Nikon Lenses
This section comprises of the Nikon lenses that I have personally used at some point in time. My rating is based on the summary of factors. Such as quality of the pictures in terms of sharpness and contrast, usability, distortions and what it has been designed to do, i.e. macro.
AFAuto-focus lens
AI, AISManual focus lens with auto-indexing (aperture reading)
E SeriesLower-end AI consumer lenses, however some produce amazing image quality
EDExtra-Low Dispersion glass (prevents chromatic aberration)
DDistance information for the camera (supports 3-D metering)
DXDigital lenses, meaning to suit digital cameras with a smaller than 35mm sensor
GNo aperture ring.
IFInternal focusing (the length of the lens does not change during focusing)
SSilent Wave auto-focusing (quiet and fast internal focusing)
KK-type lenses briefly existed prior to AI. Newer design and very well built
VRVibration Reduction (allows hand-holding at slower shutter speeds)
Fish eye
16mm f2.8 AF-DrarelyVery goodSmall and well built. Flares easily. Distortions are high. Resolution is fine but not great.
Wide angle
12-24mm f4 G IF-ED AF-S DXoccasionallyVery goodWell built. Works properly only on digital SLRs. Reasonable fast autofocus.
Distortions are present but well controlled through the range.
Limitations being primarily slower aperture thus harder to use indoors as viewfinder gets darker.
17-35mm f2.8 AF-S IF EDoftenVery goodPro-built. Fast auto-focus. Can be used on film and digital SLRs.
The light fall off is quite visible on digital compare to 17-55mm f2.8
Distrortions are not as pronounced as with 17-55mm f2.8 on digital.
Good for landscape, architecture and indoors.
17-55mm f2.8 AF-S IF ED DXoftenVery goodPro-built. Fast auto-focus. Limited to digital SLRs. Distortions are noticable even at 55mm.
The quality of the pictures is great if you can put up with distortions. Used for parties.
Not so good for portraits. Suitable for taking pictures of groups of kids. Good for landscape, architecture and indoors.
18mm f3.5 AISrarelyVery GoodGreat landscape lens! Minimum distortions! Need to stop down to f11 for best results.
18-35mm f3.5-4.5 AF D ED IFrarelyGoodPro-built in appearance. Fast auto-focus. Not quite in the same league as 17-55mm f2.8 in terms of image quality.
18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AF-S ED DXrarelyAverageAverage contrast and color reproduction. Fast focusing and reasonably sharp. Lacks a punch. Poor build.
18-200mm F3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VRoccasionallyVery goodWell built. Fast auto-focus. Limited to digital SLRs.
Having Vibration Reduction helps to shoot stationary objects at lower speeds hand-held.
The quality of the pictures is very good, although slightly soft at 200mm. Great zoom range allows to have all-in-one lens.
Good as a walk-around lens but has limitations. For specific tasks better use specialised lenses.
20mm f2.8 AISoccasionallyVery goodVignets wide open. Needs to be stopped down for great results. Features close focusing.
20mm f2.8 D AFoccasionallyVery goodGood built quality. Produces excellent photos. Good for tight places. Close focusing distance enables to take pictures with good depth of field.
20mm f3.5 AISoccasionallyVery goodSmall well-built metal lens. Produces sharp photos.
20mm f4 AIoccasionallyVery GoodSmall and sharp. Due to small aperture it is hard to focus indoors.
24mm f2 AISrarelyExcellentFast and sharp. Top lens.
24mm f2.8 AIrarelyVery goodGood quality solid lens. Very sharp. Field curvature is apparent.
24mm f2.8 AFrarelyVery goodWell built. Appears to be slightly softer than its AI Manual Focus cousin.
24-50mm AF f3.3-4.5occasionallyGood Visible barrel distortions. Fine sharpness when stopped down.
24-70mm f2.8 AF-S ED GoftenExcellentRazor sharp. Well controlled distortions. Pro-optics and build.
24-85mm f2.8-4 AF D IFrarelyVery GoodThis lens is faster than your average consumer lens. It has good sharpness and resolution characteristics.
24-85mm f3.5-4.5 AF-S ED-IFrarelyGoodDespite all the latest technology being used on this lens, it is a consumer lens and the results are good but not excellent.
24-120mm f3.5-5.6 D AFoccasionallyGoodGood zoom range, good but not outstanding quality. Can achieve better results by stopping the lens down.
25-50mm f4 AI-SoccasionallyVery GoodNice heavy solid lens. Quite slow. When all paramaters are right the photos are amazing!
28mm f2 AIoccasionallyVery GoodFast lens! A bit soft wide open. Small barrel distortions are evident.
28mm f2 AISoccasionallyVery GoodVery similar to AI version but focuses closer!
28mm f2.8 AIoccasionallyVery GoodVery good sharpness at close distances! The wide-angle of the lens is affected by 1.5x multiplication factor of digital sensor.Becomes closer to normal but with barrel distortions.
28mm f2.8 Series EoccasionallyVery GoodCompact. Very good sharpness and resolution. No close focusing.
28mm f2.8 AISoccasionallyExcellentExcellent sharpness! Close focus. Well controlled barrel distortions.
28mm f3.5 AISoccasionallyGoodGood, but slightly slower lens.
28-50mm f3.5 AISoccasionallyVery GoodSmall and sharp lens. Barrel distortions at the wider end is a let down.
28-70mm f2.8 D IF-ED AF-SoccasionallyExcellentGreat professional quality lens! Ideal for parties and events. Good for close portraits. A bit too short for a telephoto. Sample variation exists.
28-70mm f3.5-4.5 DrarelyVery GoodSurpisingly good for a consumer lens! Very sharp at the longer end. Performs great at f5.6.
28-80mm f3.3-5.6 D AF GrarelyAverageA bit slow but optically a good performer. Flimsy plastic construction is a let down.
28-100mm f3.5-5.6 D AF GrarelyAverageBudget plastic lens.
28-105mm f3.5-4.5 D AF ED IFrarelyVery GoodFast focus. Great sharpness at the longer end. Good for portraits. Average at wide-angle shots. Has a decent Macro capability with close focus.
28-200mm f3.5-5.6 D AF IFrarelyAverageGreat zoom range. Slow focus. Does not focus very close.
35mm f2 AF DoftenExcellentThumbs up for this lens! Often under-rated or replaced by slower and lesser quality zooms.
Produces sharp and contrasty pictures. Small and light but well built. Barrel distortions are present but well controlled. Becomes a "normal" lens, like 50mm for 35mm photography but with more distortions.
35mm f2.8 AISoftenVery GoodSolid sharp metal lens.
35-70mm f2.8 AF-DoftenExcellentSolid metal body. Sharp with low distortions. Reasonable close focusing.
35-70mm f3.5 AIrarelyGoodSolid metal body. Good sharpness and no distortions.
35-70mm f3.5 AISrarelyVery GoodSimilar to AI but with close focusing (macro) at 70mm.
35-70mm f3.3-4.5 AFoftenGoodPlastic basic zoom. Limited range. Quality is surprisingly good for such a consumer made lens. Aperture range is limiting. Hard to manual focus.
35-80mm f4-5.6 AF-DoftenVery goodPlastic lens. Quality is very good when stopped down. Nice and small.
50mm f1.2 AIrarelyAverageThe whole idea of this lens is to be fast, so you can shoot wide open indoors and get good quality pictures.
For whatever reason my sample produced very average rather soft photos. It is big and heavy with metal body.
The question is if you can't get quality at f1.2 why not use a much cheaper, lighter 50mm f1.8 that produces good quality results at f1.8?
50mm f1.4 AI/AI-SrarelyAverageFast lens, but quite soft wide open. Metal body. Manual focus.
50mm f1.4 AF DoftenExcellentFast lens but a bit soft wide open. Achieves good sharpness by f2.8. More solid construction than 50mm f1.8.
50mm f1.8 ErarelyGoodSimple design, small in size. Manual focus.
50mm f1.8 AIrarelyVery GoodSolid metal. Japanese version focuses down to 0.4m.
50mm f1.8 AFrarelyVery goodThis lens I would use for speed mainly. It is good at f1.8 but not outstanding. The lens becomes 75mm on a digital body which is not quite long enough to be a portrait lens and a bit too long for a normal lens.
50mm f1.8 AF DrarelyVery goodSame as the non-D version. Small barrel distortion can be seen at close distances.
35-135mm f4.5-5.6 AFrarelyGoodNice heavy metal body. Good range.
50-135mm f3.5 AISrarelyGoodOptically sharp but handling is not easy, especially switching to macro mode.
50-300mm f4.5 EDrarelyVery GoodAn older manual focus lens. Quite bulky. Delivers outstanding results throughout the entire range at close distances (around 4m).
The use of tripod or monopod is recommended.
70-210mm f4 AIS E SeriesoccasionallyGoodVery good sharpness and contrast. As many Series E lenses the focusing/zoom ring can be a bit loose.
70-210mm f4 AFoccasionallyGoodConsiderably size and weight. Constant aperture. Well built. Unexciting performance.
70-210mm f4-5.6 AFoftenVery GoodWell made push-pull lens with metal barrel. Delivers crispy photos even wide open! The focusing is quite quick. Despite the older design it is my preference over more modern 70-300mm lens.
70-210mm f4-5.6 AF-DoccasionallyVery GoodSame as above but faster focusing.
70-300mm f4-5.6 AF D EDoftenGoodAn inexpensive lens; good for the beginner as it allows to experiment with different focal length. It is good to use outside. But inside the lens will not focus quickly and will definitely require a flash.
70-300mm AF f4-5.6 GrarelyAverageVery similar to its predecessor above. Light and plastic body. No aperture ring and can be used on a limited number of cameras. But this lens is very cheap!
75-150mm f3.5 EoccasionallyVery goodGreat lens with a very good sharpness and contrast. The only downside is the push-pull zoom that can be quite lose at times.
80-200mm f2.8 AF DoccasionallyExcellentFast auto-focus, excellent sharpness and contrast. Good for portraits and landscape shots.
80-200mm f2.8 AF-S DrarelyVery goodVery fast auto-focus, excellent sharpness and contrast. Heavy and bulky.
My sample appeared less sharper than its non-AFS cousin wide-open.
80-200mm f4 AISrarelyVery goodLives up to its reputation. Sharp and good color rendition.
80-200mm f4.5 AIrarelyGoodSharp even wide open. Slow and heavy. Nice balanced focusing.
80-200mm f4.5-5.6 AF-DrarelyGoodLight and plasticky. Good but not outstanding optics.
80-400mm 4.5-5.6D AF ED VRoftenVery goodVery good but not outstanding optics. Very good outdoors. Not for action photography as auto-focus is a on the slower side.
Allows to shoot still or slow-moving objects at slow speeds hand-held. Hard to freeze action as aperture not wide enough.
85mm f1.4 AISoccasionallyVery GoodAverage sharpness until f2.8. Not easy to get the focus right. Great bokeh!
85mm f1.4 D AFoftenExcellentStellar lens! Sharp, beautiful boken. Slow autofocus.
85mm f1.8 D AFoftenExcellentGreat portrait lens! Sharp, beautiful bokeh. The only choice to use indoors without a flash, especially shooting shows.
85mm f2 AISoftenVery GoodSmall lens, beautiful bokeh. soft wide open, but great at f2.8
100mm f2.8 ErarelyVery goodOften an underrated lens it is very sharp even wide open. It is small, half the size of 105mm f2.5 and is a low cost fine alternative to the latter.
Its only minus it has more plastic than the other lens.
105mm f2 AF-D DCoftenExcellentExcellent sharpness. Good for indoors shooting wide open. Need to be careful with Defocus settings as getting it wrong makes images soft.
105mm f2.5 AI/AISoftenVery goodLegendary lens that comes in range of variations and optical designs. I find it a bit too long when mounted on a DSLR.
135mm f2.8rarelyExcellentQuite sharp even wide open. Metal body. Good colour reproduction and contrast. Good for action shots at an indoor sporting event.
135mm f2.8 ErarelyVery GoodA little bit on a softer side. Otherwise, good for portraits.
135mm f3.5 KrarelyVery GoodNicely built lens. Just a tad slower than the f2.8 version. Also is quite sharp.
180mm f2.8 AIrarelyGoodGood lens. Heavy. Not my preferred choice.
180mm f2.8 AF ED IFoccasionallyExcellentThis is the very 1st Autofocus version. Sharp wide open at f2.8 and fast autofocus! Sharper than its successor.
180mm f2.8 D AF ED IFoccasionallyVery goodThe only reason I gave this lens "Very Good" rating instead of "Excellent" is the slow auto-focus. Otherwise, sharp and fast lens.
200mm f4 Non-AIrarelyVery goodExcellent sharpness. This lens has limited use as it is not recommended to be used on most digital SLRs. Even if you do use it, metering has to be done manually.
200mm f4 AIoccasionallyVery goodSimilar to Non-AI version. Sample variations exists.
300mm f2.8 AISrarelyExcellentProfessional lens. The built quality is outstanding. Sharp even wide open. Works well with teleconverters.
300mm f4 AFrarelyExcellentGood sharp lens. The subject needs to be far enough to focus. It is limited being a fixed focal length.
Not quite long enough for bird and small animals photography.
300mm f4 AF-SrarelyExcellentGood sharpness. Comparing to the lens it superseeds it has two advantages: slightly faster autofocus and much closer focusing distance allowing for macro-like shots.
However, it is a heavier and bulkier lens.
300mm f4.5 HrarelyVery GoodGood sharpness wide open. Precision focusing. Slower than its newer cousins.
400mm f3.5 AIrarelyVery goodProfessional high quality manual focus older lens. The use of tripod or monopod is recommended.
500mm f8 ReflexrarelyVery goodSmall lens for its focal length. Close focusing. However, hard to handle.
Micro (Macro)
55mm f2.8 AI MicrooccasionallyExcellent1:2 Macro Capabilities. Sharp. Short working distance.
55mm f3.5 AI MicrooccasionallyExcellent1:2 Macro Capabilities. Sharp. Short working distance.
60mm f2.8 AF-D MicrooccasionallyExcellent1:1 Macro Capabilities! Great for portraits! Super-sharp even wide open!
70-180mm f4.5-5.6 AF D EDoccasionallyVery GoodWell made lens with solid barrel. Delivers well what it was designed for - flexible macro ability. Good for portraits too. Slow focusing.
105mm f2.8 AIS MicrooccasionallyExcellentExcellent for macro work! Really sharp optics. I find it better then the auto-focus version. Anyway, macro work is usually a manual process as precision is required with such shallow depth of field.
105mm f2.8 AF-D MicrooccasionallyVery goodVery good for macro and also for portrait work! Manual focusing is a not as precise as with the manual version of the lens.
200mm f4 MF MicrooccasionallyVery goodSmaller and lighter than the AF version. Good working distance. Require tripod for precision work.
200mm f4 AF-D MicrooccasionallyExcellentTop quality. Outstanding results. Big and heavy. Good for portraits too. Require tripod for precision work.
Cameras (Nikon)
Nikon FM2N (35mm SLR)The legend of the past, sturdy and well built. Has higher than F3 flash synchronization speed of 1/250. Works even without a battery.
Usable only with manual focusing lenses and auto-focusing lenses in fully manual mode, but not with G-type or DX-type lenses.
Nikon FM3A (35mm SLR)The pinnacle of the Nikon's fully manual camera with an addition of TTL metering! Otherwise, as per FM2N.
Nikon D70s (DSLR)First Nikon consumer DSLR was D70. D70s only improvements were a larger LCD screen and updated firmware.
Excellent camera! Came with 6Mp same as the prosumer D100 and more improvements. Despite its plasticy appearance it survived the deserts of China and the wilderness of Patagonia without developing any kinds of issues. The following D50, D40 where downgrades from D70s and D80 has come out in a league of its own.
Nikon D2H (Pro DSLR)Aged 4Mp camera. Grain becomes visible at ISO400. Suffers from old and small LCD where it is hard to see the real quality of the images. Low cost solution for action shots.
Nikon D80 (DSLR)Successor to D70. Very similar to D200 but light and small. 10Mp sensor provides for higher resolution images. Value for money!
Nikon D100 (Semi-Pro DSLR)Solid camera. 6Mp sensor provides clean images. Good value used.
Nikon D200 (Semi-Pro DSLR)Successor to D100. Well made and sealed. 10Mp sensor provides for higher resolution images. However, the grain seem to be higher at ISO 400+ compare to D70s.
Nikon D300 (Semi-Pro DSLR)Successor to D200. 12Mp sensor provides for even higher resolution and cleaner images. The grain seem to be well controlled up ISO 800 compare to D200s ISO400. 3D tracking is nice.
Nikon D700 (Pro DSLR)D3's little brother. Well made and sealed. 12Mp FX sensor provides for great quality at high ISO 800+.
I am not a great fan of filters. Why? Because they are fiddly! Yes, UV filters for lens protection I believe is a must, however all the others could be a pain to use.
How many times I have found myself in a situation where I had only seconds to react and yet would forget to replace the polariser with the UV filter thus causing slower shutter speed and consequently blurred or high grain pictures due to higher ISO. Also, some filters require a holder, etc.
After saying all that I try to limit myself to the following:
UV filterlens protection
Circular polarisergood for scenic landscape shots
Blue-yellow polariserenchanced polariser, especially effective in shooting yellow objects against blue sky.
Neutral density filterusually comes as half graduated filter and half clear to battle high-contrast scenes
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