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Nikon Series E 75-150mm f/3.5

Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5
Weight: 18.3oz
Filter Size: 52mm

    Price generally equates quality, but there are exceptions. This little lens is one of those exceptions. With a street price of $50-$100 this lens is as light on the wallet as it is on features: a  modest 2x zoom range, one touch zoom/focus ring and constant 3.5 aperture, and not even the Nikkor name, the 75-150 raises no eyebrows. If you're coming from a modern, all plastic 18-55 kit zoom, construction seems great, as this lens is made from metal and glass. On the other hand, this lens was produced in the glory days of the Nikkor AIS, and compared to those marvels of construction it's far inferior. Until it's on the camera.

Sony NEX-7, Nikon 75-150 Series E @ 1/800 F4 ISO 100

100% unsharpened crop

   This lens was designed to go with the Nikon EM, construction of this lens was outsourced to Kiron and are notorious for their zoom creep. It's hard to find a copy of this lens that won't have zoom creep when the camera anything but level, making it unsuitable for tripod use. For hand held use though, this lens is fantastic. It's decently sharp wide open, and quickly improves when stopped down. By F8 I couldn't ask more for as far as sharpness and contrast. 

Nikon D200, Nikon 75-150 @ 1/1000 F5.6 ISO 100

Besides the sharpness and contrast, which can be found in other optics, this lens has a unique look to its images that is very reminiscent of the film era.  I really loved this lens in the DX format, where it had an equivalent range of  100-210mm. The lens still performs beautifully on the FX format, but within its true range it just doesn't go far enough into telephoto for my taste.

After an extended amount of use, the lens developed  moisture on the back of the front  element. Not in the actual element, as it's sealed, but on the glass facing the internals. The moisture dries out leaving water spots on the glass. It's not too hard to pull out the element and clean it, but it is a hassle and the problem has been recurring for me.
Perhaps the true surprise of the Nikon 75-150 Series E is that it actually works quite well as a portrait lens. While the not exactly fast aperture isn't ideal for separating subjects, the bokeh is beautifully rendered.

Nikon D700, Nikon 75-150 3.5 Series E @ 1/160 F3.5 ISO 400

Amazing how dusty lenses are when photographed up close.

Size vs the 70-300VR

The true size difference is diameter, 52mm filter size on the 75-150 vs 67mm on the 70-300VR

The lens hood bulks it up quite a bit.
  Build: 6/10                  - It's metal but not top notch construction, which plays into the handling.
  Handling: 4/10            - Due to the loose zoom/focus ring, this lens rates low in the handling department. Outside of that it would recieve high scores.
  Performance: 9/10      - Sharp, nice contrast, great bokeh, nothing to complain about here.
  Value: 10/10                - For the price it's amazing.
  Overall: 8/10               - Great size, weight and cost. Lack of zoom range lowers the overall usefullness, as does the zoom creep.

Practicality for kayaking: 8/10

The small barrel size and light weight make this lens great for expeditions. Compared to anything else in the range it's very small and light. If you use old Nikkors in conjunction with this one, most share the 52mm filter size, reducing the need for multiple filters. If you can stand (or like) the manual focus and deal with the loose zoom,  for $100 or less you can't go wrong with this lens, unless you plan on tripod work. My last copy I picked up for only $36! Quite a shame Nikon never updated this to an AF lens. It does quite well on the modern high megapixel digital sensors like the 24mp NEX-7 and A7. In fact in side by side testing it holds it's own with the venerable 105mm f/2.5 with both shot at f/4. Quite impressive.

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