Photo equipment I use:

7DMKII

2014.  I purchased the 7DMKII to replace my 5DMKIII, since at present, I am shooting Canon with long lenses only, and the 7DMKII puts more pixels on the subject, has a better focus system and 10 FPS.

5DMKIII

2014.  I purchased the 5MKDIII to go with the new, lighter Canon 600/4.  Both the 1DX and the 5DIII have the latest improvements to phase focus and produce slightly better image files than prior Canons.  I did not buy the 1DX as I expect the next generration of Canon bodies to catch up with the currently superior dynamic range and noise in the Nikons.  Other than the dynamic range the Canon compares quite favourably with the Nikons.

D4

2012.  The D4 is the replacement for the D3s and the changes are all small refinements.  Image quality is very similar to the D3s but the file size has increased from 12 to 16MP.  The D4 introduces XQD cards, but they are only made by Sony and it is not certain that they will be accepted by the major SSD manufacturers.  Video performance has been improved but I do not do much in the way of video shooting.  Other refinements include more sophisticated metering, auto-focus at f/8 and better portrait shooting ergonomics.  As usual with Nikon's D# series the D4 is a pleasure to hold and use, with ergonomics, responsiveness and image quality at the forefront.

D800E

2012The D800E is a replacement for the D700 and the D3X, combining 36MP resolution, leading dynamic range and top noise performance in a medium size package.  It is not a speed demon, cruising along at 4 FPS and has a buffer to hold about 17 shots when shooting raw, 14 bits.  In 2012 this is as good as it gets in the DSLR world.

D7000

2011. The D7000 is the replacement for the D90, has 16MP and exceptional dynamic range.  The image quality at ISO 100 is very good, but rapidly degrades beyond ISO 200 where critical detail and micro-contrast are concerned.  The in-camera noise reduction algorithms start to smear pixels when viewed 1:1.  I have purchased this body to provide reach and tide me over until a better option, perhaps the D800, is available.  It is still excellent value for the money.

D3x

2011. The D3x has been the Nikon flagship DSLR since 2009, with 24 megapixels.  The image quality at ISO 100 is as good as it gets 3 years after the camera appeared in the start of 2009.  Somewhere between ISO 400 and ISO 1250 the noise makes it a wash between a D3x and a D3s.  The D3x demands excellent technique and superb lenses in order to take advantage of the 24 MP.  In some circumstances it makes a marvelous wildlife camera, and it excels in the landscape and studio environment.

I sold my D3X in November, 2011, in anticipation of new Nikon models.  This appears to be a good decision now that the D4 and D800 have been announced in January 2012...

D700

2008.  The D700 is the second digital camera made by Nikon with a full frame sensor, shared with the D3.  The large 8.5 µm sensor wells produce incredible quality images at ISO 3200.  The dynamic range of this sensor is somewhere around 10 f-stops.  The focus system has also been improved.  This is an extremely competent camera although the ergonomics are one small step below the D# series.

D2x

2005. This was Nikon's flagship professional camera (2005 - 2007). A 12 megapixel DSLR capable of 5 frames per second in normal mode and 8 FPS in a special high speed crop mode. It is exceptionally responsive and has superb ergonomics. The colours are vibrant and accurate. The white balance is very accurate in normal outdoor conditions, but can be fooled under difficult flourescent lighting conditions. The sensor pixels are only 5.5 microns which challenges all but the very best lenses and requires competent technique. When both of these requirements are met the camera delivers superb results at ISO 100, and very satisfactory results up to ISO 400. The only downside is Nikon's bone-headed WB encryption, which is a minor inconvenience at present, but a disturbing and arrogant move for Nikon.

D50

2006. I bought this body to use in all the instances where I do not care to use the D2X, such as when kayaking, casual hikes, family get-togethers and so forth. In other words, where there is high risk, where weight is an issue and when I want to be more unobtrusive. The D50 is a good high ISO camera that delivers great colour. So far I am very pleased with mine. In the fully automatic setting, it is very reliable and my wife, who is less than totally spellbound with complex camera controls, finds it easy to use.

14mm f/2.8D AF ED

2006. I am not sure why I bought this one, other than thinking that while I own the 17-55mm, 14 is even wider, and full frame, just in case I ever buy a full frame body. In any case, I am pleased with this lens, as the difference between 14mm and 17mm is noticeable and I am still ready for full frame in the future. The colour and sharpness are good to excellent. The leather cap that pulls over the fixed hood takes some getting used to.

2008. Addendum - I now own a full frame body, the D700, and have been using this lens quite a bit. I find there is quite a bit of vignetting until around f/5.6, something to watch for, although easily corrected in post-processing. Otherwise the lens is competent, although not stellar, on a full frame camera

16-35mm f/4G ED AF-S VR

2010. I purchased this lens after considering the 24/1.4G.  I decided that I did not need a fast wide angle.  I also tried the 14-24mm, an amazing lens, but decided on the 16-35 for three reasons: a better zoom range, filters can be used and VR.  This lens has a fair amount of vignetting and barrel distortion at 16mm, but both are easily corrected in post processing automatically.  The build quality is good, and the image colour and sharpness are very good.  I am very pleased and use this lens more than I thought I would.

17-55mm f/2.8G ED AF-S

2005. This is my only DX lens. The DX lenses only have an image circle large enough for the DX size 16x24mm (1.5X crop) sensor sizes. This lens is big, taking a 77mm filter. It exhibits a small amount of barrel and pincushion distortion at 17mm, which can be easily corrected with software. The colours and contrast are excellent, the acutance is astonishing, and the lens can focus to 35 cm, but this is not the lens for shooting into the sun, as flare will quickly appear. I acquired this lens for walk abouts and it is extremely versatile, expecially when partnered with the 70-200.

18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 G AF-S

2009. This is my second DX lens. I was not planning on ever getting another but I ended up getting this one from a friend that passed away, so it has sentimental value. However, this lens stands on its own, with excellent image quality in a small, light package. It makes a very nice pairing with my D50 for a light travel combination.

20mm f/2.8D AF

2001. I bought this lens as my primary wide angle lens. I wanted a small, light lens, a little wider than 24mm for the DX sensor size, where the FOV is 1.5 times the focal length, rendering the 20mm up to 30mm. I do not use this lens often, but have been pleased with the results. It is sharp, flare resistant and has good colour and contrast.

24mm f/2.8

1990. I have had this lens for a long time. It does not have auto focus or the CPU chip and cannot communicate with the new Nikon bodies, although I can use it again with the D2X and D700. It is an awesome lens with very good contrast and colour and it is very sharp - sharper than the 20mm.

24-70mm f/2.8G AF-S

2008. This lens, introduced in 2007, simply leaves little to be desired on the image quality front. Resolution, contrast, distortion and chromatic aberation are all virtually as good or better than any fixed focal length lenses within the range. The lens does have a tendency to flare when pointed toward the sun or strongly backlit subjects. This lens is physically long, consuming valuable space in the camera bag. But with quality like this allowances can be made.

24-105mm f/4L IS USM

2014. This lens came with the 5DIII.  I can use it as a general lens when I am shooting with the 600 and do not want to bring a Nikon body and lens as well.

28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S VR

2010.  When I purchased this lens I thought I would give it a try and then likely sell it again because it did a great deal not very well.  What a surprise.  Ignoring the inevitable distortion and vignetting that correct in post processing, I have been very pleasantly surprised at the image quality.  I have a 24x36 inch print at home taken with this lens that holds it's own very nicely.  This lens is extremely versatile and ideal for most "one lens" occasions.  The VR works as advertised.  The lock switch, preventing the lens from extending when being carried on the shoulder, is needed, but gets in the way when you forget to set it.

35mm f/2D AF

2006. After acquiring a D50 I was looking for a low light lens a little wider than the 45P or the 50/1.8 as a carry around general purpose lens. The 35/2 seemed ideal and it is a sweet lens. However, I have been dissapointed with the performance at f/2 and f.2.2, but acutance picks up very nicely by f/2.5. Combined with the D50 performance at ISO 1600, this makes for a nice low light, easy to carry package.

35mm f/1.4 DG HSM

2013.  There is a sea change at Sigma.  They have made huge improvements to quality control and customer support in addition to a new line of quality lenses, which are equal or better than the Nikon or Canon equivalents and significantly cheaper.  This lens has pin point focus and produces exquisite detail, easily equal to the Nikon 85/1.4 or Nikon 200/2.  It is that good.  The finishing and look of this lens is beautiful.  A winner in every way.

35-70mm f/2.8D AF

1995. This zoom is built like a tank, and weighs almost as much. I am continually surprised by the quality of the images I get from this lens, particularily from the 35mm end of the zoom. I have done comparisons with the 50mm f/1.8 and been hard put to tell the difference between the two at f/5.6 to f/11. I have thought about getting the 28-70mm f/2.8 several times, but it is even bigger and heavier, and I am so happy with the quality of the 35-70 that I end up keeping it. However, it has a slow focus and the push/pull zoom operates opposite to the way I intuitively think - pushing results in a wider angle. My sister has taken over this lens, along with my D2h, and appears to be very satisfied with the results as well.

45mm f/2.8P

2005. I do not believe that this lens is made by Nikon anymore. It has the chip so that the body can determine the aperture, but has manual focus. The 45P is just a little bit larger than a filter, produces excellent detail and contrast, as well as very good bokeh, especially from f/4. Images from this lens have a beautiful smoothness. The lens is so thin that it can be tricky to find the focus ring.

50mm f/1.8D AF

2003. I acquired this lens recently, having avoided it for years because I already had 50mm covered with the 35-70mm. I ended up purchasing the 50mm f/1.8 for four reasons: 1) it is dirt cheap, 2) it is very small and light, 3) I find the 75mm DX FOV to be a sweet spot for intimate landscapes and 4) it is one of the sharpest lenses made. The lens barrel is constructed of plastic, which some have criticized, but I do not generally abuse my lenses and the plastic makes it light. My one reservation about this lens is that the bokeh is not that attractive. A number of photographers have suggested that the 45mm is much superior in this regard.

85mm f/1.4 AF-S N

2010. The 85/1.4 AF-S is one of the finest lenses available in the nikon line and a superb portrait lens. It is still very sharp wide open, making this a great low light lens. It produces smooth files with exquisite bokeh and virtually no distortion. 

105mm f/2.8D AF Micro

1993. I originally purchased this lens as a "do everything" lens. It is a reasonable macro lens, but the auto focus is very slow and the bokeh is not that great. Anything beyond 10 feet is not that sharp, compared to Nikon's best lenses. I feel this lens is a compromise and do not use it very much - just the occasional macro shot. Perhaps this is partly because I have been taking fewer macros in the last few years. I suspect I will be replacing this lens in the future, either with the 85mm f/1.4 (done) for a short telephoto or the 200mm micro lens for a superb micro lens with a greater working distance.

105mm f/2.8 AF-S Micro VR

2010. I replaced the older 105 micro with this lens to upgrade to the VR, which can be quite useful for shooting macros. The specs suggest that the VR does not work at closest focusing range, but I have obtained good results. The new 105VR works much better at distance, has attractive bokeh and is very good shooting directly into the sun and for sunsets. The construction does not appear to be "tank-tough" like it's predecessor though.  On the other hand, this is one of Nikon's sharpest lenses.

70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR II

2003. I acquired the first version of the 70-200 VR as soon as it was available to replace my aging 80-200 f/2.8D AF lens. The 70-200 lens matches the legendary quality of the 80-200, has exquisite bokeh, lightning fast silent AF and VR. There is virtually no degradation in image quality when coupled with the TC14EII tele-extender. While a bit of a handfull, this is a great walk about lens and I have thoroughly enjoyed owning it. There is some indication that Nikon will release a new version in 2009 with the improved version II VR.

2009. I sold version my version 1 70-200 VR early in 2009, hoping for a new version with improved VR. I correctly anticipated the new version, which has improved VR and better corner sharpness and less vignetting on full frame sensors. The trade-off is loss of far focal length at closer focusing distances. At close range, while the lens zoom suggests 200mm, the actual field of view reduces down to 130mm. This is not noticeable beyond 10 meters, and in practise, is not a significant drawback.
 

70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G ED AF-S VR

2009. I purchased this lens as a light travel lens for a trip to Ireland and Sweden. It is light and the VR works very well. Image quality is excellent between 70 and 250mm and not at all bad on out to 300mm. However, I do miss the tight DOF generated by my faster lenses, but for the size, weight and price this is very fine glass indeed.

200mm f/2G ED-IF AF-S VR

2008. This lens is a heavy brute and worth every one of its 6 plus pounds. It is arguably one of the finest short telephotos ever made. Everything about this lens is about unrelenting image quality. The colours, contrast, and bokeh are superlative and the lens exhibits virtually zero distortion. The amount of detail this lens can resolve is amazing, as is the razor thin DOF at f/2. Like the 300VR, the VR does not work on a rigid tripod, although it works fine if you leave the ball head loose or use a monopod.

300mm f/4 ED-IF AF-S

2003. The 300/4 was the first high quality telephoto lens I purchased. It is not as good as the 300 f/2.8, but it is close and produces very high quality images with excellent contrast, sharpness and colour from f/5.6 to f/11. It is light, has a convenient built-in lens hood, and has reasonably fast and silent AF. One of it's chief attractions is the close focus to 5 feet. I used this lens, coupled with the TC14EII quite a bit before I acquired the 500/4. I still enjoy using the 300/4 but it has two shortcomings: less than perfect bokeh and a tripod foot that vibrates when taking photos in the 1/40 to 1 second range. This can be solved by wedging a film canister between the foot and the lens.

300mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR

2005. I acquired the 300VR as an intermediate telephoto that is possible to handhold. This lens has unbelievable detail, superlative contrast and exquisite bokeh. The VR works very well, except on a locked down, rigid tripod, although it is okay on a monopod. Focus performance is extremely fast and accurate. Adding the TC14EII or TC17EII have little effect on image quality or focus acquisition. While heavy, it is quite realistic to carry and shoot the 300VR + TC17 (500mm) handheld.

400mm f/5.6L USM 

2014Nikon does not make a lens to fit this particular niche.  After buying the 5DIII and the 600/4 I added this lens for a walk about and birds in flight lens.  

400mm DO

400mm f/4 DO IS II USM 

2015. This is one of the lenses that attracted me to Canon.  The new version is a stunningly high quality lens, with resolution and contrast to match any lens in the Canon lineup.  Coupled with the 7DMKII field of view, it makes for a high quality wildlife lens that is easy to carry, handhold and carry on airlines.

500mm f/4 ED-IF AF-S

2003. I have wanted a really long telephoto for as long as I can remember. I finally acquired a used 500/4 AF-S and have not regretted it for one second. It requires muscle and disciple to use, lugging a large tripod everywhere but the stunning image quality is worth it. The focus speed is incredible, the bokeh exquisite, the sharpness and contrast superlative and the contruction is very good. In case you were wondering, I like this lens. I had thought about a 600/4, with my propensity for longer being better, but after using the 500/4 with the DX 1.5 times FOV reduction I believe I made the right choice. The 500/4 is big and heavy enough, while the 600/4 is even bigger and heavier. The 500/4 and TC14EII are a perfect match - I think I have used the TC14EII on better than 90% of the photos I have taken with the 500/4. 

600mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S VR

2009. The next step in my super telephoto quest. The 500/4 is a superb lens but three things led me to the 600/4: extra reach necessitated by going to a full frame camera, the newer nano-crystal lens coating and VR. Testing has shown me that the VR series of lenses work better with the tele-extenders, and that VR makes a significant difference on static shots with a loose wimberley head. The 600VR is a couple of pounds heavier than the 500/4 but all that means is I will get a little more exercize - not a bad thing. 

600mm f/4G IS II USM

2014. I have added the Canon 600mm to my super telephoto arsenal for several reasons.  The new Canon 600mm is several pounds lighter than the Nikon and Canon has improved its phase focus system with its latest cameras and lenses, resulting in greater focus precision, especially for more distant subjects.  In addition, the new Canon extenders, especially the 20, are superb optics, significantly better than the Nikon offerings.

TC-14EII tele-extender

2002. It is a total no brainer to have one of these. For 1 f/stop you get a 1.4 times increase in focal length with virtually no loss in image quality. My only nit is that the TC does not grip tightly, allowing the lens to rotate minutely. This is commonly reported by users and is disconcerting, but does not seem to affect image quality. 

TC-17EII tele-extender

2006. Okay, now I have three teleconverters. Sheesh. However, the image quality of the TC17 is much closer to the TC14 than the TC20. The TC17 works well with the 200VR, 300VR and 600VR, less so on the 500/4 AF-S I and II lenses. 

TC-20EII tele-extender

2003. I got this TC because I am greedy for more focal length and really regret it now. This TC sucks in my opinion, especially after seeing what Canon users manage with the Canon equivalent. The resulting images using the TC20EII with any of my lenses are soft. Although others appear happy with this TC I will be selling mine soon as it does not meet my standards for razor sharp images. 

14XIII extender

2014. When you get a 600mm you gotta fet the extenders...

20XIII extender

2014. The Canon 20XIII is a superb optic, significantly better than the Nikon offering.  In combination with the 600/4 it pushes the aperture to f/8, which on current Canon bodies, means only the center focus spot is available.  This works well for statics, but not so much for birds in flight.

Nikon SB-800 AF Speedlight

2004. Okay, I got another darn flash. In fact I've got two of these. Nikon finally has come out with a great flash for their digital cameras. The i-TTL creative light system is truly amazing, allowing one SB-800 to be the master and wirelessly control up to three other flashes and more can be daisy-chained. The SB-800 also excels at closeup photography - in fact I have yet been able to fool this flash. 

Nikon SB-80DX AF Speedlight

2002. Yet another in a long succession of Nikon flashes. I like it, but may sell it in order to get a SB-800 to go with the D2x and synch to faster than 1/250 second. Addendum - I am keeping the SB-80 to use as a slave with the SB-800's. 

Nikon SB-25 TTL Speedlight

1990. The Nikon SB-25 TTL Speedlight was first sold in 1992. This update was essential due to rapid development in both Nikon camera/flash design. It was marketed along with a new generation of Nikon AF SLR camera, Nikon F90, a high tech AF SLR camera with cross AF sensors, built-in 3.6 fps power drive, improved Matrix metering with 8 segments evaluative system that factors distance in the exposure. I have been very happy with the SB-25 and do not really know what to do with it now that I have the SB-80. I am keeping it in hopes of using it if I ever get the studio built.

Sekonic L-358 Flash Master

2002. The Sekonic L-358 Flash Master is an advanced exposure analyzing light meter. The L-358 features a retractable incident Lumisphere for standard or cosine corrected light readings, provides both hemispherical and narrow angle readings. Measurements can be taken in either incident or flash metering modes with accurate and convenient flash and ambient analyzing. In all electronic flash measurements, an analyzing feature simultaneously evaluates both flash and ambient light and displays the values in three ways: a) combined readings of flash and ambient, b) percentage of flash in the total exposure or c) simultaneous display of flash, ambient and combined readings on the analog scale. An illuminated LCD panel directly displays full, 1/2 or 1/3-stop shutter speeds or apertures and exposure/calibration compensation. Optional spot finders extend the versatility of the meter with a choice of 1, 5 or 10 degree measuring angles with a viewable parallax-free viewfinder.

Swiss Arca B1 Ballhead

1995. In my experience, most photographers, including myself, are never satisfied with their tripods and tripod heads. This results in a cupboard full of used tripods. This ended for me when I got the Swiss Arca B1 ballhead. This is a well thought out, precision tool that easily supports my 300mm lens. One issue with the B1 is that the friction thumb screw can jam. Do not force the multifunction knob counter clockwise as this may lead to the ball freezing up. To correct this, turn the multifunction knob clockwise, then back out the friction thumb screw counter clockwise, and re-loosen the multifunction knob counter clockwise. 

BH-55 Ballhead

2009. I got this ballhead to complement the Versa tripod, with it's locking mechanism to the tripod. The Really right Stuff BH-55 ballhead is not quite as smooth as the Swiss Arca B1 but is superior for panning, angling downward, quick locking and not jamming. I bought the version with the tightening clamp, and it will not squeeze tight enough for some swiss arca plates. Hmmm. 

Really Right Stuff L-Plate

2005 and every camera after. The L-Plate allows quick mounting on a Swiss Arca style bracket for either horizontal or vertical orientation, while maintaining the camera center of gravity directly over the tripod. This eliminates the problem of trying to flop the ballhead into the drop notch and provides for optimum vibration damping. The L-Plate is exquisitely tooled and fits the D2X like a glove. This is one of those tools that you do not know how you got along without. I purchase another L-plate for each camera I buy.

Wimberley Sidekick and full Wimberley

2004. The Sidekick mounts on the Swiss Arca ballhead and allows the lens to rotate around its center of gravity. This gimbal-type head allows smooth motion in every direction making it much easier to track birds in flight. The Sidekick is compact and light, making it easy to carry and fit in the camera bag. I use it principally with the 500/4. I have subsequently purchased the full Wimberley, which balances much better with the 500/4 and 600VR. The full Wimberley makes it easier to handle the big lenses and allows for slower shutter speeds. 

Jobu Heavy Duty MkIII

2014. The Jobu gimbal knocks over a pound off the weight of the original Wimberley.  Along with the new Canon 600 this further reduces the amount of weight while carrying the rig on my shoulders.

Gitzo 320 tripod

1993. In the field, the Gitzo 320 is quite practical and very reliable. It has three leg sections and three independent leg spread angles providing easy access to virtually any camera position. It has a centerpost with a rapid center column. The column (with the head base) is about 11 inches long. It also has an inner column (about 7 inches) which can be extended to a total height of 18 inches above the centerpost. With both center columns collapsed, the tripod can get to as low as 11 inches above ground level. This is possible by spreading the legs using its independent leg spread angle. This tripod is heavy, weighing in at 7 lbs and is built using aluminum, which is an excellent conductor, so it gets cold too. Most users end up wrapping the upper leg with foam tubing and duct tape. The tripod is rock solid and easily supports the D2X and 500/4 combo. 

RRS versa tripod

2009. As further evidence that the ultimate tripod is an ephemeral concept I bought yet another tripod, the Really Right Stuff Versa. It was either this or a 5540 series Gitzo. I have had good results with the Gitzo but each one has failed me at some point - a seized up leg or a loosening at the shoulder. I have had very good success with Really Right Stuff products and the Verso does ot disappoint. The leg extensions are smooth and positive and the whole design is extremely refined. 

Lowepro Trekker AW II

2004. I chose this pack after I acquired the 500/4 lens and needed some way to haul that monster around. I can fit the assembled D2X, 500/4 and TC14EII in this pack with room along the sides of the internal compartment for several other lenses, flashes and so forth. The outside tripod holster is strong enough to handle the Gitzo 320. This pack has a superb, highly adjustable harness, that allows a heavy load to be easily carried - which is a darn good thing as my long range kit, including the tripod and pack, weighs in at 45 lbs! The outside pockets, removable day pack, waterproof zippers and rugged design made this the perfect pack for me. 

Lowepro Mini Trekker AW

2002. I use this pack for my "go everywhere" kit. I can fit my 17-55, 70-200, closeup rings, flash, D2X and the 300VR in this pack, along with all the key accessories, making it very handy, while remaining compact. While the harness is well designed, it does not have a proper belt to redistribute the weight onto the hips - consequently I find 3 hours to be the maximum time I can carry this pack when fully loaded.

Lowepro Flipside 400 AW

2011. This is my new "go everywhere" pack, replacing the amazing mini trekker, which is still going despite all my efforts to wear it out.  The Flipside has better hip support and I can carry it longer.  I've gotten used to loading from the "flipside" and it works well.  I hope it lasts as well as the mini.