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Nikon 200mm f/2G IF-ED AF-S VR

200f2
Review Date: Dec 20, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Superb optics, Extremely fast AF, Effective VR.
Cons:
Heavy, Expensive

I owned the older manual focus AIS version of this lens for a long time. It was the best lens I ever owned optically until I bought this new one. As great as the old MF version was, it would flare if you aimed it anywhere near into a light source. The new VR version has a hard time exhibiting any flare. This lens has better color, more contrast and better de-focused character than even my 400 2.8 AFS-II. The lens is so good that it even holds up well with a TC20e teleconverter attached. This is the only lens I have ever owned that held up well with the TC20e.

My only problem with the lens is that now that I have a D3, I have less and less need for the extra f-stop that the lens gives me. I can simply crank up the ISO another stop and use my 70-200.

If you need a fast 200 for theater or music or indoor sports you will never be disappointed.


 
Nikon 500mm f/4D IF-ED AF-S II Nikkor

2131_180
Review Date: Dec 4, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Light in weight - Very fast and positive focusing - Sharp from edge to edge - Color rendition is amazing.
Cons:
I wish it let in 1 more stop of light....but then it would not be as light and would cost more.

For me this is the ultimate long motorsport lens. It is not a good a lens for football or other "Dome" work because of the max f-4 aperture, but at the race track it is a great length and it is much easier to carry around than the 400 2.8 or the 600 4.

As far as performance is concerned, I think it captures and locks onto a really fast car as well and probably better than any lens I have used. It is difficult to get an out-of-focus shot due to any fault of the lens. I am not sure that it is any better from the standpoint of color rendition than the 400 or the 600, but I think that it is better edge to edge.

If you do not need f-2.8 and want to save a little money and weight, you can not go wrong with this baby.


 
Nikon D2Xs

d2x
Review Date: Jun 3, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,699.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great body and uses the same accessories and battery as my D2H. Produces amazing files with great dynamic range and detail. Very low noise even at high ISOs and what noise it does produce is very film grain and regular looking. High Speed Crop mode sound hokey but is very useful
Cons:
LCD display not bad, but could be better. I wish they sold them at 2 for the price of one. (ha ha)

I love my D2X. After a couple of months of using it, and several thousand actuations, I canít think of much of anything I donít like about it. I canít think of any ď35mm typeĒ assignment for which I would feel ďCamera ShyĒ.

Having said the above, I want to say that learning to love the D2X was not as easy as it was to love some of my other Nikons. I have or have had a D100, D1X, D70, D2H. I liked the D2X the first day I got it, but learning to love it was not always easy. When I first got the D2X, I thought I noticed that the AF was not the same/as good as my D2H. Now, after learning the differences between the ways the two cameras work, I think it is just as fast.

READ MY HOW TO AF WITH THE D2 BODY TIP SHEET:

http://www.centralprepress.com/Galleries/AF-Technique.pdf

I also find that the LCD screen and the histogram and highlight blinkers seem to read slightly differently on the D2X than on the D2H or my other Nikons. At first, I was very afraid that I was always burning out highlight and I constantly dialed in negative exposure compensation. The result was that, a lot of the time, I ended up underexposing the shots slightly. I think the LCD simply shows more highlight burn-out than is really in the files. I guess if I had one gripe, I would ask for a perfect LCD display, but no camera has one and I donít like to rely on it anyway.

At first, I found that more files from the D2X looked soft on the screen than shots from my other Nikons. 8x10 prints did not look soft. I do a lot of people shots at very short DOF, and what I think I was seeing was that at the higher resolution, any focusing errors I made were emphasized. I am just very careful with my focus, when I need to be now, and not only do I not have any problems in this area, I am thrilled with the detail I am getting.

The D2X is a lot of camera. I am a pretty accomplished photographer, and it took me a while to get used to it. My D2H and D1X felt like they were melted into my brain in about a day. The D2X took longer. I think if you buy this camera and are willing to put in the effort, you will love the fruits of your laborÖ.but most of the people I know who own it (all accomplished photographers) say the same thing; This is no point and shoot. The D2X will make you think a little.


 
Nikon 105mm f/2D AF DC-Nikkor

1932NAS_180
Review Date: Apr 3, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Beautiful finish. Produces great color, sharpness and bokah. Light in weight.
Cons:
Lacks AFS focus but still focuses fast enough to use for some action.

I bought this lens about 8 months ago, and it took me a while to get used to reaching for it in my camera bag. I am sure glad I started reaching for it though. It is my #1 portrait lens now. It is the same focal length I usually work at with my 70-200 zoom, and it is much less intimidating to a portrait subject. The results it gives are just so sweet.

I bought the lens used from my favorite dealer, but had I known what a great piece of glass it was, I probably would have bought it new a long time ago. This is one of those lenses that will stay in my bag forever.


 
Nikon 400mm f/2.8D IF-ED AF-S II Nikkor

2127_180
Review Date: Jun 24, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp. Wonderful de-focused character. Silent and very fast focus. Built like a brick you know what.
Cons:
Costs a fortune. Weighs a ton.

Let me start this review by saying that I do not own this lens, because my local camera store will rent it to me at a rate which would make me look like an idiot to buy it. I seem to be the only one who rents it soÖ

Anyway, for what it does, this lens is the fastest and most accurate focusing lens I have ever used. It is also sharp beyond sharp and delivers a bokah like a portrait lens. I have used it for field sports and racing. On my D2h body, it will follow a player running at me or diagonally across the field at full speed and it will follow an Indy car coming straight at me at 200 mph. The short DOF when it is wide open, or close to it is wonderful for isolating a subject from its background, and it remains plenty sharp wide open, although it seems a bit sharper at f4.

My only trouble with this lens is that it is really heavy. I like to shoot head-on shots of race cars hand held, because it is easier to follow the car than with the lens on a monopod. You really canít do it with this lens because of the weight. Lugging this lens around the track gets to be a pain and I am a big guy in pretty good shape.

At night and indoor events this lens is worth its weight in sharp pictures. I am not sure how much I will lug it around the race track in broad daylight anymore. I may opt for its lighter but slower 500 f4 brother.


 
Nikon D2Hs

D2H
Review Date: May 17, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,900.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Responsiveness, picture quality, ease of use, feel.
Cons:
Potential for noise above ISO-800

I have been a Nikon user since the F with no meter (which still works BTW) The D2H is by far the best Nikon body I have ever owned. I adapted to the controls in no time. The controls are laid out in such a way as to make the camera almost respond to my thoughts. Very few shooting adjustments require that I take my eye off the viewfinder or move my fingers very far.

The viewfinder is the best I have seen on a digital camera and compares very favorably with my F series Nikons. The LCD screen on the back is large but takes some getting used to. At the default setting it is too bright. After owning the camera for a few months I like the LCD.

The white balance is excellent. I shoot 90% of what I do in RAW mode, but I leave the WB on AUTO most of the time and I rarely have to mess with the WB adjustment in my RAW converter. When I do shoot JPGs, the Auto WB has been spot on. If you want to set a custom WB, it takes only a few seconds.

The metering system is almost like cheating. My camera lives in 3d Matrix mode, except for a few trips into spot mode. It is also very easy to set up a bracket if you want to combine to exposures or if you just want to be sure. Another great feature is the tone compensation. On sunny days, my camera lives in low contrast mode. The ability of this camera to capture those difficult mid-day scenes is amazing.

Once you get the hang of it, the Auto Focus is simply awesome. I have had only limited success in the past tracking F1 and Indy cars at speed with predictive AF. With the D2H, not only does the camera seem to track the cars, it seems to focus on the center of the car so that the entire car is in focus. Again, it is almost like cheating. The D2h will even track fast moving objects very well with my slow focusing Nikkor 300 f4 AFS. As sharp as it is, this lens was a focusing dog on the D100.

As far as image quality is concerned, I have almost never been disappointed with the output from the D2H. As I write this, I am looking at a 30 inch print hanging on my office wall of a pit crew doing a hot-stop on an IRL car in the pits at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. You can almost tell what kinds of bugs are smashed on the driverís helmet. Donít worry about the D2Hís 4MP files. These pixels deliver amazing detail. I donít miss 6MP at all. Would I like the option of having an 8MP file? I sure would, but I doubt I would use it most of the time. I use this camera for Landscapes, Portraits, and Sports. It delivers beautiful images in any situation. The only caveat is that at very high ISOs it is noisy. It is usable up to ISO 1600, but above 800 you must be very careful not to under expose.

I guess this camera is not for everyone. It certainly has had it share of detractors. I just canít make it screw up. If Nikon comes out with a higher MP version using the same body, my photographic life will be complete.


 
Nikon 300mm f/4 ED-IF AF-S Nikkor

1909NAS_180
Review Date: May 26, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $950.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Light, great color, contrast and bokeh, fairly fast and very silent focus.
Cons:
Tripod mount is not so great (jam a cork between the lens barrel and the mount and it works fine.).

Just to add to what Justin has already said: The thing I first noticed about this lens was its color rendition, contrast, and the soft wonderful quality of the defocused background you get. I think this lens gives you better bokeh than its more expensive f2.8 big brother, and it will focus close enough to be a good macro lens for flowers and bugs (much closer than the 2.8). It is AFS, but it is not nearly as quick or positive in focusing as the new 2.8 AFS-II. It is a great art lens, portrait lens, but not as good a sports lens as its big brother.

At less than 1/3 the price though it has to be one of the best bargins in the stable of Nikkor lenses. Buy it without any second thoughts.


 
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR

2139NAS_180
Review Date: May 8, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,695.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build, Feel, Fast focus, Color rendition, Sharpness, Bokah, VR.
Cons:
Mild tendancy to flare, layout of controls (I'm getting used to it), price

I have only had this lens for a couple of weeks, but it has become my "people lens". It is lighter than its 80-200 AFS predecessor, and, to me, feels somewhat more balanced on the camera.

Before I decided to buy it, my local photo store (Roberts Photo) let me put it on my camera and walk around the block to take some photos. When I looked at them on the computer later that night, what first impressed me was the color rendition. The colors were like what you would expect from a good prime lens. Never having used an IS or VR lens before, I was also happy to see that the obligatory "brick wall" shot was sharp at 200mm @1/30.

After looking at the results, I went back to Roberts and bought the lens the next day. Two weeks later, I am really impressed with the defocus quality of the backgrounds I have gotten, and the color and sharpness continue to impress. The VR takes some getting used to, but I am getting more and more use out of it all the time.

My only problem with the lens so far, was with some shots I took at the Indiana State Legislature. It was dark in the chambers, and there was some strong backlighting from an open door behind the podium. When I wasn't careful about my framing and the angle I choose, I got some flare from the light of the open door. I don't think my 300 AFS would have given me this flare problem, but since it has no VR, I would have needed a tripod to get the same shot.

Anyway, I really like the lens so far, and I am sure it will get a lot of use. Mechanically, it has performed flawlessly so far (knock on wood).


 
Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S

1960NAS_180
Review Date: Apr 20, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: This is a sharp, with very little distortion or chromatic aberration, or flare. Very fast focus. Built like a tank.
Cons:
Weighs a lot and, like all good things, costs a bit.

Buy this lens. If you end up sorry you did, you will be the first person I have ever heard of.

 
Nikon D100

D100
Review Date: Apr 14, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,999.95 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Image quality and lack of defalut in-camera corrections: Battery life: Intuitive menus and controls:
Cons:
Small, dark viewfinder: Lack of ISO-100: Lack of fast flash sync:

My problems with this camera all stem from the fact that I came from the F series of Nikons. The D-100 was never touted as a professional camera, and it is not. The negatives I listed above are a factor to at least some extent in all of the "Prosumer" DSLRs. If you buy any of these cameras, you should not expect a pro level camera.

Having said that, I must say that I really like the D-100. I use it with studio strobes to take pictures of small, intricate machines, and my customers have been very happy with the results in litho print and in photo print. Several posters above have made mention of noise, but coming from the film world, I have had no problems with noise, even when blowing these studio shots up to 12x18.

http://www.centralprepress.com/NikonPosts/Elgin162MvtSM.jpg

I have also used it extensively for architectural, and landscape photography where it has also performed quite well. There have been complaints about chronic under-exposure with this camera, and I have found that, as with my film cameras, proper exposure, especially in difficult situations, takes some getting used to. The camera does have its quirks, and one of them seems to be that Nikon doesn't ever want to blow out highlights. Just remember that exposures on a digital camera should be thought of as like those on transparency film as opposed to negative film. If you blow out the highlights, you can't get them back. I use the histogram feature on the review screen extensively, and rarely have exposure problems.

http://www.centralprepress.com/NikonPosts/ShrineSM.jpg

I think that the D-100 performs superbly in low light. Most low light work I do is concerts, or other low light "people pictures". I routinely use ISO 1600 (like the photo in the link below), or higher and achieve good results. Again, the low light auto-focus is very good, but not as good as in the pro series of Nikons, but I tend to use manual focus in these situations quite a bit. Low light photography is where I would really like a pro viewfinder.

http://www.centralprepress.com/NikonPosts/CelloSM.jpg

I do not do a lot of sports or action photography, but I have done some with the D-100. I have been pretty happy with the results (see the link below), but I am not completely happy with the ability of the camera to follow a moving object in "continuous auto-focus" mode. It is not that this mode does not work, it does. It is just that I know that the pro series of bodies work so much better. If you are an action photographer and want to get the highest yield of keepers, spend the extra money and get a pro body. If not, you can get superb results with the D-100.

http://www.centralprepress.com/NikonPosts/FirebirdsSM.jpg

I would say that the aspect of this camera, which really took some getting used to, was using the TTL flash. I have an SB-80-DX, which is a excellent unit, with plenty of power. My first efforts with TTL flash with the D-100/SB-80 unit were less than perfect. Again, as I began to use the histogram function, and began to anticipate issues in the scene I was facing, which might fool the TTL metering, I began to achieve better results, and now I am quite happy with the combination.

http://www.centralprepress.com/NikonPosts/CarlBandSM.jpg

One thing I would say to someone who was thinking of the purchase of any DSLR, but the D-100 in particular, is that it seems that you get much better results with good lenses. On my film cameras, I could notice the difference in color and sharpness between lenses, but on the digital body, the difference is startling. Start out with the best glass and avoid the disappointments. You will be poorer, but more happy in the end.

In conclusion, I would say that a potential buyer should realize that the D-100, or any other DSLR is not a point and shoot camera. Hopefully you are buying a camera like this because you are sick of the difficulties of achieving control over your photography with a point and shoot. There are probably "prosumer" DSLRs, which come closer to giving point-and-shoot results than the D-100, but if you are looking for a photographic tool at a "prosumer" price, I think you will not be disappointed with the D-100. However, if you need a workhorse pro camera, and need to rely on it as your main tool to produce income, you might want to look at a pro body.