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on Jan 1, 2010 in Camera Tech, Lenses

Nikon 200-400f4VR

06.04.10 Since its introduction in 2004, the 200-400VR has become “the” lens for wildlife photographers and for very good reasons. The main ones being it’s sharp, light, focuses close and is one sexy lens! I consider this my big game lens and use it in that way one helluva lot and mostly handheld. Now there is the VRII model which takes this legend a little further down the road. IMHO, the VRI is a tad better than the VR. It just rocks! Does the VR work? Well, the instruction book states that when using the 200-400VR on a tripod, the VR should be turned on. In the beginning, I wasn’t really excited about using the VR, I didn’t see any better image quality when shooting at 1/20th. Using standard long lens technique did a fine job in delivering sharp images. That was until a few days later when I was shooting in an awful wind. Long lenses were chattering something fierce. The VR really proved itself then producing very...

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on Jan 1, 2010 in Camera Tech, Lenses

Nikon 70-180 macro

02.15.10 The 70-180 is simply put, a killer lens! It is so physically small, so bloodly tack sharp and it goes to nearly 1:1, it’s a real bummer the AF is dog slow. On the digital platform, the 70-180 delivers nearly a 1:1 reproduction and with the Nikon 6T does it with amazing image quality. We’re talking great corner to corner performance and for a zoom, pretty remarkable. It’s a great macro lens with a great working distance. But whether you focus at infinity, MFD or any point in between, the very flat plane characteristics of the 70-180 make it a stand out lens. I know many a 70-180 owner who think it is the sharpest lens they own (probably why they bring in more used then what they cost new). But no, it doesn’t focus fast! I typically have the lens in manual focus mode in fact. It is an f4.5 lens, so it’s not fast in that respect either. It’s amazing sharpness and small, compact nature more...

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on Jan 1, 2010 in Camera Tech, Lenses

The Nikon 600f4 VR AFS

02.15.10 There is no more essential tool or lens to the wildlife photographer than the 600mm lens. I can say with firm conviction that the 600VR AFS is a must own lens for wildlife photographers! Past iterations of the 600mm lenses when they were released didn’t always make it into my camera bag, they didn’t solve “the” problem for the price (have no problem recommending the 600AFS II!). That’s because not every new version brought a new or better solution to the same old problem. What’s the old problem? Not that is can be summed up in one word, but basically the problem is, getting a tack sharp image of a small subject up close. The MFD of the 600VR being three feet less (now we’re down to 15.7’) than the 600AFS II instantly makes it a problem solver. When you add to that its amazing sharpness, AFS speed and balance, it’s just a beautiful lens! I’ll be upfront here, Nikon did me a huge favor and got into...

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on Jan 1, 2010 in Camera Tech, Lenses

Nikon TC-20e3

02.15.10 The teleconverter, the wildlife photographers best friend but not for the reason most think. The teleconverter is a tool permitting the photographer to narrow the angle of view and isolate the subject better with narrower DOF. These main attributes of the teleconverter seem to get lost with the main obvious attribute, a bigger subject in the viewfinder. One of the drawbacks of the teleconverter is their sucking up of light. You getting nothing back for their hunger, you simply have less light to work with. In the case of the 1.7x, you loose one stop and 1/2 of light and the DOF is only 1/2x or half of that of the prime lens. For the last two years, about as long as the new firmware for the D3 permitting AF operation with it has existed, the 1.7x has been my prime teleconverter. I have all three, use each when the subject requires...

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on Jan 1, 2010 in Camera Tech, Lenses

Nikon TC-17e

02.15.10 The teleconverter, the wildlife photographers best friend but not for the reason most think. The teleconverter is a tool permitting the photographer to narrow the angle of view and isolate the subject better with narrower DOF. These main attributes of the teleconverter seem to get lost with the main obvious attribute, a bigger subject in the viewfinder. One of the drawbacks of the teleconverter is their sucking up of light. You getting nothing back for their hunger, you simply have less light to work with. In the case of the 1.7x, you loose one stop and 1/2 of light and the DOF is only 1/1.7x or 59% of that of the prime lens. For the last two years, about as long as the new firmware for the D3 permitting AF operation with it has existed, the 1.7x has been my prime teleconverter. I have all three, use each when the subject requires...

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on Jan 1, 2010 in Camera Tech, Lenses

The Nikon 80-400AFS

The new 80-400AFS is for sure not what anybody expected for this “updated” lens. It is spectacular! But it’s not an update but rather a brand new lens. Incorporating Nikon’s VR3 technology along with AFS speed, this lens produces simply amazing results! This f4.5-5.6 variable f/stop helps create a small, compact lens making the 80-400 really the #1 choice for those wanting to get into super telephotos. You can use the TC-14eII on the lens maintaining AF performance and producing a 560mm f/8 handholdable lens! Outstanding! The lens collar on the 80-400 uses an old and established style that when turned about 40 degrees disengages from the lens permitting its removal. This helps greatly when handholding the 80-400. Without the tripod collar, the lens only weighs 3.3lbs. The 80-400 has a lock at 80mm so the lens won’t “creep” when hanging from your shoulder. But it does not have a lock for 400mm. The only “short coming” you can attribute to the new design is its MFD of only...

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