What System Meets My Many Needs?

Started Jan 12, 2013 | Discussions
hval
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What System Meets My Many Needs?
Jan 12, 2013

Forgive me for starting a new thread on what is likely to be covered quite often.  Due to my own circumstances and wishes I am wanting to get the best advice possible.  I also apologise for the lengthy posting, but wished to provide as many details as possible.

I am looking at purchasing a new camera system within the next year.  I am getting frustrated with my research and am now looking for guidance.  The following hopefully describes my wishes, my desires and my limitations.

AIM

To see what camera system will meet my current needs and potential future needs

OBJECTIVES

  • To look at photography categories I currently do
  • Look at interests that I am limited from doing due to my current systems
  • Look at systems I currently have
  • Look at my physical limitations
  • Provide a list of equipment to buy

WHAT PHOTOGRAPHY  DO I CURRENTLY DO

  1. Reportage - I really prefer to take non poised photographs
  2. Indoors without flash and with flash of people, rooms etc
  3. Family occasions & events (whether that is weddings, funerals, award ceremonies etc. Non paid)
  4. Macro photography (mainly flowers)
  5. Street photography
  6. Wild life (birds flying in the air, lions in the veld)
  7. Landscapes (do a fair amount of this)
  8. Air shows (photos and video)
  9. Architectural
  10. Capturing photographs that show the season (e.g. winter, autumnal, summer, sunsets, sun rises)
  11. Opportunist photography
  12. Photos of family making cakes, or making decorations (fairies, elves etc).  these may be lit with against a white light.
  13. Take photographs of rain on windows, snow around flower pots, Gold hunter watch. Odd things like that.
  14. Portrait (single and groups)
  15. At work - for publication (non paid)
  16. Vacation (e.g. hiking, museums, cities, beached, canoeing, flying, sailing)

NOTES ON PHOTOGRAPHIC STYLES

  • Take both photographs and videos (85% Photos to 15% video)
  • Am after one camera to do both
  • Do not use camera a lot (a lot to do with where we live - dark, dull and wet). Wish I used it more
  • Needs to be robust, dust resistant and waterproof (live in Glasgow and take it on holiday and weekends away)
  • To use world wide
  • Like reportage style photography rather than posed photography unposed video
  • Never/ rarely go with a plan to photograph anything specific
  • Travel lightweight. Minimum number of lenses
  • Available light shooter where possible (for video and for photo)
  • Will use a flash if necessary, but prefer not to
  • Don't like to post process much. Want what is there, unadulterated
  • Anti shake
  • Mainly take photos hand held, even though I have the tripods and monopods.  Due to traveling light.
  • Rarely shoot programme mode.  Like to shoot either aperture or shutter priority, depending upon subject and light.
  • Do not go out taking video with a set script or scene in my head. Am after the sights and sounds of what I saw; whether on holiday, or where I live or where I am visiting.  Mainly for me and my memory

ABOUT ME

  • Wear glasses (varifocals) - blind as a bat without them
  • My hands shake
  • Travel light (one bag)
  • Enthusiastic amateur. Don't read books saying how to take photos
  • Don't get to take photos as often as I would like
  • Have been "in to" photography for about thirty years

SYSTEMS I CURRENTLY HAVE

Nikon D200 (I love other than it doesn't do video and it isn't so good in low light.  Nice easy controls. Don't use any programme functions on it. Don't use camera enough to learn how to do that. I have two zoom lenses. Frustrates me for no close up, no primes and no 600mm for wildlife. Nikon SB800 flash unit

Panasonic GH 1 - Hate it.  Very difficult to use for video and an awful photo camera except in bright light.  Overly complicated menu systems that I do not understand - other than the simple scenery settings etc, which don't give me what I want.  Simple too simple. Proper use to complex.

Compact camera and iPhone.  Always have iPhone on me.

Have monopod, photo tripod, video tripod, gorrilapod

SYSTEM WANTS

  • Would like to have a compact camera for photo and video, on me always and a good lightweight high quality camera for all else
  • Want full frame
  • Find it frustrating not having a lens like a 35mm prime, nor a dedicated macro lens
  • Find it frustrating not having lenses with low F numbers (e.g. F 2) where I can shoot wide open. Zoom lenses are a compromise I need to accept, but still want the odd prime
  • As quiet a shutter as possible
  • Simple to use (that doesn't mean point and shoot)
  • Meet my photography types in one camera
  • Small camera if possible and lightweight
  • To be able to shoot in low light without using a flash as much as possible
  • When I travel I normally only take one bag to meet all my needs (clothes, shoes, etc).  The camera system needs to be as light as possible

QUESTIONS

Would a manual focus Leica system do?  I like the compact size, light weight and the quality lenses.  I also like the “look” of Leica photographs.  I am not sure I will be able to afford a Leica system either.

Am I after a Nikon D800? Nikon D600?  Or something else?

What are the best lenses for me?

What filters do I need (to protect the lenses, and to give me the neutral density effect for sunsets)?

 hval's gear list:hval's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 Nikon D200 Nikon D300 Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR +15 more
Nikon D200 Nikon D600 Nikon D800
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AltLens
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Re: What System Meets My Many Needs?
In reply to hval, Jan 12, 2013

Well, one thing is that you pretty much named every kind of photography there is, so there is no single system that is perfect for any of them.  What you are is someone who needs a camera that's good at most things, and you can select your lenses based on each of the styles you want to shoot.

You're already a Nikon user, so changing brands, though totally do-able at this point in the game, is not something I recommend.

Once you said you want video AND full frame, you pretty much knocked a whole lot of very excellent and affordable cameras out of the running, and shortened the list to only a few, and out of those only one that I would call "affordable", or more accurately, a-not-completely-wasteful purchase for someone who isn't already very serious, which would be the new D600.

That said, you might want to tell us what you plan to do with full frame that you cannot achieve with cropped sensor.  I'm betting that the feedback you get from THOSE answers will convince you to stick with DX (cropped sensor).

DX cameras have come so far it's not even funny.  In fact, they've are so good now I regret having sold off my D40 and D90 and buying a D700.  I coulda-woulda-shoulda bought the D7000 had I waited a little bit longer for it to be released.  But NOOOOO...  I HAD to have full frame....  Now I'm stuck having to buy far more expensive full frame lenses, and believe me, they are more expensive, and I wouldn't get much if I sold my D700 now that the D600 and D800 are out.

New Dx's have outstanding high ISO performance, are compact (as compact as a DSLR can be, that it), shoot hi-def video with stereo sound, can pforduce GORGEOUS 24" x 36" prints with ease (bigger even, but who does that?), work with far less expensive lenses (giving you a much wider range of choices AND opening more photographic style doors for you), are easier to learn to use (simpler controls), can be used in full Auto or Program, all the way to full Manual...  I could go on and on, but with the wide variety of things you like to shoot, a wider variety of lenses is not only what you need, but something that will stay with you even after you go on to yet another camera body.

Look, I was like you.  I thought I had to have this and had to have that.  I was in a position to be able to afford it.  So I did it.....  Afford it or not, I don't like to throw money away, and I like even less the idea that I've not made the best decision.  If I could start over, I would go DX and stay that way until I reached a limit with the DX that only an FX (full frame) could achieve...  And that's highly unlikely.

So I think the people on this forum could better serve you by discussing why you think you need full frame.   What is your rationale?

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hval
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Re: What System Meets My Many Needs?
In reply to AltLens, Jan 12, 2013

AltLens,

Thank you for such a prompt response.

I am looking for a full frame camera for a few reasons, that possibly I have misunderstood.  these reasons are: -

1/ I print out some pictures at A3 size (420 x 297 mm) plus and sometimes larger (A1)

2/ I am led to believe that full frame cameras are generally better in low light.  Since I prefer not using a flash I thought that a full frame camera would be a better option

3/ I will not be able to afford a lens greater than 400mm I reckon, so full frame offers a better crop factor

4/ I like to look at some of the photographs on a HD television.

 hval's gear list:hval's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 Nikon D200 Nikon D300 Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR +15 more
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trekkeruss
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Re: What System Meets My Many Needs?
In reply to hval, Jan 12, 2013

hval wrote:

3/ I will not be able to afford a lens greater than 400mm I reckon, so full frame offers a better crop factor

You have it backwards. A full Frame camera has no crop factor, so a 400mm lens on a full frame camera is still 400mm. If you're wanting more telephoto, a crop frame camera is the way to go. Besides, you said you wanted a more compact camera.

4/ I like to look at some of the photographs on a HD television.

Photographs have to be scaled down to view on a HD television, so there's little to no benefit to using FF over crop or even another smaller format.

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Guidenet
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Re: What System Meets My Many Needs?
In reply to hval, Jan 12, 2013

hval wrote:

AltLens,

Thank you for such a prompt response.

I am looking for a full frame camera for a few reasons, that possibly I have misunderstood. these reasons are: -

1/ I print out some pictures at A3 size (420 x 297 mm) plus and sometimes larger (A1)

2/ I am led to believe that full frame cameras are generally better in low light. Since I prefer not using a flash I thought that a full frame camera would be a better option

3/ I will not be able to afford a lens greater than 400mm I reckon, so full frame offers a better crop factor

4/ I like to look at some of the photographs on a HD television.

A DX camera can do all of the above except number 3 which I do not understand. An FX camera does not have any crop factor at all. That's the point of it. You're shooting full frame, not a crop of full frame. Also, if you can't afford greater than 400mm, you probably can't afford a good 400mm either as they are quite expensive in the Nikon lineup.

Before people start telling you a crop camera like DX offers greater reach, let me tell you it does not. It only crops a smaller images from a full frame image. There is no magnification, just a smaller image with the same size subject, all else equal.

That all said, I would agree with you about full frame and I've totally exited from the DX arena. I find that FX is not only better suited for dim light but also contributes to better images in any light. Other than price, I see no reason to go to a crop or DX type camera anymore and price is fast closing between them.

And yes, FX glass can be more expensive and can be slightly larger, but then the glass is usually better quality as well, both build quality and optical quality. Nikon doesn't make any gold ring DX lenses and hasn't made any new pro-level optics in DX for many years. I don't think they're going to start doing so either. All the top optics are FX.

The D600 is an FX camera with similar controls, size and weight to the D7000. It's only larger in the pentaprism to house the larger viewfinder for FX, another big advantage. It has a slightly dumbed down version of the controls you're used to in your D200. If you want the same control layout and build level you currently enjoy in the D200, you need to look at the D700 or new D800. Both of these are full frame extensions of the line of D100, D200 and D300 --> D700, D800. The D600 is more of a full frame extension of the D80, D90, D7000 --> D600. It's still a great camera and less expensive, but I'm considering your comfort with the layout and build of the D200.

I feel the same. I moved from the D200 and D300 to the D700 and D800, both of which are more comfortable to me. You could pick up a new D800 or used D700 and use it right away with very little learning curve from your D200. Most everything is where you expect it to be. There is no Green Auto and no Style Modes, fortunately, to get in the way. Depending on whether your existing lenses are DX or FX, they should work just fine. Even if they are DX, all Nikon's FX cameras automatically step down to DX when a DX lens is mounted. You just lose the FX advantages. Canon doesn't allow this on their Full Frame models. They do not allow you to shoot their Full Frame models in crop camera modes using crop lenses, EF-S, only EF can be used. I don't know about the Sony A99's ability to shoot in crop mode.

One nice thing about both the D600 and D800 is the extra detail in shadows and highlights. What might be blown with lesser cameras, still has the detail. Highlights, where before you just had a blown white area, now have beautiful detail showing. This is because of a much greater dynamic range allowed by these FX cameras, as well as color depth. Often in instances where I thought I'd need to employ some tone mapping or other HDR techniques, I'm just fine with my D800. It's an amazing ability, especially for a 36 megapixel camera. Rare to get blinkies anymore.

As far as bird photography goes, you must consider expensive lenses to do it right. The cheapest budget birder combo in my opinion is the Nikon 300 f/4 AFS with a Nikon 1.4 converter for a total of 420 f/5.6 telephoto. From there the price climbs rapidly. The D600 has 24 megapixels and the D800 36 megapixels which allows quite a bit of cropping of bird images after the fact so your shot gets in quite tight as if you used a lens many times as long. This does have an effect on IQ, though.

So, contrary to many of the users in this beginner's forum, I suggest you looking at FX is a good idea and is very useful, long term. Enjoy.

Have a great weekend.

D800 with a 50 f/1.8 AFS mounted. That's a full frame high quality lens that costs only $219 USD. The hood is over a third of its apparent size and it weighs almost nothing.



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hval
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Re: What System Meets My Many Needs?
In reply to Guidenet, Jan 12, 2013

Apologies for not being clear on my point 3/ reference cropping.  What I should have written is that a full frame sensor allows me to crop the image more in post processing.

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hval
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Examples of my photographs
In reply to hval, Jan 12, 2013

I have attached a few examples of my photographs to show how and what I shoot.  i have posted the photographs on Flickr.  A link to the set is HERE

One example is: -

Botanic Gardens, Glasgow, Scotland with BBC Studios behind



Red Arrows at R.A.F. Leuchars Airshow, September 2012

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Guidenet
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Re: What System Meets My Many Needs?
In reply to hval, Jan 12, 2013

hval wrote:

Apologies for not being clear on my point 3/ reference cropping. What I should have written is that a full frame sensor allows me to crop the image more in post processing.

And there you are completely correct. It is extemely advantageous to be able to have all those pixels when you need to do severe crops. You are right. Thought that was what you meant. Not sure, but I thought so.

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bjake
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Re: Examples of my photographs
In reply to hval, Jan 12, 2013

The Pentax k-5 plus a Pentax k-01 along with a couple WR lens for damp and wet conditions might work.Looks lie you might need a 70-200 f2.8 lens for a start.Both models use the same lens.

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nelsonal
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Re: What System Meets My Many Needs?
In reply to hval, Jan 12, 2013

Would you consider a rangefinder?  Your photo desires seemed to hint around the idea of one.  It might be worth a rental for a weekend.  If an M9 is out of the budget, other options are a Bessa (cheap but film), a used m8 (1.3x crop which I've found to be a decent compromise), macro is tough with those though.

Another option that's easier on the budget and has more macro options is a NEX.  Use the system zooms for small compact lenses (they're stabilized), add some rangefinder primes (Leica, Russian, or Contax), and a vintage macro for a fairly compact kit that does everything well.  Even my old Nex-3 is pretty streamlined and newer models add the ability to increase that further.  The menus aren't my favorite, but once I got it set up, I only need to use them to format the card.  I was pleasantly surprised by my wife's pseudo macro shots (max of 1:3 or so magnification) at the botanical garden yesterday both because she was using the kit lens and because she'd never tried it before (she isn't an enthusiast by any means but enjoys taking photos).

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JeffS7444
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Canon SX50 HS super-zoom?
In reply to hval, Jan 12, 2013

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/canon_sx_50_review.shtml

Not trying to be a smart@ss or suggest anything I wouldn't do myself (and yes I have had quite a few Leicas). Why consider a glorified point-n-shoot? Because in my case, it's probably the only sort of really long telephoto setup that I'm likely to carry around for casual shooting. Plus the whole outfit weighs less than 600 g. The Fujifilm X-S1 and HS50EXR also look worthy, but I'm leaning towards the Canon because it weighs a lot less.

I'm not keen to carry a FF SLR, 400/2.8 lens and stout carbon fiber tripod equipped with geared head Monday-Friday on my daily commute in hopes of getting some migratory bird shots before work or during my lunchtime outings, yet it's just those sorts of times where I have the best opportunities: Photo ops don't wait for weekends and holidays.

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hval
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Re: Canon SX50 HS super-zoom?
In reply to JeffS7444, Jan 12, 2013

JeffS7444,

I looked at point and shoots to see what the market has available. I already have a basic on (Panasonic) I carry around with me. I have found it to be too limiting as my only camera unfortunately.  Plus I like the ability of being able to auto bracket, set focal areas, under/ over expose, measure and set white balance and that type of thing.

 hval's gear list:hval's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 Nikon D200 Nikon D300 Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR +15 more
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hval
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Re: What System Meets My Many Needs?
In reply to nelsonal, Jan 12, 2013

Nelsonal,

The Leica M system (particularly the M240 due to video function) does attract me for the reasons of small size and weight of both the camera and lenses, plus the fact that the camera is robust, isn't full of loads of buttons and features I won't use and I like the look of Leica images. Also, the M240 would let me use Leica R lenses zoom ones, and longer focal lengths). Unfortunately it will probably be out of my price bracket, plus I wear glasses, which seems to be a deterrent for many. I do not fear manual focus (I still have my Canon T90 which I loved using) either. I do worry about macro photography, wildlife and aviation though with a rangefinder. Sometimes, getting up close to crocodiles is not the best option   .The Leica M9 menu system is simple and the options available are just right for me.

The Nikon D600 attracts me due to its reasonably compact size, plus the fact it lets me control the camera. The D800 attracts me as well. The size and weight do put me off. A lot of the time when I travel I have an 8kg to 12kg baggage limit. That includes my clothes. I don't travel as often as I used to so that is not the most important factor.

So, the functionality of the D600/ D800 in a Leica Body and with Leica lenses, plus zoom lenses would be perfect.

 hval's gear list:hval's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 Nikon D200 Nikon D300 Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR +15 more
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nelsonal
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Re: What System Meets My Many Needs?
In reply to hval, Jan 12, 2013

That M240 looks pretty similar to how I use my NEX. I don't use any R zooms, but have a couple of Minolta's lenses that share an optical design (they're pretty nice).  I know the missing AA filter makes a nice difference but it seems like the majority of what makes a Leica image special comes from their lenses rather than some secret processing sauce.

It's not nearly as classy, but there's a model that fits just about every budget. I don't know how well the EVFs would work with glasses, but they seemed at least reasonable in my very quick try of them. The NEX is my favorite video platform but haven't found anything I'd want to more than rent yet.

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hval
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Re: What System Meets My Many Needs?
In reply to nelsonal, Jan 12, 2013

Nelsonal,

Oh dear  .  Thanks for the suggestion; I like it.

I will now have to open my research up to include Sony, Olympus, Fuji, and Pentax.  I know nothing about these manufacturers cameras these days.

I see that the Sony Nex does take Leica lenses with an adaptor.

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JeffS7444
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Re: Canon SX50 HS super-zoom?
In reply to hval, Jan 12, 2013

SX50 HS can do those things too. I just picked up mine, but only managed a handful of shots before the initial battery charge got depleted. 1200mm-equivalent at the long end of the zoom range, with what appears to be outstanding IS! Live histogram and the option for fully manual exposure control too.

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AlbertInFrance
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Re: Canon SX50 HS super-zoom?
In reply to JeffS7444, Jan 13, 2013

Have a serious look at the Fuji X-Pro1 and X-E1. They both have excellent sensors (but APS-C rather than full frame) and lenses. Although the current range of Fuji lenses is limited you can use most other makes via adapters.

Their main weakness is seen as in autofocus speed, although for my shooting style I don't have problems.

What sold me on them was the fact that you have real aperture ring and shutter speed dial controls. They look like Leicas but about 1/5 of the price.

There's a Fuji X forum on here or you could look through http://www.fujixseries.com/discussions

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AltLens
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BUDGET
In reply to hval, Jan 13, 2013

hval wrote:

Nelsonal,

Oh dear . Thanks for the suggestion; I like it.

I will now have to open my research up to include Sony, Olympus, Fuji, and Pentax. I know nothing about these manufacturers cameras these days.

I see that the Sony Nex does take Leica lenses with an adaptor.

I suspect I'm not the first to notice, but you posted a coomon inquiry, but as I read the dialogue you're having with the responders it seems you operate on a budget that some of us would not presume at the outset.

Since no one else has asked....  What is your budget?

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hval
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Re: BUDGET
In reply to AltLens, Jan 13, 2013

Evening AltLens,

My budget will be about £10,000 (approximately $16,000 or 12,000 Euros). I have been looking at compromises.

I am coming around to the thought of waiting for the Nikon D400 (should it ever be released) which will allow me to make use of the lenses I already have (Nikon 18-70mm f3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX Zoom NIKKOR and Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR DX NIKKOR) along with my Nikon SB800 and top of the range Sandisk CF and SD cards.

If the Nikon D400 (or whatever) is released then I can add to my collection of lenses by getting the following: -

  • Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G
  • Nikon 105mm f/2.8G AF-S VR Micro Nikkor
  • Nikon 200-400mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S VR Nikkor

I would then also buy a suitable microphone for video along with other necessary bits of equipment.

I am also able to utilise my existing Nikon D200 as a back up camera when I wish.

 hval's gear list:hval's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 Nikon D200 Nikon D300 Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR +15 more
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hval
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Re: BUDGET
In reply to hval, Jan 13, 2013

Instead of the  200-400mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S VR I may go for the 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II AF-S NIKKOR with a teleconverter.  Any thoughts?


 hval's gear list:hval's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 Nikon D200 Nikon D300 Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR +15 more
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