disappointing to me on both copies that I've tried. The effect was decidedly "dreamy" (I've double checked precise focus with this lens using Live View at 10x on my 40D). Now, this may be an advantage for those romantic portraits, but on subjects that need to be sharp - for these you really need to stop down. I appreciate this is to an extent inevitable with any really fast glass, but I am still a little disappointed with this 50.

By f5.6 the lens is very sharp indeed. For me then, a mixed review, superb for landscapes and subjects where you can stop down, but to be used with caution wide open. I will be looking very carefully at the new Sigma 50mm f1.4 when the first reviews start coming out.

A qualified recommendation for the Canon 50mm f1.4


 
Canon EF 35mm f/2

ef35mmf2_1_
Review Date: Jan 11, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness, speed, compact size, price.
Cons:
Noisy autofocus

A beautiful little lens, really delivers sharp reliable images on my 40D. For the image quality, speed and compact design this lens is positively inexpensive.

If you are used to USM focussing you will find the 35mm noisy, but the money I thoroughly recommend it. One of my favourite lenses.


 
Nikon 28mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor

1921NAS_180
Review Date: Nov 8, 2007 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Not a review only an update to one
Cons:
Not a review only an update to one

One statement I made in my review has been made obsolete, Since my last post Nikon have of course announced a full frame body, in principle allowing the 28mm to be used as a proper wide again (I have not had the opportunity to try my lens on the D3).

I have recently made some tripod mounted tests comparing my Nikkor 28mm f1.4 and the Canon 24mm f1.4L, both of which I own. For these tests the Nikkor was mounted on my Canon 40D body using a Novoflex adaptor.

At full aperture the Nikkor and Canon both performed well on star fields, particularly after the lenses had been carefully focused using the 40D's excellent "Live View" feature. Careful focusing seems to me to be a particular requirement of these fast wides, more so than I would have expected.

I also assessed these lenses, at full aperture, on normal daytime subjects, and in my opinion the Nikkor had noticeably better control of chromatic aberrations. Aside from this the Canon and Nikon were pretty comparable at wide apertures. Both are excellent low light lenses.


 
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

ef135mmf_2l_1_
Review Date: Nov 2, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Superlative image quality, even at full aperture, build quality, surprisingly compact for its specification.
Cons:
A bit expensive here in the UK, but as they say "the quality will be remembered long after the price is forgotten". How true.

This lens is a legend, deservedly so. I've used alot of good glass over the last 25 years or so, Zuiko, Pentax, Carl Zeiss, Nikkor etc, but nothing, nothing has impressed me as much as this Canon 135mm. In the UK we pay through the nose for our camera kit, you guys in the US get a much better deal than us, so you've got even less excuse for not buying the Canon 135. However, I think that the price I paid for the 135mm over here is still worth every penny. A keeper by any standards.

I bought this lens mainly for portraits on my 40D. The results really are something to cheer about! This is an ideal portrait lens, the images really look "expensive", sophisticated. I don't know how else to describe the effect. The difference between this lens and ordinary 135mms is quite dramatic (believe me, I've owned a few), the results wide open have a 3D punch which is really, really impressive. If you love photographing people just go out and buy this Canon classic.

If I'm feeling lazy or want to be spontaneous, I put the camera on aperture priority, set an aperture of f2 and shoot away. The lens auto focuses convincingly on the 40D.

The hood is really deep and actually fits the lens properly.

I also use this beauty for astrophotography, even at full aperture the stars look compact and sharp at the edge of my cropped frame camera images.

I can't wait to use this lens on the 5D Mk II whenever it comes out.


 
Tokina 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 AT-X 840 AF-II

atx840af2
Review Date: Oct 23, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: This is not a review, just a link to a sample image
Cons:

I've not had this lens long enough for a full review. However, reading some of the reviews that have been posted on this site I was very interested to find out how this lens performed at 400mm stopped down a bit.

My copy of this lens has recently arrived and I am posting a link to a sample image that I have prepared. I hope it is helpful:

http://www.nightfolio.co.uk/tokina/lens_test.html

This sample is a 100% crop from a Canon 40D RAW frame at f11 (100 ISO). I have not sharpened or corrected this image in anyway.


 
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L USM

ef24mmf_14l_1_
Review Date: Oct 13, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Wonderful optical performance, superb build quality
Cons:
At f1.4 lens must be focussed very accurately indeed. Lenshood doesn't fit

I've been using my 24mm for around 6 months on cropped sensor Canon cameras, mainly the 400D.

I need the 24mm for low light landscapes and astronomy work. The 24mm produces remarkable images of stars right across my cropped sensor frame even at f1.4. This lens is a winner in this role, definitely in the same class as the legendary (and now discontinued) Nikkor 28mm f1.4 which I also own.

When I first used the 24mm on my 400D I nearly sent it back. The results were deeply disappointing. Just before I returned the lens just as an experiment I changed the camera focus settings from multi-point auto focus to single point. The improvement was dramatic, at f5.6 the lens produced stunningly sharp photographs. However in low light photography indoors using f1.4 the results with auto focus were still variable. Some images were surprisingly sharp, others soft. I was still disappointed with the 24mm.

Then I bought the Canon 40D, and boy what a difference. Using the new Live View focusing feature my 24mm lens is superb at any aperture. My photographs of stars are satisfyingly sharp even at f1.4, across the 1.6x frame. Superb. This brings me to my conclusion, the Canon 24mm is a world class specialist lens delivering top quality results at full aperture IF it is correctly focussed. In real low light situations this may require considerable care.

By the way, the supplied lenshood doesn't fit, its way too tight.


 
Nikon 28mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor

1921NAS_180
Review Date: Jun 28, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extreme speed coupled with beautiful image quality even at full aperture. Wonderful build quality.
Cons:
Cost, also sadly it's no longer made ;-(

I've been privileged to have built my photography around this amazing lens for the last 11 years or so. They really don't make lenses this brilliant anymore.

Even at full aperture the quality is excellent, star images are beautifully reproduced, the dreaded sagittal coma flare is very well controlled. The infinity point on the focus scale is precise and definite showing how well the lens was assembled.

This is a big, heavy lens, but it is very well made, and I fully expect it will become a cult classic for Nikon collectors, it certainly deserves to be. It is an enormous shame that Nikon don't make a full frame pro body to make full use of this lenses' wide angle capabilities, and for this reason sadly I personally consider the 28mm f1.4 to be a film lens.

Using this lens at f1.4, with push processed film at 3200 ISO, really shows how little light you need for photography. For a (large) sample image please visit:

http://www.nightfolio.co.uk/subpages/la15.html


 
Tokina 12-24mm f/4 AT-X 124 AF PRO DX SD

atx124afprodx
Review Date: Jun 28, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very sharp. Superb construction quality. Professional quality at an amateur price
Cons:
Small amount of CA

I needed a wide zoom for my Canon 400D. I bought this lens based on favourable reviews and Tokina's reputation for quality glass. I was not disappointed.

My first impression of this lens was how well it was built. It reminds me strongly of the very best Nikkors. This lens is built to last. Very impressive at any price, but especially surprising at this modest price point.

The optical performance is wonderful in my opinion. At f5.6 the sharpness is exceptional. I photograph stars which easily show up poor optics and the Tokina produces really detailed and satisfying images. There is some minor CA, but nothing that cannot be easily taken out in Photoshop Camera Raw. If you want an idea of the quality, and don't mind downloading a large image, please see a sample of this lens' output here:

http://www.nightfolio.co.uk/subpages/as008.html

This lens has it all, optical quality, solid construction, and a cheap price relative to makers' lenses. If you need a wide zoom for your crop camera go out and buy one. I have no connection with Tokina except as a satisfied customer.