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Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di LD Aspherical

sp-af17-35
Review Date: May 18, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharp, cheap
Cons:
build, not a name brand

Bought a used a few months after Tamron dis-continued it in 2009.

The lens is sharp. And may be sharper than you think.

I just acquired a Nikon 28 f3.5 AI lens which is one of the recommended old gem from Nikon. It's very sharp. I think it is a great buy until I did a side-by-side comparison with my Tamron.

What a surprise to me. The Tamron beats the Nikon 28 f3.5 prime from f3.5 and on in all my tests. Center sharpness is close. But the Tamron is more constrasty and more saturated color (with Nikon D700). The Tamron at 28mm f5.6 gives much better detail at edge than the Nikon at f5.6, even at f8.

What a lens at $250 ! (What else could you get with $250 these days?)

I'm very satisfied with this lens.



 
Nikon 300mm f/4 ED-IF AF-S Nikkor

1909NAS_180
Review Date: Mar 11, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very very sharp, solid build, and creamy boken. accurate focus.
Cons:
heavy and big, no VR

I have shooted SLRs and DSLRs for many years. I have used many great lenses: Canon 300 f2.8 IS, Canon 200 f2.8, Canon 135 f2.0, Canon 400 f5.6, Sigma 150, Canon 100 macro, ....even my recent Nikon 70-200 VR and Tamron 180 macro. I used to think "creamy" is just an adjective many used to describe a blurry background. It's until the first time I put this lens on my tripod with my camera to take a first shoot with it. I don't believe the "creamy" background I saw over the view finder. It's really "creamy" and simply beautiful.

The lens has a very fine MF ring, even though it AF fine. It's built like a tank and is heavy (heavier than the excellent Canon 400 f5.6).

It's probably one of the old generation of Nikon lenses that it still has an aperture ring so it can be used with Nikon extension tubes like PN-11, PK-13,...

IQ is excellent. Focus dead-on on my D300. Color is great too.

The used copy I bought comes with a Kirk replacement tripod collar. The tripod collar is very solid.

The only cons I can think of:
1. Kind heavy due to its excellent built. It goes with my tripod most of the time.
2. I really wish it has VR.

I'd highly recommend it.




 
Tamron 180mm f/3.5 Di LD IF Macro Autofocus SP AF

19043180mm_1_
Review Date: Feb 9, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $660.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Super sharp Excellent and very sweet MF Compact size
Cons:
Noisy AF Build not in par with Canon 100 and Sigma 150.

I have used Canon 100 f2.8 macro and Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro for Canon for a few years. I just switched to Nikon and did an extensive research for a new macro lens since I like to shoot close ups like flowers and butterflies. During the research, I found this lens was mentioned many times to have excellent optics, but seems often get ignored due to another excellent macro lens, the Sigma 150 f2.8 macro. And this lens doesn't seem very popular. Since I have used the Canon 100 f2.8 macro and Sigma 150 mm f2.8 for quite a few years, I decided to try something new for my new Nikon D300 camera.

I just got my new lens for a few days. All I can say is "Wow!" . It's incredibly sharp. I did a focus chart test and this lens is proably the best, in par with my Canon 300 f2.8 IS. The focus is dead-on. And the images from this lens are so sharp that it's simply sharper than both of my Sigma 150 for Canon and Canon's 100 f2.8 AF lenses. It's probably in par with my best lens, the Canon 300 f2.8 IS.

The AF on this lens is really noisy, like a typical Tamron lenses. But what make this lens stand out is the MF (manual focus). The MF is very fine, that is, you need to rotate the focus ring a lot to change focus from one point to another, kind like a very fine mechanical machine. The MF mechanism is so smooth that everytime I use it I just felt it's so SWEET. The adjustment is very fine that you can easily tell whether a part is in focus. And I can use my bare eye through the D300 view finder to do MF without the need of an angle finder (Canon term, don't know the corresponding part for Nikon yet.)

The boken and background from this lens is simply georgeous! This matches exactly what I found out duiring my research.

Many people say the 180 macro is big whe ncompared to the Sigma 150 and the 100's macrps. Not true with this lens. I found the size for this lens is comparable to the Sigma 150 f2.8. It's probably a little bit smaller but with a longer and bigger hood. From the B&H web sites, it shows the same weight as the Sigma 150.

The max aperature for this lens is f3.5. However, the lens at f3.5 is sharper than my Sigma 150 at f2.8, though which is usable too. I cetainly wish it has f2.8, but it only cost USD$600. I'm satisfied!

The only real issue I found with this lens is its built : purely plastic. So far it's good and I can only wish it will last. The tripod collar is solid, though not comparable to the Sigma 150, it's better than the add-on Canon tripod collars I bought for my Canon 200 f2.8 and Canon 70-200 f4 IS lenses.

Overall, I like it and now I'm even considering to get its little brother too: the Tamron 90mm macro.

I'd recommend this lens to any one if image quality is your main concern!


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

ef70-200lisusm
Review Date: Nov 20, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,250.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Light weight, accurate focus, IS, great color, excellent build
Cons:
f4. But at this weight, there is really no complains.

This is the lens that once you have it, you will keep pick it up to use. Very sweet image and very functioning IS that works great in low light as long as the subjects stay still. I have tried shooting f4 at 1/20 seconds and it still works great.

It's sharper than 4 copies of 70-200 f2.8 IS and one copy of 70-200 f4 that I have bought brand new and returned a while back. None of the above 5 lenses even passed my focus chart test. But this 70-200 f4 IS is different. Focus right on and so far I didn't hear a bad copy yet.

The main character I like is the light weight. It make this lens so sweet and easy to use. Even though its current price is still high, I have no regret and would recommend this lens with no reservation.


 
Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM

1ef200mmf_28_1_1_
Review Date: Aug 29, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: $600.00

 
Pros: Very fast AF, great color anbd contrast, great build, reliable, and work well with 1.4TC and extension tubes. And it's black.
Cons:
None.

Just add to my previous comments.

With a tripod colloar and extension tubes, this lens combo is excellent for close up of flowers and butterflies. I found I prefer this combo over my Canon 100mm macro and Canon 135mm. And it's less than half the weight of a 70-200 f2.8 IS!

This is a real performer!


 
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

ef85mmf_18usm_1_
Review Date: Dec 18, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $328.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Focus very fast and accurate. Very very light. Fine build quality.
Cons:
Some CA wide open. Color may not be as good as Canon 200mm f/2.8. Not an issue in reality.

I didn't expect a lot before I bought it. I bought it just for its f1.8 for possible low light use.

The more I use it, the more I like it. Its very light weight make it very very usable. And I started bring my excellent Tamron 28-75 less and less.

Focus is very fast and very accurate.

I still feel its color and constrast is not up to some good L primes like Canon 200mm f/2.8.

Portraits from this lens is georgeous.

This is a gem in Canon lenses, L or not.

Highly recommended.


 
Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8

tse90_1_
Review Date: Nov 23, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,099.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Tilt and shift. Sharp focus. Very solid build.
Cons:
Poor optical quality. Heavy like a brick.

I am a fan of shallow DOF. After reading so many positive reviews about this lens for flowers/portraits of really shallow DOF, I thought I finally found the perfect lens and decided to get this lens.

I just returned my 2nd copy to B&H.

Both copies I bought and returned were brand new. The manual focus is just amazing that they are smooth and the focus mechanism seems better than the Canon 100mm f2.8 macro. But they have lots of CAs.

I did a test against my Canon 100mm f2.8 macro. It was shoot at around the minimum focus length of this lense and f2.8. My 100 macro is much sharper and better contrast, and better image quality in general. And the 90 TS-E have so much CA that I cannot believe. This is for both copies. The tests are done around sunset. And all these tests are done with no tilt and no shift which I expect the lenses gave the best performance.

I don't know whether low light is a problem to this lens. But I don't remember seeing any reviews mentioning this. When light is good, this lens is fine.

My Canon 100 macro cannot compete to my Canon 200 f2.8 Mk II image quality wise. And the 2 copies of Canon TS-E 90mm I got cannot even compete to my Canon 100mm.

For the pro, this lens is very solid built. Hold it in hand, you really feel like it's a brick. Focus mechanism is very precise.

For $1100 a lens, it's not worth for me.

Really disappointed.



 
Sigma 150mm f2.8 APO Macro DG EX HSM

Sigma_150_macro
Review Date: Sep 7, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $599.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Excellent image quality, very solid build, excellent tripod collar.
Cons:
Weight, not so fast AF.

This is a very solid lens with excellent imaging quality and color. I have a Canon 100 f2.8 macro as well. Compared to the Canon, this one is sharper and has much solid build.

When used as portrait lens, it gives better blurry background than the Canon 100 f2.8.

The only week part for this lens is AF speed. This may or may not be an issue. Since many people do not use AF for macro.

Another issue is weight. This lens is heavy compared to Canon 100 f2.8. Add a macro bracket and flash it could become very heavy.

The included tripod collar makes this lens very easy to switch from horizontal to vertical format.

This is an excellent lens. Highly recommended.


 
Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM

1ef200mmf_28_1_1_
Review Date: Jul 21, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very fast AF, very versatile, black, light weight, solid build, super image quality
Cons:
Minimum focus distance could be shorter.

Bought this lens for 8 months now. This is the lens that keeps me "Wow!" at the images made through it. Great color/contrast/image quality for birds and portraits. The boken is excellent, really make the subjects stand out!

The lens is also very versatile: add a 1.4TC it becomes a great lens for near-by birds; add an extention tube, it become a great lens for flowers. The first time I used this lens to shoot flowers, I cannot even believe the color I got.

It's a trip-saver too. I went to a local butterfly garden 2 weeks ago. My macro lens AF so slow that it simply cannot reach focus before the butterflies fly away. I do not have other choice but mount an extension tube in this lens and shoot. And it saves the day with great AF speed (even with extension tube)and super image qualities.

To be honest, this is not the focal length (320mm on my 20D)that I initially thought I'll use a lot. But I use it more and more and I love to use it more and more.

And it's so light (weight).

I'd recommend it highly!