thejohnz's reviews

  • Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR AF-S Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Very Sharp and light

    I received my D800 in May and did various s shots with my prime lenses but was really missing a wide to telephoto zoom for this camera. I almost went for the 24-120 VR but then this lens was announced and I went for it. I have to say, I am glad I did.

    I was able to do some tests with this lens with a variety of other Nikon lenses I own and here is the result of my tests (mainly looking at sharpness)

    At 24mm, this lens was equal or better than the 14-24 from F4 through F11. It was better than the 24mm F2.8 D prime. We are talking center and corners!

    At 50mm this lens was close to the 50mm F1.8, mostly lacking just a little in the corners.

    At 70-85mm this lens was at its weakest (at least compared to the 70-200 F2.8 VRII) but still quite acceptable.

    Color saturation and resistance to flare was very good. Distortion not so good but easily corrected for.

    Combine this excellent sharpness with VR , light weight, and low price and you have a real winner here.

    reviewed July 14th, 2012 (purchased for $599)
  • Nikon 300mm f/2.8G ED AF-S VR II Nikkor

    10 out of 10 points and recommended

    I purchased this lens hoping it would live up to its excellent reputation. After returning from South Africa I can say that this lens was more than I could have hoped for.

    It is heavy but can be handheld which is how I mostly used it. On the D800 it clearly out resolved the sensor from F2.8 through F11. I was able to get excellent photos even when I cropped them down to 4mp! It is like having a 900mm lens!

    The images are stunning and 3D in appearance. Wonderful bokeh and great contrast.

    If you want images like the pros then this is a must have lens. Nikon has other great tele photos such as the 400 F2.8 but at 10# the weight is just too much for hand held use.

    reviewed December 2nd, 2012 (purchased for $4,600)
  • Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR AF-S Nikkor

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharp, compact and light, great VR, works well with teleconverters
    No f2.8

    As an owner of the Nikon 70-200 F2.8 i was very curious as to whether this lens was comparable. Well, after having this lens for a few days and doing some intense side by side comparisons, I must say that this lens is simply spectacular. At comparable apertures it mostly outperforms my F2.8 version with or without the TC-14Eii and the TC-20EIII attached. Using the D800, focusing was not a problem even with the x2 tele. The VR is rock steady and definitely the best I have ever experienced on any Nikon lens.

    I have to say that the test results above done by SLR Gear do confuse me a bit. The pixel pitch of the D800 and the D7000 are almost the same but the data in the area where both sensors are being used seems to suggest otherwise. I can understand the corners in the FX area would be different but why the difference in the middle areas? The earlier tests of the 70-200 F2.8 were done on a D700 so there is no way to compare those test results here directly. (it would be good if SLR Gear did test the F2.8 on a D800E)

    I will need more field time to really get a good feel for this lens but so far I have high expectations. Check out Brad Hill's website for some good field testing of this lens.

    Some other pluses for this lens is that it can focus to 3.3' and does not suffer from focus breathing.
    At 5' from the image this lens has 50% more magnification than the F2.8 version does!

    So if you can live without F2.8 (and I am beginning to think I can) this lens will serve you well.

    reviewed January 12th, 2013 (purchased for $1,396)
  • Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR AF-S Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Small size, light weight, very high IQ
    VR can be a problem if one is not careful (read my review)

    I purchased this lens directly from the Nikon store in April of 2015. My reason to purchase from Nikon directly was availability and confidence that the VR issues with this lens had been corrected. I own a lot of Nikon equipment. This lens was of great interest as a replacement for the Nikkor 300mm F2.8. I loved this 6.4 pound lens, but the weight and size was becoming a real issue for me.

    Upon receiving the Nikkor 300mmF4 VR lens, I checked it out first for sharpness and focus, then for any VR problems.

    Let me first say that this lens is sharp, sharp, sharp even wide open. It totally equals its larger F2.8 cousin at every aperture except of course F2.8. This lens also focuses accurately and quickly.

    At first, I thought I did not have a VR problem. It was only after many shots I notice a problem. I would get a double horizontal line between shutter speed of 1/80th to 160th second. Please note that this was only noticeable on horizontal lines, not vertical lines. The degree of what I called astigmatism, was from 2 to 4 pixels. This occurred on all my camera bodies (D800, D750, and D7200). Iso Values higher than 1600 often masked the problem. To make the problem most visible, I would photograph road signs. The abrupt white to black transition on the sign printing made an easy way to evaluate the degree of the problem.

    After my May trip to South Africa and the Kruger National Park, I sent the lens back to Nikon with detailed photos of the problem. The lens was returned a week later with a statement saying that the lens was within their specifications. No detailed analysis was provided.

    After some thought, I tried a different approach to the problem. I did a lot of internet research as to Nikon VR systems in general. One thing stood out in my research. The weak point of most VR systems is around 1/125th second exposure. Why, I am not sure. Interaction with the mirror, shutter, or something else? Also, the low weight of this lens coupled with its high IQ is unique. Most all systems of equal quality would weight at least twice as much.

    I tried various techniques such as gripping the lens and camera body tighter, bracing my arms, using a monopod, etc. all with no success.

    By chance I then tried just holding the camera loosely and not gripping the lens at all. For the first time, I was able to get a good, sharp shot at 1/125th second. My success rate was about 33% of photos taken. My best result was with the D7200, even though this camera magnifies the telephoto ability of this lens to 450mm.

    Although this seemed counter to what one should expect, it did start to make sense when I researched further. Thom Hogan had a great article that helped explain the workings of VR and the problems with tripod mounting and shutter speeds in the 1/125th range.

    During these experiments, I was also corresponding with a well known Canadian nature photographer, who was not having any problems with this lens in regards to VR. I did discover that he used the extra grip attachment on all his Nikon cameras, whereas, I did not. The grip attachment for the D7200 was recently on sale, so I thought I would give it a try.

    I can now tell you that, with the Nikon MB-D16 grip attached to the D7200, the 300mmF4 VR worked flawlessly at 1/125th second as well as all other shutter speeds in the questionable rearm of 1/80th to 1/160th. Only one caveat here: you still must keep your hands completely off the lens itself.

    Why the extra grip works so well I do not know. It could be the extra mass, or the better balance, or the extra area for your hands. All I know is that it works well, even when I attach the TC-14EII teleconverter.

    I am now so pleased with this lens. For bird photography, I use this lens with the 1.4 teleconverter on a D7200 with the extra grip attached. That gives me a hand holdable 630mm (35mm equivalent) F5.6 lens in a combo that only weighs 2 pounds! This allows for quick response, which is really useful on birds in flight. This lens with the teleconverter attached is still very sharp and only bettered by Nikon’s best 10# primes. The images I get are stunning. In some ways I can do better than those guys with the 10# lenses. I have no need for a tripod, monopod or any other contraption to hold the lens, making it much easier to find and keep a flying bird on target.

    The light weight and size of this lens coupled with the excellent optics makes this lens revolutionary. I always take it on trips, walks, hikes etc. No longer do I miss shots due to leaving my telephoto lenses at home.

    I hope others can benefit from my experience and can repeat the results I found above.

    reviewed October 26th, 2015 (purchased for $1,999)
  • Nikon 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR DX AF-S Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Very Sharp with exellent contrast
    Distortion (both barrel and pincushion)

    I purchased this lens to go with my D7200. I have mostly been an FX user the last 4 years and currently also own a D750 and D800. My interest in going back to the DX camera and lenses started with using the D7200 as a way to get extra reach for my telephoto lenses such as the Nikkor 80-400mm VR and the newest Nikkor 300mmF4 VR.

    I was enjoying how well the D7200 worked with these lenses but I no longer had any wide angle "walk around lens" to use with this camera.

    I did have the Nikkor 24-120mmF4 VR and the 24-85mmF3.5/5.6 VR but those lenses are best suited for the FX format.

    I purchased the 16-80mmF2.8/4 VR on a whim. Having previously owned the 16-85 version, I hoped that this lens would have the improvements necessary to make it a "keeper".

    After a few days of testing and comparisons, I must admit that I will definitely keep this lens!

    My first test was to compare the 16-80 on my D7200 to the 24-120 on my D750. This is an easy test to do as the equivalent zoom ranges and apertures are the same (except for the ability of the 16-80 to go to F2.8).

    The result of this test amazed me. The 16-80 was sharper at all apertures from F4 through F16. It did not matter what focal length I was at. In addition, the 16-80 was better at contrast. Dark areas were darker, yet had more detail. A side benefit was the lack of any vignetting when a filter was attached to the 16-80 lens. This is not the case with the 24-120 when at 24mm focal length.

    I then compared the 16-80 (set to 34mm on my D7200) with the Nikkor 50mF1.8 mounted on my D750. Again, I was surprised that the 16-80 actually looked better at all apertures but F4, where the 50mm was slightly better in the extreme corners. Again, contrast was noticeably better on the 16-80. This was the first time any lens I owned outperformed this 50mm prime.

    I also own the Nikkor 20mmF1.8. Testing this lens directly with the 16-80 on my D7200 did show the superior performance of the 20mm lens, but the differences went away by F8. Both these lenses show the excellent contrast that comes with Nikon's latest coatings.

    The Nikkor 16-80mmF2.8/4 VR is slightly lighter than the 16-85 but otherwise about the same size. The focus speed seems similar to the 24-120, and the VR seems to work as advertised.

    At 80mm, I compared the 16-80 to my Nikkor 70-200F4 VR. The first test was done with the 16-80 on the D7200 (set for 80mm) and the 70-200 on the D750 (set to 120mm). The result of this test was almost a dead heat with maybe a slight edge to the 70-200.

    I did a second test where both lenses were mounted on the D7200 (at 80mm). In this test the 70-200 clearly won. This is not surprising in that the FX format puts real demands on the corner performance of FX lenses whereas the DX format does not. in addition, the D750 has an anti-alias filter. The D7200 does not, allowing for better overall resolution if the lens can pull it off.(and the 70-200 certainly can!)

    I would go on a hike with the 16-80 on a D7200 and feel confident that I would get as good or better photos than if I carried the 24-120 with the D750. In low light or the need to have limited DOF, I might want the FX combo, but for most scenery shots, I want maximum DOF and high ISO's are generally not needed. Do remember that DX cameras have 1.5 times greater DOF than FX.

    This lens is pricey. If I could not afford it, I would be temped by the Sigma 17-70mmF2.8/4. It looks to have similar performance overall.

    The only caveat, is the distortion. At 16mm, this lens has lots of barrel distortion. Strangely, it goes away by 19mm and quickly becomes pincushion all the way to 80mm. Most zooms seem similar in this regard. Just beware that you will want to correct for this distortion if buildings or ocean etc. are predominant in your images.

    All in all, it is great to see such lenses come onto the market. The latest 24mp sensors are very demanding. This lens will hold up to those sensors.

    reviewed July 29th, 2015 (purchased for $1,066)
  • Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR AF-S Nikkor

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    No focus breathing' works very well with all of Nikon's tele-converters' exceptional image quality; superb VR; well balanced weight
    Zoom ring easily creeps down from the 200mm setting

    Nikon really put a great effort to make this lens perfect in every way. Having owned the VRII version of this lens, I was well aware of the need for improvement. This latest offering has stunning image quality corner to corner at all focal lengths. The micro-contrast rivals Nikon's best fixed lenses. Here is a short list of improvements:
    (1) No focus breathing!
    (2) Lightning fast focus that still works well with tele-converters attached
    (3) The most stable and effective VR system ever made by Nikon
    (4) Close focus that is one foot better than the previous version
    (5) A useful lens hood that allows the lens to be stood vertically
    (6) Ligher weight and better balance over previous version
    (7) Fluorite coatings
    (8) Sharp, sharp,sharp!
    (9) Better control of flare
    (10) Focus control buttons on front of lens

    Yes, it is expensive, but the best things in life usually are.

    reviewed January 19th, 2017 (purchased for $2,800)