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PB PM
Sneaky Punk
 
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2011-02-15, 15:46

They gave me $600. I know I could have got more on eBay ($800+), but I didn't want to deal with the hassle. I was kind of lucky, the shop had just got two D700s in that morning, with one of them being on hold.

Here it is, with the MB-D10!


I know some people say it is big and bulky, but I don't notice any practical difference between it and the D300 in that sense. It's strange to think that this combo is actually slightly bigger than the D3s!
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Matsu
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2011-02-15, 22:14

That's a sexy looking camera. I agree, for all practical purposes, it's no bigger than a D300, until you look through the viewfinder. 600 is a pretty good D300 trade-in price from a camera shop too. How do you like the 50 f/1.8?

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PB PM
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2011-02-16, 03:42

The viewfinder is huge, and is so much easier on the eyes! If I shot with the D300 all day my eyes would get sore, but the D700 has proven to be better so far! Aside from the absolutely outstanding high ISO noise performance, one of the big pluses of the D700 over the D300 (non "s" model) is the virtual horizon in the viewfinder, which I have set to come on when I press the FN button. One thing that I found interesting is that the screw driven AF motor on the D700 seems to be much quieter than the one on the D300, not to mention that AF is snappier in general.

As for the 50mm F1.8D, I've had it for a almost three years now so I'm somewhat familiar with its performance. Of course FX is a new ball game, and the lens acts differently on the D700 than on my film camera. It is noticeably soft wide open, and really needs to be stopped down to F4 to be useful on an FX body, vs. F2.8 on a DX body. I'll play around with AF fine tune, and if that doesn't help, I think I might sell it and get the 50mm F1.4G.

After more testing I found that the 35mm F1.8G is great, as long as you are shooting at close focusing distances, but once you start shooting subjects that are more than a couple of meters away the vignetting is just too much. It is tack sharp, even wide open, much more so than the 50mm F1.8D, by a landslide.
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Mac+
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2011-02-16, 04:00

Nice camera Rob.
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Matsu
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2011-02-16, 12:18

I may wait to see if I can score a D700 plus 24-70 lens combination at a good discount, then sell the D300-18-50. My cheapest new price on the D700 right now is $2,164 CAN. I can find the 24-70 for about $1,600. Would it be too much to try to score both for $3000 ?

My god primes have gotten expensive... WTF?

Oh yeah, just one more thing. Try out some manual focusing through the D700 viewfinder. How diffcult?
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PB PM
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2011-02-16, 12:22

You don't have to buy the expensive G models you know. 24mm F2.8, 35mm F2.0 and 85mm F1.8 together cost less than the 35mm F1.4G. When you have the D700 you just shoot at ISO6400 and it is just about as noisy as the D300 at 1600. I did some test shots at ISO12800 and I think it is still usable, at least for B&W.

Most user reviews seem to think the 24mm F1.4G is great (other than some reports of AF problems), 35mm F1.4G is soft till F2.8 and the new 85mm F1.4G is better than the D model at some things and worse at others.
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Matsu
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2011-02-16, 15:18

I'd be happy with some AFD lenses on a pro Nikon body. My 85mm f/1.8 performs very well on the D300. The 35mm f/2 doesn't seem up to the same standard though, and everything wider than 28mm is either slow or fuzzy. IMHO, Nikon should make a new range of small mid-price AFS primes. f/1.8 and f/2

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PB PM
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2011-02-16, 18:14

I agree, I just fear that when they upgrade those F2.8 and F1.8 primes to AF-S that the price will go up, most likely $200 or more each. Not to mention that all the new primes seem to suffer from slow AF-S motors, compared to the AF speed of the D models.

As for the 35mm F2D, I've seen mixed reviews, lab testers hate it, real life users love it on FX. The 24mm F2.8D actually has a rather good reputation on FX/film, but not so much on DX. It has the same optical formula as the 24mm F2.8 AI-S, one of the few modern primes that did retain the quality glass of the AI age. A few reviews state that the 24mm F2.8D is actually sharper than the 14-24mm F2.8G at 24mm, not to mention having way less distortion than the former or 24-70mm F2.8G! Most of the negative reviews of the 24mm F2.8D come from DX users who think it isn't wide enough, or sharp wide open, which might be true. Nikon developed the 24mm as a landscape lens, it is meant to be stopped down to at least F5.6 if you want more than just center sharpness.
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Matsu
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2011-02-20, 20:33

In comparisons I've seen (not too many) it looks like the 24-70 is sharper at f/2.8 than the 35. Of course the 35 goes one stop faster, but that's not much of an advantage if it's not sharper doing so. The real advantage for these is the size/weight and close focusing, and it would be helped quite a bit if Nikon had a smaller full frame body to mount them on - though personally I think the D700 has the best current full frame DSLR chassis, something FE sized could be even better. In fact, something retro might be just the ticket. Stripped down and simple, metering all existing F mount lenses, focus confirmation, a thumb and forefinger dial hidden discretely in the grip for "G" lenses.. but that's a whole other digression

It would be really interesting to have a D7000 sized full frame model in the same way that the D700 is basically a D300 with a bigger penta-prism and mirror. For working a gig, it's becoming mostly a non issue. I worked a fundraiser for a friend last night with just the D300, 18-50 f/2.8 and SB900, and I got pretty good at discretely stalking the dance floor. But no one looks at you funny in that setting. Street photography is another matter though.

Anyway, I wanted to add, since there's so much photo related stuff here, if anyone has any favorite photo accessories, feel free to share. Favorite tripods, bags, hacks, software utilities, there always seems to be just one more great accessory to add...

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Dorian Gray
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2011-02-20, 20:50

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matsu View Post
It would be really interesting to have a D7000 sized full frame model in the same way that the D700 is basically a D300 with a bigger penta-prism and mirror.
It would, and such a thing strikes me as distinctly possible. If a "D400" never materialises (given the capable D7000), and its expected price-point is covered instead by a low-end full-frame body, that camera might well look and feel much like a D7000. Consider also the MB-D11 grip: similar in many ways to the innovative MB-D10, and thus expensive and arguably a little over the top for the D7000 alone. But just right if shared with a more expensive camera...
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PB PM
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2011-02-21, 01:34

Its hard to say what will happen, I think the pitfall of the MB-D11 is that it does not boost FPS, vs the MB-D10 on the D300 and the D700. The MB-D10 also allows you to use the beastly EN-EL4a, which if you are a pro shooter, could be a big deal. Of course the EN-EL15 in the D7000 is not too shabby in terms of battery life from what the reviewers have said. One thing I noticed in the D700 is that the EN-EL3e lasts longer than in the D300, but that could easily be due to factors like newer circuitry found in the D700 vs the D300.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matsu View Post
In comparisons I've seen (not too many) it looks like the 24-70 is sharper at f/2.8 than the 35. Of course the 35 goes one stop faster, but that's not much of an advantage if it's not sharper doing so. The real advantage for these is the size/weight and close focusing, and it would be helped quite a bit if Nikon had a smaller full frame body to mount them on - though personally I think the D700 has the best current full frame DSLR chassis, something FE sized could be even better. In fact, something retro might be just the ticket. Stripped down and simple, metering all existing F mount lenses, focus confirmation, a thumb and forefinger dial hidden discretely in the grip for "G" lenses.. but that's a whole other digression.

....

Anyway, I wanted to add, since there's so much photo related stuff here, if anyone has any favorite photo accessories, feel free to share. Favorite tripods, bags, hacks, software utilities, there always seems to be just one more great accessory to add...
As for the prime vs 24-70mm F2.8G, it is a tough call. I love the simplicity and easy of using zooms, but when I am out hiking all day, like I was on Saturday, having a nice portable prime lens mounted on the D700 is a true blessing. I might be a little strange in this area, but I don't mind carrying a heavy camera, what I don't like is big bulky zoom lenses. Part of that is because I don't like camera straps, period. If I have a prime lens mounted I have no issue holding the D700 + MB-D10 for hours, but put a zoom like the 24-70mm F2.8 on there and the camera will be on my back, in my camera bag 90% of the time.

I would love a more mechanical camera like the FE, which is why I still have my FE! As for adding things to G lenses for changing the aperture, yikes! I think Nikon could have a retro body and still have a command dial on the back for changing the aperture.

Last edited by PB PM : 2011-02-21 at 01:58.
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Matsu
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2011-02-21, 07:30

I need to write better English. I meant that though I'd love a modern digital FE, it would have to have the command dials because G lenses are the current state of the art, and in truth you do get more control that way. That said, if Nikon were to ever make such a body, some all metal f/1.8 and f2 primes with AFS but in the style of the 45P could be very cool...

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PB PM
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2011-02-21, 18:32

Ah I get you now, we were thinking the same thing really.

As for accessories, which I meant to write about last night, but forgot, there are so many good ones. A comfortable wrist strap is a nice thing to have! I currently have a cheap Sunpack one that is okay for my D3100, but I haven't found anything that works well with the D700, partly because I like to use the battery grip so often, which makes using wrist straps a bit of a pain because you have to take them off all the time.

One of the best accessories to have is a fast card reader. I know most modern Mac's have a SD card reader, so if you shoot with low end bodies this isn't an issue, but if you use CF cards half the advantage of the faster cards is write speeds! I use a USB2 Sandisk card reader, since I don't really need the download speed of a FW one.

A solid Manfrotto or Giottos tripod is a must if you are doing low light shooting with some serious gear. Low cost (read under $100) tripods are a pain to use, and just don't offer the stability that you need for a DSLR and serious lenses. For a compact camera or entry level DSLR with kit lenses or an 18-200mm, a Slik tripod/head combo is likely to be good enough, either that or one of those nice Joby flexible tripods. I have one of the Joby tripods, (SLR Zoom) and it works well with cameras like the D300/D700 without the grip attached, as long as your lens isn't too heavy, a 24-70mm F2.8 lens would likely be too much. (The SLR Pro version could handle that kind of weight).
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Matsu
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2011-02-22, 23:04

Yeah, I'm learning the lesson that cheaper stuff just doesn't pay when it comes to certain photographic gear. Buy it right, buy it once. I was reminded of this yesterday looking at shots from an event where I used mostly my 70-200. It's not an apples-to-apples comparison, but there's no contest between the 70-200 at 70mm and my Sigma 18-50 at 50mm. And even though the Sigma's actually pretty good, it's just that the Nikon is exceptional. It's good enough that it warrants buying a top line DX body just to use it with the nasty bits cropped out. If Nikon's older pro glass is this good, how's the new stuff? Someone hurry up quick and buy that 24-70mm and tell me it's as good as I suspect it might be...

This raises a familiar dilemma for me. I could buy the 17-55 for $800 used, sell my Sigma for about half that, and make a pretty much state-of-the-art DX lens kit for $400, and something that looks about a 1/2 stop brighter and 1 stop sharper on the normal range. Additionally, I could sell the D300 and pick up a D7000 for a difference of about $500 after taxes. All in, for about 900 bucks, I make a solid 2 stop improvement to my kit. Then just wait it out to see what happens across the full frame market.

But, I'm afraid that in a year from now, I'll be back at it, selling something to finance something new, and it gets annoying.

Thoughts on VR. It doesn't freeze motion. Only high ISO's or large apertures allow that. Lost some shots at the long end yesterday because the shutter speed wasn't high enough for the subject motion. Needed 1/320 for the reciprocal rule, but was getting 1/50th in aperture priority (ISO 1600). A useable 6400 would have come in handy.

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PB PM
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2011-02-23, 03:53

Honestly skip the 17-55mm f2.8, or any more DX glass if you are thinking of going FX in the next year or two. It's not worth it because you wont recover the cost. The D7000 is maybe a stop better than the D300, not two. I know the D3100 is half a stop better than the D300, and the D7000 isn't more than half a stop better than the D3100. If you want two stops better, go FX.

As for the 24-70mm f2.8, I have mixed feelings about that lens. I have done some test shooting with one on a D700 in a camera shop, and I'm just not sure about the range, not really wide enough on FX, and not long enough either. That being said, I loved the feel of the lens itself, the zoom and the focus ring are amazing to use compared to anything else I've shot with. If they weren't $1600+ I would likely go for one, but that is a big price tag for a focal range I just don't use often enough.

As for VR, it can be very useful, for still subjects. I've taken shoots at ISO3200 on my D3100 with the 18-55mm VR (which I actually really like) at 1/15 and got some great images as a result. Without VR I would not have been able to take those shots, since I had no tripod.
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Matsu
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2011-02-23, 06:33

I think between the lens and the body, it's two stops: I swear Nikon's glass looks about 1/3 stop brighter, tons more neutral, and much sharper wide open, that's worth about a stop in how you actually use it, and the files you get from it. But, you're right. I don't see another DX primary camera in the future. I'd go for a cheap DX secondary though. Something for the 70-200 to live on. Maybe that's the D300 I already have, though I might sell it, with the lens to offset an FX rig this year.

March approaches, but maybe we don't see a thing until August. I read something recently (forget which mag) that the move of PMA to the fall was a big win for manufacturers. (that's Canon and Nikon as far as the industry is concerned, and maybe Sony). Might mean they all let it be known that they'd all have more interesting wares in the fall...

I want my FX!!!

Get my press credentials in a couple of weeks

Need to find a bag. I'm thinking either a back-pack or a sling. I'm using this leatherette 90's era camcorder bag. It's a domke-esque shape, but smaller. It doesn't fit the 70-200, so I carry that in it's lens case on a shoulder strap. Bad arrangement. It interferes with shooting too much. A sling pack over the left shoulder seems to make more sense, I wonder if most of them are Lefty, Righty, or ambidexterous...

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Last edited by Matsu : 2011-02-23 at 06:46.
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PB PM
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2011-02-23, 13:43

Most of the bags under $100 are designed for easy access for right handed people, but I think some of the higher end slings are switchable. I use a backpack (Lowepro Flipside 300), but it isn't the greatest for switching lenses on the fly, but with the waist belt on you can swing the bag right in front of you and pull your gear out (since the opening is on the back).

As for the next gen FX, I don't see it coming before August because the rumors are still too light in numbers with no solid tips on what is coming.
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GSpotter
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2011-02-24, 11:29

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
I know some people say it is big and bulky, but I don't notice any practical difference between it and the D300 in that sense. It's strange to think that this combo is actually slightly bigger than the D3s!
Congrats on the new camera. After having mine for a 3/4 year now, I'm still very happy with my decision and I thin this camera will be good enough for me for quite some time... There are enough interesting lenses to spend the money ...

With the 50/1.8 it looks almoust compact , wait til you mount the 16-35mm. It's a well balanced combo, but not directly unobtrusive...

My photos @ flickr
The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. -- Benjamin Franklin
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GSpotter
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2011-02-24, 11:56

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
A comfortable wrist strap is a nice thing to have! I currently have a cheap Sunpack one that is okay for my D3100, but I haven't found anything that works well with the D700, partly because I like to use the battery grip so often, which makes using wrist straps a bit of a pain because you have to take them off all the time.
I use a Herringbone hand strap which I mounted upside down. This way, removing the strap from the plate is a bit less cumbersome (a few loops less) when I exchange the batterypack and the herringbone camera plate with the and L-bracket mounted directly to the cam.

crappy phonecam picture:

My photos @ flickr
The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. -- Benjamin Franklin
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GSpotter
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2011-02-24, 12:08

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matsu View Post
Try out some manual focusing through the D700 viewfinder. How diffcult?
I think it is quite manageable, although I normaly use the focus scale, not the screen for focus confirmation. I use it with my old 400/3.5 AIS which has (naturally) a great manual focus ring.

My photos @ flickr
The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. -- Benjamin Franklin
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PB PM
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2011-02-24, 13:42

Quote:
Originally Posted by GSpotter View Post
Congrats on the new camera. After having mine for a 3/4 year now, I'm still very happy with my decision and I thin this camera will be good enough for me for quite some time... There are enough interesting lenses to spend the money ...

With the 50/1.8 it looks almoust compact , wait til you mount the 16-35mm. It's a well balanced combo, but not directly unobtrusive...
I agree, I think the D700 will last me for at least a two or three years, the performance is just that good compared to any DX body I've used. I'm sure the D700 replacement will be great, but as I noted in the post where I gave reasons for buying the D700, price was the big selling point.

As for lenses, I am very conflicted. I love the compactness of prime lenses, but I also want the range of the 16-35mm. My AF-S 300mm F4 feels great on the D700 + grip, and the 16-35mm is lighter, so I'm sure it will be fine! My trouble with lenses right now is that I have a huge gap between 50mm and 300mm! I might go primes this year and add the 16-35mm later, just because I might want to snag a 85mm f1.4D before they disappear. Either that or a 24mm f2.8d and 85mm F1.8D, although from the reviews I've seen the 85mm f1.8d might not be right for me. Then again I want to replace my 85mm micro with the 105mm VR... oh wow is the life of a new fx shooter!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GSpotter View Post
I use a Herringbone hand strap which I mounted upside down. This way, removing the strap from the plate is a bit less cumbersome (a few loops less) when I exchange the batterypack and the herringbone camera plate with the and L-bracket mounted directly to the cam.

crappy phonecam picture:
Looks interesting, and could work. What I would like is a hand strap that uses the concept of quick releases like some of the higher end neck straps.
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GSpotter
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2011-02-24, 15:10

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
My AF-S 300mm F4 feels great on the D700 + grip, and the 16-35mm is lighter, so I'm sure it will be fine!
I really like it. I sometimes use it as a walkaround lens when I anticipate more wide shots than close-ups.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
My trouble with lenses right now is that I have a huge gap between 50mm and 300mm!
I love my 70-200/2.8. It's probably my most used lens by now. Not exactly light and small, but feels great and delivers quality results.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
...I might want to snag a 85mm f1.4D before they disappear.
I can fully understand that. When I first had a 85/1.4 on my camera (I tried one on a local Nikon user group meeting on first DSLR, a D70), I fell in love and swore that one day I will have one, too. A few years later, I found a good price on a gray market lens where I couldn't resist anymore. BTW: On the herringbone picture, the attached lens is the 85/1.4D...

My photos @ flickr
The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. -- Benjamin Franklin
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PB PM
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2011-02-24, 15:42

Yeah, the 70-200mm VR would be a delight to use, but I've budgeted around $3000 for camera gear this year, and $1900 went to the D700 so that isn't going to happen. I'm thinking of renting a 70-200mm for my sisters wedding (thankfully I'm not doing the pics, they have a pro), just to see what it can do.

If I went for the 85mm f1.4D that would finish of my budget, since used copies are selling for only $100-150 less than new I don't see much point in going that route.

The real conflict in my choice comes from the fact that I'm working on a new small business idea and I want my lens purchase(s) to fit that before my desire to have anything else for hobby use. Of course if the business pans out I could be buying new gear sooner rather than later. I almost think the 24-70mm F2.8G would be best for work, but as I noted higher up on the page, that focal range isn't something I've used a lot of in the past.
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Matsu
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2011-02-25, 19:31

Hey GSpotter, are you using the VR1 or VR2 version of the lens? And on which body? I get a sense that the VR1 will be good up to about a 1.25X crop on FF, before the corners go all mushy, though not in 3:2 ratio. That's not bad for my intended use (not landscapes) I'm hoping that with a new FF body, I can extract a 16-20MP 5:4 crop from the centre, which is enough most of the time. Your experiences? On the DPR test chart, it looks almost there. The long (top and bottom) edges of the frame look fine, so a 4:4 square crop looks decent by the test numbers. That would be 24x24 across the frame. 5:4 would be a 30x24 crop, the corners look fine up to about 28x24, so pretty close...

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Chinney
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2011-02-25, 19:50

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
Yeah, the 70-200mm VR would be a delight to use, but I've budgeted around $3000 for camera gear this year, and $1900 went to the D700 so that isn't going to happen. I'm thinking of renting a 70-200mm for my sisters wedding (thankfully I'm not doing the pics, they have a pro), just to see what it can do.

If I went for the 85mm f1.4D that would finish of my budget, since used copies are selling for only $100-150 less than new I don't see much point in going that route.

The real conflict in my choice comes from the fact that I'm working on a new small business idea and I want my lens purchase(s) to fit that before my desire to have anything else for hobby use. Of course if the business pans out I could be buying new gear sooner rather than later. I almost think the 24-70mm F2.8G would be best for work, but as I noted higher up on the page, that focal range isn't something I've used a lot of in the past.
Are your new small business plans related to photography? You don't have to spill the details, but just a general idea, if you want.
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PB PM
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2011-02-25, 21:25

Photography would be part of the business.
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Chinney
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2011-02-26, 13:50

Cool. Let us know how it goes.
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PB PM
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2011-02-26, 14:48

Will do. The business will be aimed at providing small business with photos for their websites and other marketing material. I already have a few connections, so I'm hoping that things will work out, even as a side job to my current one.
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GSpotter
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2011-02-27, 10:38

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matsu View Post
Hey GSpotter, are you using the VR1 or VR2 version of the lens? And on which body?
I use a VR1 on a D700. For my type of shooting, I rarely care about the corners with this lens: When I shoot wide open with this lens, then normally I care about (more or less) the center where's my subject - typically an animal head. The corners are typically outside the sharp zone anyway, so any blur doesn't matter. My only gripe with the lens: At longer distances and 200mm, the lens seems to be less sharp than on shorter distances...

My photos @ flickr
The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. -- Benjamin Franklin
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Matsu
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2011-02-27, 13:26

Yeah, I have a feeling I may be keeping this one for long time. On DX it's simply the best 70-200 out there, but like you, even on FX, I don't think either corner sharpness or vignetting are going to offend for my uses - people shots. Though I've never tested it on FF or with a TC, a few tests show it actually performs better with a TC than the new ones do, even on FX, which makes sense since adding a TC is a bit like cropping the centre of the image circle and magnifying it.

I had a crazy thought to sell my D300 right now and get the cheapest Nikon going, the D3100. Operationally, it loses a fair bit, but has a much improved sensor and it's small and light, and if/when I get an FX cam, it could just live on the 70-200, where only the centre group of focus points are needed.

Any chance I could find a D3100 for under 500 in the wild? If anyone wants to unload a well cared for, used one, I have $400 for you.

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