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  Reviews by: Carl Feather  

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Nikon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5D AF

Review Date: Jan 7, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $150.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great range, light weight, sharp, flare well controlled, good macro, well built, cheap.
Variable aperture, but still less than one stop over a substantial range. 62mm filter

This lens is glued to my D7000, especially since that body can easily overcome the shortfall of the f/3.5-4.5 aperture. I love this lens and the excellent images it delivers. I also have the 24-70 that I use on my D700, but shooting with the D7000/28-105 is such a pleasure that I usually go for the lighter-weight package for my personal images.
I use the D7000 and 28-105 in my daily job as a newspaper writer and photographer and rarely have to change to a different optic (I don't do much sports work). For portraits, groups and scenics, this lens is just sweet.
The price is amazing. I've seen it for as little as $100. I bought mine from a seller on Nikon Cafe and it was near mint. I've not tried it on my D700, but I image the results would be great.
Another little gem from this era to look for is this lens' cousin, the 28-70 f/3.5-4.5. When I was shooting film, it stayed on my F4s and delivered excellent images.

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED NIKKOR AF-S

Review Date: Dec 22, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,450.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great build, good range, very sharp
Cost. Wish it went to 105

I also have the 28-70 but after getting the D700 I felt the lens was not up to the improved sensor. The 28-70 is my favorite portrait combo on a D300.

The 24-70 smokes the 28-70 wide open and it just gets better stopped down. This lens is all its cracked up to be; as good as the 14-24, which I sold to get this.

I just wish it went to 105 or at least 85 and had VR.

Otherwise, it's perfect for the D700.

Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S

Review Date: Dec 17, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Build quality, image quality, ideal range
Not as sharp as the 14-24 but more useful.

I used this lens starting with a D1H back in 2001, then on to the D2H, D200. When I acquired a D300, I got a 14-24. It was a good range on the 1.5X sensor. Then came the D700. The 14-24 was just too limited in its range. The image quality, however, is stunning. I rarely shoot wider than 24mm, so I decided the 24-70 was a better choice for me than the 14-24, and I did the swap. I have access to a 17-35 at work for those few times I need something wider.

The 17-35 is not as sharp as the 14-24, but it is much more useful for weddings, where you need something that can go very wide for tight shots to just under normal for groups. The 14-24 can't do that. A little extra sharpening in PP brings the 17-35 up to par. Again, if I shot a lot of WA, I would have kept the 14-24 to have image quality on par with the 24-70, but since that covers me 90 percent of the time, this lens makes a good mate for the few wider shots I do.

Well built, the one I have is seven years old and has never had an issue in day-in, day-out use in a newspaper gear pool. Flare is well controled and I like the fact it accepts a filter, which the 14-24 does not do. Overall, I imagine this lens will become highly sought as it's now out of production and offers functionality advantages over the 14-24.

Nikon 300mm f/4 ED-IF AF-S Nikkor

Review Date: Oct 21, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, light weight, close focusing, fast AF
No VR.

I had the older version of this lens and sold it because I just didn't use it that much. After almost 10 years, I decided to revisit the focal length to round out my digital outfit. I debated on the purchase for months, and finally found a used gray-color lens for $950 with the Kirk collar.

I am very impressed with this lens and its image quality. The build is superb and much lighter than I thought it would be. I find it more comfortable to shoot with than the 70-200 it complements.

The images are sharp from f/4 on and both close and far away. I shot images of deer and the whiskers on them are sharp and clear. The lens is very handholdable thanks to the D700 and D300 high ISO abilities. The Kirk collar sweetens tripod performance and is worth the money.

AF is fast and all I could want. The only thing I miss on it is VR.

Nikon 105mm f/2.8D AF Micro

Review Date: Oct 21, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp at all apertures, solid build, beautiful bokeh, VR, useful and versatile focal length
AF sluggish if allowed to travel through the whole range; really struggles with subjects with no contrast.

This is probably one of the most versatile lenses in the Nikon line that you can own. First, it is a 105mm, which is great for portraits and landscapes alike. Add the micro feature, and it is a real value, especially with the VR function.

I researched a micro lens purchase for nearly six months. I was torn between the 60, this lens and the Sigma 150. I even ordered the Sigma twice and cancelled because I just couldn't see myself using something other than Nikon optics.

The VR is what sealed my decision; even if the Sigma is as sharp as this lens, which it is reputed to be, the VR is worth it for the extra $100. Additionally, on a DX sensor this lens is a 150mm, so I am in effect getting the Sigma but with Nikon quality and the VR.

Some have said they don't find VR of use in micro, but am very pleased with the sharpness I'm getting when VR is on and I'm handholding. Every time I use this lens I'm more impressed with the sharpness and smoothness of the transition from sharp to soft. It's like the Lens Baby look, but much sharper. I am looking forward to using this for weddings.

The only downsides I can see are the 62mm filter, which does not mesh with the pro Nikon lenses I own, and the way the lens can't focus on flat, low-contrast subjects, like leaves. Otherwise, this lens is sharper than my 70-200, 85 f/1.4, 50 f/1.4 and old 105 f/2.8 AIS micro, which this lens replaces. If you're riding the fence, get off and buy one. The trade imbalance needs another $750 and you'll photos will benefit from this lens.

Nikon D300

Review Date: Oct 14, 2008 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,800.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Good build quality, acceptable image quality
DX, noisy above 800, overexposes

The D300 was a big step forward over the D200, bringing D2X quality down to a reasonable price while improving high ISO. The downside was poor implementation of picture controls. The ones that ship with the camera don't give very pleasing results. You really need to go back to the Nikon site and download the DX and portrait controls, perhaps tweak them, to get good results.Skin tones are especially challenging with this camera unles you use DX Mode 1.

The D300 blows the red channel and also has a tendency to overexpose. I much preferred the D200's metering, except on flash, which was pretty bad.

I dial back my D300 minus 1/3 to 2/3 stops.

Noise is unacceptable at 200. I preferred the D200's base ISO noise to the D300. That's the price you pay for better ISO performance above 400. The D300 adds about 1.5 stops of performance.

This was not, in my opinion, worth the premium of $1,000 between a new D300 and used D200.

The D300 has been replaced by the D90, which gives you most of the features plus video at about 1/2 the price.

If you can find a D300 for around $1200, go for it. But at $1550, it's a little past its time. I'd suggest a D200/D700 combo for the long run.

Nikon D700

Review Date: Oct 14, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,955.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Full frame, outstanding high ISO performance, wonderful handling
Price, lacks video, only 95 percent viewfinder

Nikon finally delivered, albeit three years late, a full-frame camera for the semi-pro. This camera builds up on the very successful D300 body, giving us most of the D3 features in a very user-friendly package.

I am always amazed at just how well this camera does in low light as well as good light. The portraits with my 85mm f/1.4 are just outstanding in bokeh and smoothness, skin tones are the best of any Nikon I've ever used, MUCH better than the D300. Metering and AF are much better than the D300. My D300 has not taken a back seat to this camera; it's in the trunk. I should have skipped the D300 altogether and waited for this. It's that good.

ISO 800 is simply stunning; even 6400 is usable. This is a wedding photographer's dream camera if ...

it had video. There is no reason for Nikon not to have included that; the D90 has it at 1/3 the price. That would make it competitive with Canon's new 5D replacement, except for the megapixels. I don't find the 12.1 mp limiting, however; would much rather have great high ISO than more mp.

Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor

Review Date: Oct 30, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $280.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, light weight, solid. Fairly cheap
Noisy focusing, not very smooth. Made in China.

It's the sharpest lens I own, and I have the 85 f/1.4, 70-200 and 17-55. This is the lens I reach for when I'm shooting billboard images or need that tack-sharp bridal portrait.

Bokeh is pretty decent, not up to the 85mm, but I get very nice results at f/2-2.8. I'm not afraid to shoot this at 1.4 at wedding receptions to get nice images.

The focusing is very noisy compared to SW lenses and takes some getting used to. It sounds like a blender.

Every photographer should own one of these. Wish it were not made in China, however.

Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G AF-S DX

Review Date: Oct 30, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp even wide open, great practical range, superior build, fast focusing.
Flares when shooting into sun, to the point it's worthless in that situation.

I've had this lens for more than two years and use it extensively for my wedding and event work, as well as my everyday work for a newspaper. It's on my D200 about 90 percent of the time. It replaced my 28-70, which I'm keeping for the FX body I hope to acquire.

This lens is a workhorse. It is pro quality all the way. The only negative is shooting into the sun, which I like to do on wedding shots.

I love this lens so much that I sold it with an extra D200 body thinking I could be happy with the 28-70. After two days of that I called the buyer and asked if I could have my old lens back. He sold it to me because he already had what he needed. It was like getting an old friend back and I won't be parting with it until my last DX camera breathes its last. I consider it a lifetime purchase and worth every penny, even though it cost me $1,020 to get it back!

One note -- when I first got this lens, the performance was so-so. One corner was quite soft. I sent it Nikon and they made it sing.

This lens is destined to be a legend.