Monday, December 18, 2017

Nikon 180mm f/2.8 ED AIS Lens Review

Image ©


I've only heard great things about this Nikon 180mm f/2.8 ED AIS lens.  One might say it has legendary status.  When I saw one for sale at a local shop for not a lot of money - I inspected it and plunked down the money.  It was not in perfect condition, but the faults it had would not affect functionality or image quality.


This is not a light lens.  All metal, lots of glass.  You'll know you have a lens of significance on your camera.  When holding the lens, the PEN-F doesn't even feel like it is attached.

The aperture ring has definite clicks to it so you'll know when it moves from one aperture to the next.  The focus ring is buttery smooth and if you like the way Nikon manual focus lenses'll like this too.

Image Quality

Does the lens live up to its reputation?  Is it the legend that the internet says it is?

Here, the lens is adapted to an Olympus PEN-F with a Fotodiox adapter.

1/2000, f/4, ISO 200
custom MONO mode settings on PEN-F

1/250, f/8, ISO 200
Lightroom / Nik Silver Efex 2

1/1000, f/4, ISO 200
Lightroom / Nik Silver Efex 2

1/100, f/4, ISO 500

1/200, f/4, ISO 200
custom MONO mode settings on PEN-F

Now images using this lens on the Nikon Df:

1/200, f/2.8, ISO 250

1/200, f/4, ISO 110
on1 Photo RAW 2018 (Panatomic 32 Preset)

1/320, f/4, ISO 100
on1 Photo RAW 2018 (Panatomic 32 Preset)

1/800, f/4, ISO 100
on1 Photo RAW 2018 (City Street Preset)


The focus throw is good.  You can get precise manual focus with either a Nikon DSLR (Nikon Df) that can accept it as well as adapting it to a mirrorless camera (Olympus PEN-F).

Even at f/2.8, it is not hard to get this lens focused where you want.

Bottom Line

Despite this being a manual focus lens, there is a lot to like here.  In this day and age, we can give these legacy lenses a new life not only on DSLRs like the Nikon Df, but on just about every mirrorless platform you can think.

So to answer my question from the beginning of the article, "Does it live up to the legend?"   I say YES!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Nikon 200mm f/4 QC Lens Review

Image ©


Another lens picked up for a little bit of nothing.   I figure, why not check it out.  For the price let's see what this very light 200mm f/4 lens can do.


Long and slim, this 200mm f/4 QC lens may look a bit odd when compared to modern lens standards.  Heck even compared to the legacy Nikon 180mm f/2.8 ED lens, it looks way different.   It does handle relatively well, with everything you'd want in very familiar places.

Given it's relative size, you'd expect this metal lens to weigh more than it feels like it does.  It is very deceptive in that way.

Image Quality

One would hope that the wide open performance of this lens would be acceptable.   What great find it would be to have a 200mm f/4 on a DSLR or even a 400mm f/4 field of view on a Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera.

How does the lens perform?  See what we were able to pull from it below.

Some samples of the lens adapted to the Olympus PEN-F and Fotodiox adapter.  We are looking at a 400mm field of view.  Processed in Lightroom.

1/400, f/4, ISO 200 

1/160, f/4, ISO 200

1/160, f/4, ISO 200
Now, let's look at what it can do on the Nikon Df.
1/500, f/4, ISO 100

1/400, f/5.6, ISO 100

1/200, f/4, ISO 560

1/400, f/4, ISO 100

1/500, f/8, ISO 4500

1/500, f/8, ISO 5000

1/500, f/8, ISO 1800

1/500, f/5.6, ISO 5600


I found the manual focusing of this lens to be a bit better than that of the Nikon 300/4.5 AI.  It is similar in feel to the Nikon 105/2.5 and the 135/3.5 Q.

It gets the job done for you with a decently dampened focus ring, and at the end of the day that is a testament to the Nikon build quality.

Bottom Line

If prime lenses are your thing, like or don't mind using manual focus lenses check this one out.  For the price you pay, you still get one heck of a lens that will probably still be working long after most of us are no longer breathing.  

Monday, November 27, 2017

Nikon 135mm f/3.5 Q Lens Review

Image ©


The deluge of manual focus lenses continues!  This time with the Nikon 135mm f/3.5 Q.  Another pickup of the older legacy lenses.  It is generally well regarded in its capabilities.  Perhaps not as legendary as the Nikon 105/2.5 AI lens, but let's see where it fits into the mix.

Images shot on the Nikon Df or Olympus PEN-F(Fotodiox adapter) were done in aperture priority.


Slightly larger than the Nikon 105/2.5.  It has similar styling to the Nikon 200mm f/4 QC lens.  It is not a heavy lens, nothing like the 180mm f/2.8 ED, but very similar to the smaller metal primes of the era.

Image Quality

Right off the bat, I'm thinking that I am going to see how it fairs against my much loved 105/2.5.  The 105mm does have a faster aperture, but not by much. 

I really like the rendering of this lens.  I did notice that it is possible to shift just past f/3.5.  Below is an example of what the lens renders when you click just past the f/3.5 mark.

1/4000, f/3.5, ISO 100
Nikon Df
Clicking the aperture ring to the right of f/3.5 causes some sharpness issues

This one is right on the f/3.5 mark.  You can see the haze is gone.
1/4000, f/3.5, ISO 100
Nikon Df
This causes a lot of haze in the image.  Just something to keep in mind.  Shooting at f/3.5 produces excellent IQ(as you can see from the sample image immediately above), so you are getting a good image to start.  Stopping down a little bit enhances the sharpness, as you'll see in the following images.

1/640, f/5.6, ISO 100
Nikon Df
1/400, f/5.6, ISO 100
Nikon Df
1/640, f/5.6, ISO 100
Nikon Df
1/160, f/3.5, ISO 220
Nikon Df


The focus confirmation dot on the Df was spot on from what I could tell.    Hitting focus at f/3.5 seemed just as easy as shooting at f/8.

Very similar to the 200mm f/4 in feel just a little stiffer.  On my copy, I noticed that the focus ring is smooth when going toward infinity, but when going to close focus the zoom ring has more resistance.  Not sure if this is normal or there is an issue with the focus ring.

1/500, f/3.5, ISO 100
Nikon Df
The Infamous "Umbrella Girl" of Schiller Park
1/400, f/8, ISO 100
Nikon Df
1/320, f/3.5, ISO 200
Olympus PEN-F / Fotodiox lens adapter

1/100, f/3.5, ISO 1000
Olympus PEN-F / Fotodiox lens adapter

Bottom Line

One could make a case for the 135mm if you did not already have the 105mm, or you could reverse that last sentence.  If I were buying these lenses to have a kit, then I doubt I would buy and have both.   Since these cost very little now, getting, having and enjoying both is not a big deal.

I do believe I give the edge to sharpness and fun to use to the 105/2.5.

On the Df, the lens handled ever so slightly better, but that is to be expected as this is the kind of lens the Df was designed to work with.

If you can find a used copy of this lens for a good price and are looking for something in this focal length/field of view it is definitely worth your consideration.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Panasonic 14-140mm f/4-5.8 Mega O.I.S Micro Four Thirds Lens Review

© PanasonicUSA


We all want the best image quality we can get.  Sometimes we need to make compromises though when going out.  Some gear is to big or heavy, others don't do so good in low light... focus sled can be an issue.

There are times when it is most convenient or conducive to only have one camera and one lens, hopefully it is enough to cover the majority of the situations you'll encounter.

I've been hunting for that one lens solution for my Micro For Thirds lot for a long time.  I've already found a worthy one lens for Nikon DX in the Nikon 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 VR.  I use it a ton on the Nikon D500.

So far, I've struck out on my selections in m43.  Having tried the best Olympus iteration of the 14-150/4-5.6II.  As much as there was to love about it, with weather sealing and a good range of focal length... It just did not do it for me.  There was something lacking in sharpness and feel.  I've reviewed it here, so feel free to check out that post for more details.

I've had people tell me to try out the Tamron equivalent and I might some day.  One has just not come across my path yet.  The internet does have a buzz about the Panasonic 14-140 lens though.  A local camera store had one for a good price.

Having had experience with the Panasonic pron line of lenses, such as the 12-35 and 35-100 f/2.8 and the great bang for the buck 12-32 pancake soon...I thought I might have a wonder in this all in one.

Keep reading to see how this lens fared in of testing.

© PanasoincUSA


I don't really consider this lens heavy.  Honestly even the Olympus 40-150/2.8 Pro lens is not heavy to me.  Coming from all metal Nikon lenses, just about anything in the m43 line up is small and light.

One thing I always give Panasonic credit for is having rubbery like costings on their zoom rings.  I love the functioning of the Olympus lenses, especially the Pro line - however, bring in an environment like Ohio, you having the baking sun in the summer and frigid temps in the winter, having an all metal lens makes it difficult to use sometimes. Definitely will give the Panasonic a not in the positive for the rubbery zoom ring.

Size wise, it is decent, but still unobtrusive.  It felt good in the hand and balanced just fine on both the PEN-F and the EM5.2. 

Image Quality

This is where I really look hard on these lenses.  Having such a stellar line up of both zoom and prime lens offerings I was hoping that I had another diamond in the rough.  Hoping that the lens would be close if not identical to the Panasonic 12-32 through most of the range.

This is where I was let down.  From 14-80mm in the range, the lens performed acceptably well.  It was beyond that where it lost me and fell out of consideration.

I tried everything I could think of to get acceptable image quality.  I shot with anti shock mode, which is something I need to do with a lot of the Panasonic lenses.  No help.  I tried full electronic shutter...still no good.  I even placed the camera on a solid surface...a bit better, but still not passing the grade.

I tried wide open and stopped down apertures, shutter speeds all the way to 1/2000...still not getting there.

Now, I've seen some good stuff coming from this lens and it could possibly be me, for sure.  My best guess is that this might be a bad lens.  Unfortunately, the camera store only had this one copy so I have no other samples to check out.  Alas, though, I feel that this kind of lens is not going to be in the cards for me in m43 mount.

I will some day test the Olympus 12-100/4, but it does not fit the budget or size requirements I am looking for at the moment.

When the images are taken under 80mm focal length, I found the color and contrast very pleasing, as I do with most Panasonic lenses.

As shot image
1/200, f/5.3, ISO 200 @ 41mm
Center crop of above image.  I'm thinking this might not be a bad lens!   Good contrast and decent enough sharpness.
1/1600, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 15mm
Again, I'm not having a lot of issues here.  The wider to middle focal lengths are showing to be very usable. hopes are high.  Now to check the longer end of the zoom range.
1/250, f/8, ISO 250 @ 140mm
And from about 100mm through the end of the just does not cut it anymore.  this center crop at f/8....I was hoping for much more.    The Olympus 40-150/4-5.6R is much better than this.  This is where I'm not sure that the lens is just bad across all the copies or if I have one that has an issue at infinity focus.  Closer focusing at the same focal length gives much better results.
For example, this image was shot from just a few feet away and the IQ is much better.  I do know that the 1/250 shutter speed on the construction worker shots is pushing the boundary....but the IBIS on the PEN-F has handled situations like this much better and I did test the same scenario with a 1/2000 shutter with no appreciable difference in sharpness.
1/1250, f/5.8, ISO 200 @ 140mm
Close up crop of the above.   Very acceptable sharpness here at this closer focusing distance.


I can't really complain here.  The focus never really Hunter and felt quick and sure.  The manual focus ring is toward the front of the lens, like many others and I could find it without having to take my eye from the viewfinder.

Bottom Line

Searching for a one lens solution that fits my needs is still ongoing.  The Panasonic is a fine lens from the outside looking in, but the sample I had just let me down. If I ever get the opportunity to try another I certainly will, maybe even check out the newer version with f/3.5-5.6 aperture range.  For now, I'll just stick with a 2 lens solution that I know works for me.

I'm just let down by the focus toward infinity, which is where a lens like this would be working hard for me.  For now, I'll stick with the Olympus 75-300/4.8-6.7II and the Panasonic 35-100/2.8 for my longer lens needs.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Revisiting the Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5-5.6D Legacy Lens

Image Copyright Midwest Photo Exchange (

We've had this lens for a while so I thought that I would circle round again and post on how it has fared after our original post!

There is nothing I have against modern lenses.  I own quite a few and use them whenever I feel they are the best tool for the job.  Sometimes, though, I can't explain precisely why, but I love to use some older glass.  It might be the feel of them along with the way that they render images.

It could also be that some of these lenses, long forgotten by most, a fraction of their value on the used market have way more value than that dollar sign marked on it at the store.

For me, that last sentence is what really speaks to me about this lens.  Lots of plastic here, auto focus is slow by modern lens standards.  Put this on my Nikon Df and something magical happens.  It renders colors how I like it.  The lower contrast gives you that little bit extra room to work in post.  I'd rather it be lower contrast than too much.

While it will not blow your socks off on any MTF chart - it is sharp enough for most use.  If I need something in lower light, I'll go for a faster zoom or prime...but in normal shooting conditions - I see very little to get down on this sub $100 F-mount lens.

I'll let the images below speak for themselves. All taken with the Nikon Df.

1/500, f/8, ISO 360 @ 180mm

1/500, f/8, ISO 320 @ 200mm

1/500, f/5.6, ISO 100 @ 80mm

1/640, f/5.6, ISO 720 @ 200mm

1/640, f/11, ISO 900 @ 200mm

1/500, f/4.5, ISO 360 @ 90mm
1/500, f/11, ISO 2200 @ 200mm

1/500, f/5.6, ISO 1800 @ 105mm

1/200, f/8, ISO 220 @ 200mm