New Glass-A Quartet of Notable Optics
 
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New Glass-A Quartet of Notable Optics

By Allan Weitz

Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 105/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR

If you want to know what makes Nikon's latest incarnation of its popular '105 Micro' so special, just look at the letters following its name (My doctor has fewer letters after his name!). Nikon's '105s' have long been favorites among Nikon shooters. The imaging qualities of the original 105/2.5 portrait lenses are legendary, and the 105 macros are the gold standard for close-up shooting.

Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 105/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR

The Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 105/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR (NI10528GAF, $759.95) incorporates extra-low dispersion glass to minimize chromatic aberrations, Nano Crystal Coatings to reduce flair, internal focus, snappy-and-silent auto-focus, and for the first time in a macro lens, Vibration Reduction. While close-up imaging should ideally be performed using a stable tripod, you don't always have the option. Bees, butterflies, and other members of the animal kingdom tend to move around randomly, and don't necessarily respond to the words 'hold still' no matter how firmly you say it.

The Micro-Nikkor 105/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR incorporates Nikon's second-generation Vibration Reduction (VR II) technology, which allows hand-held imaging at shutter-speeds 4-stops lower than non-VR optics. Coupled with Nikon's extremely responsive Silent Wave (AF-S) auto-focus technology, you're far more likely to nail sharp exposures under the most trying conditions, especially when working at 1:1 magnification.

Note- The AF-S feature of the Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 105/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR is not supported by certain camera models. Click here for list of compatible Nikon cameras.

Nikon 55-200/4-5.6G ED AF-S VR DX

Nikon 55-200/4-5.6G ED AF-S VR DX

A new addition to Nikon's growing DX-series optics, the Nikon 55-200/4-5.6G ED AF-S VR DX (NI5520045GAF, $249.95) combines ED (extra-low dispersion) lens elements, Silent Wave Motors for faster AF, and Vibration Reduction technology, which enables hand-held shooting under less-than-desirable lighting conditions.

As with all Nikon DX-series lenses, the new zoom has a 1.5x magnification factor, which makes it the effective equivalent of an 82.5 - 300mm lens. Combined with a length of a smidgeon under 4" and a weight of less than 12 ounces, the Nikon 55-200/4-5.6G ED AF-S VR DX should prove to be a handy, easy to stow, travel lens.

Sigma Zoom Super Wide Angle 18-200/3.5-6.3 DC OS

Sigma Zoom Super Wide Angle 18-200/3.5-6.3 DC OS

Designed specifically for DSLRs with APS-C sensors (All Nikon DSLRs, Canon Rebels, D20, & D30, and Sigma DSLRs), the Sigma Zoom Super Wide Angle 18-200/3.5-6.3 DC OS (SI1820035N for Nikon, SI1820035S for Sigma and SI1820035C for Canon $549) is a compact (3.9") zoom that covers just about any shooting scenario you're likely to encounter on your average weekend shooting safari.

Depending on your specific camera, the new 'all-in-one' Sigma zoom covers a 35mm equivalent range of about 27 to 28mm to about 300-plus millimeters, and focuses down to 1.5'. Key features include internal focusing, aspheric lens surfaces, Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass to correct optical aberrations, Super Multi Layer (SML) optical coatings to minimize flare and ghosting, and optical image stabilization (OS), which enables hand-held, flash-free imaging at 2 to 3 stops slower than normally possible.

Zeiss 100/2 ZF Makro-Planar T*

Zeiss 100/2 ZF Makro-Planar T* (for Nikon)

Originally announced about a year ago, the Zeiss 100/2 ZF Makro-Planar T* (for Nikon) (ZE1002ZF, $1507) should be considered a 'must have' by any Nikon shooter seeking a first-class close-up / portrait lens. Based on the legendary Zeiss Planar optical formula, the 100/2 ZF delivers natural tones, optimized contrast levels, and resolving power that will give your camera's sensor a true run for the money.

As a portrait lens, the 100mm focal length combined with a maximum aperture of f/2 and close focusing enables you many creative avenues. Designed for use on all 35mm Nikon cameras, the 100/2 ZF Makro-Planar focuses down to half life-size (1.4') when used on a full-frame 35, and 50% closer when used with any Nikon DSLR. Carl Zeiss T* coatings keep flare and contrast in check.

Unlike most new lenses, the Zeiss 100/2 ZF Makro-Planar T* is manual focus, and is constructed out of tough metal alloy (no plastic in this baby!). You can feel the difference when you pick it up and rotate the focusing barrel. This lens is smooth, solid, and an awesome image maker.

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