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Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM

Review Date: Nov 17, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: 1. 3-4 stop VR works well for stills and video 2. Sharp a stop or so down from wide open 3. Feels good for such a light lens
Slow at the long end. Some distortion but that is easily correct in post.

I have good glass but what a travel kit. Tried M43 but it was too small for my hands. Read the review at DPR and because the Nikkor 18-300 was so big, thought I'd try it. While light it feels well built. The VR has given me three stops and it works well even at 250mm on my D7100 (even with the 1.3 crop). LR/CS corrects well for this lens (CSCC does it better I think). The High ISO performance of my cameras somewhat compensate for the f6.3 @ 250mm. Its focus is very fast, even compared to my 300 AFS f4. This lens also makes a great video lens, the VR can give you 10-15 seconds of steady video (at least in my use).

I would not want this to be my only lens because I've used good Nikkor glass for a long time. But, for travel or walk around, this lens is very good. If I had not liked it I would have sent it back and bought the much larger and heavier Nikkor 18-300. With Photoshop you can make 13 x 19 or 16 x 20's from a D7100 file that look fantastic.

I would buy it again.

Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM

Review Date: Jul 14, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Small Feels solid Good to very good optical performance Very useful close focus Great range fast focus 3 to 4 stop OS
Have to step down one stop between 18 and 80 to get best performance

This is the new OS Macro version of this lens that use the 62mm size filters. I need a "run and gun" stabilized lens for video. I have the following Nikkors: 12-24, 80-200 f2.8 2r, and 300 afs f4 as well as a Tamron 90 - I think I know what good glass is.

Well have I been pleasantly surprised by this lens. I was thinking about the Nikon 18-300, but I really wanted this lens to be small so I could us it with or without a shoulder rig for video. After reading the DPR review, I thought $400 was a reasonable amount to spend on a lens that would only be used when I was shooting video, and then only when I could use my aperture ring lenses on a tripod.

For such a small and light weight lens, it is well built (feels much better than the Tamron IMHO) and about half to one third the weight of the Nikkor.

Optical performance at the short zooms needs to be one stop down, but it is very good and Lightroom quickly fixes any distortion. The long end is good to very good (on a par with my Olympus m43 40-150 zoom). The close focus is very handy.

I found that the VR/OS works very well. More importantly for video, I can't see much difference between it and really good lenses. I can see using this lens for travel, so much so I bought a B&W Circular polarizer for it.

Sigma 28-300 f3.5-6.3 Macro

Review Date: Dec 17, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $144.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Small size, range of focal lengths, sharpness
Build quality. Feels very plastic and the zoom & focus are very rough.

I have a bag full of Nikkors with most north of $1K, so yes I know good glass. I wanted to see what the newer cameras and photoshop could do with such a lens.

Even wide open I've found the sigma very good to excellent in sharpness. Stop down a stop and its really very good. Using a Auto ISO and using shutter speed results in very sharp images under a varitety of lighting, of couse it likes bright light. However if you have a camera that works well @ ISO 1600 or above the lens works well in a lot of different lightening levels.

While I thought I'd have to use a tripod, a monopod at lower ISO's or just using 3200/6400 on my D7000 gets me to usable shutter speeds at the 200/300 setting. My D200 @ 1200/1600 also extends the usability of the longer ranges.

I wanted to see what a person could do if they only had $500 to buy a complete kit. So I said my camera choice would be a D200 with say 40 or 50K clicks for I've seen for $350, leaving $150 for the lens. I found this lens for $144 and shipping due to an error on UPS was free. $6 under my absolute limit.

I was prepaired to have wasted my test money, but after about a 100 images at varies focal lengths, I'm pretty impressed. Goods macro, works well with the D200's built in flash. On the heavy D200 body I don't even feel the lens and the camera and the small lens fit in the smallest LowPRo Holster.

If you know the lens limitations and don't shoot jpg, and know how to work with even a limited photo editor, this is actually a pretty good lens. The manual focus and zoom ring are very tight, but I don't think this copy was even broken it, I would expect it to loosen up after a couple of thousand images.

Because all of my bodies are DX (1.5) crop bodies I am not using the full coverage and as such don't see fall off or vignetting on my images at any focal length.

If you want to play with one of these lens (be careful lots of different models of this lens) on a crop body, I'd recommen it. If you do have limited funds and want a lens to introduce you to photography, I think this lens and D200 would be a great setup.

Nikon D7000

Review Date: Oct 12, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,190.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Size, quality of image, high ISO performance, video quality.
None - best digital camera for my purposes that I've ever used.

The Nikon D7000 is a great camera. I’ve used many cameras medium, 35mm, DSLR and the images from this camera are as good as they come if you use raw images to process.

The size of this camera for me is just about perfect. It still feels good with my 80-200 & 300mm, yet takes my 24-85 D or 12-24 and fits in a small LowPro Holster.

While the buffer only holds six high res images, the new faster SD cards at now at 90 megs and that should address the six images. But remember that is 14 bit raw and I’ve don’t “machine gun” even my BIF’s any more.

The 24P video with the “B” frame makes the videos seem like a much higher bit rate, the video is very high quality and the “rolling shutter” effect is under good control.

My D200 is my second camera, but the D7000 is in another league. Highly recommended.

Lowepro Mini Trekker AW

Review Date: May 10, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $119.95 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Durable, Holds a good amount of stuff (12/24, 90mm Macro, 800200f f2.8, 300 f4, TC's 1.4/1.7 and a D200). For the size just about the perfect bag. I've had mine 5 years and have not had any issues.
None for me.

I own several LowPro products and have been pleased with them all. An AW2 was my first bag and saved my equipment in the rain forest of Costa Rica. I like the size of this bag, use in a car, and then great out in the field. Lots of stuff, enough for a long photo trip. I like the AW cover, here in the northwest in has worked well. After 5 years, still a great tool. I would not want anything bigger and for smaller I use my AW2 or holster and a LP lens case on one their belts.

Nikon D70s

Review Date: Jun 1, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great Raw image quality, light weight, two wheels, great flash w/SB800, over all a great camera....
Focus speed....

I just got a D200, however I've put 30K of images on my D70 since jan of 2005.

I love this camera. I'm keeping it as my second body and as my "point and shoot". This is a durable camera that once you learn how to use it, produces images that easily go 13 x 19 with great color and sharpness.

There is only one subject that I really had to work at to get great shots - birds in flight. But you could learn how to do it, but it did take work.

The number of shots per battery charge, the various modes (I never used the "scenes") and the fantatistic flash control.

I love the spot metering and how light but strong the camera is.

It has been a great camera, and I will use it until it no longer functions. I know a few that have gone 70 to 100K exposures and I hope that mine does too. Not only is it a very good imaging platform, but it was a great way to jump into digital with user friendly camera.

Nikon D200

Review Date: Jun 1, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,324.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build, performance, image quality, and "feel".
high ISO noise (on mine >1600, but Noise Ninja works fine)

I put about 30K on my D70 in two years, and have a good understanding of what I want in a camera. The D200 is the perfect camera for me.

When paired with CS3 and Noise Ninja (for very high ISO >1600, which I shoot about once a year) there is nothing that this camera cannot image.

The build and ergonomics are incredible. The 5 fps, fast focus, incredible metering and flash systems, and the fact that it uses my current lenses extremely well, means that I am happy.

Glass is the heart of any good system and this camera works well with older and the new. The 10 Meg. resloution is about all my dual core can handle once I start with layers. The files print near perfect on my Epson 2400, and I have lots of crop room.

It could be considered heavy, except when considering that this is pro level camera, it is very light in weight.

I got mine for $1324 and due to my lens "collection" I would not consider any other brand, so it was a D200 or D80. With the great deal I got on a USA model, it was for me an easy decision.

No matter if a new model came out tomorrow, I would still be extremely happy with the D200 and expect to use it for a long time.

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

Review Date: Jun 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp. Lots of very happy users. Nice and light. The carbon fiber build doesn't bother me as I have a $1000 lens made of it. Over all this is a great lens for the price. I bought none DI version and am very happy with it.
None that I can think of.

I've had this lens for about a month and have taken several hundred images with it. I reviewed the Nikkor, the Sigma, and The Tamron. The reviews that I could find in magizines as well as the strong support for this lens on the various internet sites convinced me that the lens was fantastic opitcally and I saw no signs of anyone have mechanical problems with it.

I often use my pro level zoom and a prime telephoto with extension tubes and Canon 500D, and this lens matches those setups in quality.

It is my quick Macro option and I don't think that I will ware it out. I have several expensive lens in cabron fiber and I'm used to it by now, so that part of the build of the Tamron don't bother me.

If you are looking at a macro in the ninety to one hundred range, and you are more concerned about performance than brand name, you owe it to yourself to look at this lens.

I was lucky and found a LN- at KEH for 280 and think it was a great deal.

Nikon 300mm f/4 ED-IF AF-S Nikkor

Review Date: Oct 2, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $950.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Weight and wide open performance

Got it with the Tc1.4 E Ii and the TC1.7 E II. This lens is sharp, sharp, and sharp. it autofocuses very well with the 1.4 with no image loss, focuses well with the 1.7 in bright light image still sharp, but needs a tripod and the Kirk Collar.

Dollar for Dollar, one the best Nikkor bargins of all time I think.

The close focus is a big benefit (5', 1:3.8 reproduction) and it can be used with the Canon 500D for a very good Macro lens.

Love mine.

Nikon 12-24mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S DX

Review Date: Sep 2, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $930.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: The range is what I wanted. The fact that you can use it FF for an 18-24mm is a big plus. Nikkor quality images - sharp, excellant contrast, and great color in real world shots. Like the close focus (actually have used it with my 500D, works well) and the feel of the lens. More expensive than the Tokina or Sigma's, but in the end it fits my needs and produces great images. Very fast focus on my D70. Replaces a 24 2.8 I used for a long time and at 24 I think the zoom is sharper
Cost in comparison to the very good Tokina and Sigma products.

This is my second most used lens (300mm AFS f4 is most used). This is a fairly expensive lens when compared to the third party lenses, but this lens is what I wanted. The technical aspects of sharpness, color, and contrast are what one would expect from a first class Nikkor. I haven't shot at 12mm that much, but it seems very sharp at f8, haven't done much at f4 yet. At 14mm or so, very, very sharp and at 24mm fantastic.

It is an incredible tool for landscapes and cityscapes. The persepective you get with this lens will make you see differently. I knew I would get this lens, so I went for the 24-85 instead of the kit lens with the D70. If you shoot fine art shots, this is lens is a significant "brush" to have in your kit.

I've printed some 13 x 19 on my Epson 2400 and the image quality it there, I don't see light fall off and any CA issues (haven't seen any yet) can easily be corrected in CS2.

Yes it is more expensive than the other options, but this lens has proven itself to be a great tool. Would buy again without second thoughts.

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

Review Date: Mar 16, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: fast 2.8 wide speed fast focus for none AFS useful 1:2 macro Very sharp at both ends at f2.8-4 - 32
Non-AFS for TC compatibility Cost (for a non-pro lens

Have used this lens as my "normal" and find it very useful. I think that early production problems must have been eliminated from my sample and this seems confirmed on other reviews I've read on other sites.

This is a fast focusing lens (esp. for non-afs). While it is fairly large at 72mm, I've found that it is very, very sharp wide open. I don't shoot many shots where straignt lines are important so I can't speak to that issue. But as a "normal" lens it is a real winner. On my D70, its a 35 2.8 which is very useful indoors. When paired with the SB800 the indoor shots are nicely illuminated, outside the fill flash is great. Nice range with the 1.5 digital factor, though I wish it was a little wider.

Biggest surprize: the Micro/Macro setting is a real tool. This lens is not only sharp in the Micro/Macro setting, the lens will autofocus right up to several inches from the element. It works and works well. This is the main reason I got this lens over the G version.

I compared the sharpness of this lens with my 300 f4, and find it similar. If you are looking for a fasting focusing, fairly wide range, sharp lens with the ability to take reasonable closeups, I would recommend this lens. Currently has a $50 rebate I think (03/16/05).