Gatorowl's reviews

  • Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM APO Macro

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Tremendous sharpness even wide open
    Could use IS/VR on Crop Sensor

    I gave this lens a 9 overall because it lacks vibration control. At this length, VR could make a significant difference-or not.

    I probably should use a tripod with lens, however, I'm usually too lazy to pull one out.

    The image quality is phenomenal. I use this lens in a Nikon mount, but it compares favorably to the best Canon lenses I have including the 70-200 2.8II. In terms of macro, I can't tell whether my Canon 60mm or this lens is sharper. What I can say is that the color saturation and contrast are amazing.

    I'm not sure about the AF. It seemed okay, however, I was more concerned about holding the camera steady to notice any problems.

    The lens seems to be well made. It's heavy without being too heavy, and the rings turn without any looseness. I see no reason why this lens won't last a very long time.

    If you get a good copy of this lens, you will not regret it. I have an excellent copy and am very satisfied.

    reviewed February 2nd, 2011 (purchased for $750)
  • Sony E 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 PZ OSS SELP1650

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Compact size, excellent sharpness through 30mm, fast AF
    Severe distortion at wide angles, noticeable vignetting, weak at 50mm

    This is my first Nex lens and camera. It was part of the Nex 6 kit. I have experience with both Canon and Nikon DSLRs and this kit lens ranks well with those.

    What sets this lens apart is its amazingly compact size. The Sony is truly pocketable (albeit, it needs to be a large pocket) with this lens. I can carry the camera in a sleeve or my fanny pack when I go for a ride.

    The lens is a marvel of engineering. It expands when powered on and collapses when powered off. It takes a little time--maybe half a second each way--, but it doesn't bother me. Do remember to power off the camera before switching lenses otherwise the lens will remain in its expanded state. AF is fast and pretty accurate. It locks quickly and suredly to its target. This contrasts with the e-mount 50mm lens, which has a habit of hunting.

    If you shoot jpg the IQ is phenomenal due to the automatic lens correction. If you shoot Raw, you will need to deal with the heavy distortion and vignetting wide open. The distortion is almost cartoonish (4-5% or perhaps greater?), and the vignetting is heavy. However, there is now a Lightroom profile that deals with this problems nicely. The lens is actually 13-14mm wide open, so after correction, you do get a true 16mm.

    Sharpness and contrast are on par with the best lens I have used through 30mm (e.g., I have used Nikon 14-24mm Sigma 17-50mm, and Canon 10-22mm). However, at 50mm, look elsewhere for critical shots. Sharpness and contrast drop off considerably, and the difference from primes at the FL is substantial. However, it is still serviceable. For most shooting at normal (non-pixel peeping) sizes, differences are acceptable.

    For a collapsable kit lens that finally delivers on the Nex promise of compactness, I am extremely happy with this lens. It is stellar over the focal lengths that are most important to my shooting. YMMV.

    reviewed December 1st, 2012
  • Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR AF-S Nikkor

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Light weight, inexpensive, very sharp (in the center), VR extremely effective, at its best shooting distance
    Distortion, QC (IQ varies greatly between samples), horrible bokeh, weak corners, IQ falls off above 50mm

    reviews tend to be all over the place for this lens. I purchased an early release, and it proved to be a sharp lens with weak corners on my D800E. Others with this lens have found it disappointing, so it's worth testing before purchasing.

    It's best at 24mm--holds its own against the 14-24mm especially at distance--and stays very strong through 35mm. There is IQ drop off above 50mm, but it's plenty acceptable through 85mm. Sides and corners are disappointing, though, so you need to stop down substantially for landscape shots. Bokeh (out-of-focus rendering) is god-awful.

    If you are getting into FX on a tight budget, and/or simply looking for a light-weight "walk around" lens, then this lens is worth it especially at the $300 current price. However, if you want to get the maximum quality out of your FX camera purchase look elsewhere. Available prime lenses in this range are amazing, so why not?

    reviewed January 8th, 2016 (purchased for $600)
  • Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED AF-S Nikkor

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Excellent center sharpness throughout FL range, very good corners, lightweight, takes filters, good flare resistance, competes well against more expensive options
    distortion at 18-20mm, no VR

    I had to throw a 10 in here to balance out the relatively low ratings. Some earlier ratings gave this lens effusive praise with little criticism and left 8s! Compared other lenses ranked here, this one should be above 9.5.

    I'll keep my review short by listing the flaws first: noticeable distortion at the wide end (but better than the 16-35 VR), and soft corners at the long end. The lens is very sharp in the center and only the 14-24mm has (barely) better corner sharpness at overlapping FLs.

    If you shoot Nikon FX and you don't need VR or the build quality, there is little reason to buy the 16-35mm over this lens.

    reviewed January 18th, 2015 (purchased for $750)
  • Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    *Very Sharp image. *Image stays sharp well into the corners without stopping down. *Compact size and light weight (great travel size). *Fast AF when focal-length limited. *Great price compared to comparable zooms
    *Image/optical stabilization (OS) is comparatively weak. *Little OS feedback in viewfinder *Needs Sigma dock for optimal performance *With a f/6.3 max aperture at 400mm, it's slower than other zooms

    First, if you want this focal-length range in a compact body or for a sub-$1500 price, the Sigma is the only game in town. And it has strong optical performance, so you don't have to sacrifice IQ to get into the game. Moreover, if you want to use this as an action lens--which most 100-400mm are--then the so-so OS should not be an issue. Just keep the shutter speed cranked up to 1/400 (preferably 1/1000) or faster and you're competing in the major leagues. Also, if you focal-length limit the AF (either 0-6m or 6m-infinity), the AF is blazingly fast. It seems to be accurate as well, although i didn't fully test it.

    Where you might have issues is when you lower the shutter speed below 1/400 and you're taking photos of static objects. In these situations, the OS just isn't as helpful as that of the other systems. Admittedly I did not test the panning OS type, Type 2, but I'm not optimistic. Since the lens is on the slow side--max aperture is already f/5.6 by 155mm and f/6 by 220mm--I found myself wanting to slow the shutter speed in too many situations.

    I hear that the dock addresses many of my concerns. However, I'm a hobbyist, and when I buy equipment, I just want to use it, not fiddle with customizations. If I didn't have other options (I was hoping to replace my Canon 100-400 L II lens and complete my transition to Nikon), I would likely keep this lens. Its size is a joy and makes it a near-perfect companion for travel. Together with its performance, price, and high IQ, I recommend this lens but with caveats due to its OS.

    NOTE: I tested the lens on DX cameras only (D7200 and d500). On FX (full frame) vignetting would likely be an issue.

    reviewed June 6th, 2017 (purchased for $799)