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Lens Ruminations//What lenses do I use- Why? / Impressions // Lens thoughts & ramblings

JohnE Nikon

New HArtford, US
932 posts

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JohnE Nikon Registered since 15th Jun 2010
Mon 12-Aug-13 11:40 PM | edited Tue 13-Aug-13 06:49 PM by JohnE Nikon

I recently responded to a forum expressing how frequently I used a particular lens.
It was a complete guess and I was off considerably.
I decided to look in my Lightroom catalog for 2013 and got the following results which surprised me.
This got me thinking about why I choose to use one lens over another. I developed some general lens impressions that I summarized and I wanted to share.
I shot almost 9000 images in 2013. Wow! (Many shots are not keepers with sports)


Nikkor 10-24 0.8%
Tokina 16-28 2.8 10%
Nikkor 18-55 3%
Nikkor 18-200 VrII 5%
Nikkor 24 AF D 2.8 5.5%
Nikkor 28-300 AFS VR 32%
Nikkor 35 AFS 1.8 0.5%
Nikkor 35-70 AF D 2.8 11.3%
Nikkor 85mm AF D 1.8 10.3%
Tokina 100mm 2.8 macro 8.4%
Nikkor 50mm AF D 1.4 8%
Nikkor 70-200mm AFS VRII 2.8 5.2%

I shot DX < 10% of the time.

In general, I only shoot DX if I want a light camera when I am personally engaged in sports like skiing or if I don’t want to worry too much about the gear I have with me.
Otherwise I have been using only FX since I bought the D600 in 10/2012. All my impressions are based on FX.

When someone asks the question which lens should I get?... What is the best?...,I think they really mean what is the best for me/them.
To decipher the answers we get and give, I think it’s crucial to know what lens is the best for a particular type of photography and why.


First I am not a pro and consider myself an enthusiast. I have not done any photography for profit.
My photography is fairly diverse.
I shoot mainly landscape and travel, but also street, events, parties, stage, sports, macro, abstract, portraits, and wildlife. Check out my google link below and you will see what I mean.


Generally which lenses do I use?
For landscape I use the 28-300 or Tokina 16-28. This gives me the entire range of what I need with 2 lenses. Sometimes I’ll throw my 100mm macro in the bag too.

For outdoor Travel I use the 28-300. I will occasionally need to put on the 16-28.

For Indoor travel I use the Tokina 16-28, 50mm or 24mm prime. This also depends on how heavy I want my bag to be. For my typical travel bag I will often carry 1 lens on camera and 2 in bag. +/- flash

For street, I use the 50 or 24 or 28-300 and rarely the 85. I like the low profile of the primes for street and the large apertures if I’m out at night.

For portraits- the 35-70 or 85 prime or occasionally the 70-200mm or the 100mm macro. I love the shallow DOF of all of these lenses especially the 70-200 and 85 prime. I will go wider like 24mm for environmental portraits.

Parties and events. Mostly the 35-70 but also the 24 or 50 primes. I like the open apertures more than the VR of my 28-300 given the subject motion. Indoors at parties I find myself wanting wider often and like going w a 35-70 and 24mm in the bag.

Sports 70-200 occasionally with a 1.7TCE Again I need the open apertures for subject motion. I have also used the 85 1.8.

Theater/ Stage- 70-200 2.8

Wildlife - 70-200 usually with a 1.7TCE

Weddings- I use the 35-70 mostly and the 16-28. I move around a lot and haven’t needed the reach of the 70-200 beast. (I only did one wedding non paid as a backup shooter but did create an album)


Specific lens impressions

Lens sharpness at 2.8- 85mm 1.8 >50mm 1.4 >70-200>24>16-28>35-70
At 8.0 all lenses very sharp.

All lenses sharp wide open if viewed normally on a 30 inch monitor.
Differences are noticeable when pixel peeping and viewing 1:1 magnification.
18-200 DX lens is amazing and very sharp for this zoom range.

The 24mm 2.8 AF D is not known as one of the sharper primes but it is plenty sharp for me and beats my Tokina 16-28 at 24mm and 2.8. At 4.0 they are the same and the differences in sharpness would not make me choose one over the other. The weight is very different and the range determines what I use. The flare can be bad if the sun is near and I don’t have a hood that doesn’t cause vignetting. In general it’s a great lens, all metal and well built.

The Tokina 16-28 2.8 AF- is a pretty sharp lens. It has a bulbous front which is somewhat protected by it’s built in hood. It won’t take a filter. It can flare but generally it is localized flare which can be removed easily with a heal brush and it’s superior to the Nikon 24 for flare. The zoom ring seems to have a subtle problem where it doesn’t move for about 3 degrees and then catches. It doesn’t interfere in anyway with performance so I haven’t decided to deal with the expense of getting it fixed. I noticed this about 6 months after owning it. I bought it used so I don’t think it will be covered by warranty. I like the pull feature on the Tokina’s to switch form manual to autofocus

The 28-300 is much maligned as being a poor performer. I disagree. For my shooting purposes it is great. It is pretty sharp at all focal lengths although noticeably less so wide open, when viewed 1:1, compared to the primes or the 2.8 zooms. At f 8.0-11 I can’t tell the difference between this and my ‘better’ glass. The VR is amazing. I have gotten sharp images at 300mm and 1/15 sec hand held. Focuses slow. It is significantly bigger than the 18-200 DX lens and not quite as sharp wide open.

The 35-70 2.8 AF D- This lens needs AF fine tuning of -19 on my D600 and around the same on my D7000. I bought this lens in bargain condition for $275. It is the least sharp fast lens I own even with AF fine tuning. This again is noticeable when viewing 1:1 blown up images. The right field is slightly softer than the left. ? if it’s related to the condition or just the lens. I don’t think it has fungus and I bought from a reputable dealer that did not see it. Given these issues I still use it a lot. I like the flexibility for indoor photography. I have used it outdoor fairs. I use this lens mostly for people. I get sharp enough images and have used images in photo albums and for brochures and posters for businesses. The non-paying customers were very satisfied. It’s built like a rock and fairly small, significantly smaller than my 28-300. It tends to flare and loses contrast if the sun gets near it. (Similar to my other AF D glass) Somehow with all of this said it’s one of my favorite lenses. My statistics show that, it’s my second most used lens!

85mm 1.8 AF D- My sharpest lens. I love the bokeh, sharpness and contrast. Best portrait lens. I have also used for sports and street. It focuses quick small and flawless. I bought a fairly big metal hood which I don’t use often. It can flare but not nearly as bad as the 24mm. Built like a rock.

50mm 1.4 AF D- My fastest lens. My favorite for street and low light. Second sharpest lens. Great bokeh. Focuses quick. Built like a rock. Love this lens.

70-200mm 2.8 AFS VRII- Read the reviews. It’s a great lens, focuses fast, sharp wide open, great contrast. Nice bokeh. It’s expensive and heavy and big. I don’t use it as much as I could, given the size and weight. I use it primarily for sports, and indoor stage events.

Tokina 100mm 2.8- It works. It’s sharp. Focuses slow but accurate. Inexpensive, Nikon alternative. No VR.

Lens dilemma’s
Okay now for my dilemma. What lens to buy next?
What do I need? Nothing. I do this for fun.

Okay you get it.

What’s on my radar?
80-400 new AFS. It’s supposedly super sharp. I have read it will blow away my 70-200 paired w my 1.7 TCE, which will only give me 330mm anyway. It is kind of expensive and I don’t shoot wildlife often. I have a buddy who does this a lot and I could hang with him more so maybe one day.

The 24-70 2.8’s either Nikon or Tamron. Tamron’s price and VR is tempting. It would be nice to have a sharper mid range zoom especially one with VR. It will be bigger. Hmmm.

A 35mm prime for street photography. The sigma 1.4 seems amazing, but it’s a bit pricey. I have experimented w my 35mm 1.8 DX on FX and the vignette is not bad at 1.8 when the subject is less than 10’ away. I think a used Nikon 35mm 2.0 AF may be the most cost effective 35mm prime for me.

The 24-120mm 4.0 is supposedly almost as sharp as the 24-70 2.8. Could this be my walk around travel lens? My landscape lens? The 24-28 that is missing from my 28-300 would be nice. I’m sure it would be sharper too. But I’m pretty happy with my images with 28-300 and for landscape I’m usually not shooting wide open. Also I just checked, this year I shot 663/2865 or 23% *above 120mm*. Hmmmm.

How about the 16-35 4.0 AFS? I would love the VR. Nikon seems to have amazing VR technology. This lens takes a filter and has a larger range than my Tokina. I have been a 77mm 10 stop ND filter which would be nice to put on wider lens. It may be a tad softer but no one will notice. What will I do with 2 wide angle zooms? Sell the Tokina? I like it and like the 2.8 aperture, and sharpness. I don’t shoot people often with this lens and subject motion matters less so VR may be more useful.

The 14-24mm 2.8. sharpest wide angle lens ever built by any manufacturer. I’ll get 2mm which could be significant. It’s expensive and I could barely compose an image at 16mm so maybe I won’t get this just yet.

Am I a Nikon hoarder?
If you are still reading this wow!
Anyway I welcome any input.

JohnE Nikon
https://plus.google.com/photos/104310967428146619677/albums?hl=en

https://picasaweb.google.com/104310967428146619677


"Cameras and lenses are simply tools to place our unique vision on film. Concentrate on equipment and you'll take technically good photographs. Concentrate on seeing the light's magic colors and your images will stir the soul." Jack Dykinga

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

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