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Tamron 28-300MM F/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD VC AF

Review Date: Sep 6, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $590.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great Color and Contrast for an affordable lens Sharp even wide open across it's range Decent speed to focus in reasonable light with a newer Nikon DSLR
Is certainly slower to focus and can hunt in very low light without focus assist system.

Considering I"m using this lens on a full frame Nikon D700 body not only is my focusing a non issue unless I get into some pretty poor light, but it renders some rich, contrasty and sharp images with little fuss. I found the build on my copy tight with NO slop and droop at all. Even the zoom motion is smooth with no tight or loose spots. This may not be the overall equal to a typical top of the line Nikkor lens, but it for darn sure will render a shot just as sharp, contrasty and color rich as any under a grand. The center is sharp throughout the entire range, but if you want sharp corners indeed stopping down 2 stops is pretty essential. It is fairly easy to get a good bokeh with this lens by using the long end of the range. All in all I think Tamron has a real winner here. I'm sure enjoying it since I simply wanted an equivalent lens to what the 18-200vr gave me on the D300 I sold off for this full frame model. It delivers...that's what matters. Here's a pseudo macro sample of what can be done.

Nikon D300

Review Date: Apr 25, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,799.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Autofocus like a cheetah on it's prey. Build quality, ergonomics, functionality, weight/balance, image quality, customization
None I've found as yet. I do wish the AA batteries could be accurately read for their power levels as does the LiIon's but I realize without the built in sensor its hard to provide.

Having come from a D200 this was like trading in a BMW 300 series for a 5 series if analogies work. The autofocus capabilities are legions beyond any previous generation. Flash photography is a dream come true in ease of accuracy. The build and balance are just wonderful. The newer grip is designed so it integrates so perfectly so as not to call attention to itself as a separate appendage but rather like part of the ONE body. The functionality and ergonomics are above reproach and are certainly leagues better than Canon. I find the IQ remarkable and the AWB is dead on in all but the most complex of shooting arrangements. All in all Nikon just got this one RIGHT.

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

Review Date: Feb 3, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $369.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Nice weight for travel Decent build for the price Excellent bokeh Very high resolution stopped down to f8 and smaller
Not F2.8

For the price this lens is simply a steal. It is decently built. While it's not a 70-200 f2.8vr it is by NO means a cheap or loose build. It is a good balance and has good contrast for a sub $1000 lens. As long as you are in decent light, and don't have a big problem stopping it down to f8 (f11 is even better) it makes for a great travel long lens or for walk around wildlife potential. Even with the VR I find that unless I am careful in my composition I can lose some resolution on the shot so it can be wise to take a few shots if possible at a given time. When you nail it the resolution can be stunning at f8-f11. I can see tiny detail on subjects more than half a block away. It is worth every penny especially considering how affordable it is.

Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor

Review Date: Feb 3, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $285.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Speed/Wide aperture essential for low light Amazing Contrast Light weight and size Good Focus accuracy
Not AF-S

There must be some sample variation on this model so I guess some caution may be in order for having return ability in case your copy doesn't match up. On my copy the center is very sharp in the center and all over by f2......I don't think it's a freak as others have reported this kind of good result. The contrast beat the pants off of a copy of the f1.8 I sent back for this....and glad I did. The build IMHO is considerably better as well. There is a small amount of flare possible if not being careful shooting wide open, but I've found by f2.0 its a non issue. I have found it to be very accurate in focus as well as being instant to lock with my D300 body. I hesitated to consider this lens over the 1.8, but I can vouch (for my copy anyway) this is a wise move for the long term. It is clearly superior to the 1.8.......not as close as I thought it would be........and this is a good thiing...

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G IF-ED AF-S Nikkor

Review Date: Jan 18, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,725.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Unreal sharpness from center to all corners wide open. Contrast and color is top of the line. Focus is instant. Build is "Pro" all the way
Large but not unbalanced. Huge front element not for the faint of heart nor those that abuse their gear as there's no place for a filter to protect it.

This is one big guy, but surprisingly NOT unbalanced. Actually on a gripped D300 is near perfect in its balance and no issue to shoot with handheld. Sure, it is not real light, but I've held heavier lenses to be sure. It is amazingly sharp all over the image. I tested this lens extensively against a 12-24 and it blew it out of the water for edge sharpness and contrast. I would agree this may be classified as a "specialty" lens. I may not take it out of the bag daily, but I can tell you this, If I am going to a National Park, or shooting landscape this WILL be my first choice. The image on screen full size or in print will flat blow you away. This is the new "King of the Hill" in wides As far as I'm concerned. It's the ONLY way you could get me to part with that kind of $$... it DOES I'd recommend you NOT try it at your dealer unless you are prepared to BUY. Trust me.....I was warned........and walked out with it.....

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR

Review Date: Jan 18, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,699.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Instant and accurate focus. Stunning bokeh, On the money sharpness wide open across the image to the corners. The build is as good as it gets.

I thought that perhaps this lens was hyped a bit over the years. I had not worked with one, and now that I have and own one all I can say this is a "must have" for any serious photographer, or one that cares about the final image. The bokeh is legendary and for a good reason. The background disappears if you want it to. The color and contrast are pro level all the way. The build is also as good as it gets. You really can't want more unless you're just plain unrealistic. I use this with a 1.7xII teleconverter with super results. Doesn't slow down the autofocus at all.........and the hit to sharpness is next to none. This is a must have for a range that is much used in the photographic world. A 70-200vr should be in everyones arsenal.

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED NIKKOR AF-S

Review Date: Jan 18, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,699.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Rolls Royce build. Superb balance. Amazing Color rendition. Excellent sharpness wide open across the board. Bokeh is about as good as it gets.

All I can say is this lens delivers in spades. It is sharp wide open from one end to the other, and with the usual sharpening in PP delivers a 3D image. There is literally NO way to describe the resultant image from this lens. You simply must use one and view the image 100% on a good calibrated screen to appreciate it. I find it sharp across the board even wide open. By f4 you can do surgery with it. The build screams "Pro" and the balance with it's new longer slimmer design is a great balance on a gripped D300 body to be sure. If you are in the market for a zoom like this and have the $$ RUN don't walk to get one. You simply can NOT be disappointed. There is perhaps a small amount of typical wide angle distortion at the 24mm end but not much and what there is is so easily fixed in PP.

Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED DX VR AF-S

Review Date: Jan 18, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $729.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Amazing range, sharp on my copy wide open from about 20mm to at least 150. Great weight, decent focus speed, great contrast for a non pro lens. Very good contrast and color. I have none of the lens creep some have reported. Could be as it is a recent build and may have been a problem corrected in design.
May not be "Prime" sharpness all over but up to 13x19 prints are superb

This seems to be a much maligned lens overall, and unjustly so I feel. For walk around use and decent light it's darn hard to beat. Especially if you don't have steady hands as I don't. I don't have issues with sharpness that some have reported and I fully understand there may be some sample variations. A sample I had over a year ago was not nearly this nice. If you want a travel lens that CAN deliver.......there is NONE quite like this one. Provided you get a decent sample you'll be all set.

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

Review Date: Mar 21, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $435.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast and accurate to focus Nice light but solid build Amazing price for pro optics
not a SWM but it focuses so fast I don't notice

I was fortunate to get my D200 around the same time this lens was released. I sold off a 18-200VR as it simply was not great enough for me in the corners. I decided to go with a 17-50mm range lens and complement it with a 70-300vr. My decision was a good one and has worked out nicely. The 17-50 f2.8 XR DI is instant to focus, exposes correctly, and behaves perfectly in every other way. I certainly see NO compelling reason to pay the $1200 for the Nikon equivalent as it has NO real performance benefit over this model. I tried them both in store and it made NO sense to go with the Nikon in this case. I've had pretty good luck with several select Tamron's in the past. This was has NOT disappointed.......I got mine from Canoga Camera and they are great. NO opened box like some vendors in New York that are respected but shall remain nameless..........

Canon i9900 Photo

Review Date: Jan 28, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $419.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Lot's of contrast and rich color output It's a speed demon sips ink compared to my previous S9000
Profiles for non Canon paper have to be custom configured

After doing the simple setup for this printer I set out to see how the different papers would work. I used the Paper Pro, Glossy and Matte paper from Canon. On all but the Matte it was a no brainer. The Matte paper was a bit fussier in that you need to simply allow the printer to stick to the "Standard" print setting as if you insist on bumping it up to the "Fine" setting it causes color overload. The speed is astounding in all sizes......a industry leader for sure. The print cartridges are much less expensive in bulk from Canoga Camera ($8.79 ea. vs. typical $11.00+) The contrast is a far cry from earlier models and the POP is simply wonderful. Even the B&W output is commendable. I got mine for a very resonable price from J&R Music World. All in all it's been a wonderful choice I don't regret one bit.....

Sigma 150mm f2.8 APO Macro DG EX HSM

Review Date: Jan 27, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Professional build Excellent balance with great magnesium tripod bracket included All accessories included such as a padded ballistic nylon carry case, strap, end caps and tripod bracket mount

I must say this lens for me was both a gamble and a HUGE surprise. I have owned both the 100mm f2.8 and 180mm F3.5L macro lenses from Canon as well as the previous Sigma 180mm f3.5 APO EX HSM Macro. This lens compares more favorably with the Canon 180L than the others. It's level of precision in the manual focus ring, focus speed and accuracy are virtually equal to my Canon L experience. The balance of the lens makes it a joy to both handhold or use for critical tripod mounted application. I used it initially for both macro and tele use finding it equal in BOTH regards. The level of not only sharpness but contrast on this lens is highly commendable. I have not found the F22 aperture limit to be any issue whatsoever as most people will likely find themselves either using it macro between F8 and F16 or tele F2.8 to F8. The bokeh is also superb and It reminds me most of the creamy bokeh found on the 85mm F1.2L USM...high praise indeed. I can't recommend this lens enough as it completely exceeded any expectation I had for it's output quality.

Gitzo 2220 Aluminum Explorer

Review Date: Jan 27, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Can be configured every which way imaginable for difficult angular requirements such as hillsides and macro use. Resonable low weight and high rigidity. Very stable under most conditions including windy and unstable ground. Non rotating leg sections very fast to unlock and relock even compared to the carbon fiber Gitzo models
Takes getting used to for fast easy setup but once learned becomes very intuitive.

Having previously owning the vastly more expensive carbon fiber model (2227) I had to so called "downgrade" to this one after replacing the previous model. I actually found the bonus of the non rotating (grooved) leg sections superb and an improvement over the previous owned tripods in general. I prefer the quick twist action of this model to all other tripds both flip lock and otherwise. The weight difference was very slight indeed while the decent rigidity remained. This model along with the other Explorer models is grossly underrated as Bogen informed me that the 13lb rating was for the center articulated post set horizontal. When set vertical is rated at a rather conservative 22lbs. Enough for even some large glass and pro bodies. The articulated center column is a wonder of design and is extremely easy to set to the desired angle. For macro work I know of NO equal to this tripod, even on uneven ground such as a hill or mountainside. The flip lock system locking the angle of the legs is fast, easy and reliable with flex ONLY if you place the legs ridiculously far apart with great weight in the center. Once one becomes familiar with the setup procedure of this unique tripod setup is actually faster than a typical tripod. Over tightening the leg locks is a common mistake and a very light twist is all that is needed on this model as the legs are also cleverly notched so as to avoid turning as you tighten.....a wonderful feature indeed. All in all this tripod should be seen and used prior to purchasing any other if possible. I feel in most cases you'll go home with one. Their custom ballistic nylon fitted bag is crazy expensive, but as usual a fitted top flight carry bag isn't cheap so be prepared to ante up the $90USD for it as well. Ballhead optional of course.

Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM

Review Date: Nov 8, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,180.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Amazing color and contrast Superb top line L build Sharpness at the top of it's game

First let me say that I have been used to a 180mm lens so it's weight didn't put me off. I used the 100mm macros on the market for several years until switching over to a 180 over a year ago (a Sigma 180mm EX HSM). When rebuilding my lens collection for this year I decided to just go all out and give one of these beauties a try. Indeed it surpasses the Sigma in contrast, color and build. As it rightly should for over twice the price. This lens delivers even wide open, but since for most things the depth of field is so limiting I prefer to shoot at F11-F16 anyway as I do jewelry catalog shoots and it requires a significant depth of field. Also my move to a 180mm was for the purpose of eliminating the reflection of the lens hood from the product (which drove me nuts with the 100mm F2.8 Macro). I have NOT found the focusing to be slow. I don't know why but mine snaps into immediate focus. I guess I typically have decent light so it's not been an issue. All in all this is the 'Rolls Royce" of macro lenses. If a greater working distance is your've found your lens.........

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Nov 8, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $329.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Super Fast Autofocus Nice Build Great Background Blur (Bokeh)
Hood is extra cost

After all I had read about this lens for portrait work I just had to try one. I've found it to provide extraordinary bokeh and is lightning fast to autofocus when asked. I like the build as it's not cheap and doesn't feel plasticky like say the 50mm 1.4 does. I've not witnessed any of the bad habits (CA wide open) that I saw reported by a few. The color and contrast out of this lens often needs none or next to no post processing. That is a real treat for me. When I shoot with it wide open I can get a shot that for many clients has been preferred due to it NOT being TOO overly sharp and enhance any facial defects they might have. It's become my "go to" lens for portraits thats for sure.

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Review Date: Nov 5, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,050.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Lightning fast autofocus Bright Viewfinder Superb build Top low light performance
Not crisp wide open

You can tell you have a "L" on your DSLR body with this guy at work. Nice weight and balance. I find the image wide open, while not absolutely crisp is workable in post processing. Considering the nice high shutter speeds you end up with in low available light situations it's a real Godsend. It's actually a great lens for capturing walk around street photography and events with people milling around. I can see this as a great lens for a indoor party as well when a flash might be obnoxious. In the end it's worth it's rather high price tag. It more than competes with any mid tele zoom and once stopped down will exceed their overall performance.

Canon EOS 20D

Review Date: Sep 30, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,599.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast accurate autofocus. Excellent color accuracy. Nice focus screen to manually focus on. Improved LCD exposure accuracy. Great battery life. No more blown highlights. Stunning exposure and ETTL-II accuracy and consistency. Kit 18-55 EF-S lens not a bad lightweight lens stopped down....
Would have been nice to have the same LCD that the 1DMK-II has but than I guess you can't expect that for the money.

Coming from a 1D and 10D I feel this body is indeed squarely in between the two. While the 20D may fall a little short of the blinding shooting speed and focus accuracy and choices of the 1 Series, it's a darn sight past the blown highlights, slow and innacurate low light autofocus, off colors, poor viewfinder screen and idiosyncratic exposure and flash exposures of the 10D. I consider this a MAJOR step forward. Some sell it short, but one afternoon of shooting with the 20D and I"m more convinced it is a "Baby 1 Series" with more in common with it than that of the previous generations that brought this 20D to life. It is as if they took all the weaknesses of the previous generation and finally answered the issues and solved them bringing it more into line as a backup to a 1 Series camera or simply a great body for weddings, product and macro photography and good all around action shooter. For the price it simply can't be beat IMHO. When they get the sporadic lockup issues under control with a firmware update I think it will leave those waiting to adopt it no reason to wait.....


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