Nighttime photography is something that a lot of photographers enjoy; I certainly do, along with countless others. Modern cameras can capture more detail at night than we can see with our naked eyes, revealing entire worlds that couldn’t exist otherwise. However, more than almost any other genre, night photography also challenges your camera equipment to its most extreme. In this article, I will go through some of the top lenses for Nikon cameras if you want to take pictures at night, including information about their low-light performance and depth of field. I cover 20 lenses in this article, so it’s pretty extensive — hopefully, you’ll learn something new about the equipment you need in order to capture good star and nighttime landscape photos.
Happy holidays dear PL readers! While Spencer and I are still going through all the images we have taken in New Zealand and spending some time with our families, I wanted to mention a killer deal that will be expiring tonight. The full-frame Nikon D750 DSLR (see our detailed Nikon D750 review) camera kit with the 24-120mm f/4G VR lens (recently updated Nikon 24-120mm f/4G VR review) is currently being promoted by Nikon with the free MB-D16 grip / multi-battery pack. On top of this, B&H has pitched in with an additional product to promote this deal even further – they are bundling a few different accessory options, such as a 4 TB external hard drive by Western Digital + 64 GB SanDisk SDXC memory card (my preferred option) or a Rode microphone to give an instant savings of $820. This deal is a real steal, especially considering how superb the D750 camera is, especially when coupled with the 24-120mm f/4G VR. Today is the last day when you can take advantage of this deal, since it will expire at 11:59 PM EST (December 24, 2016).
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.
While John and I were attending the Photo Plus show in New York, we had an opportunity to interview Lindsay Silverman, Senior Product Manager at Nikon USA. The highlight of the show were obviously the newly announced Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR, along with the 19mm f/4E PC-E lenses. Both are premium offerings specifically targeted towards working professionals, so we could definitely see quite a bit of people approaching the Nikon booth to see pre-production samples of these lenses. Although we have already provided our initial report on the handling concerns when using the new 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR, in this particular interview, Lindsay explains the reasoning behind the swapping of the zoom and focus rings. According to him, the new change is actually better for handling, as detailed below:
With Nikon announcing the new 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR just two days ago, it was a bit surprising for us to see a pre-production sample circulating at the Nikon booth at the PhotoPlus Expo today. We had a chance to check out the lens and while we were not allowed to take any pictures with it, Nikon allowed us to do a quick video about the handling aspect of the lens. I was certainly concerned about the reversal of the zoom and focus rings on the new 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR and today John and I were able to see whether it presents a potential problem with handling. Unfortunately, both us were in agreement, that it was not a good decision on behalf of Nikon to make this design change.
Every seven to ten years, Nikon updates its top-of-the-line, flagship lenses with the most current technology and tries to push the performance envelope of new lenses to their new technical limits. We have been waiting for this update for a long time and Nikon finally delivered the new AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR. As expected, this lens looks absolutely stunning in every way. Nikon completely redesigned the lens from the ground up and delivered a true stunner – the new 70-200mm f/2.8 now features a fluorite element to make it roughly 100 grams lighter (which is a huge achievement for this type of a lens). The lens is now of “E” type with an electronic diaphragm, instead of the traditional mechanical lever to change aperture. Vibration Reduction / Image Stabilization has been reworked and vastly improved over its predecessor, with up to 4 stops of compensation. The lens is now comprised of a total of 22 elements, with all the latest coating technologies, including Nano and fluorine coating applied to lens elements, with lens optimized for incredible sharpness across the frame. And based on improvements towards maximum reproduction ratio, it looks like Nikon took efforts to significantly reduce the focus breathing issue that was present on the VR II version of the lens. All this does not come cheap though – the new Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR will retail for $2,799.95 MSRP, which is $400 higher than what its predecessor sold at when it was announced.
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.
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.
I am currently in Death Valley NP, shooting with a bunch of new gear including the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E VR, so I wanted to provide my early thoughts on this lens. Some of our readers sent me concerned emails, asking what I think about the 24-70mm f/2.8E VR, since apparently some others were quite unimpressed with this lens, even putting it into the category of “one of the worst lens releases of 2015”. I am not sure where these statements come from (sadly, my Internet connection here is really bad), but based on two samples of the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E VR that I currently have access to, the new updated version seems to be an absolute gem. Based on my limited time pixel-peeping some of the images I have captured so far, it seems like Nikon has optimized the new 24-70mm differently when compared to its predecessor.
With the Black Friday and Cyber Monday super-sale days approaching, manufacturers and retailers have been making advanced preparations to make it more than just a single day or two-day sale event. Today, both Nikon and Canon are offering something truly appealing for those who are just starting out. The Nikon D3200 combo with two kit lenses is discounted by a whopping $480 to bring the deal down to $396.95, which is a steal! If you have family members who are interested in photography (I am thinking of buying this kit for my son), this would make a very nice holiday gift. And price-wise, the 55-200mm VR II alone retails for $350 and if you add the price of the 18-55mm VR II, you are already at $600, so in this case, Nikon is not only giving away the D3200, but you are also getting a $200 reward for buying this entry-level kit!