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Geezer
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Posts: 1413
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 4:37 am

Information On Nikon Lenses

Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:20 am

I have been doing a lot of "reading up" on Nikon lenses for a couple of weeks now, and the more I read, the more I realize there really is no good place to get really up-to-date, objective information about lenses. I bought a copy of Moose Peterson's book a few years back, and as much as I admire his work as a wildlife photographer, I didn't find his book to be all that useful. ( All Nikon lenses are "tack sharp".........etc. etc. etc. ) ( May as well ask Nikon if their lenses are "good" ! )

It was bad enough when everyone was shooting film, but at least there was only one format to keep up with; now, with digital cameras, and the makers having to design lenses for a bunch of different formats, it has become a daunting task to find reliable, objective information about all the many types of lenses from just this one company.

I had been thinking about buying a Nikon D-90 for quite some time now; then, as I was "reading up" on lenses to go with it, I became "aware" of the new D-7000 that has just come out; so for several weeks now, I have been just on the verge of ordering a D-7000 body, and have been looking for lenses to go with it. Anytime I'm looking for anything, I seem to always end up on eBay; so today, I was on eBay, looking around, and I came across something that I wasn't even looking for, but I knew it was a "deal"............and I can never seem to resist a bargain; a guy was running an auction on a brand-new D-300S body, full warranty, everything in the box, never been used, and he has 100% positive feedback ! So I had just 3 hrs to decide, do I want to hassle with retailers who are mostly all trying to mark the D 7000 way up, because sales are brisk and supply is short..........or do I want to take a "go" at the D-300s, ( which is about twice camera ) for almost the same money ? Well, after a couple of hours thinking it over , I "made my move"............and I now own a new D-300S ! ( For less than a hundred bucks over the MSRP of the D-7000 )

Now that I have that task taken care of.............I still need to find some "subjective" information on all of the seemingly endless myriad of lenses made for Nikon digital SLR cameras. Any ideas on this "quest" will be greatly appreciated !

Charley
 
dlowwa
Posts: 7168
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2005 4:17 pm

RE: Information On Nikon Lenses

Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:41 am

Try here for objective testing of Nikon lenses on APS-C bodies. They also do full-frame testing if you want to check that out. Pretty detailed, and should hopefully be what you're looking for.

Dana
 
damien846
Posts: 629
Joined: Thu Dec 21, 2006 2:45 am

RE: Information On Nikon Lenses

Mon Nov 15, 2010 7:12 pm

I got a D300 3 years ago and love it....and I hear the D300s is great. I have the 18-55mm kit lens...use once in a while! The 55-200 vr. great light small lens, and great for A2A (as its small) I did have a 70-300vr which was a great lens, put a bit of a dust magnet! I now have the 70-200vrII, which is a great lens.
Also the Sigma 10-20 again a great lens and I use it a lot.
If your main aim is spotting then the 70-300 or 70-200 with a converter is what you need. The build quality is good and never had any issues with that. BUT and this is a big BUT, both the 70-200 and the 70-300 suck in dust. but nothing that photoshop cant sort out.
A lot would I guess depend on how much you have left after getting the D300s....
Good luck.

Damien
 
Geezer
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RE: Information On Nikon Lenses

Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:04 pm

Thank you so much, Dana and Damien ! I have looked at so much "info", and read so many advertisements and reviews in the past few weeks that I am in "sensory overload" !

Actually, I think I'm in pretty fair shape for the time being, as far as aviation goes; I already have a 80-200mm, f 2.8 AF ED zoom that I used with my F-5; also a couple of TC's, and I've found that the D-300S has an internal focusing motor, so it will support the zoom as a 120-300mm, due to the conversion factor of the DX format sensor. That's very interesting about the dust issue Damien.......I must confess, that's one thing I hadn't thought about yet.

One of the first thing I need to find, is a fairly fast wide angle zoom.......I go to a fabulous building in down-town Chicago a lot, and the place is a photographer's dream ! It was built in the 1890's as the main Chicago Library, and the interior is like nothing else in the whole world; world class mosaics everywhere, white Italian marble stairways, and two of the largest stained glass domes in existence; AND......they WELCOME photography ! You can use a tripod, flash, no problem; only place photography is off-limits, is in art & photography exhibits.

I have taken many photos with my little inexpensive Fuji "mega zoom", and made 18 X 24 prints of some of them; they liked them so well, they are "encouraging" me to "do a show", hence my immediate need for a much more "serious" camera, and and a bit more wide angle capability.

I will be flying into LGA at Xmas for a visit; my fiance's son is the station mgr. for one of the major carriers at LGA, so I may possibly get a few "opportunities" for spotting that I have never "enjoyed" before.

Thanks again !
Charley
 
iamlucky13
Posts: 1469
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:35 pm

RE: Information On Nikon Lenses

Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:11 pm

In addition to photozone.de, I've found SLRgear.com to have useful reviews:

http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showcat.php/cat/6

I try not to get too caught up in the reviews. In all honesty, most Nikon lenses simply are pretty good. The reviews help make the decision, especially when comparing to third-party lenses, but it starts with knowing what specs you want so you can compare the performance of the specs that are important to you. And of course, knowing how much you're willing to spend.

As far as different formats, with Nikon what you need to know is that there are DX-sized lenses and FX-sized lenses. DX are designed to the small sensor of the non-full-frame cameras. They vignette severely on FX cameras. FX can be used on either. Some features of older lenses don't work on newer camera bodies, but most of them will be at least functional.

Indeed, since you have the 80-200 F/2.8, you've got a great lens for your D300s. FYI, I have found dust to me a minimal problem with my 70-300 VR.

For your wide angle, how about some info so we can make some recommendations to consider?

How much do you hope to spend?
Do you know how wide you want to go? 18mm (27mm equivalent?) or genuinely wide angle like 12mm?
 
megatop412
Posts: 344
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2005 8:40 am

RE: Information On Nikon Lenses

Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:12 pm

I heard the 80-200 f/2.8 is an excellent lens, even without the VR. I was going to suggest going for the 70-300mm VR, which is a great lens the way I use it, however many people have mentioned that it is soft at the long end (where it matters most). It's pretty compact without the hood on and light as well. I don't need any more trips to the chiropractor than I absolutely need to have.

The 16-85mmVR is a great do-it-all lens- it's wide, it's short tele, and it's pretty dang sharp. In my opinion it's worth the cost, which some have complained about. It makes an excellent companion to the D300/s.

For wides, if you want to stick with Nikkor, you have the 10-24 and the 12-24. I own the 12-24 so I can't speak to the other one. It has a fixed f/4 and is semi-professional in IQ, handling, and cost of course. I'm not one of those "peepers" so I probably couldn't tell the difference between the 2 lenses. The 10-24 has a variable aperture and costs a little less. For the added range(and the difference between 10-12 is definitely noticeable), it might be worth it. I had just purchased the 12- when the 10- came out. Not sure why it got released.

You can look at primes if you want, but I would start with zooms since they're more versatile. And I wouldn't worry too much about "the sharpness of a zoom", today's zooms do very well. The 18-55mm kit lens beats the pants off my old 35-70mm.

As I said, I don't pixel peep, I also don't read MTF charts or study high-ISO noise comparisons. There's a place for that but not in my work. And I agree, "tack-sharp" is greatly overused.
 
cpd
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RE: Information On Nikon Lenses

Mon Nov 15, 2010 11:56 pm

If you aren't so fussed about absolute widest angle and have some money to spend - then I highly recommend 24-70mm F/2.8G. It doesn't have VR - but otherwise is the sharpest lens I've ever used:


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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Chris P Denton



That was with D3S and Zoom-Nikkor 24-70mm F/2.8G ED lens. Even at full size, the image was extremely sharp. In fact, the overused term tack-sharp/pin-sharp comes to mind. This is one lens that really does deliver that superb performance. I have lots of other photos taken with that lens too, it's my favourite lens that I've used.
 
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clickhappy
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RE: Information On Nikon Lenses

Tue Nov 16, 2010 5:21 am

The 24-70 won't make much sense on a DX-body, but the 17-55 f/2.8 is a gem.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Royal S King
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Royal S King



I also love the 12-24 f/4. Currently my favorite lens


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Royal S King
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Royal S King

 
cpd
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Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2008 4:46 am

RE: Information On Nikon Lenses

Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:34 am

Quoting clickhappy (Reply 7):
The 24-70 won't make much sense on a DX-body,

You think so? I've used it on a DX without bother. It works beautifully.

It won't give you the ultra wide-angle, but it is very, very sharp for anything that doesn't require very wide angle shots (eg, flight decks, cabins). Typical good uses are landing planes flying close towards you.

On DX lenses, even the humble 18-135mm F/3.5-5.6G ED lens is a good one. It is also pretty sharp (at least mine is), even opened up to F/5.6 - plus it is really cheap! Sure, it doesn't get much kudos or respect because it is often sold as a kit lens, but otherwise it's a beauty. No VR however, so steady hands are a must.
 
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clickhappy
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RE: Information On Nikon Lenses

Tue Nov 16, 2010 5:21 pm

Quoting cpd (Reply 8):
You think so?

Since he was asking for "fairly fast wide angle zoom" and his camera is a D300s, the 24-70 would be a poor choice, as 36mm is not wide. Especially since he mentions shooting interiors, which he seems to have a passion for, given his descriptive narrative.

Cheers
 
zbot69
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 10:29 am

RE: Information On Nikon Lenses

Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:33 pm

Quoting megatop412 (Reply 5):
I was going to suggest going for the 70-300mm VR, which is a great lens the way I use it, however many people have mentioned that it is soft at the long end (where it matters most).

I was reluctant to invest in the 70-300VR after reading precisely the same scuttlebutt... but it's priced so cheaply for a lens in that range I chanced it. My copy has none of those issues. It's incrementally slower to grab than a Canon L, and the light plasticy feel makes it feel like a real cheapo lens... but the image quality really impressed me. Sharp at all focal lengths, barely any discernible dropoff in IQ at varying aperture settings. Very pleased with it. I just wish it weren't plastic. I'd gladly pay extra for a slightly more rugged lens.
 
cpd
Posts: 6829
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RE: Information On Nikon Lenses

Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:33 pm

Quoting clickhappy (Reply 9):

I was replying to the first message, which didn't specifically mention interiors (as far as I could see). It actually asked for opinions on all the lenses made by the company.
 
soon7x7
Posts: 2267
Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 10:51 am

RE: Information On Nikon Lenses

Wed Nov 17, 2010 12:58 am

I recently sold off my 200-400 VR as I needed $$. I also no longer had my 300, 2.8. So to fill the void I opted for the 300 f4. What a great lens!...very crisp, light...don't even need it in VR. I looked at the 80-400 and its slow focus pushed me away in addition to the 4.5-5.6f aperture. The 70-300 VR is a great travel lens. I have found it to be incredibly sharp but about a half stop darker but you can get around that easily. I had the 10-24 but now have the 12-24, both are great...honestly, the 10-24 was a better deal for the money...that lower end 2mm comes in handy in cockpit special study shots and cabin feature shots (as below shot illustrates). It's cheaper as well. If you don't want to spend Nikon bucks...consider Tokina lenses. In my opinion, better made than Tamron and the others. The optics are the closest to Nikon I have found for a lower ticket price and comparable in barrel construction.
Cheaper nikon 10-24
 
Geezer
Topic Author
Posts: 1413
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 4:37 am

RE: Information On Nikon Lenses

Thu Nov 18, 2010 7:15 am

I really appreciate all of the input from everyone ! My main consideration is the shorter focal lengths. The lens I would really like to have, is the 17-35 mm, F/2.8 that was made for 35mm film bodies; I almost bought one while I was using the F-5; but of course, now, with the 300s & DX format, that lens would be a 26-52mm, and just not quite wide enough.

I'm thinking probably either the 12-24mm / f4, or the 10-24mm, which I understand is variable; I agree that the extra 2mm
of the 10-24 would be useful to have, but I tend to lean more toward the fixed focal length of the 12-24; so with the 300s I have a coverage of 18-36mm............I can live with that.

Another thing I must take into consideration is, unlike most on A.net, I'm quite interested in interiors, and I do a lot of my work with a rock-solid Gitzo, and a huge Arca-Swiss ball head, so I'm not all that concerned about whether a given lens has VR or not. Even doing "hand-held" shots, I'm usually pretty steady.

I have an older manual focus 300mm Nikkor, which I believe is F-4, and I did some "tests" with it, using a 2X TC, and mounted on the Gitzo; some shots of nesting bald eagles looked like something from Franz Lanting ! The old 300 is a lens that was much desired by wildlife pros, for it's inherent sharpness. ( as long as the subject is not moving ! )

One wonders how all of the fantastic "in-flight" bird photos were captured, in the days before auto-focus.

Thanks again to everyone for all the help.
Charley
 
codeshare
Posts: 1689
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2002 2:23 am

RE: Information On Nikon Lenses

Thu Nov 18, 2010 8:48 am

I have the Tokina 12-24 f/4 which is a great alternative to the Nikkor. I used to have the 18-35 and got the Tokina. 10-24 is a good option and I was also thinking about it.
For medium range I use the 18-105 or 28-105 but I'm planning to replace those soon, probably with the new 24-120 f/4, but still not enough data available. I tried the 24-70 and it's a sharpness and quality monster, like cpd mentioned above and it's heavy. However it's a bit short at the 70 mm end for my needs. For long range I got the 70-200 which is fine, but sometimes use it with the 1.7x converter. Beyond that a 200-400 or 400 or 500 prime would be nice  

Remember: good lens will last for years.

KS/codeshare

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