PeterM1_Leica's reviews

  • Nikon 16-35mm f/4G ED VR II AF-S Nikkor

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Excellent performance at pretty well all focal elngths and apertures, highly effective VR
    None really but the build quality seemed a little less than I expected but having said this it is still very good.

    I sort of bought this lens by accident. I was in Hong Kong on holidays and more or less determined to buy some camera gear whilst there.

    I can't say I really wanted this lens over other lenses such as the 24-70 but it was in a better price range than that lens. And I knew I needed a wider lens as part of my kit. So more or less out of curiosity I decided to buy it figuring that if I got it at a half reasonable price and did not get along with it I could always sell it later.

    Well long story short I have no intention of selling it. Immediately I tried it a few times I was amazed at its image quality, particularly in dim light conditions where the VR really pays for itself. It really produces nice sharp images with nice colour. But I also have to say that I was using a D700 which also performs well in low light and while the maximum aperture on the lens is only f4, that is in practice not an issue particularly with that camera - its possible to put the camera on auto ISO with an upper limit of say 1600 ISO and then forget about the lens's modest maximum aperture in most shooting situations if that is what you need to do. Although in practice I usually prefer to shoot in aperture priority treating ISO / aperture / shutter speed as full inter changeable has its advantages sometimes. In short this lens with that camera can be wholly relied upon to turn in good shots without the photographer needing to think too much if that is what you need.

    Some users have complained about this lens's relatively poorer resolution at full aperture when shot at 35mm focal length but as shown in the test charts on this page the loss of resolution here is quite minor and you can of course always stop down which fixes it. So that "issue" is only nit picking.

    A bigger problem for many will be the marked distortion at the widest focal length as I found out when shooting in an urban environment like Hong Kong where this can be a disadvantage. But I do not let this worry me too much. You have to expect some distortion with ultra-wides. And in any event the distortion with this lens, while considerable, is not complex and can be fixed completely or almost completely in post processing.

    This is, simply put, one of Nikon's finest lenses in terms of the quality of images it produces particularly when compared to its price.

    As noted in the summary, initially I was a little put off by this lens's build quality. Its not that its bad in any sense but I was comparing it to a 17-55mm DX Nikkor that I had recently owned before going full frame. That lens had a lot more metal in it and felt more substantial to handle. This 16-35mm lens is more similar to most other G lenses which are all or almost all polycarbonate in construction. That's not bad. It just takes a little getting used to if coming from earlier lenses as you need to adjust your expectations and accept they do feel a little plastic.

    Here are 3 links to shots taken by me with lens in Hong Kong. They give you some idea of its capability in adverse light conditions using VR. (By the way back lighting is not an issue either - that nano crystal coating really kicks butt).

    reviewed December 7th, 2013 (purchased for $1,000)
  • Nikon 35-70mm f/2.8D AF Nikkor

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Very sharp, solidly built still able to compete image wise.
    short zoom range.

    After selling my DX gear I needed a good lens to replace my then favourite lens, the 17-55mm f2.8 DX. I bought one of these old lenses because of price and reputation while waiting for a well priced 24-70mm to turn up. Having previously had some zooms from this era I always had a high regard for Nikon's lenses from the 1980/1990 era.

    I have never had a problem with it and apart from its limited zoom range have never had any complaints about it either. Eventually I bought a 24-70mm f2.8 and that is now my main lens for my D700. But I still have the 35-70mm because it's useful for times when either I do not want the extra size and bulk of the newer lens or because I am taking the lens into a place where it could be damaged and do not wish to risk the new lens.

    I have to say that within its limits its virtually impossible to distinguish a shot taken with the 35-70mm from a shot taken with the 24-70mm in most instances. (Maybe a pixel peeper can but I do not bother with that stuff). I have seen a review somewhere which showed images side by side from the two lenses and it was clear with those images that there is not much between the two in terms of resolution and sharpness at least.

    If you want a relatively inexpensive lens for a late model Nikon camera this one is hard to pass by. It is still a keeper.

    reviewed December 7th, 2013 (purchased for $500)
  • Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharp, well made
    None that I would really criticise apart perhaps from its size - but I dont really class that a failing, more of a "feature"

    All the lies they tell about this lens are true.

    I have never before bought a Sigma lens believing that the best lenses tend to be the ones from the major manufacturers like Nikon and Canon. This is the lens that proves that to be wrong. Its is well built, handles well and is sharp from the get-go. At something not much over half the cost of the Nikon equivalent this is actually a slightly superior lens in terms of its image quality and not that far behind so far as I can see in terms of build.

    There is one slight oddity I have noticed with this lens and others have commented on from time to time. It seems to under expose slightly on my D700 body. Nothing too problematic and nothing that can't be fixed by dialing in a little exposure compensation. And I imagine it might be fixed by using the USB connector and fiddling with the firm ware. But in any event its not an issue for me as I tend to habitually use a one third under exposure adjustment when I am shooting outdoors anyway. (There have been a number of reports of Sigma lenses having problems with Nikon Cameras and requiring firmware adjustments or updates but the above issue is so minor I would not bother.)

    One other minor issue I would note. I have noticed that the satin finish on the plastic hood and lens cap seems to readily acquire rub marks. Something about the finish and the hardness (or rather softness) of the plastic. I have bought cheap aftermarket ones for use in the field thereby keeping my original ones more or less pristine in case I should ever sell. Again I don't know if I would class this as a problem or a "con" - just something of which to be aware if you are picky about keeping your gear in good condition over time.

    reviewed December 8th, 2013 (purchased for $700)