Dave Sgt Pepper's reviews

  • Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8G ED AF DX Fisheye Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharp, gorgeous contrast & colour rendering
    Just be careful of that front element

    I bought this lens just for a bit of fun without even bothering to read any reviews. I have been absolutely astonished and delighted by the quality of the images it produces which have exceeded any expectations I might have had. I rarely do any correction in post-processing since I love the fish-eye distortion it produces.
    It is superbly sharp, but an even bigger surprise was just how beautifully contrasty images are, producing sumptuous colour saturation.
    Build quality is excellent in my opinion and it feels solid and reliable.
    My only warning is, just be ultra-careful of that exposed front element. There is a huge temptation to get really up close and personal with the subject you are shooting and it's all too easy to bump into something whilst concentrating on the view through the viewfinder.
    Highly recommended.

    reviewed October 28th, 2005
  • Nikon 200-400mm f/4G ED-IF VR AF-S Nikkor

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Outstanding build, fast accurate focus, sharp as a tack
    Heavy to carry, occasional ghosting

    At GBP4,300 here in the UK, this purchase represents a serious investment not to be entered into lightly, and it took some thinking about. But then I saw some images posted by someone who had been on safari using one, and I was just so impressed that I was prepared to go without food for however long it took to raise the money :o)

    First impressions were ... this lens seems huge, especially when the long lens hood is attached. This impression is fuelled by the very large carry case it comes in. Probably the most impressively constructed lens case I've ever seen with oodles of protective padding ... but why oh why didn't Nikon create enough room to carry the lens with a D2 body attached!? Just a few more inches of latitude and it would have been a perfect fit ... a seriously missed opportunity Nikon, shame on you.

    Once you get to use the lens for a while, it doesn't seem quite so huge, but it is heavy. At 56 years old, I'm not up to using this handheld for more than a few minutes, so for me a monopod is a must-have companion.

    When you rotate those silky smooth zoom and focus rings you begin to understand why you had to spend so much money. The build quality of this lens is in a completely different league to any other Nikon glass I've ever owned. Simply perfect.

    Auto-focusing is so fast, accurate and quiet it takes your breath away. I found myself deliberately swinging onto new subjects to see if I could catch it out ... not a chance, it acquired the target first time every time and before I could blink (D2X and D2H equally impressive).

    As well as the case, I have just two more little gripes ...

    1.) The lens comes complete with a 52mm slip-in NC filter. Apparently it is essential to have a "filter" of some description fitted to complete the optical path. I decided to buy an optional slip-in polarising filter, which at nearly GBP200 is not cheap. It really irks me then, that this filter comes supplied in Nikon's usual cheap and nasty over-sized two-piece plastic box with layers of foam to support it. Foam deteriorates over time, breaking down chemically, which can leave a nasty coating on your expensive filter. Filters of this price and quality should be delivered in small, neat, tailor-made holders which do not require foam. Please take note Nikon.

    2.) It's early days for me with this lens, but I have already experienced a number of occasions when "orbs" of light have appeared in my shots. I assume this to be some kind of internal ghosting / flaring taking place in the lens, but surprisingly these occurrences are almost always with the sun on my back, when I would not expect such problems to arise. On every occasion I had the hood attached so I cannot see that it can be flare across the front element, but I should say that I have not yet removed the protective glass front element yet (not that I really want to), so that may be a factor. I will be interested to see whether other reviewers are experiencing this problem and can shed some light on it.

    Despite these little niggles, I remain delighted with this lens. I have had several insights into what it is capable of ... I just need to practice my long-lens technique with the unforgiving D2X to maximise the return on my investment.

    Please feel free to visit this gallery on PBase to see some of my very first efforts with the 200-400, the majority of which were taken using the D2H.


    And this is one of my personal favourite shots to date ...


    Conclusion - A must-have lens if your wallet will stretch to it.

    reviewed October 28th, 2005