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Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

Reviews by CactusD

Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • noise, build quality, AF, handling, dual card slots, did I say anything about noise?
Cons
  • cost, full-frame shooting will shorten reach for long-lens work compared with DX body
Surprised there isn't a review of this on here yet, so I'll post my comments
.
In short, this is probably the most capable camera body I'll ever own. With full-frame sensor, it's an update to the already outstanding D3, but with the addition of a new sensor with even better noise control, movie mode, and dust-removal system (though this appears less successful on full frame than on DX bodies).

This is an outstanding body enabling wildlife photographers to achieve previously impossible shots. Not only does this allow shooters to start earlier and finish later, it also allows for far higher shutter speeds than before at crazy ISOs. It also allows you, for example, to take high-speed birds-in-flight shots in murky conditions, with noise well under control. The noise on a D300 at ISO 400-800 is about the same on the D3S at between ISO 2000-5000.
This also makes it amazing for hand-held macro work, enabling virtually noise-free handheld shots at between f16 and f32 at shutter speeds of between 1/200 and 1/320 on a 200mm macro lens in overcast conditions, completely freeing you up from having to use a tripod, and thus maximizing shooting opportunities and compositions.
The D3S also takes teleconverters extremely well, though those used to the added reach of Nikon DX bodies have effective focal length reduced by 1.5x (though you can, if you wish, shoot in DX mode).
As might be expected from a pro body, handling and build quality are amazing. Dual compact flash slots allow me to shoot 600 raw files without changing an 8gb card. Battery capacity is also very impressive, even after the already very good D300.
The movie mode seems a bit gimmicky, but some may find this works for them. Very useful, however, is the voice memo feature, allowing you to record a memo e.g. of the bird or plant species you're photographing. I'm pretty sure it would also be good for recording and identifying a burst of birdsong.

Altogether an outstanding camera body, for those wanting cutting-edge technology and willing to pay for it.:eek!:
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
Cons
Yep, very good. I've got these for my Nikon 600VR and they do the job. I leave mine on all the time. Mine is 'advantage wetland' pattern, but there's a good range of colour options. As said above, they're cheaper than the equivalent lenscoat (though I do have a lenscoat hood cover that fits perfectly over the end even with these on).
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Solid, secure at every lens angle, yet smooth: superb engineering; modular
Cons
  • Cost. But if you've shelled out for a prime 500/600mm lens, then...
I've just bought this well-known product as an upgrade for my Manfrotto 393 to go with a Nikon 600mm. Having set it up out of the box, it is very impressive indeed. I have three specific remarks, to compare both heads, and some final comments:

1.
To second Andy's comments, the gimbal has both vertical and horizontal adjustment for perfect balance (unlike the Manfrotto, with just horizontal adjustment along the lens plate) and this makes it balance at any angle even when the knobs are not tightened the Manfrotto cannot do this. It works perfectly if you take the time to read the instructions and set it up correctly - though it's recommended you mark the positions of the horizontal and the vertical adjustments with a pen so that you can easily relocate the balance point each time you set up the lens on the head.
The reason this is important is that the balanced Wimberley setup puts less stress on the tightening knob to hold the lens in place; on the Manfrotto this is fine if your lens is relatively lightweight (I used it very happily with my original Tamron 200-500mm), but if you move to a supertele prime, and therefore multiply the weight supported considerably (the Tamron weighs just over 1kg; Nikon 600VR is just over 5kg), the Manfrotto begins to struggle to hold the weight, meaning that there is some play even if the knobs are tightly locked down, resulting in some movement in the viewfinder.

2.
The Wimberley also has a panning control knob, which the Manfrotto lacks. This prevents sideways panning play when you want the head to be locked down. It also means that you can lock down the head when you are carrying it over the shoulder (though if youre using a Gitzo tripod, make sure the top-plate bolt is tight!), so that the lens wont move on the tripod on its own.

3.
Modular add-ons: the head comes with a product catalogue listing a full range of accessories you can add to the head. Most useful are likely to be flash brackets, which attach neatly to the top of the vertical arm, to raise the flash gun away from the lens axis. These are pricey, but unless you fabricate something yourself, theres no support for this with the Manfrotto 393.

Final comments.
An excellent piece of kit. Anyone contemplating buying this will probably already have a decent tripod, which is a must. The Wimberley head is 4x more expensive than the Manfrotto, which is a bit of an issue, but if youve shelled out for a 500-600mm prime (or indeed a 300-800 Sigma), then youll need a solid leg and head set. The advantages over the Manfrotto 393 might seem subtle - they weigh about the same, and are about the same size - but if you have the opportunity to play around with both, the advantages of the Wimberley are clear.
The head uses the Arca-Swiss style quick release plate system; if youre with Nikon youll need the replacement Wimberley foot (AP-452 for the 600VR, AP-553 for 500VR), though youll probably want this anyway since the stock Nikon 600mm foot, at least, is lousy.
If youve got serious about your birding lens, and have gone for a 500mm or 600mm prime, or the Sigma 300-500mm, this works great. The lower the lens weight, the more the Manfrotto comes back into the equation; however, if your lens is a 300f2.8, or perhaps Nikons 200-400VR, the full Wimberley will probably still be for you.
Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Build quality, 3-inch screen, speed, excellent IQ, AF performance, effective sensor-cleaning, AF fine-tuning, etc. etc.
Cons
  • Battery grip makes for a bulky combo (-> bigger than D3)? Otherwise, nothing
Finally unleashed on 600VR; even with Tamron 200-500 excellent for bird shots, provided you push the ISO for fast shutter speeds (which you can do, of course). You get what you pay for, as usual with all things optical.
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