Lens Reviews

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Joe Farace  |  Sep 08, 2011  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2011  |  28 comments

Canon offers five different 70-300mm zoom lenses in its product lineup. Why so many? They obviously think this is a popular and practical focal length range and I happen to agree. I even own one of them myself—the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM—but the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM tested is the mac daddy of ’em all. Part of the reason for its high price tag ($1599) is that it’s the only one of the five lenses that is resplendent in white paint (the better for TV cameras to see), making it part of the “L” series. (See “Just For The ‘L’ Of It.”) Canon’s L lenses typically have wide apertures fixed throughout the zoom range but in this case all five lenses in this focal length range have identical f/4-5.6 apertures.

 

The new Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM telephoto zoom lens features two Ultra Low Dispersion (UD) elements for improved image quality and reduced chromatic aberration. It incorporates a floating focusing mechanism for sharpness from close-up (3.9 feet) to infinity plus an Image Stabilization (IS) system that Canon claims increases usability by approximately four stops. The IS system includes a function that allows it to continue to operate even when the camera or the lens, the latter being a better idea, is mounted on a tripod. There’s an optional ($189.95) Canon Tripod Mount C for mounting on a tripod or monopod but I was unable to get one for testing. The lens is dust- and water-resistant and features a Fluorine coating that resists smears and fingerprints and significantly eases lens cleaning, but that doesn’t make me suggest less vigorous lens protection. More later.

 

George Schaub  |  Jul 12, 2011  |  0 comments

Perhaps the most versatile of all moderate tele zoom focal lengths, the 70-200mm or thereabouts range is a hallmark and standard-bearer for many optical companies. Being a constant aperture (fast) zoom, this lens opens up numerous focusing, depth of field and perhaps as important low light shooting possibilities that make it a lens most Canon photographers aspire to own. Introduced last year, we got a chance to work with one and were so impressed we thought we’d revisit it with a quick review.

Joe Farace  |  Jun 01, 2011  |  20 comments

Tamron has always been a pioneer in the do-everything zoom lens category and their new AF18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD lens is no exception. Don’t be intimidated by those initials—it’s all good stuff—and I’ll get to them shortly. The 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 is part of Tamron’s Di II family of lenses that are engineered specifically for digital SLRs with image sensors measuring 24x16mm, typically referred to as APS-C. The sensor size of the Canon EOS 50D I tested the lens with measures 22.3x14.9mm so I guess that’s close enough. The 15x zoom range of the lens provides a 35mm focal length equivalency of 28.8-432mm with the Canon EOS 50D’s 1.6x multiplication factor, but that will be slightly different for the Nikon and Sony versions that are also available. Shooting full frame? Check out Tamron’s Di lens series for 35mm film cameras or digital SLRs featuring larger (24x36mm) sensors.

 

Jack Neubart  |  Mar 01, 2011  |  1 comments

For the first time, Tamron has incorporated an Ultrasonic Silent Drive, or USD, with full-time manual override in this zoom lens, making it a competitive technology with Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor, Canon’s Ultrasonic Motor (USM), and Sony’s Super Sonic wave Motor.

Joe Farace  |  Aug 01, 2010  |  0 comments

When it comes to lenses, the name Carl Zeiss is synonymous with optical perfection or as they say around the Hallmark store, “when you care enough to shoot the very best.” Zeiss continues to expand its line of interchangeable lenses for Canon, Nikon, and Pentax cameras to include two new wide-angle lenses, the Distagon T* 18mm f/3.5 and Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8.

The...

Jon Sienkiewicz  |  Aug 01, 2010  |  0 comments

Back in the day when prime lenses ruled supreme and snooty purists decried zooms for lack of absolute sharpness, Tele-Converters (TCs) were popular accessories. Photographers wanted to bring distant subjects closer, and TCs provided a means to that end. Also known as tele-extenders, these thick slabs of metal and glass increase the focal length of a given lens while also decreasing the f/stop.

Jack Neubart  |  Aug 01, 2010  |  0 comments

The new Tamron SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II VC LD Aspherical (IF) joins a growing community of wide-zoom lenses. In contrast to an earlier version of this lens, which is available in several mounts, this APS-C Tamron optic (designated Model B005/$649 street price) is only available in Nikon DX (with built-in motor) and Canon mounts. Given that I mated this lens to a Nikon D300, that effectively...

George Schaub  |  Aug 01, 2010  |  0 comments

When you talk about lenses these days you always have to bring in the multiplication factor, especially when you have a lens that fits comfortably on both so-called full-frame and APS-C sensor cameras. To know what angles of view you will have available you have to know: (a) that the lens is made for full-sized sensors (or not) so will work with the multiplication factor on smaller sized sensors...

Stan Trzoniec  |  Aug 01, 2010  |  1 comments

Nikon’s entry into past universal 80-200mm f/2.8 lenses started back in 1978 with a manual focus, push-pull lens checking in at 4 lbs. Ten years later the autofocus model arrived sporting ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass; ’92 marked the “D” package. In ’96 the AF-S version came along, followed by the new generation of front motor drive “G” models. Now we...

Jack Neubart  |  Aug 01, 2010  |  0 comments

Fisheye optics are an unusual beast. The bulbous nature of the front element is one characteristic trademark, but the unique view this lens affords us is what makes it truly appealing—and at the same time challenging to work with.

My fisheye lenses have literally widened my view of the world around me and given me a new perspective on my photography. Admittedly, some...

Robert E. Mayer  |  Mar 01, 2010  |  0 comments

If, like many Shutterbug readers, you have a film SLR camera plus several interchangeable lenses, you might be wondering if you can use those lenses with your new D-SLR camera of the same, or even different, brand.

Roger W. Hicks & Frances E. Schultz  |  Dec 01, 2009  |  0 comments

There are plenty of other good (but significantly slower) 21mm and 24/25mm lenses on the market, almost all cheaper, smaller, lighter, and exhibiting less distortion than the two under discussion here.

George Schaub  |  Dec 01, 2009  |  0 comments

Long considered the focal-length sweet spot for macro work, the 60mm focal length of the new Tamron 60mm f/2 lens ($569 MSRP) converts out to 96mm for Canon and 90mm for Nikon APS-C D-SLRs.

George Schaub  |  Dec 01, 2009  |  0 comments

There is an underlying desire in every travel or street photographer to be able to carry one lens to cover all contingencies.

George Schaub  |  Dec 01, 2009  |  0 comments

We have seen new options from independent and camera maker manufacturers alike, each bringing the fun and creative options of these unique angles of view to ever more affordable price ranges.

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