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Reviews Written by
Mark K. Cowan (North England)
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Polaroid Original Lens Pen - Lens Cleaner
Polaroid Original Lens Pen - Lens Cleaner
Offered by Smart Shop UK
Price: 6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Does its job, what more can I say?, 24 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Does its job, isn't as fragile as the Hama lenspen I had prior to it. Would definitely buy again when it does wear out.


Sigma Cleaning Cloth for Micro Fibre Lens
Sigma Cleaning Cloth for Micro Fibre Lens
Offered by MegaDeals UK
Price: 6.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute lifesaver in Iceland, 24 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Up on a glacier, my lens kept icing over. This cloth was absolutely essential to keep my front element transparent!


Hoya 77mm Neutral Density NDx400 Filter
Hoya 77mm Neutral Density NDx400 Filter
Offered by Bliss St
Price: 123.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Got wrecked on its first day out, but got some good pics, 24 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Does not handle an Icelandic storm with hail and 90mph winds too well... but gets great results otherwise, and is still usable - just a little rough on the surface now.


Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 EX DC HSM Nikon Fit Lens
Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 EX DC HSM Nikon Fit Lens
Price: 347.80

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One criticism: It doesn't go even wider!, 5 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After a few days of solid use in Iceland:
+ Minimal c/a, rarely noticeable even if you pixel-peep
+ Very sharp, probably the sharpest DX ultra-wide. Corners and edges are very good.
+ The cheapest ultra-wide that you'd actually ever want to use on a DX.
- Complex distortion at all focal lengths. Extreme at 10mm.
- The longer (16-20mm) range of focal lengths were initially just a nice bonus, but turned out to be essential in Iceland as I couldn't risk swapping lenses when I was out on a windy glacier.

=======

I was going to get the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, or possibly the Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5. The Tokina is fast, sharp and its only real drawbacks are the lack of width (11mm vs 10mm is a lot actually!), and excessive c/a in the edges and corners (on the 4 samples that I tested). The Nikon is slightly slower than the Tokina, less sharp, and more expensive.

At the last minute, a proper photographer convinced me to consider this lens and I have no regrets! In addition to being cheaper than the other ultra-wides for Nikon, it has no noticeable c/a, is very sharp, is compact, and quite lightweight. It does however have significant (but easily corrected) distortion. It may be less sharp than the Tokina in online reviews (not that I've noticed), but certainly makes up for it with clear, c/a-free corners!

Having returned several Sigma lenses due to poor image/build quality, I tried hard to fault this one but I really can't. It is a great piece of glass and good value for money too. It is now the second Sigma that I own and regularly use, the other being the 150-500mm Sigmonster.

The image quality is lovely and the build quality seems good too. The action is smooth and it doesn't wobble on the mount at all (which my 150-500mm Sigma does, annoyingly). If it broke tomorrow (which I half-expect after the last few Sigmas I tried), I would replace it with another Sigma 10-20mm/f4 without hesitation.


Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens
Offered by A-ONE PLUS
Price: 144.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing for the price, 5 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Since buying this for myself, along with one for my brother, we have barely touched our kit lenses. I find this lens perfect for landscapes and skylines, while my brother uses it almost exclusively in his fashion/modelling/art ventures.

My only criticism of this lens is that you get slight c/a around edges that are out of focus at f/1.8. This is really only noticeable though if you pixel-peep or enlarge to A1 or larger, and is easy correctable in software under such circumstances. My brother's lens does not do this at all, so it may just be due to the abuse that mine has received outdoors.

The only time this lens ever comes off my D5100 nowadays is when I want to use my Sigma 10-20 f/4, or my Sigma 150-500 f/5. A must have for anyone who regularly uses a DX-frame DSLR, and I would recommend getting this instead of the kit lens with a new Nikon DSLR as you'll (a) get sharper pictures and (b) learn a lot faster.

Stopped down to f/4-16 and this lens is so sharp that I really cannot fault it in any way. Wider than f/4 and the sharpness is *slightly* reduced but is still better than a kit lens in any configuration. Bokeh is amazing and sharp, build quality is good, speed is great, sharpness is amazing, the lens is almost weightless!


Dell Ultrasharp U2312HM 23 inch IPS LED Monitor
Dell Ultrasharp U2312HM 23 inch IPS LED Monitor

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 1920x1080 monitor, 22 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bought alongside a U2412M (note: 1920x1200), they're both brilliant. I had to turn down the brightness on them both, but besides that, they're brilliant for graphics, programming, photography post-processing and gaming.

Having used many ASUS products for years without a single problem, I had my eyes set on the ASUS ProArt. The Dell that I received has comparable image quality to the ASUS and a far superior warranty (for half the price), so the final decision between ASUS and Dell was a no-brainer.


Dell UltraSharp U2412M 24 inch LCD TFT Monitor (16:10, 1920x1200, 300 cd/m2)
Dell UltraSharp U2412M 24 inch LCD TFT Monitor (16:10, 1920x1200, 300 cd/m2)
Price: 199.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 1920x1200 monitor, 22 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bought alongside a U2312HM (note: 1920x1080), they're both brilliant. I had to turn down the brightness on them both, but besides that, they're brilliant for graphics, programming, photography post-processing and gaming.

Having used many ASUS products for years without a single problem, I had my eyes set on the ASUS ProArt. The Dell that I received has comparable image quality to the ASUS and a far superior warranty (for half the price), so the final decision between ASUS and Dell was a no-brainer.


Asus AMD Radeon HD 7750 Graphics Card (1GB GDDR5, PCI Express 3.0, 820MHz/4600MHz, AMD Eyefinity Technology Support)
Asus AMD Radeon HD 7750 Graphics Card (1GB GDDR5, PCI Express 3.0, 820MHz/4600MHz, AMD Eyefinity Technology Support)

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good replacement for 4870, 22 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bought to ultimately go alongside my HD4870, so I can drive 3 monitors. It runs considerably cooler and quieter than the 4870 (despite very effective custom cooling on the latter), and has at least 50% of the computational power judging by graphics performance (the 4870 doesn't support OpenCL so is hard to gauge).

I may ultimately buy another one of these and replace my 4870. This should allow me to run 3 monitors and use OpenCL for my PhD work, but will also allow me to crossfire when I want to play games on just a single monitor - giving similar performance to my old 4870.

In Windows XP, this card smoothly handles COD4 on maximum settings at 1080p, however performance in Starcraft 2 and CS:Source is poor (but mostly still playable) under Ubuntu 10.04.

I would recommend this card plus any of AMD's cheap quad-cores for any budget PC. I have an i7-2700k, since I need extra performance for work, but I tried this card in my old poor-student PC (AMD Athlon II X2 3.2 GHz) and it gives great frame rates in SC2 on top graphics settings.


Polaroid Optics 86mm 3 Piece Filter Set (UV, CPL, FLD)
Polaroid Optics 86mm 3 Piece Filter Set (UV, CPL, FLD)
Offered by Smart Shop UK
Price: 22.99

3.0 out of 5 stars You get what you pay for., 19 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have only tried the UV filter [Sigma 150-500mm]. It caused blurring for landscapes, and ghosts in firework photos. While UV protection is redundant for night-time firework photos, the lens protection that a filter offers is useful to have.

I will probably use the polarising filter at some point, when sharpness isn't too much of an issue. Overall, I wouldn't recommend using these filters unless you really can't afford the better ones. As you're using a lens with an 86mm thread, you can probably afford the better filters!


Sigma 17-70 mm f2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM optical stabilisation lens for Nikon Digital SLR cameras
Sigma 17-70 mm f2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM optical stabilisation lens for Nikon Digital SLR cameras
Offered by Gates Deals
Price: 235.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad autofocus, poor image quality, 19 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
On a D5100:

The autofocus is inaccurate (about 3 inches off each time) and fails in average indoor light. When manually focused at f/4, the results are sharp at the short end.

I had the Sigma 150-500mm, and decided to order this (17-70mm) and the 70-300mm as Christmas presents. While the 150-500 is a great lens, the build quality and image quality on the latter two is disappointing. I bought this instead of the kit lens since it goes much wider, but to get sharp results (even with manual focus), you generally need to stop it to f/4 or slower. The only advantage of this lens over the 18-55mm Nikon kit lens is that it goes to 70mm, but you could probably get better images by shooting the kit lens at 55mm and cropping.

I bought the Sigma 70-300mm in addition to this lens. Amazon's returns policy is excellent, they sent a courier to my house to pick up the lenses.


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