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  Reviews by: jbirdfl  

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Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR AF-S

Review Date: Jan 8, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Light, fairly compact, useful zoom range
soft at long end, cheapish construction, slow

This lens was purchased to complete my "light" travel kit (though I'll still use my 80-200 f2.8 and 300 for serious work). Sharpness is good up until around the 200 range, after which it is noticeably soft. The seam in the plastic lens barrel is visible, so I doubt this lens is very weatherproof (and I've done my best so far not to find out!). It is light weight and fairly compact for its zoom range, so is comfortable to carry and use (though I'd be glad to give those aspects up for just a little more speed, especially at the long end). It compares well with what the rest of the manufacturers are building these days.

Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR ED-IF AF-S DX S

Review Date: Jan 8, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: useful zoom range
wish it were sharper. had one mechanical issue

I've used this as my main "walk-around" lens for a few years now. I wanted the 24mm equivalent on the wide end and some telephoto (wish it had a little more, actually, like the Sony). Sharpness is average for this design and price range (less at some settings than the "kit" lens that came with the camera, though). I did have one mechanical failure with a cam in the zoom mechanism jamming near the full telephoto end. A bit of jiggling and cussing would eventually work it free until I could send it back for repair. Evidently it is a "known" issue with this lens, though maybe not prevalent enough to warrant a recall. Overall, a good zoom range with adequate performance.

Nikon 24-85mm f/2.8-4D IF AF

Review Date: Apr 24, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: nice zoom range for everyday lens, fast enough to be useful, closeup mode (macro?)

I bought this lens specifically for a "space-limited" extended trip I went on. A few times I wished it had a little longer upper end, but overall it did what it was supposed to. It has a good wide-angle for scenics, and the short telephoto worked well for people shots. Though I wouldn't consider this a true macro, it did focus more closely than anything else I had researched in this zoom range (and I used it!).
Jack of all trades, master of none. Other lenses are sharper, built better, go wider, longer, or closer, but none "did it all" as well as this one. A great "walk around" lens for full frame cameras.

Bogen/Manfrotto 3021 Tripod Legs

Review Date: Apr 24, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: quick set-up, sturdy, reasonable price, versatile height adjustment
locking levers not the sturdiest

This is my second one of these (first one left in a divorce Smile. Best bang for the buck. My longest lens is a 500/f4 and it handles it just fine. The locking levers on the legs are plastic and feel like they need to be handled with care. (I understand that there are metal levers you can buy on the aftermarket, but I don' thave these). That said, though, I've never had mine break up to this point.
The center post can be shortened easily, so getting ground level shots is fairly easy. This is a big plus over my Gitzo (which must have the entire center post inverted for such things... very awkward and slow in getting set up).
This tripod is very quick to set up. I use both ball and pan heads (Cullman) and have been very happy with this set-up.