Category Archives: Gear

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.
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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

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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

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Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.G AFS VR II first impressions

I received my new 70-200mm AFS VR II Zoom Nikkor lens last week from Roberts Imaging after being on the waiting list since day one. Here are my first impressions using the new lens.

General Handling
The new 70-200VR is slightly shorter and fatter than the VRI, but doesn’t seem too big.  In fact, I think it feels just right in the hand.  The MF ring is smaller, and this feature, combined with a new A/M AF mode, means that you’ll be unlikely to accidentally engage MF during AF usage by bumping the MF ring.  Gone are the AF activation buttons on the end of the lens barrel (I didn’t use those on my old VRI, anyway).  The tripod foot is the same as the original, and can be replaced with an Arca-Swiss foot from RRS or Kirk— I was able to use my old foot on the new lens.
More after the jump…

Continue reading Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.G AFS VR II first impressions

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New Nikon D3s, 85mm DX Micro announced

Well, it’s official.  The much-rumored Nikon D3s has now been announced, along with a new DX-format macro (micro) lens. 

The big news on the D3s is that the sensor has been tweaked to offer an in-spec ISO range of 200-12,800!  The Hi-range mode now goes to Hi-3, or the equivalent of ISO 102,400!  Of course, keep in mind that the “Hi” range in all Nikon DSLRs should be considered an “emergency” mode– good for low-res or black and white images when ANY shot is better than no shot at all.
Other cool features of the D3s:
  • HD (720p) movie mode
  • Integrated sensor cleaning (sonic)
  • “Quiet mode” release– I agree that the original D3 is pretty loud compared to other Nikon DSLRs
  • Expanded buffer supports 42 NEFs in continuous shooting
  • 1.2 (8MP) crop mode
  • Better battery life (4200 shots)

Also announced today is a new 85mm VR macro lens dedicated to DX shooters. The 85mm focal length is approximately equivalent to a 127mm angle of view on 35mm cameras, so this new lens is not a 105mm replacement for DX shooters. However, the lens has VR II image stabilization. Because it is a DX lens, it will not cover the full-frame FX format unless you use cropped mode on a D3/D700.
Editorial commentary after the jump.

Continue reading New Nikon D3s, 85mm DX Micro announced

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