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Tamron 24-135MM F/3.5-5.6 AD Aspherical (IF) Macro

24135mm_1_
Review Date: Oct 27, 2009 Recommend? | Price paid: $150.00

 
Pros: Sharp, sharp, sharp! Fairly solid, comes with lens hood as standard.
Cons:
A bit largeish, lens creep.

The earlier review I wrote was for a Canon mount 24-135mm and that worked well on the 5D Mk I. This time, this review is for a Nikon mount. I can only say the same great things about this lens. it's sharp even wide open, it focuses fast on my D700 and only hunts in low light at the tele end (nothing new for most lenses, really). For the prices these go for these days, it's a steal!

 
Tamron 28-300MM F/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD VC AF

28-300vr
Review Date: Mar 31, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp through most of its range, very good VC, compact, lightweight, adequate built, average AF, adequate macro for close-ups (not true macro but can add close-up filters)
Cons:
300mm not true 300mm compared to a 70-300mm lens, more like 28-240mm, AF hunts at tele in low light

It's rather unfair that this lens is often compared to lenses more than twice its price. I've had the Canon 28-300mm IS USM L and I can say there's little difference between the two OPTICALLY. (Yes, the Canon has metal body, USM, weather-proofing and white paint on the outside... I know.) For what it has produced (in weddings and events), what I paid for and what convenience it provides, I consider it an excellent investment and you cannot get any better megazoom lens thus far. Not only that, but for a megazoom, it is a major improvement over previous models from Tamron and other brands and can be highly recommended for FF/FX users.

Sure, its AF speed is average (and slow at tele in low-light), but for 89% of the time I've used it, it has focused on what I wanted. Sure, it's slow at the tele end with f6.3 and yet the bokeh is something I enjoy from this lens, creamy and soft. So at 300mm and used at f8 or f11, the results are more than satisfactory. And who is to say that majority of the cases of softness at 300m is not from unsteady users rather than the lens properties? The Canon 28-300mm L is also soft towards 300mm BTW...

The lens is also more 28mm to 240mm, as the difference between 200mm and 300mm seems very short and insignificant. Sharpness also drops off over 200mm. Again, the same can be said for the Canon 28-300mm L, as I've compared that Canon 28-300mm L with a Canon 70-300mm IS USM and wondered why the 300mm on both lenses was different. Again, sharpness on the L version drops off after 200mm, though the Canon is more 28mm to 260mm, and is a monster to carry around.

The lens has a metal mount, solid enough build, excellent vibration compensation, good sharpness thoughout (slightly softer at 300mm), great zoom range on my D700 and comes w/ lens hood. I've taken thousands of pics of which 90% are technically keepers (whether they meet my photographic & artistic standards is another matter!), and this lens is also on my camera 80% of the time. What more could I ask for in such a lens? To me, it's a superb bargain!


 
Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 AT-X 107 AF DX Fisheye

atx107dx
Review Date: Mar 24, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, great colours and flare control. Solid compact body. Fisheye effect.
Cons:
Focus slightly slow. No protection from smudges and scratches when lens is in use.

At half the price of the Canon 15mm fisheye, 2/3rds of the Canon 10-22mm and 1/3rd the price of the new Canon 14mm f2.8 Fisheye, the Tokina 10-17mm is an extreme value-for-money lens providing both UWA and Fisheye, as well as excellent sharpness, contrast and colours. While it is meant for cropped sensor cameras, I was (very pleasantly) surprised to find that is it also very useable on the 5D. There is strong vignetting from 10-13mm but from 14mm to 17mm, it is full-frame all the way. How awesome is that?! And the fisheye effect is still strong and useful.

The body is solid and surprisingly compact, so this lens goes everywhere with me. The zoom and focus rings are kinda narrow, but not used often anyway (though that does not mean having the zoom range is not utilised or useful). Flare control is very good, I shot under overhead sun and no flare except one photo. Indoors too, lights do not exhibit any flare effect.

AF is fast and quiet, but does not seem as fast as some other lenses, though I was using the 5D instead of 40D, so the focus may be faster with a newer body? Although I am switching over to Nikon soon, I fully expect to purchase this again for that mount - 100% no hesitation, 100% no doubts.


 
Tamron 24-135MM F/3.5-5.6 AD Aspherical (IF) Macro

24135mm_1_
Review Date: Mar 3, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, lightweight, compact size, flower-petal lens hood, internal focus
Cons:
Slightly slow autofocus, colours a bit cool

For the price (about half that of the Canon 28-135mm IS USM and 1/3rd the 24-105mm IS USM L), optical quality, zoom range and features, it's a great value-for-money lens that produces very good results. I give it high marks because I consider the parameters of this lens and the target user market, not just straightaway comparing to much more expensive top-of-the-range lenses.

Sure, the apertures aren't that great, and the autofocus could be zippier, but otherwise, this lens is not only useful but gives results that are above average and very satisfactory, and one can't ask for more than that. And my test results were from a 5D, not the easiest of cameras to please where lenses are concerned!

The lens cap is a good design, and the lens hood as a standard accessory is a nice touch comapred to the Canons where lens hoods are optional! And the zoom lock ensures that lens creep is kept away for as long as possible (which is a welcomed feature after the less than satisfactory Tamron 28-105mm f2.8).


 
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

ef85mmf_18usm_1_
Review Date: Jan 30, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $440.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Light, very sharp, great contrast/colours, fast focus and deliciously creamy bokeh.
Cons:
None except the limited use it gets.

Now I know what real beautiful bokeh is! 85mm combined with f1.8 produces the best bokeh I've seen in limited years in photography. Love this lens and wish I could use it more often. not much else to say except that is you like your 50mm f1.8 or f1.4, then you'll like this lens too!

 
Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye

ef15mmf_28_1_
Review Date: Jan 30, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, great field of view, compact/light
Cons:
If you lose that lens cap, that's it - this lens doesn't take filters!

Got this for a steal but even compared to the new versions (14mm f2.8 Fisheye), it's a real bargain and sharp as a tack. Love the fisheye feel (I use it on the 5D) and though opportunities to really make it shine are few, but when it gets to work, it works very well!

Only concern is the glass as it's very exposed and filters can't be fitted. Lose that lens cap and that's it - the glass is open season for scratches! Still, it's such a lovely & light lens and I take it along with my 5D anytime, even when I think I may not use it...


 
Sigma 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 DC OS

18-200OS
Review Date: Oct 22, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $480.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very good build, metal mount, good OS, fast if somewhat noisy AF even in low light, excellent useful range, internal focus (front of lens does not rotate), quite sharp esp. at 200mm with decent close-up macro of 1:39 at 45cm at full 200mm tele
Cons:
Nervous bokeh, OS engages a micro second slower than Canon's

For its price and design envelope, this lens is a real gem. I won't need to talk about the usefulness of 18-200mm or even OS, but the sharpness and very fast AF even in low-light was a surprise. Another bonus was the internal focusing which mean the front lens element does not rotate, making the lens suitable for CPLs and also for holding the lens hood when shooting at 200mm.

The sharpness is quite good for a lens of this type and price. 18mm at f3.5 isn't shockingly sharp but decent, and improves to f8 (possible handheld, thanks to OS). But it is impressively sharp at 200mm. What's more, it focuses close to 45cm even at 200mm with a macro ratio of 1:39 which doesn't sound great till you try it and with the big megapixels these days, you can get some really impressive macros! The AF is surprisngly fast too, and accurate even in low light, which is a delight. But as it is not a fast lens, flash or high ISO is recommended, my indoor zoo shots were taken at ISO 1600, outdoors at ISO 125.

Only thing I miss is a tripod ring so I can hold the lens better for full tele shots but a flat flash bracket screwed onto the tripod mount of the camera and pointing forward (under the lens) acts quite well as a makeshift tripod ring for steady handholding at 200mm. the bokeh from the lens isn't anything to shout about (understandably), as it is choppy and fractured.

Overall, I highly recommend this lens as the main lens for general purpose and switch to primes or fast lenses for other types of photography, i.e. portraits. I have this lens on a 40D, Tokina 12-24mm f4, and two primes of 50mm f1.8 and 85mm f1.8.


 
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

70-300_isusm
Review Date: Jun 28, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Light, decent build, nice zoom ring with plenty of grip area, common 58mm filters, excellent colours & contrast, L-quality sharpness, zoom lock a good idea
Cons:
A bit too light, harder to old steady as compared to heavier L tele lenses, dreading the day the zoom creep occurs, rotating front lens means having to use circular lens hood instead of petal

What a shocker! To think this consumer lens which is one third the price of my Canon 28-300mm IS USM L lens is as sharp and has even better colour sat and contrast! From 70-300mm, this lens is as sharp as my 28-300mm L AND images have better colour and contrast. Amazing!

(One weird thing is that at 70mm, both lenses focal length are the same but at 200mm and 300mm, the 70-300mm is longer! I feel almost cheated by Canon in that my 28-300mm isn't really a 300mm!!)

I've only good things to say about this lens. It's 'L' sharp wide open all trhough the focal length, it's got excellent colour rendition and contrast and it's cheap! Focus is almost as fast as normal/'real' USM (as on the 28-300mm) but if the autofocus has difficulty, the lens goes through the full focal length to hunt for the focus. A bit time wasting but a quick swing to the side to find something with better contrast and zeroing into something near your subject will set things right.

Have not tested out the panning IS but suspect if there's any fault, it'll be more of getting used to the lighter weight of this lens (i.e. technique). Mode 1 IS works very well although with the lighter weight of this lens, I have to sharpen my handholding technique! The 28-300mm's weight was a bonus in that regard to help in steadying the shot. But again, results between the two lenses come out identical at 70-300mm focal lengths, which the edge to the 70-300mm IS USM!

Love it!


 
Tokina 24-200mm AT-X 242 AF

8232atx242af
Review Date: Jun 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Sharp from 24-150mm, solid build quality (metal body & metal mount), nice rubberised zoom ring, decent contrast and colours
Cons:
Soft between 150mm to 200mm

Mixed bag of results from this lens. Sharp from 24mm to about 150mm, and then it gets soft (like oil smudges) till 200mm. Get a 100mm to 300mm or 400mm tele lens to compensate. Like the build quality - Heavier than my 300D!

Colour not as rich as I'd like but post processed it's good. AF is quite fast and quiet but not USM-quiet. Strange that it's 24mm widest but is limited to digital cropped cameras, not film or full-frame...


 
Tokina 19-35mm f/3.5-4.5 AF 193

af193
Review Date: Jun 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $135.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Light, quite sharp, good colour & contrast
Cons:
Prone to ocassional flare, rotating front lens element

Nikon mount under the Vivitar Series 1 lable, bought 2nd hand. Build quality of this version under Vivitar is a bit rattle-y but otherwise OK. Fairly sharp pics wide open and very good stopped down slightly. A little soft at corners wide open.

 
Tamron 28-105MM F/2.8 LD Aspherical (IF)

28105mm_1_
Review Date: May 17, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: $100.00 | Rating: 3 

 
Pros: Seems solid enough. f2.8 is great if only it were sharp. Very sharp at f8 or smaller. Not much else... :-(
Cons:
Soft images at f2.8 to f4.5, so useless as low light lens. Zoom creep.

Very disappointing. f2.8 images are very soft (not DOF or focus problem, just the optics). Unless you;re shooting a portrait, that doesn;t help you or the lens in low-light situations. What's the point of having the lens a constant f2.8 constant then? Having unusable low light results across the zoom range?

If used as an outdoor good-light lens, it is fine and I guess you get what you pay for. Can barely use f4.0 images and need to go f8.0 for satisfactory results. If it's free, I'll take this but even at what I paid for it, it's still too expensive because it really doesn't live up to its potential!


 
Sigma 15-30mm f3.5-4.5 EX Aspherical DG DF

15_30f35_45_1_
Review Date: Nov 4, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $357.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Light, good build quality, fast AF (even in low-light), sharp results
Cons:
Weird lens filter adapter system, 82mm filter, darn zoom ring at the back/focus in front, AF noisy

Just got this lens 2nd hand yesterday and had a test run with it today. This 15-30mm equals 24-48mm on my 1.6x DSLR and it complements nicely my 28-300mm IS USM L (which equals 45-480mm). Good thing the weather cleared up in time! Samples here (unprocessed except re-size and light sharpening):
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Surprisingly light lens considering its size, but build quality is sufficiently strong. Was also surprised that the lens hood/shade is part of the lens! i.e. it's not removable! And there's also a lens filter adapter just for you to fit over the lens hood so you can clip on the lens cap and/or screw on a lens filter! Bizarre!

Images turn out sharp in good lighting, you get almost L-quality results. Colour sat and contrast are very, very good. I'm pleased with that aspect of the lens. :-) Even in low-lighting the AF works well and doesn't hunt (although this AF is a bit noisy). But since it's not a fast lens (i.e. f2.8), I've had to turn up the ISO on my 300D sometimes and although the results were usable, but nothing spectacular (more the camera than the lens as the high ISOs of the 300D blot out a lot of details - should be better with a 20D or next gen). Will have to look into a fast lens for low-light work, e.g. Sigma's 24-70mm f2.8.

I really am utterly annoyed by the placement of the zoom & focus rings! I find myself often reaching for the thin narrow zoom ring only to find it's the wide fat focus ring which rotates! And the zoom ring being located at the rear of the lens close to the body makes for rather unsteady/awkward handholding! But thankfully this lens is only used in certain situations and because of the short focal range, I seldom venture near the zoom ring and treat the lens like a prime. (If this were a lens with a range such as 18-125mm - which I had - or 28-300mm, I'd have thrown it away in frustration!)


 
Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM

ef28-300_35-56lisu
Review Date: Aug 4, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Versatile zoom range, solid build, good quality images, fast & silent AF, very good IS
Cons:
Weight

I like ths lens. It's what I needed in the sense of offering good image quality (without multiple L or prime lenses), the IS, USM and build quality. Now I needn't worry about losing a shot or about dust in my camera from changing lenses AND I don't sacrifice image quality either. Really nice bokeh too so this lens could double as a nice portrait lens if you stand far enough away!

The push/pull zoom is acceptable, quicker than a ring zoom but maybe a bit too quick and you overshoot sometimes. Being new too, the push/pulling is a bit sticky and at times gets 'caught' at the tele end and needs a gentle tug to bring it back in. Should go away after a while with some use, as I didn't have that problem with my used 100-400 IS USM L.

The only complaint about this lens is the weight as I do get tired using it for more than an hour. It is building up my arm muscles nicely though! Watch out Arnie! LOL!

Oh, and I guess the price is a bit high too - I sold off four lenses to buy this one! My old 80-200mm f2.8 USM L (brilliant lens - buy it if you find it!), 28mm f2.8 prime, Sigma 24-135mm f2.8-f4.0 and 100-400mm IS USM L. As you can see, low-light ability was important to me before and that's because I had weddings to shoot. But now I don't and so far it's been well worth letting those go for this beauty whose only flaw is that it becomes a weighty beast after using it for more than an hour!