danwatson's reviews

  • Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6G AF Nikkor

    6 out of 10 points and recommended
    Excellant Bang for the Buck
    Soft at Tele, Slow Autofocus, Some CA

    I received the 70-300g as part of a D50 camera kit sold at Costco. The lens is light weight and made of decent plastics (better than my 55-200DX). This lens performs well for the price, color is good, contrast is decent and sharpness isn't too bad given you stop down to f8 - f11. The lens is a bit slow to autofocus (though autofocus was accurate), and as it is not an AF-S lens, I found that this lens tends to drain the battery of the D50 a bit faster. On the tele-end this lens is a bit soft and looses a good bit of contrast, of course a little PP sharpening and curves can make up the difference in a pinch.

    reviewed December 4th, 2006
  • Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED DX AF-S Nikkor

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Excellant Color, Contrast, and Sharpness, superb Bokeh
    Super slow auto-focus, cheap build, poor manual focus ring

    I purchased this lens a couple of months after recieving the Nikon 70-300g as part of a Nikon D50 kit. Though I like the 70-300g, I desired better IQ. After spending time reading reviews here at slrgear.com and other sites, I noticed a trend: that this lens was quite the perfomer for the price.

    The 55-200DX is small, super light, and made of cheap plastics. The overall build is subpar, but the IQ really makes up the difference. Color and contrast are very good on this lens and detail is also top-notch considering the price. Even wide-open this lens is an excellant performer end-to-end. Two things this lens does extremely well (but not noted for) is 'macro' and 'bokeh'. The 9 blade aperture design produces some super creamy bokeh which is simply stunning. Auto-focus is silent (AF-S), but super slow (though accurate). Even with all the cons mentioned, I would highly recommend this lens without a second thought because of it's impressive IQ.

    reviewed December 4th, 2006 (purchased for $200)
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Super sharp, Super cheap low light performer
    Focus is a bit slow

    I purchased this lens a few months back for my D50. I wanted pro quality, but I couldn't afford pro prices. This 'normal' lens is often praised as super sharp glass at a super cheap price.

    In use I found the 50 very versatile, in fact I recommend this to newbie’s because they will learn to 'zoom with their feet' which helps teach composition and creative shooting. This lens is sharp even at f1.8, but keep in mind that DOF is extremely shallow so I tend to reserve f1.8 for creative effects. This lens does very well from 2.8 on, but f4-f8 seems to be the sweet spot. Color and contrast are very good and the lens produces amazingly sharp pictures (you might even need to turn down in-camera sharpening with portraiture!). Probably the only weak point is that focus is a bit slow, but not horrible.

    reviewed December 5th, 2006 (purchased for $120)
  • Nikon 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor

    6 out of 10 points and not recommended
    Cheap, Lightweight Zoom
    Average overall performance

    This lens came included in the D50 kit I purchased from Costco. The lens is constructed of lightweight plastic and the zoom ring is smooth, but the overall build is not up to the standards of other midrange zooms such as the 18-70 DX. Focusing is about average, color is a decent (not strong), and contrast is a bit below average. Detail wise, the optics are not too bad and is probably a tad better considering the D50 sensor is using the center portion of the lens. Stopped down to around f8 and the lens does well for sunny outdoor shooting. Though this is a decent lightweight zoom, I think it would be worth investing just a little more on the 18-55 kit lens.

    reviewed December 5th, 2006
  • Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF DX AF-S Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Excellant Build, Overall Performance, Price
    None so far

    I recently purchased this lens to upgrade my 28-80g. I spent a few months researching lenses and I wanted the most 'bang-for-the-buck'. Though I desired 'pro' glass, the Nikon 17-55 DX was way out of my reach. The 18-70, while no 17-55, delivers similar IQ with a very nice build at a quarter of the cost.

    The first thing that surprised me when I purchased this lens is the build. The lens has a nice feel to it, and inspires confidence. The zoom ring and manual focus rings are nice and smooth and the manual focus override is a nice touch. This lens really fills out the frame of the D50, and gives it a nice professional look. So how does it perform? It's very sharp even wide-open and stopped down (just a hair) it's a remarkable optic. Color and Contrast are quite pronounced; in fact I was surprised at just how much ‘bite’ the ED elements deliver in this optic. Focus is fast, if you are not used to a real AF-S lens (as I was), be prepared as this thing focuses quickly and silently. Considering the max aperture is 3.5-4.5, this lens is also a decent performer indoors under reasonable lighting. I am very impressed with the lens and highly recommend it to anyone wanting pro performance at a 'not-so-pro' price.

    reviewed December 5th, 2006 (purchased for $320)
  • Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR AF-S Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Excellant IQ, Fast Focusing, VR, Nice Build

    I purchased the 180 2.8 prime as I wanted a fast telephoto, after using the 180 for a couple of weeks I became dissapointed (IQ and autofocus) in the overall performance and decided to trade-it in for the 70-300 at the same price.

    This lens really impressed me and it didn't expect too much. The lens was much sharper than I expected with great color and contrast and beautiful bokeh. Even wide-open this lens delivers great images. The build is also nice, on par with my 18-70 with nice smooth zoom and focus rings. I honestly discounted the effectiveness of VR before purchasing this lens, only to find the VR is a true lifesaver and seems more effective than having a fast aperture when the moment counts.

    The autofocus is blazing fast on this lens and the overall package is impressive considering the price. A perfect match to my 18-70, this makes a nice combo.

    reviewed May 29th, 2007 (purchased for $500)