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  Reviews by: j.liam  

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

70-300vr
Review Date: May 15, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Great vibration reduction, light, surprisingly sharp, compact
Cons:
IQ noticeably deteriorates >200mm unless processed with DXO module; slow; not weather-sealed

A real pleasant surprise. Great to travel with, light on the shoulders when carrying it around all day. The build quality is only fair; lots of plastic and not the heavy duty that one is used to with the pro-grade Nikkors. Dim viewfinder on account of the small maximum aperture (4.5-5.6) and AF seeks a bit in failing light. But it rewards with great resolution from 70-200mm and the VR II really does give you at least 2-extra stops to work with.

 
Zeiss 35mm f/2 Distagon T*

35mm
Review Date: May 15, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Image truly does "pop", wonderful color
Cons:
Vignetting wide open, peculiar color fringing, weighty

One can nitpick its failings and it does have them (color fringing, vignetting) but they haven't amounted to much when compared to the upside (flare-free, wondrous color, micro-contrast, out-resolves my D700's sensor, real 3D "look" I didn't believe until I saw it). I shot direct comparisons to my 24-70/2.8 and 17-35/2.8. The Zeiss just outclassed them both (so much so with regard to the 17-35 that I sold it). Fantastic at f/2, by f/4 I don't think any fast 35 holds a candle to it, even the legendary Nikkor 35/1.4.

 
Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon T*

28mm
Review Date: May 15, 2010 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Typical Zeiss "look"; wonderful color and 3-D
Cons:
Field curvature, vignetting, heavy

I have to be the contrarian voice. Bought the ZF version on a lark when offered a great deal; I already owned the Nikkor 28/2. I was aware of the Zeiss' strong vignetting (f/2-2.8), color fringing (easily correctible PP) and field curvature but after extensive shooting, its central sharpness was just not overwhelming compared to the Nikkor 28/2. The latter is smaller, more gentle on skin tones and while probably not as sharp in the center wide-open when pixel-peeping, it is the match of the Zeiss by f/5.6. It's also considerably less expensive than the Zeiss. The singular advantage of the ZF.2 is of course the chip; Nikon bodies can then utilize 3D matrix metering.