autofocusross's reviews

  • Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX AF-S Nikkor

    3 out of 10 points and not recommended
    Light and inconspicuous, cheap, good for 3/4 length portraits and street photography, or groups of people, eg, at weddings. At f/5.6 it is superb and if you lack another lens that covers 35mm, and are on a budget, then, ok, it makes sense.
    The poor image quality at f/1.8 really let me down, no VR so to use in low light you have to open it up, or raise iso. It should be a lot better wide open, selling it as an f/1.8 is deceptive, as you'll never be happy until it is stopped down.

    As in my Pros and Cons comments, overall, this is a good lens to get if you cannot afford a zoom with 35mm contained in it's range. The issue with this lens is simple. Nikon are selling it as an f/1.8 and technically, it does the job at f/1.8 rather poorly. Centre sharpness is below par, corner sharpness, very below par - and in my example, decentred as a flat brick wall was corner sharp on both left hand corners, and a bit softer on right hand corners. With cameras (of recent date) coping with noise at higher iso's far better than in the past, and software increasingly more effective in improving noise, this lens makes no sense. Far better to carry a recent zoom which includes 35mm in the range. Most lenses perform better at f/5.6 and this is markedly so in the case of the 35mm lens here. The results it produces at that aperture are very pleasing indeed, but Nikon missed a trick here. I may have a dud copy but frankly, seeing a few other reviews by people in here, I am not alone.

    If you like the brightness of the viewfinder that an f/1.8 gives you, but you won't be actually using the lens wide open, and can turn it down to f/5.6 then you will be very happy with it. Otherwise don't buy it, even though it is cheap, unless you really cannot afford a zoom. If you can, I would recommend the Nikkor 18-140mm, although it is a kit lens, the results at f/5.6 match those of this 35mm lens, and you have some reach, and extra width available to you on the zoom. In summary, this 35mm lens is an f/5.6 lens for all practical purposes, because the sharpness (on my copy) wide open, in the centre of the image) isn't quite there. The lack of VR is a moot point, wide open at f/1.8 in even gloomy light, you should be getting 1/60th sec. so you don't need VR. On the other hand, in that same light, using this lens as it needs to be used, at f/5.6, your shutter speed will drop to 1/10th, so you need to move to a tripod, or, if handholding, bump up the iso to at least 400, maybe 800 to be sure of getting a shutter speed which will safely deliver your image.
    Sorry Nikon, this one needs work.

    reviewed December 5th, 2016 (purchased for $170)
  • Nikon 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED DX VR AF-S Nikkor

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Nice zoom range and robust sharp images in good light / or higher ISO
    Bit expensive for what you get, you need post processing as Jpegs out of the camera are not that good.

    Have owned mine for over two years I think, and to be fair it is not a bad lens. First used on a D5200 and Nikon kindly did not supply an update for lens distortion correction in camera. This limited me to post processing my images to remove the barrel or pincushion distortion, fortunately I use DXO software which has an automatic fix. When I moved onto my D5500, Nikon have included this lens in the supported lenses for auto distortion so now I can shoot Jpeg and use that straight from the camera - always a good option to have. If you have a D5300 and up, or a D3300 and up, you'll find it supported there too. As to quality, well, again, if you have objects or smaller tree branches in shot, with the sky as background, you will see some chromatic abberation. Regardless of what camera you have, this means, back to the computer. Optics Pro seems to remove it very much completely, not a lightroom user here so that is for others to comment on.

    The lens is light, or at least, it is light compared to my sigma 105mm OS Macro, and my tamron sp vc 70-300mm lenses, and it partners a 5xxx series camera perfectly. I think that as long as you have very basic post processing skills you'll actually love the lens. It performs well at f/5.6 - 8.0 and with VR helping things along, you'll capture sharp images which give a nice three dimensional look. I would consider it good to around 110mm, beyond which, the optics are fighting to deliver, so unless you have to, avoid going all in at 140mm. If you must, just crank up the ISO to ensure not only your shutter speed is a bit higher, but also, your aperture is not wide open. All in all, considering the price, this is not a bad lens. If you need one for vacation travel, and don't want to risk a very expensive lens, or carry a heavy one around all day, this could be perfect.

    I would try one out at a dealer rather than mail order one, I think that to get the best out of this lens, you need to understand it's behaviour and delivery with use, and not expect it to perform at every zoom setting and aperture, out of the box. From the mixed reviews I have read on it, I am thinking Nikon's quality assurance is not perfect here, with more manufacturing tollerance creeping into the lower priced lenses, if several of the elements, and the gearing, are all a bit marginal, they can combine to make one example of the lens mediocre, and the very next one off the line much better. I would definitely recommend the lens, as long as you have post skills and the patience to learn how to get the best from it.

    reviewed December 6th, 2016 (purchased for $330)
  • Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Classy modern look Breathtaking Imagery Sharp as a box of razor blades Not too heavy Refreshes your enthusiasm for shooting wide
    Currently a bit expensive in the UK (March 2017) Takes time to learn HOW to use it best Restricted zoom range but 8mm is where it's at here!

    I was dithering for months over this. I already had the lovely 10-20mm f/4 - 5.6 but quite honestly, it sat in my camera bag or worse, stayed home, when out shooting and you know something? I didn't realise why. Once I had received this 8-16mm beauty, I suddenly found what wide angle shooting was really about. Up until that day I considered my main lens needs to be in the 90 - 200mm range making me much more of a telephoto shooter. It is true I used my 10-20mm for landscape but found I would double my 18-140mm for that purpose most of the time, unless wider was needed, and if I packed the Sigma, more often than not I left it at home.

    When I compare results with this 8-16mm against the 10-20mm you can see the difference. It is clear. The contrast is punchier, the colours are not slightly washed out, and the focus - oh my goodness - it is like looking at something, and then putting your glasses on and looking again - completely on a different level.

    I don't know for sure, but I suspect the Sigma factory has revamped the production processes on this lens - I don't mean a specification change, but I suspect with the new Art lenses they are producing, they have vastly improved the quality control and the specific tolerances of each lens element within the lens, and the assembly tolerances too. I suspect this because the lens is completely incredible at 8mm and f/8 and very very good at other focal lengths. I think I would agree with the review in that it performs best at 8mm and at 16mm with a very slight difference in the middle range. TBH I have it on 8mm most of the time.

    Sigma have revised the lens cap design on my brand new model, purchased a month ago. Instead of a 25mm slip on collar, to which you fix a standard lens cap, they now supply a one-piece integrated collar & lens cap, the shape of a small tin of beans with one end removed. Nice touch.

    I was very fortunate to decide to buy it (500) just before the price shot up to 600

    I tried to save money buying a used example, but found it would not autofocus on my Nikon D5500 when set to live view, and when attempting to use the touch screen to activate focus and shoot (by tapping the screen on the required focus point).

    I bought from a reputable UK dealer and they refunded me. The brand new example is clearly different (better, slightly sharper) and the box was endorsed 'Nikon D5300 compatible' which means it will work perfectly with the D5300 / 5500 / 5600 as well as all the previous models too. Of course, now I can tap the screen, and as long as I have set up the feature on the camera menu, the lens (camera) focuses on the desired touch spot, and trips the shutter. (Tripod is best for this mode of course).

    Would I buy it again? Absolutely, even at the higher new price. I had no idea how much fun a sharp ultrawide can be. My older 10-20mm was holding me back, so if you are in that situation, trust me, go for it.

    It is a shame it is a bit expensive, but you have to ask yourself, why have Nikon not launched a rival product, despite this one first coming to market 7 years ago? I think Nikon have looked at it, and decided that to match it (as an aps-c lens) they would have to retail it at double the price - so they waved the white flag and stayed away.

    I hope if you follow my advice that you LOVE the lens, but they are changing hands on the used market at very good prices so if you find you can't get along with such a wide lens, you shouldn't lose too much money in the process - and it would be cheaper than hiring one for a month.

    reviewed March 9th, 2017 (purchased for $606)