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  Reviews by: erick_C  

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Nikon D40

d40
Review Date: Oct 14, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: weight, image quality, overall usefulness, ergonomics,
Cons:
lack of on-camera controls and no support for non AF-S lenses

As my first Nikon D40, it was the camera that turned me into a Nikon user. This is a surprisingly capable camera given it's price point and target market.

This will satisfy most basic user's needs for a DSLR. Paired with the right lenses, this can be the basis of a relatively light weight kit which means you'll take it almost anywhere and that's what matters in photography. You can't take a photo if you don't have your camera. The menu system gives you access to what you will change the most, ISO, WB, Focus Modes, Shooting modes, etc, but on body controls would make this much much faster. Also, the lack of a motor means you can't use non-AF-S lenses.

Overall, if you're looking to get started with a DSLR, figure out what you really want to do. 9 times out of 10, the D40 will satisfy those needs.


 
Nikon D300

d300
Review Date: Oct 14, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: state of the art DX sensor, ergonomics, great ISO range, build,
Cons:
none

As a long time Canon film SLR shooter, I was leaning towards the Rebel series for my first DSLR. After reading great reviews about the D40, I decided to purchase it and was highly satisfied but my creative juices weren't excited. So, I purchased the (at the time) very best DX camera in Nikon's lineup, the D300.

I couldn't have been happier. This is, by no stretch of the imagination, a PRO body. Yes, the D3 did/does exist and unless you continuously face the situations where the D3 clearly excels, the D300 is the camera for you (even more so if you can appreciate the DX crop factor). To truly find faults in this camera I would have to nitpick. I feel that every bit of this camera is designed to be innovative, useful, and, most importantly, effective at letting you concetrate on what matters most: capturing the moment.

As this camera slowly moves to the 'discontinued' lineup, the prices for used bodies are dropping and is a great time to pick up a great camera.


 
Tokina 12-24mm f/4 AT-X 124 AF PRO DX SD

atx124afprodx
Review Date: Oct 14, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: sharp, (almost) bomb-proof construction, controlled barrel distortion (at the widest angle), intuitive MF/AF switch
Cons:
hood

I owned this lens very briefly, I ended up selling it to help fund another lens purchase and I MISS IT. It was one of the best UWA lenses I've used having never used the Nikon variant and will definitely buy it again.

The lens is sharp. At 12mm, you will see some very visible barrel distortion but it's so predictable that it can easily be fixed through software. At first, I was skeptical of the MF/AF clutch but after using it, it's a smart and intuitive implementation.

The construction, as many others have pointed out, is phenomenal. In my opinion, it's built to last you a very very long time. Kudos to Tokina.

As for my one caveat, the hood leaves much to be desired. When reveresed, it tends to pop off once in a while. Not too often, but once in a while that it becomes annoying.

Also, on a side note: IMHO, Tokina has one of the best designed rear caps. Better than the Nikon one. Positive engagement, good coverate (to help protect more of your lens' mount), and, unlike the other third party brands, you don't have to line it up with a dot.


 
Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S

1961NAS_180
Review Date: Oct 14, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,150.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: extremely sharp, fast focus, nice balance (even on a D300 w/o grip), bokeh
Cons:
it's called "The Beast" for a reason, the hood alone will scare old people and small animals...

I purchased this lens back in June this year on eBay and have been EXTREMELY satisfied with the moments I've been able to capture with this lens. The focal range on a DX body is manageable (if you can appreciate the benefit using a 42-105mm).

With current prices dropping, it's one helluva buy.