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Nikon D3

Review Date: Oct 24, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,799.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: low noise, fast speed, 35mm FOV, 5:4 FOV, DX FOV, Dual card slots, multiple non CPU presets, multiple programmable function buttons, full user info in-finder, massive 3" LCD, Live view, M-UP, HDMI out, programmable image parameters, in-camera editing, weather sealed, 51 focus points, 12mpx, film like, buttery exposures.
Quite honestly, there is nothing negative about the D3, except the weight. Get a D700 if you want a smaller FX totable camera.

Come late 2007, I had $5000 to spend on nikon equipment, the choice was D300 with a couple of lenses, or a D3 body. Best choice I ever made, choosing the D3.

This is the one. Literally. I know there is a D3s, which might be the new "one" but this it for now.

ISO 25,000, looks like tmax 3200, it will blow your mind. The color will blow your mind. Everything, the way it can take dim light and turn it into daylight, will amaze you.

take a closer look:

just get one, you'll agree with all my points.

Nikon D1X

Review Date: Oct 24, 2009 Recommend? | Price paid: $4,999.00

Pros: big, bright viewfinder, intuitive menu system, 1/500 x sync, max speed 1/16000, self correceting shutter, amazing control of noise & grain at higher ISOs, buffer upgraded D1x's give about 14 raws before it chokes,
batteries are nicads (yuck) same battery issue as all other D1 series, exposure on LCD using custom image parameters can be deceiving, zoom on image is a simple 10x, rubber can lose it's grip as all other D1 series. WB in incandescent lighting is terrible, tend to underexpose indoors.

I wanted to take another opportunity to resubmit a more thorough run with this fabulous machine.

A few pros:

Noise is very film like, speed, like all the other D1 series, insane. I found it drives the shaft style lenses super fast, accurately. Raw format, in the old days you needed nikon capture, we all know there's a ton of solutions to this. Nice thing about the D1x is the way the CCD records the image, you can easily interpolate to 10mpx, and the images still look great. The images to me, overall remind me of slide film. B/W out of camera in jpeg or tiff mode look like plus-x, tri-x.

A few cons:

Batteries... carry spares, auto white balance, as usual-no good, AI lens compatibilty, although not the greatest is OK, some lenses are still not fully compatible, but that's a non-issue. Blown highlights, WB indoor is bad, tend to underexpose by default under tungsten light. Firewire port as all other D1 series, in a bad place, actually, was surprised they didn't go with 4-pin firewire port, much more sturdy. AC power also in the wrong place. Gotta clean the CCD, you need the AH-4 ac adapter... These cameras are the best workhorses for pros, weddings, pjournalism, street shooting, it all comes with a price, and the pleasure of having the images up on your walls for all to see.

D1x's these days go for $300+, paid about 5 G's back in 01' if you scout for one, expect to be high mileage, but still mechanically sound. They don't have odometers, but some shutters will fail on you, it can happen. Look for firmware v. 5.01, means it has a buffer upgrade.

Nikon D2Hs

Review Date: Oct 15, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast. No other D-SLR faster. 37ms shutter lag. Great buffer. 25/40 raw/jpeg buffer. 2.5" LCD. Menus are easy. A+ smart-battery. Relatively light pro body. Great feel. AI lens aperture index ring. AWB is great. 100% shutter with full readout. Many more to list A+ all the way.
LCD screen not super accurate, but OK. Exposures are sometimes a tad off, +.03 compensation fixes this. rubber tends to peel, as all other nikons. Not many negatives at all.

D2h... bliss. These have been falling off photogs arms at about $1100-$1300 range... get one, or two...

A few pros:

What can I say, this is an amazing machine, it's über-fast. It's simply just right. multicam 2000 trumps all other PRO D bodies, even IMO the canon's. 11 point AF zones is all you need. Everything is simply laid out exactly where it needs to be. Menus, controls, dials, oh dials... love em! And the battery... the best battery system. Battery menu tells you how many frames you have left. iso 200-6400, 4 custom WB presets, Kelvin WB, AWB works pretty well. Full readout in the viewfinder means it's 100% coverage, also have iso readout in the viewfinder too. Weather seals... and resoution: 4.1mpx is not a problem whatsoever. I have a few 24x36's to prove it. It can hold up well with many others out there. The color, clarity is possibly the best I've seen from any nikon, to date. I've used them all except a D2x & D2hs. This is a nikon designed sensor, LBCAST JFET, and I hope it evolves into other future bodies.

A couple cons:

D2h has this wierd thing with exposures, every now and then it underexposes, so I usually use +.03 compesation and it seems to be working fine. The rubber, as with all other pro bodies has a tendency to peel. Especially when shooting in hot environments. The LCD is not the best, color is not the best on it. the size may be a bit big at times, but thats ok.

The D2h and a D2x would be a killer duo, a bit on the lighter side, a D2h and D200... it's an amazing camera that should be around every photogs neck.

Nikon D1H

Review Date: Jun 27, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: 5fps, 25/40 raw/jpeg buffer, improved firewire speeds, iso 200-1600 in 1/3 steps, hi-1, hi-2 (iso 3200 & 6400) intuitive menu system, 1/500 x sync, max speed 1/16000, self correceting shutter, amazing control of noise & grain at higher ISOs
same battery issue as all other D1 series, exposure on LCD using custom image parameters can be deceiving, zoom on image is a simple 10x, rubber can lose it's grip as all other D1 series.

D1h... underrated. Seriously overlooked D-SLR. It's an insanely fast D1x with half the pixels.

A few pros:

Besides the obvious improvents over its predecessor, the D1. Finally a menu system which you can access at any time, without going into play mode! Custom functions are easy to navigate now, and the LCD shows 100% of the image (the D1 cropped the image somewhat) the power is better managed too, no more pure white exposures when you don't have enough juice on your battery. Battery power is better managed too, on a fresh battery I got nearly 500 raw images! The in camera processing is so much nicer than the D1, the color seems to lean more to warm. The focus is still fast, the same as the D1. 2.7mpx D1h raw files can still retain some serious D-range! I have a couple 20x30s to prove this.

A few cons:

Batteries... carry spares, auto white balance, as usual-no good, AI lens compatibilty, although not the greatest is OK, some lenses are still not fully compatible, but that's a non-issue. Firewire port in a bad place, actually, was surprised they didn't go with 4-pin firewire port, much more sturdy, AC power also in the wrong place. Gotta clean the CCD, you need the AH-4 ac adapter... and the nikon bill for tuning this and D1x, D1.. $630, this gets your AF mirror alignment, new rubber, new shutter. Is it worth it, YES. These cameras are the best workhorses for pros, weddings, pjournalism, street shooting, it all comes with a price, and the pleasure of having the images up on your walls for all to see Wink

Get a D1h to compliment your D1x, D2h, D200, D70, D50, D100...

Nikon D200

Review Date: Jun 27, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,699.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: rugged body, weather sealed, big-bright viewfinder, grid lines, accurate focusing, excellent in-camera processing, iso 100! 10.2mpx, high dynamic range, big 2.5" screen-bright, excellent user interface, built-in flash customizable (m, ttl, commander, or multiflash) extras: image overlay, and the classic multi exposure modes like the older film nikons.
Focus is just a tad faster than other entry nikon's, battery life not like D2h, raw files are massive at 15mb's uncompressed. Must need bigger CF cards, 2gb-4gb. 1/250 X sync speed, noise reduction is OK.

What can I say? This is like a mini D2x with a few D70 goodies. Finally iso 100 on a digital nikon! Last time I saw that was with a D1x, and at iso 125! This camera is simply a pleasure to work with, overall. If you are planning on using this for mural-sized prints, you are in luck. I've upsized studio shots with this camera to 25-30mpx and the image still holds the fort. If you don't have the cash to spring for a D2x, the D200 is a very capable little brother.

I highly recommend it for the advanced novice, or even pro, why take the D2x on a stroll with all the heavy bulk? The D200 is just as good for the shooting.

Few observations of mine came to the conclusions that the D200 is still not a ultra-fast D2 series, even a classic D1 focuses faster than it. It's strongsuit is it's image quality, and still a very capable image buffer, even better than the D1x with a buffer upgrade.

A+ to nikon for this amazing machine!

Nikon D1

Review Date: Nov 23, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Fast, rugged, good color, big buffer, small raw file size. APS sized sensor with a 2.7mpx resolving power is still good. Good companion camera to a D70, D100 & now a D200. 1/500 flash sync & 1/16000 top shutter, classic nikkor AI, AIs lens compatibility, bright & big viewfinder.
Power hog, you have to baby sit batteries, carry a few with you at shoots. Firewire port is in a bad place, noise banding over iso 800, rubber is not as strong as some say it is, $100 replaceable item from nikon.

I picked up a D1 a wile back to compliment my D1X, when my D1X was at the shop I got really stuck on the D1. I started to really like it, using it for venues, concerts, it was fabulous. It's extremely underrated, partly cause it's a 2.7mpx sensor, and a product for 1999. It's still an amazing tool that can really pack a punch. If you shoot raw, you can really take advantage of a 2.7mpx sensor, you can squeeze most of the dynamic range out of it that way.

A few pros:

Definitely very film like camera feel, when shooting in single mode it is too slow to preview the image after it's shot, so I shoot in C mode, but limit the drive to 2 FPS. You don't get to see the image, this is where it feels like a film camera. The buffer is great if you are a jpeg shooter, 21 frames, but OK if you are a raw shooter (10). You can use most older AI & AIs lenses, limiting them to center-weighted & spot. Older lenses lately have been cheaper than ever, and they are pretty sharp too. The build and weight of the camera are next to perfect, it's a pro-level D series, it's no wonder why news publications use these, they are pretty rugged. All in all there are a lot of things great about the D1, and lately they can be had really cheap.

A few cons:

Poor menus. You have to put the camera in play mode to get to the settings menu. This is bad. If you are looking at images in play mode, you cannot pick up the camera if you want to take a quick snap. You have to put it in either PC, S, or C mode to take a shot. Single mode (S) IMO is useless, it has to write the image to the card before you can take the next shot. It's best to put it in C mode for continuous shooting. LCD screen is also pretty flaky, no zoom of course, raw files take a while to render on the screen. NOISE: using the camera above iso 800 is kinda bad. lot's of banding noise. 1 step iso settings also, 1/3 stops are nice, like iso 1000 or iso 320 would be nice. And finally the worst gripe... the battery. it's a good thing the NiMH style battery has been retired. The most crucial step on the D1 series (D1, D1h, D1x) is the very first charge and discharge. This pretty much determines the battery's life...

My grade on this camera... a solid B!

Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 with Softfocus

Review Date: Jun 24, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, compact, light, fast focus, super-accurate on a 1D. Colors are warm and inviting. Soft focus feature pretty nifty, but used in "0" soft, this lens gives the 135 L a run for it's $850's worth. Internal focus.
AFD mechanism, manual focus ring too small, minimum focus around 3.5 feet, to achieve real soft affect, you have to shoot wide open. Really, overall, the negs are nothing compared to how awesome this lens is. Can't complain!

I picked this lens up for a blistering $200, and to my surprise it's sharp as a tack. Really, this is the closest you can get to "L" without buying "L"

To start off, I've been shooting wide open or near wide open, and it's sharp. I cant' believe how small this lens is. It's not thick and clunky, it's rather thin and small and bright.

As far as mechanism, the AFD system is pretty responsive, not so loud like the other older lenses, possibly since it is an internal focus design.

on a 1D, 1.3x body it gives you pretty close to a 180mm, a welcome angle since I used to use a 180mm ED/IF on a nikon F4. On a 1.6x body, you're looking at a 216mm, still not so bad, but some people might find it a bit limiting.

All in all, buy this lens if you can. It's economic price will keep you shooting Smile

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8

Review Date: Jan 24, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $130.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Small, toteable lens. Sharp, F3.5 and onward, very useable at 2.8. Cheap filters (52mm) Build is pretty good. Very economical at $130 used.
Focus is kinda loud, manual focus is OK, but the ring is small. In full frame, makes for almost "the best" wide (next to a 24mm) but not so on 1.6x bodies.

I relly liked this lens, for full frame or 35mm. It's very sharp and snappy focus can be loud at times but OK. I ended up selling it and getting a tokina AT-X pro 17mm, just to get wider on my 20D.

I really have no gripes about this lens, other than it is a pretty standard angle of view on 1.6x bodies.

It's a great lens that can be had pretty cheap!

Sigma 135-400 MM f/4.5-5.6 ASP AF APO

Review Date: Oct 3, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $380.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent reach, sharp even wide open, tripod collar, good balance despite the size.
Zoom creep, loud & slow focus, huge hood, lens barrel extends too far. Aperture slow but acceptable, considering the price.

This was my first long reach zoom on my canon digital (10D) It's a solid lens, with excellent results in sharpness, contrast & color. I used this lens at the arrival of the USS Abe Lincoln at the port of Everett, WA, in May 2003. I also used a sigma 15-30 at this shoot:

As far as advice on this lens and all other lenses this big... use a tripod, monopod... anything to keep from getting camera shake. But overall this is a great lens! highly recommended!

Canon EOS 10D

Review Date: Sep 14, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,499.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: EOS lenses, bright viewfinder, PC sync, fast enough buffer, FAT32 file system, free raw software, nice build quality, great ergonomics, excellent noise even at ISO1600, good battery power. all this at a mere $1499.
1.6x crop factor, no grid lines, no wireless remote, no firewire, no gps, focus not quite as fast or responsive as EOS 1N, or 1V, canon doesn't have buy one get one free program :-)

At work I'm in nikon mode, cause that's what I shoot with, a D1x in the studio and a D100 out and about. This obviuosly doesn't mean anything except I love my canon EOS 10D, it's images rival these 2 other cameras, noise is lower, speed is actually faster... except for the firewire deal.

If you are lloking for the best deal in a D-SLR, get an EOS 10D. That coupled with a Canon L zoom lens or prime, you've got a camera that will give you the "shooting feaver" like you had with the old AE-1. If you are a wide angle shooter you might want to sport for 14-17mm lens, if you're a telephoto shooter, even an 85mm will be good for you (135mm)

The one thing I ask Canon... give me better OSX software. You're software sucks.... give me firewire.... give me another 10D....

Nikon D100

Review Date: Sep 14, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,850.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Great images when shot RAW (NEF), nice ergonimics, light, excellent battery life, snappy focus, instant on, easy menus, grid lines, powerful pop-up flash, standard threaded shutter release, Nikon F lens mount (with limititations) pretty affordable ($1699 USD)
Small buffer, dark finder, no PC sync, noisy images, NEF raw files are HUGE, 102 shots per 1gb card, compact flash door is too flimsy, maximum flash speed 1/180th of a second, extremely slow saving NEF (compressed) or TIF, auto white balance is a joke, firmware upgrade must be done by nikon, no firewire, to take advantage of NEF raw file features, you'll need $129 for nikon capture 3.5

I use this camera at work, along with a D1x, although they both have their pluses I find the D100 to be a great camera to tote around. It's light, especially with a nikon 50mm 1.8. The first thing I would recommend is NIKON glass. I tried 3 sigma lenses, a tokina lens, and a tamron, finally went with 3 nikon primes, a 50mm 1.8, 85mm 1.8, and a 180mm ED-IF 2.8. They all gave me excellent results. Sharp.

As far as disappointments... slow writes when shot NEF compressed, or tif. Otherwise it was adequate enough for concert photos. I do admit I lost many shots due to slow buffer. It's battery gave me 1400 shots on a single charge, compared to the D1x, which battery power is a joke.

Exposures tended to slightly over-expose, shooting above 400 iso was noisy but OK. I shot live bands at iso 1600 and the noise added to the blurring of the images... I thought it was great.

My gripes to nikon: larger buffer, adjustible white balance (kelvin level), PC sync, smaller NEF files, user-upgradeble firmware, full nikon F mount compatibility, free copy of nikon capture, better noise reduction, firewire connectivity.

My advice to nikon users going digital: Get a very fast compact flash card, you'll need it, stick to nikon lenses, shoot raw (NEF) uncompressed, get a firewire card reader.

Sigma 15-30mm f3.5-4.5 EX Aspherical DG DF

Review Date: May 26, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Super sharp lens... wide! a nice 24-48mm on the lower end canon DSLRs. Pretty snappy focus. Nice build quality. Quite a bargain considering canon has no lens in this range.
Focus mechanism is strange, first click on the af/m switch then move the focus ring back or forward to swith from m/to af. Lins a bit large, almost scary looking.

82mm filters can be mounted on the protective hood (on 10D, D60, D30) I noticed no vignetting at all. Probably cause of the 1.6x FOV crop. I'm sure it's different on the nikon D series. Great color rendition and sharpness. Some barrel distortion at the wider end. Makes a 24-48mm on canon D30, D60, 10D. Even nicer on a film camera... dramatic wides!

Sigma 50mm f2.8 EX Macro 1:1 Lens

Review Date: May 26, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $206.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: 1:1 without any converter/attachment. Excellent color tone, sharpness even at 2.8. 50mm becomes 80mm on D30, 60 and 10D. Not bad for a portrait lens. Focus limiter keeps lens from hunting all the way to 1:1. Nice metal hood. You can use a 55mm or 72mm filter on the lens, or hood.
Noisy focus, limiter switch must be tuned on or else focus will hunt to 1:1. Very noisy in the process. 100mm would give more working room. No hsm, full time manual.

Sigma's come a long way. Their last 50mm macro was a dud. The finish is nice, the optics are great. I haven't seen much of a problem with chromatic abberation. The nifty metal hood is pretty much useless on digital SLRs, due to the crop factor. All in all, this is my normal lens on my 10D, it's bright and the color is warm. Use a UV. This is a bargain lens at $220.

Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX APO IF HSM

Review Date: May 23, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $600.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast focus, quiet, contrasty images. Perfect with sigma 2x converter.
heavy, a little soft @2.8.

The HSM is near silent, glass yeilds warmer, contrasty images. I'd say this is Sigma's "great product" perfect harmony along with the 2x converter. Get 140-400mm f5.6 with little degradation. Great for bird watching. If you have a canon D30-D60, 10D, 1.6x FOV crop is to your advantage...

Nikon D1X

Review Date: Apr 7, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,999.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Fast, rugged, bright, firewire, great nikon quality.
battery, low light shooting, limited iso, menus are strangely laid out. Nikon software is fine on PC, suck on mac. Nikon capture is $130 additional. Needed to finetune raw files, remote capture.

I use nikon at work, and canon personally. Great camera but somewhat old school now. Battery has unusually low frame count. All in all built like a tank, but the firewire port needs to be rethought. Have repaired twice due to cheap firewire port.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

Review Date: Apr 4, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $89.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Very light, very bright, compact, low price.
No focusing scale, cheap build, plastic lens mount. Manual focus is a pain. Noisy. Not USM.

Great lens for low light shooting, but don't shoot at 1.8. Too soft at 1.8, I found it to be be very sharp at 2.2-2.8. Overall it is a great lens. Here's your 80mm 1.8 if you're shooting with a D30, D60, 10D.... don't spend $350 on a 1.4.