Anyone TEST the Nikon 60mm AF-S? (aside from what is on the web)

Started Nov 8, 2012 | Discussions thread
anotherMike
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Re: Anyone TEST the Nikon 60mm AF-S? (aside from what is on the web)
In reply to Steve Bingham, Nov 9, 2012

Hey Steve,

Yea, I've spent a lot of time analyzing/evaluating the 60/2.8G AFS. I no longer own it (reasons why later), but I'm quite familiar with it on D700, D7000, and D800E bodies. As a general note, I had a fairly early made-in-Japan version with no centering defects.

Overall it's a lens with a truly gorgeous rendering - very 3D with nice colors, very much in line with the latest Nikon G glass. In this regard I consider it superior to the 105/2.8G VR (which frankly is a lens I didn't love) - but also a lens with some issues.

The trickier bit about the 60G is sharpness and "bite", dependent on which camera, and distance.

On a D700, I loved this lens - one of my favorites - at any distance (short/medium/medium-far/far). Loved this lens on this body.

On a D7000, while the lens performed quite well up close, its corners, while not bad, just weren't "there" at moderate/far and far distance ranges. To the point, after several test runs across several days, I made comparitive 13x19" prints from a  D7000/60G and a D700/85 1.8G (to get near similar focal length equivalency views) and did a blind test. Not a single person out of 5 thought the D7000/60G print won - they all picked the D700/85 1.8G, and corner performance was noted as one of the reasons. Again, it wasn't bad, but the deep corners and edges just lost the 'bite' on this camera. Some people in various fora thought perhaps the lens had a uneven "sombrero" like sharpness profile and that resulted in the lenses "weak spot" along that sharpness profile not matching up well to the DX corner and edge location.

On the D800E, the revealer of lens performance in many ways, it was quickly apparent to me that the 60/2.8G wasn't going to cut it for anything besides close to close/moderate distances. At moderate to moderate/far and certainly at infinity, the corners and edges never really worked for me at any aperture. Overall the lens, while still having a nice general rendering, just didn't have enough "bite" to get the type of crispness and vividness that define the D800E images when all is done well. In short, at those distances, you'll never see what the D800E is capable of (never reach the ceiling of the cameras potential) with this lens, and it's because of the corners and edges. Now - the good news is that for up close work, it's still quite good. However, since my needs for the lens were more general purpose or at least to cover the studio distance range, I sold it. My cheap 50/1.8G, while not having quite a nice a rendering, simply had more "bite" at the distance ranges I work at (moderate to far) and while the 24-70 isn't perfect either, I preferred it at 60mm as well for the type of work I do.

So it's a hard question to answer. If you're looking for a great close up lens that can work extremely well in the short zones, it's probably a nice choice. As a general purpose lens where even stopped down that the corners/edges never quite snap into gear - not the best choice. As a landscape lens - no. As a lens where you care about rendering and don't require the absolute best in corner and edge sharpness, absolutely - it really does render nicely. In some ways I'm sorry I sold mine, but the reality is, with the D800E, more than ever before, I'm really neediing to spend time matching up lenses to my shooting scenarios in order to optimize the whole process. Lenses I may have loved in the past don't always impress me now, and other lenses do. On a less demanding D7000, this may not be the case, but I was never sold on the 60Gs corner performance for most of what I do on the D7000 either - it was a difficult marriage - awesome in the center, troublesome elsewhere. I still think a D700/60G combination was the best marriage for this lens.

So the verdict is tricky: Certainly a very good lens. In the closer ranges, near an excellent lens. But only "very good" and perhaps just dropping to "good" as you get further away out of its comfort zone, on modern bodies. As I said, some days I regret selling it, others, I don't. Frankly I think Nikon could have done a bit better, given the demands the D800E makes on lenses.

-m

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