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Nikon D70s

Review Date: Jan 10, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $430.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Light, excellent image quality, terrific meter.
Cannot think of any (in my case)

I have been shooting with the D70s for about 7 months now. I fell in love with the camera since the first day I used it. I immediately noticed the excellent exposures and how good it was for traveling because of the light weight and size. My first trip to Toronto with it proved everything I have heard and read about the camera.
Although many photographers do not like or use AUTO Program modes I find them very convenient at times. Portrait and Action modes work very well for me. I have not tried others modes but I am sure they are also very good and convenient when you do not want to fool around with controls.
Coming from older cameras the self rotating image feature was a welcome change. The fact that the camera can be fired with a cable release was also a welcome feature. The use of the in camera flash as the main command to another flash like the SB-600 (that I own) is very convenient also and the results could be spectacular when properly used.
Battery life is simply awesome. I have spent several days shooting with the camera in the field without even once changing the battery.
AF is good enough for me and reasonably fast with AF-S lenses for action photography or wildlife. No, it is not a CAM-2000.
RAW files are great and my usual enlargements to 13x19 have been of excellent quality full of colors and details.
This camera is a little gem. It is not a camera known to have good protection against the elements but mine has been in the rain, high humidity, heat and freezing temperatures and never failed doing its job.
I am very happy with it and it compliments my D2H very nicely.
I highly recommend it.
William Rodriguez
Miami, Florida.

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED DX VR AF-S

Review Date: Nov 15, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $140.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Reasonably inexpensive. Good image quality. Light.
Mostly plastic construction.

The copy I have is the original without the VR. I was looking for a light lens to take in my bag when traveling to make my load lighter.
This is a light lens, made mostly of plastics and of reasonable good quality.
This lens and the 18-55 kit lens I found indispensable for light traveling. When coupled with the D70s, the camera and lenses make a great combination. I am sure the same goes for similar cameras like the D40, D50 and D80.
If you use these lenses with the camera on a tripod (not applicable to the VR copy) and use sound photographic techniques, expect very good images. I never go beyond 13x19 and at those sizes the quality is there. At 200mm and wide open it is slightly soft but once again, focus carefully, use a tripod and cable release and be ready for good images.
With my lens I found that at f8 and f11 I get my best images along the entire focal length. With the D70s the images need just a touch of contrast but with the D2H the contrast is back so contrast seems to depend on the camera used. Colors and details with my copy appear very good.
Although these lenses are designated as silent wave technology do not expect the performance of professional lenses. If I use the D2H then AF is lightning fast so do not expect great AF performance with the amateur cameras and that is the market Nikon targeted for these lenses.
The late Galen Rowell used the old, plastic 80-200 f4-5.6 for his hikings and this lens is not much more different except that it covers the convenient 55mm focal length.
If you need a professional lens in this range, obviously this lens is not for you. If you need a lens to travel light and you are careful with your photographic techniques, you should be happy with the 55-200 lens.
Finally, assuming you drop it or loose it, used ones (like mine) are priced so reasonably that it is not necessary to pay for the repairs when for the same price you can have a new one.
This lens, based on my observations, is highly recommended.
William Rodriguez
Miami, Florida.

Nikon D1X

Review Date: Sep 28, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Professional body. Excellent ergonomics. Nice files.
Battery life. Leather cover not very durable.

The D1X by all standards is now old technology. It is a professional body with the excellent ergonomics of other Nikon cameras, well build to take the punishment of professionals and yields excellent files. The leather cover has a tendency to peel off requiring replacement.
Battery life is poor due to the old technology. Lithium batteries would have been ideal but they did not seem to be available then. I recommend for long trips to carry spares.
The camera shines when shooting RAW. Mine has a tendency to underexpose by 1/3 stop with AF lenses and even more than that, up to 1 stop, with manual focus lenses. I calibrated the meter and that is exactly the way it came from the factory.
The files, shooting RAW, are of acceptable size and excellent to make enlargements. It is heavy and well built so expect to be kind of tired at the end of the day in the field.
I do not sharpen in camera, I only use RAW and I set WB to sunny + 1 correcting with Nikon Capture when necessary.
Flash photography with the SB-28DX is a hit and miss business although my results are better going AUTO flash.
I have beautiful enlargements from this camera and I do not hesitate in recommending it taking into consideration what I have said.
In spite of its age many photographers still enjoy using this camera.

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

Review Date: Jun 22, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, very practical focal lengths for digital capture, reasonably priced.
CA but easily controlled with software and not much different from other wide angles.

I have owned this lens for about 10 months now. It is a great buy for the money. It is sharp and contrasty and the rendition of colors is pretty neutral.
It has CA mainly at the widest settings but nothing that a good software could not take care of and visible only at large magnifications. Flare is pretty well controlled for an extreme wide angle. Many times I use my hand to shade the lens even more. I do recommend to use the lens shade at all times.
This lens is in my opinion a special application lens. In my case, I do not use it every day but it is nice to have for those wide vistas and when compression of the background is a necessity, like shooting in tight places.
It is fantastically well built and I have found that at around f9 it exhibits excellent resolution accross all focal lengths. I have also used an earlier sample of the Nikkor counterpart and I believe the Tokina is better at widest apertures. Nikon does very well at 24mm.
In short, if you need these focal lengths you will not go wrong with Tokina.
William Rodriguez
Miami, Florida.

Tamron 70-300MM F/4-5.6 LD Macro AF

Review Date: Oct 20, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $179.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: cheap, light, sharp
slow, not that sharp wide open at 300mm but still acceptable

You get what you pay for. I had a choice between this one and the Nikkor counterpart and I decided to save $200 and I was prepared for the outcome.
It has been a good performer for me, even at 300mm. I really question if the Nikkor is not made by Tamron, they are identical. Image wise, try to find the differences.
Between 70 and 200mm the performance is very good with sharp and contrasty images. Beyond 200 it is a tad soft but still very acceptable. I have used it wide open to shoot flowers and my results have been to my liking. Portraits, in the range of 70-135 are excellent when shot at f8 or f11.
Like all long lenses, the use of a tripod will considerably improve the quality of your shots.
If your budget is tight and you need this lens, go for it. I really do not believe the Nikkor will make a big difference.
For best results, use a tripod and small apertures.
William Rodriguez
Miami, Florida.

Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D IF-ED AF

Review Date: Jun 28, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharp, light weight, IF, excellent for film cameras
Mostly plastics but that makes it light. As to be expected barrel distortion at 18mm, easily fixed with software.

I picked this one used but in excellent shape. It offers that kind of perspective only obtainable with extreme wide angle lenses.
Images are very sharp at f8, through f16. Other stops usable too.
It is a slow lens great for sceneries but too slow for low light work. That does not bother me because I use it for landscape photography and when the light levels are low outdoors I simply go with my tripod.
In my opinion, an excellent lens for the money.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF Nikkor

Review Date: Dec 5, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp. Well corrected. Nice colors.
I find none.

Among today's optics it will be very difficult to find a lens so well corrected for optical aberrations as the faithful 50mm lens. Compare its price to the f1.4 and you will immediately understand why this lens is a bargain.
I picked up mine at a camera show. Some of my best images have been shot with this workhorse. It is sharp, offers a beautiful rendition of colors and it is very handy. I always keep it in my camera or bag and in this digital era at 75mm focal lenght it is excellent for portraits although I use it more for other purposes.
This lens is highly recommended.

Nikon D100

Review Date: Oct 25, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Nice ergonomics. Transition from film to digital easy with this camera. Excellent quality using RAW files.
Software is poor at best. JPEG images could be a nightmare. Use low or no sharpening for best results. Slow buffer.

The D100 has been accused of underexposing. No difference with other exposure meters so the problem is the software that was designed to prevent overexposure. Learn to expose and no more "underexposure."
External flash tend to underexpose also which I fix with + 1 exposure compensation indoors.
I recommend cloudy - 3 for JPEG images at low resolution. For critical work I use RAW and Capture 4.0.1. Auto WB does a decent job but shoot RAW and forget about all this.
If something I do really love about this camera is the fact that with a little conversion I am using Nikkor lenses on it which are over 20 years old. I also love having a real spot meter.
Noise reduction, mirror lock-up and control of noise at high IS0s work well. Although 3 FPS slow for many it is more than enough for me.
A great camera that I highly recommend.

Nikon SB-80DX AF Speedlight

Review Date: Jun 5, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $275.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Small, easy to use, wireless operation, dynamite with digital, gorgeous bounced light.
I do not find any.

The SB-80DX is nothing but a recycled SB-28DX with lots of improvements. A plus is the soft light diffuser supplied with the flash and for those who use more than one flash the wireless function will prove to be an asset.
The flash is at home with film or digital BUT, you loose some functions when you use the new digital cameras like the D-70 and the D2H. In use with the D-100 the flash performance is equal to none.
If you know and understand the limitations of flash, specially straight flash, you should be very happy with this unit. Many times it is impossible to say that flash has been used and when bounced the light is soft and beautiful.
Nikon has always manufactured excellent flash units. Count this one among them.

Nikon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5D AF

Review Date: Mar 30, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Light, sharp, practical range of focal lengths (conventional cameras)
Flare under front lighting (most zooms do) Rotation of the front element.

We all know how popular the 28-105mm lens has become, specially for conventional photography. This lens plays its part and it plays it very well.
It is well made, sharp mainly from f8 to f22 and somewhat soft at large apertures. I think it does very well for a zoom in this range and we all know that zooms are going to have compromises. We are simply exchanging many of the characteristics of a prime lens for convenience.
My best images have come when on a tripod using small lens openings. I like the "macro" function which at least for me has proven to be very useful.
I do recommend this lens.
William Rodriguez
Miami, Florida.

Canon EOS D30

Review Date: Jun 9, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Due to the fact that it was in production over 2 years ago the prices are now acceptable and comparable to the high end consumer cameras. The quality of the images is excellent.
Poor AF in low light and most difficult to use for action shots. I have had a lot of problems with the tendency of the camera to impart a red cast to the captures, especially when using "cloudy" white balance.

This is my first digital SLR and it is a great camera considering that the technology is now old. I never understood the custom white balance setting and it never worked for me, maybe not the camera but me.
The red color cast, mainly on cloudy days is annoying though perfectly correctable with PS.
Images are excellent at ISO 100 and 200 but noise is noticeable at higher settings but very acceptable.
AF is not the best but usable. I cannot recommend the camera for action photography. I wish I had a lower factor than 1.6 or a full negative frame which now is out of the reach of the amateur. I do miss my wide angle photography.
William Rodriguez
Miami, Florida.

Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6D AF

Review Date: Apr 3, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Zoom range is very useful for travelers. Very sharp lens. Compact.
Internal focus gone when you zoom. Slightly soft but acceptable at 120 with large openings.

The lens was given to me as a present. The person that gave it to me did not like the 5.6 opening which was found "inadecuate" for low light shooting. When given to me there was a mistmatch, lack of communication between the lens and my F-100 and in addition the AF at 24 and 28mm was not working properly. I sent the lens for repairs and the problem was a misalignment of apertures and the focus needed adjustment in addition to the cleaning of elements ($128.50).
I consider the lens to be very sharp although I heard reports to the contrary. I have used for over 2 years in the studio and for landscape photography and the results have been outstanding. Flare has not been a problem with my lens nor has been excessive distortion at the wide angle settings.
My portraits at 85mm f8 are as sharp as those of the 105mm f2.5 at the same lens opening. AF has been very fast and accurate. Sharpness, color and contrast are superb. A joy when traveling and you can take only one lens.
I recommend this lens.
William Rodriguez
Miami, Florida.