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  Reviews by: Benjamin Bergm  

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Nikon 18-70 f/3.5-4.5G AFS DX

DX-18-70_L
Review Date: Nov 14, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $125.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Great beginner lens, quite sharp, great bokeh, fast focus, cheap cheap cheap!
Cons:
Vignetting problems, build quality, limited usefulness past 50mm.

Let me preface this by saying I enjoy using this lens, it takes great shots in most cases, and it's amazing for the price.

That said, it's got a few significant drawbacks. The most obvious problem is that at 70mm, this is an f/4.5 lens. It's not a huge problem, but if you shoot in low light with any frequency (as I tend to at these focal lengths...) it gets to be frustrating.

Next complaint: with DX lenses comes DX vignetting it seems. Okay, that's probably an unfair generalization, but I have significant problems on the wide end with this lens. Once in a long while, I see a bit of purple fringing as well. And the build quality is... well... this is the worst of the plastic lenses I've tried from Nikon. But as with most drawbacks on this lens: at this price, I'm not going to bitch very loud about it.

That said, if you're looking for top quality glass, you're not looking at this lens anyway. All those old D70 owners looking to upgrade are willing to part with their kit lens for well under $200. At that price, you really can't go wrong. I'm not a huge fan of the effective 27-105 range, but it does come in useful once in a while.

For the most part, I use this as an 18-35mm, and pop on a Nikon Prime 50mm f/1.8 for portraits. The two lenses together won't cost you much more than $250 (Less if you're careful) and they provide a fantastic combination for wide angle and portrait length focal ranges. Once in a while I use the 35-70mm length on this lens, but rarely. At that range, I'm usually either grabbing the 50mm prime or using the fantastic 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 lens.

The point is... despite the drawbacks, this lens is very good for the money, and doesn't show any significant deviations from the 18-35 and 18-55 lenses that you might pick instead. The sharpness is there, it's cheaper, has a little extra length for that "once in a while" moment when you wish you could get a bit closer. If you're just starting out, this is the lens to pick.


 
Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR AF-S

70-300vr
Review Date: Nov 13, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $340.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharpness, performance on digital sensors, lack of chromatic aberrations, color reproduction, fast autofocus.
Cons:
Price (if bought new), f/ increased to 4.5 from last revision.

This lens has been very good to me since I bought it. I'm a beginning photographer, so take my comments with a grain of salt.

First the bad: The build quality is good, but doesn't exceed price point. The price is a touch high if you buy it new, but if you're careful you can already find deals for 340-450 on ebay and craigslist. The aperture has increased from 4 to 4.5 since the last generation, and in low light that can be a painful difference. But if you're shooting in low light most of the time, you want the f/2.8 anyway. And at 300 it's a little soft, though on a DX camera you aren't going to see much degradation.

The good: Very fast autofocus compared to the last 70-300, excellent range for a DX camera. (105-450) Little to no chromatic aberration at both ends and everywhere between, but I'm not sure how it holds up on a full size camera sensor. The VR works wonderfully, the optics are top notch (for this price range) and it gives us amateurs something good to work with in the telephoto range. Got a few more bucks, go for the 2.8. I've never heard a bad thing about it. But for the rest of us, and for soccer moms everywhere... this is the lens to bring to the game. Seems sharpest at f/7.1 to f/8, but it still performs superbly at 4.5-5.6.