matthewporter's reviews

  • Nikon 60mm f/2.8D AF Micro Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Very sharp, Good limit switch
    Need to be very close to subject

    I have used this lens at work a few times and as one of the Micro Nikkor lenses allows for magnification up to 1:1. It has quite an old design including a push button autofocus ring that takes a bit of getting used to. The focus limit switch is very handy though, allowing you to lock the lens in either standard or macro regions. Switching to full allows focussing from infinity all the way down to 22cm.

    Images taken with this lens are always very sharp and it enables you to make your subject really fill the frame. However, even when using this lens on a Nikon camera with its 1.5x crop, it can feel like you are having to get physically closer to your subject than you want, especially when the barrel extends!

    I have experienced a peculiarity when using this lens on an old Nikon D1. While this is a constant aperture lens I could not get it to allow me to stay at f/2.8 when using the macro facility with it dropping all the way to f/5.6 at the minimum focus distance.

    This lens may not be fully functional on the D40 due to its lack of an internal motor.

    reviewed January 14th, 2007
  • Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Price, Macro mode
    Switching between Full and Limit, Barrel extension

    Actual amount paid: £95(GBP)

    This lens was purchased as a second lens to complement the Nikon 18-55 that is the kit lens with the D50. My father is new to photography and wanted to learn more without having to make a significant outlay. This lens is not only a long telephoto lens but also gives him a macro capability which is a great combination for what is a very cheap lens.

    The focussing mechanism uses a rotating (and extending) barrel. This causes problems when changing between normal and macro focusing ranges. In order to switch to macro, the lens must be within the 200mm-300mm range and to switch back to normal you must be focussed on a distant target. This can either be achieved using the auto focus or by flicking to manual. Either way it is a bit awkward.

    I would recommend this over the comparable Nikon offering (Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6G AF Nikkor) as for the same price you get the added Macro functionality. I also found that the Sigma was easier to handle.

    Construction is good and Sigma even throw in a lens hood to top off the package.

    It is worth noting that Sigma also make the 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro APO. This features Special Low-Dispersion elements to reduce chromatic aberration and costs approximately 50% more.

    This lens may not be fully functional on the D40 due to its lack of an internal motor.

    reviewed January 14th, 2007 (purchased for $184)
  • Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED DX AF-S Nikkor

    0 out of 10 points and recommended
    Value, Fast and quiet AF, Lightweight
    Plastic construction, Awkward AF/MF switching, Difficult focussing ring

    Actual amount paid: Purchased in D50 kit for £400(GBP)

    This was the standard kit lens available with the Nikon D50 although there is a newer version available since the release of the D40. It has a good range of focal lengths and is suitable for fairly wide landscapes as well as decent portraits.

    The construction is not fantastic but being entirely plastic (even the mount) makes this a very light lens. It features a Silent Wave Motor so focussing is very fast and almost silent. I find the AF/MF switch awkward to use though and would prefer to be able to just flip it on and off using the switch on the body which is a lot more positive. Manual focussing is also very inconvenient as there is no focussing ring - you just rotated the end of the barrel!

    All in all though, this is a very cheap and versatile lens which produces good results.

    reviewed January 14th, 2007
  • Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6G AF Nikkor

    0 out of 10 points and recommended
    Fairly cheap
    AF searches a lot

    Actual amount paid: £95(GBP)

    This lens offers a lot of zoom for not much money and is well worth considering as a second lens on top of one of the standard zoom kit lenses. It is really good for taking pictures of animals and passable for flowers. The downsides are that you need a lot of light at 300mm to get a decent shutter speed and that the minimum focus distance of 1.5m is quite large.

    As one of the older Nikon lenses, it lacks a Silent Wave Motor and so focussing is slow and very noisy in comparison to some of the newer offerings. The Auto Focus also tends to hunt around a lot in certain situations and the manual focus ring is a bit small to use comfortably.

    I would recommend considering one of the Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Macro lenses as an alternative though. The standard one costs the same as this Nikon with the special APO version costing a little more, however both feature significantly better minimum focussing distances than this Nikon.

    This lens may not be fully functional on the D40 due to its lack of an internal motor.

    reviewed January 15th, 2007 (purchased for $184)
  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Fast and responsive AF, Huge aperture, Good price, Quality Construction and case.
    Minimum focus distance

    Actual amount paid: £265(GBP)

    This lens was primarily bought for poorly illuminated indoor sports photography where direct access to the competitors is possible. The big aperture allows me to capture fantastic pictures at high shutter speeds without having to boost the ISO and the useful focal length has leant itself to a variety of different shots.

    I have found the AF very responsive when taking pictures of small pets and it is also possible to override after it has focussed without having to deactivate the auto focus.

    The construction is solid and the exterior looks good. The lens comes complete with hood and a well-made padded bag. As mentioned in other reviews, replacing the cap is a bit awkward with the hood on but can be done.

    reviewed January 15th, 2007 (purchased for $513)