My first camera, a Canon EOS 300, was offered to me for Christmas 2000. Since then, I have had the opportunity to handle several other cameras, including compact cameras.
2009 turned out to be a decisive year as I got my first job and decided to acquire a full-frame camera. Looking for a multi-purpose body, I switched from Canon to Nikon and acquired the D700. From this day on, I have been using exclusively and extensively Nikon gears.
For those who are wondering if the switch from Canon to Nikon was worth the price I would easily say “yes”. Prior to acquire my D700, I had the opportunity to use extensively my brother’s 7D and a friend’s 5D markII. From my experience, the D700 outpaces the 7D and 5D markII in terms of autofocus, dynamic range, low light performance and built quality. However, I will not develop the pros and the cons of these cameras as everyone knows that better gears do not make better photographers.
Bodies - Nikon D700 and D800
The D700 is a Nikon professional full-frame DSLR camera. As stated above, the D700 performances are excellent in terms of autofocus, dynamic range and image quality in low light conditions. Moreover, the built quality is outstanding: with its magnesium alloy body, the D700 is environmentally-sealed and feels like a rock in your hands! I also find that the camera is very comfortable to use: its offers a nice grip, a bright viewfinder, a high quality LCD monitor and a user-friendly control panel.
This camera is great for people who enjoy taking pictures of friends, family and kids. It is also great for action / sport photography. However, people who enjoy landscape photography or have to deliver very large prints may prefer the Canon 5d markd II as the D700 “only” offers a 12MP resolution (note that I often print at 40cm x 60cm and the quality of the printings are perfect with the 12MP resolution of the D700).
The D800 is also a Nikon professional full-frame DSLR camera. Like the D700, the D800 offers excellent auto-focus, dynamic range and image quality. Its huge resolution (36MP) enables very very large prints and cropping.
Midrange zoom - Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8
The Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 is a Nikon professional midrange zoom. If I had to choose one unique lens it would be this one. Indeed, the lens is very polyvalent: its 24-70mm zoom range is useful for photojournalism, portrait and landscape photography. Although many professional photographers overlook midrange zooms and prefer prime lenses, I think that the Nikkor 24-70mm is the perfect lens for semi-professional or advanced amateur photographers who prefer to carry one midrange zoom rather than several prime lenses.
The lens performances are excellent in terms of sharpness and accuracy. Besides, the ergonomics of the 24-70mm f/2.8mm is great: despite its huge size and weight, the lens feels very comfortable and well balanced. The calibration of the zoom and focus rings is perfect. Both rings move very smoothly with the right resistance. For my part, the Nikkor 24-70mm is my main lens: it is always on my D700 or in my backpack.
Telephoto zoom - Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8 AF-D ED
The Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-D ED was launched almost fifteen years ago, in 1997. Despite its age, the lens is still one of the best professional telephoto zooms that can be found today. The lens is built a tank. Unlike the most recent lenses, it is entirely made in metal and is completely mechanical: there is no AF-S motor and no VR (see glossary below for more information) mechanism to break after a couple of decades of use. Moreover, despite the lack an AF-S motor, the Nikkor 80-200mm offers a very fast and accurate autofocus. Finally, the Nikkor 80-200mm delivers stellar optical performances. Wide opened at f/2.8, it is already sharp and stopped down at f/4 it is super sharp at all focal length. The Nikkor 80-200mm is perfect for portrait, sport and action photography where the VR mechanism is often useless (VR is useless for moving objects).
Macro lens - Nikkor 105mm f2.8 Micro
The Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro is a professional prime lens that can be used as a macro, portrait or general-purpose medium telephoto lens. As expected for a Nikon professional prime lens, the 105mm f2.8 VR Micro offers excellent optical performance at every aperture and is perfectly designed (the lens feels well balanced and is built of metal to face the toughest conditions). The lens features the VR (Vibration Reduction) mechanism. Shooting handheld, the VR mechanism is very useful, offering roughly three-stop improvement. However, for serious macro works, fixing the camera body on a tripod is necessary and the VR mechanism becomes almost useless. Along with the Nikkor 200mm f/4 Micro, the Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro is the best macro lens in the Nikon line.
Tripod & ball head - Gitzo GT1542T & Markins Q3
It is impossible to hold a camera steady enough for a critically sharp image as shutter speeds get longer and longer. As a consequence, tripods and ball heads are must-have gears. The Gitzo GT1542T tripod / the Markins Q3 ball head combo is one of the best tripod / ball head combo for photographers looking for perfect steadyness and light gears: the system is very steady and weights only 1.3kg. Moreover the build quality of Gitzo and Markins products are exceptional: I have used my tripod and my ball head all around the world and in many difficult conditions (rain, dust, etc.) and they are still working perfectly.
AF-S and AF-D autofocus: the AF-S Autofocus technology is based on ultrasonic vibrations. This technology provides fast and silent autofocus compared to the AF-D technology which is entirely mechanical and relies on the camera motor. As the AF-D technology relies on the camera motor, its performance in term of speed and noise depends largely on the camera motor. Most of Nikon pro cameras perform extremely well with AF-D lenses.
APS-C and Full Frame sensors: they are two types of image sensors. The main difference between the two sensors is their sizes: the APS-C sensor size is 25.1 × 16.7 mm while the full-frame sensor size is 36x24mm. Both sensors have an aspect ratio of 3:2. Full-frame sensors are preferred over APS-C sensors by professional and serious amateur photographers as, in theory, Full-frame sensors are larger and thus offer a better image quality, with more details and less noise. Moreover, APS-C sensors minimize the field of view by about 1.5 (i.e. a 100mm lens has the same field of view as a 150mm lens on a APS-C sensor).
Macrophotography: macrophotography is close-up photography, usually of very small subjects. Nikon macrophotography lenses are often named "Micro" lenses instead of "Macro" lenses.
VR: Vibration Reduction mechanism.
Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever... it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.
I was once invited for dinner at a restaurant called "Il Vino" in Paris. The restaurant was original as the menu presented a wine selection and nothing but the wine: the courses were unknown and prepared based on the ordered wines. During the dinner, my friend confessed his passion for fine wine. "Fine wine is fascinating" he told me, "it has something we will never have: time. Tasting wine is a truly precious moment; during the time of a sip, you are able to appreciate a timeless emotion".
Every time I hold my camera in my hands, I remember my friend’s remark and I experience the very same feeling: in the time of a click, I am able to capture unchanging moments and everlasting feelings. Through my photography website TERRE EN COULEURS, I share the precious moments I captured during my travels around the world and more particularly I share the feelings and the emotion I experienced in front of breathtaking landscapes and touching places.
Olivier L.O.T. - Terre en Couleurs