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Lens quality

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Chris C, Nov 18, 2005.

  1. I have a D70, but bought it without lenses because I already had a 35/70, 3.3-4.5 AF Nikkor and a 70/210, 4-5.6 AF Nikkor I used to use with my 8008. I've not really been all that tickled with the quality of my digital pics so far and am wondering if either of these two lenses are considered as good as the kit lenses for the D70. Also, which of the two lenses I have is considered the better in image quality. I really don't have the extra bucks to invest in a lens right now, but what would be a good start when I do?
  2. JayR


    Jul 6, 2005
    Redmond, WA.
    I don't know anything about the 2 lenses mentioned but have heard that the 70-210 3.3-4.5 AF (D?) is a good lens.

    I would recommend that you get the 18-70 AFS DX (D70 Kit Lens). It is an excellent starter lens that performs really well for its modest price. You can pick them up in the used market for about $250. I regret selling mine when I bought the Tamron 28-75 f2.8 (What was I thinking?) and am thinking of picking one up.
  3. Chris,
    The D70 is notorious for putting out FABULOUS images so I got to believe your lens's are the issue. What type of things do you want to shoot the most? ie landscapes, people, wildlife? This will help us give you guidance into lens's that may help you in your budget constraints. Dont give up on the 2 ya got tho.
  4. rsimms


    Apr 30, 2005
    Redondo Beach, CA
    Bjørn Rørslett's Lens Survey

    If you want to know about lens quality go here
    Lens Survey And Subjective Evaluations.

    Bjørn (who is a member of this forum) has the (IMHO) the best and most complete lens reviews you will find online.
  5. Chris,
    Many new D70 users are not happy with the quality of their pictures...even with the kit lens. Start digging into the menus and play with the setting. It takes a little time but your pictures will improve.
  6. I shoot mainly landscape and people. I've mentioned here before, but I'll repeat...............I spent 27 years as a professional photographer and my equipment is Hasselblads and 4x5 and 5x7 Deardorff view cameras. So I'm used to really high quality images. I've never seen a 35mm image I thought was really high quality. (don't mean to step on any toes here, I promise) So it's easy for me to be super critical of digital images. But I'm comparing my images to some of the super work I've seen on this site, and, over all, I'm disappointed. (Still having a lot of fun with the D70 though!) I have the s-Reala custom curve set into my camera and like it..............even though I still do a lot of work in Picasa2 and Photoshop afterwards.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2005
  7. Chris,

    It's been my experience that great images are made, not taken. The quality is there, you just have to figure out how to get it. Camera settings and post production tecniques have a profound effect on the finished product.

    IMO, anyway.

    Woody :Glasses:
  8. Very good point...................but it has been my experience that the single most important tool in my camera equipment is the lens. If I'm using Carl Zeiss lenses, I can control every aspect of the finished print. But if I'm using a bargain basement lens, I'm very limited in what I can do. That was my only point. I'm still trying to find out how my two old lenses compare to today's lenses designed specifically for digital photography. It's as simple as that.
  9. My 70-200 4-5.6 is very sharp but lacks a bit in the contrast side. I think the 35-70 may be the same. A bit of flare makes things only worse.

    A lot of people who observe that their digital images are soft or lack punch actually are noticing lack of contrast and saturation.

    Your 8008 with well exposed film was less demanding perhaps.

    Simply put....digital needs the lens quality of your larger format film does.
    Post processing, of course, can't approach "getting it right" in the first place. You are more experienced that I so you, I'm sure, know that.

    Remember that you, when viewing at 100%, are viewing a three foot print from a foot away. Doing that with film prints wasn't so easy.

    Good luck. Is it good news or bad news that you're about to spend some money??? Borrow or rent a couple of top lenses...you'll probable see immediate qualitative improvement.
  10. Of the two, the 70-210 will render better contrast, better sharpness and a better bokeh.I sill have my F-4 70-210mm which is now almost 17 years old. It's a little noisy and slow on focus but gives great results. i use it when I don't want to haul the 70-200VR.

    The f3.5 35-70mm is a lesser lens and one I would replace it. The 24-85mm f3.5-4.5 G ED-IF is really a nice piece of glass and very reasonable.

  11. Thanks for the responses. You've all been very helpful.
  12. I recommend that you go to http://www.pixmantec.com and download their free Raw Shooter Essentials. This is a Free Raw Conversion program. The workflow is great. Shoot some raw images and then go use the conversion program, experimenting with the various settings. I liked this program enough to buy their Premium version. ( And I've been doing this a while ). If you are still not happy, you may want to try the Nikon 18-70mm digital lens. It has a good reputation and would give you a known to compare against.
  13. Muril,

    Too many bugs in RSE! I lose about 3% of my pictures to them and all the administrator says is "what do you want for free?" As a result, I no longer shoot in RAW..................which isn't a big loss to me. I am happy with Picasa2 for now.

    I'm just interested in lens quality issues here. Thanks for the suggestion, though.
  14. Chris, here is what I would do. Go to my Local Great Camera Store and do a couple of side-by-side comparison shots with a couple of the lenses they have on display and yours. Same subject, same lighting, something boring in the store that has lot's of color and contrast. Then look at them in the software of your choice. Shooting RAW is always best for the most control, you note in another reply that you have Photoshop, ACR works fairly well for conversion also.

    But the main thing I would do would be the side-by-side with a couple of the lenses, including the 18-70.
  15. Chris,
    Haven't run into this problem with bugs in RSE, however I do use the Premium version. A point that I was trying to make is that a good raw converter can put you on a level playing field for any comparisons you want to make with different lenses. I look forward to seeing your final analysis of these lenses.
  16. Chris,

    I owned a D70 and found that many of the images did not look that great until they were post-processed in Photoshop or some other program. Specifically the D70 tends to under-expose and can be soft out of camera. Once you get to know the D70 (there are TONS of custom settings) you can experiment and change some of the default settings or even add custom curves. I don't know your level of skill in Photoshop (or even if you own it) but you can improve your images 150% or more with a little post-processing. Specifically, some levels adjustment, sharpening and contrast boost do wonders with D70 images. I also really like the "Auto Enhance" feature in Picture Project, this does wonders with D70 images as well. Some people think Picture Project is a toy, but I use it a lot and have been very impressed with the "Auto Enhance" tool.

    Regarding lens quality, I have a feeling that post-processing will see you more improvement than better lenses (though they won't hurt).
  17. I'd go with the kit lens over the 35-70/3.3, but personally I don't think optics are the problem here. Remember with digital you have to do a lot of the stuff in photoshop that the film lab normally would do for you. Post processing is important - basics like adjusting exposure and white balance will do wonders.
  18. shootman

    shootman Guest

    I'd suggest you check out the following site for lens quality comparisons.

    Albeit not MTF curves Bjorn does real world tests, actual photos, just imagine!:wink:

    I too have shot and continue to shoot with Hasselblad and Sinar 4 x 5 and would argue that 35 mm lenses are fully capable of producing high quality images suitable for commercial work. I've done it and seen it in over 20 years in the business. Choosing the right lens in the first place and knowing its strengths and weaknesses is important. Just like stopping down 4 x 5 lens to ƒ64 is not the best for sharpness.
  19. Thanks for the link, James. I've had it for a year or so now and have found it useful. As far as your comments about 35mm..............I guess this is a subject we'll have to agree to disagree on. I only use 35mm for "thoughts and sketches" of what I really want to do with my larger formats. That said, I'm having a ball with this D70............of course, all I'm doing with it is burning discs full of family pictures for everyone. So I'm not considering it anything more than a play toy. But I sure would like a couple of lens' to cover 35 through 200 mm or so which were tack sharp like my Zeiss lens'. Even with all my post processing, the images from the D70 are a fairly big disappointment.

    By the way, Paul, I use Photoshop 7 and Picasa2 for my postprocessing.
  20. I'm still trying to find out how my two old lenses compare to today's lenses designed specifically for digital photography. It's as simple as that.

    if this is your main "focus" I would suggest you look at the 28-70 and the 70-200 and retire the two len's you have
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