RRJackson's reviews

  • Olympus 150mm f/2 Zuiko Digital

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Compact and light (when compared to 300mm f/2.8 lenses), beautiful bokeh, sharp wide open
    Expensive. No SWD version available.

    There are certain lenses that can constitute a reason to own the accompanying camera system. This is one of those lenses. At under six inches in length and under three pounds it's about half the size of most 300mm f/2.8 lenses, as well as being a stop faster and providing excellent results wide open with the DOF associated with f/4 on a 35mm lens. Using the in-body image stabilization on my E-3 I can shoot blur-free photos with this lens at 1/30th of a second. A lens with this field of view should require shutter speeds starting at about 1/300th of a second, but the IS works like a charm. IMO there's never been a better lens for concerts, sporting events, plays and press conferences.

    reviewed June 22nd, 2008 (purchased for $1,401)
  • Olympus 50mm f/2 Zuiko Digital Macro

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Lightweight, extremely sharp, optically fast
    Macro lenses tend to focus a little slower

    An excellent replacement for my old Zuiko 90mm f/2 Macro. Not quite as sharp or contrasty, IMO, but still a very good optic at an exceptionally fair price.

    reviewed June 22nd, 2008 (purchased for $402)
  • Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 ASPH LEICA D SUMMILUX

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Finally, a fast standard lens for 4/3.
    Expensive. Hard to find. No SWD version available. Aperture ring doesn't work on Olympus cameras.

    This is a lens that Olympus should have made and had available in large quantities when the E-1 first shipped. The biggest issue people have with the 4/3 format is that the high-ISO sensitivity of the cameras always lags behind APS and 24mm x 36mm cameras. A fast prime can compensate for that somewhat. This is an excellent lens. People complain that it's too bulky and for the smaller bodies it may be, but on my E-3 it feels right at home. Focusing is fast. I wish Olympus would enable the aperture ring, but that's almost a silly thing to mention. I'm not sure that I don't prefer using the control wheels, anyway. Overall, this is a must-own lens, even if it is too expensive. Now if they'd just come out with one of these at around 18mm we'd start having a set of lenses that could equal what we OM users had 30 years ago.

    reviewed June 22nd, 2008 (purchased for $936)
  • Sigma 20-40mm f/2.8 EX DG Aspherical

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Excellent optics, very useful range of focal lengths.
    Screw-drive. Large 82mm filter threading.

    This lens is something of an anomaly. Nobody else that I'm aware of makes a lens that covers this particular range. The closest thing I can think of is the Olympus 11-22mm (which with their 2x crop becomes a 22-44mm). This range of focal lengths is extremely useful to me. Most wide zooms go wider than this, but they don't go all the way to 40mm on the tele end. I'm not a huge fan of superwide zooms, but I love shooting "normal" at around 40mm. Being able to go wide when things get tight is lovely. By keeping the ratio down to 2:1 Sigma didn't have to make any real optical compromises. All in all this is a perfect "walking around" lens, IMO.

    The build quality is excellent, the optics are wonderful and the overall size of the lens is just about perfect. I'd whine about the big filter threading (82mm), but I already had a UV and polarizer in 82mm threading, so it was a non-issue for me.

    Sigma has discontinued this lens and it's a pity. I'd love to hear that they're reintroducing it with one of their HSM motors. I think this got lost because it wasn't a range that was ideally suited to crop-sensor cameras, but now that there are a few affordable options out there in full-frame cameras maybe it's time for Sigma to bring it back. Nothing wrong with the original, though. I'm certainly happy with mine.

    reviewed December 16th, 2008 (purchased for $279)
  • Nikon 85mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    optical quality, price, size
    not expensive enough to have a mystique

    This is probably the single best value in the Nikon lens lineup. The performance of the lens is much more consistent than the 85mm f/1.4. This lens isn't designed to give you soft corners. It's not a dreamy portrait lens, though it does make a very good portrait lens. It's like a neo-realist portrait lens. The 85mm f/1.8 is also very sharp when stopped down. I have a D700 and find this lens attached to my camera much more than I imagined. This and the 35mm f/2 are really the only two lenses I'd have a hard time living without. If you like the speed, size and convenience of fast primes you aren't going to want to let this one pass you by.

    reviewed January 29th, 2009 (purchased for $325)