cali4nia's reviews

  • Fujinon XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS

    7 out of 10 points and not recommended
    good resolution and contrast at the short end, good OIS
    poor at 200mm, slow focusing, rubber rings

    The lens is pretty good up to approximately 100mm, after that the quality starts degrading and by 200mm it becomes a mediocre lens that needs to be closed to f/8 to get to the decency level.
    The OIS is rather good, much better than most other Fuji lenses.
    The focusing is slow, and at the long end the focus speed is poor in less than perfect light.
    The build is good, though the zoom ring is uncomfortably stiff. The rubber on the rings is a dirt magnet, and it looks like one day it will unglue from the barrel. The aperture ring is pretty loose and can be bumped accidentally.

    reviewed June 2nd, 2016 (purchased for $499)
  • Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS SEL24240

    4 out of 10 points and not recommended
    10x range
    optically poor

    The lens is decent in 24-70mm range, on the same level as 28-70mm kit lens. It's satisfactory upto about 100mm. Beyond that it degrades quickly and by 150mm it becomes very soft with poor resolution and contrast. It improves a bit by 240mm, but not by much. This softness may not be a problem if you only need web size images. Bumping sharpening and contrast in post-processing software will make small images look good. For large hi-res screen viewing or large print the lens is not suitable.
    The lens' image stabilization is average, about 3 stops. The lens is rather heavy for A7 bodies and extends significantly. Focus speed is average. Compared to Sony FE 70-300mm this lens is better focusing: faster and with fewer errors, but 70-300 is sharper in the whole range.
    The zoom ring is very stiff, which prevents zoom creep but also makes zooming jerky. You definitely don't want to zoom while recording a video. There is some play in the mount which combined with the stiff zoom adds to that unpleasant experience. Due to this loose fit the camera occasionally experienced blackouts when losing connection with the lens.

    reviewed August 14th, 2016 (purchased for $948)
  • Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS SEL70300G

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    good range, reasonably sharp
    poor focusing

    This lens is quite big, heavy, and expensive for its modest specifications. There is nothing too bad or too exciting about this lens. It's not as sharp as a good copy of 70-200, but it's not as bad 24-240 either, it's just average almost as good as Canon 70-300/4-5.6 IS USM. My copy of Canon is a bit sharper at 300mm though.
    The worst thing I experienced with this lens is its AF. It's slow, especially if lens decides to travel from one end to another. And it's also unreliable, too many pictures I had showed front focusing. My copy also showed noticeable decentering at 300mm.
    Overall this lens trails somewhat behind the Canon 70-300 despite being 2.5 times more expensive. I would expect something better optically and mechanically at that high price point.

    reviewed August 14th, 2016 (purchased for $1,200)
  • Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS SEL2870

    4 out of 10 points and not recommended
    light, cheap
    slow, optically poor

    This lens is at best mediocre. At the short end it's very good in the center, but moving to the edges and it becomes very soft. At the long end it's just soft everywhere, need to be closed to f/8 to be usable. The only place where it's good is around 40-50mm.
    Using this lens on any A7x cameras is a waste of megapixels.

    reviewed April 10th, 2016
  • Sony FE 28mm f/2 SEL28F20

    5 out of 10 points and not recommended
    sharp @ center, small, light, cheap
    heavy vignetting, heavy distortion

    This is a small and light lens, at 28/2 it could have been a perfect party lens, but unfortunately it's not.

    This lens optically poorly designed and relies on software corrections, which come at a cost.
    First thing you notice is a huge barrel distortion. Both in-camera jpeg engine and Adobe LightRoom provide automatic correction, both are identical. Unfortunately, this correction only fixes horizontal and vertical lines, but horribly stretches and softens everything at the edges and corners. That leads to more unpleasant distortions than in uncorrected lens. Uncorrected images actually look better. It makes this lens unsuitable for anything that have people or animals off the center of the frame.

    Secondly, the lens produces a lot of vignetting, which is also corrected in software. When you shoot in low light at high ISO, this vignetting correction creates a lot of noise off the center.
    Due to those fatal flaws I cannot recommend this lens.

    Disclaimer, I've used this lens on FF camera, the results will be different on APS-C.

    reviewed January 8th, 2017 (purchased for $448)
  • Sony E 18-105mm f/4 G PZ OSS SELP18105G

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    great zoom range, smooth power zoom
    soft wide open

    This is a great lens, pleasure to shoot with. It's not as heavy as it looks and sits very well on A6000. The zoom ring is very smooth and responsive, and the zoom range is very convenient.
    There is only one problematic area, the lens is very soft wide open in the whole zoom range, there are some visible spherical and chromatic aberrations as well. Shooting indoors at high ISO masks those problems to a degree due to noise and low contrast. Shooting wide open in good daylight is not recommended. When closed down by one stop lens becomes very good.

    reviewed June 10th, 2014 (purchased for $598)
  • Pentax 17-70mm f/4 AL IF SDM SMC DA

    7 out of 10 points and not recommended
    excellent colors, good contrast
    very soft

    This lens produces very pleasing colors and delivers good contrast. The AF was working flawlessly, quick and precise, no hunting even in dimply lit conditions. Lens is well built, but somewhat heavy. The Achilles heel of this lens is the resolution. It's very soft across the frame wide open, and doesn't get much better until closed to f/8 or so. That pretty much true in the whole focal range. Compared it side by side to the kit 18-55, and the kit was substantially sharper at all settings.

    reviewed January 7th, 2014 (purchased for $480)
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

    4 out of 10 points and not recommended
    small, light, cheap
    sharpness, contrast, speed are poor

    On FF this lens is pretty much unusable at all F-stops. When fully open, it's soft even in the center, the corners are completely blurred. Even when closed to f/8 the corners are still soft, and the center is just so-so. The lens seems to lose a lot of light at f/1.8, the camera exposure meter only shows about 1.6x more light at f/1.8 than at f/2.8, which makes it T-2.2 lens. It's possible that on a cropped sensor it's less of a dog, and it's possible that older versions had better quality. The only lenses I see sold now are manufactured in China and they are awful.

    reviewed May 21st, 2013 (purchased for $115)
  • Pentax 100-300mm f/4.7-5.8 SMC P-FA

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    good resolution and contrast, very light
    feels flimsy, somewhat slow

    The lens is made of plastic, including mount, so it feels flimsy, but so far held well.
    Optically this lens is excellent at all FLs and apertures. It has some corner softness on full frame, but APS-C crop is quite good. Though it's not a fast lens, unlike many other lenses it doesn't need to be closed a stop or two to get good quality, I often use it fully open and resolution, contrast, and 'happy' SMC colors are there.
    There are bad copies out there. I had two used copies of this lens, one was very soft (got it from KEH), the other one was very good (got it from ebay).

    reviewed May 20th, 2013 (purchased for $100)
  • Pentax 28-105mm f/3.2-4.5 AL IF SMC P-FA

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    'happy' colors, lightweight
    on the soft side

    It's a very small and light lens, rather fast for its size. It has typical SMC Pentax 'happy' contrasty colors. The lens is plastic but feels ok. Some lenses were made in Vietnam, some in Taiwan. I had three copies of this lens, two of which were silver and one black. Other than the color they were identical in design. The first copy from KEH was a complete disaster, soft and decentered. The other two copies had decent sharpeness wide open and very minimal decentering.
    Optically, it's a mixed bad. On APS-C crop the lens is on the soft side when fully open, especially on the long end. Compared to the 18-55 kit it's softer but not by much. It also shows some astigmatism and CA wide open. But stop it down one or better two stops and this lens turns superb.
    On the full frame the lens is much better than on crop sensor, it is very sharp in the center, somewhat soft towards the edges.

    reviewed May 20th, 2013
  • Pentax 24-90mm f/3.5-4.5 AL IF SMC P-FA

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    lightweight, good resolution on APS-C, 'happy' colors
    feels flimsy, soft corners on FF

    This lens has typical SMC Pentax 'happy' colors. The lens is plastic but feels ok. Some lenses were made in Vietnam, some in Taiwan. I had both and they were pretty much the same. Some people reportedly got decentered copies with corner issues.
    Optically, it's a mixed bag. It's a very good APS-C lens, but not so great on FF. On APS-C crop the lens is reasonably sharp on the wide end even fully open, gets less sharp on the long end, though still good. Corners slightly soft wide open, but get better when aperture is closed couple stops. Though if you want to print large landscape shots on 24mm corner sharpness will be lacking. For viewing on monitor/HDTV the corner sharpness is acceptable. On FF the central sharpness is very good at all FLs and apertures, but the corners are soft on the short end at all apertures. It's not a good landscape lens on FF.

    reviewed May 20th, 2013 (purchased for $350)
  • Nikon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5D AF Nikkor

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    jack of all trades
    some hallos fully open, on the heavy side

    It's an FF lens and it does perform better on FF. It's reasonably sharp wide open, very sharp one stop closed, some vignetting on 28mm, but nothing too bad. Macro goes to 1:2, it isn't very conveniently designed, but it's better than not having it.
    On APS-C it's not as good. Fully open the lens is soft and contrast isn't that good with some halos in high contrast situations. The lens has very good resolution when closed one stop on the short end. Resolution and contrast get worse on the long end, still one stop down and it gets very good.
    Overall, it's not a stellar lens, but it's a good performer for very little money.
    Compared to 24-120/3.5-5.6D lens this one is practically equal on the short end, though 24-120 doesn't have any haloing and slightly better wide open. The 24-120 also has better corners on FF. On the long end 24-120 lens is better wide open, but both are very much the same when closed to f/8. I would say 24-120 is overall a slightly better performer, but I wouldn't hesitate getting any of those D lenses.

    reviewed May 20th, 2013 (purchased for $120)