freundez's reviews

  • Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED AF Nikkor

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Compact size, quick autofocus
    Zoom ring prone to slipping, very soft images over 200mm

    I bought a used copy of this lens as a companion to my 18-70mm on my D70s. This is no 80-200mm or 70-200mm VR, but for the price, I have been quite happy with the images this lens produces, and the smaller size allows me to carry it in my camera bag that I wouldn’t have been able to do with either of those pro-zooms.

    Compared to the 18-70mm at 70mm, the lens is not quite as sharp and suffers a bit more from CA, but images are quite good so long as you are not stopped down past f/16 - at which point things become considerably softer. Additionally, as you've probably read elsewhere, I recommend avoiding anything much past 200mm if you care about sharpness. Bokeh is also poorer than the 18-70mm, so if you are looking for a zoom portrait lens, look elsewhere.

    Build quality is decent, although my particular example has a pretty loose zoom ring which is susceptible to 'un-zooming' if I shoot at any sort of an upward angle. I did try a new example at a local camera store and the zoom mechanism was considerably stiffer, so take that for what it is worth.

    As is the case with all lenses, consider what you are going to use the lens for before making a purchase. If you are just looking for a carry around zoom that will yield good photos in the 70-200mm range, I recommend this lens. If you need a faster lens or something that will be tact sharp across the entire zoom range, plan on filling your bag (and emptying your wallet) with something bigger.

    reviewed January 28th, 2006 (purchased for $185)
  • Tokina 100mm f/2.8 AT-X 100 AF PRO D

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Good working distance, great sharpness, nice bokeh, excellent build quality
    autofocus hunting when using other than center AF sensor

    I've worked with this lens for a little over 3 months, and am very happy with it. My primary purchase criteria were:

    1) Optical quality
    2) Build / Lens construction
    3) A macro lens that can double as a good portrait lens

    Optics are excellent in my opinion. When used for macro work, the lens produces tack sharp images with good contrast. The working distance of ~12” is great for both floral, as well as insect photography, and I’ve noticed very little in the way of CA. When shooting on my Nikon D70s, I can’t notice any light fall-off, even when shooting wide open. On my 35mm FA, shooting wide does produce some softness in the corners, but things improve quickly when stopping down to f/4. As a portrait lens, I have been very satisfied with the images that this lens produces. In my opinion, the bokeh is great (thought not as good as what you could produce with say a Nikon 85mm f/1.4), and the lens has produced some overall great results.

    Build construction is fantastic. I tend to focus manually when shooting close-up, and the one clutch mechanism works great. The focus ring has the viscous feel of a true good old MF lens and offer the right level of fine tuning for my purposes. If you plan on taking your equipment out in the field, I’m pretty confident that this Tokina will last for a long-time. The focus ring is quite wide, and offers overall good handling.

    Not too surprisingly for a macro, AF speed is not the lens’ strong suit. On my D70s, I’ve found the lens prone to hunting, with the condition exasperated when using anything but the center AF sensor. Using the limiter switch on the lens does help, but you won’t be happy with this lens if you photograph a lot of moving objects and are trying to use dynamic focus mode on your camera.

    Overall, an excellent lens that I highly recommend.

    reviewed March 23rd, 2006 (purchased for $369)
  • Nikon 35mm f/2D AF Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Great fast, light, go anywhere lens
    Soft wide-open

    I bought this lens to use primarily on my D70s, with occasional duty on my old manual film Nikon FA. This lens exemplifies everything good about prime lenses: they are sharp, offer great contrast, and have larger aperatures - all in a compact package. The close focusing distance also makes a fun lens for close-up photos.

    I tend to shoot RAW and apply sharpening in Photoshop, which has yielded excellent results. My example is definitely a bit soft at f/2, but useable for available light shots. Things are quite sharp by f/4, with f/8-f/11 providing critical sharpness. The corners of the image when shooting film are a bit softer than the center, but I don't notice this on my D70s.

    For the price, this is a great lens - highly recommended

    reviewed May 26th, 2006 (purchased for $304)
  • Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8G ED AF DX Fisheye Nikkor

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Unique Perspective, Great Image Quality, Compact Package
    Gelatin Filters only

    Can't say a whole lot more than what has already been said about this lens. Very few people probably NEED this lens, but it provides a great creative outlet that enables you to shoot in ways you wouldn't have otherwise thought of.

    Definitely has some CA wide open, which I've found is largely correctable in Capture. As has been noted, converting the images to rectilinear format results in cropping and softening of the corners - it is certainly not a replacement for the ultra-wide zooms that are out there.

    AF speed is lightening quick (no need for AFS here) and overall build quality and handling are great.

    Bottom line, this lens put a smile on my face everytime I shoot with it!

    reviewed November 22nd, 2006 (purchased for $589)
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Compact fast prime, good portrait lens w/ 1.5x sensor crop
    Soft wide open

    I bought a used sample of this lens, so take that for what it is worth.

    The sensor crop on my D70s essentially makes this a short telephoto lens, and most of the keepers I've taken with it have been portrait shot between f/2.8 and f/4. The fast maximum aperature offers great depth of field flexibility, but as has been noted in some of the other reviews, things are quite soft and flat at f/1.4. On my sample, the lens is still soft at f/2, but image contrast seems to pop a bit more than at f/1.4.

    Build quality is fine - polycarbonate body keeps the lens light but doesn't have a pro-glass feel that a metal body would.

    AF speed is good. My 35 f/2 seems a little bit zippier, but not by a noticeable margin.

    Of my current set of lenses, this lens probably sees the least use, but when I do shoot with it I'm typically happy with the results - just don't expect magic wide open.

    reviewed November 22nd, 2006 (purchased for $220)
  • Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF DX AF-S Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Compact, sharp zoom
    Vignetting/shading wide open at 18mm

    I've shot with this lens for over a year and am still very impressed with its performance. This lens with my D70s plus the 10.5mm makes for a light flexible setup when out on day hikes or backpacking trips.

    From 24 to 55mm, my sample is very sharp. In doing comparisons at 35mm, from f/5.6 up, the 18-70 is as sharp, if not sharper than my 35mm f/2. Are there times where I'd like a constant aperature? Yes, but on a price-to-performance basis, this really is a great piece of glass. Miles better than the 18-55 kit lens offered on the Canon Rebel DSLR's.

    reviewed November 22nd, 2006 (purchased for $300)
  • Nikon 12-24mm f/4G ED-IF DX AF-S Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Handling, build quality, constant aperature, sharp
    Cost, 12mm performance

    I struggled to pull the trigger on this lens primarily due to the cost of this lens compared to some of the third-party alternatives available out there. Once I put the lens to use however, I have no regrets with my purchase decision.

    The lens is a joy to handle and produces sharp images with well controlled distortion and CA. I find the lens quite sharp at f/4, and even more so at f/5.6 or f/8.

    As has been previously mentioned, the weakest focal length of the lens is at 12mm, where corners (at least in my sample) aren't quite as sharp as they could be, but this really isn't a problem unless you pixel peep. I've printed 11x14 prints that look great.

    Most of the samples contained within this gallery were shot with this lens:
    http://thefreunds.smugmug.com/gallery/5182031_TrE8G#P-1-16

    reviewed October 24th, 2008 (purchased for $914)
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D ED AF Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Handling, image quality
    Size/weight

    I bought a used two-ring version of this lens and it is the best lens purchase I've made to date. This lens really excels at action & sports photography, where I find it very easy to zoom in to get the shot I want. While not an AF-S lens, focusing even on my D70s is quite good - definitely better than the AF-S equipped 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VR on account of the fixed aperture design.

    Image quality is very good to excellent. Yes it is a bit soft wide-open (particularly at 200mm), but I would have no issues printing 11x14's wide open with this lens, and find the bokeh to be excellent for portraits and candids.

    Drawbacks are few. Size and weight is an obvious issue with any lens of this type, and while reasonable quick, AF operation does product a bit of torque that can take some getting used to. Finally, if you are shooting low light shots of stationary objects, VR on the 70-300 is a better bet than f/2.8 - at least in my experience.

    reviewed September 29th, 2008 (purchased for $500)