I’ve been an SLR and DSLR shooter for about 30 years now (I started when I was 7). Lately I’ve been using a Nikon D700 and a D3s, since I realised I just adore full format cameras for the flexibility I get, when it comes to depth of field.
More recently I have concentrated myself on small competent cameras as the Sony Nex, the micro four thirds offerings and the Leica X1. But everytime I get a hold of a great DSLR as the D700 or the D3s, I realise what great images they deliver in terms of sharpness, detail and ISO.
So when a friend of mine offered me the chance to try out two brand new Nikon lenses, I was very thrilled as you can imagine. I got my hands on the new Nikon AF-S 85/1.4 and the new Nikon AF-S 28-300/3.5-5.6 VR. As little time I had with these lenses I figured I owe you sharing my experience with you. This is NO scientific testing, just a couple of quick test shots. So here it is (after the break):
The Nikon AF-S 85/1.4G N
In short, this lens feels great in the hand. Yes it’s heavy. But since I put it on a Nikon D3s it adds more balance than weight. It’s big too, but which 85/1.4 or 1.2 for SLRs isn’t? AF is fast and silent. Of course its build quality is of no concern.
But most important for me is image quality, especially wide open, since I use the large apertures quite often. I let you find out for your self, if you can live with the strength and weaknesses of this lens. So I put together a couple of testshots at different apertures for you to make up your mind:
First up vignetting. There are dark corners at f1.4 and f2, but they seem pretty much gone from f2.8 on (click on the images to enlarge):
I personally do not care too much about vignetting since it can be corrected quite easily in post processing.
More important for me is sharpness and detail. See for yourself (click to enlarge):
I hope to get a chance next week to test the new 85 against the far cheaper Nikon AF-D 85/1.8 and see if the price difference is justified.
Now to the AF-S 28-300/3.5-5.6G VR:
Being not exactly a cheapo this lens really isn’t a pro-lens. But I guess many pros will still buy it for its versatility. Personally I’m not a big fan of superzooms, because my photographic style happens somewhere between 28 and 85mm.
Nevertheless I had fun with this lens, especially since the VR allowed me to shoot at 300mm at 1/50s and get sharp results.
The 28-300 definitely has some distortion issues as you can see in the test shots. It is never without distortion, be it at 28mm, at 70mm, at 100mm or at 300mm. And wide open it also tends to deliver dark corners. But see for yourself (click to enlarge):
And here are a couple of test shots concerning sharpness and detail in the center and in the corner of the frame at different apertures and focal lengths (click to enlarge to 100%):
And to show you, how the two lenses look in real life, here are a couple of images I shot in the very short time I had the lenses:
^ Nikon D3s, AF-S 28-300/3.5-5.6G VR, 170mm, ISO 200, f5.6, 1/640s