Manchester Pride 2009 / by Neil Alexander

So today was the beginning of the Manchester Pride festival which was kicked off by the main parade. I'd hoped to nip into Calumet and rent a 70-200mm F2.8 for the weekend to shoot with. Unfortunately when I got there, they were completely out. They offered me an 80-200mm (an older lens without the VR), but then another employee chipped in that they had a Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 for sale for the measly price of £490! It didn't have image stabilisation, but hey with the high ISO capabilities of the D300 and the use of Noiseware Pro, I could afford to lose the couple of stops that the VR would give me for a lens that's a quarter of the price of Nikon's new 70-200 VRII! Normally I would have done a serious amount of research before making a purchase like this, but other times I like to fly by the seat of my pants! [more] So off I headed to the Pride procession eager to try out my new toy. It's significantly lighter than Nikon's version, but about the same size. I had a few issues with the auto-focus, particularly when trying to zoom from from one extreme to the other. If I was focused right out, then the auto-focus would have difficulty in pulling itself in and vice-versa. Quickly panning to somewhere in between the range, and performing an interim focus would quickly resolve the problem. Now I've only ever used the Nikon lens in much more controlled conditions so I've no real comparison, but in the grand scheme of things, it was no great issue.

The frames I shot with the lens were in general wonderfully sharp, though without performing some serious tests on it similar to the ones Martin Bailey's performed, its hard to be sure. I've posted the frames from today's parade on Demotix here. Watch this space for a more detailed analysis on the lens's focusing capabilities but on initial inspection I'm more than pleased with my bargain purchase...