As part of that Holy Quest, we wanted to take a look inside the FE 70-200 f/2.8, because, well, that’s what we do. They’ve been in such short supply, though, we just haven’t been able to take one apart. But a customer was kind enough to drop one of ours, jamming the focusing system. We decided the opportunity to do a repair/teardown was too good to pass up.See the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Teardown (Part 1) on the LensRentals Blog.
It’s not the first time we’ve made a bad decision, and it probably won’t be the last. It ended up being the longest and most complex (6 hours) teardown we’ve ever done. If you’re interested, read along and come feast your eyes on one of the oddest lenses we’ve ever looked into. But it’s going to be a fairly long read. (Poof! There went 90% of the blog viewers.)
I’ll warn you now, I’m going to use words like different, odd, and weird when describing the inside of this lens, especially in the second part of this two-part teardown. Don’t misread that to mean I’m saying ‘bad’ because I’m not. Sony is the one manufacturer these days that’s trying all kinds of new and different things. I love that. Sometimes new things are better, sometimes not. But it does make them different.
As with most new lenses, a Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II made it’s way back to the repair department for an initial tear-down. I know there’s some randomness as to what we tear down, but we have some reasons for doing these. Sometimes, like with this new Canon, it’s simply because we know Lensrentals is going to stock a lot of them and we need to take a look inside to see what is likely to break and what parts we may want to order. And other times, like with this new Canon, it’s because there’s some new technology inside we want to take a look at.See the entire article on the LensRentals Blog.
And, of course, almost all the time these days, there’s some aphasic marketing terminology that leaves Aaron and I looking at each other wondering “what are they trying to say that is.” This time it was “NANO USM technology.” Did that mean there were little nanobots in there focusing the motors? Or that the focus group only had to move nanometers? The problem seemed to have been compounded because some retail and review sites were claiming it had a stepper motor, a ring USM, or both. That’s what happens, marketing department, when you make up words, nobody understands without explaining what you mean.
Looking inside seemed a good way to clarify that. Though Canon did tell what they meant a little bit, but nobody read it. The NANO USM focusing motor made its debut in the Canon 18-135 f/3.5–5.6 IS NANO USM lens last year, but not many people talked about it. It’s also discussed in Canon’s Knowledge Base NANO USM Article, but not many people read that. The NANO USM motor is a different focusing system for Canon, although manufacturers have used similar linear piezo systems.
And, as always, we wanted to see what engineering goodness Canon had inside that polycarbonate lens shell. We’re geeks. Sweet design pushes our buttons, and Canon lenses have had a lot of sweet engineering lately. Even though this is a consumer price range lens, the new digital focusing meter was cool, and we wanted to see if some of the impressive engineering Canon had put in their new L series lenses was drifting down to the consumer grade models.
So let’s tear up, I mean let’s carefully dissect, the new Canon 70-300mm IS. But first, let’s take a quick look at that nice digital readout. I can’t say it’s all that useful, but the depth-of-field-by-aperture display is a nice touch.
by Roger CicalaSee the entire article on the LensRentals Blog.
We recently tested the Nikon 105mm f/1.4E ED AF-S lens and were mightily impressed. Optically it was better than I’d ever expected. We had idly talked about doing a teardown when stock allowed, but we got an unexpected opportunity yesterday: one of our week-old copies had some significant dust in both the front and rear lens groups. We know (like hopefully you know) that some dust doesn’t affect images, but our customers like their lenses dust-free, so we decided to open this one up and clean the dust out of it and to take a few pictures while we were doing it.
I try to identify where my head is whenever I write about anything, so you’ll understand when I go all fan-boy or all snarky. Like everyone else, my expectations going in have a lot to do with my impressions coming out. In this case, I told Aaron before we started that given how awesome this lens was optically that I expected Nikon’s optomechanics were going to modernize, too. Unlike previous Nikon lenses, I thought this lens would have nice, modular construction, no soldered wires running hither and yon, not so much Kapton tape holding stuff down, and maybe even some curved circuit boards. You know, like a lens from the 21st century, not like one from the 1980’s. Aaron didn’t think so.
Well, I was a little bit right but mostly wrong. There is some real modularity and superb construction to this lens. There were also big chunky square circuit boards and wires soldered hither and yon held down with Kapton tape. None of which has anything to do with making a lens take better pictures or making it last longer, but it does make it a pain to take apart and work on.
Author: Roger CicalaSee the entire post on the LensRentals Blog. For more information on the lens, see Bryan's full review.
I like to start articles by stating my expectations, because, like everyone, my expectations going in color my opinion after seeing the results. Given Canon’s recent series of home-run lens upgrades, I expected the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 IS II would be a superb lens. I was particularly expecting improvement at 105mm, which was the weak point of the original lens.
And, I usually put my conclusions at the start of an article so those of you who don’t like MTF graphs and spirited discussion about optical results don’t have to scroll down to the bottom. The new Mk II version is a bit better than the original version, but I was expecting a lot more. I wouldn’t rush out and upgrade from the 24-105mm f/4 IS if your goal is amazingly better optics. There may be other reasons to do so, but optics is not it.
by Roger CicalaYou can read the entire article on the LensRentals Blog. For a more thorough look at the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM, check out this handy resource.
I tend to not get overly excited about new releases. The last few years have seen a lot of incremental upgrades that rarely blow me away. Usually, I end up thinking the new version of whatever is better than the last version. Not “rush out to the store and buy it” better, but “consider upgrading if you use it a lot” better.
Canon, though, (and Sigma) have hit some real home runs with optics lately, so I was a bit excited when Canon decided to upgrade one of their weaker lenses, the 16-35mm f/2.8, to a Mark III version. And if you don’t want to read the article I’ll summarize: rush out to the store and buy it.
To Our Customers:In celebration of its 10 year anniversary, LensRentals invites you to use promo code LR10YEAR to save on orders arriving before July 31st.
Ten years ago, if you wanted to try out some photography equipment, if you lived in a large market, your local camera store would have a few beat up copies of popular lenses for rent (with a 100% deposit). For the rest of us, we didn’t even have that option. I had this great idea to start an online rental offering, no deposits necessary and shared my idea with people I knew. Almost everyone said I would get robbed blind and lose every dime I had. Almost everyone said you’d get junky, beat-up rental equipment and were wasting your money renting online. Almost everyone said that my idea would be a massive failure.
I say ‘almost everyone’ because a few other people thought it was a good idea, too. You guys, our customers, thought it was a good idea. We’d never met each other unless emails count as a meeting. But we trusted each other because we all wanted this to work. Because we few thought that getting to use equipment for a few days or weeks at a reasonable price just made sense.
Almost everyone turned out to be dead wrong and we few turned out to be right. Lensrentals thrived beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Sure, I took risks, and the people who joined me here worked their butts off. But you guys, our customers, were our partners in proving ‘almost everyone’ wrong. Without you, it never would have happened.
Ten years later, saying thank you just isn’t adequate. There are no words that would possibly express my gratitude for all of you who supported Lensrentals and created our success; you folks who shared in proving ‘almost everyone’ wrong.
There are no words, but I believe actions are more important than words. Everyone who works here tries to show our gratitude in our actions. Whether it’s making all of our testing data public, making sure your rental arrives in better condition than you expected, drawing a dinosaur on your shipping box because you requested it, or just talking you through a difficult set-up on the phone, we want to show you our gratitude with every rental. We want you to know it’s more than just business. It’s a partnership between you and us. You’ve helped us achieve our goals; we want to make certain we help you achieve yours.
We wouldn’t be doing what we love to do every day without you. We want our actions, our attitude, and our service let you know, every time you rent from us, that we are grateful that you have partnered with us along this journey.
If you’re like me you like to know what’s going on inside your camera or lens to some degree. They are tools, and if I want to get the best use out of my tool I need to know it’s strengths and weaknesses.See the entire article on the LensRentals Blog.
You may not have noticed, especially if you shoot just Canon or Nikon, but there’s been a quiet change in autofocus motors going on. Or you might have barely noticed marketing-fluff terms like ‘linear focusing’ or ‘electromagnetic focusing’ without really understanding what they meant. Even if you understood the general terms, you probably aren’t really certain how they work, or how they might be better or worse than what we’ve been using.
So I thought some of you might like taking a look into what might (or might not) be a big deal: the changes that are being made in autofocus motors. Today I’m going to discuss linear electromagnetic focusing motors. I may do another post about linear-piezo and ring-to-linear piezo motors later, but those are, so far, less common than the electromagnetic motors.
"After we published a number of posts about copy-to-copy variation, people were quick to say that this company or that needs to 'just' improve quality control. I totally agree but realize most people don’t have a clue what ‘improving quality control’ would really look like. I think they have some vague idea of hiring a guy named Joe to sit at the end of the assembly line, check all the lenses, and reject all the bad ones. Optical quality control for lenses is way, way more complicated than that."Check out the LensRentals Blog for more info.
We’re excited to announce that Roger Cicala and Aaron Closz will be participating in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session of reddit’s /r/photography forum on Monday at 3 pm ET. Over the last few years, /r/photography has been a huge supporter of our blog, so we wanted to give back by inviting the users of reddit to Ask Us Anything. This gives our readers a unique opportunity to ask Roger and Aaron on anything relating to cameras, lenses, other photography and video related gear and about all the techy articles they often post here on our blog. They’re also able to provide their extensive knowledge, and with one of the largest inventories of photography gear in the world, we have a lot to talk about! Be sure to tune in, and submit your questions on Monday at 3 pm ET!
"For the most part, there weren't many surprises in this teardown. We've seen how Sigma has remade themselves as a company making only superb optics at very reasonable prices in the last few years. This lens is constructed very well. There isn't the amazing heavy-duty construction of the Canon 35mm f/1.4. Instead, I'd characterize the construction of the Sigma as very efficient and carefully laid out. There's a solid metal core with other parts all connecting directly to that core. Little touches like pegs to make sure a part is inserted in the proper rotation and shields over critical parts didn't add much expense or weight, but show care was taken in the design. There's nothing in this teardown that looked like a weak point."You can find links to the other 35mm lens teardowns at the beginning of the this teardown.
"I'm sure you can tell we're impressed with the Canon 35mm f/1.4 Mk II. The weather resistance appears better than most weather resistant lenses. (As always, I'll add that weather resistance still means water damage voids the warranty.) The mechanical construction is beyond impressive. This lens is massively over-engineered compared to any other prime we've ever disassembled. It's built like a tank where it counts; on the inside. Moving parts are huge and robust. Six big screws are used in locations where 3 smalls screws are common in other lenses. Heavy roller bearings move the focusing group, it doesn't slide on little nylon collars.Check out the entire post for the full teardown details.
It's also designed thoughtfully and logically. Things that will inevitably get damaged on any lens, like the front element and filter ring, are designed to be replaced easily. There are some things inside, particularly with the tensioning screws and springs, that I'm not certain I understand the purpose of, but I am certain there is a purpose. If I had to summarize the mechanical design of this lens, I would say simply that no expense was spared, no corner was cut.
Sometimes things are expensive because they're worth it. Sometimes they're heavy because they're so solidly constructed. This is one of those times."
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