Using other brand lens and flash.
Many of us buy a brand name camera and all accessories by the same company. If you have a Nikon camera, most will usually end up with Nikon lenses and flashes. We do this because it is safe. We know a Canon Lens will work perfectly on a Canon camera. We also pay for this. Many third party manufacturers sell equal quality products that a designed to work with your camera, at a lower price. So should you use third party accessories? Or can you save a few bucks and use a Quantaray lens on your Nikon camera?
I was lucky enough to pick up a Quantaray lens and flash on clearance for $20 a piece. Can a $20 lens really be worth using? We will compare my $20 lens to a $400 and a $120 Nikon lenses. With all other things the same, I shot this photo with the three lenses. Look carefully. Can you find any difference in the three? I can't find
anything to make me pick one over another. For this level of photography, I would say the image quality would be equal among the three. I used my SB900 flash for these photos. This is a zoom flash and is controlled by the camera. All three lenses communicated with the camera which relayed the information to the flash the same. If there was any discrepancy, I think the Nikon 18-55 might have displayed a slightly off focal length. Without using a
stopwatch (we are after real world not lab results), the auto focus time seemed to be the same. The Quantaray does not have an auto focus switch on the lens, both the Nikon lenses do; but the D90 has a auto/manual focus switch on the body. This made no difference to me. The only areas I found the Quantaray to be lacking was feel and sound. Obviously feel is very subjective. I don't even know why the Quantaray didn't feel as nice. Now for sound, the Nikons were noticeably quieter. Huge difference? No. Had I not hooked up three lenses in a minute, I would not have noticed.
I don't have any preference between the 18-55 Nikon and the Quantaray. The Nikon D40 does not have a auto/manual focus switch and the D90 does. Therefore, the Nikon 18-55 with a focus selector rides in the D40 bag and the Quantaray is in the D90 bag.
The $20 Flash vs the $500 SB900.
OK, not a fair fight. The SB900 is a top end flash; the Quantaray PZ40X II is a lower end zoom flash. They are not in the same category. However the PZ40x is a TTL zoom flash, so it talks to the camera about everything. (A zoom flash has a motor to adjust the lens/mirror/bulb in the flash, effectively focusing the flash at the same
distance the camera is focused.) All the features and functions on the Quantaray work seamlessly with the camera , same as the Nikon. Once again, the Quantaray has a slightly louder motor than the Nikon. Conclusion:
The two flashes fit different roles. The Quantaray PZ40x is a two battery flash making it much smaller and lighter than the SB900. All the user features work great on the Quantaray. It is a good travel flash.
Is the $20 clearance price a reflection of the actual cost? No. The Quantaray 18-50 lens lists for about $40 less than the Nikon 18-55. The PZ40x flash normally cost about $120. The function of both units make them worth the cost.
I have used many brands with my Nikon and Minolta over the years. While there are always subtle differences, I have never had any problem with third part accessories. My point is... You don't have to buy only Nikon brand lenses. Check the features and functions; read the reviews; and don't be scared of other brand names.