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Thrifted Lens Review - Nikon 35-70mm f2.8d

This lens stretches the limits of a "thrifted" lens, but I got an excellent deal on this for less than $100 on facebook marketplace. This is an excellent all metal, manual zoom lens with a constant aperture, that has autofocus functionality with Nikon cameras. Snapping it onto my speedbooster and adding a UV filter, it was shoot ready the day I picked it up.

I have already shot two professional portraits and a family holiday portrait with this lens and it's easily made it into my regular camera bag.

For video, it's perfect! Constant aperture, very nice tactile feedback on the zoom and focusing. The aperture has a little trick where you have to depress the AF lever on the bayonet mount for it to be adjusted manually, but once you get that out of the way the aperture is adjustable on the lens. It is somewhat finicky when adjusting the aperture from the speedbooster and in my opinion it's much better to just use the aperture dial on the lens rather than trying to get everything to line up correctly.

A compact aluminum beast.

This is a push pull lens, ranging from 70mm unextended to 35mm extended. The top ring is focusing and the bottom ring is zoom. If you've used other push-pulls, on this particular lens it's fantastic to have the focusing ring separate from the zoom. When you fully zoom out you can depress the macro button while turning the zoom ring and it turns into a macro lens. The lens is all metal, but is surprisingly well balanced even when fully zoomed out. One thing to watch out for is that the focus element will rotate your filters, which can mess with a polarizing or special effects fitler.

This Lens is a portrait beast

Brent, why on earth would you say that a 35mm-70mm "normal" zoom is a portrait beast? Two words - "Crop Factor". The general formula for crop factor with a lens speedbooster is:

(focal length X crop factor) X focal reducer=effective focal length

For my particular camera we have a 2x crop factor with a .71 speedbooster. That gives us an effective focal length of 49.7mm-99.4mm. So this is effectively a 50-100mm zoom that's a couple stops slower than a Sigma 50-100mm lens for a 10th of the price. We can go from "nifty fifty" territory to portrait zoom very quickly.

Sharp Near and Far

After spending several hours with this lens, I am thrilled with its ability to frame and capture tight macro shots, to large spaces. It's not a landscape lens, I enjoy my 15mm Leica for that, but this lens sits within that sweet spot between a normal zoom and a telephoto lens. Photo 1 was taken at 35mm at f4, Photo 2 was taken with the macro setting engaged at f2.8, Photo 3 was taken at 70mm f2.8, Photo 4 was taken at 50mm, f2.8.

An excellent addition to anyone's lens bag

Overall, I am very pleased with the shots I can get from this lens. It is susceptible to flares so a lens hood is definitely something worth picking up for this lens. I am using a Hoya UV and Tiffen Polarizer filter on these photos with the sun at my subject's backs. Without them, these photos would be quite washed out. With my GH5, the lens is completely manual and I prefer to shoot manual. If you don't, you may want to consider picking up an adapter ring with an AF chip in it.

Thanks for reading

I would love to review any old camera lens you have laying around. If you have one to donate I'm happy to pay shipping for you to send it my way. Contact information is at the bottom of this page.


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I help people to tell their stories through engaging content such as presentation decks, photos, videos, and music.  Give me a shout if I can help you tell your story.  


Hi, I'm Brent.  I'm a musician, photographer, video maker, and designer in Edmond, OK.

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