babka08's reviews

  • Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Small, bright, cheap

    The positive thing about DSLR 'cropped' sensors is that no longer does one have to spend several hundred dollars on a fast portrait lens. Suddenly, all 50mm primes become adequate for good portraits. I often serve as the family paparazzi at events. I hate flashes. And I do it for fun, so budget is a concern. This 1.8 does the trick. My first SLR was a Nikon FG with a manual 50mm, and I guess it's still in my blood. It's sharp and very competitive with the f1.4 in terms of image sharpness. The bokeh is good, though perhaps one might prefer the shape of f1.4 out of focus objects. Bottom line: it's small, affordable and of adequate quality for pretty much anything.

    reviewed December 6th, 2006 (purchased for $135)
  • Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G SSM SAL-70300G

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharpness, colour, SSM, range vs size
    Slow-ish aperture

    I've used this on both the a700 and a850 and it's a keeper for outdoor photography that doesn't demand the widest apertures. What you give up in speed verses an f2.8 lens, you gain in portability. The body is very well made. Plastic means it is lighter. Metal would make it more expensive and heavier. Your decision what you want. I absolutely love the colours this lens puts out. The bokeh is very nice, and it is sharp all over on both apsc and full-frame. The SSM isn't super fast but it is accurate and extremely quiet. I can't for the life of me figure out why Sony isn't making mid-range and wide zooms with a similar G specification. Read: Canon f4 series... I found a good used one which made it a good buy. Otherwise expensive new but it is a worthwhile investment.

    reviewed September 29th, 2010 (purchased for $550)
  • Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 DT Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* SAL-1680Z

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharpness, colour, contrast, range and speed
    no SSM, price new

    This is a really great generalist lens and a reason to use the Sony apsc system. The range is really great for a 3.5-4.5 aperture. The colour and contrast produce very pleasing results. The bokeh is quite good and consistent, and it is really sharp all around. On my a700, I just felt I could trust its results in pretty much all shooting situations. There is some corner shadowing at the wide end.

    Shame on Sony for not making it an SSM lens, for this price. I put 7 for construction because of this. They are way behind Canikon in this regard. Buying it used was a good deal. New, it needs a rebuild with same optics and SSM included, for no more money. But even without SSM, it's still a great piece of glass and mine worked well mechanically.

    reviewed September 29th, 2010 (purchased for $550)
  • Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    sharp, good colour, versatile, compact
    noisy, only 1:2 macro

    This lens is optically simply excellent. Sharp, clear, good contrast and colour. And because it goes to 1:2 macro it is much more versatile than the other fast 50s. I like it, but it just doesn't fit my needs. I really wanted 1:1 macro so have gone with a 100mm. But if you don't need to get super close to your subject (flowers, for example) it really is great. And f/2.5 is quite fast, especially because the 50 1.8 and 1.4 don't really get sharp till around f2 or 2.5. It has great bokeh for close ups and good bokeh for more distant subjects like portraits.

    The lens's construction is good. Solid plastic with metal mount. The negative – it's showing its age – is its focus motor, which is loud for a Canon lens. If you're comparing to all the Pentax or Sony-Minolta screw driven lenses, then it's the same deal. If you are on a budget, and want a really versatile normal length lens, this is recommended. Or if you just want a really sharp 50 that's just a bit slower than the rest, get it. But probably not your best bet for a quiet wedding shoot...

    reviewed July 24th, 2014 (purchased for $250)
  • Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    small (duh), sharp, contrast/colour, quiet, cheap
    it doesn't zoom from 18-400

    This is a really great lens. It's tiny. And the fact that they include a very quiet lens motor, unlike Pentax with their noisy screw driven motors, is impressive. The image quality is just great. No question. I wonder about its longevity (like 10 years from now) as the electronics must be pretty tiny in there and it's plastic. But for what it costs it's still a great investment. The only question is whether you want a 40mm lens. It makes your full-frame Canon work like a rangefinder, so that's a great comparison. And it's about the same focal length as your smart phone. Another check mark. I actually find that I'm looking at things a little wider than a 'normal' 50mm lens these days, and when I want to go portrait I go up to 100mm. I'm talking full-frame. I can put my 6D with this lens in a little fanny pack (along with my Voigtlander 20mm pancake) and it's so nice and compact! I think it gives the Fuji x100 a run for its money (yes it's larger and heavier but) as a rangefinder type experience yet you still have a DSLR to work with other lenses. To conclude my ramble, don't hesitate to get one unless you don't want the 40mm length. But on a budget, it could replace your need for a 50 and 35. For under $200.

    reviewed July 24th, 2014 (purchased for $130)
  • Pentax 60-250mm f/4 ED IF SDM SMC DA*

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Nice range, good colour, contrast, silent AF, great tripod collar
    Not at all sharp at f4

    Everyone said this lens was sharp from wide-open. Not my experience. I even sent it to Pentax under warranty for review and they said it was within specifications. The strangest phenomenon – and I tried it with three different bodies with the same effect – it was like it was in a bit of a dream world, with hazyness around the frame outside of a fairly sharp centre. Everything was also quite overexposed. Tried various exposure modes and compensation but generally the same result. If you have a copy that is sharp from f4, then good on you. Enjoy it. Other than this one deal-breaking issue with this copy, it is a really nice lens. From f5 it was sharp and clear all over the frame. I'm not sure from any distance you'd see a lot of difference from the DA55-300, but if blown up or viewed close, there's a clear difference.
    Good contrast. Very nice colour. The build is great, the focus is quiet, not super fast but accurate. Note that the focal length (ie. 250mm) changes with your distance from the subject, so it works as a 200mm lens in some instances. Not a big deal. Just know that. The tripod collar implementation is one of the best out there.
    I would say in terms of use it's hand-holdable, and you can walk around with it for a while. But it's on the edge of being too heavy to carry around for long periods. I wouldn't carry it on a long hike, but if pictures are your priority it's certainly a bit lighter than a 70-200 f/2.8. Using it handheld, with Pentax in-body shake reduction, it's realistic to use it quite a bit hand-held. 750g feels like a lot less than 1100g though to carry around. Indoors the 50-135 is certainly better, but outdoors, the 60-250 offers really great image quality.
    I recommend this lens because I suspect I had a bad copy even though Pentax said it was acceptable. Had I bought it new, I would have exchanged it. But do try a few out, and do get one if you want a really great telelphoto for Pentax.

    reviewed January 14th, 2014 (purchased for $1,150)