10 out of 10 points and recommendedManual focus, sharpest Nikon 1 lens around, perfect for portraits!A little heavier, and costlier, than any other Nikon 1 lens!
This is an outstanding lens, easily on par with the 85/1.4G, which happens to be the same focal length in 35mm terms!reviewed November 16th, 2013 (purchased for $1,100)
For such a small lens, it is quite expensive, but it is the Rolls Royce in the Nikon 1 lens world!
It is even excellent as a macro lens if you use a screw-in, close-up, lens in front of it, like Canon 250D (52mm version).
The lens produces excellent images, making me think of the Zeiss 1.8/24 I've got for my NEX-5N.
It has, amazingly, made my 85/1.8G almost redundant, as it does the job so well, and its build quality is far better, and I really can't fault the 85 as it is.
The ideal mix for the CX photographer, is the 6.7-13, the 18.5, and the 32, plus for those interested in longer shots, the 30-110. The rest are redundant!
9 out of 10 points and recommendedA universal 'normal' lens: Fast, sharp, and affordable!None
This is comparable to a 50mm lens on a full format camera, and a very good one, to boot. Excellent sharpness, and IQ. In short, the best Nikon 1 lens there is, bar the 32, and possibly, the UWA (6.7–13).reviewed November 16th, 2013 (purchased for $250)
I have to confess that I don't use mine so much, being more of a wide shooter, or longer focal lengths, like the 32.
This lens doesn't ooze quality, as the 32 does, but it comes very close to that, and image quality is definitely first class! In many ways it reminds me of the Sigma 19 I use on my NEX ever so often, but this lens is faster and slightly more compact.
For me the ideal Nikon 1 camera kit is the 6.7–13, the 18.5, and the 32, all without compare in the affordable camera world. When I bought mine, I sold the 50/1.4G I had for my D600, as I realised this little fellow would do just fine if I needed with that FOV!
10 out of 10 points and recommendedWater/dust resistant, latest lens coating.Screw-drive focusing, thus a bit noisy.
The HD DA55-300 is a modernised version of the DA55-300, so the optics are the same, but the lenses have the latest coatings, which makes a great difference in practical use. The addition of seals makes the lens more rugged, and feels much more like a pro-lens than the earlier version.reviewed September 22nd, 2016 (purchased for $100)
It is not the fastest focusing lens around, but still impressively fast.
With a K-30 attached to it you'll have a very fast, sharp, package, still impressive after a lot of new lenses and cameras have appeared on the market.
My wife paid $100, and paid the rest in form of her old, surplus DA55-300, a very fair price. Normally it costs around $500.
8 out of 10 points and recommendedFeels rugged, and sharpA bit big, not least compared to similar lenses from Olympus!
Had it for a few months, and the only reason I don't bring it along as often I should, is it's bulk, almost as big as my Tamron 90, which I prefer to bring along!reviewed September 5th, 2010
The good side is that it is very resistant to flare, focuses fairly fast and seems very rugged. With its lenshood on it takes a lof of room, about the same as a compact 300!
10 out of 10 points and recommendedA lot of quality for fairly little money & love at first sight!Not WR, not VR (aka OIS), nor dust-proof!
This is an outstanding lens, considering its low weight, super sharp optics, and fairly low price. And it is also a fairly competent macro lens.reviewed September 5th, 2010
You can't buy an equally competent lens for a similar cost, no matter what make :-)!
10 out of 10 points and recommendedSmall, sharp and really nice!nothing
Another of these lenses that offers so much in a small, fairly cheap, package. My experience is with it attached to an Olympus E-PL1, and it is just as good as my DA21 on my Pentax!reviewed September 5th, 2010
10 out of 10 points and recommendedA lovely little lens, superb in every way!Could be cheaper, I guess :-)!
This is one of the lenses that has made a lot of pros keep their Pentax gear, as it is superbly made, sharp as a needle, and very small. Can't fault it in any way!reviewed September 5th, 2010
10 out of 10 points and recommendedSmall, sharp and compactNone that I can think of!
Amazing little lens which was my introduction to Pentax Limited range, and it is really a petite wonder!reviewed September 5th, 2010
Some have problems with the lens cap, but I drilled a small hole in mine and secure it with a string to the lens barrel - works OK, and no risk of losing it!
A good allround lens, and very tiny!
9 out of 10 points and recommendedFast, cheap, and compactVery tiny focus ring
This is quite like the Pentax 50 I had 40 years ago, but it is optimized for a modern camera, and has autofocus, and an aperature ring, so you can set the aperature manually, if you want (excellent for 'dumb' extension tubes).reviewed September 5th, 2010
Slightly bigger than the Pentax pancakes, it has excellent sharpness and is faster than any Pentax pancake (to date).
I use it mostly reversed, for macro phtography, but it works well as a short tele as well!
10 out of 10 points and recommendedSharpest of the bunch!Fairly expensive
This is beyond doubt the sharpest lens I've used, with the FA43 coming close! Fairly fast, small, and excellent build - one of the best lenses around!reviewed July 16th, 2011 (purchased for $1,000)
Nothing else in this focal length compares, as far as I know!
9 out of 10 points and recommendedPrice, perfomanceA bit cumbersome
I got the 120-400 first, a lens that doesn't impress anyone at 400mm, but the 150-500 does perform a bit better, not least at longer focal lengths than the 120-400 (which is best at 120-150).reviewed July 16th, 2011 (purchased for $1,000)
The 150-500 is slightly bigger and heavier than the 120-400, but cheaper. Used on my Pentax DSLRs I can either use the OIS, ot the cameras's SR - got a gut feeling the OIS is somewhat better :-)!
But on the whole, nice lens, but not spectaular!
10 out of 10 points and recommendedSharpest zoom I've come across, and water-resistant! Delightful!A bit heavy, and a bit expensive!
This is the sharpest zoom I've yet come across, and with very pleasing colours, and it is water-resitant as well!reviewed November 14th, 2011 (purchased for $1,200)
Having compared shots we've taken with the wife's DA50-135, enlarged to be of similar size to shots taken with longer lenses from Sigma (120-400 & 150-500), Tamron (70-200) & Pentax (55-300), the difference is very small, or to the DA50-135's advantage. We've used Pentax K-5s each time, hopefully comparable!
Amazing lens! Combine it with a Tamron 17-50 and you have an excellent package indeed!
10 out of 10 points and recommendedThe very best lens, with the sun behind your backNot good in back-lighing situations, heavy
The FA31 is an amazing lens, the sharpest I've come across, excellent for panormas, portraits, and landscapes.reviewed March 13th, 2012 (purchased for $900)
With its metal contruction, with a built-in lens-shade, and fairly substantial weight (almost a pound!), it feels like a quality product through, and through.
Sharp even fully open, with wonderful bokeh, ideal for those days with a clear sky, or in the studio.
It doesn't like backlighting at all, so misty days are not ideal, nor sunsets, or street lights.
The built-in hood isn't ideal, nor is the lens cap. It isn't easy to put on, and falls off occasionally, especially when the felt inside gets worn.
8 out of 10 points and recommendedExcellent compliment to my Nikon V1, surprisingly sharp!Bit big for my V1!
Bought this as a compliment to my Nikon V1, and together with the TF1 adapter it costed about as much as the 30-110 would have. But used Nikon lenses are easy to find, at very friendly prices!reviewed March 13th, 2012 (purchased for $175)
Focuses fairly sharpish on the V1 and is a pleasure to use!
8 out of 10 points and recommendedLight weight, fast AF (on K-30)Plastic feel
My wife bought this lens quite a while ago, to be used with her K-5, where it proved to be surprisingly sharp in the long end (not a common trait for telezooms), but not that fast.reviewed April 3rd, 2013 (purchased for $500)
That changed with the purchase of the K-30, that really boosted the lens's capabilities.
High recommended, although a very plastic lens ;-)!
10 out of 10 points and recommendedSharpness, price, and low weightA bit too plastic, maybe
I have just a few lenses for my D600, and this is just the best of them all, no doubt about it. I love the 28/1.8G, and the 50/1.4G, but the 85 get more use than the others together!reviewed April 3rd, 2013 (purchased for $600)
Superbly sharp, from full open, and just the right weight for use on the D600.
Amazing piece of optics, if one consider its price! The 85/1.4G is maybe slightly better at f1.8, but costs many times more.
An aperture ring had been nice, but for its price it has no competition, period!
10 out of 10 points and recommendedSharp as a needle, nice focusing speed, low cost, low weightNo weather-sealing
I bought this lens quite a while back, for my V1, and it has been a delight, from the very first day. Sharp, light, and compact, what more could you ask for?!reviewed April 7th, 2013 (purchased for $300)
On my V1 it became a fast portrait lens, first and foremost, while on the D3200 it became my kit lens, always on it. Now, with the D3200 gone, it resides once again on the V1, or, occasionally, on the D600.
I use it on the D600 in full format (not the cropped mode), and crop the files afterwards.
With a Canon 250D screw-on lens (52mm thread version) it becomes a nice close-up lens, if not really macro. Very useful, indeed! You can even add another 250D on top, without vignetting!
In short, this is the only F Mount prime I have for my V1, as the Nikon 1 lenses I have work very well - eventually there will be a Nikon 1 32/1.2, but it has not yet been released.
10 out of 10 points and recommendedSharp, very sharpA little on the heavy side; not that cheap!
A very sharp lens, excellent in every way, except a slightly heavy, at times.reviewed November 25th, 2015 (purchased for $500)
Lovely portrait lens, excellent macro, good for landscape (if you're into stitching), actually good for a lot of uses!
Oozes quality, and I got mine at a very friendly price!
10 out of 10 points and recommendedSharp, compact, fast-focusing. Low price, for what you get.Not delightfully sharp at f/1.4
Having had the Sigma 30/2.8 DN before (both on m43 and E Mount), and liking them a lot (not available in F Mount, I hasten to add), this lens still came as a pleasant surprise.reviewed June 20th, 2017 (purchased for $500)
I used to own the Sigma 35/1.4 Art, which is superb, sharp from edge to edge, this one is a different bird, more like a portrait lens, really sharp in the middle, slightly stepped down, and softer towards the edges.
Very fast AF, and no hesitation ever, and very compact design (about as wide as it is long), and useful on a FX body as well, where the edges are even softer, of course. Some vignetting on my D600 at f/1.4 in the extreme corners, and as sharpness comes at f/2.8, it isn't really a problem.
Just for fun I've tried it on my Nikon 1 cameras (using the FT1 adapter), and it is a delight, sharpness on par with the Nikon 1 32/1.2, which is praise indeed!
So a perfect portrait lens, reminding me a lot of the superb FA77 my wife used to own when she was a Pentax user, with nice bokeh, and built to last for years.
The only grumble is its sharpness wide open which is good, but not excellent.
10 out of 10 points and recommendedThe sharpest zoom lens (especially in its long end) I've ever used!Price
I am fortunate to be able to borrow this lens, as often as I want, as my wife is one of those that have found a copy of this hard to find, super quality, lens (like all such lenses expensive).reviewed March 30th, 2015 (purchased for $1,200)
It is roughly the size of Nikon's 55-200 (stowed for transport), or Nikon new 300/4.0, that is, it fits in your jacket problem, with ease. If you have big pockets the camera can stay attached as well!
Like the 32/1.2 it has its focusing ring up front, and it isn't the easiest lens to use if you like to shoot birds in flight: basic settings: AFS, spot/centre metering, limiter ON, and focus manually till you get a sharpish image, then zoom in (the normal method with all other zooms I've used is: zoom out, catch the birdie, zoom in. This does not work with this lens, unless you have a background, and then the lens might lock to the background).
Never touch the focusing ring again, till you switch object! The slightest touch and you've lost your bird!
The focusing ring on this lens is up front, so you might need to retrain your hands!
I normally use my 80-400 VR (on my V2), an astounding lens, but after having shot so many birds, and animals, side by side with my wife, and then comparing our shots, using pixel-peeping, the answer is sadly this:
The over two times as expensive, and twice as heavy (and then some), 80-400 VR II is easily matched by the tiny 70-300CX (aka Nikon 1 VR 70-300).
For BIF the 80-400 VR II has a slight edge, yes, but the resulting images are not better!
I also shoot with FX gear, and that's when I get an edge (with the 80-400 VR II), if the birds are close enough!
When using a CX camera, with the 80-400 VR II, equals a 200-1000mm zoom on a FX camera. Such a lens you just can't buy for your FX!
And you can off course use extension tubes, which turns it into a fantastic macro lens!
We own two of these little wonders, and it proves itself, again and again, as a very capable lens!
10 out of 10 points and recommendedSmall, sharp and flare-resistantCould be faster
This is a lens easy to forget, as it is so small, and discreet. My favourite, beside the 70-300CX!reviewed April 25th, 2015 (purchased for $250)
To make mine even more versatile, I've added a wide adapter, turning my 10 to an 8/2.0!
I used a Panasonic DMW-GWC1 0.79X wide adaptor (bare, without the supplied mounts, using a 49-52 step ring to balance it, and then simply taped together), to convert it to a 8/2.0 lens, even better than the original!
The resulting lens is superb, with excellent DOF, extremely rugged, and easy to use!
9 out of 10 points and recommendedSharp, small, light, cheap, and VR!Could have been a bit faster, & very plastic!
I love using this on my Nikon 1 cameras, but it works on my FX cameras as well (you need to do some cropping afterwards, if you use FX mode).reviewed November 15th, 2014 (purchased for $600)
Small, and with very effective VR,
The only con is that it isn't faster than it is — I'd a love a f/2.8 version!
10 out of 10 points and recommendedVery small, sharp, and fairly fast focusing!No VR
Fantastic small lens, excellent for macro, of course, but I love to use it as a portrait lens on my Nikon 1 cameras.reviewed November 15th, 2014 (purchased for $300)
Quite a lot of the time I use it on my FX cameras, needing just a slight cropping (if you use FX mode)
I now used it a couple of years longer (since I wrote the review), and it is still one of my favourite lenses, not least when used on a Nikon 1 camera (a.k.a. a CX camera). used as macro it is delightful, and as a portrait lens it works just as well!
The only thing that would improve it is the latest lens coatings, and VR (Vibration Reduction).
9 out of 10 points and recommendedSharp, rugged, and with anti-shakeSlightly larger than most Nikon 1 lenses, quite costly
This is a darling of a lens: utterly sharp, with built-in anti-shake (Nikon calls it VR), and a practical size.reviewed May 21st, 2013 (purchased for $680)
It is slightly bigger than most other Nikon 1, and covers ultra-wide, to normal wide, or in 35mm terms: 18mm to 35mm, a very useful range, for street photography, indoors, and a lot of other users!
Almost all other Nikon 1 lenses uses 40.5 filter thread, but this uses the more common 52mm thread, thus a great advantage, if you like filters, close-up lenses, and similar items.
Its two disadvantages are size, and cost, compared to most Nikon 1 lenses.
10 out of 10 points and recommendedLovely sharpness, fast focusing, water-resistant.Weight, and the fact that the weigh moves forward as you zoom out.
This is the lens I decided to purchase, after having tried Nikon's new 200-500.reviewed October 9th, 2016 (purchased for $2,000)
There is a lot to like, not least its fast focusing (which you can set to even faster if you need it, or slower, more precise if you want that instead.
With the dock (that came free-of-charge with mine) you can do a lot of fine-tuning, although for me I have not seen the need for that. I have made both the faster and slower AF available with the custom switch on the lens barrel, but if that suits everyone, I have no idea.
I mainly use it with my CX cameras (a.k.a. Nikon 1 cameras), my DX camera (a D3300), and occasionally with my FX camera, then usually with TCs.
In good light, it is a delight to use with the Nikon 1 V2 (my J5 has too small a battery to work with big lenses like this one), but with the D3300 it is such a superb experience to use it, both close, and at infinity!
I have used it with the TC-1401, the dedicated Sigma teleconverter, but far better is using a cropped sensor (the D3300 has a crop factor of 1.5, the Nikon 1 cameras have one of 2.7! So my normal equivalent focal length is either 500-600 x 2.7, that is, 1,350-1,620 mm, or when used with my D3300 500-600 x 1.5, which is 750-900 mm.
Add a TC, or two, and we're talking focal lengths up to 3.2 meters! Contrast goes down with TCs, so I try to avoid them.
Any serious problems?!
Well, its size and weight make it easier to use on a stable tripod, with a sturdy Wimberley Sidekick, or similar head, but there are those that use it handheld! When used on a tripod I find, if it is dead calm, it better to use it with the OS (Optical Stabilisation) off, but if it is better to have it on if the lens wobbles a lot due to wind, or similar causes. At 3.2 meters focal length I use a timer or remote to minimise shake.
Back to the Nikon 200-500 contra the Sigma Sport:
Without their lens-shades, the two lenses are roughly the same size and weight, but the lens shade on the Sigma weighs almost a pound (over 300 grams), and its center of gravity moves outward a lot as you zoom out. So weight is an issue unless you have a very sturdy tripod, and ditto head.
The Nikon 200-500 is a slower focusing lens, and originally there were quality issues as well (numerous review sites had issues with the lenses that had been sent to them, while I have heard nothing similar about the Sport.
The Nikon 200-500 is an internally focusing, constant length, lens (same length at 200 as at 500), thus should have no problems with big weight-shifts as you zoom in and out. That's a big plus!
A year after I posted the review above, almost to a day, I find it just as good as I did then, but I have changed its use a bit since then.
First, I've added an Arca-Swiss compatible rail to the lens-foot, so that it balances better, and I now rarely use a tripod. Instead, I use one of the heftiest monopods I've seen on the market, a Gitzo GM5541, with a cheap FotoPro head, which I plan to upgrade to something heftier.
And I never turn the Optical Stabilisation off, which I did when I used the lens on tripods, at times. The limiter gets frequent use, especially if the lighting and/or contrast are dull.
The biggest step forward was upgrading to a D7500, with its far better high ISO capacity, due to its lower-noise sensor, and the fact that it is equipped with a much better AF module than my old cameras.
That proved to be a great blessing in combination with this lens, as in certain situations you'd want a faster lens, as always.
So that's probably what differs most between this lens, and the Nikon 200-500, the latter is a faster lens at the long end. And the Nikon lens is internally focusing so less problem with Center of Gravity shifts as you zoom in and out.
The Sigma focuses far faster, but there are always workarounds so in real life the difference between the Sigma and the Nikon is not that big.
But I am delighted that I can refocus from infinity to a subject a couple of yards away in less than a second, and zoom at the same time, by pulling the front of the lens towards you (no need for turn the zoom ring by hand).
So still my most used lens, and will continue to be so for a long time into the future, i hope!