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Derek

Tamron Announces Two News All-in-Ones For M4/3 and EOS M Mirrorless Cameras


Technically, they've formally announced the new 28-300mm now too, but we already talked about that back when they originally let it slip, slo let's focus on the two new mirrorless super-zooms today.

Up first is one for Micro Four Thirds, the 14-150mm F/3.5-5.8 Di III (Model C001).

Tamron 14-150 Di III (C001_ Blk & Silver

Available in black or silver, the 14-150mm will of course be an effective 28-300mm lens when mounted to any m4/3 body. You'll notice there's no "VC" in the product name, meaning this lens forgoes Tamron's notable vibration compensation system (ie, image stabilization). There are a lot of m4/3 bodies with built-in IS, so this won't be a big deal for a lot of people, but some of them (mostly Panasonic models, since they prefer in-lens IS) do not, so, be forewarned. If you're not sure if your body has IS built-in, this might not be the best lens for you. Image stabilization is going to be your friend on a 300mm equivalent lens.

 

Tamron 18-200mm Di III (B011)_blk & silver

 

Did you buy an EOS M? Wait, really? Well, OK, er, congratulations! The other lens today is actually already on the market for Sony E mount, but coming soon you'll be able to pick up an 18-200 Di III VC for your Canon EOS M, too!

The 14-150mm will run $589, the 18-200mm for EOS M will run $499. We're expected to have stock for them by the end of the month.

Want to reserve a 14-150mm of your own? You can preorder it right here.



Derek

Nikon Announces New 400mm 2.8, New 1.4x Tele-converter


AFS_400E_FL_ED_VR_b.low

Think fast: what's the quickest way to save two pounds by spending 3 grand?

karate-kid

 

If you answered "Nikon's beastly new 400mm f2.8" you were correct. Everyone else, go to the corner and think about what you've done. Go. Shoo. Think.

The rest of you, here's the skinny. The new 400mm's full name is the AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR. Breaking that down into it's components, we'll notice a few things. One, this isn't a "version II" lens, the addition of both an "E" and an "FL" in there spared us that particular confusion. The "E" at the end of the aperture indicates this is using the new electromagnetic diaphragm similar to the 800mm f5.6 and makes things better during high speed shooting, like say with a D4s. The FL is letting you know it has some fluorite lens elements (2, in this case) which help explain both how the lens has lost nearly two pounds, and why it costs 3 grand more (list price is up to $11,999.95 from the already salty $8,999.00. Fluorite lens elements aren't cheap, y'all. But they are nice.

The two fluorite elements are part of the new 16 element, 12 group design that pretty well blows the old version's simpler 14 element, 11 group design out of the water. We have no doubts this will be an excellent lens (we can already hear the thanks of many a wildlife shooter for the lighter packs) for those of you who can pony up to it, and if that happens to be you and you want to get a preorder in you can do so here. If that's not, and you've been on the fence about the now-old 400mm, we still have some in stock here you might want to move on.

Also, look, a new 1.4x tele-converter:

AFS_Telecon_TC14E3_a.low

 

The TC-14E III is one more than the TC-14E II, and is also promising better build quality, better weather sealing, new coatings to aid in repelling water, and better performance all around. With a list price of $499.95 (only about $10 more than the current one) we'd say it's pretty much a no-brainer to wait on the new one if you need a 1.4x and don't have one, but we're pretty sure those of you who own the II probably won't be in any hurry to chuck yours out the window for this one unless you've had some specific problems with build quality this purports to improve on. Either way, you'll find the preorder page for the new 1.4x living right here.



Derek

Canon Adds 2 New Wide Angle Zooms, White Rebel for the US


20140513_thumbL_eossl1white_3q

 

What's small, white, and coming to the US?

Whatever you were thinking of, I'm sure it's wrong. I was talking about the Rebel SL1 above... oh. You were thinking of the Rebel SL1 because I already showed you it, weren't you? Nevermind, carry on then. Be happy in your awareness of it, and how it comes with a matched white 18-55mm for $749 (without any savings programs).

Also, look, two new wide-angle zoom lenses:

20140513_thumbL_ef1635mm_3q 20140513_thumbL_efs1018mm_3q

 

The top one is the EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM, the bottom one is the EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM. Just a quick terminology reminder, EF lenses (red mount dot) will work on full-frame or crop bodies, the EF-S mount (white square) will only work for crop bodies, so, no going and getting ideas about using it on your 5D Mark III, OK? EF-S lenses are also subject to a 1.6x apparent focal length conversion, because of the nature of crop lenses, meaning the new 10-18mm will have the apparent field of view of 16-29mm or so (making the close to the crop equivalent of the other new zoom).

The EF 16-35mm is just as advertised on full-frame, though someone less exciting on crop bodies where it becomes an apparent 26-56mm quasi-standard zoom. It is an L model though, with all the assumed quality that designation and the characteristic red line imply. And, because of the slower F4 aperture there's IS in it, offering up to four stops of help.

The EF 16-35mm will set you back $1,199, and the EF-S 10-18mm will run considerably less at $299.



Marc Lebryk

The New Sigma 50mm F1.4 HSM Art...


You would be surprised how often I get asked what lenses are good lenses to buy for folks either beginner or Professional. It's almost a daily occurrence actually. Not that I mind, because I don't. In fact I'm in middle of a three part series called "the right l ens" that I'm doing for Robert's Camera's blog. (See the first part here, subsequent parts are on the way). It means that people seem to trust my judgment, and I'm honored and humbled by that. I'm especially honored and humbled when someone like Jody Grober calls and says he's got a new lens that everybody's talking about and he wants me to take a couple days to see if it's really all that. In this case he called and said he had the new Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art lens. Now at first you think 50mm F1.4, these have been around for forever what could be so different about this lens? What could be so new about this lens? Also, a Sigma? Yes. Yes, a Sigma. In fact anybody who reads my blog regularly knows that I was asked to do something similar with Sigma's 35mm F1.4 last year when it made all kinds of waves in the Photo world. Sigma's 35mmF1.4 blew me away back then, and in fact to this day is still a lens that I really want. So my big question was how would this 50mm change how I thought about my Nikon 50mm equivalent? Let me just begin by saying DAMN.

IMG_9997

(Canon 5D Mark II, 100ISO, Sigma 50mm F1.4 HSM Art Lens. 1/5000th@F1.4)

As usual I'll now add in here that I'm not being paid by Roberts Camera or Sigma to write this review. If something is wonky about this lens, I'm going to tell you at the risk of being flamed on the internet. (It's happened) No money is changing hands for this opinion, so good or bad you can take it as far as you trust my judgment.

With that now said I'll say that this 50mm sets a new standard for 50mm F1.4 lenses in my book. This is where things get a bit sticky in my opinion though. I've never shot with the Nikon 58mm F1.4 lens, and I've never shot with the OTUS 55mm F1.4 lens that sets the bar for 50mm lenses (I'm actually not allowed to even see the OTUS due to its expense). I have shot with a Canon 50mm F1.2 and 50mm F1.4 lens, as well as obviously my own Nikon 50mm F1.4. Thing is this. Do I condone spending $4,200 on a 55mm F1.4 lens? Not a chance. Everybody dreams of owning that one lavish silly item. A Zeiss OTUS is not that item for me, and I can imagine very similar for lots of people. What about a Nikon 58mm F1.4? Nah, it's not on my shopping list. If Nikon decided to make me an Ambassador and/or loan me one for a while, I'd probably use the hell out of it, but as far as I know, that's not on the horizon so the $1700 Nikon 58mm will stay at Roberts when it comes to my Camera bag. Wait, I thought this review was about the Sigma Lens.... Why am I mentioning the OTUS and the Nikon 58mm? Because the rumors are that the Sigma 50mm F1.4HSM Art Lens is just as good if not better than those much higher priced competitors. After a few days with the Sigma: I believe them.

_M4S8459

First off, the Sigma is much larger than I expected. I think of the 50mm as a Street photography lens, but honestly I didn't feel very inconspicuous with it. In fact, if you look at the above image you can see what I mean in regards to how big it is.... Yea, and that's without the hood. Side note, my Nikon 50mm F1.4 is kind of beat up... I kinda use the crap out of it,so what?. Anyway, I wouldn't be caught with the hood on my Nikon 50mm, but Sigma you wouldn't (and didn't) catch me dead without the hood on it for fear of that large 77mm Front element. The 77mm Filter is amazing though because most of my lenses take 77mm Filters and now that's one less extra filter size I'd have to worry about with the Sigma. In fact the only lens adapter I own for my Formatt HiTech GND filter holder is the 77mm so It meant that I could use those with the Sigma as well. I didn't have the Nikon version of this lens, but instead a Canon version on a Canon 5D Mark II. Just like Sigma's 35mm F1.4 last year, the 50mm didn't really ever hunt for focus even in low light. In the lowest of lights there were slight focus inconsistencies, but there's no telling if that was because of the 5D, the Sigma lens, or because it was darker than I should have been shooting in the first place.

_MG_0010

(Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 50mm F1.4 HSM Art lens, 1/160th@F1.4. Nikon SB-900 Zoomed to 200mm shot up into its built in bounce card, set to 1/32nd power from camera right. Speedlight triggered by Pocket Wizard Plus X from in the camera's hot shoe)

I took this photo of my love Shannon at the Light Painting workshop that I gave for Roberts Camera last weekend. The lighting isn't perfect but I was pleased with the image considering I shot it with a bare bulb Nikon SB900 triggered by a Canon Camera with a Pocket Wizard... (In fact you can even see the speedlight a bit in her glasses, but that's what I get for doing it quickly in two frames, as opposed to setting something up). The Bokeh, or out of focus portions of the image were really beautiful. The colors were right, and the edges seemed full with little vignetting. Honestly though, I don't normally keep my subjects at the edge of the frame, so if there's a little vignette or a tiny bit of edge distortion it doesn't bother me. I saw little to no Color fringing or Chromatic Aberrations though, which really impressed me. Even my Nikon 50mm F1.4G on my D4s will have those from time to time, and while minimal and easy to fix; they are still annoying. Most of the time you can only see things like that when zoomed in at 100% though, so a majority of shooters won't even worry about them anyway. Out of focus backgrounds though appeared very pleasing to the eye whether they were intentionally a large part of the image or not.

_MG_0088

(Canon 5D Mark II, 800ISO, Sigma 50mm F1.4 HSM Art, 1/320th@F1.4)

Most of my time with the Sigma was spent at either F1.4 or F2 because I'm a firm believer in having a lens like this for a purpose. If I wanted to shoot 50mm F8, I'd use my 24-70 at 50mm F8. You'll tell almost no difference in image quality between the twi lenses that way. Same goes for any lens I own that has a F1.4 Aperture. If I wanted to shoot at 85mm F10, I'd use my 70-200. The real reason to buy a lens with a F1.4 Aperture is to shoot at F1.4 or F2. Otherwise known as that place where other lenses can't go. With that I should mention that at those "regular" settings, this lens really shines too.

_MG_0081

(Canon 5D Mark II, 2000ISO, Sigma 50mm F1.4 HSM Art, 1/60th@F5.6)

Even on a Canon 5D Mark II, I never felt like the new Sigma 50mm F1.4 was going to let me down. There are plenty of occasions where I've not had faith in my Nikon 50mm F1.4, but I've gotten used to the circumstances that cause any trouble I may have and know how to avoid them. With the Sigma, I felt confident across the board. That may be the whole "it's a new toy" syndrome, or the fact that this lens is twice as expensive as my Nikon Counterpart. This may be a good time to address that in fact. Yes. My Nikon 50mm F1.4 is only $490. The Sigma is $1,000. The Sigma is easily twice as good as the Nikon 50mm F1.4 in my opinion. Super sharp, super fast, and very accurate with Sigma's version of the Silent Wave Motor where as the newest Nikon 50mm F1.4G has been tested to be a tiny bit slower than the old Nikon 50mm F1.4D. Do I feel like Canon's 50mm F1.2 is twice as good as the Sigma? Definitely not. What about The Otus? Is it worth 4 times as much? (4 TIMES AS MUCH???). Seriously? Not a chance.

_MG_0164

(Canon 5D Mark II, 100ISO, Sigma 50mm F1.4 HSM Art, 1/8000th@F1.4)

What Sigma has done here is given "ordinary" folk the ability to own the cream of the crop. While as even a pro I'd love to own a Zeiss OTUS, it'll never happen and that doesn't keep me awake at night. The Sigma however? Absolutely. I'd love to own one. (Not to mention that 35F1.4 that I raved over last year). Not owning the Sigma 50mm doesn't keep me awake at night but I do know that not only would I own it but I'd use it quite a bit. It would most likely end up in the condition of my Current Nikon 50mm lens after not too long and that's fine because these things are meant to see and photograph different things, even if those things mean they get a little dinged up. You should see some of the stuff my 85F1.4 has seen. I know that I am someone who very eagerly awaits an 85mm F1.4 ART lens, especially if it is of this quality. I bought my Nikon 85F1.4D for $700 on ebay about 6 years ago, and the new Nikon 85mm F1.5G costs around $1700..... If anybody from Sigma reads this, call me, or call Jody Grober at Roberts because my money is waiting for a new 85mm F1.4HSM Art Lens.

_MG_0040

(Canon 5D Mark II, 250ISO, Sigma 50mm F1.4 HSM Art, 1/160th@F2)

AAAAAAND there is the ever so ubiquitous cat photo. What do you expect, there are lots of available subjects, but none are as readily available or as sleepy as the cats. As you can tell, there are very few issues in background bokeh, or on the edges in terms of vignetting. This image is obviously back lit and the lens and camera had very few difficulties with this combination. Even if you may not think of a 5D Mark II as an old camera, it is, and there were no issues here. In fact, as I recall it was a fraction of a second "Auto Levels" in photoshop to achieve that uncropped image above. Could I have done that with my Nikon 50? Taken the photo maybe, but not had as little editing to do. That's what you pay for...

_MG_0058

(Canoon 5D Mark II, 100ISO, Sigma 50mm F1.4 HSM Art, 1/1600th@F1.4)

So yea, wow. Sigma has once again impressed me beyond belief by what they have produced in a prime fast aperture lens. So much so that as as I said above. Sigma. Call me. My money is ready for a 85F1.4 Art lens. I don't know what made you decide to step up like you have, but you have put Canon and Nikon on a run for their money and I like it. Sigma Nailed this. Nikon and Canon have the camera bodies and Sigma has added a helluva contender to the lineup of lenses to let the photographers shoot the way that THEY want to shoot. When students ask what to buy when the Nikon or Canon equivalent is a bit out of the price range Sigma is now my go to answer. I challenge Tamron and Tokina to prove me wrong. Everything I've touched or seen out of Sigma in the last 2 years has not only met but far surpassed my expectations from not just the Sigma name, but the Nikon or Canon name as well. If you don't own a 50mm lens (and I am a firm believer that everyone should have a 50mm prime of some kind in their bag) then the Sigma is more than just an option; This time it's the cream of the crop.

If you're looking for a Sigma 50mm F1.4 lens, get one HERE at Roberts Camera here in Indy. I buy about 95% of my gear from them. They are good people, whether you're local or not.

Otherwise as usual. More Soon.

 



Derek

Tamron's 16-300mm Is a Real Boy Now, Goes Longer Than Pinocchio's Nose


Tamron 16-300mm Di II VC PZD Macro

 

Remember when Tamron announced their plans to make an insane 16-300mm zoom for crop bodies? Well, today that lens becomes considerably more real, having gotten pricing and availability finally. Officially designated B016, it's "friendly" name is the 16-300mm Di II VC PZD Macro, which astute readers will notice for once doesn't tell you everything you need to know about the lens. Missing are the maximum apertures, but luckily I can inform you those are f3.5-6.3. So, you have an effective 24-450mm (on Nikon, Sony, and pretty much everyone who isn't Canon) or a 25.6-480mm (on Canon with their odd 1.6x crop) super zoom with the same apertures as the now-less-impressive 18-270mm. The PZD tells you it has a piezo-electric stepping motor for focusing, providing snappy focus for stills and acceptably smooth focus for video. VC is Tamron's vibration compensation, which is really top of the line stuff these days and will do exactly what it claims when it says it'll keep your images shake free. While I can't in good conscience tell you an 18.8x super-zoom will optically stellar in every aspect, a pretty exotic construction of 16 elements in 12 groups with one ultra-extra (yes, they really call it that) refractive glass element, two low dispersion elements, one regular-ol' extra refractive element, three molded glass aspherical elements, and one hybrid aspherical element suggest Tamron has gone to some pretty great lengths to assure it has the best image quality it possibly can for the constraints a super-zoom demands.

b016-elements

They gave us some small sample shots to illustrate what can be done with this:

Tamron_B016_Woman in market_©IanPlant

Tamron_B016_Stairs in Morocco_©IanPlant

Tamron_B016_PacificSunset_©IanPlant

Tamron_B016_Man and Camel_©IanPlant

Tamron_B016_JunglePlant_©IanPlant

Tamron_B016_Hiker_©IanPlant

Tamron_B016_Blue Alley in Morocco_©IanPlant

 

Preeeeetty, right?

So, obviously, the 16-300mm is not just redefining how many "x"s of zoom you can shove in a lens, but it has some aspirations for being a darn solid optic to boot. Big range, VC, exotic optical formula, and it even has a pretty darn awesome 15.3" minimum focusing distance and none-too-shabby 1:2.9 maximum macro reproduction for the cherry on top.

All that was left is to know just how much this monster will run. And now we can tell you: $629. That's it. $629. Only $180 more than the venerable 18-270mm. And we're going to start receiving them on May 15th. Which is only like a month away,

So, maybe now would be a good time to remind you that you can get on our preorder list for one right here?

Thought so.



Derek

Nikon Announces New Android Camera, New 18-300mm


S810c_WH_HighRes.low

Getting our day started today is Nikon, who has "dropped" two new products for us to talk about: the Coolpix S810c, which is a Coolpix, and the AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR, which is different than this lens.

The cooler of the two is the S810c, which updates this model here which was Nikon's effort to combat smartphones by building a mobile OS right into a camera. Well, it'll come as no surprise that the S810c is that same idea, so, what you're peepin' at is a 16mp BSI-sensor strapped to a 12x optical VR zoom strapped to a full-fledged Wi-Fi enabled Android platform. This time around the Android is much, much better, being Jellybean and not the notably dated Gingerbread build the last one ran (though, I still wouldn't get your hopes up you'll ever see Kit Kat. You'll have your Jellybean and you'll like it, OK?). But still, Jellybean is no slouch, and they've implemented it so the Google Play Store is there from the get go, so yes, pretty much any image sharing, editing, or social app you can think of on your Droid is going to be available to you on this camera too. A hi-rez 3.7" touchscreen makes using them possible, and you'll find three dedicated buttons for making working Android a little easier. If you don't have Wi-fi around but do have a phone Nikon has graced with its "Connect to S810c" app (that'd be iOS or Android, like everything else) you can share them from your camera to your phone and then use your cellular data to thinger them. It'll come in white or black for $349.95 next month.

Preorder one here

AFS_DX_18_300_3.5_6.3G.low

There's a little less to say about today's other announcement. It's an 18-300mm, it's for DX crop bodies only, and it doesn't seem to replace that other 18-300mm Nikon already has. Rather, this is just a slightly slower (f6.3 vs f5.6), shorter, and notably lighter (280g lighter, or 33% lighter than that other 18-300) option. Oh, and it's cheaper, too. I guess that's a thing, right? So, if you can live with a third of a stop slower, you can get a smaller, lighter lens for $100 less. Sounds good to me. It'll also "drop" in May, and run you $899.95.

Preorder one here



Marc Lebryk

What's the right lens... Part 1


Hello there and welcome to what I have promised to be a 3 part series on choices for different lenses. Robert's camera has asked me to contribute a bit to help answer some questions they get sometimes A LOT from people coming into the store. It turns out that when people are shopping for gear they have trouble deciding what to buy. If this surprises you then you must be the best shopper ever, and you shouldn't read anymore. If you do wonder though, what you should buy with your hard earned money than keep reading because in this three part series, I'm going to talk about the different lenses out there with pros and cons for each depending on what you want to do. Sounds complicated, but no more than Rocket Surgery eating Girl Scout Cookies, I promise. This is part one of this 3 part series. The three parts of the series will include Lenses for Shooting Sports/wildlife, Lenses for Portraiture, and Lenses for every day shooting. There are TONS of choices out there, and only you can decide what is right for you. I am just going to try to provide you with information that you might be curious about, OR may have not thought about. We'll go from The "bargain lenses", to the "Cream of the Crop be sure to rent before you buy and make sure it's actually for you" kind of lenses. Lets get started shall we?

upp-test(Image from Roberts Camera's used website)

It's summer time. In summer time sports get played, birds start flying around and squirrels start eating the birdseed out of your bird feeder. When sports and birds appear, budding photographers aren't far behind. So if you're looking to get started shooting sports and birds, this post should have some information for you to help you along with your quest. Whether you are photographing your kid playing a sport, or you are photographing Andrew Luck on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium you need the right lens to do it. I've shot lots of sports over the years, with a wide variety of lenses, and all of those lenses serve a purpose. Some are better than others, but if you're just getting started it's tough to justify the expense of a 400mmF2.8 IS or VR lens at a staggering almost $9,000. 400mm is kind of a staple for shooting sports though, and to me it's really the minimum recommended focal length when out on a field. There are LOTS of ways to get yourself to 400mm, and there is more to it than just money in your bank account. There is what you're trying to shoot, what you CAN do vs what you NEED to do and even details such as your camera can come into play here. So lets get started shall we? How many ways can we get to or close to 400mm?

_SDM8442

(Nikon D7000, 4000ISO, Nikon 70-300F4.5-5.6@270mm. 1/4000th@F10 405mm in full frame mm's)

So first up if you're in either the Nikon or Canon camp, a lens to be aware of is either brand's 70-300F4.5-5.6. Sigma and Tamron make those too, but we'll get back to them later. It is hands down the best place to start if you have no idea what's going on and just want to buy a lens, or you only have $400-$600 to spend. My wife Shannon has a D7000 and last year I bought her a Nikon 70-300F4.5-5.6VR so she could take pictures of the birds at the bird feeder in our front yard. If you have a EF-S or DX camera like the Canon 7D, Canon 70D, any of the Rebels, OR a Nikon D7100, D5000 series, D3000 Series, or D300 series cameras, the 70-300 is actually a 105-450mm! Whoa! Not bad for less than $400 refurbished, or $600 brand new! Little confused? maybe this Article by Robert's Jarrid Spicer about Sensor sizes will help. If not that, then how about this article/video from Petapixel? Anyway; I've never used the Canon 70-300F4-5.6IS lens, but I've heard it's somewhat equivalent to the Nikon 70-300F4.5-5.6VR. What do I think about the Nikon one? IT'S GREAT! As a full time pro, honestly I didn't expect much out of Nikon's 70-300. I own the 70-200F2.8VR2, the 200-400F4VR, and the 400F2.8VR (more on all those in a bit), so what was I possibly going to get out of a 70-300F4.5-5.6VR that I paid $400ish refurbished? Honestly for something that I figured would be made out of ash tray glass, the thing is awesome. It's super sharp (except right at 300mm it seems where it's just a little soft but not bad), it's reasonably fast, and the VR/IS is first class. I am blown away by this lens every time I pick up Shannon's D7000, which for the record sits on our dining room table with the 70-300 ready to go for when birds are at the feeder. When we went to the Zoo earlier this year, this lens was awesome because it took the camera out to 450mm, and it was small enough that I could take the lens off the camera and put it in my jacket pocket if I wanted. Not only that, as a full frame lens if I wanted to put it on my Nikon D4s and have a walk around lens at 300mm; I totally could. The one and only weak point to this lens that I can think of (other than being slightly soft at 300mm) is that you need a lot of light for the auto-focus to track well. When shooting things outside, like birds, zoo animals, or even your kids running around playing soccer possibly; the auto-focus will work surprisingly well. It's not going to be perfect, but it'll be damn close which in most cases is close enough. It's not lightning fast, but it's far superior to any previous generation, or any, read ANY less expensive options. So if you're looking for that first foray into a long lens, spend the money on the Canon or Nikon 70-300F4.5-5.6. It'll get you that range you need until you decide to step up to one of the lens possibilities.

_SDM8222

(Nikon D7000, 1000ISO, Nikon 70-300F4.5-5.6VR@165mm. 1/2500th@F5)

So you're looking for something a little faster aye? I kind of thought you might, and I may have something here that fits that want. As I explained to my students in a class that I teach at Ivy Tech Community College, with everything in life there is a trade off. A faster lens, would be a 70-200F2.8, but you also notice it's a little shorter. Nikon makes a 70-200F2.8VR2 and Canon makes a 70-200F2.8IS2 and both are incredible. Both brands make a 70-200F4VR/IS, but I have no personal Experience with those. I've heard they are very fast, but you just don't have that F2.8 Aperture vs the F4. Will you really miss that stop of light? Only you can answer that question. Anyway, as compared to the 70-300's price of $600 the 70-200F2.8 is a steep 4 times that at $2500! But you get 4x the performance and sharpness. Spending $2500 on a lens like this would be for a purpose, not just to take photos of your cats. On a EF-S or DX camera it goes from 105-300mm F2.8 which for sports is a fantastic range! That's not 400mm, but we'll get to that. Sigma and Tamron also throw their hats into the 70-200F2.8 range and their models are very acceptable in this range for usually what is half the price of the Nikon and Canon Counterparts. A good friend of mine has a Sigma 70-200F2.8 and while he wants the Nikon version, the $700 he paid for the Sigma used, gives him more than 85% the performance for 1/4th the price! He just can't figure out why he would sell it, to pay a ton of money for that last 15% right? When it is all said and done, as of this writing I FEEL as though the Canon and Nikon branded lenses are faster, sharper and better than the Sigma and Tamron Counterparts; but not by much. That is NOT saying the Sigma and Tamron lenses are bad, but with photography equipment you get what you pay for. It's up to you to decide if that extra 10% in sharpness and performance is worth the premium price. Check out this review I did on the Newest Tamron 70-200 to see what I mean. It's super sharp, but not quite as fast. But at 1/2 the price how much is that little bit of speed going to affect you? Only you can answer that with what you're shooting. Remember, I own a 400F2.8 but I like shooting birds with my wife's 70-300... Again I digress as the 70-200F2.8 lenses are the cream of the crop in that range. They are the fastest and the sharpest to which is what you pay for. The 70-300F4.5-5.6 is what is called a variable aperture lens, which means that the widest aperture you can get at 70mm is F4.5, and at 300mm it's F5.6. This changes your exposure while zooming, which while not the end of the world also means you have to be very conscious when shooting; or do what I do and set your camera to F5.6 all the time. The 70-200 is a constant aperture lens, which means that you're at F2.8 no matter where you are. 88mm? F2.8. 177mm? F2.8. It's fast. This is an advantage because the more light you let into the camera the faster and better the auto-focus can be. This is why you see a lot of Pro's with a 70-200 on the sidelines for sports and not a 70-300. The 70-300 does an awesome job of getting started, and can/will definitely produce great images, but the 70-200F2.8 is really the king of that range, and if you don't own one and can afford it? You should get one and not look back. When I was 16 I spent all my financial aid money in school on one as the first F2.8 Pro lens I ever bought. I felt unstoppable when mounted to a Nikon F4s, or the D70s. I still get that feeling today.

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Notre Dame

(Nikon D4, 3200ISO, 1/640th@F4. Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2@70mm)

Further? You want further? Alright, alright, we can do further. Nikon, Canon and Sigma all make outstanding zoom lenses that go even further than the 70-200 with outstanding quality. Sigma makes a 120-300mmF2.8OS lens that I know Jody Grober swears by. It's a great range, especially on a EF-S or DX camera in that it's essentially a 180mm-450mmF2.8 lens. Wow, 450mm? F2.8? Sign me up! Canon and Nikon have NOTHING LIKE THAT in their lineup. The closest things they have in their lineups are the 200-400F4 lenses, which aren't F2.8 but get you to 400mm on a full frame camera. Sigma's 120-300F2.8 also doesn't cost that much more than a 70-200 at $3599 brand new. While it's not quite as long as Nikon or Canon's 200-400, it costs about half as much as the Nikon, and almost an entire car less than the Canon.... ($8200 less, no joke). In Canon's defense their lens does come with a 1.4 extender built in. Is it worth an extra 4 digits over any of it's competitors? Only your accountant can tell you that. I personally own a Nikon 200-400F4 which I love. I swear by it, but then again I am working with D4 and D4s camera bodies and that extra little bit of reach is worth it for me. The Sigma 120-300F2.8 is super tempting though, and I may end up with one yet. Sigma has really stepped up their game in the last couple years and their lenses have started to become very desirable among pro's as well as aspiring photographers. Check out what I wrote about their 35F1.4 last year. Again I digress though, as with the 120-300F2.8 you have a great range with a very fast aperture. Not only that, but it's incredible sharp as any of Jody's Bird Photos Show!

photo(1)

(Photo by Jody Grober. Canon 7D, Sigma 120-300F2.8 with Sigma 2x Extender for a wicked 900mm)

Wow did I just really recommend a Sigma Lens over a Nikon and Canon lens? Yea, I think I did. Full disclosure should say that I've never personally used the Sigma 120-300F2.8, but I have heard Jody rave about it quite a bit. I tried to get a loaner from them to shoot something last year, but never heard back. Even after they offered. I do have a friend who rented one and basically gave me the review of it that I expected in that while it's sharp and fast it's not quite as fast as the 200-400 counterparts. Lets face it though, at half the price of the Nikon and at $8200 less than the Canon (not kidding) I'll again ask how much that extra bit of length and that 15% of performance is worth to you?

_ML45123

(Nikon D4, 1250ISO, Nikon 200-400F4@240mm. 1/1000th@F4)

Too Far? No? Oh, so you're stuck on the Canon and Nikon brand and you don't want to spend $7k-12k? Yea I get that. Nikon and Canon also make longer lenses in the vein of the 70-300F4.5-5.6. Canon's is known as the 100-400F4.5-5.6 and it's an awesome range, but auto-focuses a bit on the slower side even against Canon's own 70-300F4.5-5.6. They just haven't updated the 100-400 in forever, and it's due. Nikon however has a brand new 80-400F4.5-5.6VR3 out on the market and while I've never used one on a job I know several wildlife photographers are dumping some of their big, heavy, long glass for it. It's sharp, fast, and it even takes a 1.4x teleconverter which is unheard of since most of the variable aperture lenses don't..... You lose some doing it since the lens ends up being an F8 lens at 400mm, but for $4k (including teleconverter) you can shoot at almost 600mm on a full frame. You need a lot of light to operate well at F8 minimum, but you can do it, and both the 100-400 at $1699, and the Nikon 80-400 at $2696 they save you quite a bit in comparison to either Nikon or Canon's 200-400mm lenses. I should mention that Nikon does have an older version of the 80-400 that is $1699. If you are shooting up in the mountains hiking, it's a great alternative to help you save a thousand bucks, but I wouldn't try shooting any sports with it. I say this from experience in that it's too slow. The new 80-200F4.5-F5.6VR3 though is shockingly fast. Shockingly as in when I was looking to buy my 200-400F4 I almost bought this instead because it was so fast. In the end, as a full time pro, the extra light I got out of the 200-400F4 won, but to be quite honest I still sometimes wonder how I would have done with the 80-400VR3 in it's place. This lens is a welcome, welcome update.

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Ok so now there is only one thing left to do and that's state the obvious. We've talked about the starter lenses for sports (the 70-300, 100-400, and 80-400). We have talked about the next level up in stepping up your game if you will (the 70-200, 120-300 and 200-400). What about the cream of the crop? What about the absolute bomb diggity of sports lenses? That's easy. We're going to talk about the 400mm F2.8. At almost $10,000 for the Nikon and $11,000 for the Canon it better be the best of the best yea? This is easily the best, fastest, sharpest lens for sports. You get what you pay for. Not only is it intolerantly the fastest and sharpest, but it performs better than any of the other lenses with teleconverters. This includes my 2x teleconverter. The 400mm F2.8 lens is the ultimate for sports and if you're a pro you need one. I went for a long time without and it was tough.

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(Fill the Frame. Nikon D4, 2200ISO, Nikon 400mmF2.8VR with Nikon TC20eIII making 800mm. 1/1000th@F5.6)

So there you have it. From $400 to $11,000 there is a breakdown of all the most common lenses and ways to get yourself to 400mm. Yea, sure, the 70-300 or 80-400 aren't the "best" lenses for shooting sports, but they do a really great job. A surprisingly great job in fact. Plus if you're getting started and are not looking to break the bank they are wonderful. If you're a pro, and you're looking for that next level up, the 70-200F2.8, Sigma 120-300F2.8, and of course the 400F2.8 are the obvious choices. Hopefully that helps clear up some confusion between all the lenses out there. Also just remember there's nothing to say you can't buy one and upgrade later, OR even own more than one. As my friend Bob once said joking around. Camera lenses are like Pokemon; Gotta catch them all! More Soon.

Here are some direct links to all the lenses in the article. When I buy my gear, I tend to buy it used, so make sure to check out Robert's used department where all items get a 6 month warranty and are usually a lot less than buying brand new!

Canoo 70-300

Nikon 70-300

Sigma 120-300F2.8

Nikon 70-200F2.8

Nikon 70-200F4

Sigma 70-200F2.8

Tamron 70-200F2.8

Canon 70-200F2.8

Canon 70-200F4

Nikon 80-400VR3

Canon 100-400

Nikon 200-400F4

Canon 200-400F4

Nikon 400mm F2.8VR

Canon 400mm F2.8IS

 

 

 

 

 



Derek

Nikon Expands 1 System: New V3 Body, 2 New Lenses


Nikon 1 V3 With 10-30mm and Viewfinder

 

Check it. The Nikon 1 system (you know, the weird Nikon mirrorless line with the so-called "CX" mount built around a weird 1" sensor with a 2.7x crop factor) has grown by three today with a new V3 enthusiast body and 2 less enthusiastic lenses.

The V3, while still suffering from a little bit of an identity complex (at the end of the day, there are still only two CX lenses with apertures you can pretend are enthusiast-oriented, and the price still pits it against the incredibly well-reviewed D3300 and D5300 DSLRs), the V3 does offer some interesting bullet points. Finally the V series has picked up dual command dials (although, as DPReview is quick to point out, you still have to use the 4-way for EV comp), and boy, it's kinda fast. In addition to even snappier AF, the V3 will trundle along at 20 frames per second with continuous AF. Yeah. That. Sure, it's not quite as high as the Casio, so, maybe less appealing for analyzing that golf swing, but probably pretty helpful for pray-and-spray approaches to amateur sports. At a full 18MP resolution, to boot. And, since we do Nikon USA, you get the electronic viewfinder and additional optional camera grip in the box. So, hey, there's that?

10_30_PD_BK_a.low

And, there're two new lenses to go with it: a new 10-30mm (yes, another one), and a 70-300. The 10-30mm is still a 3.5-5.6 VR, just like the last one, but this one is a "PD" model with power zoom. With that CX crop factor you get an effective 27-81mm lens with smooth power zoom for video use. But no filter thread. Sure. But, it's pretty tiny, at only 1.1" as shown there.

VR_70_300_TR_a.low

The 70-300 model is a bit slower still, coming in at f4.5-5.6. It's also a VR model, which you would probably expect by now out of something that's an 189-810mm monster of a telephoto. And by "monster" I mean a whole 4" long closed, and under 20 ounces. Hey, there are advantages to a 1" sensor, right? A 4" 800mm f5.6 is one of them.

Also, it has filter rings like a proper god-fearing lens, and takes a 62mm one specifically. So, make that A 4" 800MM F5.6 with filters you can even afford. Neato.

Preorders for all three below. Availability says April for the V3, but doesn't actually say that's the case for the lenses too, so, er, maybe?

Nikon 1 V3 with 10-30mm

1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f3.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM

1 Nikkor VR 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 



Derek

Tamron's New 70-200 and Tele-Converters: What's the scoop?


tamron-70-200mm

 

So, while there's no doubt that the Tamron 70-200mm VC is a mighty lens (heck, I just rented one from our rentals department to shoot the IRT's charity fundraising event and found it to perform without a hitch in demanding theatre stage lighting conditions), there has been some confusion floating around about using it with tele-converters. Traditionally, 70-200's have been popular to try and combine with tele-converters, since it gives you the flexibility of having a fast standard tele and then a longer, if softer, tele in a pinch without needing a second lens. I was told (and have confirmed) that the Tamron 70-200mm doesn't work with either of Tamron's tele-converter lines (the standard or the premium SP ones). It'll mount safely, but no auto-focus will work. But, I've seen people claim that AF does work for Canon bodies with it (see here).

So, confused, I reached out to our Tamron rep to see if I could get some clarification. What I got back was more interesting still. I won't name names or post the response verbatim, but what we got back from Tamron's tech department is that neither of the tele lines are intended for use with digital bodies, and they won't guarantee the functionality of them on digital bodies. Further, Tamron does not recommend the use of any of their VC lenses with a tele, as the calibration of the VC system does not anticipate the extra glass added by a tele and results can't be guaranteed. So, there you have it peeps. The Tamron 70-200 VC is a stellar lens with fast AF performance and killer optics, at a price way easier to reach than the big guys' own offerings. But, if you're the sort who wants to be able to slap a 2x tele-conv in the pipeline it's probably not the lens for you. Just a heads up.



Derek

Olympus Announces 2 More Pro Lenses, Returns to Logical 3-Tier Lens Hierarchy


So, once-upon-a-time I was an Olympus shooter in their much-maligned 4/3 system. And one of the things I sorely missed about it when I switched to Nikon was Oly's painfully reasonable lens organization system. They had three tiers: Standard, Pro, and Top Pro. Any time they made a new lens with a focal range similar to an existing lens you could be sure it would be filed in a different tier, and within each tier there was no overlap. Basically, you could just pick your price-point and desired features and the tier system would spit back one cohesive lens line with minimal overlap and no confusion. The standard grades featured plastic bodies and slow variable apertures, the Pro line added weather-sealing and fast variable apertures, the Top Pro line was as well built as anything could be with constant apertures in all models, plus the weather-sealing too. It was easy, logical, and absolutely lovely.

And as of today it's (finally) coming back, this time to the much-less-maligned Micro 4/3 system. The 12-40mm f2.8 announced with the E-M1 and last September's announcement of the 40-150mm f2.8 for the core of the new PRO line, the new top-pro category. So, with m4/3's 2x crop factor that's 24-300mm covered at f2.8. Today's two lenses, the 7-14mm f2.8 and 300mm f4, expand that range to 14-300mm continuous at f2.8, and then a 600mm super-tele f4. All with top-notch metal build quality and weather-sealing, as well as distance scales and the like.

Not sure how the reorganization below the PRO line will shake out, but the 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 with it's higher build quality and weather-sealing seems indicative of where the middle will be. All in all, exciting times for Olympus and their rapidly maturing m4/3 pro line.