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Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR

2139NAS_180
Review Date: Nov 20, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,650.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: It's mine.
Cons:
No A-S mount, zoom ring too tight.

I borrowed one of these beasties a couple of years ago and immediately fell in love. I finally added it to my kit a week ago.

Shooting on a D200, the low-light AF is impressive, the VR really does what it's supposed to, what more can I say? Oh, yeah--that bokeh--yummm.

Works wonderfully with the Canon 500D macro diopter, making for one fast, sharp macro lens. I really enjoy the vesitality of zoom for macro work. I can choose my working distance and BG very easily and quickly, while setting the image size with the focus.

I also have the 17-35 2.8, and having the common 77mm filter is great--one of each filter.

I get a lot of amusement from some of these reviews--too large and heavy? It's a 70-200 f2.8--of course it's huge!

Cons:

How many photogs willing to lay out $1700 US don't use an A-S style QR on their tripod? How much trouble would it be to dovetail the base of the tripod mount? Oh, well, so Kirk Enterprises gets another $70 of my money--their mount is beautifully machined and I reccomend it highly.

The zoom ring is far too stiff for my tastes. Hopefully it'll loosen up a bit with use.

Now I have to find a holster that actually fits this rig for ski season. It does fit in my LowePro TLZ AW, but barely, and that with the hood reversed. I think a colapsable rubber hood might be the thing for ski photography.


 
Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S

1960NAS_180
Review Date: Jun 15, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,600.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: It's all true!
Cons:
I've owned cheaper cars, and some have weighed less.

This is the finest piece of glass I've ever used. I've never regreted the investment. If you want/need ultra-to-mid wide angle, ultra-sharp, low-distortion glass for your Nikon-mount, this is it.

Composing in the ultra-wide range is a blast and a challenge. At f22, 17mm, and hyperfocal focus, objects from infinity to less than one inch are in focus! You can also shrink a mountain to a molehill (or pimple). Pay lots of attention to your composition (remember that 94% viewfinder) or you'll have your feet, shadow, and/or tripod legs in the image!

At 35mm, this lens produces images that are great for hand-stitched panos.

With a full-frame camera, use of a polarizer at FLs below about 20mm is not a good idea. I have no problem with vighnetting with a "thin" filter, but, due to this lens' huge field of view and the changing angle of polarization in natural light, you can get some horrible results. Point this lens at 90 deg. from the sun at 17mm with a polarizer, and you'll have a nice dark blob in the sky occupying the center third or so of the image. Color saturation and reflections are similarly affected. This isn't a problem with digital bodies with 1.5 magnification factors.

All observations are based on full-frame, 35mm shooting.


Timm


 
Nikon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5D AF

1971NCP_180
Review Date: Apr 3, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Light weight, low cost, covers a wide range of common FLs, reasonably sharp.
Cons:
Front element rotates when zooming, "crunchy" bokeh, esp. at "macro" ranges and beyond plane of focus.

I've been using this as my main "carry" lens for almost two years now. Combined with my N80, it makes for a light-weight and versatile set-up.

Durability has been very good (so far). This lens has survived several crashes while skiing (carried in chest or fanny pack, unpadded), the odd knock and drop, miles of backpacking in sub-optimal weather, and less than meticulous care - the vehicle I bought at the same time has not fared so well!

I'm pleasantly surpised by the sharpness this lens delivers; while not in the league of the 2.8 ED glass, it's great for the price. Flare and ghosting are acceptable, even 'though the rotating front prevents use of a deep "petal" style hood. Just try to keep direct light off the front glass.

Distortion becomes pronounced above 70mm, and below 40mm, really noticable when trying to hand-stitch panoramas, but good enough for most purposes.

Front element rotation when zooming makes use of polarizing filters a pain.

The f3.5-4.5 maximun aperature limits this lens in portrait and macro aplications when very shallow DOF is desired, and obviously in low-light hand-held shooting.

The "macro" focusing is handy, but not true macro - the manual claims 1:1.2 at 105 mm. I haven't actually measured it.

The bokeh is acceptable through most of the range, with the rounded aperature functioning as claimed, but falls apart at macro focusing distances with FLs of over about 70mm, producing dark-centered out-of-focus highlights and multiple images of out-of-focus linear objects, particularly beyond the plane-of-focus.

Based on my sample size of n=1, I'd say that, all in all, this is a good mid-low priced, lightweight lens for those times that you don't want the weight (or the risk) of ED glass.

Timm.