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Friday, 24 April 2009


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Why the CosinaZeiss 35 over the CosinaVoigtlander 40, may I ask? I mean, I´d see the difference were one of them be AF, but actually none of them is.

Besides, the chrome accents of the CosinaZeiss do suc* with the red accent scheme that all the nikons sport.

[so I guess it is not aesthetic pleasure what drives you].

Better still.
Because I´m now officially allowed to disagree [even encouraged to, I guess], I´d recommend this [via the upper link on this page, obviously]


Get yourself an adapter [funny there are Pentax to other mounts adapters, but hardly any other mounts to K adapters], and if this is the VW Passat of the cameras [a soulless device -but actually the Passat does fail quite a bit-], get a lens not technically perfect, but with character in spades.

Mike, I don't have anything clever or particularly intelligent to say, just that you came through in a big way with your top choice. It IS the best all-around camera available today, without question. Awesome review too. Bravo!

This countdown was fun Mike, thank you.
However, when looking back at this post in a year, or maybe two, it will look dated. By then, despite your good effort in a recent post to try and persuade people to be happy with all those amazing machines they own already, they will be looking to get rid of their ancient D700's. I don't think the current crisis will hit hard an deep enough to break the spell of perpetual growth that we all have come under. Sad really.
Well, that's all I have time for today, I'm heading into town, I badly need a new camera to cheer me up!

Mike, can you please explain what you mean by "it's got 97% of the image quality of the D3"? I shoot RAW and I see no difference between D700 and D3.


The lens, in platinum.
Ugliness and oddity are soooooo much cooler.
Vive le low-fi!!!!!

Hey there and greetings from Australia!
Just gotta say that I enjoyed the countdown to number 1.

While there were a couple of disagreements, generally I have to concede that the list is fairly accurate from my viewpoint too.

I whole heartedly concur with the viewpoints on the D700.

Having been in this game for a long, long time, I can hardly recall a tool that could be more aptly described as the 'best all round capable machine available at the present time."

It is simply superb in nearly all that it does.

Matched with the 24-70 nikkor it is almost impossible to find something that will match it.

Keep up the great work.


Oh dear, now you've done it. No 5DII anywhere on the list (unless it was meant to be #2). Brace yourself Mike!

Mike: what is interesting about your top 10 list taken as a whole is how much narrower the product offerings are when judged as a group than, say a Camera & Darkroom top 10 list from seven or eight years ago. I don't say this as a criticism, just as an observation of where this marketplace has gone in less than a decade. Currently your list is 35mm or which-species-of digital-would-you-like? My imaginary prior list would have had a LF camera, a MF camera, maybe a panoramic 6x17 MF camera, a rangefinder and the latest wunderproduct. Now I hear you saying, wait, some of the cameras I chose have tiny digital chips and some have FF chips -- surely there's some breadth there. MMMmm, well I set up that straw-man, so let me knock it down and say: I'm not buying. One of the appeals to me of having different systems at one's disposal is that the strengths and limitations of those tools force you to problem-solve in different ways (how're you going to photograph that six year old's birthday party with your fancy Linhoff Teknikardan?). True that there are MF digital cameras out there, but they are so wildly expensive compared with the offerings in the middle of the pack (an order of magnitude more so than their pro-grade film ancestors). But I can't help feeling that we are sliding towards an image-making monoculture that is more specialized and vulnerable than the choices that we had 20 years ago. Here's an example: I have a TLR camera with a shutter that was meant to be serviced -- I mean, "designed that way." The camera is 40+ years old, but if it needs to be tuned up, a competent small machinist can get it apart and perform the necessary adjustments. If the firmware in my D3 becomes corrupted in 10 years, what will be the odds of finding a fix? How about that same 50 year period that my Rolleiflex has weathered so well? There is nothing for it, of course. That's just where we are. But I feel the technological walls of this particular canyon narrowing, for better or for worse.

Ben Marks

I greatly enjoyed reading the list and will try not to take any satisfaction that my two primary cameras (D700 and Zeiss Ikon) made the cut.

I just wanted to say that although the first lens I bought for the D700 was the outstanding Zeiss ZF 35/2, I eventually ended up selling it to buy the modest Nikon AF 35/2 instead. The D700 viewfinder and focusing screen are adequate for manual focusing, but they are pretty lame compared to just about any system made for this purpose. Even my lowly Nikon EM, the little plastic camera that never got any respect, is better than the $2700 D700 when it comes to manual focus. I even bought a custom D700 screen from Brightscreen but found that wanting.

In contrast, the experience with the small, inexpensive AF 35/2 has been fantastic. It doesn't have the same sparkle as the Zeiss, but for people photography, it does a great job.

I sold my M8 to buy a D700, mostly to get back to a single system (I had a D200). An unexpected pleasure of full-frame was getting to think again in terms of the focal lengths I've gotten used to since the 60s. I know exactly what, say, 35mm will do for me in full-frame. In DX, while the calculations were easy enough, it never seemed intuitive. (Especially because the M8 and D200 have different crop factors.)

High-ISO IQ is great to have, and not only in low-light. I used a hand-held 70-300mm zoom the other day to try to chase down butterflies in the local Butterfly Pavilion, and if it were not for ISO 6400 it would have been too difficult to be fun.


How very satisfying! The perfect meal partaken with the perfect wine!

You, Sir, are a true connoisseur!

I realize that this isn't a hierarchy in the "this camera is better than all others for everything" sense, but if any current DSLR has to be #1, the D700 is it. Of course I say that with just a modicum of bias as I sit here regarding mine with renewed affection. And the description is unimpeachable too: it is a camera that just works. Solid and reliable while being very versatile and intuitive.

The D700 gets the job done without getting the way.

Only 12 MB? Phmeh! When someone commissions me to make a series of gallery prints larger than 16 x 20 I'll consider the D3x, or whatever comes after it, because I already have the lenses that'll make it sing (but durn it, Mike, I don't have that Zeiss). I won't be holding my breath waiting for that commission though. In the meantime the D700 will do nicely. It's a bit of a baby anvil with that 24-70 f/2.8 hanging off it (or the 14-24, or the 70-200 ...), but what it does with the light that is refracted through those fine optics is just right.

And I say all of the above as a serious film Luddite.

Excellent list, Mike!
Never mind that it's sort of like a big grin with a missing tooth (#2)!!


as the Player said: the D700 is the most universal DSLR around. it is nowhere the best in any specialized category, but it can do anything. as a car it would be a VW bully with 4 wheel drive and 200 horsepower. the universal automotive, ahem, camera.

I have had a D100 for a little over 6 years and have been happy with it. I can't say that I have ever felt the need to replace this DX body. Therefore, instead of upgrading bodies over the years, I have spent my photography money on lenses, and kept in mind that at some point I would add an FX body. The D700 will be that body and I have a nice selection of lenses all of which are appropriate for the D700. While the D700 is expensive (although not all that much more than I paid for the D100), if it lasts for as long and I am as happy with it as I have been with the D100, it will be money well spent.

My problem with the Nikon D700 isn't the camera.. it's the Nikon system. Or to be more precise the Nikon full frame system. For me and my style of photography the standard zoom is a very important lens and neither of Nikon's offering in this segment are remotely appealing to me (the 24-70 is vastly expensive and just... well.. vast, while the 24-120 is the worst lens ever made my Nikon by most accounts). Nikon have spent too long catering mainly to the APS-C market (for which that make a very large range of standard zooms) and perhaps in the future they will return to a full range of full frame lenses. Taking the system-first-camera-second philosophy, this rules this camera out completely until Nikon give us a better range of lens option.

Those interested mainly in fixed focal length lenses are better served, both by Nikon and others such as Zeiss and Cosina-Voigtlander, but even here there are significant gaps in the Nikon system.

This highlights a big problem for camera reviewers I suppose... how much do you take the camera system into account when making a recommendation? This is a superb camera by all accounts, and on its own an easy one to recommend, but what of the system? (Though you do allude to this problem in your final paragraph.)

Alas, before you eviscerated the 24-120 I bought one for my D300. I can't see all the ugliness you saw, but I don't know what to replace it with anyway. What recommendations would you make for a cropped-sensor Nikon owner?

"Mike, can you please explain what you mean by "it's got 97% of the image quality of the D3"? I shoot RAW and I see no difference between D700 and D3."

Yes, please quantify those 3%.

No, actually, I'm just kidding; I don't give a hoot. I'm a happy D700 shooter, and any comparisons to the D3 are pretty much meaningless to me, because ergonomically and financially, it's a whole other beast.

I agree with Chris Osborne completely. Grading camera bodies unto themsleves is like grading automobile engines. Absent a lens, a camera body doesn't do anythhing. Its just an abstract piece of machinery. The fact that the lens that you recommend as a first purchase is manual focus underscores the problem. Likewise, the recommendation of any mid level DSLR falls short on the same account, unless you can say that you each of the manufacturers has fully competent lens lineup to complement the camera. I have no basis to agree or disagree with Chris's evaluation of Nikon's full frame lens offerings, but that needs to be part of the discussion on some level. ch

When the D700x becomes available, Nikon would have an unbeatable product line:
D3 -- the real reason for FX - pixel density and high-ISO preformance.
D700 -- a camera that meets the needs of most photographers
D3x -- an iteration for a few photographers who really need resolution
D700x -- a camera most phtographers WANT (and will be a sure hit)
D300 -- everything you ever need except high ISO performance. It is still the affordable "need" camera.
And then all those models below the price line -- to fit every budget.
What other camera brand meets the needs and wants of all photographers?
Canon would need a full frame 7D with a 12M sensor (and the AF from the 1D series), and a 1D with full frame (not 1.3x crop factor) to match up with Nikon.

Mike -- I bet you'll get >100 comments in less than 24 hours!!

This camera is very, very tempting to me, and I am a thirty-year veteran of Canon hardware. And, if I was to purchase it, the lens I had mated with it, even before I clicked on the link, was the Zeiss 35 f/2. This seems like an unbeatable street photographer's camera (except for the heft). The only thing that seemingly vould compete would be a full-frame Leica, and that price would be way beyond me.

I was going on one of those "lifetime trips" last January and wanted the best high-ISO Nikon-system camera I could find, and so wound up with a D3. It functioned perfectly, but is too heavy. Not just too heavy because I'm old, it's just too heavy, period. When the D700 came out, I thought I might wait a while, and then see if anybody wanted to trade straight-up. IMHO, the D700 is simply a better camera than the D3, with no caveats needed about price or ultimate quality or ruggedness, and I wish I had one.

I have no serious problems with the list -- at least, not until #2 comes in -- but I do have problems with the fact that it's a list. Another interesting exercise, sometime, would be to gather cameras in tiers, and look at them not vertically, but horizontally, so to speak -- the 1DsIII vs the A900 vs. the D3x, with all the system strengths and so on considered. I don't think more sophisticated camera people, like those who read this blog, buy vertically, but choose the tier they're interested in for a specific purpose (pocketable, light-interchangeable, high-ISO, high-res) and then go looking for a camera.


Never having used a Nikon camera I'm in no position to authentically comment here.

But I will remark that the past 18 months or so will certainly be recorded as the "Nikon's Revenge Campaign" period. In my mind I picture rows of Japanese pilots standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier (named "Nikon") at dawn, cheering in unison with arms synchronously waving, as their planes zoom off the deck to attack their most hated antagonist: CANON! D700's and D3's rain from the skies over Caononland. Nikon lenses are launched like pepper bombs. A huge D3x goes right down the open lens hole of a 1Ds Mark III. Kaboom! A future war memorial sinks with dignity.

And then I wake up.

I'm genuinely happy for the long-suffering Nikon fans.

Now go take some damn pictures worth looking at!

Hi Mike,

I have watched with great interest your T.O.P. Ten Recommendations. There were certainly some surprises and omissions, but overall a very fine job (as usual). Having already written enthusiastically about the Nikon D700 in this very space, I have little more to add. I will say that I have had it since it was released and it’s still going strong and making great quality images. Coincidentally, I just purchased the Zeiss 35mm f/2 and a Katz Eye split prism focusing screen that I will be writing about in the near future.

Thanks for this series Mike and I can hardly wait until next month when all will be revealed.



The 24-85mm f2.8-4 AF-D or the discontinued 24-85mm f3.5-4.5 AF-S are "cheaper" lenses that pair very well with the D700 and are said to be better optically than the 24-120 VR. IMO, Nikon should have made the 24-85 AF-D the D700 kit lens.

Chris: To say that the Nikon system is problematic smacks of hyperbole. This is true even if you limit your statement to the Nikon full-frame system. For most of it's life, Nikon has been a "full-frame" company.

If you are unhappy with the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8, you might want to try the older 35-70 f/2.8. If you want something smaller, lighter and with AF-S, then try the 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5, which is highly regarded by pros, despite not being considered a "pro" lens. A lens of similar quality, though without AF-S and not quite as wide is the 28-105 mm f/3.5-4.5.

Looking beyond the Nikon stable, there is also the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8, which while not perfect on full-frame, it no slouch either. And there is Sigma's recently released 24-70 f/2.8 HSM lens, which has generally gotten excellent reviews so far (supposedly better than Canon's 24-70 f/2.8, but slightly worse than Nikon's). Third-party lens options are part of a system's appeal (Don't believe me? Consider the cache Nikon derives from the availability of compatible Zeiss and Voigtlander primes).

What I think you are getting at is this: you want a Nikon equivalent of Canon's 24-105mm IS lens. So do a lot of people. But that hardly means that the Nikon system is lacking in options. Moreover, Thom Hogan has hinted that Nikon is planning to introduce a slew of new lenses to mark the 50th anniversary of the Nikkor. I suspect that a lot of people will be happy with the new lenses.

Adam: If you are looking for a high-quality DX standard zoom lens with VR, then you have two obvious options: the Nikon 18-105mm VR and 16-85mm VR lenses. The 18-105 is cheap, sharp and light, but of lesser (though still solid) build quality. The 16-85 is almost identical optically, but starts wider (24mm-e) and has better build quality. Both of these lenses are startlingly good, despite their modest prices, and should beat the 24-120 handily. I wouldn't bother considering any of Nikon's other standard zooms, each of which includes compromises in one of the following: VR, reach or image quality.

If you are interested in primes....well, you have plenty of options.

I will point my wife, Mimi, to this post: My first dSLR purchase has been validated!

The D700 is worth it's place on this list because Nikon is brave enough to put all the goodies (and more) from their top gun D3 into this package and charge a little more than 1/2 the price!!
The Canon 5DII is not a mini 1Ds, it's a 50D with a full frame sensor. Plus the HD Video real photographers don't need.
Mike, couldn't agree with you more.

After I bought a 5D2 from your affiliate links? Mike, how could you. :P

Mike –

I don’t have any problems with your list. It was fun to read and mostly logical to me. It was my understanding that the numbers didn’t mean much, so I am not sure you are really saying that the Nikon D700 is the best camera just because it is number 1 on the list. But you are saying it is, in your opinion, the best camera in its “category.” There, I disagree. I have both Nikon and Canon systems and I think there are clear advantages to the Canon 5D MKII. There, I said it. (Well, someone was going to say it anyway). The Canon is priced similarly, has great high ISO performance, has similar handling characteristics, has much better lenses (in my opinion) and the extra MP certainly don’t hurt. Also, and to many this is no small thing, it offers 1080p video. I know you and many of your readers don’t care too much about video, and some seem to even detest it, but it is the wave of the future, and makes the Canon more obsolete-proof.


Well, sure, play it straight and recommend the most competent all-around capable and versatile camera out there. It's both more and less satisfying than if #1 had resembled our tongue-in-cheek speculations of some zen-like insight about the unimportance of "which" and the fickleness of "best" (though there was some of that elsewhere on the list).

Thank you, Mike. Great list, and the countdown itself was very enjoyable. Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

I'm sure this post and the list will be blogged about and talked about and linked to a great deal over the next few days.

And after a well-deserved rest and pat on the back, some time in future when you're looking for a crazy project, perhaps you will consider Chris Osborne's setup line. He brings up a great point about reviews and systems (by implication the lack of reviews of systems). The methodology you used here makes a survey of systems seem feasible, if not anywhere near easy. Yeah, OK, maybe more suitable for a book, or a (big) web site... with a staff...

Enjoy your weekend and your fame. Cheers!

(Edwin, you're being way conservative on the comment flood.)

Mike I too am wondering about the 97% comment as I shoot with both and can't see any difference.

Great reading though,


Now that you've finally completed your Top Ten list of cameras I'm sure the last thing you want to do is start over with a new list, but in response to Chris Osborne's comment, I'd be a lot more interested to see a list of the top ten lenses for DSLRs. I'm talking lenses so good you'd buy a body just to use them. If the very thought of such a task makes you sick to your stomach, well, you have Chris to blame.

Well, as a Canon 5D and 5DII shooter, I agree that the D700 is a better CAMERA. And if the camera was all there was to the equation, I'd have one or two.

Where Nikon has fallen flat on it's face is with the fast primes that I shoot with. They just don't compete in that arena as of now. Nikon has no answer for my 24 & 50 mm L primes, and their 300 f4 (a lens I use quite a bit) is still un-stabilized and therefore not relevant for how I use it. So, for me, Nikon is a no go. They have great zooms though, really the best in the business, but I don't like zooms. And they kill with their flash system, but I really almost never use flash.

The Zeiss lenses are a great addition, but as a previous poster noted, the focus screens in the D700 are not so great of MF, and they don't make a screen, as Canon does, just for MF. I focus myself at least 80% of the time, and can't do that so reliably with a screen optimized for AF.

As far as sensor quality, it's really a draw these days. If you take the time to learn your equipment and practice good technique, you will get outstanding results from any of the top and mid level cameras on the market today.

That being said, the Nikon D700 is one damn fine camera that I'd love to use and was sorely tempted to switch to, until the 5DII came out. For me, it's the complete system that wins the war.

I think Ben Marks observations ought to be a featured comment.

Where is the Canham wood camera or Sinar P2 of just a few years ago? The comparison of the Fuji 6x9 vs the Mamiya 7 rangefinder? Do any of these cameras do what they did less well and don't they in fact do many things better that your current top 10? (I'm thinking dynamic range, IQ, film B&W which is better than digital B&W).

Several photojournalists have made a splash with more traditional cameras, e.g. Speed Graphic, Mamiya 7, 35mm rangefinder, because everyone else is using the same equipment, a DSLR with a wide zoom and long zoom and the output is all looking the same.

Thanks for your nod to the Zeiss Ikon, but I think you could have nodded a couple more times, such as to the new 6x7 folder or the Mamiya 645 AFD. These represent real technical achievement in a more traditional framework.

Take care,

I think it was a correct decision. The D700 deserves the #1 position at the moment. I agree with Mike, and I am thinking of buying one (the 12 mega sensor does give me second thoughts though) and I, too, would choose the Zeiss 35mm as my first lens as well. I think there are many among us who miss Full Frame, simple shooting with primes.

funny there are Pentax to other mounts adapters, but hardly any other mounts to K adapters

It's very simple...

"Systems with larger flange-to-film distances include Nikon's F-mount (46.50 mm), Olympus's OM mount (46.00 mm), and the Pentax K mount/M42 (45.46 mm) universal thread mount. These lenses can be adapted to many camera bodies."

Mike, no mention of the 14-24? From what I saw around the web, it looks like a terrific lens.

I bought the D700 for its low-light high-ISO capabilities, and I've been surprised and delighted to discover that it changes my shooting experience in ways beyond low-light situations.

Even on the street in daytime, I discover now how much I had been keeping my aperture wide open or shutter a tad slow. I now shoot ISO 800 with impunity, and aperture and shutter speed are much more flexible.

I find I'm even shooting differently on a tripod. A recent project with the D700 on a tripod involved Nikon flashes, 1/250 sec. to kill ambient light, and f/22 for depth of field. I could just pull it off at ISO 800, and the prints are very clean without resorting to any noise reduction in post.

All of which is to say: this is the most transparent SLR I've ever used.

How sad is it when Nikon *still* don't just get the fact that they need a Canon 35/1.4 & 85/1.2 equivalent for thier superb D700!

Furthermore, Canon who make these *two* superb lenses still don't get it either, we need a D700 equivalent from them too.

Having seen the entire list (sort of), here's my conclusion: There is not a camera on the list that I couldn't take good photographs with if I were, in fact, capable of taking good photographs. And although I own none of the cameras on the list, I'm confident my photographs would be no better if I did own one.

Yet I still find the list fascinating. What does that say?

hey, the d700 looks nice with the d300-style sync plugs. all the other photos of it i've seen have the two circles instead.

just goes to show what i look for in a camera.

"After I bought a 5D2 from your affiliate links? Mike, how could you. :P"

It's a great camera too, as you know.

And, THANKS for using my links!


"I have both Nikon and Canon systems and I think there are clear advantages to the Canon 5D MKII. There, I said it."

Hi Ed,
I can respect that.


"Now that you've finally completed your Top Ten list of cameras I'm sure the last thing you want to do is start over with a new list, but in response to Chris Osborne's comment, I'd be a lot more interested to see a list of the top ten lenses for DSLRs. I'm talking lenses so good you'd buy a body just to use them. If the very thought of such a task makes you sick to your stomach, well, you have Chris to blame."

Gordon, Chris, et al,
It's a valid idea, but I foresee two problems with it. One is that people would doubtless object to the piecemeal manner in which I gather data about lenses--I can't possibly survey all existing lenses--even all good ones--through extensive personal use, even if people would accept just that and not demand objective testing too. The other is that each of us have different needs and requirements when it comes to lenses, and thus a whole different constellation of interests. Given just those two limitations, I doubt I know more about lenses than anybody else.

Oh, also, it might not seem like it, but it's actually kinda hard writing a 1200-word essay every night that 30,000 people are going to be picking to pieces the next day. [g]

But I'll think about it....


Dear Mike,

Many thanks for your this excellent website and all the effort you put into it. I read it on a daily basis, and with very much pleasure.

Just something about the D700 picture that was put at the start of this post. I have both the D700 and the D300 in front of me, and it seems that your picture does not represent a real D700, but a photoshopped mix of a D300 body with a D3 viewfinder added. Look at the matrix/central/spot button protruding on the left side of the viewfinder. On the D700 this knob is placed on the rear side, around the AE-L button. There are also many other details which point to the D300 body, but not to the D700.

Short comments concerning the D700. Should all camera makers stop introducing improved products right now, I would be happy to carry on with the D700 till my last days. I hope, however, that a lighter and smaller version, but with the same build and image quality, will become available some day. Further, the FX lens alignment is severely wanting. We need a whole range of f/4 lenses, starting with a 24-105/4. The present breed of Nikon FX lenses is either obsolete or totally geared towards the professional photographer, i.e big, heavy and expensive.

Kind regards,

CMS and aizan,
Thanks. I changed it. The first picture must have been left over in the archives from the days before it came out and people were speculating.


I can't believe you are putting the new Canon 3D in second place.

Yeah well how come you don't work at DPReview if you're so smart?

Subscribing to T.O.P has been on my To Do list for a couple of weeks now, but with the Top 10 list coming to an (almost) end, I realised how much I'd been looking forward to each new day's entry (lucky me, I live in New Zealand and got to see the new entries at about midnight, but alas with no comments yet made). So with the recognition of the joy of anticipating an reading each new entry, it was an almost automatic response to click on the black box and sign up for my new subscription.

As someone who currently shoots Leica CL, Arca Swiss 4x5, and the worlds crappiest years-old digicam, I am in the market for something along the lines of a digital CL (Mike's holy grail is mine too) so this has been a fascinating read for me. Eventually I'll switch my architectural photography business work over to digital, but I'm still happy with film (sick and tired of scanning though!), so reading about the current state of affairs at the high end has been enlightening too. For that work of course, there are only two system choices, and only 2-3 body choices. I'll wait a bit longer for that decision.

Keep up the great work, Mike, and I hope all the hard work of the Top 10 exercise has been invigorating for you.



I have Canon digital (5DII, Xsi) and Nikon film (FM2n) systems. While the D700 may be a good camera, it is too damned big.

If Nikon (or anyone) would bring out a digital version of the FM2n, then we'd really have something. Give me a big, bright, split-image finder in a small, simple body AND a full-frame low-noise sensor. Then, I'd buy it. Nobody makes a camera like that.

No, I'm not a pathetic wimp who can't carry a big manly camera. I just like to backpack, and I find a big camera is too conspicuous when traveling. Also, manual focus (read: compact lenses) is fine for most of my work.

There's a niche market there for someone with some vision and a few million dollars to play with.

One question:
[given that Mr. Owner of this Site and ShutterFreak Extraordinaire does not give an opinion over both Cosina lenses :o)]

I´ve been recently looking at how both the fast 50´s of Cosina are designed, and they are actually the very same optical designs [in principle].

The Nokton 58 and the Planar 50 share the very same designs. How would you choos between one or the other [and having tried and briefly owned the 58, FA50 and FA43, there is much more visual impact difference in FOV from 43 to 50 than from 50 to 58].



A great set of articles and a great set of choices. I've been following these every day.

I only wish I could justify buying any of these. I don't print and I just share photos so I can't see myself justifying a new camera amongside my existing Pentax *ist DS, Digital GR, and M6. Nor lenses, I think I have everything I need.

But I certainly can relate to just wanting something new. I too have picked up a D700 and wanted one badly. But, having said that, I'm not sure I'd use it any differently to my existing equipment...

... which leads me to think that some of your choices are transformational to how people work with their camera. The D700 in low light for PJs and the A900 for resolving power for art photographers are two great examples. The instrument that changes the game - that camera has not come yet for me yet.

What I will close with is that, it's a testament to your site that you can generate such enthusiasm from your following in the comments here. It's a great thing that we all can sit here and discuss and compare these great works of technology.

I'll probably won't ever have the need to buy any of these in your list; but it good to know that 1. they exist, and 2. all of us care enough that they continue to exist and get better. And when 2. finally brings something that changes the game for me; I'll be glad that we all cared :)

Great list and I eagerly await for Number 2...


Ok, Mike. You had to do it. Even after I contributed to your site.
Here I am convincing myself that I don't NEED a D700, my D200 is wonderful and has/is serving well aside from that silly high ISO thing (That would only open a whole new life of picture taking). I am trying to encourage my curmudgeon-y stingy side instead of the carefree techno-lust gear-head weakness side.
And then you do what I most feared with your list. Don't you realize that if I spring for a D700 I will be unable to contribute as I would like to this admirable blog of yours?
I realize that you are more idealistic than to base your opinions on how it affects you financially but you should at least be aware of the negative impact to your wallet:-)
have some fun today,

"Don't you realize that if I spring for a D700 I will be unable to contribute as I would like to this admirable blog of yours?"

Yes Dale but just think how happy you will be. And your happiness is what's important.

Mike the CPE (camera purchase enabler)

this is the lens i'd kill for.

"Another interesting exercise, sometime, would be to gather cameras in tiers, and look at them not vertically, but horizontally, so to speak -- the 1DsIII vs the A900 vs. the D3x, with all the system strengths and so on considered."

I would be interested in this too.

Carl and Damon,
You can't see a 3% difference in image quality.

Cryptically yours,


I tried both lens and I found I really prefer by low light my old Nikkor 1,4 AIS.
One can found it on e-bay. I am pretty sure Nikon will made a new variation quite soon.

It’s true that I am used to, as I own one.
It is not the best lens, but I found it more suitableon the D700, by low light.
Sorry it’s in romanian. But the pictures show more than the words.
I had the chance to use the D700 before you, but only for a week.

May be the Zeiss Distagon fits better the Sony A900.

"The subscriber black box" .... well I finally see such box exist. Why is black? Why is there no information about what it meant and what one Subscribe to when press? Why is below Amazon? Not that some of us will need that to subscribe but once someone point that out, I found it a bit strange that such a channel exist. Is it usual way of presenting subscription?


I am with Carl in wondering what you meant by saying the D700 has got 97% of the D3's image quality. Care to explain further?


"Mike, can you please explain what you mean by 'it's got 97% of the image quality of the D3'? I shoot RAW and I see no difference between D700 and D3.


After an assignment in Milan I sent my assistant home with the D3X I now use for commercial shoots, keeping my D3 for my further travels thru Spain. The D3 performs great on the street as everyone knows, and that high speed, high iso demon processor changes your life. Then in Paris, about to board my flight home, my sling bag fell off (strap buckle 'unsnapped'). Big ugly thud! turns out 24-70mm broke in two, body no longer functional. I had to shoot the next week, so in Singapore I bit the bullet and replaced the lens, and I bought a D700. You get the idea - $ouch. I am repairing the other stuff, but probably will sel the lens. But the point is with the D700 I made a discovery. It's not as fast recording bursts, in the view finder it's not as handy: but oh boy it is so much less obstrusive, and the end results are 99.9% that of the D3. My main gripe with all this high end digital stuff: It performs fantastically, but I feel as inconspicuous as a US Marine walking thru Baghdad when I am on the street with it. Surely Nikon can work on a high end rangefinder and get a market for it? (Please don't flub it like Leica did!).It would make travel and street photography less of an endurance sport again.

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