Gear Review : A Weekend with the Tamron 70-200 G2


For this review, none of the following images have been doctored or edited in anyway. They were all shot as RAW on my Nikon D500, exported as High Quality JPEG.


For the last few years, third party lenses have been gaining traction and recognition, to say the least. Both Sigma and Tamron have been producing some quality lenses at some great price points. On average, the new lenses they produce are offered at about half of the cost Canon and Nikon are offering them. They are just as good and in some cases, are a bit better. I won't make you wait until the end of this review to figure out whether I think it's better than Canon or Nikon - it is. This won't be a long or overly technical review. It is mainly my thoughts after using it as my main lens for a paid weekend gig.

BUILD 

I was thoroughly impressed upon picking up the lens from my local shop, George's Camera. I have used and at one point, owned, the older Tamron 70 - 200mm lens and while I liked it, the build was too plastic-like for me. I had to be careful how I treated it. If you know me, that's not how I work. I am tough on lenses, as I'm working with fast-paced vehicles or animals. In this case, the lens felt really solid. We have weather sealing, just like the earlier version, but after a weekend in the dirt, I was able to dust off the lens and it looked brand new. 

A big negative I hate about this lens are the button placements. I shoot with my camera on a strap, running around all day. The buttons stick out and are easy to flip on or off when it hits my leg. The AF moves to MF every time I hang my camera by my side. When I pick the camera up to snap a few shots, it takes me several seconds and several missed shots to remember to flip the switch back. I got used to the problem by the end of the weekend and made adjustments to work around it. A simple solution would have been to gaff tape it so the button wouldn't move, however, I left my tape at home. Getting rid of the problem altogether by lowering the buttons would be ideal, but taping it up is just as effective as a solution for now. 

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Sharpness

When using a lens like a 70- 200mm, you expect it to be sharp. It's a lens you expect to be able to use like a workhorse for events because the image sharpness is so impressive. Tamron sure didn't disappoint. The sharpness is focused in the center, but I have a few shots where the subject is off center and it is still impressively sharp. Zooming into 100% shows an impressive amount of detail when there isn't something like a cloud of dirt or dust in the way. I shot most of my weekend wide open at 2.8 on my D500. For a few shots where I needed a bit more in focus, I did stop down to F4, which is still crazy sharp. I'd be very happy to keep the lens wide open for most of my shooting. Overall, super happy with the sharpness of the lens. 

Auto-FOCUS

The images below are from a real-world style of shooting. I followed the trucks as they came around the turn, but moved to a few other trucks in the middle of the sequence, without lifting off the shutter. The autofocus kept up easily, making my hit rate very high for the overall weekend. As you can see, the lens is in focus and sharp. I can't recall a single moment throughout the entire weekend where the lens failed me. It didn't give me a hard time once, with the exception of not shooting when the button was flipped to MF while hanging by my side. 

Final Thoughts

After a long three good days of shooting, I have to say I'm happy with it for sure. I'm not completely sold on adding it to my bag just yet, as those buttons really drive me up the wall. In my style of shooting, it has a big impact. Though overall, the sharpness and autofocus are great and right up there with the new Nikon lens I also rented for a weekend a few months past and loved it yet the price is a bit high on that model. The 70 - 200mm is not a lens I use much in my everyday shooting. It's great for event coverage and conferences and such, however, it isn't ideal for a wildlife trip. I'll have to rent it again for a trip and see how it does. All in all, if I was in the market for a 70 - 200mm lens, this one would definitely be at the top of my list. 

Gallery : On the Pipe 7


Two years ago, I got a call from Jay Schweitzer. He invited me to travel with him and some of the best FMX riders in the industry, people like Brian McCarty, Wes Agee, Jarryd McNeil, Jimmy HIll, and Travis Cady. We were heading out for a three week road trip from Southern California to Montana for Jay's new movie, On the Pipe 7: The Last Hit. We ended up making a small detour through Yellowstone before getting to Tavis Cady's place in Montana. We spent a week there before heading out to Colorado to film, ending the trip in Denver for an FMX Show the athletes were a part of, before heading back to San Diego.

Overall, it was an amazing few weeks. I was able to watch the best riders in the world, ride some of the biggest nature terrain. It's something which really opens your eyes to the scale of how big these athletes were really jumping. Be sure to watch the teaser and pre-order the film. It's going to be nothing short of epic. 

 


Equipment Used:

Canon 1D Mark IV

16-35mm F4 L

 70-200 F2.8 II L

Canon 300mm 2.8 II L lens

 All the images were edited in Adobe Lightroom. 


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Gear Reveiw : Ikelite Housing


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As a young kid, I loved the ocean. I was amazed at everything surrounding it and knew I wanted to work in it somehow. It wasn't until many years later I found photography. I knew one day I would be taking my camera into the ocean to shoot the amazing landscapes and animals who call it home. I'm happy to say, after several long years - I finally have a dive housing in my bag. Below is my review of my new housing. I will post updates as time goes on - check the end of the post for those. 


Why Ikelite?

For being such a niche market, there are a bit more companies supplying housing and underwater gear then most would think. For the DSLR Shooter out there, Nauticam, Sea and Sea, and Ikelite come to mind as some of the top names. All of them are different in their own ways and are great for their own reasons. Why did I pick Ikelite? Well two main reasons:

Price - Ikelite really fits in a great price point. The housing, plus the dome, along with a few other small things to get up and running is about $2,300. (This price is before add on's like strobes and arms). While that is not something everyone has just lying around, its not bad for an underwater system. Other systems out there run around the $3,500 price point, just for the housing with no ports. This is not to say they are bad - just different. Everybody who shoots with underwater gear has a certain set of requirements which need to be checked off for them. Look closely before you buy. For some of you, the features the housing offers may be something you need to do your job so price comes second for you. 

Style - The second reason I went with Ikelite is due to the style of the new DL housings. Ikelite has now made their new DL style housing into both a Surf and Dive Housing system for people who need hybrid system. If you're wanting to shoot shallow water and surf, you can get the housing you need with a 50ft depth rating back to save weight. Then when you want to go diving, you can get a second backplate for your housing to handle up to 200ft of diving. I chose the 50ft back to start with, since most of my shooting at the moment is not at the 50ft limit. As time goes on, I will for sure be getting the 200ft back.


Overview of the Housing 

I added some photos below to show some of the features I like, along with just basic overview photos so you can see different angles. 

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The back-plate latching system with a safety switch is solid. Even when bumped by accident, there is no risk of it popping open underwater. 

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The On/Off switch along with top controls are easy to use and press easily, even with gloves. Photo shows the flash bulkhead taken off, which allow use of a sync cable to fire your strobes. There is no fiber optic on this housing. 

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The back of the housing features easy to read labels for those times when you forget what each button does. The text is large enough to read in a glance. A nice touch is the words being engraved, not painted on. 

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The new DL housings come standard with a vacuum system already installed. You need to buy the vacuum pump. It is an extra expense. I've found it works well and am happy it comes with the housing.  

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The controls on the outside of the housing translate into plastic gears on the inside. They keep low profiles in order to help cut down on weight and size, while still working smoothly. 

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If you've used Ikelite before, the new port takes advantage of your old zoom lens collars. It will help you save money when making the move, but you will need to buy new ports made for DL housings. 


Time to Get In the Water

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Pros


  •  I love the camera tray which is built into the housing. It fits the camera snugly, allowing me to shoot confidently, instead of worrying about a button slipping or moving.
  • The dome is an acrylic, well-made, and exceptionally light dome, that provides great image quality. 
  • The system of locking the back-plate is fantastic. I like that it has three different snap clips to secure the back with even pressure, along with the safety mechanism on each of them so they don't get snagged on a dive.
  • The new Dry lock port is a great system and a main reason why I felt secure in purchasing this housing. The old Ikelite housing had four clips that I just didn't like or would trust, but that's just me. 
  • The new handle system at the bottom allows me to have one handle on either side or add both handles, allowing me to customize the experience. It's a very versatile system; it suits a multitude of various types of underwater photography, whether you're going snorkeling, diving, or top-side.
  • The shutter release is form fitting, spring loaded, and easy to use with gloves or not. It makes using this housing simple and fun.
  • The big zoom knob with the different shape, size, and material is also easy to find and use without looking. It is built into the housing in the perfect place - you don't have to search or even reach for it, it's right at your fingertips. 
  • The build quality of the entire housing is mighty impressive. All of the buttons are easy to push and use.
  • The O-ring system is easy to care for and clean.
  • Last but not least is the included vacuum system. Great to see this come stock and ready to go, though you will need a pump. 
 

Cons


Now there isn't much to be said that is bad about this housing.

  • One of the biggest problems I've found is once the camera is in the housing and locked up you can't change your AF setting from point to group. It's even worse since Ikelite could have made the lens release button work for both. I had my housing fixed with an aftermarket part that now makes it possible to use it both ways.
  • I have a love hate relationship with the DL Dome. It's really nice and light, but if you're not using a port extension and are just putting the port right into the housing, the three screws used to hold it in place are hard to get to and tighten or loosen. 
  • The next thing is just for those who have the 50ft back: the viewfinder is crap. It's just a clear plate. You need to get the 200ft back to get a magnified viewfinder or invest in a aftermarket viewfinder. I plan on getting the 45 degree finder next year when I upgrade to the 200ft back. 

Since I have had the housing for only a few months, there isn't much more I can say that is bad about the housing. 

Images Taken Using the Ikelite D500 Housing

Final Thoughts

If you're looking to getting into any type of water based photography, take a good look at Ikelite. I'm beyond happy with the housing and dome I have. Even if you don't have a DSLR camera, there are housings for point-and-shoots, along with most of the new mirror-less options on the market. If you plan on doing different types of underwater work, such as surfing, snorkeling, or diving all during one trip, the DL housings are great. The two different backs help save on weight and there are new ports for long primes coming soon. 

I will say, if you specialize in something like surf photography, a surf housing might fit your needs better. At the end of the day, I'm really happy with this housing and can see it lasting many years of shooting. The Nikon D500 makes a perfect companion for this housing. Next year, I will be upgrading the back of the housing for deep dives and will also add a 45 degree viewfinder to make it easier to shoot. 

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below and if you find yourself in San Diego let me know - I'd love to go on a dive together!

The Print Store is Open!


 
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The wait is officially over! After what feels like forever, I am finally opening up my print shop. It has been a ton of hard work, but I couldn't be prouder. I have added some of the best shots I've taken over the last few years of my life. It's been an incredible journey to this point. I am beyond honoured to be able to offer these amazing shots to you. I will be updating the shop with more photos as I capture them.  Just click the link in the upper right-hand side of the site.

All of my images are printed on metal. It's the best material for most of my images and it looks so good on the wall. Not only that, but it's easy to clean and transport. I believe there are certain ways my images need to be printed to be shown off in the best light. To continue along that train of thought, I have also chosen a standard size for each of the prints. This means each image comes in one size and one size only. It's the size which best represents the image and dictates the best detail with the right framing. 

From now until December 9th at midnight, I'm running a holiday sale. You get 30% off your total order. The code is HOLIDAY17. Get your Christmas shopping done early this year! You also receive free shipping on top of the holiday sale pricing(The United States Only). Hurry though, these are the months which tend to move quickly. Before you know it, Christmas will be here and you'll have to find some lame gift to get your loved ones. That's not very nice - don't do that to them. You want them to know you love them. Get something they all will love. 

This is only the start. I will be adding images frequently. I am always going out to find my next top shot. Who knows, one day you may have that top shot hanging above your kitchen table. Check back regularly and follow me on social media.

Upgrade Time!! My new HECS Wetsuit is here!!


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I'm based out of San Diego. There are two reasons I point that out - it's a lot colder during the summer than you might think and the water gets even colder in the winter! When I first started getting into snorkeling, I picked up a basic 3MM suit so I could keep myself warm. That was a few years ago and the suit's been getting a bit worn. On top of that, I find I've been diving even deeper. Since it's so cold here - especially at  depth - it was time to get a new suit. After looking around online, I found a few I liked. Then, I remembered hearing about a suit called HECS. The main selling point is it's ability to block the body's electric signals, allowing the user to get closer to animals like sharks, rays, and some fish. People were raving about it. They were saying it was one of the best-made suits out there and was extremely warm. There were even a few reviews claiming the 5MM suit is warmer than most 7MM suits. If I was going to buy a new suit, I figured I might as well get one which helps me get closer to the wildlife I've been chasing. I haven't tested it yet - I plan to use it at the Bluewater SoCal Shootout Underwater Photography contest. I'll share a full scale review in a few months. In the meantime, I leave you with some pretty pictures of the suit in all it's glory. Let me know if you have any questions!

My Personal Project


Every photographer should have a personal project they work on while they grow their business. The goal of the project doesn't have to be to make money from it, but it should have the goal to push yourself and finish it. Finishing a project like this allows you to see what you're made of and gives you something else to add to your portfolio you can show to potential clients. 

I haven't had a personal projects for years. A personal project, to me, has more than one shoot. It may span a few weeks, months, or even years. The end goal is to stretch yourself and gain new skills you didn't have before as a photographer and individual. I like to think most personal projects involve more than one person - since nobody is an expert at everything. 

On that note, I'm happy to say I'm currently working on a personal project again. It's something which has really reminded me why I started photography and I'm enjoying every minute of it. I won't go into too much detail here about what the project is, but the photo provides a simple clue. I'm happy to be collaborating with some amazing people, include my fiancee who will be writing it, though by the time it is published, she will be my wife. 

I hope by the end of this year I can show off what I've got so far and explain a bit more in-depth about the project and why I'm doing it. In the meantime, keep watching my social media channels and my blog posts. I'll be posting more hints in the following weeks to come. 

A New Direction....


When you love something and have a huge passion for something, you should never lose sight of it. You should chase your dreams and do what you want. Of course that's easier said than done. Acting upon your passion can be one of - if not - the hardest thing to do in life. For me, my passion has always been wildlife - more specifically, the ocean. 

I love all animals, even though some - like spiders - are very low on my list. If you know me or my work on this site, it's mainly based in the action sports industry. I have had some amazing days of shooting action sports. From traveling across the country with some of the best FMX riders to chasing trophy trucks at 120 mph in a helicopter, I've had some amazing trips. While I'll always love the world of action sports, it's time for me to go in a new direction and chase my true passion in life. 

I want to show people and educate them about the amazing world we live in which sits right outside our doors. I hope this change in my content will be understood by all those who have enjoyed my past work. I can promise I will still shoot action sports from time to time, but those times will only come a few times a year. 

With this new direction, I think I can say, in a way, this is a new me. I have had - and still do - a love with the outside world and the world of photography. Being able to capture a moment in time and freeze it, it's a powerful thing when used the right way. It can open the eyes of those who have never seen it, it can teach people so much. More importantly, it can create emotion. Those who love something will fight for it and right now, we have a huge fight on our hands. From the poaching of wild animals for their horns in Africa, open hunts of grizzly bears, the slaughter of millions of sharks each year, the bleaching of coral due to higher water temps, and so much more, we have a long road ahead of us. 

My goal, like so many other photographers out there, is to tell a story, to teach others, and finally, to create an emotion in people that will lead to change for our world before we lose it.

So I hope you will join me, follow me on social media. Feel free to ask questions and join me on trips to learn more about the amazing world we have.