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  Reviews by: Paul_K  

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Nikon 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED VR AF-S

Review Date: Mar 5, 2020 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent IQ, fast AF, built as a tank
Big and heay

Got mine in 2006

Since then, used it in particular for sports (a.o. shore to sea surf photography) and fashion ( catwalk)

With the increased high ISO performance of the latest DSLR's and mirrorless it has become even more relevant despite the 'just' f4 (still, not to forget, a stop better then the recent 200-500 zoom)

Can be used handheld theoretically, but in the real world that isn't a realistic option when shooting for a longer period

Nikon 200mm f/2G IF-ED AF-S VR

Review Date: Mar 5, 2020 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Ultra sharp, superfast AF, superb IQ
Big and heavy

Got mine back in 2005

Big and heavy, with the lens hood attached it becomes an even more bulky package

But that's more then compensated by the ultra fast AF, extreme sharpness and superb IQ

With a classic DSLR it's a bit of a challenge to shoot with for a longer period
But with a smaller and lighter Z6 that no longer is an issue

Nikon 85mm f/1.4D IF AF Nikkor

Review Date: Mar 5, 2020 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Wonderful image rendering wide open, excellent (sharp) IQ when stopped down, built as a tank
No AF on the Z6

Superb image rendering used wide open despite/thanks to the then ultra shallow DoF. Stopped down ultra sharp, excellent IQ.
Due to the 1.4 perhaps a little heavy for some (not me) but that's no issue when used handheld

Nikon 58mm f/1.4G AF-S Nikkor

Review Date: Jan 17, 2017 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Maybe no the sharpest wide open, but 'sharpness' isn't the only thing that counts/should count when looking at a picture (if so it would be much easier to take a great picture) Beautiful image rendering, equally, if not more stunning 'bokeh'
Expensive, and rumored to become even more so !! Feels very light, especially considering the size, but fortunately the built quality really is no issue when shooting with it out in the field (or on the beach)

I have for long stayed away from 50mm-ish lenses, considered them useful, relatively low cost, high speed (I also have a 1.4/50 Ai manual, and had a 1.8/50mm AF copy) workhorses
Bread an butter lenses, but really not very useful for more 'artistic' pictures (I a.o. shoot fashion and beauty) so over the years I have owned more exotic lenses like o.a. 85mm, 135mm 200mm, 2.8/300mm, and still own e.g. the 1.4/85 AFD, 135 DC and 2/200mm VR

Like any Nikon user ogled the 1.2/58mm Noct, but given the pricetag that was, even 2nd hand, way out of my range.
The 1.4 58mm AF seemed very attractive too, especially considering the added AF, even if it was not in the same class as the Noct, but the MSRP remained still a bridge too far considering its in my eyes rather common, around the 50mm range, focal length

But after I basically had all the camera's I needed (although of course a new, more attractive one may always appear, and really how many do you really need), I decided, when I found a 2nd hand, prime condition one for a very attractive price, go for the 58mm to complement my lens collection.

Boy, was I surprised.
The lens is tack sharp, despite maybe being a bit 'soft' (but that never is/was the standard for me to judge a picture upon) wide open, making the image rendering reminiscent of pictures shot on film, and 'lacking' the sharp and contrasty at all costs' that seem to be the standard for many digital shooters these days

For all intent and purposes AF is fast enough even for fast moving subjects (try keeping up with models literally dancing in front of the camera during a shoot)
After all, if you're shooting really fast moving subjects like cars, bikes, runners etc you're more likely to use a long, fast focusing lens like e.g. a 2.8/70-200 AF VRII

More importantly, its image rendering (OK, a subjective criteria) makes it ideal for shooting people, formals for weddings etc.
Background rendering is breathtaking, IMO on the same level as the 85mm AFD, 135mm DC and 2/200VR
But although considering its focal length it's very tempting to only use it for full outs and three quarters, its 'slightly more then a standard lens' focal length also make it IMO a perfect choice for even close ups, without risks of facial/optical distortion

Plus of course its 'smaller then eg a 70-200 zoom' size makes it far less intimidating for the model, and allows far more discrete and intimate shooting

Rumor has it the MSRP will, compared to what I paid for it, more then double in February 2017, so if you consider one, be fast

Nikon Df DSLR

Review Date: May 24, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: small size and low weight, IQ, high ISO,

A breath of fresh air amongst the big thick bodies DSLR's seem inevitably have to be these days

The small diminutive size (only millimeters thicker and higher then my F2AS) and quiet shutter makes it a nice unobtrusive package ideal for lowprofile photography (not everybody wants to look like and be as present as a 'pro') while the excellent sensor guarantees impeccable IQ and high ISO.

Due to its modest size also ideal for shooting with older manual lenses as those are smaller then their modern AF counterparts and on bigger DSLR's like D800, D3 etc tend be feel a bit too tiny and overwhelmed. Also Nikon seems to have tweaked the focussing screen to better focus manually with then with eg the D800 and D3.

UI is realistically speaking perfect enough, the dials for shutterspeed and ISO allows easy acess and operation especially if you're used to the older film bodies, and changing the aperture with the aperture ring on the lens brings back old memories (and BTW a better balanced handling of te camera)

The body still has enough buttons, dials, custom settings and menus to satisfy even the biggest techie, but basically you, just like in the film days but with a lot more peace of mind, only need to have your exposure correct ( and even that is considering the DR of the sensor not a major problem if somewhat or more off the mark) as with digital you if you shoot RAW can afterwards easily correct any mistakes with exposure, WB, contrast etc.

No need to waste time and concentration on getting the perfect technical settings while you're actually taking the picture (and maybe miss the shot because of that) but just choose your settings before you shoot and start taking pictures (maybe make an initialcheck of the pictures for major mistakes while shooting with Image Review, or chimping afterwards, one of the many advantages of shooting digital)

Price is a bit steep and prevents the camera being an everybodies friend ( and sometimes the subject of 'haters' because of it) but if you look at it for what it is (and not compare it to death with other cameras it is supposedly is to be as good as, are cheaper, smaller, etc) it has undeniably much more qualities then disadvantages.

And otherwise just don't buy it. But for some ( and judging by the sales numbers that quite a few) it's a pretty nice little camera

Nikon D800

Review Date: Jun 22, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: AF better (faster) than, and high ISO almost as good as D3, 15 megapixel crop mode, smaller package than D1/2/3 bodies, video and 36 megapixel as a bonus
Ridiculously expensive grip (and D4 battery if you you want that option to go with it, body not as 'brick'proof as D1/2/3

Shooting sports (surf) and fashion (castwalk) the D3 was (and is) for many years my body of choice.

Problem was that for surf, I lost the reach of the 200-400mm/D2X/HSC mode combi I used to work with, and in the D3 FX mode had to use a 4/600 with 1.4 TC. Still got lovely pictures, but had to drag along a lot more (heavier) equipment.

With catwalk on the other hand, my 2.8/80-200mm was too short for the bigger venues, and although the 4.0/200-400 was an excellent alternative, I missed the one extra stop.

I had been thinking of a D3X for the bigger files in DX crop mode, but the price and compared to 'normal' D3 limited high IS0 gave me second thoughts. ( the difference in high ISO between D3 and D3s compared to the real need for the times I really needed that did not justify the cost of an upgrade for me.

Finally, I have lugged around an extra D3 body for back up with me, but never really needed it, while having the same specs as the other D3, it offered no new/aternative options to look out for.

Enter the D800.

My first interest was the 15 megapixel DX crop (the 5 megapixel crop of the D3 never interested me), while I hoped the AF and high ISO would be near or on par with the D3. Fortunately all the above answered my expextations.

My only problem was that my copy of the D800 came with serious back focus problems, but a trip to Nikon had that solved (for free of course)

The grip of course also is a bit of a bump at the official price, but found an original one at 25% less, and discovered I have the same fps with Eneloops (of which I have a bundle lying around) as with the D4 battery. Even when shooting surf I never go faster than 7 fps, so I can live with the 6 fps in X mode.

Did het some 16 gig CF cards, and some SD cards, but no real major expenses in that regard.

Only lens that really fell short for use with the D800 was my venerable old 2.8/80-200 AF D, which given it's age was no surprise, and quite honestly already in title for an upgrade for some time already. So it recently got replaced with a 2.8/70-200 VR2

Use the D800 much in crop mode, can use the 200-400 with TC for surf again, and for catwalk the virtual 120-300 is just what I was looking for.

As a bonus I have the 36 megapixel option for studio/catalog work, and video for whenever I may be needing it (have no experience with video so far though)

And I get all the above, in familiar Nikon quality, at the remarkable (relative) low price point, so I'm a happy trooper