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.
I never did completely lose faith. I think in the end it was probably just myself, Thom Hogan and one or two others – the true believers. Nikon would give us a legitimate successor to the D300S. I think that the many who told us to give up and move on to FX because DX is dead, or that the D7200 was the real D300S replacement, perhaps missed the point. The D7200 is an absolutely excellent camera, but I have always thought it pretty obvious that Nikon was holding back on the D7x00 series. And as far as moving on to FX, well we were already there shooting D4s, D800s, etc., but looking back to DX for the potential advantages that a smaller format, high-performance body could bring to shooting wildlife and other action. There was room at the top of the DX model lineup for a specialist camera and now we have it – the
D400 D500. Nevertheless, I was caught off-guard, along with most people I think, when the D500 was announced alongside the D5 in early 2016. We all knew the D5 was coming, but just how did Nikon manage to keep the D500 a secret?
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.
When testing out the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G, I really wanted to get a hold of the legendary Noct-NIKKOR 58mm f/1.2 lens to see how the two lenses from different generations compare optically. Unfortunately, I could not obtain a good sample of the Noct-NIKKOR at the time, but after scouting eBay for a while, I finally found a pristine copy of the lens from a photographer in California. Being a collector item, the lens was barely used and had been sitting for years in a closet – exactly what I had been wanting to get. I really wanted to make sure that the lens performed as close to its original specifications as possible, because I was on the quest to measure its optical performance, particularly at its super wide f/1.2 aperture. Let’s take a look at the lens in more detail.
The Nikon D7200 is Nikon’s newly released top-of-the-DX-line DSLR. With the D7200, Nikon is holding firm in their conviction that their flagship DX model should cost $1200, the same price as the D7100 at its introduction. Compared to the D7100, the D7200 has nearly three times the buffer, an improved AF-system, the latest EXPEED 4 processor and a bunch of other nice features, especially for video shooters. Let’s check some specs, but first a warning – Nikon released the D7200 right at prime mating season in Arizona. Birds and bees were being birds and bees. This could be our sexiest review yet.
Ever since Nikon announced the introduction of the Nikon 1 V3 back in March of 2014 the camera has been met with mixed reactions. Some of the design choices made with this camera left many photographers scratching their heads wondering what the engineers at Nikon were thinking when they put the concept for the Nikon 1 V3 together. Specifically many people questioned the use of a microSD memory card, making the EVF and grip detachable, introducing yet another new battery, and coupling the Nikon 1 V3 with a new 10-30 PD zoom that does not accept filters. As a result many people simply dismissed the Nikon 1 V3 out-of-hand and did not give it a serious look. That is unfortunate since the Nikon 1 V3 actually is a very good camera that brings a lot of new features and capabilities to the Nikon 1 system. It’s too bad that the camera did it in a three-steps-forward two-steps-back kind of way. Had Nikon not made those rather quirky design choices I think the camera would have been met with a much stronger and more positive reaction from the marketplace.
It has been 30 years since Nikon first introduced the original Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 Ai-S lens and long 20 years since the autofocus version, the Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D was released to the market. Since then, the 20mm prime sadly did not receive much attention, so it was about time for Nikon to refresh the line with a modern version. Nikon finally revealed a replacement on September 12, 2014 and the new lens came with a nice surprise – the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED is not only completely revamped in terms of optical design, but it is also 1.3 stops faster than its predecessors. Personally, I have been very interested in checking out the new 20mm f/1.8G lens, because I found the 28mm f/1.8G to be a bit too long for my taste. And although I love my 24mm f/1.4G (see my detailed review here), it is pretty expensive and often quite heavy to carry around. Thus, a wider, lighter and much less expensive lens sounded very appealing to me. I have had the joy of shooting with the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G for the past three months and as you will see in this review, the lens deserves high praises for its superb optical performance. Without giving any more spoilers, let’s jump into the review and see where and how it shines.
After Nikon introduced the super lightweight and inexpensive Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G lens for DX cameras, many Nikon shooters started requesting a similar lens for full-frame cameras. Those who did not want to spend over $1500 on the professional Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G did not have a lot of options from Nikon aside from either using the 35mm f/1.8G DX lens on full-frame, or using the older Nikkor 35mm f/2D lens. Sigma’s timing on the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art was spot on for a number of people with its lower price point and superb optical performance, but it also came with both size and bulk considerations. On January 6 2014, Nikon finally announced the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G ED lens to fill that gap. At $599 MSRP, the lens is not only significantly cheaper than the f/1.4 version, but it is also twice lighter and more compact. I had a chance to use this lens for a few months this year and although I could not work on a full review earlier due to time constraints and other commitments, I was very pleased with its optical performance.
The past 12 months has seen some very interesting developments in the ultra-zoom lens market with the launch of the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 VC and two new 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lenses from Sigma. These lenses, combined with the Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 (both the old and new version), Nikkor 80-400 f/4.5-5.6 VR, Sigma 150-500 f/5-6.3, and Sigma 50-500 f/5-6.3 give buyers a larger selection of reasonably affordable long telephoto zoom lens options than ever before. But there is at least one aspect that is shared between all these lenses despite different brands and parameters – they are all enormous. In this particular review, however, I am going to talk about what is the smallest lens of this class for interchangeable lens cameras, and that is the diminutive (in comparison to the others) 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 which has an equivalent field of view of 189-810mm.