aurora's reviews

  • Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR AF Nikkor

    8 out of 10 points and recommended
    5x zoom range, very good optics, rugged
    no AFS, stiff zoom ring, poor tripod mount

    I have now owned this lens for 5 years, having purchased it as soon as it was available in Canada. It continues to be a solid performer, with very good optics wide open.

    As has been mentioned elsewhere on the net, the lens is not a fast AF performer however if one prefocuses and uses the limit switch it is more than capable for all but the fastest action. VR works well and I have consistently obtained sharp images at 1/60 when zoomed to 400 mm. The tripod mount is poorly implemented with a 'springboard' design less than ideal for obtaining sharp photos. I replaced the mount with one from Burzynski which I imported from Isarfoto in Germany. One other minor complaint is the stiff zoom ring which hasn't loosened up over time.

    The only specific problem I have experienced with this lens was when it was mounted to my F80 in very hot conditions while visiting southern Africa. On that trip it exhibited erratic behaviour by way of very chaotic VR movements, which would not stop until the camera was powered down. I sent the lens in to Nikon Canada when I returned but they could not replicate the problem, so the issue may have been due to poor contact between the lens and the F80 body rather than the lens itself. So far I haven't had this problem with the lens mounted to my D70.

    All in all it is a very versatile lens with its 5x zoom range and VR capabilities. I have used it for everything from wildlife to portrait work and continue to be impressed by its sharpness, contrast, and color rendition.

    For examples of some of my work visit

    reviewed November 21st, 2005
  • Nikon 85mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    amazing build quality, ultra fast, ultra sharp
    focus ring not as smooth as it could be

    This lens is so rewarding to use that it is often hard to be convinced to use anything else in my bag. As another poster has noted, it is of such high calibre that clients consistently pick images from this lens over others taken with even the most modern zoom alternatives.

    Bright, fast, solid, exquisitely sharp, and contrasty all only begin to describe this lens' attributes. Images taken with it have a quality look and distinct signature that cannot be matched by any other lens I own. Users rave about the lens' bokeh, which is indeed excellent. It's blazingly fast maximum aperture of 1.4 provides a world of creative possibilities for everything from portraits to landscapes to sports to event work.

    The only way this lens could be improved would be to add AFS, to promote quiet focusing as opposed to improving focus speed, and to utilize the more modern lens hood mounting system. The screw mount for the hood can be a pain when using filters, otherwise the hood stays on most of the time.

    Many lenses come and go during a photographer's tenure. But this one will remain a lifetime investment once purchased.

    reviewed November 22nd, 2005