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Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherical

Screen_Shot_2013-11-14_at_4_38_14_PM
Review Date: May 5, 2015 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $290.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, cheap, smooth focus ring
Cons:
No AF

After reading all the info I could find on how the Nikon f/1.8 and f/1.4 (both D and G versions) stacked up against the Samyung, I finally decided to take a chance on this <300 dollar lens.

It is well worth the money.

It is not razor sharp, but certainly usable, at 1.4 and only improves somewhat at 1.8. (But neither is the Nikon 1.8G, at 1.8 IMHO). I would say the Samyung is essentially even with the Nikon 1.8G at 1.8. It IS RAZOR SHARP at 2.8. No kidding, razor, tack, whatever adjective you want to use. I am quite impressed.
I didn't bother testing it at apertures greater than 2.8, because that it not what I bought it for, nor what I believe it was intended to be used for.

It could be a little more contrasty.

It is manual focus. I must admit that it is harder to focus on a Nikon DX than I remember lenses being on my 70's vintage SLR, even with the KatzEye screen in the DSLR (I am 35 years older now, which may have something to do with it). If you don't have the alternate focus screen, I believe you will be forced to use LiveView or rely on the confirmation dot.
Speaking of the focus confirm dot. Simply having the dot 'on' is not accurate enough for DOF at 1.4. I did use the Focus Fine Tune to move exact focus to just when the right arrow goes out and the dot comes on. That seems to be working pretty well.

The lens feels good in your hand. Smooth action on the focus ring. Very long throw on the ring, a must for accurate focusing. (For those who never used a manual focus lens, it is definitely not the same as using manual focus override on an autofocus lens.)

Older reviews bashed the hood a lot. Samyung must have made a change because, if anything, the hood on mine is difficult to remove. It certainly isn't going to fall off.

Summary: If you are looking for a f/1.4 lens this one is worth a good, long look. Remember what it was built to do, take portraits and make cream. You are not going to get f/1.4 pics of your kids running and jumping with the dog in the back yard (unless you are really, really, REALLY good at focusing).

For reference purposes - I started photography in the mid 70's with a fully manual Yashica FR. I'm a Nikon snob and a pixel peeper. So weight the review accordingly Smile


 
Nikon 600mm f/4D ED-IF AF-S Nikkor

1952NAS_180
Review Date: Jan 30, 2015 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,000.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharpness
Cons:
Weight (yea, I know... but it does weigh 13 lb)

This review is for the AF-I (Built in, but pre AF-S, focus motor).

I was amazed at how sharp this lens is wide open, even with a 1.4TC. It does loose a little, but noticeable, sharpness with the 1.7TC.

For a monster like this, the bokeh is very nice.

Even the old non Silent Wave Motor focuses very quickly, albeit not very quietly, on a D7100 and D800E. I had no trouble with BIF, which was a concern I had.

Obviously there is no VR, but it hasn't been a problem, yet anyway.

You will definitely need a gimbal head and a good tripod. I did manage to get some BIF pics handheld (OK my elbow was sitting on the car door arm rest), but a couple minutes of that and it ceased to be 'fun'.
It does work very well on a monopod with a tilt head.

Didn't do my homework prior to purchase and found out the hard way that it uses a 39mm drop in filter. It came with a clear, but the externally rotatable CPL has been impossible to find so far. Of course I can still put a 39mm CPL in the regular drop in holder and set it visually before inserting it, but it may take a couple do-overs to get it exactly right.

Picked up a pristine copy from the Used Department, so I got the 2 year warranty. A good investment I think, since the focus motor is pretty old, and out of production.

For the cash difference verses the AF-S and/or VR, I am very happy so far.


 
Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G AF-S DX

DX-17-55_L
Review Date: Apr 20, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, really sharp for a zoom. Great range on DX. Build quality
Cons:
Heavy, cost

Super sharp, right there with the 35 f1.8 I sold after I got this lens. It is heavy, but worth the trade-off to get the IQ.
It's also expensive, but I don't regret buying it.


 
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor

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Review Date: Apr 20, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $750.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Macro, build quality, VR
Cons:
Heavy

Upgraded from Tamron 60 f2.0 to this. Center sharpness is comprable to the Tamron but the edges are like night and day, the Nikon wins hands down. The VR on this lens seems even better than some of my other Nikons. It is frightening how it stops the motion in the view finder. You know the camera is moving around, but the image is rock steady. It is also a little louder than my other VR lenses, but well worth the tradeoff. Very nice piece of glass.
(Ignore the review under the 105 f2.8D, sorry)


 
Nikon 105mm f/2.8D AF Micro

1988NCP_180
Review Date: Apr 20, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $750.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Macro, Build quality
Cons:
Heavy

Upgraded from Tamron 60 f2.0 to this. Center sharpness is comprable to the Tamron but the edges are like night and day, the Nikon wins hands down. The VR on this lens seems even better than some of my other Nikons. It is frightening how it stops the motion in the view finder. You know the camera is moving around, but the image is rock steady. It is also a little louder than my other VR lenses, but well worth the tradeoff. Very nice piece of glass.

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

70-300vr
Review Date: Mar 8, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Versitility, sharp (through 200mm) Bargin price
Cons:
Soft between 200mm-300mm

Nice lens, especially for sub 5 bills. Actually suprisingly sharp up to around 200mm. Certianly still usable at 300.
If you are buying it for a poor man's 300, (like I did), just save up and get the 300 f4 (like I finally did).
I think I will miss the VR every once in a while, but the 300 f4 makes up for that is every other way.
Certianly worth replacing your kit lens with this one though.


 
Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED DX VR AF-S

18-200dx
Review Date: Feb 24, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $550.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Versitility Cost
Cons:
Lens creep not tack sharp, but not bad

I got this lens for walk-a-round use on vacations etc.
I use it on a D5100 so the effective range of 27-300 can't be beat.
If you are on a mission to get a specific photo, then this is not the lens you want, but if you are just out for the day to capture what ever happens by, get it.
No it is not as sharp as say even the 70-300 f4.5-5.6 AF-S IF-ED VR (although at 300mm that lens is pretty poor IMO) but try taking a photo of a building facade from the street at 70mm on a DX.
Yes, the lens creeps if pointed straight up or down, but you are using proper holding technique when shooting anyway, right? If you have this on a tripod, then you have the wrong lens.
Construction is adequate. It is by no means a Pro lens, but it doesn't weigh 3 pounds either - important when carrying all day on a non-photo dedicated mission.

When used for what it was made for, it is an excellent choice.