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Nikon 35mm f/2D AF Nikkor

Review Date: Oct 19, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $329.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Small and Lightweight. Very sharp pretty much at all apertures.
Not quite a 10 optically but the best of Nikon's wide primes.

If you're looking for a small and lightweight wide angle for your FX camera, this lens ought to be on your short list. If you're shooting DX, the 35 f/1.8 might be slightly sharper.

When traveling and shooting scenics this is one of my "goto" lenses on my D700. I also got great use out of it on my D300 in the mountains of Southern Utah.

The lens is extremely fast for a screw drive lens and very accurate in its focus with no hunting ever. I find that it's sharper than the 24 f/2.8 or the 28 f/2.8 and by a fair margin. It has great contrast but possibly not as good as the 20 f/2.8 or Nikon's pro-level zooms. You can bring that out in processing, though. If I want to go light, I take off my 35-70 f/2.8 and put this lens on.

Nikon 35-70mm f/2.8D AF

Review Date: Oct 19, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $751.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extremely sharp with great contrast. Bright beautiful rendition. 62mm filter thread and bayonet hood. Did I mention that it's very sharp?
Not the best bokeh, but not bad. Tends to flare with the sun in the image. Push pull type zoom and front rotates on focus.

This lens is the predecessor of the 28-70 f/2.8 which is itself the predecessor of the new 24-70 f/2.8. What we are talking about is great pro-level glass. The lens was made from 1987 until 2006 in an AF and AF-D model. The D model has a better coating along with the ability to communicate distance to the camera. Nikon added this D model in 1992 and is the subject of this review. With the advent of the D3 and D700, the price of minty 35-70 f/2.8 AFD models have been soaring lately and I paid too much for my LNIB model. But, I really donít mind paying for great glass.

This lens is extremely sharp through its entire zoom range except some very slight softness in the extreme borders at f/2.8 and 35mm. I have also rarely seen a lens with such a beautiful contrasty color rendition. On my D700 it fits the bill for my kind of shooting. For slightly over a third the cost of the 24-70, I have a great pro-glass walkaround for vacations and holiday duties.

You get a real aperture ring so will work on your older film bodies and a macro feature. The macro feature isnít true 1:1 macro and focus is only manual when the macro is enabled which can only be done at 35mm, so good for flowers and such, but not so good for bugs.

The 35-70 is heavy duty pro-build with metal construction unlike many lenses these days, but itís considerably smaller and lighter than the two lenses that replaced it. It takes a little getting used to the push pull type zoom and the front rotates when it focuses. All in all, Iím extremely happy with this lens.

Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF]

Review Date: Oct 18, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $299.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very fast, sharp and contrasty.
The build quality doesn't match Nikon, but it costs considerably less. The built in motor models whine, chirp and tend to hunt, while the older screw drive models are perfect.

With the screw drive for Nikon F mount, I believe this is the best DX crop camera lens in this particular range. I had a Nikon 17-55 f/2.8 for around six months and was dissapointed in the optical quality. It was soft all around. I sold it and purchased this Tamron because I did want this range and had heard wonderful things about it optically.

I tried several copies of the built in motor with its micro motor instead of sonic ring motor as found that they whines, chirped and hunted focus. I then found a left over brand new screw drive model that they heavily discounted to me. Boy was I happy. This lens performs superbly in all ways. It's fast, doesn't hunt, and is incredibly sharp and contrasty. The only negative if it is, is that it has a warmer cast than the Nikon. If I don't like it, it's easily fixed during processing.

I consider this lens to be a couple notches below the 17-55 f/2.8 Nikon with respect to build quality but a couple of notches above that Nikon in optical quality, at least in my experience. I wish that Tamron would embrace sonic ring type focusing motors like Nikon, Canon, Sigma and others.

Promaster rebadges this lens and can be a real bargain with screw drive models still in stock. They are the same lens.

Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8G ED DX Fisheye AF

Review Date: Oct 18, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great DX Fisheye that can be shaved and work well on FX. This is pro-level glass in my opinion and a lot of fun.
The only con might be that people sometimes overuse a fisheye for it's distortion

I already had a superwide for my D300, but when a friend had to sell this lens in a hurry so his wife would let him buy some other lens, I purchased it for only $250. This lens is really sharp and might be one of the best fisheyes built with respect to optics.

Many shave the built-in hood to allow this lens to be used as a 180 full frame fisheye. Now that I've gone full frame, I'll probably just buy a full frame fish like the 16 f/2.8.

If you want a solidly built fisheye with superb optics for your DX camera, this is the best of its type. If you actually think you'll be mostly de-fishing, stick with a super wide angle lens.

Sigma 150mm f2.8 APO Macro DG EX HSM

Review Date: Oct 17, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $559.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Optical and build quality at least equal to the best of the big boy, probably better. Excellent tripod collar.
It hunts a bit, even with the focus limiter.

I purchased this lens for my Nikon D300 based on Photozone and other review sites and after asking various forum members who owned this lens. Many said it was one of the few lenses that could compete with Nikon and Canon. They were right. This lens is superb optically. Now with my D700, the lens still performs admirably.

It's all metal and well made. I can easily hang several macro flash units from the nose without issue. The tripod mount is heavy duty and locks down without vibration.

It also makes a great short fast telephoto. There is no other macro lens over 105mm with a max aperture of f/2.8. This lens is a bit heavy and large, but well worth it and affectionately called the Bugma among its users. It's fast becoming a well deserved cult favorite. The only issue is that because of its increased popularity, it has become quite a bit more expensive in the marketplace.

If price is not an object, and if you want the very best macro lens or short fast telephoto, this lens ought to be on your short list.