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  Reviews by: leewoolery  

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Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Nov 11, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,220.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp with excellent contrast and color...AF is super quick on 1 Series body. Build-quality is what you expect from L- series lenses.
No-IS or internal zooming.

Excellent lens for individual portraits, groups, sideline shots and close-up action for basketball.

Very sharp at f/2.8 but is razor-sharp stopped down to f/4- 5.6.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III

Review Date: Nov 11, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: JPG's from camera are incredible, AF is lighting-quick, High ISO performance must be seen to be believed.
Reported problems with AF and Canon finally admitting problem exists is vry troubling

Used camera this weekend for a gymnastics meet and images at ISO 3200/6400 were just amazing. Gym lighting was typically poor but camera performed as if it were in daylight.

Menus are easy to figure out but non anything like 1D Series
cameras from the past...much more like the 30D menu.

AF is fastest and most accurate I've ever seen and frame rate coupled with deep buffer takes action shooting to a new level...there are places that I could never have imagined getting useable, available-light photos...but now that's achievable.

Images taken with strobes are unreal.

I thought the 1D Mark II was a great camera but the Mark III
is so much every way.

Lee Woolery
Speedshot Action Photography

Canon EOS 1D

Review Date: Jan 22, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Price, Speed, Auto Focus, Response, Build, Ergonomics, General Handling, 1/500 synch speed
Noise at High ISO's, Battery Life, Many settings must be changed through computer via Firewire cable

I was looking for second and third cameras for myself and an assistant and the 1D has proved to be a worthy addition. I had tried out 20 and 30D's but their quickness and low-light AF capabilities aren't even close to the 1 series Canons ( or D-2 series Nikons.)

Now, the 1D has its limitations, high ISO noise being the biggest drawback, but it more than makes up for that with the ultra-fast focusing and general responsiveness when photographing fast-moving subjects such as barrel horse racing, bull riding and ice hockey, which I do alot of.

This camera may be 5 years old with only 4.1 megapixels and lacking in high ISO performance but it is still capable of producing incredible images. I shoot 99% sports and the 1D makes for a great second body...especially when shooting with strobes at ISO's of 400 or lower. The 1/500 synch speed helps for hand-holding larger lenses such as the EF 70-200 or EF 24-70 f/2.8...especiallu for baseline work in basketball and matside with wrestling.

For outdoor sports, on bright, sunny days, images taken at ISO's of 100-200, from this camera are incredible. For anything up to 8 x 10, I have a hard time telling the difference between prints produced by this camera or the 1D Mark II. I have made 20 x 30 prints from the 1D files and they look pretty good.

As with any pro camera, the best results are acheived with that manufacturers highest performing lenses and the Canon L lenses, compliment the 1D perfectly.

Lee Woolery
Speedshot Action Photography

Epson R800

Review Date: Aug 26, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $399.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image Quality, color accuracy, longevity of inks, fast...prints have that wow factor.
Does go through ink cartridges but I have run as many as 200 prints a week through this printer. Not as fast as a Kodak 1400 but the image quality of the Epson is so far superior that it's worth the wait.

This is the finest printer that I have ever used. For my on-location sports photography business, it gets a work-out...two weeks ago we ran nearly 3 full boxes (100 sheet boxes) of Ilford Galerie Smooth through the printer at a horse show and it only over-heated a couple of times.

I don't think these machines were designed to be used in 95 degree heat with a dew point of 70 and a bunch of dust in the vicinity...but it still cranked out incredible images.

I have had several clients comment on the improvement in print quality from this year...color accuracy, sharpness and overall look of images. Last year I was using a Kodak 1400 and 8500 and the results are not impressive...when you do a side-by-side comparison with the R800.

The dust problem with the Kodaks was the biggest reason to switch to any other kind of printer and the yellowish cast to all images.

The R800 does go through alot of Magenta, Cyan, Yellow, Gloss Optimizer and Photo Black but but when I look at the 8 X 10's that this Epson can isn't really an issue. I just make sure that I have three of each for a weekend event and at least 3 boxes of Ilford or Epson Gloss paper.

This printer and the Canon EOS 1D Mark II seem to be perfectly matched because the color rendition and detail reproduction are simply some instances unbelievable.

You can't go wrong with this printer.

Nikon SB-800 AF Speedlight

Review Date: Apr 26, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent product, fast recycle times with 5 Nickel Metal Hydrides but super fast with Quantum battery. Perfect exposures with D70 and 75 % of the time with D2H.

Outstanding as advertised. Super results with off-camera flash from dedicated cord or Pocket Wizards.

Out of the box, works perfectly in programmed mode on D70 and even on the D2H. Easy learning curve.

Used it on D2H at 8 frames per second with Quantum battery for night rodeos and football...looks like someone is welding or shooting off fireworks.

Sold mine when I switched to Canon so I hope the 580 will give similar results.

Nikon 85mm f/1.4D IF AF Nikkor

Review Date: Apr 24, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $730.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Excellent sharpness and contrast...even wide open
Slow Autofocus...should be an AFS

This is a razor sharp, excellent portrait lens that can't be beat for general available light photography but focusing too slow for fast sports like rodeo, basketball, hockey and indoor soccer even when used on a camera such as D2H...tends to hunt. The inexpensive AFS zoom that comes with the D70 is so much quicker than the 85 1.4.

Performs beautifully when used on a D70 for slower moving action like balance beam at youth gymnastics. My favorite Nikkor lens...hands down when I owned Nikon products.

Incredibly well-balanced on a D2H and comes with a very large screw-in metal lens hood

Little bit sharper than the Canon 85 f/1.8 wide open but USM motor and AF on a 1D Mark II make an unbeatable combination for fast-moving available light-only sports such as gymnastics and volleyball.

If the Nikkor 85 mm F/1.4 AF-D lens came with AFS, I probably would have purchased a D2X instead of changing brands.

Nikon D2Hs

Review Date: Apr 23, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $3,199.00 | Rating: 3 

Pros: Fast start-up and easy control menus
reliability, back focusing, noise

The D2H is the most disappointing professional photographic product that I have ever owned. The first copy had to be sent back to Nikon 3 times because of back-focusing and exposure problems and once because the shutter went out.
Besides the performance issues, picture quality was a problem in all but ideal lighting conditions...noise being the biggest problem.

After the "lemon" law took effect, Nikon finally sent me a brand new, in the box D2H in November of 2004 and I had hoped to sell it and put the money towards a Mark II but then discovered Nikon lowered the price by about $1300.00 so I kept it for awhile. Who would pay me $3200.00 for a brand new D2h when you could get one from a camera dealer for $1995.00.

The replacement camera developed the same back-focus and exposure problems as the first copy after a couple of months so I took it back to my dealer and he said that it would have to go back to Nikon for focus adjustment....again?

Needless to say...I sold the D2H at a $2000.00 loss and became a proud owner of a Mark II.

The D2H did produce alot of nice images but for every good one, there were 5 deleted because of back-focusing or underexposure.

I used an F3 for 20 years and never had a problem with that took great photos up until I sold it this past winter so the quality control and reliability issues with Nikon was puzzling.

The customer service folks at Nikon were very helpful but they can only do so much when a poorly designed product is hurried to market.

After using the Mark II for a couple of months now, I can see why it has become so popular with sports and action photographers. The images that I am getting now, under any lighting conditions, are so far superior to what came from the D2H that it makes me wonder why I didn't make the switch sooner.

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR

Review Date: Mar 4, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,900.00 | Rating: 3 

Pros: Didn't own it long enough to see anything positive but AFS is fast and quiet.
Only owned for 2 weeks before trading in on Canon 70-200 2.8 but was not impressed with image quality and focusing accuracy on D2H...seemed to be focusing about 2 feet behind on both D2H and D-70

I purchased this lens in a last ditch effort to justify staying with Nikon...holding out for the D2X...or switching brands.

I was not impressed with the image quality of the 70-200 and the lens back-focused on both the D2H and D70 and although the AFS was fast it was not accurate and really seemed to hunt. In fact, the Sigma 120-300 has much better image quality and, even though the HSM is not as quick, at least the pictures were razor sharp.

The D2H/70-200 VR combination was poorly balanced and extremely heavy while shooting bull riding and basketball so I knew that a change would be necessary...and I wasn't waiting on a D2X.

If the images produced by this lens would have been sharp and the AF more accurate, I would probably have stayed with Nikon but I couldn't afford to wait for them to make the necessary adjustments at the Nikon USA East Coast repair facility....again!

I'm now the proud owner of a Canon Mark II and their 70-200 USM and I find that my concerns about "operator error" were unjust and the problem lied with either the D2H, the 70-200 AFS-VR-G or a combination of both. The images produced by the Canon lens are so much better than those produced by the Nikon equivalent.

I'm sure this lens on a properly adjusted D2H, D2Hs or D2X would produce some nice images but I wasn't going to take that chance.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Mar 4, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: This lens is razor sharp...even at 2.8...and the focusing is deadly accurate on a 1DMarkII...super lens for basketball and rodeos when used with strobes and Pocket Wizards.
...none but I wish it wasn't finished in white...tends to attract too much attention.

I shoot mostly youth and high school sports, rodeos, horse shows and cutting horse competitions and had so much trouble with back-focusing on Nikon D2H's and D-70's this past year that I thought purchasing a 70-200 VR would solve the problems. When you do event photography, out-of-focus and back-focused shots kill your sales and make you look unprofessional since there is no time to edit.

Two weekends ago I shot a basketball tournament with the D2H, a brand-new 70-200 VR AFS, Alien Bees and Pocket Wizards and after deleting 1/3 of the images because of focus issues, decided there was something wrong and a brand change was coming in the near future.

The Nikon AFS zoom lens didn't improve the focusing problems so I switched to Canon the last week of February. I lost a few thousand dollars when I sold and traded in all my less-than-a-year-old Nikon stuff but I had to make the change.

The next weekend I shot the basketball tournament with the
Canon 70-200 and a Mark II, strobes and Pocket Wizards and the results were stunning...and my staff and clients could tell the difference.

The Canon 70-200 USM is much sharper and focuses faster and more accurately on a Mark II than the Nikon 70-200 AFS VR on the D2H. There really is no comparison when viewing images on the computer and the prints are really unbelievable with this combination.

My only regret is that I didn't make the switch sooner.

The Canon zoom is perfectly balanced on the Mark II and really not that bulky as opposed to the Nikon 70-200/D2H
combination which really seemed front-heavy and awkward.

I have numerous bull-riding and barrel racing events to cover for the rest of the year, many horse shows, a youth soccer league and a ton of baseball this summer, football in the fall and gymnastics and I'm looking forward to shooting much of this action with the 70-200 USM on the Mark II.

I am working with a design company on offering on-location printing of posters and other graphics this year during sporting events and horse shows. The versatility, sharpness and focusing accuracy of this zoom combined with the incredible image quality and performance of the Mark II
has completely changed the direction of my business.

Canon EOS 1D Mark II

Review Date: Feb 27, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,495.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Autofocus is fast and dead-on, metering is very accurate, built for rough, professional use...a dream camera!
Controls are not as well laid out as D2H

After battling with the D2H for a little over a year, I sold and/or traded in most of my Nikon equipment for the Mark II and a 70-200 USM 2.8 zoom and my only regret is that I didn't make the switch sooner.

The 2 D2H's that I had were back-focused with any lens, the metering was 1 full stop off plus I had to send one back for focus adjustment 4 times and the shutter went out this summer during a 60 head class at a horse show.

After continued focus problems, I finally got a new one from Nikon a couple of months ago and it displayed the same characteristics so I was either going to wait on a D2X, change to Canon or pull the rest of my hair out fighting with the D2H.

After shooting a rodeo and basketball league this past Saturday with the D2H and a brand new 70-200VR, I knew something was wrong...either camera, lens or operator error.

The images were soft, most back-focused and exposures were way off even though I used a hand-held meter and strobes with Pocket Wizards.

I took everything into my dealer and asked him what could be done and he said that the D2H would have to go back for focus adjustment.

After reading the spendid reviews on the MarkII, I dcided that
it was a much better product than anything Nikon could come up with so I traded in most of my Nikon stuff for Canon.

I shot my first basketball tournament on Saturday and the results from the Mark II and the 70-200 were back-focus, exposures dead on and no noise.

The camera and lens combination is so much better than the Nikon equivalent and I can't wait to start adding other Canon lenses to my collection. I will have to wait awhile since I lost nearly $3000.00 on a one year old camera, SB-800 and various AF lenses.

I will finish a basketball tournament this week with full confidence that what I ask the camera and lens to do will be
without issue and am now looking forward to the remainder of my indoor rodeos, horse shows and youth soccer beginning in a month.

I would have to say that my one-day experience with the Mark II and the 70-200 has shown me why most pro sports photographers are using Canon products and why Nikon is no longer the leader.