ktwse's reviews

  • Olympus 12-60mm f/2.8-4 ED SWD Zuiko Digital

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Great range, optical quality and build quality. Very sharp when stopped down a step, and only mild distortion at the wide end.
    Slight distortion at the wide end, not fixed aperture.

    This is a very good lens without any serious flaws. It is quite sharp even wide open and stopped down a step performs remarkably from edge to edge. There is very little vignetting and CA, and only slight problems with distortion at the wide end (12-18). Having used it extensively at 12 mm I would consider this a very minor problem that doesn't really impact the overall image quality in real world situations (I shoot mostly nature and landscapes).

    You can't really complain about the price either, as this is cheaper than the few similar lenses available from other manufacturers (can only really think of the Canon EF 24-105 on FF to be honest). This, after all, is a fully weather sealed semi-pro lens that offers a fast aperture throughout. Sure, it's more expensive than the 14-54 and that I think has to be the main thing to consider for most potential customers. It offers a slightly broader range although the 2 mm at the wide end are SUBSTANTIAL - 24 vs 28 (35 mm equiv.) is a world apart - and supposedly faster AF operation, but the price differential is still quite big. Only you can decide whether it's worth the extra money.

    I really can't find anything to complain about. As a general purpose walkaround lens, this is as good as it gets and it easily deserves a 10 out of 10.

    reviewed March 28th, 2008 (purchased for $1,000)
  • Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 ED SWD Zuiko Digital

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Excellent resolution wide open at all focal lengths, excellent build quality, SIZE, etc etc
    Hunts for focus in some situations

    I finally received this lens after having read others' opinions about it for a couple of months... By now I have used it for a couple of weeks and perhaps 1500 shots. Not that much but I think it should be enough for a fair evaluation.

    Put simply, the IQ of this lens is absolutely stunning! Sharpness is great corner to corner, distortion is very low and so on. When in focus, images are tack sharp. The focusing, however, is the one issue I've had with it so far. In certain situations, especially low light, it hunts for focus and I've struggled on occasion with AF-C mode.

    Is that a big issue? No, not really. Everything about this lens is simply brilliant. And given the weight at the equivalent focal range of 100-400 mm, it's quite hard to call this lens heavy. Compared to the Canon or Nikon lenses with the same range it's actually quite lightweight.

    This lens is even better than the absolutely stunning 12-60 and so close to a perfect 10 that I will let the minor focusing issue pass. Even at a high price point, this lens has to be considered a bargain (again, even more so when compared to the competitors' offerings!).

    reviewed May 13th, 2008 (purchased for $1,500)
  • Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G IF-ED AF-S Nikkor

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    The sharpest wide angle available, zoom or not
    No filters, obviously

    A system seller if ever there was one. Very sharp wide open and stunning across the frame from f/4 on FX.

    So much has been written about it already... What else is there to say? Well, I got a D700 just to use this lens. The only one even remotely comparable is Olympus' 7-14/4, but that's f/4 and a smaller sensor. If you want tack sharp UWA with shallow DoF, then this is your only choice.

    Expensive for sure, but it effectively replaces your 14, 18, 20 and 24 primes... Is this a good landscape lens? Not necessarily. This is a lens for getting up close, "in your face".

    If you absolutely have to use filters, then it may not be for you, but at least consider the huge DR of the D3/D700 before making such a decision...

    reviewed October 20th, 2008 (purchased for $1,850)
  • Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ED Zuiko Digital

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Weight, sharpness, colour and contrast, good build for a kit lens, price
    Slow max aperture

    You can't really fault this lens given that it's mostly sold as part of a kit, but even if you do decide to buy it separately, it's incredibly good value for money. I used it alongside the Zuiko 12-60 for a couple of months and while that lens is certainly in a different league, the IQ difference isn't as dramatic as you might expect. This lens is perfectly capable of producing great shots.

    Compared to the Zuiko pro lenses, build quality isn't great but a more fair comparison is to other manufacturers' kit lenses and then it certainly stands up well, with only Pentax' 18-55 II being noticeably better. The lens hood is quite good and the front element doesn't rotate so polarizers are perfectly useable.

    In short, if you get it as part of a kit, don't rush out to upgrade, rather spend that money on other accessories or lenses. If you need a cheap, light and inconspicous walkaround lens to complement a pro lens, you might be positively suprised!

    reviewed March 4th, 2009 (purchased for $100)
  • Olympus 40-150mm f/4-5.6 ED Zuiko Digital

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Price, weight and size (especially given the focal range), IQ
    IQ not as great towards the long end, a bit slow (aperture and AF)

    The perfect companion to the 14-42 and usually sold as part of the double zoom kit, this lens definitely is a worthy addition even if bought separately.

    If you, like me, don't use telezooms that much then this just might do the trick better than more expensive options such as the ZD 50-200 (which admittedly is a far better lens).

    The IQ is very good, especially at the wide end. My experience is that it becomes gradually worse, but the difference is not dramatic and when it comes to sharpness and contrast I do think that this lens stands head and shoulders above eg the Nikkor 70-300 on a D700...

    Build quality is decent enough and the focus ring is smooth and broad enough to be useful. Non-rotating front element is a huge bonus for filter users. The AF could be snappier and the max aperture might be considered a bit slow (although not unusual for a kit telezoom), but all in all this is another very good lens from Olympus.

    reviewed March 4th, 2009 (purchased for $150)
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Great IQ, fairly compact
    Slow AF, poor bokeh

    Stopped down to f/1.8 this lens truly delivers, across the frame, on an FX camera. But it's still quite useful at max aperture, delivering good center sharpness and decent enough corner sharpness. It's also a lot of FUN to use, and the size is just perfect on a D700. The Sigma EX 50/1.4 might be slightly better optically but is also twice as large and more expensive. My choice would be this one.

    The AF can be a bit slow, most likely because of the long travel between infinity and the closest focusing distance, and the bokeh is not all that great. Apart from that, this is a brilliant lens.

    reviewed March 4th, 2009 (purchased for $400)
  • Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR AF-S Nikkor

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    Good build quality, price, quality up to 200 mm, VR
    Quality past 200 mm, slow and sometimes hunting AF

    I have a bit of a hard time reviewing this lens as it's hard for me to do a fair comparison. But here goes anyway...

    Getting a telezoom that goes to 300 mm is usually something you do because you WANT to use the tele end. The problem with this lens is that it is very good up to 200 mm but starts to deteriorate after that. As someone else wrote, it's decent enough at f/8 and f/11 but still not great. Even comparing it to a cheap kit lens like Olympus' 40-150 (80-300 equiv on a 35 mm camera) reveals how soft this lens is.

    I am very happy with the results I get from 70 mm to just above 200 mm and in that range this lens is spectacular, but I'm not as happy with the results beyond that and ultimately that was one of the reasons I got the lens in the first place.

    Other issues: the AF will hunt in low light (even on a D700) and the max aperture is quite slow across the range.

    The build quality is good with tight tolerances and a very decent lens hood included. The VR works as advertised and the price is great. So all in all, if you only go beyond 200 mm occasionally and don't require critical sharpness when you do so, this lens is a bargain.

    reviewed March 4th, 2009 (purchased for $500)
  • Olympus 25mm f/2.8 Zuiko Digital

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Decently sharp, very compact and FUN!
    Not quite as sharp as a "normal" 50 (stopped down)

    Well, I guess you either "get it" or you don't...

    This lens, in all honesty, is not as sharp as eg the Nikkor AF-S 35/1.8 at f/2.8. Then again, this lens is not about perfect sharpness or super fast apertures. This lens is all about compact size, unobtrusiveness and portability. When coupled with a small Oly housing, you're as close as you will ever get to the classic Leicas without having to spend thousands of dollars.

    That might be something you appreciate, but if you're constantly shooting in low light or want to pixel peep at 100% then this lens will not be for you.

    If, on the other hand, you do appreciate the creative possiblities that a very compact SLR and lens combo will open up in eg street photography, or if you appreciate being able to just throw it in your pocket and forget it until you need it, then this is a brilliant lens.

    reviewed April 22nd, 2009 (purchased for $250)
  • Pentax 70mm f/2.4 Limited SMC DA

    10 out of 10 points and recommended

    Well, it's all been said really... Fast, wonderfully sharp, excellent bokeh and brilliant build quality. This lens is a gem and fits perfectly on my K-7... :-)

    reviewed August 1st, 2009 (purchased for $800)
  • Pentax 15mm f/4 ED AL Limited SMC DA

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Build quality, size, very very good when stopped down
    Good but not excellent sharpness, max aperture (but that's a result of the design)

    Looking at the price spent, you realize that people in Europe get shafted when buying lenses...

    That said, this is a very nice lens that only really suffers from two issues: first of all, it's max aperture is fairly mediocre. That can be expected, however, as otherwise it wouldn't be as compact. But it means that this will not be your first choice for low light situations. Another issue, related to this, is that the lens isn't super sharp until about f/8. Not much of a problem for me as I mostly use it for landscapes, but the combination of the max aperture and the sharpness wide open also means that any attempt at subject isolation will be a bit compromised.

    The build quality, of course, is head and shoulders above any other lens by a volume manufacturer today. Brilliant stuff, and Pentax should be commended for bringing out lenses like this in today's mass production climate.

    reviewed August 1st, 2009 (purchased for $1,000)