Sunday, March 7, 2010

Two in One: Feb. 2010 Astrophotos and Tamron Goes Supersonic

First Up: February 2010 Astrophotography

Here's the astrophotography efforts for February 2010. Hopefully March will bring a return to deep sky objects . . .

That tiny, orange sliver is a 17 hour old Moon.

Finally some sunspot action!

Not strictly astronomical, but an interesting sky.

International Space Station flyby at dawn

Orion and light dome, 15 mins, ISO 800 on Canon 30D

And now Feature 2: Tamron Goes Sonic

Tamron has joined the modern world when it comes to autofocus lens motors. Yesterday, Tamron announced its latest lens: the SP 75-300mm f4-5.6 Di VC USD. For those who are not familiar with Tamron lingo, the USD stands for Ultrasonic Silent Drive, which is the same as Canon's USM, Nikon's AF-S, Sigma's HSM, and all the other sonic drive lenses out there.

What does this mean? Fast and virtually silent focus. While modern micromotors can be good, they are at one distinct disadvantage to a sonic drive: the ability for full time manual focus. On a sonic lens, autofocus can be overridden at any time simply by turning the focus ring. On a traditional AF lens, one must switch the lens to manual focus mode first to avoid damaging the focus mechanism.

Tamron makes some great gear, and with this latest development, the usual complaint from users, mainly noisy autofocus without manual override, will be a thing of the past. Now, if only this new technology could be added onto some higher-grade lenses, say the constant f2.8 zooms.

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