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  Reviews by: D.K. Owens  

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Canon EOS 1D Mark IV

Review Date: May 20, 2010 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: I must add an addendum: After shooting outdoor events of all varieties, I'm convinced that this camera is a 10!
Nikon D700

Review Date: Feb 24, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent camera; well built and convenient.
None... Just sold it too soon!

A FF camera with ISO capabilities that exceed the published specs. This camera did in low-light what I never imagined. It nailed shots with only the slightest hint of noise.
Nikon made a statement with this one because the pixel size allowed for low noise to light ratios. Considering the "mere" 12.1 megapixels don't measure up to some of the other market models, boasting megapixel madness, this camera can produce stunning reproductions that if uprezed, will fool the keenest observer.

A winner, hands down. Given several drops in price and now being packaged as a kit to move from the shelves, I suspect that it's replacement is on the way!

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II

Review Date: Feb 24, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: 16.7 mega pixels still holds it own... Detail of the images are superior to those of some of the newer models. Right now this camera can still be purchased new and runs for $4499.99!!! That speaks volumes.
None... Given it age, at the time it debuted it was King of the Hill...

A splendid tool... Forget about the 3" LCD in newer models and the improvements to menus and controls. We didn't have those luxuries in the days of film!
That said, if you're looking for pure digital IQ at its finest, then Canon hit the number with this camera. What comes out of the 1Ds Mark 2 is detail and resolution at it's finest.
The size of the pixels in this one top all other newer iterations made by Canon. Somewhere around 7.2. None of the larger pixeled models come close. thats means in good to moderate lighting ISO isn't an issue.
Again, detail and resolution to go along with smooth tonal gradations make the camera hold it's own in today's over "pixelated" market. Today one thinks of more megapixels, never considering the size and quality of those pixels.
For the grab and go camera, I'll snatch this one every time because I know that what I get is what I'll want.

Canon EOS 1D Mark IV

Review Date: Jan 28, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Speed, color and contrast. Exceptional Image Quality... Menu Improvements, LCD and camera controls are a nice upgrade. AF delivers with great precision... Live View has AF and there is a new auto ISO..
ISO does not live up to "noise free" hype and expectations.

My much herald 1d Mk 4 arrived yesterday. Eagerly anticipated, I have to confess that I immediately compared its promising Hi-ISO capability to that of the Nikon D3s (purchased last week). I was immediately disappointed. Many steps up from it's predecessor (1D Mk3), the camera has greater resolution, AF revamping, new menus, etc. I wanted to see its ISO capabilities. What I initially noticed was that by 6400 noise was apparent, by 12,800 noise was dominant,in shadows and highlights...

Putting the camera through the paces testing single shot AF and AI-Servo, the camera held its own in a variety of outdoor settings. The camera has its own identity. Canon has re-created an excellent product. In my opinion, contending with Nikon's D3s, the 1D Mk 4 falls short in two very significant areas:
1. ISO range. Canon would've done better to state that the base ISO is really 100-6400. Unlike Nikon's D3s which is quite impressive above 6400-12,800. I think that the 1D Mk4 steps outside of the comfort zone beyond 6400. This leads me to believe that Canon was trying to seize its market share since Nikon announced their iteration only days before Canon theirs.

2. In-Camera controls and RAW file processing capabilities (Image Overlays, multiple exposures, as well as the pixel size leave the 1D Mk4 Camera Raw at a very slight disadvantage. The larger pixel pitch allows for a significant amount of light gathering and a low noise to pixel ratio. Perhaps this is the reason that Nikon opted for a full frame over the higher resolution cropped sensor of the Canon.

For some, these differences may be insignificant. Nevertheless, Canon shines with its trademark "page-popping, 3-dimensional image quality." The files appear extremely natural, skin tones (particularly varied skin colors and tones) look very good. AF showed no signs of lag shot in RAW. One other thing about Canon vs Nikon: While Nikon has the ISO advantage and a few more in-camera features (tricks), Nikon's files look more "harsh" and less natural when photographing darker hues. Canon blows its competitor away when it comes to sheer natural color rendition.

Finally, this is a very nice upgrade. The camera boast several advantages among Canons own line. To cite a couple: this is a time tested pro-grade body with great resolution, making it tougher than the higher resolution full frame 5D Mk2. While the 1d Mk4 has a crop frame (1.3) sensor, it provides the great focal reach that sports, event and outdoor photographers prefer. Vis-a-vis the 1Ds Mk3, this camera boasts unrivaled speed, a newer processor and menu; to say nothing of a $1,000.00 price differential.

While I recommend it without reservation... don't pass up a chance to test a Nikon D3s.

Nikon 300mm f/2.8G IF-ED AF-S VR

Review Date: Apr 15, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent build, AF-Speed is blazing. Nails every shot on the D3.

A workhorse lens! I use this for NBA shooting and it nails 99% of the shots. Image quality is awesome. During a NJ Nets and LA Lakers game, mounted on the D3, I captured shots from everywhere on the court. ISO values never exceeded 1600 on the camera, although set to max out at 3200.

To my surprise, this lens shines in indoor sports arenas. Color and contrast are exceptional. At the same time the aperture can go as high as f/6.3 without any loss of speed and no visible grain (noise) shooting a pro game.

Nikon D3x

Review Date: Apr 15, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extreme resolution! By far, the best DSLR camera on the market

Since purchasing this camera, it has produced some of the most astounding portraits and landscape shot I've ever seen. There are several features of this camera that if explored one can find themselves taking shot after shot, producing formidable prints in any size.

No doubt, the D3X is a D3 with an upsized sensor, but with different features for different uses. The D3X is not a camera that one uses for snapshots! This is a professional camera!

Nikon's variety of specialized lenses make this camera shine even more. 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200 are a dream kit satisfying anyone's primary need to cover wide to telephoto. Throw in a 300 f/2.8 and the bonuses keep coming.

I take issue with the writer who posted that the camera was too new to give a solid rating. Giving this camera anything less than a 10, in my opinion, suggests that the D3X may be beyond the scope and capability of one who doesn't know how to get the most out of Nikon's best ever.

I give this camera the highest kudo's, well aware that the pricing issue prevented many from purchasing it. Like a Mercedes Benz, this camera rules the road and leaves the competition in the dust.

I'll post an addendum later with a link to my gallery. But for now, this smokes all others!

Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S

Review Date: Mar 14, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,499.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extremely sharp lens. Appears made for the D3; only that the D3 was born years after the creation of this lens. Creamy background blur (bokeh) makes some rich portraits in the wide open f stop scale.

This is one of the best mid range zooms ever made by Nikon, bar none. While many will come to love the new 24-70 f/2.8, please don't count this one out... Razor sharp at all f stops, but sharpest around f/8.

Making generic comparisons with this lens and the 24-70 f/2.8, I discovered the difference between the two lenses is one, the 28-70 f/2.8 has the aperture ring (no big was desgned for film); two, the diffrence in wide angles is 4mm; three, the 28-70 wins when it comes to defocus control. The 24-70 is an outstanding lens, but falls short of the mark for those who want to make some very significant contrasts with defocus control.

This lens is a fast as any; put to the test, it scores high enough among many pros that they'd rather fight than switch to another "new" piece of glass.

What i love most is that the low-light capabilities and marriage to the D3 make this lens a dream. Not to get carried away here, but the D3 makes nearly all Nikon glass look spectacular. That said, throw this lens on and you have everything from, weddings, portraits, group shots and events covered.

My greatest dilemma now with this lens: When do I really need the 24-70 f/2.8? After all, if I didn't know better, I'd think that this lens can do just about everything...except take the pictures by itself.

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G IF-ED AF-S Nikkor

Review Date: Mar 10, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,699.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Outstanding color rendition and ede to edge sharpness

Clearly designed for the FX format and to be a part of a sibling package (along with the 24-70mm f/2.8), this lens boasts sharpness at all stops. No fringing, fall-off or vignetting on the D3.

Wide angle glory at its best. There's nothing that you cn't cature with this range. Landscapes to group portraits at close range can be captured with precision. Low light is not an issue for this lens because on the D3 or D300 (cropped to match a 21-36 EFOV) the ISO more than compensates for any shortcomings in lighting.

Build quality is excellent. This lens holds up to the most rugged outdoor conditions.This is a pro's lens in every sense. With the f/2.8 aperture there's the advantage of controling depth of field in areas where it matters most to photographers. Size and weight are bulky and heavy; but thats a good thing since outdoor conditions can make for challenging crcumstances dependingon the locale.

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III

Review Date: Mar 10, 2008 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: See an earlier posting

The camera is awesome. One thing that becomes noticible is that any flaws in one's subject will be readily revealed by this camera's resolution. For the average phtographer, the use of all 21.1 megapixels may not ever be utilized to the max.
Noise is a non-entity on this camera and the fact that its max fps outut is 5, what we have here is a tool that competes across the board with its sibling, the 1D Mk3 and the Nikon D3 (boasting 9fps max reso).
Get a high capacity CF and SD cards; its very easy to fill them up being out on a full day's shoot. I found that the Lexar 8GB 300x handles the large files and bufferring with ease.
Image quality is an issue that will only come into play for those employing non-pro glass. I highly recommend everything and or anything in the prime lens "L" family. Zooms that don't boast the "L" quality character will result in less than satisfying photographs. the 16-36mm f/2.8, the 24-70 f/2.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8 make for a great "basic" kit. Specialized glass, such as the 35mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.2, 85mm f/1.2, 135mm f/2.0 and the 300mm f/2.8 are capable of producing dream images. I have blown myself away with the pix and prints shot with some of these lenses. There's what someone called a "wow effect" wih this camera that just drives the optic nerve wild with excitement.

Try it, you'll like it!

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III

Review Date: Mar 10, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $7,999.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: This camera does what most could not imagine a short time ago: provide the resolution of a medium format camera. Major improvement from the 1Ds Mk2 in terms of ease of use, screen size and handling.
While an inch larger, the screen's resolution is not upgraded from its predecessor. Given the cost of this behemoth, Canon should've offerred a bit more than 230k dots.

Nikon 135mm f/2D AF-DC Nikkor

Review Date: Dec 29, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,059.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build quality of the lens is awesome. Ease of use, dynamic resolution and contrast make this glass stand apart from anything else in the Nikon line-up.

Having used the Canon 135mm F/2 for most of my portrait work, I recently purchased the Nikon D3. With that pruchaes I dusted off lenses I consider to be the best of their class... 17-35mm and 28-70. While excellent lenses in their own class (wide and medium) I needed something that would compare with the Canon 135. A friend suggested that I look at the Nikon 135mm f/2. When I did the reviews I was blown away by the positive feedback.

The DC "Defocus Control" for controlling front and rear aspherical effect, the bokeh, the speed and AF seemed to make the lens a charm for potrait work. After I tested it on my D3 at the store I was impressed. Patrons couldn't believe how beautiful the camera was with this glass hanging on it. Once they saw the pictures I'd snapped in the viewer, one lady walked up to the register and bought one without every holding or testing it. Now there's a testimony for you!

Highly recommended; it won't disappoint. Oh, by the way, did I mention speed? This lens points, focuses and shoots very quickly in both indoor and outdoor sports events.

Nikon D3

Review Date: Dec 29, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,875.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: The sheer joy of a Nikon FX (full-frame) camera is enough to excite the most listless, unenthused photographer. The D3 has all of the basic features of the D2Xs and is three "Flights up" from the D300. Exceptional color and contrast; remarkable resolution and detail set this on a pedestal all alone. Live-View is a bonus, along with the dual card slots for the JPEG and NEF files. The ISO, the "retouch menu," and the fact that all of the older Nikon lenses can go back into the bag without regard for DX is, in my book, a reason to get this camera. Nikon has united the reliable past with the high-tech future in the D3.
While I find no fault, additional mega-pixels would have been nice. However, that will surely come in time. This camera premiered before its predecessors had celebrated any real time on the market. Suffice it to say, Nikon probably won't let this one get much circulation before they unveil and debut another "masterpiece" with all the mega-pixels one will ever need.

Without a doubt, the resolution and detail on this camera are tops! I just purchased the 135mm f/2-DC for a major portrait project. After a few tests and switching back and forth with the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR and the 28-70mm f/2.8, I've concluded that this camera is spectacular.

The new Nikon lenses made exclusively for this FX camera (14-24mm and 24-70mm) are great lenses, but compared to the tack sharpness and overall quality of the old faithful FX film lenses like the 17-35mm f/2.8 and the 24-70mm f/2.8 you are basically "splitting hairs."

While I cannot say for sure, I'd risk a few dollars in betting that the older lenses will soon be rising in production and price. Its a blessing to know that 20mm is actually 20mm and so forth and so on!

The D3 features the FX/DX format (the ability to use the array of Nikon lenses created for the Digital SLR). However, why would anyone want to shoot in the DX format mode with a FX camera? I think that the DX format maybe useful to those who already own DX lenses or who cannot afford to buy several lenses and don't wish to empty their bags and replace them with FX lenses. Nevertheless, the DX format only allows for 5MPs vs. the 12 in FX format.

As a Nikon owner of the D300, D2Xs and D200 cameras the D3 is not something we talk about or write about, its something that is to be experienced. All I can say is that if you get one you won't put it down.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Review Date: May 10, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,359.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent bokeh; brilliant edge to edge sharpness. A lens to take anywhere and not be saddled by limitations of size or weight.
Cost factor, but construction and results are worth the dollars!!!

After purchasing several "L" lenses, I wanted a prime lens that I thought would be on par with my 85mm f/1.2; I have not been dissapointed. This lens creates imaging that leaves all others in the dust.

I shot some pix of the full moon recently and I saw what appeared to be the planet Venus in the background of the full moon. Not only does this lens has blazing AF capabilities, but it gives you the impression that it literally sees in the dark.

If you want a super fast AF, great bokeh and maximum control, this lens is for you!

Portraits, close ups and landscapes come a runnin to this one. A real winner!!!

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

Review Date: May 8, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,199.95 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Used outdoors, the sharpness of the lens stands out. Colorful landscapes are a bonus background.

This lens is a fantastic ultra-wide angle tool. I've been able to shoot everything with crystal clear clarity and precision. SO much has been said about the "dark-cornering," but at f/9 there's no visible fall-off. I purchased this lens, refurbished by canon and so far, I've taken several printable lansdscape shots.

I was reluctant to purchase this lens because several reviewers had posted comments about "dark cornering." Used indoors, there maybe some, however, with flash and beyond the f/2.8 aperture, this lens is truly worth having.

I surmise that with the EOS 1Ds Mark II, this lens has greater capabilities. Using it with a full frame camera should alleviate any trepidation on the part of a prospective buyer.

My suggestion: go ahead, get it if you can afford it. The results, with the right settings are sure to produce some gems.