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Nikon D700

Review Date: Jan 2, 2010 Recommend? | Price paid: $2,700.00

Pros: Good IQ, ultimately customizable, great high ISO performance, good LCD capable of checking AF, good balance of pixel count for prosumer use, build-in flash with wireless commander!
No tilt/swivel LCD for ground level/overhead shooting, MLU with delay shutter timmer is too short and is not customizable, custom setting is not set as dial/button but has to go through menu,

Using it for over a year now and like it a lot, comparing the Canon 20D, 5D I owned before, the 5DII I tried, and a 40D I am still using. It is a near perfect camera, with something to wish for listed in the Negative aspects above. Will be very hard to justify an upgrade unless something major show up.

Nikon 105mm f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor

Review Date: Dec 5, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $750.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, good for both macro and portrait, useful VR, work well with extender
VR has limited help in macro situation. Macro focusing is slow as usual

I am not a Pro, and got this lens just want to play with it, but fell in love with it and will keep it.

1. Portrait use is just wonderful. Good for indoor half body length portait or head shot. Very sharp and good bokeh;
2. Macro use - haven't master it yet, and hard for me to comment. AF is slow for macro, but that could be the way it is;
3. With extender 1.7x - Nikon website state that the lens is NOT competable with extenders, but in real life, it works just as well. I compare the result with 80-200mm 2.8 AF-S, there is no sharpness drop, and color/contrast is close as well;
4. Overall VR is very effective;
5. When use as normal lens, and focal distance is close, the lens is slower than F2.8

Canon EOS 40D

Review Date: Aug 10, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $750.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Practical, work horse.
All the things lacking on Canon (compare with Nikon bodies)

I switched to Nikon D700 but can't give up on the sweat 70-200 F4L IS, so I got an used 40D, instead of using a heavy Nikon 70-200/2.8 VR. The benifit of having a 2nd body for telephoto is just too great Smile

The 40D is a much improved camera compares with the 20D. It IQ is almost better than the 50D, and focus, controls are definitely better than the 5D2. The control, sensor cleaning and AF are the most important improvement over the 20D/30D. I especially like the custom settings on the dial. I picked this one over the 5D2 and 50D. But none of the Canons can match the Nikon bodies. Unfortunately, Nikon doesn't offer a nice 70-200 F4 VR like the Canon.

Nikon TC-17E II 1.7x AF-S

Review Date: Aug 10, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $370.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: No IQ lost at all
not yet identified

I have used this converter on 2 lenses so far:
Nikon 80-200/2.8 AF-S;
Nikon 105/2.8 VR micro

And, I did a comparasion between the 105 + 1.7x and the 80-200 (which is considered as one of the sharpest lens from Nikon), there is no drop of image quality as I can tell.

In short, I don't have any negative to say about this one.

Nikon SB-800 AF Speedlight

Review Date: Jun 28, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: defusor is included
UI is not as nice as typical Nikon camera controls

Many people like me prefer Nikon's camera controls over Canon. Interestingly, in the flash gun design, Canon and Nikon seem reversed. Canon has more direct controls, and Nikon goes for menu. E.g. to set the flash as slave unit, Canon just turn the swtch, Nikon needs to find in the menu, etc.

But unlike most flashes in the market, the SB800 has defusor included.

Overall, Nikon flash system is more advanced than Canon, just this particular model is not typical Nikon. I heard the SB900 is much improved, but for now, the SB600s are enough for my use.

Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR

Review Date: May 27, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Light, effective VR
IQ, edge sharpness

I used Canon's 17-85IS on 20D, this Nikon 24-120VR on my Nikon D700 performs at about the same level, with very similar issues of edge sharpness and distortion. But for a reasonable price, you get a good walkaround lens with effective VR, and it is still not a bad deal.

Tamron 180mm f/3.5 Di LD IF Macro Autofocus SP AF

Review Date: Feb 1, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, good color, good AF speed for non-macro use, nice design of the filter turner, good build
no manual focus override in AF.

Like all Tamron lenses, the whole package is impressive. Very nice build, good and solid body, lens case is nice and useful. On my Canon 20D, the lens focus quite fast for non-macro use. Macro focus is a challenge as all macro lenses. The biggest problem is when you switch to AF, MF is totally disengaged, there is no manual override like Canon's new USM lenses.

IQ is very good, especially the color. I do notice the contrast is not as high as Nikon's 105mm/2.8 VR, which gets the hi-tech Nano coating. But Canon lenses are no match to Nikon's Nano coated lenses.

The lens filter section has a turning ring, so you can use c-PL filter with hood on. Very nice and useful.

It performs well as portrait lens too.

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED NIKKOR AF-S

Review Date: Jan 31, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Best IQ in the class
no VR for its price

Good color, contrast, sharpness. I compared this lens (on D700) with Canon's 24-70/2.8 and 24-105/4 (on 5D II), this lens wins the sharpness by far. You can see the edge sharpness difference even on the camera LCD. This lens at 2.8 is sharper then both Canon on F4.

I would love to see a VR version of this one.

I also heard the construction issue with the lens mount. It can break apart with relatively minor force.

Nikon SB-600 AF Speedlight

Review Date: Jan 31, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $185.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Good value for the money. Very practical. Good built quality
Diffuser is not included (unlike the SB-800), User interface is out of date.

Works very well as on-board or as wireless slave flash. Nikon's CLS provides more functions than Canon. E.g. this flash can be set as main light source, or as fill light. It swiel, tilt, and can do wireless. It provides 90% what you are looking for.

The user interface is not so advanced. There is no "Menu" button, one has to push 2 bottons at the same time to activate menu options; turn on the wireless slave requires going through the menu (not as easy as the Canon's 420EX). It seems Nikon's camera UI philosophy (prefer dedicated button rather than menu options) is not followed in the flash design.

Lowepro Toploader 70 AW

Review Date: Jan 19, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $70.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very practical, rain protection, can hold lens with hood on, extendable (like all Lowepro professional products).
Original harness/strap can be adjusted from only one side, and not comfortable; ugly; the front little pocket is not easy accessable.

If you want a container for your camera gears, not a fashion statement, this one is for you. It holds a pro body with 70-200/2.8 type of lens (hood reversed), or 24-70/2.8 lens with hood on, and can fit a flash inside as well (may be a little tight)

There are side extension loop for add-on cases, and can attach to Lowepro belt/harness, and/or vest. Very configurable.

Strongly recommend this large model and you may regret to choice the smaller ones.

Ugly ! There is no fashion consideration at all Smile

Nikon 24-85mm f/2.8-4D IF AF

Review Date: Jan 19, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Decent build for its price range, good macro performance
soft at 24mm

I got it for D700, and feel the IQ at 24mm is not good enough for the FF body. I am upgrading to 24-70/2.8, which show much visible difference at 24mm.

The lens could be a good performer for APS-C body.

Although, it is not a 1:1 macro lens, it perform quite well and it is a big plus for this general purpose lens.

Nikon D700

Review Date: Sep 5, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,998.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Solid build, full function, very customizable, excellent high ISO performance, friendly function switchs (vs. using menu), very practical pixel size for prosummer use
Lack of tilt LCD, RAW converter is not included, soft jpg sharpening, poor VR lens selection, lack of prosummer grade lenses, removing battery is not so smooth, MLU can't use with selftimer.

I'm not a Pro.

After using Canon 20D and 5D for years, I finally got a Nikon that can say that Nikon knows how to build UI, and the imager with high ISO really performs. It is better than Canon on the basis and advanced functions. E.g. AE links to all AF points rather than only the center one on Canon; and build-in wireless command...

The build-in flash is very handy (compare with the 5D); VF is large, bright with a useful grid. AF is fast with any of the AF points, the LCD is a pleasent to use; High ISO pictures turned out beautiful !

Lens is my only concern. Nikon can't beat the EF 70-200/4.0 L IS (yet), and don't have a competitor for the 24-105/4 L IS.

Although, this camera deserves higher price than the 5D, I still think it is over priced. But in the end, I paid for it.

The complaint is the Capture NX. For a $3000 body, Nikon still won't include a RAW converter!

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

Review Date: Aug 16, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very light, good IQ
loose lens hood, so-so build.

I was looking at Nikon's new bodies for a while, but didn't jump in because of lens choices. I heard about good things about this lens, and found a NEW one at a good price, which triggered me to buy it with a D700...

I have the Canon EF-S 10-22, which is an excellent lens on my 20D. Comparing the 18-35 with the Canon, it is at least a match in all aspect, including IQ, build, focus, etc. The Nikon has the lens hood included, where the Canon is an extra. The Nikon is also a little smaller in size.

I took some test shots for typical landscape and indoor situation. The distortion seems well controlled and little better than the 10-22 (which is excellent already). Color, contrast are at least as good as the 10-22. I took some shots at F-3.5, 11 and 22. At F11, it produce the best sharpness, but at F22, it is not bad at all. F3.5 show a little edge softness (far corner).

I can afford the 14-24, but several aspects turned me off:
1. Weight and size - because I only use ultra-wide once a while, I don't want to carry a big/heavy one;
2. I need c-pl, ND or G-ND for landscape, the 14-24 won't take regular filters;
3. Price, of course.

In general, I like the 18-35mm a lot. Because it is very light, it may get some real use Smile


Canon Extender EF 2x II

Review Date: Mar 18, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $270.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great IQ, build

I bought it for last Christmas, when I still have the 300/2.8 IS. The combined 600mm reach seems perfect for birding, but I soon found out I am not good at it. But nonetheless, the indoor test shots turned out great. I frankly can't see much difference in IQ with it on the 300/2.8. The AF speed seems fine as well. I guess the lens made the difference rather than the converter. (I heard some report that it slow down the AF, but not much on the 300/2.8).

Although, I am not a pro, I was picky on IQ. But for this converter, I have yet to find any problem.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Dec 8, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $980.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Ultra sharp and effective IS

This is a lens that produce same sharpness at F4 and F8 ! (different DOV - bokeh of course) What else do you want out of it? The only thing I think can be improved is the hood. Both the IS and the non-IS version have a loosely attached hood, and the pouch come with the lens is useless.

This lens is very light (just like the non-IS version) and can be easily carried around on a whole day hiking. Focus, color and contrast are what you can expected from L glass. I use it for both landscape and portraiture/candid. Just love it.

Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM

Review Date: Nov 13, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp, beautiful bokeh, great with extenders
heavy, I wish the tripod mount is removable.

I just sold it but I know I will miss it. It may be the best portrait lens ever (but I never get chance to try the 200mm/1.8), the brokeh is so smooth, make everything a beatiful backdrop. IS works very well, adding the F2.8, it is very practical to use handheld without blur the image. And for that reason, it will be nice to have a removable tripod mount to make it lighter whenever possible. I can not complaint about the weight too much since it is a F2.8. I wish Canon can bring down the price and make it more affordable for more, people will LOVE this lens.

I saw great sharpness out of this lens with 2x extender. It is obvious the 2x is made just for those F2.8 lenses, and deliver what they should. People really should not complaint about the 2x when they use it on slower lens. But a sharp picture first comes out of the lens, and the 300mm/2.8 IS is just near perfect.

Get it if you can!


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