rcoder's reviews

  • Nikon 24mm f/2.8D AF Nikkor

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    compact, good view angle on a digital body, perfect "street" lens
    prone to flare, f/2.8 aperture not as fast as many other primes

    I bought this lens used a few weeks ago specifically for street photography, and have been pretty happy with the results. On a cropped digital body like by D70, the 24mm focal length is only mildly "wide", works well for candid and from-the-hip shots.

    AF performance is quite respectable, and and MF ring feels very smooth, with just enough resistance to make it unlikely you'll accidentally bump it out of focus. Bokeh is also quite nice when wide open, giving lovely, circular out-of-focus highlights.

    Since there wasn't a hood included with this used gear, though, I have had some problems with flaring when shooting into the sun. I haven't examined many of the shots at extreme detail to evaluate CA or vignetting, but I can't recall any real "stinkers."

    Overall, I'd say I got what I wanted: an affordable, compact street lens with good handling and decent performance. I'm hoping to replace it for most uses with the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 fairly soon, but I suspect I'll keep it around as it's the most compact and lightweight lens I own.

    reviewed January 14th, 2007 (purchased for $200)
  • Nikon 85mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    amazing low-light captures, excellent portrait telephoto
    AF can be slow on consumer bodies

    I absolutely love this lens. Most of my favorite pictures taken with my D70 have been through its fine optics, and it just seems to coax flattering expressions from people's faces. This is also the best lens I've used for live music photography -- it's small enough to pack around in a crowded club, and has just enough reach to pull just the singer out of a busy scene.

    The balance and handling are quite good, though the MF ring on mine is a touch loose. Wide-open, it adds just enough softness to images to avoid the need for photoshop retouching of minor skin blemishes, and the extremely-thin DoF renders background features beautifully blurred. Bokeh is generally quite nice, though extremely bright points of light in the background can occasionally appear more polyagonal than circular.

    My only real complaint is with the focusing distance -- if you want to do any close-up work, then you'll probably want to check out the 60mm or 105mm macro units. AF speed also isn't anything special, but much of that is probably the D70 AF system not being quite up to some of the low-light situations I press on it.

    reviewed January 14th, 2007 (purchased for $450)
  • Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF DX AF-S Nikkor

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    compact, sturdy, AF-S is great (and fast!), good focal range
    zoom ring can stick a bit, slow aperture at tele end

    All the reviews of this lens point out its optical quality, which I won't dispute, but they don't tend to comment much on the physical construction, aside from the occasional reference to it being made mostly of plastic. I can say from first-hand experience, though, that it can also take a pretty serious beating and come back no worse for the wear: a friend once knocked my D70 off a high counter with this lens attached, and although I initially thought it might be toast, (the MF ring was stuck, and AF failed entirely) a few tugs of the focusing ring back and forth freed it up, and it has performed flawlessly since then.

    That being said, I only use this lens about 15% of the time, since I'm a total bokeh-junky, and chafe at not being able to open it up wider than f/3.5 (or f/4.5 at the long end). I'm also one of those weirdos who *like* the restrictions imposed by having a fixed focal length, so I do most of my shooting with primes. This lens does have a great focal range, though, and I've been quite happy with the output when I do use it.

    reviewed January 14th, 2007