What's SLRgear.com all about?
In years past, the Single Lens Reflex or "SLR" camera was the ultimate photographic tool for many shooters. A good SLR provided as much or as little control over exposure as you might want, superb autofocus performance, the flexibility of interchangeable lenses, and advanced "system" accessories like dedicated flash units and remote shutter releases.
In the digital era, it took a while for sensor size and resolution to catch up with the demands of the SLR camera design. Early units were very expensive, and their capabilities were modest. Now in late 2005, digital SLR prices have plummeted, performance has improved, and a wide range of models are available for relatively affordable prices, in many cases costing no more than advanced film-based cameras of 10-20 years ago.
The age of the digital SLR has arrived!
Much of the fun of SLR ownership comes from expanding your photographic arsenal. The camera itself is only the beginning of your journey: You'll be adding lenses, flash units, filters, camera bags, and other accessories for years to come. Actually, choosing the components of your "kit" is arguably more important than your initial choice of camera. Given the continuing advance of camera technology, it's very likely that you'll own several camera bodies over the course of your photo career, but will continue to use the same lenses for years to come.
So that's what SLRgear.com is all about: Helping you select the best "gear" for your digital SLR.
You'll find three types of information here: User reviews, professional reviews, and comparison shopping links.
When it comes to selecting new gear, who better to advise you than others who have already taken the plunge? With reader reviews you'll hear from people who are intimately familiar with each lens, tripod, or other accessory. And when you're ready to buy, our links will help you shop for the best deal from a reputable merchant.
What we're most proud of here, though, is our own review information, most particularly the incredibly detailed and interactive lens test data that we've assembled. The technology behind the lens data you'll find on this site is revolutionary, providing unprecedented information on the detailed performance of each lens. With it, you can clearly see the differences between different lenses, and understand exactly the strengths and weaknesses of each. On the one hand, you'll be able to see why that f/2.8 zoom is really worth a thousand dollars - If the areas where it excels happen to coincide with your needs. On the other hand, you'll be able to sniff out bargains in more reasonably-priced optics, and understand exactly where the "sweet spots" lie in each lens's various settings. Regardless of your budget, you'll be able to find the best match between it and your needs, and make better choices than has ever been possible in the past.
As revealing as they are, our own tests still tell only part of the story. Laboratory tests tell a lot about sharpness and distortion, but little or nothing about the "build quality" of a lens, how it feels on the camera, and how it does with real-life color and contrast levels.
This is where the reader reviews come back into play, and its an aspect of SLRgear.com that we invite you to participate in. If you've shot with a lens, or used a particular accessory, and want to tell the world about it, take advantage of this opportunity to share your experience. If other photographers have helped you as you learned about this fantastic hobby, pass the favor along by sharing your own experience and knowledge about products you've used. Visit the forums here and answer questions, pass along tips, and join the community of photographers we're creating.
As we launch SLRgear.com, we're focusing first on lenses, as that's where we feel we have the most value to offer with our unique approach to testing and visually illustrating performance. In the interest of getting the site up and running, we've restricted the initial lens listings to those from three major camera makers--Canon, Nikon, and Olympus--plus the "digital specific" or "reduced image circle" offerings from third-party lens makers Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina. Our next immediate task will be to get all the specs and manufacturer data for the rest of the third-party lens models, as well as those from other makers such as Konica Minolta and Pentax into the site's database. After that, we'll add entries for other accessory products like tripods, flashes, and camera bags, as requested by readers. We'll also continue to add to the lens test results on a regular basis, governed somewhat by the demands of our other site, Imaging-Resource.com. The digital cameras we review there tend to arrive in large, seasonal batches, so our schedule varies from hectic to crazed and available lens-testing time from modest to almost zero depending on where we are in the seasonal cycles.
Definitely stay tuned though: We hope to post new test results for at least a few lenses every month, regardless of how busy we are. In the meantime, dig into what's here, and please feel free to contribute wherever you have relevant experience to share. This site is very much a joint effort between us and our readers, so don't be shy about chiming in!
The SLRgear.com Team