Friday, March 6, 2009

New Lens Review

I recently purchased a 70-300mm lens for my D40. I went with an off brand since the sticker shock of the Nikkor 70-300 was too much for me to justify. I purchased the lens from the local Wolf Camera, and they allowed me 10 days to try it out and return it for a full refund, no questions asked. That is pretty hard to beat. I mainly wanted to test out the long distance zoom capability, and see if I would really miss the VR of the Nikkor lens. Also, I was curious as to how the build quality would feel in comparison to some other Nikkor lenses. This lens also has a macro function, but I haven't gotten around to testing it yet. Below are some sample pics:

200mm @ f/9 @ 1/125 @ ISO200

300mm @ f/9 @ 1/160 @ ISO200

300mm @ f/10 @ 1/60 @ ISO250

Overall impression is that you get what you pay for. The image quality is good enough to stand up against the Nikkor lens. What it is lacking is build quality, fast focus, and consistent focus. One positive is that this lens is smaller and weighs less than the comparable Nikkor, but this could also be due to the lesser build quality.

My suggestion is that if you are looking for a reasonably priced telephoto zoom lens that is used 99% of the time outdoors, focus speed is not a priority, and you routinely take very good care of your gear then this lens is probably good for you. I still have not made up my mind about it yet. I am going to take it out again tomorrow and give it a try in the direct sunlight. The biggest area of concern for me is the way the focus seemed to hunt a lot in the low lighting in the dark valleys of the Smokies today. If it still has this trouble in the bright daylight, then I will probably be returning it on Sunday.

I do recommend that if anybody is interested in buying this lens or one similar to go to a local camera store and test one yourself. Some of these off brand lens companies save money on QA/QC practices, and lemons are common.


Today I returned this lens. I found the inconsistent focus and unsure build quality to be too much for me to risk. I tried to order a Nkon 70-300mm, but the vendor I was using was very inconsistent with their pricing. I ordered a Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 that I am very excited about. When it arrives, I will post a review for it on here as well. Unfortunately it appears that the old saying, "You get what you pay for" not only holds true for rods but for lenses as well.


David said...

What was the brand of the lens you tried?

Travis said...

It was a Quantaray, which is basically a Sigma with the Wolf Camera brand logo. Sigma also makes this lens, and it is about $30 more. However, I have heard that the quality is very similar.

David said...


Travis said...

I told you incorrectly. Sigma does make some of the Quantaray lenses, however this particular lens is made by Tamron and rebadged by Wolf. After asking more questions, I have been told that the Sigma has a better autofocus than the Quantaray/Tamron and has more metal components. May have to try it out.

19" Clinch River Brown