pancreas's reviews

  • Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD Macro 1:2 AF

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Lightweight, versatile range, cheap, reasonably good construction
    Image quality deteriorates beyond 200mm when wide open, prone to flare

    I got this as a gift since the original owner discovered that it wouldn't autofocus on his D40x. There's some severe chromatic aberration of the purple kind and blurring near its longest focal length, especially at its max aperture. Focusing speed is about on par with other non-AF-S lenses. The macro function is just a gimmick IMO, you need lots of light and a tripod for it to be effective.

    I suspect better samples of this lens exist since not every online review I've read about it notes the issues with blurring and chromatic aberration.

    When the sun is anywhere in or near the shot I've noticed that flare is really bad also. That's kind of expected for anything below $200. It's still good enough for my casual use anyway.

    reviewed April 11th, 2008
  • Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical IF SP AF

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Lightweight, balances well on D80 with grip, relatively cheap, excellent image quality
    Relatively slow AF, zoom range is limited

    You can tell this lens is state of the art by all those fancy black on gold acronyms in its name 8p I guess the marketing people at Tamron decided that the numbers alone didn't look impressive enough.

    It's an excellent lens in most respects, with suprisingly good flare control, minimal distortion at the shortest focal length, and insane sharpness at the center when wide open. It comes out sharper than my kit lens in low light because I can use lower ISO settings. I've had no problems when using it with either the on board or a hotshoe mounted flash.

    The built-in autofocus micro motor of my A16NII model is not marketed as "high speed" and makes a higher pitched sound than the on board motor of the D80. Still, it seems fast enough (about as fast as my 18-135 mm kit lens) and accurate. I wanted one without a motor, since supposedly they focus faster, but the dealer in Hong Kong said they were all phased out already. Anyway he assured me that all the newer models were made in Japan so, so far I haven't have any major issues with quality control.

    Build quality is what you would expect for the price. The lens does not wobble when extended. The zoom ring was kind of stiff at the start but seems to be loosening up now.

    One not-so-obvious bonus is that although it's heavier than my kit lens, it's also shorter so most of this weight is closer to the body. It actually feels lighter and much more balanced than the kit lens on my D80 with battery grip.

    If this lens started at 16 mm it would be absolutely perfect ;)

    reviewed April 11th, 2008 (purchased for $375)
  • Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 II EX DG Macro HSM APO

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    best value, hsm
    no stabilization, cheap tripod collar

    I bought this lens in anticipation of one day getting a full-frame camera to fully utilize it with. For now I’ll just have to make do with the excess size and weight as it functions as a 105-300mm on my D80 body.

    There’s practically no vignetting of course. Distortion, flare, and chromatic aberration are also non-issues. As you would expect, sharpness drops at F/2.8 especially at longer focal lengths but only to a degree that would be noticeable in pixel-peeping. It’s certainly a small sacrifice for the world of photographic opportunities that open up at faster apertures. The “macro” function is useful from time to time.

    The HSM isn’t 100% accurate when used continuously (AF-C mode on my D80) – you’ll still get a few misfocused shots – but is still exponentially faster than consumer-grade AF systems. Panning shots are a delight to do as it can track a subject fluidly with barely any hunting in low light. Like all 3rd-party lenses though, there’s a good chance that your copy will misfocus out of the box. That was the case with mine but thankfully the dealer I bought it from had the necessary calibration equipment and they fixed it in about an hour.

    Build quality is commensurate with its intended professional use, though I have seen older ones whose labels were worn out. The zoom ring was a little stiff and uneven initially but this disappeared after a few days of use. With the battery grip attached to my D80 the setup is a little front heavy so mounting a flash actually helps with the balance. The tripod collar does the job of keeping the lens attached to the tripod, but it isn’t very tight so you can actually force the lens to rotate even when it’s supposed to be locked – not really a problem for me.

    If you can live without image stabilization this lens is IMHO the best value in its class.

    reviewed September 6th, 2008 (purchased for $804)