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Nikon 300mm f/2.8D ED-IF II AF-S

2125NAS_180
Review Date: Dec 21, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharpness, built quality, speed, performance with 17ETC
Cons:
NONE

I recently switched from Canon to Nikon. I switched b/c of the 200-400 VR lens. However, I also want a comparable range from Nikon so I picked up this lens as well. Mine is the AFS I version. I am glad that I decided to get this lens.

IT IS SUPERB!

The lens focus speed is as fast and as quiet as Canon's counter part. I used to own the 300 2.8L USM. In my mind and for my application, when it comes to lens selection, Nikon has finally caught up to Canon!

This 300 2.8 AFS is simply outstanding. Sharpness is second to none. Built quality is superb. When mates with the 17E TC, this lens is amazing even at wide open (f/4.8)! With the D2X, I get an effective FL of 1020mm! For low light and handheld applications, this lens is perfect.

Is there anything else I miss from this lens? Well, maybe VR but I have that from my 200-400.


 
Nikon D2Xs

d2x
Review Date: Dec 21, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Built quality, ergonomics, speed, MP count, HSC
Cons:
ISO noise at 400 and above, AF points layout, lack of 2-second mirror lockup, large size AF points/areas

I switched from Canon to Nikon about 2 months ago. The reason for the switch was b/c of the 200-400 VR lens. When it came time to decide on the body, I didn't hesistate to pickup the D2X. I got spoiled by the 1DII so I want the same "pro level" camera from Nikon. After 6 weeks of heavy usage (7k clicks) here's my impression of this camera compared to the Canon equivalent (IMO) 1DII.

The D2X feels right in my hand. It balances well with the 200-400 and the 300 2.8 AFS. It's a little bit lighter thanks to the smaller sized battery. The grips are easier to grab and handle thanks to the rubberized outershell and the indentations.

The buttons and control layouts are more intuitive than the 1DII. The AF selection pad is a big bonus and therefore, it allows quicker AF point selection.

HSC factor is an excellent feature. Some folks don't think much about it but for me, it's very innovative for Nikon to put it in the D2X. Effectively, I get almost twice the reach and at almost the same resolution comparing to the 1DII. In 35mm term, with the 200-400 lens, I get a zoom coverage of 350-800mm! This works well with both stationary subjects and birds in flight for me.

Here's what I don't like about this camera. First and foremost, ISO noise at 400 and above. When I was using the 1DII, I constantly used ISO 500-640. Sometimes, I even pushed it to 1000 w/o any reservation. Now with the D2X, I always find myself disappointed with shots at ISO 400 or above. For a camera of this caliber, Nikon needs to do a better job.

Second, I find that each of the 11 AF areas is just too big. They need to be smaller and better refined. It's sometime difficult to get the eye on the bird to be razor sharp, especially when the bird is far away.

Third, I wish there are more AF areas/points and that those points would be closer. The large spaces between the 11 points make it difficult and longer to compose a shot, especially with birds.

Fourth, I don't like the mirror lockup feature on the D2X. It doesn't have the 2-second release delay to use in combination with the mirror lockup. This forces me to buy the cable remote release. Price for the cable is not a big deal but when in a pinch, the lack of this feature can be annoying.

Overall, this is a great camera. But I didn't switch b/c of the D2X. I switched b/c of the 200-400 VR. If Nikon can solve the high ISO noise, that alone would make this a perfect DSLR. The other 3 complaints are minor from my part.


 
Canon Extender EF 2x II

Extender_2x2_1_
Review Date: Oct 28, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $235.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Works better than expected. Still maintains the sharpness and contrast when used wit my 300 2.8L and 600 f/4L lense - AMAZING.
Cons:
NONE

Bought this with the thought of using it occasionally. However, after I viewed my results from the 300 2.8L lens, I was pleasantly surprised! 300 2.8L + 2xTCII + 1DII has been my combo of choice over my 600mm f/4L prime.

When used with my 600mm lens, the results are also excellent as long as the subject is big enough. Otherwise, you will be disappointed.

Some samples taken with the 300 2.8L + 2xTCII and 1DII:

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/49182438/ogirinal
http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/49931418/original
http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/50494881/original
http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/50494882/original
http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/50500883/original


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM

ef70_200_28_1_
Review Date: Oct 27, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, sharp, sharp. Built quality is superb. AF is quick and smooth.
Cons:
none

Again, I was lucky enough to pick this lens up over at Buy and Sell forum. I bought this from the same seller of my Sigma 120-300 2.8. Now it's an even harder decision of which ones to keep since I have the 70-200 f/4L, Sigma 120-300 2.8 and now the 70-200 F/2.8L. They are ALL sharp lenses at wide open. With the Canon's, I see little improvement when stopped down. With the Sigma, the lens performs at its best at f/3.2 and lower.

I may just keep all 3, if the boss let me. Otherwise, I will probably keep the 70-200 2.8L only. :=( Biggest advantage of the f/4L is its light weight and compactness. For the Sigma, it's the useful zoom range at a constant f/stop. For the 2.8L, it's the extra f/stop for OOF background.

With a TC attached, the image quality of the Sigma degrades slightly but not with the Canon's. Taking all these into consideration, I will keep the 70-200 f/2.8L for sure. As for the f/4L and the Sigma 120-300, I need more time to decide.

Decision, decision, decision...


 
Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 EX DG HSM

120_300_1_
Review Date: Oct 25, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Useful zoom range at constant f/2.8. This lens produces razor sharp images at f/2.8! AF is extremely quiet and fast. This lens performs well with my Canon 1.4x and 2x TC IIs. Built quality feel very sturdy.
Cons:
The tripod collar is too close to the AF ring. The zoom ring is a little tight. Hopefully, it will loosen up over time.

I bought this lens last week over at the Buy and Sell forum for $1400. I was ecstatic to find one at this price. I did some test runs with the 1DII and the images are sharp at wide open. Stop down to f/3.2, it's amazingly sharp. I also ran some test shots with the 1.4x and 2x TCs. Stopped down by 1/3 fstop, the images are sharp and I am happy!

I have been searching high and low for something to go with my 600mm lens. This will be a perfect compliment to my 600mm while I am in the field photographing birds/wildlife. I have tried the 300 f/4 IS, 400 5.6 and the 100-400 IS but none is as flexible as this lens. So far, I am very satisfied with the image quality. Hopefully, I will have some time this weekend to test the AF tracking capability of this lens on flying/diving ospreys.

I have a feeling that this will be another keeper for me.


 
Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 with Softfocus

ef135mmf_28soft_1_
Review Date: Oct 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: images from this lens are sharp as a tack. The Softfocus feature really works. The price is unbelievable.
Cons:
maybe AFD?

Hehehe - I bought this lens from Bellyface (below) couple weeks ago for $200!!! It's the best non-L Canon lens I have used. It's extremely extremely sharp wide open. Even though I don't use this lens that often, but it will be another keeper just because it's such a good copy and at such an amazing price!

 
Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX APO IF HSM

05_03_1_
Review Date: Oct 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharp at f/3.2 and "up". AF is quiet and smooth. Built quality is superb. The black finish is just awesome. It matches well with my 1DII.
Cons:
Future compatibility with Canon DSLRs?

I am not a big fan of Sigma. But I just picked up this lens recently over at the Buy and Used forum due to the price. It's a DG version so the built quality and the finish are just superb. The images from this lens are tack sharp. For the price I paid, I am a happy shooter. I haven't tried this with the TCs yet. I am hoping it will be as good with the 1.4x TC. It balances well with my 1DII.

I also have the Canon 70-200 f/4L and they are both equally sharp. I am having a hard time in deciding which to keep. I also have the 120-300 2.8 on order and hopefully, that lens will help me in making a decision.


 
Sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX DG Aspherical RF

20_f1_8_1_
Review Date: Oct 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $325.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharpess wide angle prime I have used. Built quality is top notch. At f/1.8 with my 20d and 1DII, it's as sharp as my 50 f/1.4 prime at f/2.0.
Cons:
AF is slightly noisy. Not sure if it will work with future Canon DSLRs.

If you can get your hand on a good copy, this lens will blow you away! I bought mine used over at the Buy and Sell forum from Drip01. He tried 3 copies before he settled on this one. Knowing Drip01, I jumped on this the minute I saw his post. Even though I don't use this lens that often, but I will keep it for a long while since it's such a good copy. It's sharper than Canon 20 and 24 2.8 primes. I used to own both of these but sold them while back. Looking forward in using it more often this fall.



 
Gitzo G1327 Mountaineer Mk2 Carbon Fiber

G1327_1_
Review Date: Aug 4, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Stable/rock solid and light
Cons:
NONE

I bought this tripod shortly after I got the 600 L to replace the broken Bogen 055MF3. Yep, the bogen could not handle the 600 beast. I use this tripod with the Jobo-Design Black Widow head and the combo works wonderfully with the lens. At first, I thought the twist leg locks would be an issue BUT not at all. It works like a charm. I have no complaints whatsoever with this tripod. It's a must if you lens is the 500, 600 or 400 2.8.

 
Canon EOS 1D Mark II

1D2
Review Date: Aug 1, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,600.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: The best camera in Canon's lineup. I don't care what people said. AF is superbly fast and accurate. If speed and durability is what you want, this is it. It doesn't get any better. 1.3x crop factor is a BLESS for nature photography on the tele end. On the wide end, 17-40L is plenty wide for my need. Solid feel in my hand and balance well with my 600mm prime. The battery life lasts me about 800-1000 shots.
Cons:
NONE.

I have no complaint what-so-ever about this camera. It's a dream machine. I have been eyeing it since the day it was announced. The price was prohibitive then but I was able to pick one up in mint condition w/ less than 3K click for less than $3k about 4 weeks ago.

The AI Servo tracking is incredibly accurate. My keeper rate has gone up from about 50% (w/ the 20d) to about 95%. The weight and build quality of this DSLR is the best there is. For those who complained about the weight, don't be a wimp. For those who complained about the price, don't be a cheap-***. Life is too short to settle for anything less. Just buy it to satisfy your desire/need. Then go out and shoot. In a 4 week period, I have put on another 4k clicks. So what, it's a tool that build to last.

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/46603552/original

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/46589481/original

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/46467117/original

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/46872297/original

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/46937016/original

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/46937020/original

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/46872309/original


 
Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

ef300mmf_4_1_
Review Date: Apr 30, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, light and compact
Cons:
IS is a little noisy

Just picked up this lens to supplement my 600 prime. This lens is amazing. It's as sharp as its bigger brother, the 300 f/2.8. AF is fast and quiet. Images from this lens is stunning. My only "complaint" about it is the IS is a little noisy when it kicks in. Other than that, the lens is superb. Here are some test shots taken with it this morning:

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/42765976/original.jpg

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/42765975/original.jpg


 
Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM

ef300mmf_28_1_
Review Date: Mar 21, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharp wide open, "handholdable", blazing fast AF speed, L built quality
Cons:
Not much so far.

I just picked up this lens recently. Mine is the non-IS version. Took some test shots and the quality from the images just blown me away. This lens is as sharp as my beloved 600mm f/4L. With a 1.4x TC attached, the images are stunning. Here are couple shots I took this afternoon.

Full images w/ 1.4x TC wide open (f/4)

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/41078362/original

100% cropped

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/41089077/original

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/41079114/original

100% cropped

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/41090112/original


 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

ef50mmf_14usm_1_
Review Date: Mar 15, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $220.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Fast, Sharp, and Compact
Cons:
None

I am a zoom guy and this is the only short prime lens I have in my setup. A perfect lens for portrait on a 1.6x crop cameras. AF is lightning fast. F1.4 is a bless. Image quality is simply stunning. I recommend everyone to skip the 1.8 version and go straight to this lens. Yes, it's 3x the price of the 1.8 but the built and glass quality is so much better. I used to own both version I and II of the 1.8 lens. In both copies, the lenses were pretty much useless at 1.8 and sharpness did not improve until f4. With the 1.4 version, sharpness is just awesome at 1.8 or higher. I highly recommend this lens to everyone. It's another must have if one is serious enough with low light photography.

 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

ef70_200_4_1_
Review Date: Mar 15, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $425.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: light weight, sharp, L quality, Built, price
Cons:
None

Over the past 2 years, I have own at least 4 different copies of this lens. I just picked up my last copy this week from a local seller. Every time I used this lens, I am just amazed at the sharpness, clarity and the contrast of the images produded by the lens. This is a perfect lens to take along on a long hike or on travel. My travel combo consists of:

Canon 10-22 or Tamron 17-35 Di XR
Tamron 28-75 Di XR
Canon 70-200 F4L

I also used this lens along with the 28-75 Di extensively for studio work. It's a killer combo.


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

ef100_400l_1_
Review Date: Mar 13, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharpness, AF speed, Built quality, IS, Image quality
Cons:
None

Images produced from this lens are stunningly sharp. This has been my lens of choice for bird photography. Granted that it's "not" as sharp as the 400 5.6L prime but it's dam* close with the bonus addition of the IS feature. I recently sold my copy to finance for the 600mm. I am now in the market to reacquire it. It's a perfect walk-around lens for nature hiker. Here are some shots taken at 400mm end wide open.

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/38723468/original

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/35426247/original

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/36625814/original



 
Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM

ef600mmf_4_1_
Review Date: Mar 12, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,000.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, sharp, sharp wide open AF is extremely fast Sharp, sharp, sharp with 1.4x TC
Cons:
None

Mine is the non IS version. I purchased it from one of the members of FM over at the Buy & Sell forum. The lens is simply awesome. Weight is not a big deal. I expected that. This lens opens a whole new world of nature photography. Images are tack sharp wide open. With a 1.4x TC, it's sharp. Here are some examples:

with TC

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/40697451/original

http://www.pbase.com/tnt_imaging/image/40697322/original


 

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