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Nikon 70-210mm f/4-5.6D AF

70-210
Review Date: Jun 23, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Small lightweight lens, Aperture ring, very sharp and nice contrast and color rendition, fast AF
Cons:
Rotating filter thread, slight purple fringing in high contrast situations

The copy I own (AF-D version, bought used but in like new shape) is very sharp, even wide open.
Contrast and color rendition are very nice, which makes the pictures made with this lens really stand out.

At 105mm and at near infinity range up to about 20 ft itīs visually as sharp as the AF-S 105mm micro Nikkor. It loses a bit of contrast towards the long end of the zoom range and I do believe itīs slightly less sharp there as well.

Out of focus blur is, as typical for lenses in this class, not exceptional. Itīs ok though.

I also own the AF 80-200 f2,8D (two ring version) but I keep this lens as a light travel companion. Sometimes the f2,8 lens is just too bulky, and as long as there is enough light there isnīt much of a difference in optical quality between the two lenses.

There seems to be some sample variation, which doesnīt really surprise me as you wonīt find these new and some lenses have seen 20 years of use or more. If you can get a good copy, itīs a great lens to own and use.


 
Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D ED AF

1986NAS_180
Review Date: Jun 23, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very sharp, no AF motor, smaller then the AF-S lenses, built tough
Cons:
Moving front element, no weather sealing

I bought this lens after careful consideration and after trying several 3rd party alternatives first.

A first I tried my luck with 3rd party lenses. Tried 2 Tokina ATX-Pro 80-200 f2,8 lenses (both suffered from haze, one from an optical malfunction), a Sigma 70-200 f2,8 and I held a Tamron 70-200 f2,8.

In the end I returned all of those to the respective sellers because none of them could convince me through optical and/or build quality (the Tokina is actually built both better and tougher then this Nikon).

After hearing rumors about the availability of AF-S replacement motors for the AF-S 80-200 I decided to stick with a screwdriver type AF for a lens in this price class. (the AF-S lenses are quite expensive if photography is just a hobby)

When I picked up this lens however all worries were forgotten. The copy I own has a cracked A-M ring (still functional but with a visible crack), but is like new otherwise.

Optically itīs as good as they get. Sharp enough wide open, but itīs pin sharp from f4 onwards through to f11. The AF 180 f2,8 prime is sharper along the edges and in the corners but since it doesnīt zoom and is far more vulnerable I prefer the much bigger and heavier zoom lens.

Build quality is quite impressive, even if the Tokina beats the Nikon in most respects there.

When you find or own a nice copy of this lens, keep it. I doubt a newer plasticky, gimmick laden lens will make you any happier.


 
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G IF-ED AF-S Nikkor

Screen_Shot_2013-11-14_at_4_17_39_PM
Review Date: Jun 23, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp from corner to corner, well corrected, did I mention sharp?
Cons:
none

Some say the size and weight are an issue.

There is no other lens available that does what this lens does. Comparing size and weight to a lens that does something else doesnīt really make sense to me.

It balances nicely on a pro body or on a prosumer body with grip.

Itīs perfectly sharp from corner to corner at wide open aperture! Itīs 14mm FL on the wide end.

For landscape use easier access to cheaper filters would have been a plus (you can actually use Cokin P grads on APS-C frame sensors when cutting out the corners of the filter mount a bit and making your own adapter to hold the filter mount)

As things are however the LEE solution seems to be the best way to go on a full frame camera.

I owned this lens ever since it became available and havenīt managed to scratch the front element. I donīt use filters on it and I toss it in my bag without the lens cap all the time.

I shoot outdoors and move around a lot. I donīt think the vulnerability of the front element is that much of an issue. I donīt use protective filters on any of my lenses. Why would it then be an issue on this lens?


 
Nikon 85mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

1931NCP_180
Review Date: Jun 23, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Fast AF, sharp, good contrast, small size, has an Aperture ring
Cons:
Minor purple fringes in backlit situations

This is pretty much a perfect lens. Itīs very sharp, even wide open. It does improve quite a bit at f2,2 though where I mostly use it.

Due to the small size, fast Aperture and instant and accurate AF performance this lens is on my camera most of the time.

The build quality is very good. Even if the exterior is plastic, the interior appears to be completely made of metal. Nothing wobbles or rattles. The filter thread is metal.

Optically the only things I can fault on the lens are the out of focus blur which isnīt always as smooth and a little bit of purple fringing in some situations.


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

pic_001-1
Review Date: Jun 23, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Fast AF, good sharpness and even better color rendition and contrast, always has the same size (true IF).
Cons:
Focus breathing, less sharp in the edges then itīs predecessor, AF tends to hunt at close distance.

As a fast short telefoto lens this is a really nice package. It has very fast AF, functional VR, a very nice lens hood that does a good job keeping stray light away from the front element and itīs built tough.

Even if itīs a little less sharp at near infinity ranges then it is at close range itīs plenty sharp from corner to corner. It has the same color rendition as other professional Nikon lenses and has very nice contrast.

Out of focus blur is beautiful.

I personally prefer using this as a short telephoto lens with macro abilities over using it as a macro thatīs usable as short tele.

Itīs sharper at close range, but itīs not as sharp along the edges and in the corners as itīs predecessor. The center might be sharper tough.

For macro the bigger issues with this lens are the focus breathing (turn the focus ring and your framing changes. This is bad, but itīs part of the way this lens works)

AF isnīt really usable for macro either. I would have preferred slow but accurate AF over fast but hunting for a pure macro lens.

Due to itīs focal length the working distance is somewhat limited. Since however nothing extends when focusing real close the working distance is still good.

I would give this lens 9 out of 10 points as short telephoto and 7 out of 10 for macro.

Itīs predecessor, the AF 105 f2,8D I would give 6 out of 10 points as short tele but 9 out of 10 for macro.


 
Nikon 180mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF Nikkor

1940NAS_180
Review Date: Jun 23, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Small, lightweight, pin sharp, fast AF, built in lens hood.
Cons:
Aperture blades are very exposed, some purple fringing in backlit situations

I tried 2 copies of this lens. The 1st version with the narrow plastic focus ring and the D version with crinkle finish.

The 1st version was as good as the D version in all aspects but I think mine had a defect. It suffered from purple fringes quite badly.

The D version I tried was better in this respect but I do believe that this is just due to sample variation rather then Nikon changing anything to the optical formula or coatings between the various versions of this lens.

Itīs a perfect lens in many respects. Optically itīs sharper then any of the 80-200 or 70-200 f2,8 zooms. Especially out of the center.

The 2 reasons I did not keep mine were that the Aperture blades are completely exposed. Since I photograph outdoors and switch lenses a lot they would have been cluttered with dust and rubbish in no time. Unfortunately there is no way to fix this that I know of.

The 2nd reason is that I am willing to sacrifice a little sharpness in the corners for the greater flexibility and added size and weight of a f2,8 tele zoom to accommodate my shooting stye.

If you are mostly using the long end of a xx-200 zoom anyways and manage to keep the Aperture blades clean this is the best lens you can get for your buck.


 
Sigma 28mm f1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro

28_f1_8_1_
Review Date: Jun 23, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Fast aperture, has an aperture ring, fast AF, screwdriver type AF
Cons:
Wonīt focus on motorless Nikon bodies (screwdriver AF), less then solid construction, size, 77mm filters

The Nikon F mount version of the lens does not have a focus motor. Personally I find that a good thing. Less parts that can malfunction is always a good thing, right?

Mechanically the lens is ok. It seems to be made completely of ( high quality ? ) plastics. The inner lens tube is a bit wobbly when fully extended. Otherwise it seems sturdy enough.

My biggest grief with the lens is itīs size. I would have liked it to be smaller then it is. Something like the Nikon AF 85 f1,8D would be perfect. Itīs quite a bit bigger though so it takes up a lot of space in my camera bag.

I found the copy I use to be sharper then the Sigma 30mm f1,4 and sharper at f2,2 then the Nikon 28mm f2,8 wide open.

The center seems to be good throughout the aperture range. The corners are never really completely sharp, but absolutely usable considering what this lens does.

I use it on a crop sensor camera, so I canīt say anything on performance on a full sized sensor camera. Considering the alternatives (this is a good standard prime on crop sensor that can be used on older film cameras as well) I really recommend picking up one of these if you are looking for a fast prime lens in this range.


 
Tokina 80-200mm f/2.8 AT-X 828 AF PRO

atx828afpro
Review Date: Jun 22, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Sharp if you find a good sample, excellent ergonomics
Cons:
I owned 2 different copies and both had haze

The information below only applies to the 2 copies I tried on a Nikon D70, D200 and D300 compared to the copies of both Nikon equivalent lenses

Compared with:
Nikon AF 70-210 f4-5,6D

CAīs on a comparable level, sharpness as well. AF is slower but more accurate on the Tokina. Build quality of the Tokina is far superior to that of the Nikon.

Nikon AF 80-200 f2,8D (two ring version)

CAīs are worse then on the Nikon, sharpness is on a comparable level. AF is slower for the Tokina. Build quality of the Tokina is better then the Nikon.

I owned 2 copies of this lens. The first copy was soft on all apertures and focal lengths. When inspecting the lens I noticed a very hazy element right in front of the zoom group.

The lens was exchanged for a new copy (new in box) which was quite sharp from f4 onwards and more then acceptable from f3,3 onwards. In a pinch I would have used f2,8 on that lens as well.

On closer inspection it also suffered from haze on the same lens element.

If youīre on a budget and can get hold of a good copy I see no problem in using the lens. Itīs aperture is faster then the Nikon AF 70-210 f4-5,6D and while the Nikon can be slightly sharper it will be hard to find an optical difference between the two in most situations.

When comparing the Tokina ATX-Pro 828 (80-200 f2,8) to the Nikon AF 80-200D Push/Pull version I would prefer the Tokina. When comparing it to the Nikon AF 80-200D (N) two ring version I would prefer the Nikon.

The difference in optical quality between those lenses is very small. Sharpness and contrast across the focal range are almost identical (considering you get a good copy of both lenses). The copies of both (Push/Pull and two ring) Nikon lenses I tried suffered less from purple fringes then the copies I tried of the Tokina lens. I guess the single SD element in the Tokina doesnīt correct purple fringes as well as the 3 ED elements in the Nikon lenses do.

The Tokina is well built. In my opinion itīs better then any Autofokus Nikon lens. Comparable to the quality of the manual focus Nikon lenses. It is better balanced then any of the Nikon 80-200 f2,8 lenses I owned on any camera and operating the zoom ring can be done with a single finger which is really convenient. This was true for both Tokina lenses I tried.

The AF clutch is a bit fiddly but I really prefer it over the vulnerable plastic A-M ring on the Nikon.

Now if someone would be so kind to combine the exterior and mechanical qualities of this Tokina with the optical qualities and AF speed of the Nikon AF 80-200 f2,8 I would be happy to pay $2000 for that lens.