Quick Reviews

Just The Facts

In this section I’ll be offering blitz reviews of various cameras, lenses & film that I’ve encountered over the last 1-3 years. As this is a hobby for me, you’ll probably notice I’m all about bang-for-your-buck … and that’s ok, as there’s lots of great bargains to be had.

So once I’ve found something that works within my budget, these are the key pieces of info I try to quadruple-check before taking the plunge (regardless of all the comprehensive and contradicting reviews out there). I hope you find this to-the-point ready-reckoner useful.


Film Camera Reviews

Nikormat FT2

The Nikkormat FT2 was release around 1975, and was the first manual 35mm film I bought, which was 3 years ago at this stage.

Verdict: a nice collectors item, great if you wish to get the real macoy AI-S ‘rabbit ears’ lugs experience, however it’s surprisingly heavy, utlizes a very quirky lens change operation, changing the ISO isn’t the greatest experience (you’ll probably need to use your fingernails to get a grip on the lever tab), and I’ve found it’s metering system to be oftentimes inaccurate.

Notable features:

Lens CompatibilityAI & AI-SMax Shutter Speed1/1000
Viewfinder FocusSplit PrismMin Shutter Speed1 sec
MeteringCenterUnpowered Shutter1 sec – 1/1000
Metering TypeNeedleDOF PreviewYes
Self TimerYesExposure Comp DialNo
Mirror Lock-UpYesFlash Hotshot ModeNon-TTL
Battery1 x G13A / LR44Flash Sync Speed1/125
Weight880g
Nikkormat FT2 Fact Sheet

Nikon FE2

The Nikon FE2 was released around 1982, and has been my go-to 35mm film for the last 1.5 years. It offers a lot of great functionality that is surprising for the early 1980’s, and a super fast 1/4000 shutter speed for outdoors shallow dof shots. It uses two easily obtained LR44 batteries, and they just seem to last forever … !

Verdict: a very versatile, easy-to-use manual-focus camera, with some great features, in particular Aperture mode with it’s awesome auto shutter speed selection. Unfortunately the EC dial & FE lock aren’t very ergonomic, with the designers focusing on avoiding-accidental-use, instead of ease-of-use, however the dual-needle metering system is excellent.

Lens CompatibilityAI, AI-S & AF / AF-DMax Shutter Speed1/4000
Viewfinder FocusSplit PrismMin Shutter Speed1 sec on dial, but 30 sec in A mode
MeteringCenterUnpowered Shutter1/250
Metering TypeDual NeedleDOF PreviewYes
Self TimerYesExposure Comp DialYes & EC Lock
Mirror Lock-UpNoFlash Hotshot ModeTTL
Battery2 x G13A / LR44Flash Sync Speed1/250
Weight550g
Nikon FE2 Fact Sheet

Nikon F100

The F100 is an amazing, do-it-all, ‘pro level’ 5 point autofocus 35mm camera, released around 1999, that offers unbelievable forward & backward lens compatibility, and comes with every bell and whistle you might ever require, along with comprehensive in-built customisation options.

Verdict: a very powerful manual-focus / auto-focus camera in terms of its wealth of features and capabilities, offering lens compatibility across the entire range of manual focus AI lens to the latest VR G lens. Just be aware that it’s relatively bulky & heavy (the reasons why I don’t own one anymore) , they’re becoming increasingly expensive and also somewhat prone to having a broken diopter mechanism.

Lens CompatibilityAI, AI-S, AF / AF-D & VR G !Max Shutter Speed1/8000
Viewfinder Focus5 AF Points & < 0 > RangefinderMin Shutter Speed30 sec
MeteringMatrix, Center & Spot Unpowered ShutterNone
Metering TypeManual / AF SystemDOF PreviewYes
Self TimerYesExposure Comp DialEC, FEC & EC Lock
Mirror Lock-UpNoFlash Hotshot ModeTTL & Rear Sync
Battery4 x AAFlash Sync Speed1/250
Weight880g (with batteries)
Nikon F100 Fact Sheet

Nikon F80 / N80

The F80 (known in the USA as the N80) is a modern 5 point auto-focus 35mm camera, released around 2000, that offers features you’d expect only on the F100, so it’s amazing bang-for-your-buck … but only if you can live with the fact that it is not compatible with any manual focus AI & AI-S lenses.

That said, I like this camera so much that I own two (an N80 and a F80D), as I swap the modern AF-D, G ED VR lenses between my Nikon D750 / Nikon D610 (FX), D7200 (DX) and the small & light F80, getting the best of both worlds. Note: you can easily obtain CR123A batteries on eBay (however, don’t try recyclable ones, they’re usually the wrong voltage 3.7V instead of 3V).

Verdict: a light, very capable camera in terms of its features and capabilities, although only compatible with lenses that are AF onwards. However it’s a joy to use with AF-D & AF-S / G lenses and has become a firm favourite of mine for hybrid shooting.


Lens CompatibilityAF / AF-D & G VRMax Shutter Speed1/4000
Viewfinder Focus5 AF Points & RangefinderMin Shutter Speed30 sec
MeteringMatrix (10 segment), Center & SpotUnpowered ShutterNone
Metering TypeManual / AF SystemDOF PreviewYes
Self TimerYesExposure Comp DialEC, FEC & EC Lock
Mirror Lock-UpNoFlash Hotshot ModeTTL & Rear Sync
Battery2 x CR123AFlash Sync Speed1/125
Weight545g (with batteries)
Nikon F80 / N80 Fact Sheet

Canon EOS 30 / 7 / 7e

The Canon EOS 30 / Elan 7 / Elan 7e was the second last prosumer, modern, 7 point auto-focus 35mm camera, released by Canon around Oct 2000 (the EOS 33 / Elan 7n followed in 2004 closing out the series). The EOS 30 & Elan 7e models provide “eye controlled” auto-focus … yes, you read right !

Having originally started with a cheap & cheerful Canon EOS 3000 back 20+ years ago, this camera was something I could only dream about at the time. So I couldn’t resist picking up one in 2022, to see what the fuss was about … and wow, it’s pretty amazing !

This camera is superior to every Nikon, Canon and Nikkormat film camera I’ve bought to date, offering every conceivable feature and more. It’s a joy to use, the auto-focus is superb, and the metering is the most reliable I’ve experienced over the last 2-3 years of this adventure.

The eye controlled auto-focus actually works, once you take the time to calibrate it, in the way that actually use the camera in the real-world. Pretty incredible not having to use toggle switches to change focus points šŸ¤©

Highly recommended ! šŸ†

Lens CompatibilityEFMax Shutter Speed1/4000
Viewfinder Focus7 AF Points & eye-controlled (EOS 30 / Elan 7e models)Min Shutter Speed30 sec
MeteringMatrix (35 segment), Center & SpotUnpowered ShutterNone
Metering TypeManual / AF SystemDOF PreviewYes
Self TimerYesExposure Comp DialEC, FEC & EC Lock
Mirror Lock-UpYesFlash Hotshot ModeTTL & Rear Sync
Battery2 x CR123AFlash Sync Speed1/125
Weight580g (with batteries)
EOS 30 / Elan 7 / Elan 7e Fact Sheet

Canon EOS 300v / Rebel Ti / EOS Kiss 5

The Canon EOS 300v / Rebel Ti / EOS Kiss 5 is the second last consumer auto-focus 35mm SLR camera made by Canon. The EOS 300v was released around 2002, and succeeded by the EOS 300x / Rebel T2 in 2004 (which offered a 1/4000 shutter speed, 1/125 flash sync and more customisation) which closed out this consumer SLR series completely.

Lens CompatibilityEFMax Shutter Speed1/2000
Viewfinder Focus7 AF PointsMin Shutter Speed30 sec
MeteringMatrix (35 segment), Center & Spot Unpowered ShutterNone
Metering TypeManual / AF SystemDOF PreviewYes
Self TimerYesExposure Comp DialEC, EC Lock
Mirror Lock-UpYesFlash Hotshot ModeTTL & Rear Sync
Battery2 x CR2Flash Sync Speed1/90
Weight375g (with batteries)
EOS 300v / Rebel Ti / EOS Kiss 5 Fact Sheet

So why even buy the EOS 300v or the EOS 300x … ? Simple, I discovered that these SLR models from Canon are without a doubt the smallest, lightest, fully functional, interchangeable, 35mm SLR’s you can get your hands on ! They work with all the Canon EF glass, while still providing advanced metering and auto-focus capabilities. Best of all, the SLR’s are so small, you’ve no excuse not to throw one in a bag when you travel !

In terms of usability, Canon opted for a large LCD back-screen to display all the key information, which is great, while all the usual functionality is there (e.g. ISO selection, multi-exposure, exposure compensation, etc.)

Manual-Focus Lens Reviews


Nikkor 24mm f2.8 AI-S

This is an excellent manual focus prime lens, which is perfect for landscape or wide urban photography. I found it to be very sharp, a joy to use, and with its 52mm filter diameter it worked with all my other lenses.

Focal Length24mm
Weight250g
Filter Diameter52mm
Initial Year Of Manufacture1977
Lens HoodHN-1
Lens Model TypeAI-S
Auto Focus TypeManual Focus
F Stops2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22
Min Focus Distance30 cm
Blades7 straight
SharpnessExcellent
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp from f8 onwards
Bokeh QualityNA
Nikkor 24mm f2.8 AI-S

Nikkor 28mm f2.8 AI-S

This is an absolutely outstanding manual focus prime lens, which is great for landscape and is well suited to street photography. For its age I found it to be outrageously sharp, practically no distortion and a pleasure to use ! Update (2022-02): I recently stumbled upon the unassuming Sigma 24mm f2.8 Super Wide II which is just as sharp, maybe even better in the corners … (!)

Focal Length28mm
Weight250g
Filter Diameter52mm
Initial Year Of Manufacture1981
Lens HoodHN-1
Lens Model TypeAI-S
Auto Focus TypeManual Focus
F Stops2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22
Min Focus Distance20 cm
Blades7 straight
SharpnessSimply outstanding !
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp from f5.6 onwards
Bokeh QualityNA
Reproduction Ratio1:3.9 – which is ‘very good’
Nikkor 28mm f2.8 AI-S

Nikkor 35mm f2 AI-S

This is a sharp manual focus prime lens, which is great for general walk-about photography. I found it to be very sharp, however, please beware of its ghosting, which occurs when there’s strong light in the corners … it’s one of the main reasons I sold it and bought the 35mm AF-D instead (which also has an aperture ring for backward & forward compatibility, and solves these annoying problems while offering slighly better sharpness).

Focal Length35mm
Weight263g
Filter Diameter52mm
Initial Year Of Manufacture1981
Lens HoodHN-2
Lens Model TypeAI-S
Auto Focus TypeManual Focus
F Stops2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22
Min Focus Distance30 cm
Blades7 straight
SharpnessExcellent
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f8 onwards
Bokeh QualityGood, but can look a little ‘nervous’ when including bushes in the image background
Reproduction Ratio1:5.7 – which is ‘poor’
Nikkor 35mm f2 AI-S

Nikkor 50mm f1.8 AI-S ‘Pancake’

This is an excellent, compact manual focus prime lens, and the best of the f1.8 AI-S variants that Nikkor manufactured (identified by the “0.45” minimum distance on the scale). It takes wonderful ‘people shots’ and due to its dinky size and nice manual handling it’s a perfect fit on any of the 70’s 80’s film cameras.

Focal Length50mm
Weight174g
Filter Diameter52mm
Initial Year Of Manufacture1980
Lens HoodHR-4 or HS-11
Lens Model TypeAI-S
Auto Focus TypeManual Focus
F Stops1.8, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22
Min Focus Distance45 cm
Blades7 straight
SharpnessExcellent – Outstanding
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f5.6 onwards
Bokeh QualityGood, but can look a little ‘nervous’ when including bushes in the image background. It’s an old lens so just be aware of chromatic aberration softness at f1.8
Reproduction Ratio1:6.6 – which is ‘very poor’
Nikkor 50mm f1.8 AI-S Pancake

Nikon 50mm f1.8 E Series ‘Pancake’

Despite competing against it’s up-market Nikkor “0.45”m sibling, this E series underdog is just as capable, and just as wonderful. I’ve noticed that after f2.8 you can’t tell the difference in image quality between the E Series and the Nikkor versions ! Not only that, but to my eyes, the bokeh on the E series version is better than the Nikkor version šŸ˜® So if you can live with the minimum focus distance of 0.6m, this cheaper, lighter, rival is genuinely just as good !

Focal Length50mm
Weight155g
Filter Diameter52mm
Initial Year Of Manufacture1980
Lens HoodHR-4 or HS-11
Lens Model TypeAI-S
Auto Focus TypeManual Focus
F Stops1.8, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22
Min Focus Distance60 cm
Blades7 straight
SharpnessExcellent – Outstanding
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f5.6 onwards
Bokeh QualityVery good – and I’m scratching may head wondering how this cheaper E Series has seemingly better bokeh than the more expensive Nikkor series … Obviously just be aware that f1.8 has that old-school ethereal look, which is quite nice in certain situations.
Reproduction Ratio1:6.6 – which is ‘very poor’
Nikkor 50mm f1.8 E Series Pancake

Nikkor 35-105mm f3.5-4.5 AI-S

This could be an excellent walk-about, old-skool, push-pull, zoom lens but only if you’re able to get a good copy. I’ve already had two copies to date, and each one has something wrong – decentered terribly on the left at 35mm or uncharacteristically soft between f3.5-f4.5. Which is a shame, as from 40mm-ish onwards at f5.6 onwards it’s beautifully crisp, and the ‘macro mode’ is really useful, and offers very nice bokeh behind flowers, etc.

Focal Length35-105mm
Weight514g
Filter Diameter52mm
Lens HoodHK-11
Lens Model TypeAI-S
Auto Focus TypeManual Focus
F Stops3.5, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22
Min Focus Distance27 cm (macro), 1.4m normal
Blades7 straight
SharpnessGood-Excellent
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f8 / f11 onwards
Bokeh QualityVery nice in macro mode
Reproduction Ratio1:4 – which is ‘very good’
Nikkor 35-105mm f3.5-4.5 AI-S

Nikkor 80-200mm f4 AI-S

This is an outstanding manual focus tele-zoom lens, which is capable of producing quality images that never cease to amaze me ! It is razor sharp wide open at f4 and has lovely bokeh.

That’s all said, weighing in at 810g, it’s one of the heaviest lenses I’ve come across, so unfortunately it spends more time on my shelf then in my camera bag, in favour of the lighter (albeit not as sharp between 165-200mm) 80-200mm f4.5-5.6 AF-D lens, which only weights 332g …

Focal Length80-200mm
Weight810g
Filter Diameter62mm
Lens HoodHN-23
Lens Model TypeAI-S
Auto Focus TypeManual Focus
F Stops4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32
Min Focus Distance1.2m
Blades9 straight
SharpnessOutstanding
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f8 onwards
Bokeh QualityVery nice – beautiful
Reproduction Ratio1:4.4 – which is ‘good’
Nikkor 80-200mm f4 AI-S

Auto-Focus Lens Reviews


While this may be the “auto-focus” lens review section, my main objective over the last few years has been to maximise compatibility across my Nikon FE2 & FT2 to my N80 to even my digital D610 & D7200 (and even my Sony A7 II & A7 III with an adapter).

To that end, most of the lens I’ve reviewed and used below usually have an aperture ring (see ‘f stops column’), and always have a manual-focus capabilities šŸ‘

Nikkor 18-35mm f3.5-4.5 AF-D

This a great AF ultra-wide zoom lens, which has an aperture ring for backward & forward compatibility. For it’s era, this ultra-wide offers excellent sharpness , with one caveat … it’s always soft in the extreme corners at 18mm no matter what f-stop. That said there’s not much other choice on offer, if you want a Nikon made ultra-wide zoom with a manual focus camera … so I learned to ignore those itsy-bitsy bottom corners šŸ˜‰

Focal Length18-35mm
Weight370g
Filter Diameter77mm
Initial Year of Manufacture2000
Lens HoodHB-23
Lens Model TypeAF with MF ring
Auto Focus TypeScrew Auto-Focus
F Stops3.5, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22
Min Focus Distance33 cm
Blades7 rounded
SharpnessExcellent (except at 18mm)
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f8 onwards, except at 18mm which never sharpens in the extreme corners šŸ˜
Bokeh QualityNA
Reproduction RatioUnknown
Nikkor 18-35mm f3.5-4.5 AF

Nikkor 18-35mm f3.5-4.5 AF-S G ED

This an outstanding AF S ultra-wide zoom lens – it’s razor sharp, handles flare with consummate ease, and is lightweight and supremely portable. This is my go-to ‘modern’ Nikon ultra-wide for the last 5+ years !

Focal Length18-35mm
Weight381g
Filter Diameter77mm
Initial Year of Manufacture2013
Lens HoodHB-23
Lens Model TypeAF with MF ring
Auto Focus TypeMotorised Auto-Focus (AF-S)
F StopsNone – G model
Min Focus Distance28 cm
Blades7 rounded
SharpnessOutstanding !
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f8 onwards as you’d expect from an ultra wide ‘landscape’ lens
Bokeh QualityNA
Reproduction RatioUnknown
Nikkor 18-35mm f3.5-4.5 AF G

Tokina 19-35mm f3.5-4.5 AF

This a very good AF ultra-wide zoom lens, which has an aperture ring for backward & forward compatibility. I did a lot of research on the Tokina range of 16-17-18-19 ultra-wide lenses from this era, and this is definitely the sharpest of that particular bunch (although still a little weak at 19mm requiring f11). However it’s eclipsed by its 20-35mm sibling for only a few dollars more (see review below).

Focal Length19-35mm
Weight390g
Filter Diameter77mm
Lens HoodA dedicated Tokina hood is required
Lens Model TypeAF with MF ring
Auto Focus TypeScrew Auto-Focus
F Stops3.5, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22
Min Focus Distance25 cm
Blades6 straight
SharpnessGood-Excellent
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f8 onwards, except at 19mm which requires f11
Bokeh QualityNA
Reproduction RatioUnknown
Tokina 19-35mm f3.5-4.5 AF

Tokina 20-35mm f3.5-4.5 AF (Canon)

After a lot of research for cheap & cheerful Canon wide-angles, this ‘orange stripe’ 20-35mm is far superior to any of the 16/17/18/19 -35mm Tokinas, and it’s been alleged that even though it’s branded as 20-35mm, its field-of-view is actually 19-35mm in reality.

I found this lens to be tack-sharp in the centre wide-open through-out the entire focal-range … and requires only f8 to be sharp left-to-right, which is way superior to the equivalent Nikon 18-35mm AF-D offering, and performing pretty damn close to the 2013 18-35mm AF-S G version (for a third of the price !)

Focal Length20-35mm
Weight504g
Filter Diameter72mm
Lens HoodA dedicated BH-771 Tokina hood is required
Lens Model TypeAF
Auto Focus TypeNon-USM
F StopsNA (Canon EF Mount)
Min Focus Distance40 cm
Blades6 straight
SharpnessExcellent – Outstanding
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f8 onwards
Bokeh QualityNA
Reproduction RatioUnknown
Tokina 20-35mm f3.5-4.5 AF (Canon)

Sigma 24mm f2.8 Super Wide II AF

This is what they call a “sleeper” lens … while reviewers waxed lyrically about the prowess of the Nikkor 28mm f2.8 AI-S, this little lens, which nobody seems to be talking about, is JUST AS SHARP !

It’s an outstanding AF ultra-wide zoom lens, razor sharp, with a ‘macro’ capability and beautiful bokeh (yes, you read correctly). Just be aware that the AF is a little noisy when conducting large distance sweeps, but certainly not a deal breaker.

This has also become my go-to prime lens on my Nikon D7200 crop sensor, giving me an effective 35mm-ish field of view, while working perfectly on my film and full-frame digital bodies.

Focal Length24mm
Weight250g
Filter Diameter52mm
Initial Year of Manufacture1998
Lens HoodThe original hood receives a lot of criticism for how impractical it is, so just use a screw-on HN-3 instead
Lens Model TypeAF with MF ring
Auto Focus TypeScrew Auto-Focus
F Stops2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22 (all in half stops too !)
Min Focus Distance18mm
Blades6 straight
SharpnessAbsolutely outstanding – on par with the Nikkor 28mm AI-S, and maybe even better !
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f5.6 onwards !
Bokeh QualityBeautiful !
Reproduction Ratio1:4 – which is ‘very good’
Sigma 24mm f2.8 Super Wide II AF

Canon 24-85mm f3.5-4.5 USM

After a lot of research, I will agree that this Canon zoom lens is simply fantastic ! They can be bought second-hand from ā‚¬95 to ā‚¬110, but wow, they offer amazing bang-for-your-buck: the lens is tack-sharp in the centre at every focal length, and from 28-85mm require only f8 for edge-to-edge sharpness.

The bokeh is beautiful at 85mm f4.5, and the only caveat is that at 24mm the chromatic aberrations are very high even at f11 … so either avoid those tree branches against a bright sky at 24mm or you’ll get a lot of purple fringing, otherwise try take the shot at 28mm onwards.

Focal Length24-85mm
Weight380g
Filter Diameter67mm
Initial Year Of Manufacture1996
Lens HoodEW-73II
Lens Model TypeAF with MF ring
Auto Focus TypeUSM
F StopsNA (Canon EF Mount)
Min Focus Distance50 cm
Blades6 straight
SharpnessExcellent
Sharp Edge-to-edgeTack-sharp in the centre from 24-80mm, sharp edge-to-edge from f8 onwards while 24mm requires f11. There is strong chromatic aberration at 24mm, so be careful shooting tree branches against the sky – try 28mm instead
Bokeh QualityBeautiful
Reproduction Ratio1:6 – which is ‘very poor’
Canon 24-85mm f3.5-4.5 USM

Canon 28-70mm f3.5-4.5 II USM

This old, lightweight zoom from Canon is a ‘sleeper’ lens, I can confirm that the image quality is simply stunning, rivalling Canon L glass equivalents – and best of all these can be had for ā‚¬55 – ā‚¬70 !

This version II of the 28-70mm lens, incorporates an aspherical element, which the original version didn’t have, and as a result, the images are razor sharp in the centre at all focal lengths, the bokeh is lovely, and best of all the images are sharp edge-to-edge at f8 at 28mm, and at f5.6 from 35-70mm = amazing !

There is a ‘macro’ mode, but by todays standards it’s normal. As it has a large focus throw, the AF is a little noisy when conducting large distance sweeps, but it’s not a deal-breaker. In addition, while the Canon 24-85mm is amazing, this cheaper lens is even better.

Focal Length28-70mm
Weight285g
Filter Diameter52mm
Initial Year Of Manufacture1988
Lens HoodEW-68A
Lens Model TypeAF with MF ring
Auto Focus TypeNon USM
F StopsNA (Canon EF Mount)
Min Focus Distance39 cm
Blades5 straight
SharpnessOutstanding
Sharp Edge-to-edgeFrom 35-70mm it’s sharp edge-to-edge from f5.6 onwards, while at 28mm it only needs f8. This is pretty amazing for a zoom lens, Canon pulled out all the stops !
Bokeh QualityVery good
Reproduction Ratio1:5 – which is ‘average’
Canon 28-70mm f3.5-4.5 II USM

Nikkor 28-70mm f3.5-4.5 AF-D

This lens has the potential to be a more usable & travel-friendly version of it’s bigger brother, the 28-105mm AF-D (which is another 100g heavier) … however it comes at a price, 70mm is soft wide open, and requires double stopping of the aperture to get decent results.

That all said, it is very sharp from f5.6 onwards, and it also has a long focus-throw & aperture ring, so it does make for a great manual-focus body zoom lens. I guess the challenge being, there’s such a large choice of lenses in this focal-range:  the 28-80mm AF-D, 28-105mm AF-D or 28-80mm AF G …

Focal Length28-70mm
Weight353g
Filter Diameter52mm
Initial Year Of Manufacture1991
Lens HoodHB-6
Lens Model TypeAF with MF ring
Auto Focus TypeScrew Auto-Focus
F Stops3.5, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22
Min Focus Distance40 cm
Blades9 straight
SharpnessExcellent
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f5.6 onwards, however at 70mm it has very strong chromatic aberration softness when wide-open
Bokeh QualityVery good
Reproduction Ratio1:4.5 – which is ‘poor’
Nikkor 28-70mm f3.5-4.5 AF-D

Nikkor 28-80mm f3.5-5.6 AF-D

This lens was the precursor to the 28-80mm AF G two enteries below (the G model is an improvement over the AF-D at the long-end of the zoom range, but the G version doesn’t have any aperture ring).

It’s the sharpest zoom lens between 28-50mm of all the AF-D & G zoom lenses mentioned here ! At 80mm wide open (f5.6) it’s definitely a little soft, which may be acceptable that retro halo-soft look, but for landscape you’ll need f8 onwards at 80mm for edge-to-edge sharpness. All that said, if you have a manual-focus Nikon body, and you need a walk-about lens, this one is perfect … and they’re going for only 30-40 Euros second-hand !

Note :: Buy the ‘later’ version of the lens, that has 7 digits in it’s serial number, as it has a wider manual focus grip.

Focal Length28-80mm
Weight264g
Filter Diameter58mm
Initial Year Of Manufacture1999
Lens HoodHB-20
Lens Model TypeAF with MF ring
Auto Focus TypeScrew Auto-Focus
F Stops3.5, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22
Min Focus Distance40 cm
Blades7 rounded
SharpnessExcellent – Outstanding
Sharp Edge-to-edgeThe sharpest of the zooms between 28-50mm, with it being sharp edge-to-edge from f5.6 onwards ! However at 80mm be aware of chromatic aberration softness when wide-open
Bokeh QualityReasonably good at 80mm
Reproduction Ratio1:3.8 – which is ‘very good’
Nikkor 28-80mm f3.5-5.6 AF-D

Nikkor 28-105mm f3.5-4.5 AF-D

This lens is the ‘step-up’ from the f3.5-5.6 consumer version, being half a stop brighter and offering a longer reach of 105mm instead of 80mm. With 9 blades if offers very nice bokeh at 105mm f4.5 and I found it to be tack sharp in the centre at every focal length ! A surprise bonus feature about this lens is that it has a Macro mode, offering 1:2 magnification ratio, which is amazing !

Be aware though, the only trouble with the 28-105mm AF-D is the prospect of getting a good copy. I can confirm the online banter, that there ARE definitely bad copies in circulation with back-focussing issues. My copy turned out to be one of those bad copies šŸ˜•, and it required an AF Fine Tune adjustment of -7 on my full-frame digital body. So when I tried using it on my Nikon N80 film body, no joy, it back-focuses just enough in my developed negatives to be unreliable in the field, unless I manually focus, which is a shame.

Focal Length28-105mm
Weight450g
Filter Diameter62mm
Initial Year Of Manufacture1998
Lens HoodHB-18
Lens Model TypeAF with MF ring
Auto Focus TypeScrew Auto-Focus
F Stops3.5, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22
Min Focus Distance22 cm – offers a dedicated 1:2 macro mode at 105mm
Blades9 straight
SharpnessExcellent – Outstanding
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f5.6 onwards, just be aware that 28mm is it’s weakest focal length and requires f11 – f13 to be sharp edge-to-edge, otherwise it’s very impressive at all focal lengths
Bokeh QualityBeautifully smooth at 105mm !
Reproduction Ratio1:2 – a dedicated macro mode, which is outstanding !
Nikkor 28-105mm f3.5-4.5 AF-D

Nikkor 28-80mm f3.3-5.6 AF G

This lens is a completely re-designed version of the older AF-D zoom lens reviewed above. It has less elements (6 vs typically 8), it has very good close focus abilities, it’s smaller, it’s lighter, and it’s tact sharp in the centre at all focal lengths.

This lens is the opposite of it’s AF-D 28-80mm f3.5-5.6 precursor, it’s sharper edge-to-edge from 50mm onwards, unlike it’s AF-D precursor, which happened to be sharper edge-to-edge before 50mm … that may help you decide a little better. So if you don’t require an aperture ring, nor AF-S, nor VR, then this is the BEST bang-for-your-buck AF zoom lens available.

It has definitely become my favourite walk-about zoom lens, as it’s razor sharp, focusses really close at (impressive reproduction ratio of 3.5), has a very nice bokeh at 80mm, and best of all, you can pick them up for 50-60 Euros.

Focal Length28-80mm
Weight190g
Filter Diameter58mm
Initial Year Of Manufacture2001
Lens HoodHB-20
Lens Model TypeAF with MF ring
Auto Focus TypeScrew Auto-Focus
F StopsNo aperture ring – G model
Min Focus Distance35 cm
Blades7 rounded
SharpnessExcellent – Outstanding
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f5.6 onwards, however it’s soft in the extreme corners at 28mm, and requires f8-f11 to be sharp
Bokeh QualityVery nice at 80mm
Reproduction Ratio1:3.5 – which is ‘excellent’
Nikkor 28-80mm f3.3-5.6 AF G

Nikkor 35mm f2 AF-D

This is an outstanding AF 35mm prime lens – it is razor sharp, has an aperture ring for backward & forward compatibility, and unlike its AI-S predecessor, it’s handles lens flare with consummate ease and has a good reproduction ratio for up-close macro style shots. This is my favourite, all-time, prime lens on all my Nikon bodies – in fact, with an adapter, I used it on my Sony A7III for years !

Focal Length35mm
Weight200g
Filter Diameter52mm
Lens HoodHN-3
Lens Model TypeAF with MF ring
Auto Focus TypeScrew Auto-Focus
F Stops2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22
Min Focus Distance25 cm
Blades7 straight
SharpnessOutstanding
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f5.6 onwards
Bokeh QualityNice, just be aware of your background
Reproduction Ratio1:4 – which is ‘good’
Nikkor 35mm f2 AF-D

Nikkor 50mm f1.4 AF-D

Similar to the amazing 35mm f2 AF-D, this is another outstanding prime lens – this 50mm auto-focus is razor sharp, has an aperture ring for backward & forward compatibility, handles lens flare with consummate ease, and is perfect for ‘people shots’ and low-light situations.

Focal Length35mm
Weight200g
Filter Diameter52mm
Lens HoodHN-3
Lens Model TypeAF with MF ring
Auto Focus TypeScrew Auto-Focus
F Stops1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16
Min Focus Distance45 cm
Blades7 straight
SharpnessOutstanding
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f4 onwards
Bokeh QualityNice, just be aware of your background
Reproduction Ratio1:6.6 – which is ‘very poor’
Nikkor 50mm f1.4 AF-D

Nikkor 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 AF-S G VR

This an outstanding AF landscape tele-zoom lens – it’s razor sharp wide open, the VR works beautifully well, and it just produces superb images, in particular compressed, layer-style landscape & urban images.

This has been my go-to ‘modern’ outdoors Nikon tele for the last 5+ years, and best of all there’s great prices to be had for it !

Focal Length70-300mm
Weight745g
Filter Diameter67mm
Lens HoodHB-36
Lens Model TypeAF VR with MF ring
Auto Focus TypeMotorised Auto-Focus (AF-S)
F StopsNone – G model
Min Focus Distance1.5m
Blades9 rounded
SharpnessOutstanding
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f8 onwards
Bokeh QualityBeautiful
Reproduction Ratio1:4 – which is ‘good’
Nikkor 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 AF-S G VR

Canon 70-210mm f3.5-4.5 USM

When it comes to bang-for-your-buck Canon tele’s, this ā‚¬45 cheap-and-cheerful 70-210mm lens is outstanding, the image quality at all focal lengths is phenomenal, and it genuinely puts Nikons equivalent 80-200mm offering below to shame !

Wide open between f3.5-4.5 it’s amazingly tack-sharp in the centre, and has beautiful contrast and colour rendition, capable of producing excellent layer-style landscape & urban images. That extra 0.6 stop of light in particular (f4.5 instead of the usual f5.6) also helps compensate for the fact that it doesn’t have Image Stabilization (IS).

Focal Length70-210mm
Weight550g
Filter Diameter58mm
Lens HoodRequires a Canon ET-65II
Lens Model TypeAF
Auto Focus TypeUSM
F StopsNA – EF Mount
Min Focus Distance1.2m
Blades8 straight
SharpnessOutstanding
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f8 onwards
Bokeh QualityBeautiful
Reproduction Ratio1:6 – which is ‘poor’
Canon 70-210mm f3.5-4.5 USM

Nikkor 80-200mm f4.5-5.6 AF-D

This a very sharp, lightweight (322g), cheap (ā‚¬30-ā‚¬50) tele-zoom with one caveat … unfortunately it’s very soft wide open (f5.6) from 165-180mm. I mention this caveat because its sharpness is genuinely excellent in the centre, wide-open, until it finally hits that variable-aperture setting of f5.6 at around 150/165mm, so it comes as a bit of a shock when you see it happen.

However, despite this shortcoming I still get a lot of use out of this lens on my Nikon FE2 & Nikon N80 … but why you may ask …  because the alternative is to carry 745-1,275g šŸ˜² with the other Nikon 80-200mm tele-zooms, which makes them feel like a lead-weight when out & about for more than 2 hours.

In summary, if you need a travel-friendly, outdoors, tele-zoom with an aperture ring, then this lens represents the best practical compromise šŸ˜‡

Focal Length80-200mm
Weight332g
Filter Diameter52mm
Lens HoodHR-4 or HS-11
Lens Model TypeAF with MF ring (the MF ring is very narrow but useable)
Auto Focus TypeScrew Auto-Focus
F Stops4.5, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32
Min Focus Distance1.5m
Blades7 Straight
SharpnessIt’s excellent wide-open 80-165mm, then from 165-200mm the sharpness wide-open drops dramatically, and you’ll need f8 to get ‘normal’ sharpness šŸ˜•
Sharp Edge-to-edgeSharp edge-to-edge from f8 onwards at 80-165mm, then from 165-200m you’ll genuinely need f16 for sharp edge-to-edge images šŸ˜–.
Bokeh QualityVery nice to beautiful
Reproduction Ratio1:6 – which is ‘poor’
Nikkor 80-200mm f4.5-5.6 AF-D

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