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  Reviews by: FatBoyAl  

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Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO DG OS

Review Date: Feb 9, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,069.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: BUILD, tripod mount, range, IQ - and definitely the OS
Weight, but what's to be expected of a 500mm?

Since my move from Canon to Nikon, I've been lacking a long lens. I do have the 70-300VR, but 300 is not long enough for birds. The Canon 100-400 has no equal on the Dark Side and so I've waited for this lens.
I had some trepidation as initial reviews were all over the place and Sigma has a reputation for wildly varying build quality - though I've never received a bad Sigma lens, this one included.
My initial tests were on a winter day in my front yard shooting statues - my typical shots for lens testing. Even with the poor lighting, the big Sig snapped to focus quickly and the OS was simply amazing. I have some handheld shots at 1/30 @ 500mm that are clear and sharp.
Great lens, great IQ and a terrific price point. Plus an incredible warranty. If you don't feel the absolute need for Nikkor on your lens barrel and you want/need 500mm, you really can't go wrong here.

Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM

Review Date: Aug 24, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $440.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Build, fast focus, sharp, excellent color
Bit o' distortion, variable aperture

I've had the Tokina 12-24/4 for both Canon and Nikon (non-af motor version), the 11-16/2.8 for Canon and the 10-17 fisheye, so I wasn't exactly new to UWA's. I wasn't thrilled with getting this lens, but I wanted a AF motor UWA (and the 12-24/4 mark II wasn't announced yet), which limited which lenses were available to me. I also didn't want to spend the money for the Nikon-branded 12-24. So in all respects this was a compromise lens.

Turns out, however, it wasn't much of a compromise. It's a terrific lens! Sharp, even wide open. Fast AF. Nice build. I'm really enjoying it!

Nikon 85mm f/1.4D IF AF Nikkor

Review Date: Jul 28, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,025.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build, f1.4, included metal hood, sharpness, IQ - everything!
perhaps cost

What can I say that hasn't been said? It's a well-made, fast AF, excellent IQ addition to anyone's kit. Like my purchases of the 35/1.8 and 50/1.8, this was to complete my low-light glass to allow for a wedding for a friend. I'm so glad I agreed to do it.

This lens isn't cheap and despite it's age, it's difficult to find. I got a great deal on a refurb and I couldn't be happier. Like I said, it's built like a tank, comes with a metal hood and is just sharp sharp sharp. You gotta love it in low-light and even in great light. Some large aperture lenses are only sharp stopped down. Well, what's good about that?? This is great from 1.4 on and only gets better.

Worth it all the way around.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF Nikkor

Review Date: Jul 28, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Cheap, (pretty) sharp, fast AF, great value for money
none - yet.

I promised to do a wedding for a friend (no pay) and didn't want to spend a fortune getting a decent church lens. This seemed like a perfect low-light addition - and it has been. Focuses fast, even without AF-S. Light, small and sharp.

I had a 50/1.8 when I shot Canon and I was hoping this would be as good. It is.

Really, you can't go wrong for the money. For $120, new, it's a no-brainer. If you have any need at all for a 50mm with a huge aperture, it's the lens to get. Sure, you can spend two to four times more for the Sigma or Nikon AF-S (and if you want AF on the D40, you'll have to!), but why? At real print sizes or for the web, there will be zero difference.

Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G AF-S DX

Review Date: May 5, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $900.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build, AF speed and accuracy, Image quality, very few bad copies
Like most Nikon lenses these days - cost

This was my first Nikon lens after moving from Canon. It replaced (and surpassed!) my Canon 17-55 EF-S. There's just no real comparison: better build, great IQ, no sub-standard IS unit going out once a year.

On my D300, this is pretty much my go-to lens. I take it most everywhere and I've done all day walkarounds without ever changing lenses. Excellent color, contrast and overall sharpness.

Nikon 105mm f/2.8D AF Micro

Review Date: Feb 26, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build, balance, IQ!, VR, fast AF - especially for a macro
None at all - perhaps price, but look what you get!

This was my first Nikon lens after moving from Canon. Killed me that I had to wait for my D300 before using it. I'd had the Canon 180/3.5L and the Sigma 150/2.8 in the past and loved, loved, loved the Sigma. I like the Nikon more.

The VR gives you the ability to use it for macro even if you've not brought your tripod. Even the Sigma absolutely needed support. The Canon? It's a 180mm - you can figure from there! The VR and fast AF also mean this is a great mid-tele for portraits and just about anything else you'd use a 105mm for.

Excellent color and contrast. Wonderful bokeh. Really, this is my favorite macro of all time.

Sigma 100-300mm f4 EX IF HSM APO

Review Date: Jan 14, 2009 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: IQ from 100-250, constant f4, build
Weight, IQ from 250-300

I still think it's a good lens, but here's some observations after using it a bit more. First, in less than perfect light, it can hunt. A lot. I was using it on a sunny day but in the shade. It had real troubles locking on even using my D300. I then tried my 105VR (yes, the macro) and it had no problem. Of course, the macro is a 2.8, not a 4, so I'm sure that had something to do with it.
Wide open, it's sharp, but gets much, much sharper as you go to f8. As most lenses do. I've done some tests and they show as you get to 300mm, it softens up just a bit. Enough to put a bit of blur in a bird's eye that isn't there at 250.
Still and all, for the Nikon system, it's a great lens. Combine that with the price and there's still no competition. That said, I think either my 70-200 (any model) or 100-400 in Canon mounts were far, far sharper when used at the extremes. Any zoom lens, used away from the ends of it's focal range and in the 5.6-8 area is going to be sharp - so that's no surprise here. What sets a lens apart is when it's still sharp at each end of the range and wide-open. I don't think that's the case with the 100-300.

Sigma 100-300mm f4 EX IF HSM APO

Review Date: Dec 12, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ!!! AF speed, color rendering, BUILD, constant f4 aperture though zoom range
WEIGHT, No VR/IS (though I knew it going in)

I got this used and for a very good price. Tried it the first day I had it on a hawk in flight and wow. Excellent AF speed and accuracy. Very, very nice even wide-open.

No other zoom matches this (in Nikon mount) for range, IQ, and fixed aperture. A real bargain at the price.

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

Review Date: Dec 12, 2008 Recommend? | Price paid: $400.00

Pros: Same as Canon mount: build, IQ, colors!
No internal AF motor! Nikon mount hunts for AF

There's no doubt this is a great lens. Just not as happy with it as I was the Canon mount version. No less IQ than Canon version, but loud AF on my D300 and something off.

I'm going to sell after the new year and get the Nikkor version. Might not be worth the extra couple hundred bucks - but then again, it might.

Nikon D300

Review Date: Nov 22, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Solid build, button access to features, incredible LCD, AF system
SEEMS slower to AF than 40D, Nikon says to turn off camera for lens changes, no auto-off

While I did just get the D300, I wanted to give my initial impressions.
First, I went from using Canon (AE1, A1, XT, 30D, 40D) to Nikon with the D300. I've also owned a Coolpix 8700.
First thing out of the box, I could feel the solid-ness of the build. Very much "like a tank". I like the positioning of most of the buttons and switches. I love, love, love the LCD. No, the LCD does not make me a better photographer - but I didn't expect it to! What it does do is give me a much clearer view of the shot I just made and help me to determine sharpness and focus. It also makes the menus a lot clearer!
I didn't unpack the software or anything else - I use C1 and Bibble, so NX isn't important to me.
The 51-point AF is really nice. I never had any real complaints about the Canon AF system at all - that wasn't the reason for my move. In fact, for an hobbyist like myself, it might be overkill. I like the fact that the points only show when lit.
I like the menu system, though it's not much different than the Canon system on my 40D. I do think there are a whole lot more choices, however. :o) More choices!
All in all, the D300 is a very nice base for a system. I'm looking forward to learning the system.
At the new prices, it's a heck of a bargain.

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

Review Date: Oct 1, 2008 Recommend? | Price paid: $450.00

Pros: Build, sharpness, versatility

Now that I've had a chance to use this baby, I really like it. I shot a car show recently and left this in my car initially, taking my Canon 24-70/2.8 and the 10-17 with me. It wasn't long before I returned and dropped off the 2 lb 24-70 and picked this up. What a difference! On a crop camera, the 24 was too long for most of the shots at the show, but this lens ends there - not begins. Plus, it's so light - despite being built every bit as solid as my brick.
Really, this lens shines in a lot of areas and I find it sits more on my 40D than I ever thought it would.
I keep thinking of making the move to Nikon (D300) and if I do, this lens will most likely have to be re-bought in the Nikon mount.
Really a terrific lens.

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

Review Date: Oct 1, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $475.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Solid build, decently fast focus, sharp, small
None yet

I bought this after reading reviews here and owning the 11-17 and 12-24 from Tokina. (Actually, I also owned the 'fantastic plastic' 19-35 a while back.) I was hoping to do some more creative stuff and for that, this lens doesn't disappoint. It should be noted that as a fisheye, the uses are limited and one should consider that prior to purchase. After owning the other two UWA's, I knew I wanted the fisheye effect, so it wasn't a surprise to me.
Doesn't focus fast, but doesn't really need to, either. I've seen lots of skateboarder shots with this, tho I don't shoot skateboarders.
Fun to use, excellent Tokina quality, long warranty. If what you desire is a fisheye, nothing really compares.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Jun 18, 2008 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Almost everything
No IS?

I've owned a brick before, having aquired it in a trade for my 24-105. After about 3 months, I decided I'd made a huge mistake and traded someone else for their 24-105. I'm very happy with the f4, 35mm longer focal length and IS.


After another year, I realized not everything is about simply capturing the shot. In almost all circumstances, the 24-105 is going to be the go-to lens. My copy is nice and sharp and f4 is plenty for many shots and IS lets me capture what one extra stop (between f4 and 2.8) would never do. Plus, the 4x zoom is very usable.

However, the 2.8 of the brick is something that allows for more creativity. Many complain that the 24-105 also has poor bokeh, while the brick has a much smoother quality. I agree. After owning either owning one or the other, I realized there's a need to own both. I doubt I'll sell either ever again.

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

Review Date: May 31, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Solid "L" quality build, good focal range, sharp

Only used for a couple of days so far, but very happy with it. I wanted something to get from 12-24 where my 24-70 and 24-105 could take over. Initially, I bought the 17-55 and 11-16 Tokina, but couldn't stand the loose build of the EF-S lens.

Traded the EF-S for a 24-70 and sold the 11-16 to buy the 12-24. Good move, in my opinion. The 11-16 didn't seem to have any CA problems, but the 12-24 certainly demonstrates it right away. I took some shots from beneath a tree canopy and the bright sky caused blue fringes along most of the leaves and branches, esp near the edges. I was shooting wide open, so I don't know what will happen when I stop down a bit. One thing is all the CA was processed out with DxO and I'm sure most any other PP package.

For the money, Canon simply doesn't offer anything that matches up. I know the 10-22 has a good rep, but the EF-S build is just not up to the cost. Period. This is a REAL lens with a rock-solid build and great image quality.

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 PRO DX SD

Review Date: May 19, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $570.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Solid Build, very nice zoom and focus rings, top quality IQ, constant 2.8, hood included
none so far

I was excited about getting an UWA and after careful consideration, I selected the Tokina 11-16. The Canon 10-22 didn't have the build, the constant 2.8 or the IQ of the Tokina - and cost a premium as well. Not to mention no hood.

That said, the Tokina has not disappointed. Fast, accurate AF with excellent IQ from wide-open. As some have said on the forums, this isn't so much a zoom (with the limited range) as a 2.8 prime with several focal lengths!

Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM

Review Date: May 10, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $950.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: IQ, IS, good focal range, fast AF
build, hood

I know this lens is loved by many, but I just can't get past the cheapo build. People will debate that - they have! - but I don't think it's debateable. It's priced like an L, but not built like one.

If Canon doesn't want to include EF-S lenses in the L family, I've no problem with that. Just build them like they are L's, then. Don't put a red ring on it.

It's a great lens for range, for IQ and IS and has fast, accurate AF. I enjoy what I get out of it. Short of going to fast L primes (like a 35 and/or 50), there's no competition within the Canon lineup. Not with a 2.8 and IS.

While I'd recommend it and I'll most likely keep using it, I just can't get over the fact that it's nearly $1000 and plastic. Boggles my mind.


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