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28-70 Beast Review

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Commodorefirst, Nov 6, 2005.

  1. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Well, i have been spending most of my weekend lens testing starting friday night when I did a comparison of my recently purchased used 28-70 vs my 24-120VR. I am not going to post all the indoor results, (to lazy to resize and place online) just some observations.

    for first test I was indoors, tripod mounted, natural and incandescent lighting combination. Metering for these lenses and testing was done at f5 and 1/60, VR off on the 24-120 and I also tried on, I used it both ways. I tested at 28mm, 50mm, and 70mm, WB Auto -2, JPG, aRGB, photo of printed newspaper approx 25 ' away and again at 4' Distance did not matter. Same results. Both lenses focused cleanly and when using a angled newspaper mounted on the stand did not exhibit any backfocus.


    at 28mm, the 28-70 was sharper in center and all four corners. More fine detail and resolution. Very little difference from center to corner in 28-70.

    at 50mm the 28-70 was sharper in the center and all four corners, still very little difference from center to corner in 28-70.

    at 70mm the 28-70 was sharper in the center and the bottom two corners, but was very soft in the upper right and left corners, !!! The 24-120VR was sharper in the upper right and left corners than the 28-70. I have a problem which starts at around 65mm and goes to 70mm with above normal softness in the upper right and left corners with the 24-70. This does not occur in the lower corners or the center. These areas are better than the 24-120VR. Now my 24-120VR which I have sold to VPT is a very good copy and only misses a very tiny tiny smidge compared to the 24-70. Just a bit less detail, and a bit soft till around 30mm, but excellent still for the price and type of lens. I tested this over and over, so sad to say 28-70 lens is going back Monday. At the end of the zoom it is soft in the upper corners, hmmmm.

    Now, I just had to go out and use the lens in real world conditions before I sent it back, and boy is the color and contrast great.....But I expect a lens like this to not be substantially soft in the upper corners compared to a 24-120VR.

    My photos from today before I packed up the lens:

    28mm f11 1/60

    28mm f11 1/200

    and here is one at 70mm taken head on, and notice the blur in the left corner. This is not entirely dof issues. This was taken on a vertical bank. The bottom of the image is the same distance from the camera as the top. f4.5 70mm 1/320
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 6, 2005
  2. PeterRH

    PeterRH Guest

    I wonder if we ask too much, even of 'pro' quality?

    I sent back two samples of the 17-55 for soft edges. The issue for me was that the 17-55 was so sharp and contrasty in the centre it made it easy to see that the edges were soft.

    Looks like something similar here on your 28-70.

    However, you say that even given this issue it beats the 24-120.

    So I wonder, are we asking too much to get that same clarity and contrast across the whole frame and through all focal lengths? And if they could do this, I wonder how big/expensive such a lens would have to be?

    The closest I have to the perfect lens has to be the 70-200VR. Nothing else I have (or have tested) matches this quality in a zoom lens.

    I wonder if we have to go back to having a bag full of primes?......
  3. Do you have a test target or something to shoot to better judge corners?
    The example you've shown seems, in part at least, to be out of focus simply as a function of depth of field perhaps. I may be wrong, but cannot tell.
  4. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    There may be a little dof in the last shot contributing, but in the flat newspaper tests you could see it very very easily. And it was just in the upper right and and the worst in the upper left corners. It only started at around 65mm to 70mm. I could handle a bit of softening, like on the 24-120VR but this was pretty obvious and only on the top. I think it was a lens flaw. So it is on it's way back.
  5. Sorry to hear it didn't work out, Wade. So what's next? Are you going to try another copy, or move to a different lens?
  6. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    I don't know about lens malfunction but I sure do like that first shot. Nice one.
  7. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Well, Funny you should ask.......I will get a good midrange zoom, probably another 28-70 but new with a 5 year warranty, but for now I have decided to get the 85 1.4, and since the 24-120VR is gone, I am also getting a 35 f2 to keep in the car on a D70.

    The 85 1.4 and 35mm f2 will be more useable for me this winter with concerts/recitals etc. etc.

    In the winter I usually am using the big lenses for eagles and wintering birds, or indoors with the fast lenses.
    But by spring or summer I will once again take the plunge. I found in my shooting that I shot either at the wide ends of the 24-120Vr most of the time. I plan on using the 12-24 more, and augmenting with the primes till I get one. Since I don't shoot weddings (yet) the 85 will work better for me.


  8. An awesome combo, Wade, and two lenses that I will own someday!

    I wasn't aware that you had purchased a used copy of the 28-70. I think the percentage of lemons must be much higher on used lenses. People tend to sell them rather than return them to Nikon for repair, and just pass on their bad copies to someone else. Good thing you got return priviledges with yours.
  9. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Peter, I would have kept the lens if it had beat the 24-120 but at 70mm while the 28-70 was sharper in the middle in the upper corners it was worse than the 24-120VR. A No go for me.

    contrast and color,Cneter sharpness, no comparison between the two lenses, 28-70 all the way. It made me realize that there is a pretty good difference between the two lenses. I knew that my sharpest lens was my 180 2.8 and the big wildlife guns, but seeing the 28-70 opened my eyes once again. I am hoping the new 85 1.4 will do that for me too.


  10. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    YEs it was a nice shot, even with the very windy conditions, and I shot this left handed out of the car window, not looking through the camera! I took 5 shots in quick succession and this was the keeper. I couldn't get out of the car and stand in the middle of the road since this HWY was very very busy. It took around 4 drive by attempts to gbe able to stop the car and throw the camera out of the window for a quick shot before a car would come from behind or from the front down the road.


  11. Seems to me some of the more subjective qualities of these lenses are not something Nikon can or will fix. E.g. soft corners. They do seem willing to offer replacements if one persists. But again, we end up with lenses in circulation that have problems.

    Personally, I'd pay even more if there was some kind of assured quality, rather than implied quality. I am quite weary of sending things to Nikon. I've spent enough on UPS this year alone to pay for a D200.

    I used to think there really wasn't much difference between copies. Modern manufacturing often means produced copies are virtually identical. But lenses of course are different - or should I say I would think the methods they use to manufacture the lenses themselves (the glass) probably produce some variability.

    Then I went through two copies of the 17-55 and there are definitely differences between them.

    So far as used copies and problems go - what do you do? I feel that my 28-70 has a problem with blooming, but the lens is so otherwise great, I can live with it rather than try to send it back yet again. Or worse yet to sell it. I honestly can't say I would feel comfortable selling the lens because of that. The only party I will return a defective lens to is Nikon, and they don't always send it back fixed. I have one inexpensive lens - the 18-70 - that is absolutely useless. It sits and will sit until I get bored and throw it away. How could I possibly sell it knowing it doesn't work correctly? Yes, I have sent it to Nikon. Twice.
  12. With that in mind, it would be more convenient and cost effective and in the long run for you to buy from a local store, like San Jose Camera or Keeble & Suschat, who has return/exchange priviledges.

    I wish everyone had your ethical stance, Ed. It would make the used lens market a much safer place.
  13. PeterRH

    PeterRH Guest

    Exactly why I buy from a top class retailer in London (Grays of Westminster). I pay a little more for the gear but there is no questions about returning products I have a problem with, be it a lens or even replacing a D2x without question.

    For that peace-of-mind the extra pennies are more than saved, several times over.
  14. I buy a substantial amount of my stuff from San Jose Camera. The rest from B&H, who of course are also quite good about returns, etc.

    San Jose are pretty basic, but I actually prefer them to K&S.
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