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  Reviews by: Kit Laughlin  

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Nikon 60mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Micro-Nikkor

Review Date: Jul 16, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $599.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extremely sharp wide open. Excellent OOF quality. Useful normal lens on FX.

This is the very sharpest Nikkor I own, on DX (and it is a perfect portrait lens on this format, being 90mm EFOV).

I own some of the other "sharpest Nikkors, too (see my profile) so you can bank on this assessment. A stunning lens.

I use this as a normal lens on FX, and shoot quite a bit of product work with it. I have had faster lenses around this focal length before but, frankly, with FX sensors working beautifully at ISO 6400, the fact that this lens is É2.8 is no drawback at all. And even for portraits on DX, I tend to use É2.8Ė4 anyway, so that there is an acceptable wedge of sharpness.

Nikon D3

Review Date: Mar 12, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Incredible images out of the camera, with the least PP of any of the pro cameras I have ever used. This includes all the Nikon pro bodies (except D2x), Canon 1Ds, 5D, Sigma SD-14, Leica R9/DMR ... there are more. The low light capacity is a feature I use shooting with long lenses in the forests (machinery, commercial work). I use M mode with Auto ISO all the time---this way I can get exactly the look I want. I have shot in torrential rain (with the 24-70/2.8); absolutely no problem at all. The finder is very good, ergonomics very good (but see below). I have been shooting since 1978. I have tried or owned pretty much every SLR and DSLR is the search for an image-making tool that gets out of the way and lets me create. The D3 is that camera for me. I complement it with a D300, the 70-200 VR, TC 1.4 II, 14-24/2.8, and the new 24 shift is on the way.
The camers is so good you don't need a tripod---but you will have to go to the gym to be able to hold it and the 70-200 all day, as I did last week. The D3 doubles as a defensive weapon, if necessary. Lighter would be better, IMHO. I don't need more pixels---these image up-rez, if necessary, incredibly via Quimage. I want more flexibility in button assignment (I have all the ZF lenses except the 85/1.4), and I have the Fn button assigned to TTL flash. I may elaborate on this in a separate post, but the ergonomics are really excellent.

Nikon 12-24mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S DX

Review Date: Nov 14, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 3 

Pros: 12Ė24 range, useful speed, feeling of quality
Simply not sharp. I tested this back-to-back with a Tokina 12-24. The latter is sharper, and the wide end has less barrel distortion.

Following Ken Rockwell's glowing review (and both liking and needing real wide angles in my work) I had just budgeted for this lensóNikon uses a 1.5 crop factor sensor, after all.

From the reviews here, there seems to be great sample variation. In my case. literally none of the images I shot in decent light and at fast shutter speeds on the D200 were acceptably sharp.

On the other hand, a cheap ($750 AUD) lens, the Tokina 12-24, is perfectly sharp and has astonishingly good correction of distortion at the wide end. I shot in the same location, same day (so same light) and same body. I took the images back to the studio and compared. They were cheese and chalk, as we say over here.

Following, I shot a series of hotel interiors over the weekend, and have not corrected any of them for lens distortion. CA is also significantly better corrected on this 'cheapo' lens than on the Nikkor.

Again, all this could be down to sample variationóso if you are considering buying one of these, make sure you test it properly first.

Canon EOS 5D

Review Date: Nov 6, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: First affordable digital FF camera. Better than my 1Ds in the shadow details and lack of noise in both shadows and OOF areas. Standard focussing screen easier to manual focus than 1Ds'. 100% useable ISO 1600. Excellent clean files.
Needing to go the the MENU for mirror lockup is just plain stupid. Even if consigned to the one (!) Custom button, still amazingly shortsighted. Mirror lockup on a button/lever is as vital to me as being able to change ISO on a dial.

Ergonomics: you will need the wrist strap; this is solid. Not weather-sealed, as many have noted, but I don't shoot in the rain. I would get an Aquapac or similar rather than expose an expensive camera to the elements.

The mirror lockup aspect is a real limitation to me, as I shoot macro product shots, and have to shoot the photos for a book on Japanese gardens soon. The designer has already mentioned that he wants these images to be sharp sharp sharp (did I say sharp?); and as he wants front-to-back sharpness, we will need relatively long exposures, as these gardens are often in shadow. For this and macro, mirror lockup is the way to goóthat, and a heavy tripod and a sheet or two of what we call 'poly' (white polystyrene). These gardens are too big to light, usually.

As others have noted, being able to have that function on the Custom button is goodóbut being able to have a tungsten setup on the day, and a custom white balance if under mixed lighting as I was last week would have been helpful too. I see that now that all sorts of silly presets are absent from the program dial, from my point of view Canon wasted an opportunity to have a halff-dozen custom presets on the rest of the dial.

I use three Canon lenses (35 É2, 85 É1.8, and 100 É2.8óIMO this last is one of Canon's finest lenses. For the rest, I use Leica-R glass, and one Zeiss, the fabled 21 É2.8. My work is all slow, relatively speaking (compared to a sports photog), so for me manual focus and manual stopdown is not a drawback. Getting the adapters for these lenses to focus properly on infinity is though, sometimes, and quite a bit has been written on this in the 'alternative DSLRs' forum. Manual focus must be precise for the images to 'snap'. Canon make a purpose-built manual focus screen, and mine is on order. BrightScreen do not make a micro-prism or split prism finder for the 5D yet, but I have emailed them with this request. I mention all this because it is clear that many other forum members are thinking along the same linesóand a 1Ds mk II is an expensive experiment if you don't like the results!

I heard from a member of the Digital Imaging Group (part of Australian Canon) that Canon are coming out with a range of improved primes in the wide end, and he said by the middle of next year. I have no idea if this is true, but pass it on to you all here. The wides are the reason I use Leica/Zeiss glass. If Canon (who in the past have also made some fabled primes, like the 28 É2.8) do actually manage to match the MF lenses in sharpness and low distortion that I am using currently, I will buy those just for the convenience. Until then, it's 'hybrid city'!

The EVF is useless outside in bright daylight, even on the brightest setting. The viewfinder view is great, but (and this may be because I am using non-Canon lenses outside) shutter speed and exposure (adjustable on the big main dial under your thumb) is harrd to see sometimes. Indoors, just fine.

One button I personally won't be using is the "direct print" one. It's a bit embarasssing to see it there, frankly. I guess this is the 'prosumer' part of the 5D.

I am considering getting the vertical gripóbut not for either the extra battery capacity or for using to grip with! For me, with only medium sized hands, the little finger of my right hand is completely off the base (vertically, the camera is relatively shallow); this means that a the leverage we use via the whole hand on (say) a 1Ds to counteract the weight of a lens is reduced significantly. If you hold the 5D and the 1Ds, both with a Leica 180 or any of the 'L' zooms on them, you will feel what I mean immediately.

Compared to the 1Ds, I like the fact that you don't need to hold down one button to set another or to use a dial. I don't seem to need this protection against accidental resetting, though I am sure if I worked with gloves on, I would miss this.

Overall, I am happy with this camera. For my work and the look I want, FF is necessary, just to be able to control DOF. As well, the large clean files that come from it are liked by designers and publishers, many of whom are (forgive me for saying this) stuck in the Dark Ages in this respect. On another site, a reviewer wrote that the 5D looked like a 20D on steroids, and that's pretty much right.

Finally, I gave this camera only an '8' in overall rating, just to encourage Canon to keep on trying! Cheers.