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Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

2137NCP_180
Review Date: Jul 4, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Tack sharp, great image quality, small and light, fast opening, great depth-of-field control
Cons:
AF rather slow and noisy, occasional central hotspot, bokeh is too sharp

A must-have lens. It is small and light, so you can always carry it around for low-light conditions, where the f/1.8 really helps. Sharpness is unbelievable even wide open, contrast is very good, and distortion barely noticeable. Some people even find it too sharp; it does tend to generate a rather unpleasantly sharp bokeh (matter of taste I guess) and may excite moire artifacts on the D70 (I thought these were a legend until I took a snapshot of a rippling water surface with this prime ;-)). The depth-of-field control that comes with the fast aperture is just great for creative photography and portrait work. The 75mm equivalent on a DSLR is not awkward IMHO; this prime is actually quite versatile once you get used to it. I shot nice landscapes with it as well. Ah, and it also gives great results for infrared photography (you can nearly nearly shoot hand-held !).

Conclusion: buy one. For the price you can't go wrong. If you're new to primes, you'll learn a lot about photography from using it, I did!


 
Sigma 20-40mm f2.8 EX Aspherical DG DF

20_40F28_1_
Review Date: Jun 30, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 3 

 
Pros: Solid build, good sharpnerss at 40mm.
Cons:
Very soft at 20mm up to f/8, unacceptable corner shapness, awkward double focus mechanism, big and heavy, limited zoom range. Image quality simply not good enough for the weight and limited zoom range. Buy a prime instead !

I did not see many reviews of this lens, but the few that I could find seemed good. I decided to place image quality before zoom range and weight, and bought it from an online store. Build quality is very good, the lens feels solid and well built, but the double focus mechanism takes some getting used to... The lens is heavy and large though! Looks very professional on my D70.

After a few outdoor shooting sessions with my D70, I was very disappointed. The lens is sharp at the tele end, even wide open, but the wide angle end is simply unacceptably fuzzy up to f/8 or so, and the corner shapness remains low even then. It is quite prone to flaring and ghosting, even in mild backlit consitions.

Had the focal range been larger or the lens lighter, I would perharps have kept it. But carrying around a 550g heavyweight that is so wide that it blocks out the built-in flash, and zooms only twice, should be balanced by great image quality, which this lens does NOT offer. I returned it after a few days.
Buy a prime instead, it will be as fast, MUCH sharper and lighter, and just use your feet to zoom !


 
Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 XR Di Zoom AF

28-75mm
Review Date: Jun 30, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 2 

 
Pros: Sharp @ 75mm stopped down, low distortion, good contrast.
Cons:
Dire frontfocus @ 28mm. Unacceptably soft @ f/2.8. Focus ring not very smooth on one sample. Slow AF.

I bought this lens after reading the rave reviews it got, to replace the cheap AF Nikkor 28-80mm G on my D70, and had two copies of it, both of which were really bad.
I ordered the first one from an online shop. It proved unable to focus correctly on objects farther than 2m away (massive front-focus) ! This was especially true at 28mm, and vanished at around 60mm. The focus could be off by so much as 100m when focussing on very distant subjects. Strangely, focus was accurate under 2m or so... Pictures taken at f/2.8 also seemed quite soft. I returned it and got another one from a local store.
The second copy was better, but still had noticeable front-focus at wide angle, although much less than the first. Softness at f/2.8 was still unacceptable though, and the focus ring rotation was not very smooth. Pictures from my cheapo 28-80 actually looked much better. I returned this copy as well, and will not bother with this lens anymore.
Maybe I was unlucky twice, as lots of people seem happy with the lens, but finding a good copy is NOT worth the hassle. QC at Tamron is unacceptable.
NB: I test all my lenses for focus accuracy, so the problem definitely comes from the lens and not the camera!