Trust your gut, code with your brain.

03 Jun 11 Lens trading

Quick reviews on some lenses i have played with lately:

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

Bought: $1300
Sold: $1670

This lens is a head turner, it’s also built to last. Rubber bumper on the front, metal latch for the hood, tripod mount has 2 holes, either for better balance with different weight bodies or use of tubes or simply when one wears out. Focus is perfect, not as fast as Canon but deadly accurate.

Image Quality
I’ve noticed a trend with the newer lenses, I think a side effect of asynchronous lenses, the transition from sharp to bokeh is unnatural looking. This lens doesn’t have that. IQ is as good as it gets, really.

Bought: $835
Sold: $865
I really wanted to like this lens, it’s one of the the fastest tele primes.  Good images were tough to get, especially coming off of the 105 micro VR. Defocus control was interesting but not an effect that I was looking for. AF was not greatest, this might be a good lens for studio work, but not for moving people.
One interesting usage is macro with cheap extension tubes, at f2 you can easily see enough light to manual focus, even with a full 12″ of extension tubes,  and the presence of an apeture ring, no longer found on nikon lenses, lets you easily adjust the apeture even with cheapo tubes.
Bought: $800
Sold: $990
By far Nikon’s sharpest lens, I think this is one of the cheapest nano crystal lenses.  Macro images were immaculate.  As a portrait lens it was a bit of a let down because at the distance for a head shot the biggest apeture was F3.5 which was too much DOF for a pleasant background. At 200mm F3.5 is fine but at 100mm it’s too distracting. An 85mm1.8 or a 135mm f2 would be better for portraits, personally I like longer or wider: a 200mm 2.8 or 50mm 1.8
The lens was not too heavy but the hood is huge, with good reason, having the element right on the front means flare can be an issue.  AF is ok but not as fast as the 70-200 (makes sense being a macro though).
Tokina 12-24mm F4
Same as the nikon model but not as sharp, and a little more distortion.
Bought: $634
Sold: $700
Excellent lens. Construction is just as good as a Nikon. The AF/MF clutch system is very intuitive and works perfectly. AF is fast and accurate, but on a lens this wide the DOF is huge anyway. Awsome lens if you need 11mm. I only sold it becasue the 17-55 2.8 goes wide enough for me.
This lens wins the DX wide angle prize for image quality for sure.
Bought: $300
I got this lens to compare to my dads canon 70-300 L lens. To be fair the nikon one costs 1/5th of the canon version. The nikon one is much smaller and lighter, and more plastic. The sharpness, and bokeh are similar, but the overall image quality is not as good as canon, the canon IS worked better than the nikon VR but that could be the added weight helping. AF was a little slow at 300 and the picture is a little softer.
The difference in image quality is the way the bokeh changes on the nikon from the center to the edges, making it look like tunnel vision, even though there is no distortion or vignetting , the cannon on the other hand is great looking at any focal length. This is a great lens, especially for the price, but I’ll ditch it when I get a 180 2.8
Bought $800
It’s in for repairs right now, but it seems like a great lens. It’s heavy and the zoom ring is stiff and not ergonomically placed, but the images look right and the zoom range is huge. This lens is very expensive especially given it’s age, one of the first DX lenses ever, and one of the first AF-S lenses. The AF sounds unrefined compared to the newer Silent Wave Motors. It’s the perfect DX walk around lens. I’ve also used the cannon 17-55 IS, it’s lighter, sharper, cheaper, and having IS at 17mm lets you shoot long exposures hand held.

21 Feb 08 Lens Reviews

I’ve become a bit of a lens dealer lately, sometime owning a lens for as short as 1 day. In most cases i break even and in a few cases i’ve made a profit, the only case where i lose money is in buying new lenses and eating the new-> used depreciation.

On D70
(Paid 750, sold $500):
50mm f1.8 AF D (paid $125 new, sold $100), Noisy AF, distortion free, very neutral lens, not really sharp or soft.

70-300mm (paid $80 sold $120) Decent bokeh, but other wise a cheap plastic lens with a ton of chromatic abberation and very poor contrast, blurry at 300.

24mm 2.8 (bought and sold twice $275 – $270) prime, sharp, distortion free. contrasty, fast, sharp. light solid metal build.

on D80 (paid new 900 with 18-135 which sold for 200 bringing price of d80 to 700)
18-135 OK lens, medium build, AFS zoom was ok, shap, medium distortion, contrasty, medium bokeh.

18-200 (paid 725 new sold 600) decent build, zoom creep, AFS accurate, VR effective but adds unnatural quality to images, terrible bokeh, very convenient, all round one of the most useful lenses, it doesn’t do anything bad but it doesn’t do anything great, just does Everything ok. Longest owned lens.

24mm 2.8 ( $180 – $180 ) prime, Second time owning this lens, i bought it and a 50mm again becasue i was tired of the poor quality of 18-200mm images so i went the opposite route and got 2 primes. They are both great, but changing lenses on the job it a pain.

50mm AF (non d) ($65, 70), better construction that the D model but optically identical.

80-200mm AF-D ED ($650 – $700) Sharpest bloody lens I’ve ever used, insanely sharp, focus was always spot on beautiful bokeh, no, the best bokeyh i have ever seen. I worked with this lens and 24mm prime and loved it. it was almost perfect. It’s just too big and heavy and a bit tele for a digital sized sensor. It also only focuses down to like 3 feet which is useless when kids are climbing on you. I will buy this lens again someday, it so sharp and yet natural.

17-50mm Tamron Di II. (paid $300-$30 sold 270) i bought this on ebay and it had some crap between the internal two elements so i got a discount, cleaned it, which fixed it, then sold it. It was actually a perfect lens for digital, close focus, creamy bokeh, decent focus speed, sharp. Build was junky. I guess it get really soft at higher apertures, but who cares. I almost bought another one, but after using the 80-200 i couldn’t bring my self to use another non pro lens. I might have made a mistake.

28-85 3.5-45 AF Macro (paid $95, on sale now), optically great lens, but the AF is inaccurate in low light, ruins otherwise great shots) close focus is a bit to far, i need to be able to shoot someone accross the table, about .5m.

28-70mm f2.8 AFS (paid $900, unsold (possible keeper (update sold for $900 becasue it was hit or miss AF)) I was able to live with the focal length of 28-85 but i needed it in a better package so this is what i got, i would have gone for the 24-70 but it was too expensive. Anyway i find most of my photos are between 30mm and 70mm anyway so it should be perfect. I still need a like 17mm prime and a 180mm prime or something similar for those occasional landscape or close candid.

17-50mm Tamron Di II. (yup i got another one for around 200, on my D80 now) So this lens is actually perfect for DX, at 17mm no one really noticies the distortion anyway. It focuses REALY close which is perfect for kids and at 50mm on DX it’s basically a portrait lens. 2.8 is sharp enough but has very poor exposure accuracy, which on digital is easy to correct with visual feedback from the LCD. At F4 the exposre error is gone. The lens has issues at small apertures, but that not what i ever use this lens for so i don’t care. So basically it’s perfect for what i use it for but sucks at everything else. All i need now is for my 70-200 F4 to have VR. The color is a bit strange at f2.8, makes skin kind of peachy.

70-200mm F4 AF. Paid ($180) This is a pro quality lens that doesn’t weigh as much as the 2.8 but has 99% of the quality. The bokeh, sharpness and AF are not quite as amaizing but they are not distracting at all either so it’s a good middle ground for now. I really like it now that i got a 35mm camera too. I got it from a Japanese guy on Craigslist, he bought it when he lived in Japan, it is in absolute mint shape, the zoom ring is so smooth it’s ahead of it’s time, it’s a really well crafted lens.)

Rented: 12-24: great lens image quality is great, weight and size are good, close focus is great, i just hate to spend a grand on it when canon has a 10-20 thats so much better. It’s also not as good investment since FX is out now, but i see the price has dropped to 800 used now that FX is out. I may get this someday if I’m still using aps-c.

N80 (paid $60 from Ebay). My previous experience with film cameras has been with manual focus ones or disposable, so compared to my DSLR they seemd like a step down. Boy was i wrong, the camea is every bit as good as my D80 the main difference is that you trade a large LCD for a large viewfinder and a larger image (35mm)


70-30mm AFS VR: Someone at the Como zoo had this and let me try it on my camera. MUCH better than the cheap g version. creamy bokeh, i almost got this lens but I’ve learned that i need 2.8 and a pro lens.

17-55 2.8 AFS. Great lens but i cant handle the poor distorion performance or the $ for a lens that won’t work on FX.

55-200mm VR (Paid 225, returned 30min later) AF to0 slow, close focus sucked, plasticly, useless lens. the 18-200 was miles better, faster. Even bokeh was better on 18-200 because you could focus closer.

34mm PC, i wouldn’t mount on my D80 but it tried it on a f100 it was really cool, i need one. I tried making one out of a 24mm prime but had focus trouble. I will need one of these lenses, need. The new 24mm PC looks sweet.

I just got the 28-70 2.8 and really like it so far, i think it may be a keeper. So we’ll see. I though it would be heavier and bigger but it’s not too bad.


sb-600 (gift, retuned) optical TTL rocks. It’s a cool flash to accompany and DSLR that can control it you get instant seamless bi-directional light by putting this thing ona tripod on the the otherside of the room, works perfectly. I only traded for becasue i could get 2 sb-28 for it’s price.

sb-800, rented twice, when i need another flash i rent them.

sb-400 (paid 125) best on camera flash ever, tiny, fast, quiet, cheap, TTL works perfectly. Doesn’t work with my wireless ebay triggers, boo.

sb-28 paid $90 for each of my three. Work horses, I’ll buy more when i break them, powerful no nonsense light.

05 Nov 07 Apple TV in a USB stick!!!

the Take TV is a flash drive that decodes a xVid, Divx, mpeg4 and outputs to a s-video under $100! And it’s controllable by remote.

It’s made by the folks who made my Sansa Express which has proven to be my favorite mp3 ever becasue its nononsense bright OLED Screen, cableless useage, ans seamless Rhapsody support. If the Take TV works this well i will be very pleased.

Right now every time i have a video that i want to watch on TV i have to haul my computer next to the TV to connect the video and audio. The take TV come in 4/8gb flash stick shape and has a remote and TV dock, this totally rocks because it doesn’t require a full blown HTPC but delivers 99% of what i would use a HTPC for. 4gb is about 5hours which is about double my usual tv episode serving.

I could see this working great with those ‘second car monitors’ made to extend a portable dvd players screen. You would be able to load a few movies on the device and not have to burn them to DVD. If i’m not mistaken an iPod that has video would be able to do most of this except remote control, and of course would require a proprietary cable and iTunes to download from the PC. A nano video is only $149 and has a screen, but doesn’t support xVid and Divx or have a remote, so if all you do is use it play stuff on your TV (oh hate iTunes) then get the take TV, other wise get a player that also has a screen.

18 May 07 First Impressions 18-200mm Nikon Lens

First of all it works. I can shoot 200mm at 1/50second which is perfect, because thats long enough to get some light in the lens and freeze most subject motion. A non VR lens would have to be shot at least 1/150s to compensate for lens motion(depending on current coffee consumption levels). The lens work really slick overall, the manual focus override ring is perfectly intuitive, the lens doesn’t creep/slip at all. It is a bit heavier than my other lens, but still much lighter than an 80-200 F2.8. It’s a lot like using a digital camcorder image stabilization, except this is actually moving the lens so you can see it working through the viewfinder, this instant feedback lets you learn to work with it. It also looks hard core with lots of switches, gauges, gold lettering and what-not.