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Markins Q-Ball M10

Review Date: Aug 17, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $340.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: the ball action is very smooth, as is the panning base. once you lock the ball down - it's not moving. this head is a joy to use. even with the ball unlocked and the panning base unlocked, there's no play or wobble.
the panning base lock not very strong - but it's strong enough to keep it from turning while using the thing. i noticed when i locked it down to screw it onto my tripod legs, there was some slippage.

this is a great ballhead. the pin on the clamp doesn't bother me at all. doesn't take much to loosen the clamp enough to lift the plate out of the clamp. actually, i like the pin. don't have to worry about my gear sliding out if i leave it too loose. the only downside, is Markins didn't offer Fed Ex. i hate waiting around for big brown.

Nikon SB-800 AF Speedlight

Review Date: Jan 22, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $360.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: good powerful flash, nice accessories, good recycle time.
a bit pricey, but i would buy it again over the sb-600

highly recommended

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

Review Date: Jan 22, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $170.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: good zoom range, built in macro function, cheap
slow af, hunting, chromatic abberations, softness at 300mm

this lens is ok for someone who does not really care for optical quality but would like a lens that gives a good zoom range . i have managed to get some decently sharp photos out of this lens, but it is soft above 200mm. chromatic abberations are a very big problem for this lens despite the "LD" glass. the macro function can be handy for closeups, but by no means is a good alternative to a true macro lens. the af is loud and slow and hunts a lot. other than that, the lens is light, and works pretty well below 200mm.

Tamron 90MM F/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 SP AF

Review Date: Jan 22, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $490.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: razor sharp lens, lightweight, nice bokeh, smooth manual focus
not internal focus, lens grows

this is the sharpest lens i own, it is plastic, but really well built. the switch from af to mf is very easy, and the mf is nice and mooth. it's nice and light - the front element is deeply recessed, so the lens hood is not needed (i've never used it). the autofocus speed is acceptable, and fairly reliable. i would recommend this lens to anyone. the lens pictured for this review is not the tamron sp90 di.