Nikon 1 10-100mm VR Review

1 Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM

This is an in-depth review of the new Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens, also known as “1 Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM” that was announced on September 21, 2011 specifically for the new Nikon 1 system, together with three other lenses and the new Nikon V1 and J1 cameras. The Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 VR is versatile 10x superzoom lens specifically designed for shooting movies on the new Nikon 1 camera system. It is the first Nikkor powered zoom lens with a voice coil AF motor that makes no audible noise when zooming in and out while recording videos. Unlike other Nikon 1 system zoom lenses, the Nikon 1 10-100mm VR lens has no zoom ring; zoom action is controlled by a switch on the side of the lens with three adjustable zoom speeds. This is done to prevent any additional lens shake that is caused by rotating a zoom ring on regular lenses. With the Nikon 1 10-100mm VR lens, you can get closer or further away from your subject very smoothly and naturally – the new AF motor is designed in such a way, that it prevents abrupt stops. Plus, the latest generation of Vibration Reduction technology further helps to keep the camera and lens steady, preventing jittery movements and reducing blurry images. With its focal length of 10-100mm on the Nikon 1 CX sensor (2.7x crop factor), its coverage is equivalent to a 27-270mm lens. The variable aperture of f/4.5-5.6 means that its maximum (largest) aperture changes between f/4.5 to f/5.6, depending on the focal length.

1 Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM

[Read more...]

Best Nikon Lenses for Landscape Photography

Mt Rainier NP #11

What are the best Nikon lenses for landscape photography? After I posted my last article on “Best Nikon Lenses for Wedding Photography“, I have been getting many requests from our readers to also talk about lenses for photographing landscapes, nature and wildlife (another post on best Nikon wildlife lenses will be published soon). In this post I will not only talk about which Nikon lenses I believe are the best for photographing landscapes, but also when I use a particular lens, along with plenty of image samples from each lens. Please keep in mind that the information I present below is a personal opinion based on my experience so far, which is subject to change. No third party lenses are presented either, although some Zeiss, Sigma, Tamron and Samyang lenses are phenomenal for landscapes. If you have a favorite lens of yours for landscape photography that is not listed below, please feel free to add a comment on the bottom of the page with some information and links to pictures (if you have any that you would like to share).

1) Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G

I want to start out with a lens that I have a love and hate relationship with. On one side, the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G is one of the sharpest lenses ever produced by Nikon. It has phenomenal optics (center to corner, throughout the frame and aperture range), beautiful colors, super fast autofocus and an extremely useful focal range for wide-angle photography. On the other hand, it is a heavy, bulky and expensive lens that cannot accommodate filters. Sadly, not just circular filters and filter holders but pretty much any kind of hand-holdable filter. Its round front element shape and the built-in lens hood just make it impossible to use filters. Sure, you can buy a filter holder system from Lee and other manufacturers for this lens to accommodate filters, but it is not cheap and you would have to purchase a set of large 150mm filters, so forget about using your existing filters. I really wish Nikon allowed us to use small replaceable filters close to the lens mount, just like on telephoto lenses and this lens would have been irreplaceable.

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

[Read more...]

Nikon 1 10mm f/2.8 Review

1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8

This is an in-depth review of the new Nikon 1 10mm f/2.8 CX pancake lens, also known as “1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8″ that was announced on September 21, 2011 specifically for the new Nikon 1 system, together with three other lenses and the new Nikon V1 and J1 cameras. The Nikon 1 10mm f/2.8 is a consumer-grade pancake lens designed for the new Nikon 1 camera system. Designed to be an ideal companion for the compact Nikon J1 and V1 camera bodies, it is currently the smallest and the lightest lens from Nikon. With a fixed focal length of 10mm on the Nikon 1 CX sensor (2.7x crop factor), its coverage is equivalent to a 27mm lens in full-frame format.

1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8

[Read more...]

Nikon 1 10-30mm VR Review

1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6

This is an in-depth review of the new Nikon 1 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens, also known as “1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6″ that was announced on September 21, 2011 specifically for the new Nikon 1 system, together with three other lenses and the new Nikon V1 and J1 cameras. The Nikon 1 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 VR is a general-purpose consumer-grade lens designed for the new Nikon 1 camera system. It is bundled with the Nikon 1 V1 and Nikon 1 J1 cameras as a standard kit lens and cannot be purchased separately. With its focal length of 10-30mm on the Nikon 1 CX sensor (2.7x crop factor), its coverage is equivalent to a 27-81mm lens. The variable aperture of f/3.5-5.6 means that its maximum (largest) aperture changes between f/3.5 to f/5.6, depending on the focal length. It is a very lightweight lens, and similar to interchangeable lenses from other compact mirrorless camera manufacturers such as Olympus, the lens is collapsible, which also makes it quite compact for travel and transportation.

1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6

[Read more...]

Nikon 50mm f/1.4G Review

Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S

This is an in-depth review of one of my favorite prime lenses – the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G, which was announced back in September of 2008. For many years the focal length of 50mm lenses was considered a “standard” or “normal” focal length, because it closely resembles the perspective of the human eye. These lenses were widely popular on film cameras and the focal length was ideal for portraiture and everyday photography. As digital SLRs and zoom lenses started taking over the market, popularity of 50mm primes also decreased. The smaller size of APS-C sensors made the field of view of 50mm lenses narrower, while the flexibility of zoom lenses and their low price drove the demand towards convenience. Now that full frame digital cameras are getting more and more affordable, the once forgotten 50mm lenses are regaining their popularity among many photographers. In this review, I will provide a thorough analysis of the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lens, along with image samples and comparisons against other 50mm lenses from Nikon and Sigma.

Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S

The Nikon 50mm f/1.4G is a professional-grade lens for enthusiasts and pros that need a high quality lens for portraiture, food and everyday photography. Its large aperture of f/1.4 is great for low-light photography and the shallow depth of field helps isolate subjects from the background, beautifully rendering background highlights, also known as bokeh.

[Read more...]

What is Chromatic Aberration?

Longitudinal Chromatic Aberration

Chromatic Aberration, also known as “color fringing” or “purple fringing”, is a common optical problem that occurs when a lens is either unable to bring all wavelengths of color to the same focal plane, and/or when wavelengths of color are focused at different positions in the focal plane. Chromatic aberration is caused by lens dispersion, with different colors of light travelling at different speeds while passing through a lens. As a result, the image can look blurred or noticeable colored edges (red, green, blue, yellow, purple, magenta) can appear around objects, especially in high-contrast situations.

A perfect lens would focus all wavelengths into a single focal point, where the best focus with the “circle of least confusion” is located, as shown below:

Corrected Chromatic Aberration

[Read more...]

What is Focus Shift?

Focus Shift

Focus Shift is an optical problem that occurs due to Spherical Aberration, when an object is brought into focus at maximum aperture and captured with the lens stopped down. Focus shift can lead to blurry images and focus errors, when working with subjects at close distances and using fast aperture lenses. With the lens aperture fully open or “wide open”, incoming rays of light converge at different focal points due to spherical aberration along the optical axis, as shown in the top illustration below:

Focus Shift

[Read more...]

Nikon 40mm f/2.8G DX Review

Nikon 40mm f/2.8G DX

This is an in-depth review of the new Nikon 40mm f/2.8G DX macro / micro prime lens that was announced in July of 2011. The Nikon 40mm f/2.8G DX, also known as “AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G” is a consumer-grade lens for photo enthusiasts that need an affordable macro lens with good performance characteristics. In the current line of macro lens offerings from Nikon, this lens comes at the lowest price point and shortest focal length. With the former being good news, the latter can be a problem in some situations, specifically when approaching subjects very closely (read more on this issue below). With the current great fast aperture prime lens line from Nikon such as Nikon 35mm f/1.8G and Nikon 50mm f/1.8G, one might wonder what the Nikon 40mm f/2.8G DX has to offer that the other primes cannot accomplish. How does it differ from other affordable primes? In this review, I will talk about the capabilities of the Nikon 40mm f/2.8G DX and provide a detailed report on its strengths and weaknesses, along with a summary of thoughts about the lens based on my two month experience with it.

Nikon 40mm f/2.8G DX

[Read more...]

Nikon 400mm f/2.8G VR Review

Nikon 400mm f/2.8G ED VR

This is an in-depth review of the Nikon 400mm f/2.8G ED VR lens that was released in August of 2007, along with Nikon D3 and two other exotic super telephoto lenses. In this review, I will not only provide general information about the Nikon 400mm f/2.8 VR and its performance, but also how it works with all current Nikon teleconverters (TC-14E II, TC-17E II and TC-20E III) and how it compares to other telephoto lenses such as Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II, Nikon 200-400mm f/4G VR, Nikon 300mm f/4 AF-S, Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II and Nikon 500mm f/4G VR. The Nikon 500mm f/4G VR was kindly provided by Pro Photo Rental – a great lens rental company based out of Boulder, CO.

Nikon 400mm f/2.8G ED VR

[Read more...]

What is Spherical Aberration?

Spherical Aberration

Spherical Aberration is an optical problem that occurs when all incoming light rays end up focusing at different points after passing through a spherical surface. Light rays passing through a lens near its horizontal axis are refracted less than rays closer to the edge or “periphery” of the lens and as a result, end up in different spots across the optical axis. In other words, the parallel light rays of incoming light do not converge at the same point after passing through the lens. Because of this, Spherical Aberration can affect resolution and clarity, making it hard to obtain sharp images. Here is an illustration that shows Spherical Aberration:

Spherical Aberration

As shown above, light rays refract or change their angle when passing through the lens. The ones closer to the top and the bottom of the illustration end up converging at a shorter distance along the optical axis (black/red dotted line), while the ones closer to the optical axis converge at a longer distance, creating different focal points along the same axis. The point of best focus with the “circle of least confusion” is illustrated as the thick green line. Spherical Aberration is not just caused by lens design, but also by the quality of the lens material. Lenses made of poor quality material and large bubbles can drastically impact light refraction.

[Read more...]