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  Reviews by: Gene Lugo  

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Nikon 600mm f/4D IF-ED AF-S II Nikkor

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Review Date: Mar 30, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $6,650.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Image quality, autofocus performance
Cons:
cost

This is a wildlife photographer's dream. Sharp wide open, does not get any sharper stopping down to F8. Very fast autofocus on a D300. Tripod foot is a little weak, prone to transmitting vibrations, but a low-profile foot that is sturdier is available from Wimberley, Really Right Stuff and other vendors - this is highly recommended for getting consistently sharp results. There is really nothing to dislike about this lens aside from the cost. at 12 lbs or so it is heavy, but that is to be expected.

If you are shopping around for one, there are some lookouts to be aware of. Avoid getting the original AFI - Nikon no longer makes parts for this and you will still pay a premium of over $5000 for one just because it is an autofocus 600. Optically its great, but the AF motor is crappy. The AFS version is also optically wonderful, but has been out of production for 11 years, one year past the period that Nikon provides parts for, so that is also something to be careful about. These will see used in a private sale for $5,500 to $6,500, and in stores with limited warranties from $6,200 to $7,000. IMHO not worth the asking price. The AFS series II is the one to get - they stopped production on this in 2007 and you can find one for around the same price people are asking for the original AFS. Also, beware of non-US branded products. Nikon will not fix them - period - unless you provide a bill of sale from a face-to-face transaction that occurred in a different country. And with Nikon's decision to stop supplying parts to non-authorized repair facilities, it will be all but impossible to get one of these fixed, and you will have a very expensive paperweight.

I love this lens. Can anyone recommend an unemployed Sherpa or Maasai that might be looking to pick up some part time work?


 
Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM

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Review Date: Aug 24, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Nice build quality, exceptional sharpness even wide open. Very little linear distortion. Even image brightness, even into the corners.
Cons:
Don't even think about purchasing one of these new or used without planning on returning it to Sigma for "adjustment"

I just purchased a used year old copy. My initial impression, prior to Sigma's repair, was that it was an incredibly average lens. Moderate to severe vignetting, soft edges and unusable corners, loss of image brightness from left to right all seem to indicate an alignment problem. I took a chance, approached the previous owner with the issues. He indicated that there were still 3 yrs left on the warranty and he would gladly return it to Sigma on my behalf.

A speedy 10 days later I recieved the lens and it was if I had gotten a completely different copy! All of my concerns were addressed, the lens mount was tightened to remove any slack between the camera and lens, and they performed a cleaning.

Optically this lens is SHARP and crisp! I would rate it equal to the Nikon 12-24 in overall sharpness, and center sharpness is noticeably better. The HSM is quiet and fast, however, when shooting at 10 mm it is far easier to set it on manual focus just short of infinity - at F8 the depth of field will ensure that everything is in focus.

Uncropped images can be found here:

http://flickr.com/photos/9961692@N04/1142079976/
http://flickr.com/photos/9961692@N04/1163901567/

As you can see, this lens recovers amazing amounts of detail.

10 mm is an extremely wide angle, even on a cropped sensor - getting used to it requires a little bit of time. It is hard to keep the sun or bright lights from affecting meter readings, so you must take that into consideration when composing your shot, otherwise your pictures will be underexposed.

Sigma service was fast. The lens could not have been in their facility more than 8 days, and when it came back it was perfect. Resist the temptation take them up on their offer to have them calibrate the camera to the lens - it is possible that if you do this it may work well with your current body, but could be problematic on other bodies. Returning the lens to factory spec is probably all you need, and if you continue to experience issues, the body would be suspect.





 
Sigma 150mm f2.8 APO Macro DG EX HSM

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Review Date: Apr 30, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $475.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Lighting fast AF unless you are up close or in poor light, super sharp across the field, no distortion, CA or other defects to detract from the image, excellent tripod collar that easily removable, good flare control
Cons:
Minor nit-picks - does not work with Kenko TCs, would be nicer if I didn't have to purchase yet another filter set, since my other lenses are 77mm, bokeh could be better, point source highlights become soft nanogons

After reading some of the reviews here and on other forums I was a little hesitant to buy it. I found one online at a decent price, so I decided to take the plunge and haven't looked back since. It is easily as sharp as my 80-200 F2.8 AF-D two ring, focuses noticeably faster, seems to have equal or better contrast, gives the impression it is a well-designed precision instrument in your hands. The three range auto focusing should really be called two range, because one range is totally useless - the close or macro range is prone to hunting, but since at that distance I do not focus the lens but move the camera back and forth, it is a non-issue. I have used this lens to photograph high school LaCrosse matches with no images lost to soft focus, even in heavy overcast conditions on my D200. The HSM is super quiet. The 15" to film plane working distance is ideal for most situations. I am looking forward to getting a hold of a Canon 500D closeup lens and the Sigma 1.4X TC to start playing around with greater image magnifications. Unfortuneately this lens does not work at all with the Kenko TC, which I already have. The Sigma has 10 pins while the Kenko have only 8. In all, I highly recommend this lens without reservation.