Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E – An old gem

Started Jul 7, 2011 | Discussions
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Todd Owyoung Regular Member • Posts: 110
Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E – An old gem

Recently while having my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8VR away for service, I was left without a telephoto zoom.

I had an assignment come up (photographing Willie Nelson in concert) for which I needed both reach and the flexibility of a zoom. On a whim, I grabbed my old 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E manual focus zoom, which I used to use on the FM3a.

Simply, I was a little blown away by how well this little lens performed.

Here's a short write-up about this former cult lens:
http://ishootshows.com/2011/06/21/review-nikon-75-150mm-f3-5-series-e/

With prices as low as $50 on the used market, this lens is a steal for anyone looking for a compact telephoto zoom, so long as manual focus and zoom creep don't scare you away.

As Thom Hogan wrote of the 75-150mm f/3.5, "This is one of Nikon's best telephoto zoom designs.""

Todd
--
http://www.ishootshows.com

nelsonal Senior Member • Posts: 2,464
Re: Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E – An old gem

Thanks! I've been mulling a longer zoom and thinking manual focus, now I have another interesting option (my first thought was the 80-200 f/4).

nkarasev Senior Member • Posts: 1,499
Re: Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E – An old gem

nelsonal wrote:

Thanks! I've been mulling a longer zoom and thinking manual focus, now I have another interesting option (my first thought was the 80-200 f/4).

80-200 F/4 had to go because it required 2 stops when longer than 135mm, and at least one stop below. Excellent quality of images otherwise. But also tad inconvenient to use (mine focused beyond infinity - sucks)

When I tried 2 different copies of 75-150 F/3.5 I didn't like either, so I guess it also "depends" on a "good copy".

Nik

tarnish Senior Member • Posts: 1,470
Re: Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E – An old gem

Todd Owyoung wrote:

With prices as low as $50 on the used market, this lens is a steal for anyone looking for a compact telephoto zoom, so long as manual focus and zoom creep don't scare you away.

I really, really wanted to win one in an eBay auction so in my boundless zeal I splurged big time, and ended up paying $43... and that was the highest final price that whole week. I fixed the zoom creep with a 3" x 1" piece of thin clear tape applied to the bottom side of the barrel.

AlexanderVC Regular Member • Posts: 259
Re: Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E – An old gem

Adding to the praise, I got one for around $60 in Tokyo--a good example with no zoom creep at all. I bike and shoot, and this is an excellent option when you need a light but optically good kite. It would be great if Nikon could integrate the same formula with modern mechanics (VRII, AF-S).

Alex

rubicon Senior Member • Posts: 1,630
Re: Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E – An old gem

No one spoke more highly of this lens than the late Galen Rowell, he swore by this litle gem. I had one years ago I used it on my FE2, and still have camera but parted with lens about 10 years ago, should have kept it great compact lens.

Rubicon:

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jdrpc Contributing Member • Posts: 502
Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E – An old gem

Maybe the BEST zoom lens Nikon ever made (by mistake?). I have used several zoom Nikkors, from the venerable 80-200 f/4.5 to the new 70-200 f/2.8 VR, and IQ none compared to this...
And the Weight? It is a fantastic all around lens.
I too sold my VR for economic reasons, and bought my 4th E Series on Ebay.

There are TWO versions: the first one, and the 2nd imitating the AI-S lens with a silver mounting ring. I have thew 2nd now...
http://www.pbase.com/jdrpc/image/119956208
http://www.pbase.com/jdrpc/image/134314393
http://www.pbase.com/jdrpc/image/133429659
http://www.pbase.com/jdrpc/image/131660579

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BenjaminVu Junior Member • Posts: 26
Re: Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E – An old gem

I love this tiny zoom lens too. Cheap, compact and very good for picture quality.

Paid $65 in pristine condition with no loose ring (zoom drop) from a local Craiglist. This lens is always in my car at all time when I need it.

This picture I took for my son at nine months old with Nikon D7000
F/4 and speed was set at 1/100

nathantw Senior Member • Posts: 1,512
Re: Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E – An old gem

Speaking of this lens I just created a Gigapan of AT&T Park in San Francisco with that particular lens yesterday and a D700 set at ISO 800. I thought it came out pretty well. The only problem is that it's not autofocus (of course) so there are things that are out of focus. In fact, I took two full Gigapans and one of them was sharp and the other was completely out of focus. Not sure why that was, but it was.

Anyway, here's the link if you'd like to pixel peep and see the quality of this lens.

http://gigapan.org/gigapans/81544/

gmosc Veteran Member • Posts: 5,950
Re: Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E – An old gem

My 85/1.8 and 180/2.8 have been always in my bag and sufficed instead of using a 80-200/2.8 (my zoom went out of adjustment) and I don't have the cash or interest in carrying a 70-200 VR.

Recently I tried again to use my 75-150 to fill in the focal length gaps. In medium to good light, I found that I could manual focus and some of my best shots that day were taken with that lens. My previous attempts were low light wide open shooting. None of those "sessions" benefitted by using the 75-150, though. Those sessions were better off with f1.8 on the 85mm and being able to use better ISOs.

But as I found, the medium light situation was a good place for this lens. An added bonus was it's close focusing ability. Sometimes the 85 and 180 can force my back against the wall (or into another guest).

The constant f3.5 (similar to the constant f4 zooms people always yap about) doesn't bring this type lens into the same league as f1.8 lenses for low light, but rather helps on the bokeh possibilities. So even though I have a close focusing 28-200G that I can and do use, I'm not stuck at f5.6 for most of the range that the variable aperture lens forces on us. And directly comparing the 28-200G to the 75-150 in bokeh alone gives a painfully unfair advatage to the 75-150.

I could possible start to say that the bokeh on the 85/1.8 is not as good as the 75-150 but that is partially because I shoot the 85 close to wide open. Stopping down a little both sharpens up the picture and reduces any unpleasantness that might be noticed. So I wouldn't say that the 75-150 tops the 85 in bokeh, but more framing possibilities are available. So the decision to choose the 75-150 over my two other favorite lenses does come down to framing shots in medium light. My 75-150 has found a place in my bag next to those two other lenses. I might not use it much, but there is sooo little pain taking the series E lens instead of taking lenses like the 80-200/2.8 where you almost kick yourself for taking it if you didn't use it.

So even though I miss my 80-200 a little, I feel that I am covered well with those 3 lenses in my bag. I have more flexibility with the ability to lighten my load in a pinch (leave one or two of the lenses behind) and I am blessed by the bokeh of the 75-150 and 180. Thanks 75-150,

Guy Moscoso

gmosc Veteran Member • Posts: 5,950
Re: Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E – An old gem

Also, I forgot to mention, in taking portraits, I had been finding ways to use my 180 a little too much and wasn't thinking about the subtleties of how it might flatten the image too much. I can now use my 75-150 and benefit also by both the framing possibilities and the close focusing, too.

There is also a side benefit with the weight, too. In portrait orientation, there is less torque applied to the camera on the tripod, so the positioning won't slip much. You can get by with a less technically advanced tripod and attachment system.
(My 180 can tax my tripod arrangement in portrait orientation.)

Guy Moscoso

jdrpc Contributing Member • Posts: 502
Re: Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E – An old gem: a zoom

A zoom is a zoom! No way to compare with fixed lens.
Talking fixed, nothing beats my 180mm Voiglander APO Lanthar...

But the 75-150mm has the convenience only a zoom can offer, as I prefer to do on camera crop!

gmosc wrote:

Also, I forgot to mention, in taking portraits, I had been finding ways to use my 180 a little too much and wasn't thinking about the subtleties of how it might flatten the image too much. I can now use my 75-150 and benefit also by both the framing possibilities and the close focusing, too.

There is also a side benefit with the weight, too. In portrait orientation, there is less torque applied to the camera on the tripod, so the positioning won't slip much. You can get by with a less technically advanced tripod and attachment system.
(My 180 can tax my tripod arrangement in portrait orientation.)

Guy Moscoso

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Todd Owyoung OP Regular Member • Posts: 110
Re: Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E – An old gem

AlexanderVC wrote:

Adding to the praise, I got one for around $60 in Tokyo--a good example with no zoom creep at all. I bike and shoot, and this is an excellent option when you need a light but optically good kite. It would be great if Nikon could integrate the same formula with modern mechanics (VRII, AF-S).

Alex

With the compact size, light weight and great performance, it's no surprise the lens was in Galen Rowell's camera bag.

I'd love an AF-S version of the lens – it'd be an excellent lens for travel photography and would satisfy most people's desire for a 70-200mm f/4.

Todd
--
http://www.ishootshows.com

Todd Owyoung OP Regular Member • Posts: 110
Re: Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E – An old gem

nathantw wrote:

Speaking of this lens I just created a Gigapan of AT&T Park in San Francisco with that particular lens yesterday and a D700 set at ISO 800. I thought it came out pretty well. The only problem is that it's not autofocus (of course) so there are things that are out of focus. In fact, I took two full Gigapans and one of them was sharp and the other was completely out of focus. Not sure why that was, but it was.

Anyway, here's the link if you'd like to pixel peep and see the quality of this lens.

http://gigapan.org/gigapans/81544/

Does your copy have zoom creep? That could be a reason for the unsharpness in one of the panos.

Todd
--
http://www.ishootshows.com

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