Nikon D7000 Review Follow-up

This is a follow-up to my Nikon D7000 Review that I posted earlier this year. Ever since I published the review, I have been getting a ton of feedback on this camera. While most of the feedback is great, some photographers complain about focusing and other issues on the D7000. Some end up returning the camera back to Nikon, while others send it to Nikon for repair. I have been carefully tracking most of the complaints and I have some interesting data to share. Since February of this year, I have tried 4 different copies of D7000 and the last one I tested was with me for two straight months.

Before I talk about my discoveries, let me tell you what I think about the camera. Nikon D7000 is a phenomenal camera. It is the best DX camera Nikon has produced to date. I was convinced of this when I first tested the camera and got reassured after my two month love affair with it (with the approval of my wife, of course). I have used a number of lenses from Nikon, Sigma and Samyang and all of them worked as expected on the D7000. A couple of lenses had focus issues and had to be adjusted using AF Fine Tune, but other than that, I did not see any front/back focus issues on the camera itself.

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Nikon D700 Review

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While the photography community is impatiently waiting for a Nikon D700 replacement announcement, I decided to write a review of the Nikon D700 DSLR that I have been shooting with for the past three years. Not sure why it took me so long to write a review of my favorite camera…I guess I focused so much on reviewing new lenses and cameras, that the gear I use every day for my photography has been just sitting at the end of my long “to-do” list. Within the next few weeks I am planning to temporarily reverse the list, start from the bottom and write about other gear that I currently use and used in the past and share my subjective opinion about it.

Nikon D700

As you might have already seen on “Our Gear” page, I call the Nikon D700 “the best camera in the world”. Now before rotten tomatoes start flying my way from Canon, Sony, Pentax, Fuji, Leica, Phase One, Hasselblad, Mamiya and other brand fans out there, let me state that this is my opinion that is solely based on my needs. Let me explain. Yes, there are superb Nikon cameras with many more pixels and speed, and there are $40K cameras out there that can shoot 200 Megapixel frames. But when I look at a camera, I weigh in what is important for me first, then pay close attention to the overall price to performance ratio, instead of focusing on a particular feature. The Nikon D700 does not have many megapixels, or high speed, or high dynamic range or movie recording capabilities. In fact, if you look at its bare specs and compare it to all other cameras on the market today, it would probably fall into the “average” category.

Sunrise

Click here to download the above photograph in a large wallpaper format (2560×1600).

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Nikon D5100 Review

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This is an in-depth review of the Nikon D5100 DSLR, based on my two month experience with the camera. Marketed as an upper-entry-level DSLR, the Nikon D5100 is a major upgrade to the older Nikon D5000. It has a larger and a more enhanced swivel LCD screen and the same remarkable sensor as the semi-professional Nikon D7000. In addition to the above changes, the Nikon D5100 also lost some weight, making it lighter and more compact than the Nikon D5000. In this review, I will provide a detailed analysis of the Nikon D5100 and compare it against the Nikon D3100, D5000, D90 and the current Nikon D7000 DSLRs.

Nikon D5100

1) Nikon D5100 Specifications

Main Features:

  1. High Resolution 16.2 MP DX-format CMOS sensor
  2. 4 frames per second continuous shooting for up to 100 JPEG images
  3. 420-pixel RGB sensor
  4. Pentamirror Optical Viewfinder with approx. 95% frame coverage and approx. 0.78x magnification
  5. Single SD Card Slot with SD, SDHC and SDXC memory card compatibility
  6. Built-in Speedlight flash with i-TTL support and up to 1/200 sync speed
  7. Full 1080p HD Movie capability and external stereo microphone jack (up to 20 minutes of recording time)
  8. Dynamic ISO range from 100 to 6400 expandable to 25,600 (Hi2)
  9. 11-point AF System with one center cross-type sensor
  10. 3 Inch, 921,000-dot Super-Density articulated LCD Monitor with 170 degree viewing
  11. Compact EN-EL14 Battery (660+ shots)
  12. Built-in HDMI Connection
  13. Active D-Lighting for enhancing details in shadows and highlights
  14. 16 different scene modes
  15. Special effects such as Selective Color, Miniature Effect, Night Vision and Silhouette can be used both for stills and video
  16. In-camera HDR processing with 2 shots, up to 3 EV apart
  17. Up to 1/4000 sec shutter speed
  18. Exposure Compensation ±5 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV
  19. Exposure Bracketing 3 frames ±2 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 steps
  20. Only 560 grams of weight (body only)

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Nikon 50mm f/1.8G Review

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This is an in-depth review of the new, much anticipated Nikon 50mm f/1.8G prime lens that was announced in April of 2011. The Nikon 50mm f/1.8G is a consumer-grade lens for enthusiasts and seasonal pros that need quality optics of a fixed portrait lens at an affordable price point. Its large aperture of f/1.8 is great for low-light photography and the shallow depth of field helps isolate subjects from the background, beautifully rendering the background highlights, also known as bokeh.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8G

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Nikon 24mm PC-E Review

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This is an in-depth review of the Nikon 24mm f/3.5D PC-E, a special purpose wide-angle “Perspective Control” lens designed for architectural, commercial and nature photography, also known as PC-E Nikkor 24mm f/3.5D ED. The Nikon 24mm f/3.5D PC-E is a very specialized wide-angle lens specifically targeted at three groups of photographers – architecture photographers, landscape photographers and macro/product photographers. Architectural photographers often work with a lot of straight, often converging lines both indoors and outdoors and the “Perspective Control” or “Tilt-Shift” lenses (from this point on I will refer to them only as “tilt-shift”) give the ability to avoid the convergence of parallel lines by shifting the lens upwards or downwards. Landscape photographers need to be able to get everything in focus – from the closest foreground object to distant landscapes. While proper lens and camera techniques, along with good post-processing skills can help in getting sharp images for both foreground and background objects, normal lenses have certain limits landscape photographers have to work around with.

Nikon 24mm f/3.5D PC-E

For example, stopping down lenses beyond f/11 results in diffraction, which can impact the sharpness and overall quality of an image. With perspective control/tilt-shift lenses, landscape photographers can change the angle of the focus plane without having to increase aperture, putting both closest and furthest objects in focus. The same goes for commercial/product photographers that photograph jewelry and other items for product showcases – everything from the front to the rear of the object must often be in perfect focus. Again, stopping down does not always work and unless angles are changed and subject is on the same plane, there is no easy way to get everything sharp without focus-stacking images in post-processing software like Photoshop. By using tilt-shift lenses, photographers do not have to worry about lens aperture limitations and can achieve the desired effect with minimum effort. One other use that has been gaining popularity lately is to use tilt-shift lenses for portrait photography. Due to the ability to apply selective focus on a particular part of the image via lens tilting (also known as “anti-Scheimpflug“), portraits can appear more interesting and creative. Distant subjects can even appear “miniaturized”, although the effect can be easily reproduced in Photoshop through various plugins.

Sample #10

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Our Gear Page

You might have noticed that the secondary navigation menu of our site now contains “Our Gear” page. I created it for four reasons: a) our readers constantly ask both Lola and I about what camera gear we use, b) I want to centralize all questions regarding camera gear to one single page, because replying to comments in many different articles is becoming unmanageable, c) some readers just want to see a quick review of a product rather than reading my long full camera and lens reviews and d) I can receive and test more gear when you buy through affiliate links on our site and “Our Gear” page contains links to our affiliates. Please bear in mind that the amount of money we receive from our affiliate program is very little – we typically give it back to our readers through our giveaways and various contests. That’s because we do not run any advertising and post very few links to external websites to not annoy our readers. Perhaps in the future, if the revenue from the links on our site grows, we might be able to use that money to pay for hosting and other expenses. As for now, I am just asking you guys to buy from our links to be able to keep the partnership with our affiliates and sponsors like B&H.

As for “Our Gear” page, while it has been there for several months now, I only had some text links to what we use, without much info on the gear. Today I updated the page with some short reviews of the camera gear we are using and finished the “Cameras”, “Camera Accessories”, “Lenses” and “Teleconverters” sections. I will soon update the page with a lot more content and provide more information and links to other tools we use, so please check back the page later.

If you have any questions about camera or computer gear, please ask them in the gear page rather than other articles. I will be checking this page more often and replying to your comments as soon as I can. Also, if you have been sending some case studies to me, please be patient, as I just have not had much time to work on them.

I am currently finishing up with the Nikon 24mm f/3.5D PC-E lens review and will soon start working on reviewing the new Nikon 50mm f/1.8G lens, along with the Nikon D5100 DSLR. Stay tuned!

Nikon TC-20E III Review

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This is an in-depth review of the new Nikon TC-20E III teleconverter that was released in December of 2009, along with an updated version of the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II lens. The Nikon TC-20E III is a major update to the existing Nikon TC-20E II teleconverter, sporting a brand new optical design with an aspherical element, which delivers better performance with many specialty telephoto lenses. The purpose of teleconverters is to increase the focal length of lenses, in other words to get closer to subjects, and the TC-20E III is the biggest and the longest teleconverter manufactured by Nikon – it doubles the focal length of a lens. While this teleconverter works with any professional Nikon lens that can take teleconverters, it is specifically designed to work with fast prime lenses with an aperture of f/2.8 and larger. The Nikon TC-20E III is targeted at sports, wildlife and other types of telephoto photography where the photographer cannot physically approach subjects.

Nikon TC-20E III

It was not easy to obtain the Nikon TC-20E III because of high demand/short supply and after waiting for a few weeks, I decided to just rent it for a couple of weeks instead. My objective was to try the Nikon TC-20E III specifically with the Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II and with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II to see how it truly performs in an outdoor environment when photographing nature. It is one thing to shoot test charts with a lens sitting on a tripod, and another to get out and do some real shooting. Some lenses look great on paper and on test charts, but cannot perform equally well when used in an outdoor environment, especially with fast-moving subjects like birds. The primary reason is autofocus, the performance of which depends on many different factors. Teleconverters generally negatively impact autofocus performance, due to a considerable loss of light and contrast and the 2x TC is the worst in this regard. Adding a teleconverter slows down lenses and the Nikon TC-20E III slows down by two full stops. What this means, is that when the teleconverter is mounted on an f/2.8 lens, it slows down to f/5.6 and as you may know, autofocus performance on small apertures beyond f/5.6 is unreliable even in broad daylight conditions. Nikon clearly points out that autofocus does not work beyond f/5.6, so if you have an f/4.0 lens, forget about autofocus – you will have to resort to manual focus.

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Nikon 35mm f/1.4G Review

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This is an in-depth review of the new professional Nikon 35mm f/1.4G prime lens that was announced in September of 2010. The Nikon 35mm f/1.4G is a professional-grade lens for enthusiasts and professionals that need the highest quality optics of a fixed wide-angle lens with a large aperture of f/1.4 for low-light situations and shallow depth of field to isolate subjects from the background, making it an ideal candidate for many types of photography, including portrait, wedding, landscape and astrophotography.

Nikon 35mm f/1.4G

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Nikon 35mm f/1.4G Image Samples

Lola and I just got back from a trip to Utah, where I had a chance to test the Nikon 35mm f/1.4G lens, along with other 35mm lenses from Zeiss and Nikon. The last 3-4 weeks have been super busy for both of us and on top of that, our whole family has been sick for the last two weeks. Out of everyone in the family, I got a special present – a really nasty virus that put me to bed for two weeks! I don’t remember the last time I had anything like this. High fever with a really bad back pain. If it wasn’t for Lola, who kept on making me eat and drink plenty of fluids (including hot tea/milk with honey), I would have been in bed for a month!

Due to the above, I have not been able to post much on the blog lately. And the number of comments that I need to respond to have been piling up, don’t even know how I will be able manage several hundred comments. My apologies to all those who are waiting for my response!

Anyway, back to Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G – I loved this lens! And darn, I loved the Zeiss f/2.0, too. Never thought I would fall in love with a manual focus lens, but more on that later – in the upcoming Nikon 35mm f/1.4G lens review. I have a pretty good feel for the Nikon 35mm and I am glad that I was able to test it for portraits/weddings (see images below) and also for landscape photography (our trip to Utah), so the review should be fairly detailed and complete (a Zeiss 35mm f/2.0 review will follow).

Here are two image samples from the wedding that Lola and I shot a couple of weeks ago. Please note that the images are simply extracted out of Lightroom without any post-processing (except sharpening). Other image samples at different apertures with some bokeh will be provided in the upcoming review.

Sample #1

Click here to download the full size version of the above image.

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Nikon D3100 Review

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This long overdue review of the Nikon D3100 is based on my 30 day experience with the camera. I get plenty of comments and emails from our readers asking about the D3100 and whether they should buy it over the older Nikon D3000 and Nikon D5000 cameras, so I decided to post a review of the camera with some sample images and comparisons with other Nikon DSLRs to hopefully make it easier for our readers to make the right choice. Please note that the sample images provided below are “test” shots that have not been heavily modified in post-processing.

Nikon D3100

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