spuelijah's reviews

  • Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM APO Macro

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Excellent Build, great tripod collar, no extending or rotating front element
    Fairly slow to focus for a HSM

    This is my favorite lens by far! The first thing I noticed when I received this lens was how impressive the build quality was. Its got a good heft to it and the Sigma black matte finish is a nice change from the shiny black Nikon does. Its softer to the touch. I also like the gold accents Sigma used. Nothing about this lens feels cheap except for maybe the lens caps.

    As for the optical quality and clarity, I would say it is as good as my Nikon 50mm 1.8D prime lens. A lot of other owners of this lens lament on how slow it focuses. This is greatly offset by using the focus range limiter switch. I only notice the slow auto focus in macro shooting. But I usually manual focus so this doesn't bother me at all.

    reviewed December 2nd, 2006 (purchased for $465)
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Compact size, Very Sharp, Very Affordable Price

    After many recommendations from other Nikonians on the DPreview forums, I decided to get one. The 1.8 aperature helped dramatically in my indoor social scene shots. I use this very often when i don't want to use flash. It's true, you can't go wrong if you get this lens, especially if you do a lot of low light shooting.

    It's range is perfect, except for tight spaces like small rooms. And it's compact size makes a perfect combo with my D50 when I want to go light, like on hikes.

    reviewed December 2nd, 2006 (purchased for $90)
  • Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF DX AF-S Nikkor

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Great Value For Price, Useful Range, Non-Rotating Front Element, Good Build, AF-S

    This is my most used lens because of its useful focal range. I traded my kit 18-55mm for this lens and the only thing I regret is not doing it sooner. Its better build quality alone to me is worth the higher price. The included lens hood is also a welcomed addition and I use it whenever I'm outdoors.

    The only fault I've found with this lens is the vignetting. I have a few outdoor shots where the corners are slightly darker. I need to stress the word "siightly." This doesn't occur often, but it does happen. My favorite part about this lens is the AF-S. Focusing seems instant. I never noticed it until I got a 50mm 1.8D and a Sigma 150mm HSM.

    reviewed December 2nd, 2006 (purchased for $200)
  • Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED DX AF-S Nikkor

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Cheap, Not much distortion
    Plastic mount, rotating front element, 3.5-5.6 variable aperature

    This lens came with my D50. Its got a good focal range but the variable aperature is bad. At 55mm the widest aperature is 5.6! Newbie photogs won't notice this and seasoned veterans can find ways to overcome it limits. However I traded mine in for a 18-70mm because of its much better build and metal mount.

    It's a good starter lens, but you'll want a better one later.

    reviewed December 2nd, 2006
  • Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    super wide, up-close and fast focusing, sharp
    strange distortion

    This is my favorite lens! Opens up a whole world of creativity being so wide and being able to focus very close and fast.

    The only major negative I've found in all my shots were really bad edge distortion & softness when taking vertical full length portraits. Faces get extremely elongated. Build quality is not the same as a Nikon, but neither is the price!

    reviewed July 9th, 2007 (purchased for $400)
  • Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    nice finish & build, 72mm thread
    auto-focus hunts in low light & makes a buzz sound, f/6.3

    This is my fourth Sigma lens. I also own a 30mm f/1.4 and the 10-20mm, but I sold a 150mm f/2.8 macro. I've had three Nikons as well, but they've all been sold.

    Although this one is not an EX lens like the others, the quality is nearly as good. Some people don't like the matte, speckle finish of Sigma lenses, but I prefer it.

    For the price this lens is hard to be beat. Last I checked online pricing, it was $250 less than the Nikon 18-200mm VR and $100 less than the new Tamron 28-300mm VC. Sharpness is very good and better than the Nikon as reviewed by pophoto.com.

    Luckily Sigma incorporates their HSM technology for the Nikon versions, but sadly it isn't nearly as good as Nikon's SWM techology. Focus had to hunt in low light, and it made an annoying buzzing sound when the auto-focus was engaging. But the results are worth it. I can shoot still objects indoors as low as 1/5 of a second and get sharp photos.

    reviewed May 7th, 2008 (purchased for $450)
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D ED AF Nikkor

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    excellent build, easy to manually focus
    not AFS, no VR

    I've tested the Sigma 70-200mm HSM Macro II at a local store and liked it a lot. It focused fast and close up, and had a solid feel to it. However I decided on the Nikon because it was much more rugged ("built like a tank"), could also focus close up, and felt it was a better value since they both cost nearly the same. I'm sure you're well aware that Nikon lenses hold their value over time as well.

    I've owned the nikon 70-300mm VR once before and it was perfect for a compact telephoto travel lens. However it's no where near the 80-200mm in terms of build quality. The VR feature was really nice to have, but it did not help me when I was photographing anything that moved, like my two-year old son. And the small aperture (4.5-5.6) was its biggest hinderance.

    I've used this lens for one wedding reception and it was my primary lens. I'd say 65% of the shots I took were with this lens, 25% with the Sigma 30mm 1.4, and 10% with my Sigma 10-20mm. The long focal distance was perfect for capturing candid moments without being a distraction to the guests. It allowed me to be a "fly on the wall" so to speak. When there is lots of space to work with, this lens shines. And the bokeh is nice and smooth. You can check out the photo gallery here: http://elijahdesign.com/dannajim/

    It is my favorite lens and I feel it could last me for the next 20 years or more. However I do wish it had VR, AFS and most importantly... f/1.4. There is big difference between 2.8 and 1.4. Obviously the addition of any or all of those features would double its price. I've asked the same questions you're asking to other photographers, and they've all seem to say to get the the Nikon 70-200mm VR if you can afford it. If you're on a budget, then the 80-200mm is the best option. I'd say that its biggest fault is that its AF is not silent and a step slow from AFS. But the focus ring is smooth and large, and it excels in manual focusing.

    reviewed July 17th, 2008 (purchased for $750)
  • Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 PRO DX SD

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    fast focus, sharp, relatively low distortion for an ultra-wide, 2.8, inexpensive
    moderate CA, limited zoom range

    This lens is fast to focus and inexpensive for a 2.8. It does suffer a bit with CA, but its better than its predecessor the Tokina 12-24mm. Distortion is nothing out of the ordinary for an ultra wide lens and is a lot better controlled compared to the Sigma 10-20mm. Zoom range is limited, but I find that to be its only major weakness.

    reviewed July 20th, 2008 (purchased for $600)
  • Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF DX AF-S Nikkor

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    superior build quality, fast auto focus
    zoom & focus rings are a bit too narrow

    The difference between 2.8 and 1.4 is quite substantial, but the convenience of a zoom is really nice. What really stood out to me after I purchased the 17-55mm was that pictures of the 17-55mm don't really do justice for how amazingly well its built. No picture can capture the soft touch but rugged feel of it. It inspires confidence in its durability. I love the finish of the Sigma EX line, but it doesn't quite compare to Nikon's pro lenses.

    reviewed August 5th, 2008 (purchased for $950)