ultrafast's reviews

  • Nikon 85mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    f/1.4, wonderful "bokeh", sharp, excellent color rendition
    expensive and heavy, no AF-S

    The PROs say it all. This is a lens with all the aspects of good construction one would expect from a pro nikkor. The images are simply stunning. The blurred out backgrounds (bokeh) at wide apertures are fantastic for drawing attention to the subject and making a nice smooth compliment. Amazingly, there is no incentive to stop this lens down, as it is tack sharp even at f/1.4 and by f/2.8 it is probably my sharpest lens.

    Great for low light sports like basketball too, though only on a D2 series body, since the more powerful AF motor is necessary for a good focusing speed on the non AF-S lens.

    reviewed November 23rd, 2006 (purchased for $875)
  • Nikon 60mm f/2.8D AF Micro Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    excellent sharpness in near macro range, good color rendition
    AF is almost unuseable

    I have to disagree with the test review of this lens. It treats it as a normal lens, which this is not. It is a macro lens, you would use it for things that are close up, not far away. It is true that far away the performance is not fantastic, but close up this lens shines. For flowers and other things that you can really get close to this is a fantastic way to get there. For skittish animals etc. longer lenses are better, but if sharpness in the near macro range and good solid construction are what you are looking for this lens provides them at an extremely reasonable price.

    reviewed November 23rd, 2006 (purchased for $390)
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    f/1.4, light and small, sharp, inexpensive
    not AF-S, MF is not great

    This lens is a lens that no serious photographer should be without, for a variety of reasons. For the indoor sport photographer, there is nothing better than f/1.4. For the nature and landscape photographer it is extremely convenient to be able to pick up two small primes and leave the heavy zoom kit at home while on an overnight or backcountry hike.

    The lens is super sharp, when stopped down a bit and entirely acceptable wide open, when keeping in mind that there is very very little depth of field. For the price there are few reasons not to get it. The construction doesn't feel amazing, but the lens survived a drop from waist level to the ground, on a concrete sidewalk with no damage other than a large scuff on the AF distance window.

    reviewed November 23rd, 2006 (purchased for $270)
  • Nikon 12-24mm f/4G ED-IF DX AF-S Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    nice super wide angle, soldidly built, internal zoom+focus

    I bought this lens when it first came out to get the wide angle back on digital after the 1.5x crop. I am glad I bought it because it is everything it should be--sharp, useful range and well enough built to take the day to day abuse I subject my equipment to.

    At the landscape critical apertures between f/7.1 and f/16 it is very sharp with decent color saturation. AF is fast and snappy for an f/4 lens, not that it really matters at these focal lengths. There is a bit of chromatic aberration present, but it is easy to fix in PP. Overall I would highly recommend this lens to anyone looking to get the wide angle back for landscapes, though not so much for architecture, as there is some nasty wave-form distortion that takes a tremendous amount of work to fully remove.

    reviewed November 23rd, 2006 (purchased for $800)
  • Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF DX AF-S Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    fantastic range, sharp*, well built, AF-S, f/2.8
    expensive and heavy

    * I said this lens is sharp, and that is what I believe, but be sure to be aware that there is substantial sample variation with this lens. I had to return one before I got one that was really good.

    With that aside, it is a nice walk around range, and very convenient for landscapes. I bought it to replace a 17-35mm and 28-70mm f/2.8, because I found that I always had the wrong lens on with that combination. I have not been disappointed with any aspect of the 17-55, which is impressive, given that the 17-35mm and 28-70mm are hard acts to follow. The DX lens is sharp at all apertures, getting better from f/2.8 to f/5.6 then staying about the same and then losing sharpness due to diffraction at around f/13 for my sample. CA is well corrected for and the little there is can be easily removed. Distortion is not as bad as one would expect, but for architecture a lot of correction would be necessary.

    Colors are neutral but intense, which is perfect for landscape photography. The build can also take a lot of abuse and I have never felt like I am pushing the bounds of what the lens can take in my treatment of it, which is admittedly not the best.

    reviewed November 23rd, 2006 (purchased for $1,200)
  • Nikon 200-400mm f/4G ED-IF VR AF-S Nikkor

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    WOW! Great range, built like a tank (but stronger), AF-S is FAST, f/4 constant......
    HEAVY! Expensive

    Build Quality: You never have to worry about having this lens stolen from you...you can use it as a formidable weapon of self defense. The metal body is nearly indestructible, well shaped and all the buttons, switches and zoom/focus rings are well placed. It is a bit heavy to handhold for more than two or three football plays, even with VR, so it is at its very best with a monopod. The hood is excellent, rarely allowing flare (but be careful with it, I sat on a bag with just the hood in it, damaging the latch irreparably, and the new hood was $280).

    Focus: Nothing to say, it's fast and silent. Lock is secure and definite, while tracking is smooth.

    Image quality: cannot be expressed in words. Stunningly sharp from f/4 to f/13--it handily out resolves my D2x. DOF control is superb, with beautiful bokeh and crisp transitions from in focus to out of focus. Colors are clean and saturated, with few to no aberrations.

    VR: Does its job, 3-4 stop handholding/monopod advantage over non VR lenses. Helps tracking and framing as it keeps your viewfinder steady.

    I really cannot say enough about how fantastic this lens is. Also, it works very well with the TC-14e and TC-17e.

    reviewed November 23rd, 2006 (purchased for $5,700)
  • Nikon 1.4X AF-S TC-14E II

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Good way to extend focal length for a low price, fairly sharp
    steals some light

    Nice TC. It helps my 200-400mm VR get out to 580mm which is great, considering the exorbitant price of a 600mm AF-S lens. You lose some sharpness and a couple of f-stops, but it is a trade I am often willing to make.

    The TC is well built, much better feeling than all the longer TCs and it sure is lighter than brining that big longer telephoto.

    reviewed November 23rd, 2006 (purchased for $225)