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Nikon D800E

nikon-d800e
Review Date: May 26, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Gorgeous image files; great combination of compactness, light weight, and ruggedness; excellent ergonomics. Sharp!!!
Cons:
Relatively slow frame rate is a challenge for wildlife photography; serious computing power needed for editing.

The Nikon D800E is a spectacular tool that requires the user to proceed through a learning curve in order to achieve the best results. My D3 is far easier to use well than my D800E.
The D800E likes mid-range apertures, modest ISOs, and a steady hand. Under those conditions, it can deliver images like this hand-held with a workhorse lens like my original generation 70-200mm f/2.8:

http://www.pbase.com/zuman/image/143566258

I have had no focusing difficulties, but the frame rate is slow for wildlife photography. Nevertheless, on a recent wildlife project in Borneo I found myself using the 800 more and the 3 less as the trip progressed. The files are just that good.

My wildlife photography: www.pbase.com/zuman/wtwp


 
Nikon D3

d3
Review Date: Jul 17, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,879.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Speed; ISO flexibility; FF (FX format); fast access to operating functions; flexibility
Cons:
None

The Nikon D3 is flat-out worth the money you invest in it, the weight you have to lug around, and the space it takes up in your bag, IF you absolutely need to get the shot. If reliability is not critical, if speed of focus acquisition is not important, if wide ISO flexibility doesn't matter, if high frame rate is irrelevant, if ruggedness is a negative, then get something else. If, on the other hand, these attributes might determine whether you get the shot or not, there is no substitute for the D3.
I also carry a D40X, and nine times out of ten I could nail the shot with it. But the tenth shot is usually the winner.
For example, I wouldn't bet on my ability to get this (in the middle of nowhere) with anything else:
http://www.pbase.com/zuman/image/114982560

(Also, even as a wildlife photographer, I've never missed the "DX reach advantage)...

More of my work at http://www.pbase.com/zuman/wtwp





 
Nikon D40x

d40x
Review Date: Jul 17, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $395.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Excellent image quality and unbeatable price-to-value ratio.
Cons:
Three focus points not enough for tracking fast-moving objects. Would be nice to have direct access to some features (like ISO) without going through the menu system.

My main body is a Nikon D3, which was preceded by a D2X. The D40X, however, has become more than a backup body. It's a brilliant solution for many circumstances and is fully capable of taking wonderful photos.
Take a look at this, for example (from Namibia): http://www.pbase.com/zuman/image/114978641.jpg
More at http://www.pbase.com/zuman/wtwp


 
Nikon 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED VR AF-S

20-400vr
Review Date: Jun 5, 2009 Recommend? | Price paid: $4,000.00

 
Pros: See my review above
Cons:
See my review above

I continue to be impressed by the 200-400mm now that I'm primarily using a D3.
The following hyena shot (taken in South Africa) was at 400mm (1/250, f/5.6, ISO 400), and was hand-held. I don't think I could have done much better with a prime.
http://www.pbase.com/zuman/image/113401060


 
Nikon 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED VR AF-S

20-400vr
Review Date: Sep 19, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Color saturation, sharpness, focusing speed, zoom range, VR
Cons:
Physical length, f/4 challenges without a D3

The 200-400mm f/4 VR has proven to be my most valuable wildlife lens. Its color rendition and overall IQ are nothing short of stunning, and it comes as close as I can imagine to super-tele prime performance.
An f/4 maximum aperture can sometimes be a challenge on a wildlife lens, but the high ISO performance promised for the D3 obliterates this obstacle.
The only remaining issue is that of dealing with the 200-400 hanging from a Sidekick on a monopod when conditions are cramped. Physics is physics, however, and short of a diffractive optics approach (which is certainly not universally embraced), a physically large lens is the only real-world solution.
Take a look at this bush hyrax at original size (click that option on the pbase page) and look at the hair and eyes to see what this incredible lens can do: http://www.pbase.com/zuman/image/75305755