Lens Evaluations

 
This is the most recent revision of this list (1/12/97).  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Here are some Lens Rankings Based upon Personal  
Experiences of several Closely Allied Pro Photographers:  
   
NOTE: THESE ARE OPINIONS OF ABOUT 10 WORKING  
PROS -- They are ONLY OPINIONS -- If you disagree, fine; if  
you flame I'll ignore you (as will most others). They may not  
include your pet lens -- if not I'm sorry but it isn't one we use or  
I've omitted it inadvertently. This version has updated  
teleconverter information -- better estimation scheme thanks  
to Bob Atkins -- and it also rates two of the Russian lenses  
often asked about at the end.  
   
Grover Larkins  
*******************************************************  
Rating is on a scale of 0-5 w/5 high and are Optical,  
Mechanical --  
A RATING OF ABOVE 4 IS PRO QUALITY!  
   
5 = Super -- Sharp at All Apertures until Diffraction Limit set in  
with Outstanding Contrast and Flare Resistance.  
   
4 = Very Good -- Center 75% of the Image is Sharp Wide  
Open and by 2 stops down entire image is crisp w/very good  
contrast and flare  
resistance at all apertures.  
   
3 = Good -- May have to be stopped down more than 2 stops  
to get the entire image sharp and contrast could be better but  
is still OK, Flare resistance is not as good as it could be -- this  
is a lens you need to be cautious using a teleconverter with.  
   
2 = So-So -- Portraits and Family Photos -- Contrast is  
acceptable but not nearly as good as a 3 or 4 rated lens, don't  
even think of using a teleconverter. May have one good  
aperture for sharpness and contrast but in general a lens  
strictly for amateur use.  
   
1 = Dog -- Only slightly better than an Instamatic Lens.  
   
0 = Awful -- a lens polished using sandpaper or bubble gum.  
   
Mechanical Ratings -  
5= Pro Quality in EVERY respect  
4= Better than Avg. Amateur quality  
3= Avg. Amateur Quality.  
2= Below Avg. Quality  
1= It will Break in Normal Use  
0= Manufactured Broken.  
Teleconverter ratings should be as follows (gives ESTIMATE ONLY!)   
   
Lens + TC = Lens rating*Teleconverter rating/5  
   
Hence for the 400 f3.5 EDIF Nikkor the Rating w/a TC14 is = 5X4.5/5 = 4.5  
With the TC 300/301 the 400 f3.5 EDIF = 4.2  
   
Lenses:  Ratings:
   
NIKON:  
20 f2.8 MF AIS Nikkor  5,5 
24 f2.8 MF AI/AIS Nikkor 4.5,5 
28 f2.0 MF Nikkor AIS 4.5,5 
28 f2.8 Series E Nikon 4.5,4 
35 f2.5 Series E Nikon 3,4 
35 f2.0 MF Nikkor AIS 3.5,5 
35 f1.4 MF Nikkor AIS 5,5 
35 f2.0 AF Nikkor AIS 5,4 
50 f1.4 MF Nikkor AIS 4.5,5 
50 f1.8 MF Nikkor AIS 4,5 
50 f1.8 Series E Nikon 4,4 
55 f1.2 Nikkor 3,5 
(a true dog)   
55 f3.5 Micro Nikkor AI and Non-AI 5,5 
55 f2.8 Micro Nikkor AIS 4.5,4.5 
55 mm f2.8 AF Micro Nikkor 4.5,4 
58 f1.2 Noct Nikkor 5,5 
60mm f2.8 AF Micro Nikkor 5,4 
85 f1.4 MF AIS Nikkor 5,5 
85 f1.8 AF Nikkor 5,4 
105 f4 Micro Nikkor 4.5,5 
105 f2.8 MF AIS Micro Nikkor 4,5 
105 AF Micro Nikkor 5,5 
200 IF Micro Nikkor MF 5,5 
200 IF Micro Nikkor AF 5,5
(Goes to 1:1 and does better at infinity due to ED Elements)   
180 ED MF Nikkor 4.8,5 
180 EDIF AF Nikkor 5,5 
(New Version)   
180 EDIF AF Nikkor 5,4 
(Old Version)   
200 f2.0 EDIF Nikkor 4.5,5 
300 f4.5 MF Nikkor (Non-ED) 3,4.5   
300 f4.5 EDIF Nikkor 4.8,5 
300 f4 EDIF AF Nikkor 5,5 
300 f2.0 EDIF MF Nikkor 5,5 
300 f2.8 EDIF MF Nikkor 5,5 
300 f2.8 EDIF AF-I Nikkor 5,5 
300 f2.8 EDIF AF-N Nikkor 4.8,4.8 
300 f2.8 EDIF AF 1st vers. Nikkor 4.8,4 
400 f5.6 EDIF Nikkor 4.8,5 
400 f3.5 EDIF Nikkor 5,5 
400 f2.8 EDIF AF-I Nikkor 5,5
(Good lens, great boat anchor 6kg vs 3kg for the   
f3.5; couldn't Nikon make the 400 f3.5 as an AF   
lens?)   
500 f8 Mirror Nikkor 3.8,5 
500 f4 EDIF-P Nikkor 5,4.5
(Wimpy Tripod Mt.)   
500 f4 EDIF-AF Nikkor 5,5 
(AF Version IS sharper wide open in the corners   
than the MF but they both are quite good)   
600 f5.6 EDIF Nikkor 5,5 
600 f4 EDIF Nikkor (AIS) 5,5 
600 f4 EDIF-AF Nikkor 5,5 
600 f4 EDIF Nikkor (AI) 5,5 
20-35 f2.8 AF-Nikkor 4.8,5
(Arguably the best wide zoom on the market;  
Crisp and competitive with primes for sharpness  
and contrast)   
24-120 f5.6 Nikkor (AF) 4.5,4.5
(Zoom loose on early versions, great travel lens)   
75-150 f3.5 Series E Nikon 5,4.5 
80-200 f4.5 AI Nikkor 5,5 
43-86 Nikkor 3,4.5 
(later vers. better but still not great)   
80-200 f2.8 EDIF MF Nikkor 5,5 
80-200 f2.8 EDIF AF Nikkor 4.8,4
(No Tripod Mt)   
80-200 f2.8 EDIF AF Nikkor 4.8,5
(Tripod Mt. -- Yahoo!!!!)   
50-300 f4.5 EDIF Nikkor 5,5 
(An African Classic should be done in AF!)   
200-400 ED MF AIS Nikkor 5,5 
(An African Classic; should be done in AF!)   
Teleconverters:  
TC-14/14B/14E 4.5,5
TC-300/301 4.2,4.5
TC-20E 4.8,5
(Noticably better than TC-301)  
   
CANON:  
17-35 f2.8 EF-L 4.5.4.5
(Flare control a bit better than the 20-35)   
20-35 f2.8 EF-L 4.2,4.5
(Flare a bit worse than in prime but still  
awfully good!)   
100 f2.0 EF 4.5,4
300 f4 EF L 5,5
300 f2.8 EF-L 5,5
400 f5.6 EF-L 4,5
400 f2.8 EF-L 4.3,5
(Everyone I know who HAD this lens has   
sold it and purchased the II model, wonder   
why???)   
400 f2.8 EF-L II 4.8,5
(Canon's first really top quality 400mm lens!)   
500 f4.5 EF-L 4.8,5
(f4.5 + 1.4X = No Autofocus!!!)   
600 f4 EF-L 5,5 
24 EF TS 4.5,5 
45 EF TS 4.5,5 
90 EF TS 4.8,5 
80-200 f2.8 EF-L (Early) 4,4.5 
80-200 f2.8 EF-L (Recent) 4.5,4.5   
70-200 f2.8 EF-L 4.8,5 
100-300 f5.6 EF-L 3.5,4 
(Gets Loads better when you put a tripod   
mount on it! A buddy of mine makes such  
a mount, costs about $150 or so E-mail
me for info.)   
35mm FD TS 4.5,5 
80-200 f4 FD L 4.8,5 
300 f2.8 FD-L 4.5,5 
300 f2.8 Fluorite 4.8,5 
400 f4.5 FD 3,4.5 
500 f4.5 FD-L 5,5 
500 f4.5 FD Fluorite 5,5 
600 f4.5 FD 3.5,4.5 
150-600 f5.6 FD-L 4.9,4
(Some break in the Middle!)   
   
Teleconverters:  
1.4X EF 4.5,5
   
PENTAX:  
200 f4 Macro ED 5,5 
300 f4.5 AF EDIF 4.9,4.5 
300 f2.8 EDIF MF 4.5,5
200-600 f5.6 ED AF Zoom 4.8,4.8 
   
MINOLTA MAXXUM:   
200 f2.8 APO 4.5,5 
300 f2.8 APO 4.5,5 
600 f4 APO 4.5,5
SIGMA:  
80-200 f2.8 APO (Canon EF mt.) 4.8,4.8 
300 f2.8 APO (Minolta Maxxum Mt.) 4.5,4
(MF Linkage Breaks sometimes)   
400 f5.6 APO Canon EF Mt. 4.7,4.8 
Sigma Teleconverter 1.4X (AF) 3.7,4.5
(Vignettes w/long teles)
   
TOKINA:  
300 f2.8 MF Nikon mt. 4.8,4.8 
300 f2.8 AF Nikon Mt. 4.8,4.5 
80-200 f2.8 APO MF ATX Nikon Mt. 4.5,4.5
(Tripod Mount is chinzy)   
100-300 f4 APO MF ATX Nikon Mt. 4.5,4.8
   
TAMRON:  
300 f2.8 LDIF MF (Early) 4,4.8
300 f2.8 LDIF MF (Recent) 4.4,4.8 
300 f2.8 LDIF AF 4.5,4.5 
400 f4 LDIF MF 4.2,4.8 
200-500 f5.6 MF 3.5,4.5 
20-40 f2.8 AF 4,4.2 
(Some vignetting at 20mm?)   
80-200 f2.8 AF (Nikon) 4.5,4.5 
200-400 f5.6 LD - AF (Nikon/Canon) 3.5,4
(Soft wide open at 400mm and poor balance)   
Teleconverter 1.4X (AF) 3.7,4.5
(Tends to Vignette w/some long teles)  
   
   
LEITZ:   
100 f2.8 Macro R 5,5
280 f2.8 APO R 5,5 
400 f2.8 APO R 5,5 
180 f3.4 APO R 5,5 
180 f2.8 R4.5,5   
560 R (Clumsy) 4,4.5
1.4X Teleconverter 4.5,5 
2X Teleconverter 4.3,5
   
Russian 300 f2.8 3,4 
Russian 35mm PC 3.5,4
 

Last Updated on 1/12/98
By Dr. Grover Larkins

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