tommy's reviews

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

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    small, light, sharp, cheap(ish)

    I originally bought this lens with my D100 around four years ago. More the half the 20,000 shots I've taken with that camera were made with the 24-85.

    With a Nikon-sized sensor I find myself shooting a lot of my mountain landscape work between 30mm and 70mm so this is the lens that is attached to my camera most of the time. By the time I've stopped down to get a useful depth of field this really is a very good landscape lens.

    It's pretty plasticky build that has survived a lot longer and better than I expected it to. It had to go back to Nikon for service and repair after a pretty bad fall (on a tripod that got knocked over), but that's the first and only time I've managed to damage it.

    AF is very fast, pretty much silent and always spot on.

    Sharpness is generally very good. Every now and then, when I'm shooting at maximum aperture and focussed to infinity, I'll get a few shots that look very slightly soft in the bottom corners. When I say *slightly* soft, I mean squinting really hard at the pixels at 100% on a good monitor makes wonder if those corners could *maybe* be a tiny bit sharper. More of a subjective feeling than any obvious problem and usually impossible to tell apart from foreground softness caused by the shallow depth of field. Closed down a couple of stops it really is extremely sharp, edge to edge.

    Overall it strikes me as some very nice optics that Nikon accidentally put in a cheap case. If I could afford to replace it with any lens available I'm honestly not sure that I would.

    There are better lenses out there, but I've not seen many at this size, weight and price.

    reviewed January 10th, 2007 (purchased for $500)
  • Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6G AF Nikkor

    4 out of 10 points and recommended
    cheap, portable
    light, slow (in every sense)

    I've had a love-hate relationship with this lens. I bought it because it I wanted something portable for very occasional long shots. And because it was very cheap.

    The lightweight means it's a great lens to throw in your bag and forget about. Unfortunately, the lightweight means that's it generally best off *staying* in your bag. Long, light lenses are very prone to vibration so you need very high shutter speeds. Unfortunately, long, light and cheap lenses also need to be stopped down quite a way to make sharp images.

    Auto-focus is very very slow and, to compound the problem, very prone to hunting. If you miss your target the first time the lens will rack all the out and all the way back again looking for something to focus on, which feels like a very long time when you're waiting to take a picture. Pretty hopeless for any wildlife faster than a three-toed sloth.

    On a tripod, with a cable/remote release, shooting at f16 or smaller I've had some very good shots from this lens. It has certainly allowed me to get a few shots I would have otherwise missed.

    reviewed January 10th, 2007 (purchased for $140)
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    small, light, cheap, fast, simple

    Just get one. The only reason not to have one of these is if you already own an f1.4 version. It's small, light, sharp, distortion-free, unobtrusive and very cheap.

    On a digital body I've found it very useful for portraits, great for table-top stuff in the studio and perfect for candid shots in low light. Wide open its tiny depth of field is great for isolating subjects and allows you to shoot in near darkness without resorting to flattening everything with on-camera flash.

    What are you waiting for?

    reviewed January 10th, 2007 (purchased for $120)
  • Nikon 28mm f/2.8D AF Nikkor

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    small, light, sharp, fast
    bad chromatic aberration

    Small, light, fast, sharp... but I've been really disappointed with the chromatic aberration (colour fringing) on this lens in high-contrast areas of images. Fringing around trees against bright skies have been bad enough to cause a stock library to to reject several otherwise good images taken with this lens. My 24-85mm af-s seems to be just as sharp, and much better behaved when it comes to chromatic aberration, so my 28mm hasn't had a great deal of use.

    Not quite sure how this one slipped through Nikon's quality control...

    reviewed January 10th, 2007