jeans's reviews

  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D ED AF Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    IQ, build, f/2.8,bokeh
    heavy, draws attention

    This review is for the two-rings version of the 80-200/2.8 D.
    Bought it almost two years ago to use with my Nikon D70.

    Pros:
    The bokeh at f/2.8 is really nice, smooth and round - makes for really great portraits.
    The focus is fast and sure even on my D70. In good light it was as fast as myfriend's Canon 70-200/2.8 USM on his 20D. In dim places though it would take twice as long to focus as the USM one.
    This piece of optics is built to last ages - the body is thik metal, front element is recessed and ths protected by the same metal shell.
    There's something magical about the images this masterpiece produces - some quality I can't put my finger on.
    No vignetting (well, may be "almost"), but I have never notices anything like it - may on FF it'll be more significant.
    Distortion is minimal.
    The tripod collar is very useful - you don't want to shoot this lens mounted on a plastic camera like D70 when the camrea sits on a tripod. Note that the older Push-Pull version didn't have it (and had a really slow A/F).

    Cons:
    It's pretty large and this draws attention - which isn't always a bad thing - but can be intimidationg, especially for children.
    The lens isn't the lightest piece of glass ever produced - after carrying it for hours (even using a neoprene strap) your neck gets really happy to get rid of the burden.
    Lacks AF-S and VR but hey, it's 1/2 the price of the 70-200/2.8 VR

    Misc:
    I'd say a neoprene strap is a must for such a monster.
    I used it with Kenko 300 Pro x2 TC and was really disappointed with the soft results (used a heavy tripod and remote release) and awful A/F speed.
    Bought Kenko 300 Pro x1.4 TC to replace my x2, but haven't a chance to test it - if it's possible I'll update this review with the details later.
    The only issue on my sample is that it's *extremely* soft when used at its closest focusing distance at 200mm.
    Other than that the lens is perfect.
    I'm not a big fan of the D70's kit lens, the 18-70mm and before I bought the Nikkor 17-35/2.8 I virtually stopped using the wide angle as the images taken with the 80-200 were so much more beautiful that those produced by the 18-70.
    I live in Israel where prices are higher than in US, so I paid about 800$ for a used one (with two filters: B+W UV and Sigma PL).

    Bottom line:
    I LOVE THE LENS and unless you can't carry its weight there's NO REASON NOT TO BUY IT.

    reviewed November 16th, 2006 (purchased for $800)
  • Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    IQ, build
    short zoom range, expensive

    Bought it several months ago to use with my Nikon D70 after getting frustrated with the performance 18-70 (D70's kit lens).

    Pros:
    Built to last ages
    Image quality is superb and it's the most important thing when wide angle is concerned. There are so many details to keep that anything lower just won't do. Even this lens performs only acceptably compared to MF results.
    The distortions, though present, are negligible (unlike with my 18-70/3.5-4.5 lens).
    This lens doesn't vignette on x1.5 crop factor DSLRs even wide open (but then who shoots landscapes at f/2.8 ?)
    F/2.8 (though not too useful for a landscape lens like this one is nice to have).
    Focus is very fast and sure due to AF-S technology (less important for landscapes).

    Cons:
    CA is visible on high-contrast scenes like bright sky seen through dark tree branches
    The lens isn't too sharp at f/2.8, though it's not a serious issue with a landscape lens such a this one
    Zoom range is too short for general use, but then again it's not your usual walkaround lens
    very expensive - bought it used for about 1300$ - living in Israel has *some* disadvantages ;-)

    Bottom line:
    A great lens for landscapes, so-so as a walkaround lens.
    Of course 17mm isn't too wide on a DX camera, so you might want to consider a (cheaper) Nikkor 12-24 or its 3rd party rivals.

    reviewed November 16th, 2006 (purchased for $1,300)
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and not recommended
    f/1.8, wight, price
    build, 50mm on a DX-format camera isn't the most useful focal length

    Pros:
    Sharpness - it's great, especially at f/2.8 and above
    Wide aperture - gives great results at f/2.8 and can be very useful for available light shooting
    Small, light and inconspicuos, unlike zooms a-la Nikkor 17-55/2.8
    Front element is very much recessed, thus making it less likely to be scratched and minimizing the need for a lens hood

    Cons:
    Very plasticky (including threads), but then what can you expect for the price
    Pretty harsh bokeh, making it less desirable for portraits thus limiting its use significantly

    Summary:
    Despite being a great performer, this lens seldom leaves my bag as 50mm on a DX DSLRs is not too useful

    reviewed November 17th, 2006 (purchased for $100)
  • Nikon 180mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    IQ, f/2.8, weight
    prime

    Pros:
    Image quality is outstanding:
    Sharpness, color and contrast are great.
    CA, ghosting, and flare are well controlled.
    Very useful with TCs (Kenko 300 Pro x1.4 works great) - works better than with the f/2.8 zooms
    Fast glass is nice for wildlife portraits
    Much lighter than the zooms like Nikkor 70(80)-200/2.8
    Price

    Cons:
    Not being a zoom lens limits its usefulness at fast-paced action environment

    Summary:
    Great image quality for an acceptable price in a light package

    reviewed November 17th, 2006
  • Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF DX AF-S Nikkor

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    inexpensive, useful zoom range, AF-S
    mediocre image quality

    Pros:
    Useful zoom range
    AF-S (the A/F on my D70 is fast and sure)
    Price - can be found really cheap now
    Very light for an AF-S zoom (Nikon's moder trend)
    Good color

    Cons:
    Variable aperture
    Distortions are visible at zoom extremes
    Image quality is mediocre (maybe it's only my samle as common belief is that it's a nice lens)
    Sharpness and contrast aren't great

    Summary:
    It's a nice inexpensive lens if you don't demand fast apertures and critical sharpness.
    Much better (convenient) alternative would be Nikkor 18-200 VR, but it's more expensive and doesn't offer a significant boost in image quality.

    reviewed November 17th, 2006 (purchased for $300)
  • Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    IQ, 1:1 life size, f/2.8
    Hate to switch the A/F on/off

    Pros:
    Image quality is exceptional - sharpness, color and contrast are great
    In my opinion 105mm is a sweet spot of the macro lenses - gives you *some* working distance, but is still handholdable unlike 200mm lenses
    Much cheaper than the Nikkor version (well, it's not AF-S VR either)
    Being a dedicated macro lens it goes down to 1:1 life size (or even greater on the DX-format sensors)

    Cons:
    A/F is very slow with my D70, but then who needs A/F in a macro lens
    Changing focus from A/F to M/F and vice versa requires you to changes it on the camera body *and* on the lens
    It's easy to switch the lens's AF mode when taking it out of the bag
    The build quality isn't great - the plastic gets scratched easily

    Summary:
    Great lens for the money. Its only alternative (price wise) is the great Tamron 90mm SP Di.

    reviewed November 17th, 2006 (purchased for $500)
  • Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR DX AF-S Nikkor

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    x11 zoom, sharp, VR II
    creep, distortions

    Pros:
    Very useful x11 zomm range
    VR II - very useful
    Nice colour
    Sharp beyond all expectations (we're talking about x11 zoom)
    Focuses pretty close
    Build quality is good for a consumer lens
    Best of the bunch - means there's no other supoerzoom that can rival the performance of this baby


    Cons:
    Pricey for a consumer zoom
    Distortions, especially at wide end
    My sample creeps at all but 18mm zoom settings
    Battery life is a little underwhelming
    Lens hood isn't great

    Summary

    A 'do it all' lens that's best suited for those who upgrade from a compact digicam, but can be useful for a more advanced photographer on those long hikes.

    reviewed November 18th, 2006 (purchased for $700)
  • Nikon 12-24mm f/4G ED-IF DX AF-S Nikkor

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    ultra-wide angle
    CA

    Since DSRLs were introduced at acceptable price point wildlife shooters were overjoyed due to x1.5 crop factor, but many lanscape shooters were felt the lack of wide ange options due to the same reason that benefitted the wildlifers.
    For a while Nikkor 17-35/2.8 was the widest one could use (I don't cound the fisheyes) and at equivalent of 28mm (as beautiful a lens it is) it wasn't nearly wide enough.
    With the introduction of Nikkor 12-24/4 the landscapers' prayers were answered.

    The lens gives 18mm equivalent on the DX cameras and gives very good color and contrast.
    The distortion is well controlled, but sharpness varies from 12mm to 24mm significantly, my sample being worse at 12mm.
    There's also an issue with CA and ghosting, but both are to be expected from such a wide lens - at least to some degree.
    As some previous reviewers noticed, the CA can be dealt with by converting NEFs via Nikon-supplied software (though I've never used one).
    The lens takes 77mm filters, but it's better not to use any as CA, flare and ghosting increases dramatically with any filter I tried, including a B+W UV one.

    All in all, a great lens for its focal range.
    You may consider Tokina 12-24 that's signiicantly cheaper and probably fares as well.

    reviewed November 18th, 2006