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Tamron 75-300MM F/4-5.6 LD Macro AF

75300mm
Review Date: Jun 11, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $69.80 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: The focal range, price, comes with lens hood, and it's relatively light. This lens CAN produce nice images IF you know and work within it's limitations.
Cons:
Zoom creep, rotating front element, slow and loud AF, CA, and soft images at low aperatures. Oh and at f/4-5.6 it's pretty slow especially at the long end. Listed features was Macro, and while I didn't buy this for Macro photography, I think it's still misleading. Not a Macro lens... not even close.

Well I bought this lens last year off of Ebay for $69.00 and change. It came in the box with warranty card and all the covers and hood so I think I got a hell of a bargain. I bought it initially for my film camara and it worked fairly well for that as long as I was using fast film, I could get some decent shutter speeds for hand holding. I then converted to digital and found that digital image sensors required a bit more resolution than a 35mm film frame does and the limitations of this lens were exposed(no pun intended). Since most shoot digital, I'll keep my review to that aspect.

The 75-300mm actually shows up in EXIF from my 20D as a 70-300mm which I thought was pretty odd. I think it probably needs to be re-programmed.

Build quailty:
It's not horrible, but if you've ever held an "L" lens or a Sigma EX lens, you'll not be terribly impressed. The front element does rotate during focus so it's not great for polarizing filters unless you lock focus first then adjust the filter. Pain in the bum. The zoom creep on this lens is pretty bad, but I generally zoom when composing anyway so not a huge problem. The lens cap design I think is probably the best going. I love the pinch front which makes it easy to remove and replace even with the deep lens hood on. The hood is very good. It locks on the lens better than the Canon hoods for sure.

The slow loud AF motor didn't lend well to trying to keep up with running ball players so it's not a good lens for outdoor sport in any light.

Image quality:
I notice that it's nowhere near as sharp as my other lenses straight out of the camera. Images CAN be helped with USM or smart sharpen filter in photoshop at the cost of a little extra noise... but 4x6 prints are very decent looking. I wouldn't go beyond 5x7 with it unless I'm able to use it outdoors with an aperature range of F/8-11 with decent shutter speeds. That's really the sweet spot of this lens which is consistant with other reviews. Below F/8-11 (F/8 for short and F/11 for long), images do suffer from a loss of resolution.

purple CA was strong and noticable at most all focal lengths and VERY hard to get rid of. No matter what I tried in ACR I couldn't completely get rid of it in the more extreme cases.

I did take it to my daughter's dance recital and got some fairly usable images from it, but again... 4x6 or 5x7 but nothing larger. Using higher ISO settings is a must with this lens. Good thing the 20D is very good at 800 and highly usable at 1600.

Overall:
I paid a small price for a very usable lens. It won't win any quality awards but it does what it's designed to do. I've since replaced this lens with a 70-200 F/4L and comparing the two is just not fair so I won't... but I will say that considering everything else, I do not miss the extra reach, yet. If you can't afford to buy a better lens, this one will do the job. Don't expect too much from it and you'll probably be content. I'll keep it in my film camera bag as it worked pretty well with that media which in all fairness to Tamron is what the design intention was in the first place.


 
Sigma Electronic Flash EF 500 DG Super

EF_500_DG_Super_Flash
Review Date: Jan 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Less expensive than the Canon Speedlites and just as functional. Optical slave mode. Consistant and predictable exposure levels.
Cons:
No external power capabilities so bring lots of batteries. I also wish the FP wouldn't cancel out if you drop below the max sync... but this is minor.

Despite what some have said, this flash has been very consistant in how it exposes pictures in both ETTL mode and manual modes. I did a test of this after reading some people's remarks and found that when shooting identical shots I had to check the file name in the review window to be sure I wasn't looking at the same image since the histogram was pretty much identical. I used this at a wedding and another shoot earlier in the day with Santa and kids and I only used this flash for my lighting and it performed astonishingly well. I took almost 400 pictures all with flash and changed my batteries twice(using rechargable NiMH) not because I had to, but I wanted to keep my recycle times as short as possible. I would and will buy another of these units for multi-flash setups. In fact, I'm thinking of adding another of these flashes and getting the impact stand and umbrella setup from B&H for a quick and cheap portrait lighting setup.