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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Nikon 36-72mm f/3.5 Series E Review

General
Another Series E lens review for today. As you might recall from my previous reviews, I generally like Series E lenses. They're very decent optically, they're small and light, cheap, and although they were meant as consumer lenses back in the days (E=economy), their construction quality easily matches today's plastic lenses. So, how does the 36-72mm perform, and is it worth having one?


Pros/Cons
+ mechanical quality is fine, better than most consumer lenses today.
+ constant f/3.5 aperture
+ aperture ring means it's easier to use with e.g. mirrorless cameras or macro extension tubes

- very limited range...
- ...and not wide enough for DX (let alone even smaller sensors, like Nikon 1)
- optical quality not as great as you'd hope; unpredictable bokeh, susceptible to flare, weak corners.

Sharpness in the center is OK, particularly if you stop down, but the bokeh is less-than-stellar
Intended Users
Great for:
  • macro with extension tubes could be an interesting application (although only as an emergency solution)
  • cheap midrange zoom for old film cameras
  • looks nice on the shelf; paperweight (harsh, I know, but it's the truth)
Not for:
  • if you want a midrange zoom and you have $50, the AF 28-80 is already a more sense-making option
  • moving subjects (manual focus)
  • any demanding photographic situation. This lens comes with too many compromises.

Another idea of what to expect in terms of bokeh.

Final Verdict
Sadly, this is not as great an E Series lens as the rest. The f/3.5 constant aperture is nice, but the zoom range is too limited (and too long; a 24-50mm range would be more interesting). Optically it's only OK, with reasonable image quality in the center and stopped-down, but with distracting bokeh and weak corners. I'd pass.


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