I am a gearhead, I admit it. I am also a photographer and I want the proper equipment to work with, good cameras and lenses that can do the task at hand.
Photography skills and talent are imperative to making great photos. But quality gear is required too. Do not accept the comments such as 'Photographers make the image, not the equipment' - you need good lenses and cameras to make good photos!
-Nikon gear is all I use. People ask me about Nikon-
Often people ask me about Nikon lenses, bodies and other accessories. Once they ask, they often seek me out for more information. I have over 36 years experience with Nikon and I can often offer sound advice. I decided to make a page regarding my experience with Nikon. I love Nikon, recommend it, but admit some of Nikon's gear simply can't make the grade. Read on-and return often, this is a work in progress.
Camera Bodies, I have removed info on older camera bodies, and list only newer equipment.
* equals gear I presently own
*F5, Nikon's very best film camera ever! Hell, it's the best camera on the planet, period! 100% professional, 6 fps speed right out of the box, mirror lockup, interchangeable viewfinders and screens, double or multiple exposure, full metal frame construction, sealed from dust and rain, sweet sounding motor whirl-this Nikon has it all. Get one if you shoot film, then don't allow anyone to tell you it is 'over kill or to heavy' cause you will be using the best money can buy. The F5 will focus any Nikon lens (exclude G lenses), auto or manual focus. It employs Cam 1300 focus.
All D1's, D2's and the D3's are made from the F100 body, but includes several of the F5's perks (more metal in the construction and sealed from dust and rain are the important F5 perk's). They all look nearly alike, but differ greatly in performance.
D2X, I can say it's the same body style as the D2H but has new guts, most important is the CMOS 12.+ MP image sensor. Build quality of this body is second to none, awesome camera. 11 focus sensors and CAM 2000 focusing, it will focus instantly and lock on solid to track focus. This is the only digital I will now use. This camera shows digital noise at ISO 400 and above <-- my only complaint about this camera. 10-4-06, recommended: Update firmware to 2.0
D300 - I like it! Very solid feel, gorgeous images with brilliant color and dead on contrast. I call it the best digital image maker in Nikons DX line, I am happy to own it. I grabbed the optional MB-D10 battery grip and consider it a must have.
Like: Very clean high ISO images up to 1600 and beyond, 12.3 megipexel, RAW files in 12 or 14 bit, 6 photos a second advance, large 3 inch monitor to chimp photos and read menu, awesome add-on motor grip MB-D10 which fits solid and offers 3 battery options, plus increases the speed to 8 pics a second (but cost is $259), and 2 thumbs up to Nikon for this awesome sweet sounding shutter. My D2X shutter sounds like a thrashing machine.
Dislike: wimpy file card door open lever, small viewfinder which lacks needed information, poor placement of iso, qty and wb buttons, slower focusing of AF-D lenses (but Nikon claims an updated CAM3500DX, proof positive of Nikons move to AF-S lenses).
D7000 - I bought this on a deal with the perfect matching 18/140 lens (surprising lens, wonderful consumer grade). I really like this camera. This is now my favorite DX body. Fast AF, 39 points of focus, 16.2MP Sony CMOS, command and sub command rollers dials, dual SD memory slots, easy navigate rear monitor display (big improvement over the 3100, 3200, 5100, 5200) wonderful high iso 6400 images, fires 5 frames a second, Exceed II processor. Very nice video too. Sold the D3200 after I used this camera. Cons: None, this is a lot of camera for the price.
D7100, I have had this camera a couple a month, used it twice for about 500 frames and set it aside. I like and now use FX full time, have for so long I no longer want the DX format cameras. That said, this is the flag-ship of the DX like of Nikon digital cameras. Those that use it will be using an awesome 24MPG camera which will flame 6 frames a second and track focus while saving with the Exceed 3 processing.
D700 is a great full frame FX body, best bang for the buck Nikon has offered us. It's very much like the D300, so there is no learning curve for the D300 users. Much improved film card access door, larger viewfinder, faster shutter response, improved auto focus speed and wide wide photos with the FX format. Build is very strong, well sealed for dust and misty rain, too. Out of the camera images are very clean, color is robust and contrast is smack on - you will not need to post process much with the D700. The camera handles very high ISO like a night vision machine, use 2500ISO and see NO noise, use 6400 and shoot action in the local gym! A new command is the INFO button, showing all currect setting and lots more on the big bright rear monitor. Strongly recommended, get this camera -
Cons: I did notice that using the 70-200 f2.8 VR, the lens vignettes at 2.8 with this camera, but is clean at f3.5 and on. Viewfinder is large and bright, but still lacking needed information (such as White Balance and Quality settings), and shows only 95% of the image area (what the hell? not good). Last comment - this camera has made me a committed FX junkie.
D3 is the top of the line FX camera. Top notch pro body offers superior handling, fast fast responce, sweet sounding shutter, up to 11 frames a second (DX mode, FX is 9 FPS), easy pre WB setting, and much more. It will accept any Nikon lens ever made. This is a night vision camera, making clean photos to ISO 6400, and useable to 24,000. Big viewfinder!, loads of information within the viewfinder. Fast access WB, ISO and Quality setting on the back of the body, making the needed changes fast. Built like a tank, sealed for use in pouring rain or stinging dust storm, it's ready for the worst of weather conditions. It has 2 CF card slots, you can record RAW on one and Jpeg on the other, or use the 2nd as overflow when the first is full. This is now my camera of choice. There is no cons with this camera, it's that good. D3s is available too, adding video.
D800 is a massive up-click in the Nikon body line. I got it in mid-June and have been shooing it since. Amazing image quality, amazing sharpness and clarity. Stats: Jaw dropping effective 36.4MP (36.8 total) FX-format CMOS sensor, Twin slot - SDHC and CF storage, 12 or 14 bit RAW-NEF file (equates to 85 photos on an 8 gig card), 100% viewfinder, 1/8000th to 30 second shutter plus bulb, flash to 1/250th second, ISO 25 to 25,600iso (standard 100 to 6400 iso), built in toy flash, 4 frames a second to 100 frames, Image sensor cleaning, 100% FX viewfinder coverage,Quiet Shutter Release mode, 1080DPI Video, GPS, Wi-Fi and the list goes on and on. Very strong titanium metal, sealed water tight body! I use mine with the very over priced MB-D12 battery grip.
Pros: Everything, WOW what a camera!
Cons: 4 frames a second, in todayís world is rather slow. You will need a lot of computer to handle the massive file; top notch processing speed and massive storage required. Poor video: the focus and zoom of the lens is amplified and can be heard on playback of video. Focus is slow when recording video, very slow. D3200 is a better way to video, best to buy a video camera!
8-18-12 UPDATE: My appreciation for this camera continues to grow. This is the best digital SLR I have ever owned.
5-21-14 update: I bought and have used the D800 since it came out, ordered right away. My niggle regarding the D800 is the clunky sounding shutter, as with all Nikon pro D's it sucks. My D610 is quiet, the D800 can be heard 75 miles away (well, not really but it's clunky sounding).
Another update: See the review for my D810. A glorified D800 with an awesome shutter! WOW, love the D810. Review will revel better white balance, high ISO and sweet, quiet shutter (best ever on Nikon)
*D810 -another update camera from the D800 (love mine!) and D800E. It's 36.4MP (36.8 total) FX-format CMOS sensor with Exceed 4 processing, no anti-aliasing sensor filter, twice the buffer as the other D800's, better than ever weather sealing, top notch professional Nikon. 5 frames a second into a massive buffer allowing continues shooting of 25 RAW 14-bit frames (fully clearing in 10 seconds) or 100 fine jpeg photos, expanded 64-12,800 iso-expandable 32 to 52,200. 51 points focusing, group-area focusing added, 1/8000th to 30 seconds, plus bulb shutter speed and the quietest, sweetest shutter sound I have ever heard. Every camera should have this shutter box, so so smooth! Full HD 1920x1080/60 fps video, USB 3 interface, stereo microphone (very clean sound recording), save video to card and simultaneously view on monitor via HDMI. New info button (consider it a quick guide), much more. Just an awesome camera with that quiet shutter!
Pros: Amazing accurate white balance, awesome quiet shutter, thrilling hi-iso performance, wow dynamic range. Another BEST camera by Nikon, so happy I grabbed this camera.
Cons: only 5 frames a second. 5 is fine with me, I'm not into fast sports shooting, but do consider if you want to flame.
UPDATE: June 1, 2015, year into loving the camera - I still consider the D810 as the best Nikon Digital I have ever owned. I presently own two bodies, have no plans to upgrade. Amazing camera.
See this: http://www.pbase.com/flatlandphoto/d810
D610 FX body, upgrade (very slightly) of the D600. This is very similar to the D7100 with the same control and button layout, but uses the FX sensor. 24.4mp CMOS sensor, 6 frames a second, small but solid weather sealed camera body (solid magnesium alloy) made in Thailand.
Pros: Exceptional high ISO images, best ever auto white balance, awesome dynamic range makes the 610 a solid entry level camera into the FX world. Great buy with 24/85 G lens at $2300, body alone is $1999. I call the D610 the best value ever from the mother ship, great camera for a darn good price to enter into FX photography.
Cons: Small viewfinder AF area, focus points are placed in a small central area,<--I really dislike this (like D7000), full of information but in a small way. See this link for two galleries made with my D610: http://www.pbase.com/flatlandphoto/chill_2014
*D500-I went back to a DX body. Glad as hell I did. This camera is all it's claimed to be, then more. Just fantastic, reasonable priced for a very solid, top of the tall heap DX camera. Stinging fast 10 frames a second, 200+ buffer (14bit files), full image round viewfinder, 24MP sensor, native 100~52,600 ISO (expendable - and + 2X) and on and on. Just a wow wow camera. I bought the MB-D17 grip, solid attachment and a must have, but stings strongly at over priced of $400.
Lens Nomenclature: AF couples with a screw drive in the body, and the body focuses the lens. AF-D came along in 1995 and will allow distance metering when used with cameras having matrix metering. AF-I (1992), AF-S (1998), AF-SII (2004) and newer lenses focus with a built in motor, fast and quiet focusing electronically controlled by the camera body. AF-G lenses do not have the manual aperture control ring, aperture is controlled through electronics from the body. AF-VR is vibration-controlled lenses, allowing hand held use with slower shutter speeds. VR works best on motionless subjects, as movement of the subject at slow shutter speeds causes a blurred subject. Early AF lenses had small metal focus rings. In 1991 a cosmetic change made the focus ring wider and rubber covered, these lenses are often referred to as 'N' lenses, but Nikon has never actually recognized that name.
Lenses, short factual comments! If I comment, I have used it, no BS here. * indicates I presently own the lens.
Lenses with this: * indicates I presently own the lens.
12/24 F4 AF-S DX. This is a true wide angle lens on your digital body (not for the D3 however). The photos are sharp at all f stops, nice contrast and color - bottom line this lens delivers stunning photos. The AF-S focus speed is instant, and focus is very quiet. The zoom and focus rings are reversed having the zoom out front, and I dislike this odd design as it differs from my other lenses. Comes with a tiny hood, but it's basically worthless for blocking the sun as it's shallow. But overall I am satisfied, recommended to those needing a wide zoom.
*14/24 f2.8 AF-S NanoCrystalCoated lens is a real WOW lens. After many bragged and pitched this lens at me, I sold the 17-55 f2.8 af-s and 85 f1.4 to fund this costly wide angle, and I am glad I did it. The FX lens is the best wide angle I have ever used! It's a stocky fellow, heavy and fat - with a built in hood. The front lens element bulges out, making it susceptible to dust and a little hard to clean. The photos are just amazing: no distortion to complain about, no color fringing at any f stop and sharp sharp images. I like it so much, I want to get up at night and give it a hug. However, the plastic slip-on lens cap totally sucks on this lens. See this sample photo: http://www.pbase.com/flatlandphoto/image/102326561 and this http://www.pbase.com/flatlandphoto/image/102323313
*16/35 f4 AF-S VRII, I owned two of these FX lenses, sold one. Bought 2 to choose the best, but both were identical, perfect! Very high quality zoom, mine shows no distortion or CA. Very sharp at any f stop. Solid build construction, strong and hefty (not heavy) with a standard 77mm filter size. I recommend this lens! Great zoom range too. Great quality, well worth the grand it demands.
Sample snaps: http://www.pbase.com/flatlandphoto/1635zoom
16/85 f3.5~5.6 is very costly for a consumer lens, loaned to me for a look-see. Color and contrast are good, but the lens has serious vignetting, especially at the wide end. Distortion is evident, curvature at wide and pincushion at 85mm. Decent build quality, but a costly walk around lens. I am passing. In my opinion the 18-70 kit lens is as good.
17/35 f2.8 AF-S Great lens, It's One of the best medium wide zoom I have ever used and built like a tank (looks like the 28-70 AF-S F2.8, but shorter). I'm proud to own it. This is my second, the first was not as good. As these lenses age many have developed a squeek or scrap in the focus requiring a costly repair.
17/55 f2.8 AF-S 'DX' lens. Shooters, I really-really LOVE this lens. I am amazed at the image quality, color and contrast. Even scenics at f2.8 are the best I have ever seen from a Nikon zoom lens. Lenses don't usually do well for scenics when used wide open (and they don't need to as no one would do a natural view fully open). By f4 this lens is simply amazing. Physically I like the size, the hood is great, the balance of lens on camera is perfect. But I dislike the small zoom ring, it's a little narrow. Get this lens if you are serious about making the best images possible with your Nikon camera. Not useable on full frame (film or D3) cameras. And did I mention, I really like this lens!
18/35 f3.5~4.5 is a plastic toy. In a word, don't. If you do, stop down to f11 to see useable images. I had and hated this lens, but it sells for a hunk of change so some must like it.
18/140 AF-S VR, EF IF DX lens. Got this in a kit with the D7000. Awesome! Extremely surprised about this lens. Very sharp, seriously. Some vignette at full open aperture, but controlled by 2/3rd stop down. I see no CA, even wide open. My sample is sharp at all f stops and any zoom setting. I like the looks of this lens, the zoom is firm and solid, matches perfect to a DX body. It is 'as if' 28-210 lens on FX body. Great lens on a DX body, 2 thumbs up to Nikon on this lens. Con: No supplied lens hood, so buy HB-32. $600 for out right purchase, yikes.
18/200 F3.5~5.6 AF-S VRII, new and improved VR on this lens? Images are very soft (not sharp), had color fringing (bleeding) that was awful and the build quality stinks. It gets longer as you zoom, is light weight from the plastic lens elements and plastic barrel and the zoom ring is in front of the focus ring (most Nikons are the other way, this is hard to get used to). Covers a wide range, but is a clunker. Grade it a D- on my score card, I am serious. I simply can't believe people are wild about this toy and pay more then the over priced list price. I tried 2 lenses, both stunk.
18/55 AF-S DX Super cheap lens, so cheap it has a plastic lens mount. Nikon made a $125 zoom lens, tosses it in with the D50 and D70 kits. Light and tiny, but focus is very fast and sure.
18/70 f3.5~4.5 AF-S lens, I like it! Nice handy little DX lens, makes great images and focus is very fast. Often packed as a kit lens, but it's a dandy that can be found cheap. I keep this lens on my D70S Infrared camera.
20/35 f2.8 AF-D Great lens, I love it and you will too. Uses 77mm filters, solid professional lens. Discontinued in '99
*24/70 f2.8 AF-S G is the lens with the NanoCrystalCoating. Because of the focal range, I compared it to my 28-70 f2.8 AF-S. This lens is smaller and a bit lighter, balances on the camera better. At f2.8 and 3.2 it makes slightly better (sharper) images. But by f4 I can see no difference. I like the improved hood, the large zoom ring and the overall updated feel of this lens. Plus it's a 24mm, slightly wider view. (I think the difference between 24 and 28 is basically a step backwards and of slight importance.) Also, I compared this at 24mm zoom setting to my prime 24mm f2.8: This zoom lens is better then the prime! Still, if you have 'The Beast' 28-70 f2.8 AF-S you may not want to spend the cash for this lens. This is now my 'go to' lens, always on a body. Very pleased with this awesome lens, it has now replaced the 28-70. Sample gallery here: http://www.pbase.com/flatlandphoto/snowpics
24/85 f3.5~4.5 AF-S VR G, Very nice! Feels solid, but mostly plastic build. Sharp (razor sharp) images, useful zoom range lens for DX and FX body. Internal focus. Mine shows no CA and very slight edge vignetting falloff, even shot wide open. China made. Used as a kit lens in the D600 and better bodies. I solidly recommend this lens, very pleased I own it. Not as useful, but every bit as sharp as the 24/120 f4 G.
24/120 f3.5~5.6 AF-D, some are Japan others are China. Japan is a better poor quality lens. Wonderful zoom range, would be a dandy carry around lens. Update!: After 3 tries I found one that I like and I am very pleased. Some are better then others and I finally got a keeper. Excellent color, tight contrast and very sharp images. Oddly, the zoom is backwards twist to Nikon professional lenses.
24/120 f3.5~5.6 AF-S VR - some are better then others. I was not happy with this the one I owned, but I am very particular with my lenses. Color fringing was serious problem.
*24/120 F4 AF-S VR2 Nano coated lens. Maybe I got lucky, but this is an awesome lens (I have read negative comments). Wonderful color, solid contrast and very sharp images! Decent bok, excellent at 120mm. Good build quality (has a nice hefty feel), constant f4 thru the full focal range, firm zoom twist. Cons: The zoom ring is in fornt of the back placed manual focus ring, lens grows as you zoom and it's made in Thailand. But, I did mention how I like this lens, see Rebecca here and click next a few times for more samples: http://www.pbase.com/flatlandphoto/image/132000619
25/50 f3.5~4.5 Some lenses I question why Nikon bothered to add to their line. This is one. The lens is really sharp, well made. But the focal range is my question.
28/70 F2.8 AF-S Fantastic lens, one of the best zooms in the Nikkor line. Mine has a home forever. I have made thousands of images with it. I take this lens everywhere I go with a camera. This was my favorite lens before I got the 24/70 F2.8 AF-S.
28/85 f3.5~4.5 AF is a great lens, well made and fast to focus. Look for the newer N version.
28-105 f3.4~4.5 AF-D is an darn good lens. Has decent macro too. It has an expanding and turning barrel as you zoom. Nice focal range and physical size for a walk around lens, plus it's great for the price. Buy it used for $150 to 175, no longer in production.
28/200 F3.5~5.6 AF-D is a surprise. Cause it is a damn good lens, making very nice images. Zoom ring turns backwards to most Nikons, likely meaning it's a buy out and not made by Nikon.
*28/300 f3.5~5.6G AF-S VR, the do it all lens. 28 wide to 300 telephoto while floating the f-stop range from 3.5 to 5.6. Reasonably compact for the focal range, and balances well in hand and on the job working. Pros: Useful long focal range, very sharp images, high contrast and brilliant color! Seriously, a very nice lens (I have used 3 and own 2, all equal.) Cons: doubles in length as you zoom. Personal con is the floating f range. Wrap-up: I will use this lens at rallies, parades and such. It's a good lens, and very useful regarding it's focal coverage.
35/70 F2.8 AF-D is OK, considered by many as better then just OK. I don't like the push-pull zoom action.
35/70 F3.3~4.5 AF is cheap, solid and makes great images. Snap one up if you have a little room in your gadget bag.
35/135 F3.5~4.5 is a push-pull zoom. Solid lens, offered in original AF and N, but not in D series.
55/200 f4~5.6 is a light weight plastic lens, small toy like body. It's a real bow-wow dog construction wise. This lens is sold in gold box, plus it's packaged in several kits. Photo wise, it's good! SHARP photos, no vignetting and no CA at any focal or f stop. Nice bok too for your portrait work. If you can ignore the toy like build, it's a good lens for you. Samples in my cheap lens gallery: http://www.pbase.com/flatlandphoto/55200lens
70/210 F4~5.6 AF-D is a sleeper. Well made and solid performer, pudh-pull zoom function. Used about $125 on eBay.
70/300 F4~5.6 AF-D EDIF is a light weight lens of plastic construction, but has metal mount. Focus is slow but it makes real nice images, and is inexpensive.
*70/300 AF~G lens is, in a word, junk. Don't. I own it (gift) but will NEVER use it.
*70/300 F4.5~5.6 AF-G VR, yet another lens in this focal range. The lens is faster focus (and quiet), VR works well. I owned 3 and finally got a good one. The images are very sharp through the zoom range, very slight to no vignetting. Nikon has these totally plastic China lenses down pat, this is good lens. I do not like the forward placed zoom ring, but the zoom ring is long and easy to grab a hand full of. I use this as a knock around lens (carry it on the Harley saddlebag) and recommend it, good value lens.
80/200 F2.8 EDIF AF and AF-D Nikon has 3 versions of this lens (I have owned all 3 but own none at this time) and all are fantastic, 100% professional lenses. I recommend the 2 ring lens which has a solid tripod foot and twist ring zoom.
80/200 F2.8 AF~S Great lens, considerable better than the other Nikkors in the same focal. Fast focus and sharp! I sold mine whan I bought the VR version.
70/200 F2.8 AF~S-VR is fantastic. You need this lens! I like mine more every time I use it. Highest recommendation, best telephoto zoom I have ever owned. 12-2-09 update, this lens has been updated. See next listing.
*70-200 f2.8 AF-S VRII is here and I'm enjoying it. Awesome sharpness, wow color and contrast. Photos are 'ready' right out of the camera, it's that good. Slightly fatter and shorter then the version 1, silent fast AF-S focusing and very near silent VRII. The hood is lighter and slightly shorter and feels cheap, but it's not and I have concluded itís a great improvement. Con- focusing close (out to 15 feet or so) will widen the field of view; for example focusing at 4.5 foot you are using a 60-165mm lens, not a 70/200.
*70/200 f4 AF-S VR lens, a real keeper. This is a wonderful lens. Lighter then the 2.8 and not as bomb proof construction as the 2.8, but the images are 100% as good, and may be better when shot wide open (The 2.8 vignettes this lens does not). Amazing sharpness, color, contrast with this lens. It shows very little vignetting wide open, and no color fringing (CA) when used wide open. Shocking surprise!, even though I had read this I was not expecting the image quality.
Pros: Great great lens. 67mm filter size, light enough to never hurt your camera mount. Get this lens, actually pass on the 2.8 and just buy this lens.
CONS: crap plastic hood, optional tripod mount is 160 dollars (why so much?? You don't need it for most use, but if you want it you will scream at the price), somewhat light construction for a $1300 lens. But bottom line is, get this lens. I'll keep mine forever, and forever is a long time.
See this wide open f4 photo: http://www.pbase.com/flatlandphoto/image/158383988 and this, 90 feet distance, f4.5 http://www.pbase.com/flatlandphoto/image/158391740
80/400 F4~5.6 AF/VR lens is not the quality I like. The tripod mount is a shameful piece of junk and the focus is painfully slow. Sold mine promptly.
200/400 F4 AF~S VR - Sharpness, contrast, focus speed is better then most zoom Nikkors. Has a solid professional feel to it too. Nikon cut no corners with this lens. This lens is now back in use, I had not use it for several years. I am excited with it. Massive range and lightning fast focus. It is killer with the TC14EII and near as killer with the TC17, but it will slow on follow focus with the TC17. See this: http://www.pbase.com/flatlandphoto/geese14
*200-500 f5.6 AF-S VRII Nano. Holy lenses! This lens is the best value I have ever bought, $1395 for this awesome, simply jaw dropping lens. I can't express enough how shocking good this lens is! Instant focus and drop dead sharpness and colorful contrast. Absolutely my highest-strongest recommendation. Seriously, this lens is better than you have heard and read, it's amazing. I dumped the 200-400-
10.5 F2.8 AF-D fisheye lens. This is a fun lens, allowing a very very wide 180* photo. You can photo your feet and everything forward. It sees much wider then your eye vision. Great image sharpness, color and superb contrast, even when used wide open at 2.8. see this: http://www.pbase.com/flatlandphoto/image/93852288 - No light vignetting and handles direct sun well. And this: http://www.pbase.com/flatlandphoto/gallery/10_point_5 Most shooters don't need this lens, but it's solidly recommended to those considering it. Loads of fun.
14mm f2.8 AF-D ED - Solid top professional quality made lens. Mine needs f6.3 to control nasty vignetting, and f7.1 is better. Makes useable wide-wide images once you stop it down a bunch. Overall, I am not satisfied with this costly lens and I am very disappointed with it. Consider the 14-24 f2.8 AF-S lens, cost much more but will deliver the photos, at any f stop.
16mm f2.8 AF-D, Nikon's FX fisheye lens. Wonderful lens, sharp and contrasty at all stops, handles flare very well. This is a wonderful lens, 180* fisheye at it's best. Recommended.
20mm F2.8 AF-D. Buy this if you can't afford the 20/35 zoom.
24mm F2.8 is sharper then the 20, in my opinion.
35mm F2 works as a normal on the D-SLR's. My sample works best stopped to f3.5 and beyond, soft fully open.
*50 f1.8 or 1.4 AF-D. Must have lens, don't forget the normal lens. The 1.4 is better then you have heard, Recommended!
*50 f1.4 AF-S G lens. This AF-S lens focuses about the same speed as the AF-D, AF-S usually foicuses much faster. Clean, sharp images on all my bodies. However I like the 1.4 AF-D better and don't consider this lens anything special. I am using primes more now then in the past.
*85 f1.4 AF-D is much better made then the 1.8. This is a real professional lens, with on lens A-M switch ring and heavy all metal build. f1.4 offers awesome vision in any light, especally low light. This lens will need f4 to be at it's very best, but is acceptable 2.8 and onward. This is a portrait lens by design, but is usful for general use too. I prefer the 'little brother' 85 f1.8D lens to this 1.4. Fact is, I dislike this lens. It's a 1.4 which requires 2.8 to make good photos, but why?. At 1.4 the lens has very very nasty C A, (color fringing). After 4 different lenses, I totally give up on this lens. The end. Those that love it, show me a clean photo at 1.4
85 f1.8 AF-D is a great lens, but lacks the internal focusing, manual/auto selector switch and overall build quality of the 85mm f1.4. But half the cost and will make photos that rivels the more costly 1.4 version. I really like this lens, and use it for portrait work.
*85 f1.8 AF-S is a wonderful lens. Very sharp focus, very quiet focus. About the same focus speed as the AF-D versions, slightly slow consider it's an internal motor lens. Vignette is apparent until f2.8, but can be controlled in editing. It has nasty color bleeding (ca) until f2.8. But it is really really sharp! I like this lens, very much. I try to accept the CA. $495 and worth it, I snagged this at $396 after $100 instant rebate 2-27-14.
105mm 2.8 AF-D Micro. Get this lens next, if you don't already have it (or better yet, get the newer version AF-S VR). Great lens for macro, as 1 to 1 is a nice working distance for the subject. Bonus: this lens is second to none in the studio for portraits! Hell if I know how Nikon made a f2.8, 105mm lens that uses a 52mm filter.
*105 f2.8 AF-S VR Macro, NanoCrystalCoating. As expected this lens makes sharp-sharp images (superior portrait lens!). And you get the bonus of AF-S for fast focus & VRII for your 1 to 1 micro images. My first sample lens did show color fringing (I call it bleeding) at f2.8, but is totally clear by f3.5 or f4. 100% recommended, but it does cost $300 more then the 2.8D lens. The lens is robust made, solid Nikon quality, uses 62mm filter and has a damn good, well designed hood. Notice: I sold off the original and replaced with another sample. This lens is simply better then the first. Image quality is superior at all f stops, wide open f2.8 is as sharp and color fringe clean as f 11. Truely an amazing lens.
105 f2, AF-D DC, defocus control lens. Well made, serious portrait lens. Perfect for portraits as you can control out of focus in front or behind subject, but will make a very useful short tele lens too. And it is an f2, fast and bright for the 105mm reach. I plan to keep mine.
*135 f2, AF-D DC, defocus lens. As the 105 above, the lens is well made, top quslity optical and solid metal body. I have owned the 135 DC 3 times over a dozen years. The current and first are darn near perfect. The second had nasty CA, purple fringing until f5.6. I consider the DC useful but it does take the edge off the sharpness, best sharpness is to shoot open and forget the DC settings. Since the current has no vegnetting or CA, plus it's awesome sharp I will keep it. Really good copies are a hit and miss deal with this lens.
*180 F2.8 ED-IF is acclaimed and appreciated. There's 3 versions of this lens and each version had cosmetic updates. Interesting detailed reading about this lens here: http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/companies/nikon/nikkoresources/AFNikkor/AF180mm/index.htm I own the latest version, D lens. The lens makes awesome sharp images and the color/contrast can't be better. The lens, in my opinion, is served best on the FX or 35mm film bodies. It's an dandy general use telephoto lens, but is 2nd to none as a portrait lens on full frame format body. FX shooters, seriously consider this lens, it's a value. Highest recommendation.
200mm f4 AF-D Micro. I owned and like this lens, but I like the 105 much better. Bonus! The 105 is half the price.
*200mm AF-S VR F2.0 lens - I will argue this is the best prime Nikon has offered us Nikon shooters. This may be the best prime I have ever owned. At F2 the photos are amazing sharp, smooth cream background. 13 total buttons and switches help with the auto and over-ride functions. Instant, I said instant dead on the subject focus. This lens is often called 'chubby' as it's short and fat' I call it the "Amazing Nikon 200 f2" It's heavy at 6 and a half pounds. This lens will make blade sharp photos at f2, with zero C A and out of the world background. WOW, what a lens, buy yourself one today.
300mm F2.8 AF-EDIF. Excellent lens, discontinued in 2000. Find a clean one and buy it if you can't afford the AF-S 300 f2.8.
*300 F2.8 AF-S is simply awesome. I would sell this lens last, I wont part with it. Use it at f2.8 and make yourself smile at the results. Update, I've used this lens heavily for over 14 years and it is still my favorite lens I've ever used/owned. Updated 2 times since I bought this but I am sticking with my workhorse until it dies. Love this lens. Every serious photographer owns it to himself to own a 300 f2.8 Nikkor of some version. all are amazing.
300 F4 AF-D is a darn well made and super sharp lens. Strong tripod mount too, if on a budget get this F4 300.
300 F4 AF-S is a darn nice lens, handicapped with a crappy tripod mount (same mount as on the 80/400).
*400 E2.8 AF-S Awesome to look through this lens on a near subject and watch it totally isolate the subject. Sharpest Nikon lens I own or have ever used. Bonus, 560mm f4 with the TC14E converter and 800mm f5.6 with 20E. Either TC will focus fast and make razor sharp images with this bad boy. Big, costly, heavy, but second to none in the big glass Nikkor line. The 2 piece hood is a pain in the ass: the one piece hood like used on the 300 f2.8 and 500 f4 is much better designed. Nikon uses this 2 piece hood on the 600 F4 too.
400 F2.8 AF-SII. I used it, love the photos but question the lighter made tripod mount. I will pass as I own the AF-S version, but appreciate those that love it.
*500 F4 AF-I is a great long lens. Big, heavy (more metal this current series) and makes images that will make you proud. Find a clean used one and snap it up! You need a solid tripod to hold the 400, 500 and 600mm lenses. Forget hand holding the beast, like my 400 2.8 a monopod is required even at faster shutter speeds.
500 AF-S is a dandy, often passed over for the 400 2.8 or 600 f4. I was able to use this for a few days to compare to my AF-I version, which is heavier and maybe slightly slower focusing.
600 F4 AF-S is a hell of a lens. I rented one and liked it. I plan to buy one some day, but will dislike that 2 piece hood.
600 F4 AF-I, pass this one up. The focus motor is slow and sounds like a toy Tonka truck, and it makes poorer photos than most big Nikkors. Buy the 600 AF-S or better yet, the 500 AF-I or AF-S.
*Telescope Converter will make your Nikkors into telescopes. Adds 10X, making my 500mm biggie lens a 5000mm telescope. This is no longer in production, but can be found used. Get one if you have longer fast lenses, excellent product that Nikon should still be offering.
*TC14E and TC14EII converters are 5-element converters, adding .4X extension to the prime lens. I like mine, on the 500 f4 AF-I and 80/200 f 2.8 AF-S, but not as pleased with it on the 300 2.8 AF-S.
*TC17EII converter, 7 elements in 4 groups. Adds .7X to your AF-S and AF-S VR lenses. I use this on the 300 AF-S 2.8, 400 AF-S 2.8 and 70/200 2.8 AF-S VR lenses. The VR works correctly and focus speed is just as fast as without the added converter. Mine is a very sharp copy, superior product. My highest recomendation! Sample photo with 300 lens http://www.pbase.com/flatlandphoto/image/71806562.
*TC20E and TC20EII is the 7-element converter, which doubles the lens focal value. Identical optics (likely), the II version has a slight crinkle finish added to the body. 2X converters will rob a quality lens of good photos. But, if you are lucky you will find a good one, I did. Really is sharp sharp on my fixed lenses, TC20EII).
*TC20III is, in my opinion, nothing that the other 2 TC20E's are. The focus is very fast on the 300, 400 2.8 AF-S and the new 70/200 f2.8 AF-S G lenses. It will stack mount on the altered 14EII. In my opinion the TC17EII is the better converter Nikon offers.
Tamron SP 1.4 and 2X are also acceptable and useable on non motor lenses, AF or AF-D. If you have the wonderful 80/200 2.8 AF-D, buy one of these. I used the 2X on my 300 2.8 AF-D with pleasing results.
IMPORTANT: The TC14E, TC14II, TC17EII, TC20E or TC20II Nikkor converters should not be used on the 12/24 f4, 17/35, 17/55, 24/70 or 28/70 f2.8 AF-S & many other lenses. The rear lens element could contact the converter causing damage to the lens.
*SB600 and SB800 Speedlights: Nikon finally made a good pair of flash units for our cameras, including the digital cameras. The 800 has slightly more power then the 600, but it's slight. The 800 can slave other 800 or 600 flashes, but the 600 lacks this ablilty. I own both and use either. I recommend the SB600 as the best value as it's half the cost of the SB800. You 800 owners don't get to cocky about the 800 being better then the 600, cause it's not when used for normal hot-shoe flash photography. Bless the Nikon Gods for these two flashes.
*SB900 flash is Nikons newest. I assume it replaces the SB800 which is not longer in production. The 900 is a big flash, 25% bigger then the 600 or 800. (Physically taller, wider and fatter.) Has a cool wheel command that lets you slip through the expanded custom settings menu. The LCD monitor is larger and includes more information. We now have a thermometer to see how hot the flashtube is, and I like the digital and analog working distance scale. This flash has an on-off flip switch, which includes a remote and master position. I used it comparing to the 600 and 800, all nail the exposures perfectly within their useable ranges. The SB 900 is an awesome flash, but it's physically big. Important update - this flash nails bounce flash much better then the SB600 and 800. While the bounce on the orher flashes is useful, the exposures were not always 'dead on the money' but the 900 that I own nails the esposure, every shot.
Examples of the amazing Dynamic Range of the D810 camera.
I made night photos and used the D810 on manual mode.
Sadly I forgot to change to my usual shooting A mode,
and I made several bright daylight photos with the night M setting.
You will see the original photo, unedited except re-sized NEF to Jpeg
followed by the edited photo. Shocking how well the grossly overexposed
images came out. Well, it shocked me that 5 to 9 steps over become useable photos!
D810 camera, 70-200 f4 AF-S VR lens on all snaps