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  Reviews by: wolfbreath  

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Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC

Review Date: Jul 10, 2022 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Sharp contrasty ultra wide view with nice color rendition even at 2.8
Pretty distorted. Canít screw on filters. Hard to get focus correct. Awful sunstars.

Itís pretty distorted so in my experience, works better outdoors. Iím okay with manual focus but this lens looks focused in camera and out of focus on the pc. Itís so sharp and contrasty, even for high res cameras, quality is good. I wish I could attach a polarizer filter. Sunstars look awful.

Nikon D7000

Review Date: Jul 10, 2022 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Excellent images. Sharp and contrasty. Very fast autofocus.
Lens mount felt a little wobble. Video quality and some of features shows its age.

The camera definitely shows itís age, but for photography stills, it can still produce excellent images. Video quality was actually okay, but newer mirrorless cameras are much better. Dynamic range was good enough for outdoors. Handles well. Only major complaint is the lens mount itself felt wobbly. Other cameras definitely felt more secure. Would I recommend? Maybe. There are so many other better choices, but if you got this for a good price, then itís not terrible.

Nikon D610 DSLR Camera

Review Date: Jul 10, 2022 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Dynamic range is amazing. Color rendition is amazing. Very sharp images. Tough body that handled drops well. Tons of features for professionals. Feels nice to hold.
Video capability isnít the best. Overheats during video. Nikonís colors for skin can sometimes be splotchy and have a tinge. A bit heavy.

Even after nearly a decade, this camera sensor is among the top rated compared to many other newer cameras. I could use it endlessly for stills. AF was always fast and accurate. Landscape photos were the best. Nikonís remote system for compatible external flashes allowed me to have control of lighting for portraits. It even survived a couple of tumbles and bumps without being affected in my travels around the world. In this day and age of mirrorless cameras, I would still buy the model for stills. However, unfortunately it overheats during video, and the quality of video is barely acceptable by todayís standards. For photography, absolutely recommended.

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 PRO DX SD

Review Date: Jul 10, 2022 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Awesome ultrawide zoom range. Very sharp. Nice colors. Tough build. Great for outdoors. Fun for distorted wide close-ups.
Corners were soft and very distorted

One of my fave lenses for aps-c. Itís mostly sharp except in the corners and has quite a bit of distortion. For events it allowed me to get close up on people but I had to use an external flash. For outdoors, it was able to capture huge subjects and fit it all in the frame. It has a tough build, too. Accidentally knocked it a couple of times but it was never phased. Sunstars are very nice on this lens. The newer, budget manual wide prime lenses from Samyang/Rokinon are sharper and more contrasty, but they canít produce sunstars as nice as this lens.

Sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX DG Aspherical RF

Review Date: Jan 3, 2019 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Performance at a low price Super wide angle on a full frame camera, with relatively controlled distortion.
Mechanics are wonky - AF/MF focus ring pops in and out a bit too easily

This is a lens that has continued to surprise me over the last five years of ownership.

When compared to the alternatives, yes it is inferior in many ways. It has heavy vignetting, a bit soft at 1.8, and the AF/MF ring is not designed well.

It has bokeh for a wide angle lens, and shallow depth of field. To say its nice is up to the eye of the beholder. The bokeh balls are small and can be somewhat distracting, yet at other times the background can disappear into a creamy dreamlike wash. I have come to conclude that this is neither a feature nor an imperfection, but rather I would refer to it as the lens "character".

That's important to remember, because in the end, it's up to the user to manipulate it as they see fit. In my experience, it's quite useable but with a learning curve. I have come to embrace the lens character, as it matches the filter profiles you find on social media apps, without having to add more filters.

Adjust the aperture to f/4 - f/10 and it's very sharp. Great performance as with most other lenses.

In general I have no problems with CAs, ghosting, etc. It does have beautiful lens flare though.

It does not have stabilization but because it is an ultra wide angle, hand held video is not terrible (heavy though!).

Would I recommend it? For the low price of a used one, yes, but I know it's not for everyone and other options exist.

Nikon 24-85mm f/2.8-4D IF AF

Review Date: Jan 24, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Versatile mid range. Macro capability. Great image quality. Sharp. Light weight. Close focus capability.
Plastic. No VR. Vignetting is a little heavy at 2.8.

*Edited after about 7 years of ownership.

The Good: Currently there are a plethora of mid-range zoom lens options. Some cost an arm and a leg, some don't. A used copy of this lens sells in the lower mid-range. In a nutshell, it serves very well as a general purpose lens. Mine is very sharp, lightweight, and versatile. The macro function is a plus. Super sharp. Very round bokeh balls, too.

The Bad: This lens was engineered awhile back, so it's showing its age. Not a great option for all. No VR like the new one. Not very contrasty or rich in saturation, which makes me believe it has a weak lens coating (compared to the new version). That isn't all that bad. Subject to the user's opinion and purpose.

The Ugly: Lens hood casts a shadow when using pop up flash. I recommend using an external flash unit.

Basically I'm happy with this lens. I use it on an FX camera and I'm pleased. I would recommend a used one if you find a good price.

Best part: I once complained about the plasticky feel of this lens and doubted its build quality, but no more. I had it sitting inside a lens pouch on top of a table. It rolled off and bounced around a few times. I felt fear. Picked it up and no damage. Still works perfect, focus is dead on, sharp, and macro and all. I scuffed an all metal lens once and the hood bent. I no longer complain about the use of plastics in a lens now.

Nikon 24mm f/2.8D AF Nikkor

Review Date: Feb 17, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Possibly the sharpest lens I used. Great colors. Fast.
Not a great length to work with on DX format

This is the sharpest lens I've ever used. Amazing. The colors look very nice too. I used it for taking pictures of architecture, of children, street photography, or indoor shots. The lens is fast, and I never had any problems with low light shooting.

I bought this lens with hopes that it could serve as a wide angle lens for landscape but it wasn't wide enough for my taste. My camera is DX crop, so this lens is 36mm which is more like general wide/standard length. That was my only disappointment, so I traded it for an ultra wide zoom. I'm happy with the ultra wide, but regret losing the 24mm. Thinking of upgrading to an FX format, and the 24mm would come in handy.

I'm not sure about the use of this focal length for DX, but if you want a general lens to walk around with, I'd recommend it. I think it would be great on FX. The price is okay. This lens may be overshadowed by the 1.4G, but this lens still has great optics.

Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor

Review Date: Feb 17, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great combo of speed and image quality.
Requires AF fine tuning on newer high res Nikon bodies.

*Edited this review after 8 years of ownership.

I can and have used this lens for nearly all purposes; general photography, landscape, portraits, low light, etc. It almost does macro because you can focus so close to the subject.

In terms of sharp focus to shallow depth of field, it outperforms most other lenses. I can't believe how sharp and clear it is straight out of camera. It needs no processing. Out of all my lenses, I always come back to this one.

It especially performs in low light. Used it for astrophotography and the results were amazing thanks to the 1.4 aperture.

I would give almost a perfect score when factoring its capabilities at great price, save for one factor. The AF is a bit finicky. High res Nikon bodies vs sharp lens. AF fine tune is necessary. I found out with 2 copies of this lens on 2 different dslr bodies.

Highly recommended.

Nikon 85mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

Review Date: Feb 10, 2012 Recommend? no | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Nice length for portraits, no distortion issues on DX, wide aperture
My lens was particularly not sharp, slow AF speeds, minor ghosting issues, lots of CAs.

I wasn't very happy with how soft this lens was wide open. At f/2.8 it was tolerable. Compared to the 50mm 1.8D and 1.4D, the 85 wasn't as sharp at the same apertures. The 85mm 1.4D is much sharper wide open (but costs much more).

I had some annoyances with chromatic aberrations, so in combination with the softness wide open, I felt like this lens was useless for portraits. That is the intended purpose for most people who buy the lens.

Other performance issues I had included slow AF, even on the D7000, which my other lenses had no problem with. AF hunting was especially a nuisance in low light shooting, whereas I was fine with the 50mm 1.8D. Once in awhile I had some ghosting issues as well.

Bokeh was okay, a little rigid, not so smooth. It was not worth trying grab a shot of a subject with nice bokeh in the background because the subject was so soft. When you bump the aperture to f/2.8, the bokeh wasn't circular anymore.

Most of my complaints were from using the lens wide open or in low light activity. However, I do think it performs well in the daytime, for street photography, food photography, or landscape. I didn't have any issues from f/2.8 - f/8 with ample lighting. The lens is built well and adequate for general photography, just not astounding. I'm sure some people are confused by my ratings and not recommending it. That's because it didn't do well in achieving the results I thought it had the potential to produce. If the new G version has any improvements, at $500 it might be enough to make the D version obsolete. We shall see. Otherwise, I'd recommend the 85mm 1.4D or the 50mm 1.8D/1.4D over this lens.

Nikon 105mm f/2D AF DC-Nikkor

Review Date: Feb 4, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Superb images Tough build
A little big and heavy.

This is the finest lens I've ever used. The picture quality is fantastic. Compared to my other lenses, this is still my favorite even after the past 7 years.

Autofocus is fast and precise. The Defocus control makes out of focus areas smoother and softer. However, if it's applied too strongly, the subject will become softer. Even at f/2 the subject is sharp with creamy bokeh. It's perfect for portraits but not much else. Between that and the vain bokeh shots, there's not much versatality to this lens. It's pretty specific. So for that, I don't use this lens as often. But when I do, it's worth it every time. I'm not sure what kind of coating it has but the colors, saturation, and contrast are just right for portraits. Not overwhelming, nor absent. You have to try and see for yourself.

It's made of all metal, heavy, and sticks out a bit. The lens hood is built in and slides over the lens. Not an easy to carry lens by any means and I end up trying to baby it quite a bit. Finally, it's aesthetically pleasing to look at. The black matte textured metal and big beautiful coated glass inside. In my opinion, it's one of the best looking lenses.