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Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor

Review Date: Aug 19, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ, value, size, weight
Focus ring not really meant to be used...

I purchased this lense on the occasion of the birth of my son to get some newborn close-ups. IQ is phenomenal - I have been using the AF-S 17-55 f/2.8 DX for two years but wanted more speed than 2.8 and this little miracle really matches it IQ-wise. 90% of my images are taken wide open at 1.8 - sharpness, colour and contrast are astounding. Before buying, I compared it to the new AF-S 50 f/1.4 G but it couldn't hold a candle to the 35mm.

By now I find my 17-55 remaining on the shelf most of the time...

Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM

Review Date: Feb 16, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ, range, weight, price
slight vignetting wide open @10mm, finish

Great ultrawide lense for crop-sensors. I found resolution and colors better than those from the Nikon 12-24. I can't find soft corners even wide open, landscapes @ f/8 or f/11 appear to be tridimensional. The range is perfect for my D300. The lense is small and lightweight and always fits into my bag.

If you shoot a whits wall wide open at 10mm you may notice some slight vignetting, however, no big issue for me in real world situations.

Sigma's finish is not my cup of tea, but that's something subjective and doesn't have to do anything with the images this fantastic piece if equipment produces!

Nikon D300

Review Date: Mar 19, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,699.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ, build quality, speed, ergonomics and everything else - for me THE perfect DSLR

I just came from Canon's EOS 1D Mark II N. I left Canon because I wanted a smaller and lighter body, some 48 or so AF-points like I had with the 1DIIN, sealed body, true auto-ISO, AF-microadjustment, an option to have actual ultra-wide angel (1DIIN has 1.3 crop factor, EF-S lenses won't work on it. Not liking fish-eyes, the widest option was 14mm x 1.3 = 18.2mm, nice, but not wide enough for me) - and good high-ISO performance. The D300 is the only camery which delivers all of that in a small and light body (at least that's what I think comoing from the big and heavy 1DIIN). On top, IQ is better than I was hoping for. The default settings leave some room for improvement, but after a week or so and some 1000 shots I love the image parameters for their huge range of possible settings - and having found my personal landscape setting, images blow me away: Sharpness in the out-of-the-camery JPGs (not to mention the NEFs), colour rendition, contrast is exactly what I have ever been wishing for, just perfect.
As regards wide-angel: I had a shoot-out with three of each, the Nikon 12-24 and the Sigma 10-20. First, I picked the best of each group, than I compared these two. I was indeed prepared to pay $1000 for the Nikon, however, the best of the three Sigmas outperformed the best of the three Nikons in terms of sharpness, definition and micro-contrast. For me, colours aren't any longer related to lenses but to camera settings - finally, I've got true ultra-wide-angel with 15mm - for 50% of the Nikon-18mm...

Coming from Canon's 1DIIN, I recommend the D300 without reservation as - from my point of view - it combines the best of all worlds.

Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED DX VR AF-S

Review Date: Mar 9, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $650.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Range, weight, size = maximum versatility
= price for versatility. The lense leaves room for improvement rgd. resolution, distortion, CAs, build quality and speed (see below)

You know who you are - this is a nice walk-around lense for casual shooting which will produce small prints, in some cases requiring a little postprocessing. It's fun to shoot with!

For me, it's only rated 7 - it may well be a 10 for you.

While testing this lense I found out that I don't have the need for such a huge range and - compared to a f/2.8 zoom - I don't have much use for the VR at this focal range. Ultimately, the show stoppers for me were:
- very bad CAs (even on my D300, which is said to have some built-in CA-reduction)
- extremely narrow distortion-free focal range, somewhere between 24 and 40mm (sure, can to some extent be fixed during PP, but - again: for me - it's not a good idea to fix technical shortcomings at 95% of my shots during PP)
- Corner and edge softness (from 35mm onwards)
- The lense does not deliver 12 MP resolution.

Finally, VR is nice, however, in dim light the D300's autofocus had a hard time to get the job done at any focal length above 120mm due to f/5.6.

Returned it after 2 weeks.

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

Review Date: Mar 9, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ, build quality, range, f/2.8

Perfect glass. The D300 was the reason to switch from Canon - I couldn't be happier with this lense. It stays on my camera all the time. For me, size and weight together with a D300 makes it a wonderful walk-around lense. I don't miss a longer range (12 MP leave some room for cropping) nor VR (f/2.8 together with the high ISO performance of the D300 works perfectly in available light, 1/15 sec is no problem to hand-hold - at least for me - given the perfect balance of the lense with the body).
If you want the best standard zoom with very good low-light performance and build quality that will outlive your camera (and probably yourself) and money is not the limiting factor: Go for it by any means.
If you don't have the need for wheather sealing or f/2.8 and if you are on a tighter budget, give the new 16-85 a look.

Highly recommended.

Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM

Review Date: Nov 18, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 4 

Pros: Easy to handle, black, light
Optical quality

Maybe I got a bad sample. Sharpness, colour and contrast was quite disappointing. I could see softness of the images even on the camera's LCD screen. My sample became sharp around f/8, which is not the reason why I bought a f/2.8-prime. Finally, I ended up with a 70-200 2.8 IS which is a completely different thing in terms of optical quality. Sharpness, colours and contrast are much better. If you need a small and fast prime go for the 135mm f/2, which I also use and which is even better than my 70-200 zoom. My 135mm with a 2x TC would easily outperform my 200mm prime.