|UPDATE: Photozone.de tested the 14-24 on a D3. As expected, the specs are not quite as flattering as APS-C users had us believe.
Still, this is an extreme wide angle zoom that has many primes beaten from the kick-off. Read the review here
|AF-S 14-24G | AF-S 55-200 | Sandisk Ducati 4GB.|
Nikon D700 + MB-D10
To me, this camera is an almost perfect combination of the full frame and processing capabilities of the D3 in the compact body of the D300.
Although I’d love to see a version with sweet spot resolution (15-18 Mp.), I can perfectly live with it’s 12,1 Mp., even if it crops to a mere 5,1 when combined with DX lenses in auto-crop mode.
Frankly, if the 6 Mp. output of the D40 is plenty to get excellent printing results in my CMYK workflow, I don’t see much reason why the 5,1 Mp. ones from the D700 should be any worse, even if it is extremely unlikely that I would ever use a DX lens on this body.
Likewise, unless you print wall sized posters on a regular basis, there are very few arguments to justify the extra bulk and work-flow pressure of 24 Mp. RAW files, which weigh in at an astonishing 40 Mb., not to mention the fact that a 24 Mp. camera may well out-resolve all but the very best lenses.
The D700’s comparatively “modest” resolution makes it the cleanest high ISO under 3-K camera currently roaming the planet; according to DPreview it is perfectly usable up to ISO 12.400!
Like the D200 and D300, it is built of magnesium alloy and properly weather sealed, and if it is even close to the build quality and sealing of the D200, you won’t hear me complaining.
You also get 14 bits RAW instead of 12, for a gigantic 11,6 EV dynamic range with massive headroom, almost 5 stops better than JPG.
Furthermore, this camera (as the D3/300) marks a giant leap forward in auto focus, up from the D200’s perfectly usable 11/7 to 51, 21, 11 or 9 – dynamic – focus points plus 51 point 3D color focus tracking.
The powerful built-in iTTL flash (GN: 56/17 ft./m. @ ISO 200), is another welcome betterment over the D1-series, with the additional benefit that it can also be used in "commander" mode, to remotely trigger up to two groups of external flashes (such as SB-900, 800, 600).
Other goodies are auto focus fine-tuning for up to 12 lenses, in-camera auto-CA reduction (although only for JPG) and active D-Lighting, a 3” 920.000 dot high-resolution display with life view, 1080i HDMI output (which is great in the studio), many in-camera retouching options, and, last but not least: integrated sensor cleaning with air flow control, which – according to Nikon – effectively “blows” dust particles away from the sensor.
The D700’s shooting speed of 5 fps. is already quite respectable, but you can get as fast as 8 fps. with the optional MB-D10 battery-pack loaded with 8 AA-batteries or an (optional) EN-EL4(a), the standard battery of the D3(x). The buffer can hold as many as 20 14-bits or 23 12-bits RAW and 100 JPG.
As my experience with the D200 + MB-D200 has taught me, the main advantage over the D3(x) is that you can either screw-on the bulk when you need it, or take it off when it gets in the way.
In this sense, the DX00’s plus battery-pack are considerably more flexible than their full blown pro brethren, and let me tell you that when still working the D1x full-time, I have wished plenty of times that I could take off some of that weight.
Why oh why?
The main reason I’m greedily eying this camera, is because I believe it makes a perfect addition to my current set up of the D200 plus D40.
I have the first currently on sale on an auction site, but I won’t shed a tear if she doesn’t sell, as, even though I believe the D700 / D300 / D40 combo is almost perfect, I have no problem whatsoever living with the D200 instead of the D300.
A camera for every purpose:
• The D700 is the ideal camera for wide-angle and standard zoom or prime lenses like my AF-S 17-35 mm f/2.8, AI 28 mm. f/2, AF 35-70 mm. f/2.8 and AI 50 mm. f/1.4, and, furthermore, the camera to carry whenever I expect to get in a tight spot with low lighting conditions, whatever the lens used. Of course, the 14-24 f/2.8 would be extremely cool on this camera too.
• The D200 or D300 are the ideal cameras when using long lenses, because their 1,5 crop factor turns any long lens into an even longer one, most notably my outstanding 100-300 f/4 HSM Sigma, which, on these cameras, turns into a 150-450 mm. equivalent, or even a 210-630 mm. equivalent when willing to sacrifice some optical quality for additional range with the 1.4x TC.
Unfortunately, the very nice DX Tokina 12-24 f/4 will not be very useful anymore, given that on DX it is a tad longer (18-36 eq.) than the 17-35 on the D700.
I might be tempted to sell it off; but then again, maybe not. So far, all my lenses have become useful (again) at some point or another…
• The D40 is the perfect P&S in a DSLR body, and, teamed with either a 18-200 or the 18-55 plus 55-200 it blows the pants off of any 10x zoom P&S out there.
I have really come to appreciate this little camera and – in spite of some of its flaws – it is the piece of equipment I’m most unlikely to sell off right now, even though I bought it with precisely that in mind.
Likewise, I will hang on to the 18-200 Sigma for the moment. Even if it is far from flawless, it is a particularly handy lens if you are aware of it’s limitations and are willing to live with its less than stellar optical performance.
I have learned that it can be extremely useful at social events, marriages and concerts.
Nikon D700. DxOMark Sensor Score: 80,5. DxOMark Low-Light ISO Score: 2303. More information.
Tech specs D700, MB-D10
D700 review at Dpreview.com
AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
Touted to be a wide angle zoom with the clarity, color rendition and quality of a prime, photographers are rolling over each other to get their hands on this baby.
I and many others - I suspect - can only drool and try to save-up.
This is a professional grade lens, best used on a FX Nikon, and consequently goes for $ 1.750 on Amazon.
However, the reference standard 17-35 f/2.8D goes for $ 1.688 at the time of writing, so that ought to make for an interesting dilemma for anybody who owns neither.
To put it simply: this is a choice between - extreme - wide angle and usability, and the mere 3 mm. advantage of the 14-24 (21-36 eq. on DX) on the short end is not easily justified against the 11 mm. advantage of the 17-35 (25,5-52,5 eq. on DX) at the long end, especially on a FX camera.
Although I have found only one full-blown professional review at photozone.de (on a D200), this is what users say:
• Full-Frame, thus an outstanding replacement for a 12-24, be that the Nikon or Tokina f/4’s, which are both DX.
• With f/2.8, it is a full stop faster than the previous two, with the added benefit that it can be used wide open with very little punishment in terms of edge sharpness and light fall-off - at least on DX cameras.
• At par or better than the legendary 17-35 f/2.8 in both sharpness and AF speed – meaning that it is ultra sharp, blistering fast and very silent.
• Excellent build quality.
• Very moderate distortions @14 mm, vignetting is virtually absent too, although I have not found any serious tests on a full frame camera yet, so be aware that these numbers might be slightly less flattering on FX.
• Finally, chromatic aberrations and fringing are also practically absent, and - in spite of this being an extreme wide-angle - ghosting and flaring are very well controlled.
There are one or two cons too, of course.
• Does not take any filters and the user must be extremely careful to protect the bulging front element, even though the built-in petal shaped hood at least helps. Still, best advice is to keep the lens cap on, whenever not actually shooting with it.
• With a weight of 1.000 gr., it is 40% heavier than the 17-35 – which, with 745 gr., is not a lightweight itself by any standard – while it is also 35 mm. longer and almost 2 cm. fatter (98 x 13,2 cm.).
In short: this a very big lens, both in weight and size on par with some of it’s power zoom brethren.
AF-S DX VR Zoom-NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED
Going from one extreme to another, this $ 250 (or even less when bought as part of a kit) mid-range el-cheapo zoom gives you excellent optical performance in a totally plastic body.
And I mean totally, because - just as the 18-55 GII - even the F-Mount is made of plastic.
Although many a reviewer will most likely puke out his guts over this, I can only say that my 18-55 has turned out to be a big surprise, not only optically, but also because of its high resistance against bumps, scratches, chipping and what have you.
And don’t think I haven’t used it; it must have at least 5.000 takes on it, if not more.
The other part of the upside is that you get a very light-weight lens: the 55-200 VR weighs in at 335 grams, while the non-VR version at only a quarter of a kilo.
I suppose you wouldn’t want to drop it on concrete out of the back of a van, but then again, that isn’t something you would expect a lens with superior build quality (and weight) to survive either.
Of course, replacing a $ 250, rather than a $ 1.250 lens is quite a different ballgame…
Both versions of this lens exceed by far and large the optical expectations one might have of one in the minus 250 dollar price range, although - even if not considering its plastic build - there are a few things to keep in mind.
1 - AF-S is not what you might expect if you own any semi or professional grade AF-S lenses.
I suspect this is due to a less sophisticated internal focusing system, even if Nikon still slaps an IF label on it.
2 - Wide open this lens may show vignetting, but closing down 1 or 2 stops will solve that.
3 - Variable aperture means it is f/5.6 at the 200 mm. end, which may complicate auto focus, especially in low light, even though I have hardly seen this problem, even with slower lenses (18-200 mm. Sigma @ 200 mm. f/6.3).
Still, considering this lens can be had for between $ 150 and 250, I will probably buy it, since I already have the 18-55 and combining these two makes for a package that beats any 18-200 hands down, both in optical quality and weight.
Recommended cameras: D40(x), D60, D70, D80, D3000, D5000, D90 and even the D200 or D300(s).
• Thom Hogan
• Camera Labs
• Camera Review Australia (Editors Choice)
Sandisk 4GB Extreme CF Ducati Edition + Extreme FireWire Reader
With RAW write speeds from 30-32 Mb./s., this is currently the fastest CF card on the planet for the D3(x), D700 and D300, while on the D200 both the 4 and 8 Gb. versions share honors of being the leaders of the pack with 9,5 Mb./s..
Considering that downloading these massive amounts of data through USB from a camera can be torture, I’d also like to get the Sandisk Firewire reader, which transfers the content of these cards to the computer at a blistering speed of 43.5 Mb./s.
For more information, visit the CF performance database at Rob Galbraith’s.
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