KirkL's reviews

  • Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD SP AF

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Versatility combined with high IQ for its class
    Heavy enough that it could use a tripod ring

    I purchased a Nikon D7000 together with a Tamron 70-300mm VC six weeks ago and am having a ball with the combination. Images are sharp through out the focal length range if you stop down: f/5 at 70mm, f/7.1 at 200mm and f/9 at 300mm for best results. AF is fast and the effectiveness of the Vibration Compensation when used with stationary subjects has to be seen to be believed. Minor quibbles: VC does not work nearly as well when panning moving subjects, the small switches are easy to accidentally flip, the lens is a bit heavy for its class, and there is no tripod ring. I like this Nikon/Tamron pairing so much that I have put together a system around it, adding:
    1.) A Manfrotto Long Lens Support so that it can be safely mounted on a tripod. A bit of extra rubber had to be taped to the V shaped rest in order to properly support the lens and the supplied strap would not work with the Tamron in place, but otherwise this accessory provides a solid foundation to shoot from. And….
    2.) A Kenko 1.4x teleconverter (a Nikon TC will not work). Images with the lens racked out to 300mm are sharp when the aperture is stopped down to f/10 and show little distortion, CAs, or loss of contrast. AF still functions, but takes a full second before it can lock on, so manual focus is easier to use. And....
    3.) A Sunsniper Pro Strap so that I can wear the D7000/Tamron at my side while hiking or shooting at outdoor festivals.
    This lens cost just $350 when purchased with a new camera after rebate, but a price in the neighborhood of twice that would be reasonable for the quality it delivers.

    reviewed December 27th, 2010 (purchased for $350)
  • Nikon 300mm f/2.8G ED AF-S VR II Nikkor

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharpness, lack of distortion, low CAs, fast AF, weather sealing, rugged build quality, fully functional case, state-of-the-art VR
    Price, weight, expensive drop-in polarizer not included

    After struggling to get good zoo animal and large bird photos with the Nikkor 300mm f/4 AF-S and the Canon 400mm f/5.6L, I finally caved and bought this lens. The quality of both the output and the construction are astonishing. My sample is as sharp wide open as the 300mm f/4 was stopped all the way down to f/9, and it leaves the peak sharpness of the 400mm f/5.6L at any aperture far behind even with a Nikon 1.4x TC added. Center sharpness is first rate from f/2.8 all the way to f/9, and the edges catch up from f/4 to f/9. Now instead of getting recognizable backgrounds I'm seeing bokeh that can only be described as dream-like; with subjects appearing to float on air against a back-drop of swirling color. The focusing speed is so fast that it is easy to keep to the lowest ISO settings in all but dim light or a stiff wind. And the soft-sided carrying case enables transport with a camera attached. What a relief!

    BTW, claims have been made that none of the long Nikkor pro lenses produce sharp images of distant subjects. That has not been my experience with this model. I did test shots with the TC-14E II of small signage on the side of a rec center that is 1200 feet away through a dirty window and could still easily read “Not responsible for lost or stolen articles.” Now that’s a lens worth having!

    reviewed July 13th, 2011 (purchased for $5,300)