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Nikon 600mm f/4G ED VR AF-S

600VR
Review Date: Oct 28, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: IQ, AF speed, VR, Built quality, size
Cons:
availability (lack of), stocked feet

What a coincidence, I bought this lens from Jordan, previous reviewer, back in April/May 2009. What a beautiful chunk of glass it is. This is THE sharpest 600mm lens I have ever used and I have used the Canon 600 non-IS and IS extensively in the past. On my D300, the lens is very sharp at wide open and it is tack sharp at f/4.5. It is about ½ lbs lighter than Canon’s IS equivalent so the lens is “handholdable” for short bursts. AF is as fast as any AF-S lens. VR works very well when required but I usually have it “off” most of the time. With the 14E TC II, the lens performs very well when stop down to f/6.3 or f/7.1. AF does slow down a bit – might be too slow for BIF.

I have used this lens on the D700, D300, and D5000. The lens performs superbly with any of these bodies but my combo of choice is with the D300. This gives me the best reach with the highest IQ and fastest AF combination. Without TC, this combo can track anything that moves! This combo also works very very well at the last 2009 US Hurley Surf Open in Southern California. I just picked up the D90 and will give it a try in the next few months.

Cons – just some minor complaints. First, the lens is hard to find. It has been over two years since it was introduced and the lens is still on “back order” at most places. This could be a good thing too as it helps to keep the used price up. Second, the supplied feet are useless. It’s best to get the Wimberley replacement foot which I did.

If you want to see sample images, please checkout http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging. Go into “new additions” folder for the latest images. Can’t wait until the birding season starts again in Spring!!!


 
Nikon TC-14E II 1.4x AF-S

tc-14E
Review Date: Apr 10, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $185.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: superb IQ
Cons:
Nothing

I have the AF-I version which has exact same optic design. Only difference is the cosmetic. IQ produced from this TC is simply superb. Highly recommended.

 
Nikon 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED VR AF-S

20-400vr
Review Date: Apr 9, 2008 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros:
Cons:

I completely disagreed with your view of this lens Howard. I would definitely use this lens for nature/wildlife photography, something other than sport. Could it be that you have an average sample? don't know... All I know is my lens is sharper than the 300 2.8 AFS + 14E TC at f/4!

 
Nikon TC-20E II 2x AF-S

tc-20E
Review Date: Apr 9, 2008 Recommend? no | Price paid: $275.00 | Rating: 5 

 
Pros: nothing
Cons:
not as sharp as Canon's equivalent

IQ is horrible comparing to Canon's equivalent. I used this TC with the 300 2.8 AFS and D2X. I then compared it against Canon 2X TC + 300 2.8L + 1D2. The difference is night and day. Nikon needs to completely overhaul and redesign this TC!

Save the money and get the 17E TC instead!


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

18-200dx
Review Date: Nov 11, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Great lens for its purpose - all-in-one walk-around lens; sharp at wide open and at any FL; color and saturation produced from this lens are superb; VR with great coverage
Cons:
zoom creep when pointed down

With a young baby, I can't afford to carry a bag full of primes when I am out walking/strolling with the wife and kid. This lens serves me well. Right now, the competitors have nothing close to offer. I give this lens a perfect "10" as an all-purpose walk-around lens. This is what it was made for!

I have read reports of this lens for not being sharp beyond 100mm. On the contrary, I have found this lens to be very sharp at wide open and at all focal length. Contrast, color, and saturation produced from this lens is beyond words.

For its purpose, this lens is the best there is.


 
Nikon 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED VR AF-S

20-400vr
Review Date: Oct 15, 2007 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros:
Cons:

As mentioned in my previous comment on this lens, I picked up another copy recently. After 8 months of not using this lens, my thoughts on it have not changed. This lens is an engineering feat. At the moment, there's simply no equivalent match for this lens.

All these were taken wide open with the D50...
http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/87001338/original.jpg
http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/86944264/original.jpg
http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/86944262/original.jpg


 
Nikon D40

d40
Review Date: Oct 10, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Speed; compact size; high IQ; clean high ISO; Built Quality; Price; 1/500 flash sync speed
Cons:
No screw-drive feature; lack of hot buttons; only 6mp

This is a nice little camera for travel and "soccer moms". Built quality is good for a consumer class DSLR. Compact size but yet the grip is very comfortable to hold, unlike Canon's equivalent (400d). IQ is great, especially in the high ISO area. Per pixel sharpness is crisp and clean unlike the D50. Has fast operating time with very little shutter lag and blackout time. Has a very deep RAW buffer (9 frames) for this DSLR class.

What I don't like are the lack of support for screw-drive lenses, lack of dedicated buttons for ISO, WB, fps...settings.


 
Nikon D50

d50
Review Date: Oct 8, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: cleanest high ISO DSRL from Nikon; price; IQ; hot buttons; 1/500 flash sync; built quality; AF accuracy
Cons:
shutter lag; low mp count

This is a great carry-around camera. After using the d40 and d50 for over 3 months, I decided the d50 is a better choice, especially for use with Nikon fast primes. I was also looking at the d80 for its higher pixel count but I need the clean high ISO performance of the d50. This is by far, the best consumer DSLR I have ever used. It leaves the Canon 300d, 350d, 400d in the dust.

Unlike Canon's which are plaque with front/rear AF issue, the D50's focus is spot on. Built quality is much much better than Canon's equivalent. It feels solid and not plasticly.

The 1/500 flash-sync is a welcome bonus. Not sure why Nikon doesn't provide this feature in their latest models. This is ashame.

I paid $350 for mine and it's the best investment I have ever made in digital photography. Biggest issues I have with this camera is the low mp count, as mentioned before. The other is the shutter lag. Wish it was as quick as the d40.


 
Nikon 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED VR AF-S

20-400vr
Review Date: Jun 29, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: 200-400 zoom; AFS; VR; F/4; minimum focusing distance
Cons:
none

I had the pleasure of using this lens for over 1 year. This lens was the reason why I dabbled into the Dark Side (Nikon camp). I bought it b/c I needed the flexibility of the zoom with this range but at the same time, I wanted top notch prime-like sharpness/IQ for shooting flying/diving ospreys. For me, it's a combination of the 200mm, 300mm, 400mm primes all into ONE. It's expensive but I forgot about it once I saw the images...

To really appreciate the zooming flexibility of this lens, one would need to be in shooting situations where subjects are fast approaching the photographer, i.e. an osprey diving down and coming up with fish and flying straight toward the photographer. Or a wild bobcat approaching the photographer and passing by within 10 feet with a prey…

Some might say 400mm end is a tad short for wildlife. True, there were times when I wish it could be longer. But if it was a 200-500 f/4 lens, the price and weight would have been doubled. In cases like these, I would put on the 14ETC. Sharpness and AF speed do drop a bit when use with TC. Stopping down by 1/2 fstop and set the focus limiter will fix these limitations.

As I have stated above, the sharpness, contrast, and saturation from this lens is near prime-like quality. This is as close to perfect as a lens can get. I have no hesitation in using it at wide open. My osprey and bobcat galleries were shot mostly with this lens.

www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging

The lens is big and heavy. However, I find it to be perfect for handhold. I don’t use tripod 99% of the time. Therefore, VR is a great bonus for those stationary shots. AFS is super fast and super quiet.

Unfortunately, due to financial reason, I sold this lens after 1 year of heavy use. When the right time comes, I will buy it again! Yes, it’s that good!!!


 
Canon EOS Rebel XTi (400D)

rebel_xti
Review Date: May 15, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 3 

 
Pros: NONE
Cons:
worse camera canon have ever made. RAW images taken with the 70-200 2.8L are extremely soft when comparing with the 1dII in exact same shooting condition (indoor with flash in manual mode). There's absolutely nothing good about the new copy I purchased.



 
Canon EOS 5D

5d_586x225_2_
Review Date: Feb 8, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,000.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: FF, superb high ISO performance, "compact" size, superb IQ, has the best DR in Canon DSLR line
Cons:
low fps, "limited" buffer, not weather seal

I bought this camera not for its full frame but for its superb low light performance. After using the D200 and 1DII for over a year, when it comes to high ISO performance, the 5D is in a league of its own. Nothing comes close! Here's my take:

5D 3200 ISO is as clean as 1DII 1600! 1DII 1600 ISO is as clean as D200 1000.

When mate with the 85 1.8 lens, the combo rocks! IQ from this camera is also superb with little sharpening required. DR is also the best there is and I thought my 1DII was great. It's also nice to have a "compact" DSLR again, especially when I have new baby to carry around. In low light, its AF performance is faster than the 1dII but not so for outdoor shoot. 1DII is still the king in this area.

I paid $2000 for a used unit with 8k clicks over at FM B/S forum. I could have paid a little more for a brand new unit after the double rebate but I chose not to. After reading many horror stories on the rebates, I simply skip this route. Just didn't want to deal with the headaches.

On the negative side, I wish this camera had weather seal, at least in some major areas. The 3 fps rate is slightly slow for me. Would be nice if it was 5fps with buffer in the high teens or low 20s, like the D200.

Highly recommended!


 
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

ef100_400l_1_
Review Date: Feb 2, 2007 Recommend? | Price paid: $1,200.00

 
Pros: convenient focal range, sharpness, IS, AF speed and accuracy, price, weight
Cons:
QC variation, push/pull design

Over the years, I have owned 5 different copies of this lens. My first was extremely sharp but I sold it to finance for something else. Since then, I have tried 3 additional copies but none was as good as the first until recently. My 5th and current copy is superb.

I love this lens. I don't care what people said about zooms. I am a "zoom" shooter and this lens fits my shooting style perfectly. AF is quick and snappy on both my 5D and 1DII. Sharpness is awesome at wide open and every FL.

My two main complaints are the QC variation b/t different copies. The other complaint is the push/pull style. I would much prefer the twist zoom ring like the 70-200 2.8L or the Nikon 200-400 VR.

This is a wonderful lens for nature/wildlife photography. To some, it might be a bit short but for me, it fits the bill! Great lens!


 
Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM

ef500mmf_4_1_
Review Date: Jan 17, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: 500 4.5L (older version) - handholdable all day at only 6.6lbs, great IQ, fast AF.
Cons:
Canon doesn't service this lens (older version) anymore. F/4.5 --> central AF point on 1D bodies with 1.4xTC only.

My review is of the older version f/4.5L lens. IQ from this lens is superb. AF is fast but hunt a little when goes from infinity to minimum AF distance. Unfortunately, Canon does not service this lens anymore. Otherwise, I would have loved to keep it but sold it recently to save for the newer IS version.

With TC, this lens will only AF with center AF point on the 1d bodies. It's only 6.6lbs so it's great for long hike and handhold. I used it exclusively w/o tripod for wildlife (birds) photography. Here are some images taken with this lens and 1DII. All were handheld...

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/62169554/original
http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/62166472/original
http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/68233176/original
http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/61238515/original
http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/60831240/original
http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/63692504/original
http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/68073523/original


 
Nikon D200

NikonD200
Review Date: Nov 28, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: price, performance, handling, built/quality, IQ
Cons:
frame rate, banding issue

This is the 2nd D200 that I have owned in 15 months. The first had banding issue so I returned it. I bought the 2nd unit used and it has been serving me very well.

I used to own the D2X but sold it and opted for the D200. I sold the D2X b/c I feel that for a $4k camera, its high ISO performance should have been better. To me, in terms of ISO noise, the D200 is about 1/3 to 1/2 fstop cleaner than the D2X. On the other hand, the AF system on the D2X is slightly better than the D200. Please note that I only said "slightly better." The CAM1300 in the D200 has surpassed my expectation for a camera at this price point.

AF on the D200 blown the 10d/20d/30d away, specifically its tracking capability. When I was using the 30d w/ the 500 4.5L lens to track a flying osprey (center AF point w/ AI Servo), in 5fps mode, the 30 would only give me 1 or 2 sharp images. The rest would just be blurred. AF could not lock and hold on to the subject. With the D200, my rate of keeper is much much higher. Out of a burst of 5, I may get only 1 or 2 unsharp shots.

ISO wise, the 30d is about 1/3 to 1/2 fstop cleaner than the D200. This can be fixed via Neat Image or Noise Ninja. On the flip side, I like the colors from the d200 more. It's just more vibrant. But then again, this can also be fixed via PP. The extra 2mp on the D200 may not sound like alot but for me, it gives the extra flexibility/room for cropping during PP.

Handling and built, the D200 feels better in my hands than the 30d. The rubberized finish is a bit softer on the D200, which makes it easier to grab. The hand grip on the D200 also fits my hand better as well. Furthermore, the vertical grip for the D200 feels and fits better than the grip for the 30d.

So far, I have put about 8k shots through my D200. It hasn't given me any issue/problem. If I have anything to complain, I would want the high speed frame rate to be 6 instead of 5fps. Other than that, I think at the moment, it's a perfect camera for sport/nature/wildlife/studio/casual shoots.




 
Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G AF-S DX

DX-17-55_L
Review Date: Dec 21, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: useful and effective zoom range of 17-55mm. Built quality is superb. Sharpness and contrast is top notch.
Cons:
Would be great if the range can go up to 65 or 70.

I bought this lens new from BH to cover my wide angle need. This lens is superb. AF is super fast and accurate. Sharpness is nothing to complain about, especially at f/2.8! I didn't notice any improvement in sharpness when stopped down. For me, that's an indication of a high quality lens. For now, I don't have anything to complain about, except maybe, it would be great if the zoom can go up to 65 or 70. Other than that, this lens fits my need perfectly. I supplement it with the 24-85 AFS as a walkaround combo together with the D2X.

If money is "not" an issue, I highly recommend this lens!


 
Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G AF-S

2141NCP_180
Review Date: Dec 21, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: sharpness and contrast
Cons:
built quality

This lens reminds me of the Canon 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM. However, it's much sharper than the Canon's counterpart. When stopped down to f/5 or smaller, image quality is superb at all FL.

Built quality is something to be desired though. At 85mm, the front end of the lens wobbles a little bit. Others have said this is a dust magnet. I haven't experienced that yet but I am sure it will be the case for me as well. However, all my pro caliber lenses have dust in them and I have once notice any degrade in image quality.

I bought this lens as my walkaround to supplement the 17-55 2.8DX. I would not have bought if it wasn't for the $100 rebate. This brings the price down to $260 which I think is very very attractive. It's also a bonus that the lens hood is included in the package. Time will tell the durability of this lens. But for now, it will be a permanent member in my lens arsenal (17-55 AFS, 24-85 AFS, 200-400 VR AFS, 300 2.8 AFS, 50 1.4).

For those on a budget, I highly recommend this lens!


 

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