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Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S Nikkor

pic_001
Review Date: Dec 23, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $365.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp wide open. Not overly expensive.
Cons:
Some lateral CA. May require AF adjustment.

Having started with Nikon, then moving to Canon (full frame 5D) for a few years, and now back to Nikon again (D700), I have found the Nikon 50 1.4G AFS a nice change from the incredibly expensive L primes.

I've owned the Canon 50 1.4 and the Canon 50 1.2 and I prefer this lens to those two. The Nikon 50G has a nice build quality, not as nice as the 50 1.2 from Canon, but certainly nicer than the Canon 50 1.4. What I love about this lens is that it is sharper at 1.4, better contrast, saturation, overall coloration than the Canon equivalent. It's even sharper than the Canon 50L although the color rendition is not quite as nice, but fixable in post. And the kicker is it's 1/3 the price of the 50L. So though ~$400 isn't exactly cheap, compared to $1350 from Canon, it's a steal. I really didn't like the Canon 50 1.4 - it was soft wide open and the contrast was horrible. To me, the reason I buy these wide open primes is to do exactly that - use them wide open.

When I received this lens, I was pleasantly surprised by it's build quality. It doesn't have the cheap plasticky feel of some of the Nikon primes. It has a nice textured feel to the body. I've also bought the 35mm f2D and the 85 1.4D. The build of this falls closer to the 35.

On the D700, the proportions of the lens feels balanced on the body. It doesn't look disporportionately small like the 35 and not over large. The first shot I took at 1.4 was a little soft, but after spending some time with the AF fine tune, the lens is now tack sharp wide open. The bokeh on this lens has been impressive. I really like the look of the wide open shots. As I mentioned before, the saturation and contrast could be a little better like my 24-70 and 70-200mm VR II, but then again, it's a fraction of the price, and it is something I don't mind bumping up in post.

Overall I have been quite happy returning to Nikon. For the price of the 85mm 1.2L, I have purchased the 35 f2, the 50G, and the 85 1.4. Take note Canon how to make a nice lens without breaking the bank. I would highly recommend this lens and have no qualms about spending the extra money over the 50D based on build quality alone.


Overall I am quite pleased to be back with Nikon


 
Tokina 300mm f/2.8 AT-X 300 AF PRO

atx300afpro
Review Date: Jan 27, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,375.00 | Rating: 1 

 
Pros: Sharp! Build quality
Cons:
CA on almost every daytime shot on the 5D. Not compatible with Canon extenders. 112mm filter. Cheap case.

I bought this copy from Jayhawker below. It is the ATX II not the AF PRO. Lens is super sharp, which is only part of the story. Unless you plan on taking indoor shots with no bright areas of contrast, don't bother buying this lens. It exhibited nasty purple fringing through the range of f stops from 2.8 all the way up on my 5D. It could be on anything from white area highlights, for instance a blue and white shirt where the white meets the blue to branches where the blurred branches became purple. Luckily, shaysphotography purple defringing action in PS took care of about 95% of the purple, but the other 5% of the time, the CA could leave a purple cast on areas that the action couldn't really resolve without affecting the entire image.

Also, no Canon extender is compatible with this lens due to the location of the rear element. Since the rear element is not recessed as with Canon telephoto lenses, the Canon extenders cannot be physically mounted - therefore Kenko ones are required. While the 1.4x is comparable to the Canon 1.4x, the 2x is a bit softer. The body will not recognize a change in f-stop, rather the body shows a one stop difference in shutter speed for the 1.4 and 2 stops for the 2x. The exif data in PS does not show the use of a Kenko extender, while with the Canon extenders, the exif data does (very inconvenient). Lastly, the 112mm lens will create some cost issues if you want to put a polarizing filter on the lens and the case is a pretty cheap 70's looking brown vinyl hard cas.

If you can get over these issues, there are definitely some positives about the lens. The lens focuses fairly fast, about the speed of the 75-300 IS, maybe a bit quicker but is noisy in doing so. The build quality is impressive with the black armalite finish. The images produced from this lens are definitely sharper than the Canon 300 f4 that I used to own although the color saturation is not quite as good.

But ultimately, due to the CA and the fact that the lens was not giving me the reach for wildlife photos, I decided to sell the lens. Fortunately, I was able to sell it to someone outside of FM. I considered keeping this lens for sports with my young son, but the CA issue killed that idea. Perhaps it was my copy, but all in all, I can't recommend this lens to anyone. And if you can find one super inexpensively, it would ultimately be up to you to decide how much CA you're willing to tolerate in your photos. (I thought about getting the 300 f4 again, but decided to get the 300 f2.8 IS after all the positive reviews about the lens.)

I don't know how this lens would act on a 1.6x crop body, but since CA was exhibited all over the frame, I can't imagine the results would be that different. It's no wonder the lens has been discontinued by Tokina. If the lens didn't show CA, my rating for this lens would be 9 overall, 9 build, and 9 price.