Here’s what’s caughtoureyethis month…
Introducing Tamron’s stunning 18-400mm ultrazoom, plus other marvels
Tamron 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD
When it comes to superzoom lenses, maximum focal range grabs headlines, and Tamron now has some serious bragging rights with this new king of DX superzooms. Forget the already-impressive Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD with its 18.75x zoom; the 18-400mm boasts a whopping 22.2x zoom, and an effective maximum focal length of 600mm on a DX-format Nikon. That makes it quite the travel companion, as you can ditch a typical 18-55mm and 55-300mm lens pairing and get even greater versatility from a single lens that’s just 121.4mm long and tips the scales at barely noticeable 705g.
This phenomenal focal flexibility is made possible by a new lens barrel design that incorporates three extension sections for smooth zooming throughout the focal range. Inside, a 16-element stack includes Low Dispersion and aspherical glass to help reduce aberrations and distortion. Autofocus is achieved using Tamron’s HLD (High/Low torque Drive) motor that boasts improved speed, accuracy and quietness, while being physically smaller to help reduce the overall lens size. The barrel also conceals an electromagnetic diaphragm for more precise diaphragm and aperture control via electronic pulse signals.
Vibration Compensation is a must in a 400mm optic, and though present here, the system only provides a 2.5-stop benefit, which isn’t particularly impressive on paper. At least you get weatherproof seals for added go-anywhere appeal, and the lens can even double as a tele-macro optic, with a 1:2.9 maximum magnification ratio.
A do-it-all lens is unlikely to win any sharpness awards, but when you need to travel light and maintain maximum focal length flexibility, this is the new the benchmark for versatility.
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art
The first ultra-wide lens with an aperture larger than f/2 features three FLD (‘F’ Low Dispersion) elements and four SLD (Super Low Dispersion) elements to minimize transverse chromatic aberration, while up front a large 80mm precision-moulded aspherical element reduces distortion and vignetting while maintaining maximum sharpness.
A large hypersonic motor with an optimized AF algorithm offers improved AF speed and accuracy. You also get the enhanced aperture control of an electromagnetic diaphragm, plus a moisture-repelling front element coating. First impressions_ This lens offers something fundamentally new, and we hope that image quality will remain high even when shooting wide open.
Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2
Tamron’s new 24-70mm G2 features dual microprocessing units that deliver faster and more precise autofocusing. Its Vibration Compensation system has also been overhauled, and is now capable of a five-stop shutter speed advantage, which Tamron claims is the highest compensation factor in its class. Optically, the lens features two XR (Extra Refractive Index) elements, three Low Dispersion elements, and multiple aspherical elements to counteract aberrations and distortion. Tamron’s eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) coating minimizes ghosting and flare, while the front element boasts a Fluorine coating for enhanced water and oil resistance. First impressions_ Taking on Nikon’s 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR is no easy task, but recent G2 lenses show that Tamron is on top form. Well worth a look.
Manfrotto Pro Light Bumblebee collection From £110/$130 www.manfrotto.com
Manfrotto has redesigned its Bumblebee backpacks to help reduce stress and heat in your shoulders, neck and lower back. This is achieved via its breathable AirSupport straps, harness and back panel, along with a shaped hip support. The 230 PL is big enough to stash a D5 with 70-200mm f/2.8 attached, plus up to 10 additional lenses and a 17in laptop. The more compact 130 PL includes the same extra-thick padding, and will house a similar camera/lens combo and up to eight extra lenses. A pair of refreshed messenger bags, meanwhile, will accommodate a D810/70-200mm f/2.8 combo and up to three lenses.
First impressions_ Bumblebee bags have long been a solid choice; these design tweaks look set to further enhance their reputation.
MPB Harrier Carbon Tripod £125/$158 www.mpb.com
Carbon tripods can often cost an arm and a leg, but not these legs. The carbon construction translates to a featherweight 1kg design that supports 13kg of gear. The four-section legs and centre column top out at 146cm, with the legs able to flip up to surround the head for transportation, resulting in a compact 43cm packed length. Versatility is enhanced by a monopod conversion feature, where one leg can be unscrewed and attached directly to the centre column. The bargain price doesn’t include a head, but MPB has you covered with a choice of three compact, variable friction ball heads starting at £55.
First impressions_ If you need light legs that are also light on your pocket, this super-solid support could be just the ticket.
Lee Filters ProGlass IRND Filters From £158/$204 www.leefilters.com
Originally designed for the ultra-demanding film industry, these ND filters are claimed to be completely free of colour casts, with extremely accurate stop values ensuring absolute consistency and precision when exposing images. As the name suggests, the filters also block infrared and ultraviolet pollution, resulting in deeper blacks and crisper whites. Each filter is manufactured from 2mm-thick, optically flat glass, with densities ranging from 0.6ND through to a 15-stop 4.5ND version that’s ideal for super-long exposures and incorporates a foam seal to prevent light leaks. Three size options are available, fitting Lee’s Seven5, 100mm and 150mm systems.
First impressions_ Lee filters have long been a benchmark for quality, and these look set to raise the bar even higher.