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  Reviews by: Mark Kenfield  

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Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED DX VR AF-S

18-200dx
Review Date: Mar 20, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $850.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: The range on this thing leaves me speechless, VR works voodoo magic - it does, it really does, compact for what it does, sharp enough through most its range, the ultimate travel lens IMO (with a 35mm f/2 I have just about all I need).
Cons:
build quality - seems a bit fragile, a bit soft at 200mm (but VR means that you can handhold it at 200mm - I couldn't get sharper shots handheld without VR)

This is a wonderful lens, for travel or shooting friends and family - it is hands-down the best lens I've ever used, it lets me shoot almost anything I want without having to worry about changing lenses - it just lets me get on and shoot.

Does this lens give you perfect IQ - no, of course not. And to ever expect that it would is naive in my opinion. However in a dynamic environment this lens lets you compose shots at a rapid rate, shots you would otherwise miss entirely with another lens - and in my mind that makes it gold.


 
Nikon D300

d300
Review Date: Jan 29, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Terrific IQ (clearly exceeds 35mm film), excellent AF, high fps, great ergonomics, high ISO performance, power of the built-in flash, 3" display.
Cons:
Exposure is all over the place, spot-metering doesn't appear to work at all, a bit heavy (though this is coming from an Olympus OM shooter).

This is the camera that I made the switch to digital for. To be fair, it was actually the D200 that convinced me to make the switch, but fortunately the announcement of the D300 came two days before I was going to buy myself a shiny new D200 - and I'm very pleased that it did. Because everything I've heard would seem to suggest that this is a better camera than the D2Xs (and for the money that makes it a very interesting proposition).

The camera performs terrifically, the quality of its images exceeds that of 35mm film, and it can take perfectly usable photos all the way up to ISO 6400 (above ISO 4000 you just have to turn off/down NR and convert the images to monochrome) - which is incredible. The auto-focus is fast and accurate, the 6/8 fps very helpful for action photography, and the 3" LCD of high enough quality to really assess your images in camera.

I personally find the camera a bit heavy (but I'm coming from Olympus OM film cameras so most things seem heavy by comparison). So my only serious complaint about the camera is exposure - mine are all over the place. I generally use spot-metering for most of my photographs (in order to nail my exposures on my subjects) on the D300 this doesn't seem to work at all. Backlit subjects remain backlit, and the exposures just seem wrong. I can take several shots of the exact same scene, one after another, and the exposures will be notably different between the images (all taken just seconds apart).

Exposure being rather important to photography, I'm finding this to be a serious frustration on what is an otherwise excellent camera.



 
Nikon 35mm f/2D AF Nikkor

1923NCP_180
Review Date: Jan 29, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Small, sharp, flat perspective, lovely bokeh.
Cons:
Expensive for a standard prime (on DX format)

Bought mine used off ebay. A bit of wear-and-tear on the barrel but the glass is mint.

This is the first Nikon lens I've ever bought, I got it for my new D300 to act as a standard prime and they make a lovely couple. The lens is very sharp, quite compact, has very appealing bokeh and a very flat perspective - which combined with fast auto-focus and a handy focal length (equivalent to about 53mm on FX) make it ideal as a standard prime.

My only real gripe with the lens is that it's pretty expensive for a standard prime that's only f2, though since that's a DX conundrum I can't really hold it against the lens itself.

Highly recommended.