The Tamron 70-200 f2.8 G2

Tamron 70-200 F2.8 G2 - Source Tamron EU
Tamron 70-200 F2.8 G2 – Source Tamron EU

I’m very fortunate to own this lens – the G2 model A025N, the Nikon 70-200 f2.8 E FL is probably the best and pros shooting every day can justify the expense at nearly twice the price it should be top dog. For me, and I suspect a lot of others, Tamron delevers very close to the Nikkor at just over half the price.

It’s exceptional value for money, it has a solid, very well made feel along with excellent image quality. Tamron support it with a 5 year world wide warranty providing the purchase is registerd on-line and there’s a lot more to like:

Build:
As with most f2.8s theres plenty of glass making it a fairly large lens, but at just 1.485 Kg it’s not quite the heaviest as the Nikon weighs about 60 grammes more. It’s extremely well balanced on my D750 and the controls feel smooth, perhaps not quite Nikon 70-200 smooth but almost. It focuses internally so nothing moves externally which is a big plus point, furthermore it’s also weather and dust sealed although I’m not sure to what degree!
The foot plate tripod mount is Arca Swiss compatible so it mounts to the Arca Swiss clamp on your ball head. Most large Nikkor lenses lack this foot plate making an adaptor neccessary with usually just one screw to secure it. I’ve modified one to provide an extra securing screw but it’s tricky. Regretably Nikon doesn’t listen to their customers, but Arca Swiss really should be the standard for larger lens foot plates by now.  So Nikon please get your heads out of the sand!
The front filter is threaded 77mm.
All the switches have a nice positive feel.

In use:
Autofocus seems blisteringly fast, in near silent operation which can be limited to prevent focus hunting. It also accepts Tamrons 1.4x & 2.0x teleconverters that slow it slightly by 1 & 2 stops respectively producing acceptable images. However both TCs remain quite expensive.
Bokeh is really very good, it changes slightly through the focal length but remains pleasing. The minimum focus distance is close at 95cm and flare down the lens seems well controlled. Some owners have remarked it’s easy to knock the switches but that’s not happened to me.
The Vibration Control (VC) is very effective, permitting some nice sharp shots hand held even at 1/15th. This has three settings: 1 normal, 2 panning – I assume for BIFs, 3 maximum.
Distortion at the wider end & CA also seem very well controlled.

Other points:
The lens fits the Tamron TAP console for firmware updates and tweaks without a dealer visit should Nikon ever change the way future cameras communicate with the lens, however it currently works with all of Nikons later models D500, D600, D750, D800 upto D850 and pro models from D3x on as well as recent Dx models. Check with Tamron to be sure.
The lens clamp can be slackened to allow rotation & I’m told it can be removed altogether but havn’t tried.

Finally, I think the lens hood would be much better if they spent another £1 on it! It’s just a bit too flexible for a lens of this class & price.

Here’s my sample images: mostly 50% .jpgs – slight reduction in quality.
f4.5 1/320th 200mm

100% crop of above:

f4.0 1/160th 160mm

f5.6 1/200th 122mm

So yes, its very well built, excellent value for money with unmatched image quality at the price point in my opinion.

Competition at a similar or lower price are:

1. Nikon 70-200 f4.0 G ED VR AF-S
2. Tamron 70-200 f2.8 A009 – (version 1)
3. Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 APO EX DG HSM OS
4. Tamron 70-210mm f4.0 A034
5. Tokina 70-200mm f4.0 AT-X PRO

Please note: I am not sponsored or affiliated to the Tamron company or any other company. The opinions and findings here are my own from first hand experience using the product.

Please post any questions you have and I will more than happy to answer them.

Les Viviers de L’Ocean

The quality of the seafood here is exceptional, I particularly like oysters and the ones I had recently were probably the best I’ve ever tasted.

The restaurant is located right next to the seafront at Esnandes, ignore your satnav, who needs one anyway? turn right at the lights then follow the road to the sea in about 1 km. Continue although high tide infrequently obstructs the road which turns left uphill then keep going to discover the restaurant on your left. The sea views at sunset are stunning so don’t forget your camera. It’s very popular and frequently gains 5 star reviews on Trip Advisor so a reservation is essential to be sure of a table. Rest assured, you won’t be dissapointed.

There’s a nice vibe here, the menu is very good along with a well priced formulae of entree, main, desert and a glass of wine for 23.50 euros. The owners are Cuban so offer a selection of cigars. Despite being a non smoker, It would be good if restraunts were permitted a smoking room, allowing clients to enjoy these fine Havana cigars that await in the humidor.

Highly recommended and our favourite restaurant for sea food.

Rue de la Pree de Sion, Zone Conchylicole-Front de mer, 17137 Esnandes
Tel: 05 46 01 33 12

D750 20mm @f16 1/2500

D750 Tamron G2 24-70mm @ f14 62mm 1/40

D750 Tamron G2 24-70mm @ f20 38mm 1/50

D750 Tamron G2 15-30mm @ f9 19mm 1/60

What camera should I buy?

I’m sometimes asked this, a complex and somewhat personal subject as everyones requirements for a good camera are different. Here are some of my thoughts:

Sadly, no one ever asks: “I want to shoot inspirational landscape/portrait/action/street/etc pictures with a budget of £xxxx”to start, however:

iPhone: With an iPhone or other smartphone, look no further for now. iPhones take great pictures but, at some point its limitations become apparent, then move on. There are also programs like Phone to Mac or iPhone explorer to transfer your images to your Mac or PC for post processing so youre not locked into iTunes. theres also some decent editing software like Perfectlyclear.

Compacts: I’m often asked: “Which compact camera should I buy?” it could be an incremental step between your iPhone and a DSLR assuming you’re committed to producing high quality images. Some are expensive because they’re really compact mirrorless DSLRs, ie: Fuji X-E3 or the not so compact Sony RX100 IV.

The Nikon 1 is a good compact system. Sadly it’s no longer produced but is a good S/H option. When you progress, it makes an excellent second camera.

Consider a compact if:

  • You’re going somewhere your expensive DSLR might attract attention, a compact is inconspicuous and less attractive to a thief.
  • You already have a DSLR but require a more versatile travelling camera than a smartphone.

Considerations:
Choose a mainstream system, I chose Nikon, but Canon, Fuji, Pentax, Olympus or Sony all take great pictures and provide good choice when you decide to add lenses and flash guns etc. The main brands also benefit from 3rd party manufacturers such as Tamron and Sigma providing excellent quality lenses. There are also good second hand bargains to be had.

Megapixels (Mp): Megapixels are a measure of quantity not necessarily quality and many smartphone sensors with tiny lenses can’t possibly resolve high Mp images. Megapixels are relevant to the image size you wish to print. For example: to print on A2 sized 23.6″ x 16.5″ at 300 dpi requires 7080 x  4950 pixels. A 24Mp sensor image around 6000 x 4000 would work, whilst a 36Mp sensor at 7360 x 4912 would be perfect. So for just a 10″ x 8″ print 3000 x 2400 or around 10Mp will do. But if you’re cropping hard then enlarging images or engage in any type of work where detail is critical, you’ll want for more Mp.

I’ve taken great shots with a 12Mp Nikon D300 like this one.

Fx or Dx: An Fx camera has a full sized sensor: 36 x 24mm the same size as 35mm film, as Fx cameras and lenses have a larger area to cover they cost more. In my opinion, Fx performs slightly better in low light and astro photography, when higher ISOs are used in low light Fx particually the D750 shines with quality images. If you browse this site, you’ll see Fx and Dx images and probably hard to find a noticeable difference between them without ‘pixel peeping’. Fx lenses covering the larger sensor can be used on Dx bodies, the Nikon 70-300mm zoom being just one example that works well. However, using a Dx lens on an Fx camera will result in strong vignette or dark areas in the corners as the Dx lens will not cover the Fx sensor although some cameras recognise the lens and work in Dx crop mode.

Dx camera sensors are smaller 24 x 16mm and cheaper making Dx or APS-C for Canon a good place to start controlling cost. Dx or APS lenses are generally cheaper too, the smaller sensor means the focal length is multiplied by 1.5 for the equivalent field of view with an Fx lens, so a 70-300 zoom provides 105-450mm. This also makes Dx or APS format a very good option for sports and wildlife where long lenses with lots of reach are essential.

Dx Nikons I’ve used include: D80, D300 & D7100 they all take great pictures.

Mirrorless? The Z6 and Z7 are great competing with the D750 and D850, but only three lenses in the new Z mount although an adaptor allows use with existing Nikon F lenses. With a high entry price from £2500, in my opinion it’s a technology that needs to mature. You have to really need the advantages of full frame autofocus, silent operation and high frame rates to justify their cost.

Complicated? No, for your first shots set to A for automatic, adjust aperture, compose and shoot. The camera does everything else. As you progress and become familiar, you can take more control of your photographs and set the camera accordingly. There are also lots of on-line ‘how to’s’ and tutorials with advice on Utube.

Perhaps consider the following options:

Nikon D300 (Dx 12Mp 2007) A Dx version of the legendary D3 and now a very reasonable second hand bargain, replaced by D7x00 series
Nikon D700 (Fx 12Mp 2008) A classic Nikon, still much loved and sought after, replaced in 2014 by the D750
Nikon D7500 (Dx 20Mp 2017) A budget D500, but frame rate and autofocus not as fast, very good camera for a serious start with Dx
Nikon D500 (Dx 20Mp 2016) Amazing super fast D5 autofocus and high 10 fps frame rate, makes D500 the perfect professional choice for sports and birding
Nikon D750 (Fx 24Mp 2014) Successor to D700, does everything well, very good dynamic range and low light capabilities, although several years old it still represents an excellent ‘all round’ Fx camera
Nikon D810 (Fx 36Mp 2014) 36 Mp makes D810 a very good landscape camera recently replaced by D850 but again, plenty of good S/H examples
Nikon D850 (Fx 46Mp 2017) Excellent camera often described as a combination of the D500 and D810 with high frame rates, rapid D5 autofocus and huge Mp sensor providing extremely detailed images, the D850 excells at everything including a somewhat lighter bank balance.

There are also plenty of second hand bargains to be had from retailers such as London Camera Exchange (no connection with them) when people upgrade so a browse of the secondhand section may save a lot.

Lenses: Get the best quality you can afford, some ‘kit’ lenses can be limiting, so perhaps consider a decent lens from the start. There are several Fx lenses which work equally well on a Dx body like the 24-120 and some of Nikons older offerings compete with the newer ones – do some research! The 50mm f1.2 for example. However, a high Mp DSLR really does benefit and must have ‘good glass’ to get the best from it.

Camera backs may be updated, but good lenses will last a lifetime if you look after them, consider:

  • Astrophotography – use wide angle and wide aperture: 15mm f1.8 if possible or even a manual focus lens. You need to let in lots of light and grab as much sky as possible – a good tripod is also essential
  • Landscape – 20, 24, 28 or 35mm primes or shorter zooms
  • Portrait/studio – 50mm, 85mm or 105mm primes
  • Sports and wildlife – 200-500mm or 150-600mm zooms. Long primes are very expensive, but worth it.
  • Indoor photography without flash – f2.8 prime or zooms to suit range
  • Some lenses offer VR or VC to reduce vibrations which are worth considering as lower speeds can be used in lower light. For example I took this shot in low light hand held with a D750 and Tamron 24-70 @ 60mm f4.5 1/30th ISO1600, the DOF is quite flat but a fairly good image considering shot at 1/30th.

Finally essential for astro photography and often used in landscapes/studio or any time you need to support your camera, consider a decent tripod & ball-head. Don’t be tempted to economise with tripods and ball heads!

Discover more:
The Internet holds a wealth of information in the form of YouTube videos, How to’s and many resource sites such as Nikons Digitutor where you’ll find excellent tutorials to learn more about your new Nikon.

Go further with your Nikon, join Nikonians and learn, improve and master your skills, learn and contribute.

NiteCore Nikon Travel Charger

Regrettably the Nikon charger MH-25 , unlike the cameras has not evolved beyond a very basic design. There remains the solitary blinking/solid lamp to indicate charging and completion. The charger housing, in my opinion is a retrograde step as the battery is partially enclosed which does not aid cooling. The battery is insecurely located whereas it used to clip firmly & securely to the charger and being an open design offered more air circulation.

I was surprised to discover it’s Nikons only offering as a charger for the EN-EL15 battery. The lack of a dual bay and or USB powered offerings are somewhat shortsighted. With a USB charger power conversion is carried out elsewhere (computer etc) whereas the Nikon charger has to convert the power within the body of its charger which in turn contributes heat.

The NiteCore UNK1 improves almost all of this and features:
1. Compact & light with short fold away USB cable
2. Excellent charging intelligence which adopts charge type from constant current to constant voltage accordingly
3. A good clear display for monitoring charge progress – current, capacity & temperature. Also Good/Normal/Poor to indicate the battery ‘health’
4. Powered by USB therefore completely independent of 110/240V AC supply.
5. The battery is held securely in the charger
6. It has two connection faceplates, one for EN-EL15 batteries with the reverse for EN-EL14s

The maximum charging current of 1000mA is slightly less than the Nikons 1200mA charge rate. A lower charge rate is slightly beneficial as it helps prevent heat build up.

The charger also claims to be able to revive a ‘sleeping’ battery. More information on the Li-on protection circuitry here (external link).

In use, the UNK1 will charge upto a maximum rate of 1000 mA if your USB port or adaptor does not provide that current, it will charge at a lower rate. For example: my early iPhone 3 USB charger charged at an initial rate of 680mA whereas the later 6s type at 560mA which reduced once it switched to constant voltage towards charge completion.
A longer charge at a lower rate reduces temperature during charge and aids battery longevity.
A ‘blobometer’ displays charged capacity in 20% bars

Trivial acceptable points:

1. The USB cable is short but fits away very neatly, its a travel charger not your every day one. It’s easily overcome using a USB cable extender.

2. To appeal to a wider audience, It charges two types of battery: EN-EL14 (for D3100 & D5100 onwards) & EL15’s (D600, D750, D800 D7000 etc) . I would prefer a version that could charge 2 x EN-EL15s if even at half the single 1000mA/hr rate.

3. The slightly lower maximum 1000mA charge rate may be seen as a negative by some requiring rapid charge times. But a lower charge current is beneficial for your batteries longevity.

So its a 9.5 from me.

We have a RavPower 22,000 mA/hr powerbank so I’d expect to get about full 9-10 charges allowing around 10% for losses.

NiteCore – A larger dual bay charger powered by a USB plug in lead for two of the same type of batteries with switchable charge rate & same monitoring & control would be a perfect desktop replacement for the outdated Nikon one.

These are my own findings and I have no connection with NiteCore

Jamphonic plays for Amnesty & AVF

I went to an Amnesty International fundraising event concert recently, some of the bands were a bit panpipes and folky for me and just before I found myself wearing a poncho & stripy cardigan made from Andalusian Llama wool, on came Tom Wildey with Jamphonic who played Route 66, The Breeze & many others for well over an hour and a half.

iPhone6s – low light and did not want to use flash.

Jamphonic are an Anglo French blues band and rather good too, for more information see their web site here

Taken on 23/03 soiree AVF
D750 24-70 f2.8 @ 60mm f4.5 1/30 ISO1600, low light performance is great.

Taken on 23/03 soiree AVF
D750 24-70 f2.8 @ 70mm f4.5 1/40 ISO1600

I shot this video on an iPhone 6s towards the end as there was more light, the file opens in a new window.
The video is IP of Jamphonic.fr

An excellent finish to the evening back at Toms house with a dram of this exceptional and rare single malt


iPhone 6s

Fontenay Le Comte

Fontenay le Comte & the river Vendee

D7100 12-24mm @ 22mm f11 1/100th

The church of Notre-Dame.
Sometimes I just point my camera and shoot, even with every thing is set to manual then think actually thats quite a good capture…
D7100 17-55 @ 25mm F7.1 1/320th

The spire of Notre Dame towers above the rooftops
D750 24-70mm @ 70mm f8.0 1/800 and the only blue sky on a rainy morning.

Baskets for sale at the market
D7100 12-24 @ 20mm F11 1/125th

Airing the duvet near the Rivalland tower, built by Gustave Rivalland (1824-1881) a former French naval officer and was completed in 1881.
D7100 17-55.0 mm @ 17mm f7.1 1/1000

Building near the Rivalland towerD7100 17-55.0 mm @ 48mm f7.1 1/250

Building near the Rivalland towerD7100 17-55.0 mm @ 38mm f7.1 1/200

An empty bench in Place VieteD750 24-70 f2.8 @ 24mm f11 1/200

The Pont des Sardines
Before the monks drained the Marais Poitevin the river Vendee was navigable to this bridge and here the catch of sardines was landed.
D7100 12-24 @ 24mm F13 1/200th

The moon

An extremely clear evening with very bright night time light gave this shot of the moon using Nikons 70-300mm f4.5 – 5.6 VR zoom lens, which Ive been extremely pleased with and taken a lot of shots entirely hand held at 300mm where, as expected the lens goes slightly soft.

Tonights (31/03/18) efforts


Whilst its a fairly easy subject to photograph, its quite hard to get a decent clear image as the sky was slightly hazy


D7100 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm f/7.1, 1/500th Manfrotto CF tripod although I could have easily hand-held, but I wanted to practise night time work on the tripod.

The medieval village of Vouvant

Just a few kilometers away at the northern end of the Mervent forest lies the fortified village of Vouvant which is very popular in summer. The village has several art galleries and cafes in the centre whilst the narrow streets with picturesque houses, surrounding views from the fortifications and large medieval church  make it a popular venue for tourists and photographers.

The keep according to legend was built overnight by the fairy Melusine with an apron full of stone and a mouthfull of water. It can be accessed by obtaining the key from the tourist office near the car park or the Cafe Melusine nearby for 2 euros per person.

The river is a tributary of the Vendee which forms a natural moat around the village

The abbey of Maillezais was commissioned by William V to build a church and monastary but it was not finished until the 11th century due to lack of money. Its a fair size with some intricate and amusing carvings around its doorway.

Le Jardin de Fournils a small 1920’s formal garden with topiary box hedging.

The roman bridge, to the right below

Vouvant is here

Manfrotto 488 ball head – Swiss Arca conversion

I have a 488 ball head, which is quite decent. However the mounting plate is not, it’s big and clips together in a rather clunky manner, furthmore it dosn’t feel too secure. The bottom plate attaching to the camera is far too large and has to be removed to access the battery so something had to change…

Manfrotto model 488 ball head – Amazon UK -complete with clumsey proprietory mount plate

After a search on Amazon I discovered a decent looking Arca Swiss clamp that looked like it might be a good replacement. The clamp on the 488 is secured to the ball head by a 6mm countersunk allen screw which looked fairly easy to remove and I suspect other ball heads employ a similar mounting screw arrangement.

I undid the screw which was extremely tight and removed the old clamp, be sure to select the correct fitting allen key as it needs a fair amount of force to undo. Once the replacement Arca Swiss clamp arrived, I just needed to remove the threaded insert to fit different threads (see pic below) In order for the clamp to accept the original securing screw to the counter sunk hole and tighten firmly to secure the new clamp:

This works much better than the old clamp and plate, it also fits the Arca Swiss foot on my Tamron 70-200 G2 lens removing the need to fit proprietory plates to the lens foot.

I used the matching camera QR60 mounting plate which fits my camera neatly and works perfectly.