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Best lightweight Nikon FX lens kit - 28-105mm

Friday, August 5, 2011
My experience in photography, with Nikon cameras and lenses, has brought me to a few conclusions. Pro f/2.8 lenses such as the Nikon 70-200 and 24-70 are heavy pieces of glass. Walking around with either lens for more than 6 hours is tiring. There has been times when a street photo presented itself after 7 hours and my arm was just too tired to raise that Nikon D700 and the 24-70 f/2.8 lens again. Where are the lightweight quality zoom lenses. Even though the new post processing software has image distortion correction I abhor pincushion and barrel types. The new lightweight lenses all seem to think this is an acceptable situation. I was especially disappointed with the New Nikon 24-135 f/4 for this reason alone.

I have owned or used most of the recent Nikon pro lenses and consumer lenses for FX and DX between the focal lengths of 24mm to 300mm. There is a difference of course, and a professional photographer can start to choose the correct lenses for the pre-envisioned job. If I need super sharpness I will use one of the newer lenses. They are very sharp but seems to have what is called nervous bokeh. If I want a more arty shape and tone type photo I will use one of the older lenses.

So my solution for a walk around kit has been to add lightweight lenses. The real trick is to not sacrifice that much in performance as compared to your goals. 

My kit current walk around kit consists a mixture of a Nikon 28-105 f/3.5 to 4.5, a 50mm 1.4G, an 85mm 1.4D and a 180mm 2.8 depending on what I am looking for. Usually 28mm is enough for walking around New York City or any other city but I also have a Sigma 10-20 4.5 to 5.6 DX lens for wide angle real estate photography. It has plenty of nasty distortion but much less than other wide angle lenses in the same price range (at least compared to FX lenses).

Nikon 28-105 f/3.5 to 4.5 - Super lightweight. Great range - from wide to portrait. Very little distortion on either end. Fast focus. Easy 2 to 1 Macro setting. Very nice color reproduction and contrast. Detail is not at the same level as a Nikon 24-70 2.8G but it is very good at the wide end and tapers off in the usual Nikon fashion at the long end. You can only buy this used, so as usual make sure it is a good copy. But that used price is below $300.

Nikon 28-105 f/3.5 to 4.5 28mm f/9

The wide end has very good detail, nice bokeh, very low distortion and not any visually detectable vignetting. This lens was the kit lens with the Nikon F100. The F100 was the semi pro film camera before digital. Something like the D700 is to the D3s today. The long end does very good, with less fine detail but very nice contrast and color which represents shape very well. In a way, I don't want my long end to have excellent detail representation. At 105mm, this is portrait length and having to post process every pore and stray facial hair is not how I want to spend my time. This is a very good portrait lens. And does a fine job in the field too.

Nikon 28-105 @105mm f/10

The dog is running with a little motion blur. There is plenty of detail in the woman's dress as well as through the windows at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But the Nikon 28-105mm pulls out plenty of detail.

Nikon 28-105 @ 105mm f/5
 Like I said, it is a very nice portrait lens. Plenty of detail, nice bokeh and a pleasing contrast/color rendition.

It is so lightweight and easy to use it has become my favorite walk around lens. Would I use it for professional commercial jobs where fine detail is of the utmost importance. Probably not. For my own personal use, for street photography, for photos that will only be viewed on the web this is a must have lightweight, high quality Nikon lens from days of old.

In the next blog post I will discuss some of the prime lenses I have and currently own as well as some of the other exotic Nikon lenses.


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