Category Archives: Gear

Hands-on review: Nikon 16-35mm f/4.0 AFS VR G zoom lens

L to R: 14-24mm f/2.8, 16-35mm f/4 and 17-35 f/2.8 Nikkor zooms

I received my copy of the much-anticipated 16-35mm f/4.0 AFS VR G zoom Nikkor lens last week, and I have done some preliminary testing.  My basic tests fall into the following categories:

  • Build/Handling
  • Optical Performance
  • Comparisons with other lenses

For this test, I compared the new super wide-angle zoom with its Nikon competition for FX:

Both of these lenses are generally considered to be high-end “pro” glass, and they each cost significantly more than the 16-35mm VR.

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Continue reading Hands-on review: Nikon 16-35mm f/4.0 AFS VR G zoom lens

Going long: Shooting with the Nikkor 600/4 VR and TC-20EIII

Odell_20100212_5225.JPGI finally got a little time (and sunshine) to head out to the local nature center to fiddle around with my 600mm VR lens and try it with the TC-20E III.  When you are using long lenses, tripods are absolutely mandatory; hand-holding is not at all feasible (well, maybe if you pump iron like Ah-nold).

I started off with my normal combo for small birds: 600mm + TC-14E. This gives an effective 840mm focal length on my FX Nikon D3s. The TC-14E only costs one stop of light, so my lens behaves as though it were f/5.6 instead of f/4 when it is wide-open.  I’ve used this combination several times in the past, and it works really well.  I get sharp images and AF performance is still very fast and accurate.

Continue reading Going long: Shooting with the Nikkor 600/4 VR and TC-20EIII

Two new wide-angle Nikkors announced

Nikon today has announced the release of two new wide angle lenses.

  • 24mm f/1.4 AFS G Nikkor
  • 16-35 f/4.0 AFS G VR Nikkor

These lenses are both designed for FX (full-frame) bodies, meaning that they will also work on DX (APS-C) bodies.  The 16-35mm adds an image-stabilized option to the wideangle zoom lineup, and it lists for significantly less than the 17-35mm AFS ($1259 vs. $1760 in the USA).

The 24mm f/1.4 AFS Nikkor is a long-awaited replacement to the 28mm f/1.4 AF-D lens that sells used for ridiculous prices (over $3000).  The 24mm f/1.4 AFS lens will allow photographers to have very creative depth of field options and incredible low-light performance, especially on a body like the D3 or D700.  The new 24mm f/1.4 lens has a suggested price of $2199 in the USA.
The good news here:  if you need a super-wide zoom that can accept 77mm front filters and don’t need the fastest aperture (ie, if you are a landscape photographer), then the 16-35mm VR is for you.  In addition, the new 24mm f/1.4 lens is priced considerably lower than the 28mm model it replaces sells for on the used market, so expect the price of used 28mm f/1.4 lenses to drop precipitously.

Quick thoughts: TC-20E III

I received a Nikon TC-20E III teleconverter a few days ago.  I’ve not really been an advocate of 2x teleconverters, but this new design from Nikon contains aspherical elements (Nikon claims it is the first teleconverter with such a design) intended to drastically improve performance.

A 2x teleconverter is only intended for use on fast telephoto lenses.  In fact, Nikon’s design prevents mounting any of their teleconverters on non-AFS lenses.  Because the teleconverter robs you of light (in the case of the TC-20E III, two full stops), autofocus performance may degrade and viewfinder brightness will diminish.  Given that, I only have a couple of lenses in my arsenal that would be a good match for the TC-20E III:
  • 70-200mm f/2.8 AFS VRII (becomes a 140-400mm f/5.6 lens)
  • 200mm f/2.0 AFS VR (becomes a 400mm f/4.0 lens)
I also have a few lenses that might work ok, depending on my need for fast autofocus:
  • 300mm f/4.0 AFS (becomes 600mm f/8.0 lens)
  • 200-400mm f/4.0 AFS VR (becomes a 400-800mm f/8.0 lens)
  • 600mm f/4.0 AFS VR (becomes a 1200mm f/8.0 lens)
So far, I’ve briefly evaluated sharpness and AF ability with each of these lenses in a non-scientific manner.
Continue reading for my first impressions…

Continue reading Quick thoughts: TC-20E III

Out of the blue: New Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 AFS VRII and TC-20E III

How many of us saw this coming? In a very late-year announcement, Nikon have announced two new products: a new 300mm f/2.8G AFS VRII prime and a brand new 2x teleconverter, the TC-20EIII.

The new 300mm lens has the improved VRII system, which is said to offer stabilization equivalent to a shutter speed 4-stops faster.  Based on my initial results with the 70-200VRII, I’d say the VRII system lives up to this claim.
More after the jump…

Continue reading Out of the blue: New Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 AFS VRII and TC-20E III