The title of this article closely resembles a Tarantino movie (and I originally wrote this close to Halloween weekend), but this is another story. It is a story that speaks of lenses, filters and the people behind them. And it describes the difficulties of doing a review when time and the weather aren’t cooperating with you. What you will read is not like a classic review of the new IRIX 15mm f/2.4, but something slightly different. It may deviate from a “normal” technical review, but I think you’ll still get a really good idea of what I think about the lens.
This is an in-depth review of the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S lens that was announced with three other lenses in August of 2010. Ever since the manual focus AI-s version of the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens was introduced back in 1981, the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lenses have been used as references for superb sharpness, best-looking bokeh and beautiful color renditions. The last autofocus AF-D version of the lens produced in 1995, the Nikon 85mm f/1.4D, was often called the “king of bokeh”, yielding extremely pleasing out-of-focus areas, in addition to producing sharp, colorful images when shooting wide open. Its legendary performance made the Nikon 85mm f/1.4D lens a must-have for portrait photographers and many professionals heavily relied on this lens for many years for their commercial work (and some still do). The Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G lens is the latest update to the 85mm f/1.4 line, which replaced the outdated AF-D version with newer optical and technology innovations from Nikon. In this review, I will not only provide information on the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G lens, but will also compare it to both the older Nikon 85mm f/1.4D and the lighter and smaller Nikon 85mm f/1.8G.
This is an in-depth review of the Nikon 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens that was released in August of 2010. The constant maximum aperture, mid-range Nikon 24-120mm f/4 VR zoom lens was a major update to the Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G VR, which had been known at the time for being a sub-par lens optically. Shortly after the 24-120mm f/4G VR was announced, Nikon discontinued its variable-aperture predecessor and made the 24-120mm f/4G VR into a premium kit lens to be bundled with higher-end full-frame cameras. I have been using the Nikon 24-120mm f/4G VR for a number of years now and I decided to update the existing review with more image samples, additional information and up-to-date lab measurements.
It took Nikon nine years to finally release an update to its popular workhorse standard zoom lens in the form of the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR, which gained a few new features compared to its predecessor, including the much desired image stabilization. Nikon engineers have always put extra effort and emphasis on updated professional-grade lens designs, typically delivering outstanding performance. However, the release of the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens has been one of the most controversial in Nikon’s recent history, thanks to the negative attention it received from the photography community. Many reviewers criticized the lens heavily for its performance, claiming it to be a soft lens when compared to its predecessor, the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G. And some even put it as the winner in the “worst lens release of 2015” category. Did Nikon engineers really screw up in updating one of the most popular pro-grade lenses? That’s exactly what I wanted to find out when I started reviewing the 24-70mm f/2.8E VR lens.
This is an in-depth review of the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lens that was released back in August of 2007 together with the 14-24mm f/2.8G ED lens. I have owned a number of different copies of the Nikon 24-70mm for many years, pretty much from the day the lens was announced and I have probably spent the most amount of time in the field shooting with this lens. Since it is a workhorse pro-level lens, I have used it for many different types of photography – from portraiture to landscapes. I have used it in hot summer days and freezing sub-zero temperatures; carried it from wet and humid climates to dry and dusty environments. Throughout many years of use and abuse, the 24-70mm f/2.8G ED has never let me down, so overtime, it became one of my most used Nikkor zoom lenses in my arsenal.
Recently I’ve been experiencing one of those existential photo crises. Low motivation, cliché results, slumping Instagram likes. When I get bummed about my photography I do what any self-respecting unprofessional photographer would do – put on some soft jazz, pour myself a fine single malt, then pull out my favorite Zeiss lens chart results and pleasure myself. But even that didn’t make me feel better. What’s a listless soul-wrenched photographer to do? Ha, I know what will do the trick – no better way to demonstrate my photographic élan and self-assurance than to dis on a kit lens.
It has been 15 years since Nikon produced the last iteration of its budget 300mm lens, so the new Nikkor 300mm f/4E PF ED VR was something many enthusiasts and professionals have been patiently waiting for. Although the previous generation Nikkor 300mm f/4D AF-S is an excellent lens optically, it lacks image stabilization, new generation coating and other new technologies that Nikon has been integrating into modern lenses. I have personally been a huge fan of the 300mm f/4D AF-S lens and have owned it for many years, loving the lens for its superb optical performance, fast autofocus, light weight and compact size, making it my ultimate travel lens for wildlife photography – a perfect companion for hand-held shooting. Because it was so good with the 1.4x teleconverter, I practically always kept the teleconverter attached to the lens, making it a very nice 420mm f/5.6 combination. When Nikon finally announced the new 300mm f/4E VR lens, I got very excited, because Nikon completely redesigned the lens. In fact, with close to a 50% reduction in weight and a 30% reduction in physical size, we are not dealing with another redesign or update – this is a completely different lens.
UPDATE: The review has been updated – missing Imatest charts and lens comparisons have been added based on two additional lens samples.
Ever since Nikon debuted the 24mm f/1.4G ED lens five years ago, the lens has been a popular choice among professionals and serious amateurs, thanks to its excellent optical formula and coating technologies that yield crisp and pleasing images. However, its high price point and the relatively heavy weight made it a rather specialized tool, so a cheaper and lighter f/1.8 version of the lens was much needed to complement the 20mm f/1.8G and the 28mm f/1.8G lenses. Nikon filled this gap with the Nikkor 24mm f/1.8G ED in August of 2015, finally addressing the needs of many photographers like me, who had been wanting such a lens for a while now. When I finally received my copy of the lens, I wondered how it would compare optically not only to its older f/1.4G brother (which I used to own and love), but also to other popular 24mm primes such as the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art and the Samyang 24mm f/1.4. After getting a hold of all three, I hit the road with the purpose to find out which lens would serve as my dedicated 24mm prime in the future. In this review, I will not only discuss the Nikon 24mm f/1.8G lens in detail, but also compare it to the above-mentioned 24mm primes.
For many years, Nikon has been limiting affordable super telephoto zoom lenses above 300mm to the 80-400mm VR lens, while keeping its high-end super telephoto line of zoom and prime lenses available only for those with deep pockets. With Tamron and Sigma pushing great budget-friendly 150-600mm options, Nikon finally decided to release its first constant-aperture super telephoto zoom competitor in August of 2015. Specifically designed for beginner and enthusiast wildlife / sports photographers, the new Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR became the first hand-holdable Nikon lens to reach 500mm at a relatively low price point of $1,399. This offering, coupled with the upcoming Nikon D500 DSLR (see our D500 announcement post) makes a killer combination for action photography. With an equivalent field of view of 300-750mm and the capability to shoot fast action at up to 10 frames per second on the D500, the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E VR is definitely going to become one of the most popular lenses in Nikon’s lens line-up, thanks to its versatility and reach. Although our team at Photography Life has not had a chance to test this particular combination due to unavailability of the D500 in the US, we have been actively using the lens on camera bodies like the Nikon D7200, D750, D810 and D4S for this particular review. We are planning to write a follow-up article covering the use of the lens on the Nikon D500, once we get our hands on the camera. Meanwhile, please enjoy the review of the Nikon 200-500mm VR lens, along with comparisons to Tamron 150-600mm VC, Sigma 150-600mm C / Sport and Nikon 80-400mm VR lenses.
Although Tamron pioneered the release of the first 150-600mm lens, Sigma followed suit by releasing two versions of lenses with exactly the same focal length and aperture ranges. The smaller and lighter version, the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary (the one we are reviewing today), targets the same market as the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, while the much larger and heavier “Sport” version is something unique to Sigma, with no other equivalent competing offers from any other manufacturer. Being able to reach 600mm without spending a lot of money has been a big dream of many wildlife photographers on a budget, because anything close to the 600mm range typically translates to a very large expense – as much as $12K for the latest generation 600mm f/4 lenses. While the current 150-600mm lenses cannot offer the maximum aperture of f/4, they give a huge focal range to work with, which can be particularly useful when photographing subjects at varying distances. As many 600mm prime lens owners know, shooting with long glass is not an easy task due to both weight and atmospheric haze concerns. Such lenses can be quite limiting when the action is close, such as when photographing bears in Alaska, or taking pictures on an African safari. For such occasions, many pros love the 200-400mm f/4 lenses, because they give that flexibility to shoot action at both close and long distances. However, the high cost and the weight concerns are still there, making such lenses prohibitive for budget-conscious enthusiasts and pros who prefer shooting hand-held. And that’s when the 150-600mm lenses come to the rescue, offering great performance in a lightweight and relatively low-budget package. At just over $1K and a total weight of 1930 grams (4.25 pounds), the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary is a very attractive lens for sports and wildlife photographers. In this review, we will be taking a closer look at this lens and compare it to the Tamron 150-600mm lens that we previously reviewed and loved.