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Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF]

Review Date: Mar 5, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Image quality is better than what you're paying for how it's built - tight and dense, but not too heavy quick AF even though it's not an AF-S Close-focus capability
Noisy AF - antiquated screw-driven mechanism Distortion at the wide end, till about 40mm not wide enough (15mm please) not long enough (70mm please)

Put succintly, the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR LD Aspherical (IF) is a poor man's constant aperture crop-factor optimized normal lens. Sure there are a lot of great film-optimized 28-70mm f/2.8 lenses out there, but 28mm isn't exactly wide on digital. Sure, both nikon and canon makes excellent 17-55mm f/2.8 lenses, but they cost an arm and half a leg.

Image quality is better than what you're paying for, and in fact it is quite surprising. Colors are bright, contrast is just right and sharpness is pretty good.

Even the way it's built is quite pleasing. For a constant 2.8 lens, it's compact, tight and dense, but not too heavy nor too long.
Focusing is also very good, and it focuses quickly even though it's not an AF-S lens. This plus the fact that it focuses quite close, it makes for an amazing walk-around lens, with slight macro capabilities.

A few caveats though:

Noisy AF - antiquated screw-driven mechanism
Distortion at almost all focal lengths, and even at 50mm, portraiture is rather difficult without distorting your subject's face.


flower shot

100% crop of the flower shot above

yummy prawns at 30,000 feet

pretty lemon squeezer

more shots here:

Nikon 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF

Review Date: Nov 29, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: resistance to flare

I've since let go of this lens to help me fund my 18-200mm VR purchase, but I have fond memories of this lens, and a lot of pictures to show for it.

i forgot to mention that this lens has pretty good resistance to flare, and can close-focus pretty well.

sunset shots from Boracay, Philippines (an island with lovely beaches)

when the photographer becomes the subject

orange delight

how about some prawns?

Nikon 85mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

Review Date: Nov 27, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $340.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharp, crisp, bright lens, good bokeh
AF a bit slow (or is it because of the noise) awful focus distance, awkward range on digital body unfriendly metal hood

this is one lens that i always keep in my bag, but I hardly get to use it. quite enigmatic to be honest.

It has all the goodies that you'd want in a prime lens:

excellent image quality (sharp, contrasty images)
surprisingly bright (you may want to underexpose by a third or more lest you blow the highlights)
good bokeh

however, it's range is rather weird. being weaned on the cheapo 50mm f/1.8 as the "standard" portrait lens on a digital body, the additional length makes the 85mm a bit awkward. I'd have to take a step or two back as when I'd use my 50mm.

but enough of the niggles. this is an excellent lens if you don't mind the length and specially if you like shooting indoors. I even used it for a badminton tournament shoot, and it came out great!

here are some samples:

the agony of defeat-

christmas portrait

Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX APO IF HSM

Review Date: Nov 27, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $650.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: crisp, clear, contrasty images, supplied hood and tripod mount, quick and silent focus
5' focus, warm color cast, EX finish easy to scratch

I've had this lens for over 4 months already, and while it's an amazing piece of glass, it took some time for me to fully appreciate it. Call it lens lust or what-have-you but I actually purchased this without having a real need for it. Having said that, it means that I am not a sports photographer or an events photographer needing this lens all the time.

However, as an expensive portrait lens, it is simply top notch. it's quite sharp, and wide open, the bokeh is buttery smooth. It's so smooth that it can be addicting.

here are two samples:

and a sample in-motion shot:

"puppy in flight"

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF Nikkor

Review Date: May 19, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $80.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: cheap, sharp, lightweight, tough, ease of use, quick focus
too small, making it tough to handle - a mere niggle

a 75mm f/1.8 lens on a DX sensor, with excellent semi-macro focusing abilities, with a decent AF speed, lovely bokeh and up to f/22?

what more can you ask for?

I got mine very slightly used for about $80 a few days after I got my D50, and I never looked back.

I've used this lens for food photography

lots of fun portraits and badminton action shots, and it's never let me down, ever!

i bought a sigma 28mm f/1.8 to complement this, and i'm a happy prime shooter now.

It's quite tough, falling off my bag several times already, without any adverse effects at all. Sure it's plasticky, but it's tough enough to survive my clumsiness.

I'm just an average shooter, but i've fallen in love with this versatile lens.

Get this lens now, and be amazed with how lovely your shots will be. Flash or no flash.

Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM

Review Date: Apr 8, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $540.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Light, nice EX finish, 77mm diameter, HSM
price - in the philippines, not constant f/4

About 2 months ago, I was agonizing whether to purchase a wide angle lens or a nice macro lens. This was a few days before visiting the beach paradise island of BORACAY here in the Philippines.

I'm glad I purchased this lens instead of a macro.

The angles:

10-20mm is not something that I'm used to and composing shots can be very tricky. A small angular mistake leads to devastating results, because of the inherent distortional effects of wide angles.

However, knowing the predictable distortion of this lens, you can have fun with kids! Compose images with them at the corners and see them laugh at their anamorphic images, with either huge foreheads or extra long chins, funny wide arms and what have you.

The build:

I already have a sigma 28mm f/1.8 and loved it, so finding out that this 10-20mm lens is built practically the same way is a major plus! IT's short and stocky, with a nice rubbery finish. Plastic components all around, but i can't complain because it makes everything weigh in just fine.

They also threw in a petal hood, which works great when sunny. But do take care not to interchange the 28mm's hood with the 10-20mm's hood. you'll end up with ugly black borders because at 10mm you can see the edges of the 28mm's hood.


don't bother with non-multicoated filters as this lens is prone to flares and ghosting. I just put the filters on as protection and remove them when I shoot. Stack two filters and you'll find yourself vignetting.

Some photos:

sunset at boracay

beach chairs - notice the black bars at the left edge of the image. damn! wrong petal hood!

overcast beach - with vignetting dark edges

distorted portrait

thanks for looking!

Nikon 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF

Review Date: Feb 11, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Tokina 28-70mm f/2.8 AT-X 287 AF PRO SV

Review Date: Feb 11, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Tokina 28-70mm f/2.8 AT-X 287 AF PRO SV

Review Date: Feb 9, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $200.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: sharp, fast, lovely colors and bokeh
heavy, horrendous minimum focusing distance, clunky dual-clutch AF/MF ring, did i mention that it's heavy?

I've had these lenses for over two months and I have mixed feelings about it.

My main beef is that IT'S JUST TOO HEAVY TO BE A FUN LENS!

But that aside, this gem of a lens shines. It's my first "fast" lens and I actually bought it with the hope that I'll be able to take badminton action shots, but alas it disappointed me. Not the lenses' fault actually. The indoor court I usually play in was just too dark, and needed something like a f/1.8 @ ISO1600.

It's not good for macro shots as the minimum focusing distance is pretty long, about 2.5 feet and I regret not being able to use this lens for my favorite food shots.

These niggles aside, this lens is very good.

The build quality is bar-none! You can probably bop someone on the head with this and kill him, and the lens won't feel a thing. Optics are also very good at f/4 and higher. Taking portrait shots at f/11 gives amazing sharpness, and I think that sharpness is this lens' finest point.

I got it for $200, used, but in excellent condition, and i can honestly say that it's worth every dollar paid.

Some sample shots below:

oh yeah, have I mentioned that this lens is heavy? ^_^

Sigma 28mm f1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro

Review Date: Jan 22, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $235.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: low light photography, 77mm diameter, macro capability, build quality, price
a bit soft, but forgivably so, tokina-like clutch manual-auto focus can be irritating at times

I've been using my nikon 50mm f/1.8 prime exclusively for almost a month, and I decided to experiment a little. A rather expensive experiment.... buy purchasing a nice Sigma 28mm f1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro lens.

Been thinking to myself "if I almost always take food shots while sitting down at the dinner table, will it help if I got a lens that's a bit wider than my 50mm?"

Of course, there are a lot of contenders out there, but I knew what I wanted:

Something between 20-35mm
Definitely faster than f/2.8
Less than Php15,000 (about $300)
and definitely had to be a prime.

The Sigma fit the bill - on paper that is.

Here are my initial findings:

It's not as SHARP as my beloved 50mm f/1.8 at wide open. You'll have to stop it down to about 2-2.2 to get a bit of sharpness.

It doesn't have as much CA as the 50mm in a lot of shots

It's not as bright as the 50mm in almost all shots. Either have a +0.3 or +0.7 EV bias or slow the shutter down a tad to get the proper exposure.

Sample Shots

I took it for a spin last saturday at the First Philippine International Jazz Festival, where my cousin played the drums and here are some shots:

My cousin Dave

My sister

a view of the stage

This ain't pepe smith (a local oldie rock star)

Nikon 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF

Review Date: Jan 8, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $225.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: compact, light, quick zoom and relatively cheap
noisy AF, and can be slow to focus from infinity to about 2 feet.

I wasn't really looking for a 28-200mm zoom when I passed by our local photography store, but then the owner gave me an offer I can't refuse.. over a $100 in savings if I bought this lens new on that day.

I'm glad he did!

This lens is a gem. Compact and light, it looks a little bigger than the baby 18-55mm kit lens that i have on my D50, but a twist of the zoom collar, and this baby extends to more than double it's lenght!

Sure, a 2.8 version would be friendlier at full magnification, and at 200mm, VR is sorely missed but I can't complain at this price.

If you have steady hands, you can get away with 1/15 shutter speed like I do, but if not, have your tripod with you.

I think this will be my all-around walk-about lens. Can't wait to hit the beach with these.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

Review Date: Jan 8, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $80.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: cheap, sharp, very light, forgiving and fun
If you're not used to DOF look elsewhere

Purchasing this lens was a no-brainer.

It's cheap, fast, light and easy to use.

I actually got this because of the reviews posted here, and the 3-odd weeks that i've had these have proven me right. Was lucky to find a specimen for sale cheap. No second thoughts about it and I snapped it up within minutes.

As a newbie photographer, this lens helps me learn the finer things about Depth of Field and aperture/shutter speed relationships. Aspiring photographers shouldn't hesitate to get one of these.

Highly recommended.

I'm starting to like prime lenses. hahaha