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Lens Tests

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As new DSLR camera resolutions gradually rise, so do the demands they make on lenses.  12 or 15mp DSLR bodies really show up any weakness in performance, so as always, my advice would be to spend as much as possible on lenses, even if it means a lower specified camera body. Almost any digital SLR camera sold today is capable of superb results.

Unfortunately, the same is not true of lenses.

Kit Lenses

Canon 18-55mm IS : I’ve still to get around to full review of this version of Canon’s standard kit lens but initial impressions are very favourable. OK it still feels like a big lump of plastic, not an engineering masterpiece, but optical performance is better and the Image Stabilisation works really well, giving me sharp images at shutter speeds down to about 1/8 second. That’s about 4 stops of an improvement.  Not bad for £ 50.

Nikon 18-55mm VR : In comparison to it’s Canon equivalent this lens is huge, but although it looks more impressive and has some nice gold lettering on the barrel, it’s still a big lump of plastic, with a slightly sticky zoom action and a tiny manual focus ring of the sort that Nikon ditched way back after their first few AF lenses drew complaints for having such a poor design. Performance is about average for kit lenses - Central sharpness is perfectly OK at all focal lengths but there is noticeable fall off at the edges even well stopped down. Vignetting - darkening in the corners - is very noticeable at 55mm. Like most kit lenses, it will get you going, but you’ll soon want something better.    >>Full Review

Nikon 18-105mm VR : Although still a plastic kit lens, including a plastic mount, images are very sharp, and build quality is quite reasonable. Yes there is some vignetting and noticeable distortion throughout the zoom range, but like the Nikon 18-70 this is an excellent kit lens. Much better than the Nikon 18-55 VR.     >>Full Review

Sony 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 : As a long time Minolta fan I’ve recently had a look at the Sony range. Unfortunately, if you’re looking at buying a Sony DSLR this lens is best avoided.  Yes this is a cheap option, but the cameras deserve much better.  Performance at wide apertures is poor and even stopped down not that great. I haven’t tried the more expensive Zeiss options, so the Tamron 18-250mm or Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 would be my choices. The good news for Sony buyers is that the Sony 75-300 often sold in kits is actually surprisingly good value.  More Sony / Minolta lens reviews to come.

Canon Lens Reviews

Canon digital cameras

Canon lenses, of all ages, tested with both the Canon APS-C and full frame digital SLR cameras.

Canon Lens Tests

Canon 20D with 1022 EFS

Nikon Lens Reviews

Nikon digital camera

Nikon DX 18-55 VR and Nikon 55-200 VR now tested - how good are these lightweight contenders for your Nikon digital SLR camera?  Nikon lenses old and new tested with Nikon DSLRs.  Which are the best buys and which should you avoid?

Nikon Lens Tests

Canon 10-22 EF-S Lens Review

Canon 10-22 EFS _lens

How does Canon’s 10-22 f3.5-4.5 EF-S perform. Will it be a case of ultra wide but not ultra sharp?  How much light fall off is there in the corners?  How much distortion is there at 10mm? Should you buy one?                        Canon 10-22 EF-S Review

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Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 v Nikon 80-200mm f2.8

Sigma 70 - 200 EX DG lens
Nikon 80-200 2.8 lens

Sigma’s  70-200mm f2.8 EX APO HSM is their competitor for Nikon and Canon’s pro 70-200 f2.8’s. How does it measure up in it’s own right and how does it compare to my old Nikon 80-200 2.8?

Sigma 70-200 2.8

I’ve owned my Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 for a long time and it’s never let me down. It will take something very special to replace it.  Just to be fair I’ve tested it on it’s own and compared the results to those from the designed for digital Sigma. Which is best?

Nikon 80-200 2.8

Sigma v Nikon

Nikon 18-70 DX    v    Canon 18-55 EFS

Nikon D70 with 18-70 lens
Canon 20D digital camera with 1855 lens

Nikon v Canon

Nikon 18-70 DX

Canon 18-55 EFS

Which kit lens is best?

For those of you trying to decide on the best digital SLR camera to own, which  system to buy into is a big decision. Cameras like the Nikon D90 or the Canon EOS 450D / Digital Rebel are all excellent digital SLR cameras, but what about the standard Nikon or Canon zoom lenses supplied with them? Who makes the best digital SLR kit lens? Full tests reports on the Nikon 18-70mm and the Canon 18-55mm EFS.

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© David Gold
All text and images copyright David Gold 2006 - 2011
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