Advice re: upgrading from Nikon D300 to D700

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by david_wyatt|2, Jan 25, 2010.

  1. I'd be very appreciative of advice from photographers who've upgraded from the Nikon D300 to the D700.
    I've been using a D300 with a 17-55 and 70-200 2.8 Nikon lenses for theatre and dance photography, and have been frustrated with the noise and occasional lost shots that I've encountered while trying to use fast enough shutter speeds (1/200-1/320, f2.8) to capture fast-moving low-light indoor dance or theatre action between 800 to 1600 ISO. The 17-55 is fantastic for decently lit shots, but the 70-200 has delivered a lot more 'keepers' in low light work, on top of using NR software.
    I'm thinking about possibly upgrading to a D700, which I've heard is marvellous for low-light work up to 3600 ISO, but I've read that the 17-55 would most likely need to be replaced by the 24-70 lense, which I can't afford at the moment. Are there other similar 2.8 lenses that anyone can recommend that perform close to the 24-70 at slightly less cost? I've heard that Sigma lenses tend to be quite good, but haven't yet ventured away from Nikon glass.
    Any advice would be very much appreciated, many thanks in advance.
     
  2. I believe it's Tamron which have a 28-75mm f/2.8 which is supposed to be great.
    I shoot with both cameras & use them for different things. Love them both - but for what you're talking about - yes the D700 will be a lot better than the D300.
     
  3. i switched from d200 to d700....it's like day and night :) you are making a good decision.
     
  4. 17-55 is fantastic for decently lit shots, but the 70-200 has delivered a lot more 'keepers' in low light work​
    This statement puzzles me - why would there be a difference (aside from the focal length)?
     
  5. You can get great results using some primes in this range. I personally use on D700 Sigma 24mm/f1.8; Voigtlander Cosina 40mm/f2 and Nikon 50mm/f1.2. If you don't like manual focus because of the action, Sigma 50mm/f1.4 is greately appreciated on forums.
    With a faster prime on D700 your keepers will jump... You can start by renting one just to see the difference. And yes, D700 is the way to go - D300 is a great camera but unfortunately with poor results in low light settings.
     
  6. Why don't you rent a D700 for a couple of days and find out for yourself. I wonder if the one stop advantage will justify the rather big investment you have to make in order to get a D700 and new glass?
     
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The D300 should be able to give you pretty good indoor results up to ISO 1600. The D700 will give you one extra stop at high ISO over the D300, but you clearly need to upgrade your 17-55mm lens and the 70-200 will be shorter on the D700. You will be paying a lot of money for that one extra stop.
    The D3S will now provide another stop of high-ISO results than the D3/D700. It is a matter of time the D3S' technology will move down to the D700's level. If you can get a two-stop improvement over your current D300, it'll be a much more worthwhile upgrade. Otherwise, you run the risk that you'll be tempted to making those small one-stop upgrades over and over.
    Think about lenses also. E.g., an affordable 85mm/f1.8 will immediately give you 1.5 stops over your current f2.8 zooms. I would rather spend money on better lenses than those fast-depreciating DSLR bodies again and again.
     
  8. David,
    I'm happy with the value for money I get from the older AF 35-70mm f/2.8 D lens with my D700. I replaced my set up from D300 +17-55mm to D700 + 35-70mm, but I do also use a 17-35mm zoom with the D700.
    The 35-70mm is a push / pull Nikkor lens which takes a little time to get used to adjusting but it's sharp enough wide open and razor sharp from f/4 to f/9 which is where I use it mostly.
    It's disadvantages are that it's not very wide at 35mm and it does flare a little more than all my other Nikkors so I do avoid using it for strongly backlit scenes or directly into the sun. but for your requirements I 'd suggest it's well suited. It's avail. relatively cheaply 2nd hand and may be a suitable stop gap until you save for a new 24-70mm.
     
  9. Many thanks for the comments so far. Renting a D700 for a few days is something that I'll definitely be looking into. I already have the 50mm and 85mm 1.8 prime lenses, but only have the one camera body, and having a zoom is a much preferred option than changing primes and potentially missing shots, or having to move around with either prime to frame a shot - I can't often move around from a location at performances where I'm shooting. I'd probably end up selling those lenses (and possibly selling an 18-200mm Nikon lense) with the D300 if I were to upgrade to the D700, and hopefully the shortfall on getting the 24-70 wouldn't be too much.
     
  10. I agree with Dieter regarding your comment re the 17-55. If the 17-55 isn't working for you, the 24-70 won't either. I shoot theater for a local group and use the D700, 24-70, 70-200 VRI. I can go to 6400 ISO if need be. Faster lens don't necessarily help due to the shallow DOF (unless that is the look you are going for on every image.)
    If you can wait for the D700 replacement, you can pick up a used D700 and save some money. just a thought.
     
  11. D3s technology in a d700 body would indeed be better, but a d700 can be bought for about 2100 € here in Germany now,
    the d700-with-d3s-sensor would appear most likely at about 1000€ more, and take at least one more year to go down to
    the current d700 price. So he would pay even more dearly for that two stops improvement... L
     
  12. Considering the content of the recent NPS query, we just don't know whether the D3s sensor will be used in a D700-size body or if Nikon does something else with the D700 successor; they could use the D3X sensor or a completely new design.
     
  13. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The D700 was announced on July 1, 2008. Within 5, 6 months of its introduction, it dropped to the current price level. Needless to say, the D700 is well over 1.5 years old so that its replacement is very much expected now. If anything, it costs Nikon more money to make two versions of their 12MP FX sensor; it'll be much simplier to use the exactly same sensor on the D3S on a D700 body with video and dual memory cards. They just have to wait for those who must have the D3S to get theirs before moving that sensor to a lower body. For example, Nikon announced the D700 merely 7 months after the D3 first appeared on the market.
    If one buys a new D700 now, within a few months you'll be reading about how great the next camera is and the advantages of capturing some occasional video. And of course NAS will quickly kick in ....
    we just don't know whether the D3s sensor will be used in a D700-size body or if Nikon does something else with the D700 successor; they could use the D3X sensor or a completely new design.​
    What makes you feel that it has to be an either/or situation?
    Unless money is totally a non issue for you, given how good the current DSLRs, we are all much better off skipping at least one generation during the upgrade process. In particular, if you don't already have a lot of excellent lenses, it is usually better to get lenses first. To me, it makes no sense to cut all sorts of corners on lenses in order to afford those expensive DSLR bodies.
     
  14. Nikon already makes three different FX camera bodies. FX is in numbers a relatively small part of the overall DSLR market, although I suppose one could argue that FX users in general tend to have a larger investment in lenses and as such they make Nikon proportionally more money. Canon and Sony feel content with two full-frame DSLR bodies. I wish there were a market for both "D700X" and "D700s" but I doubt that Nikon feels that way. Personally I'd rather buy a "D700X" than the D3X as my applications for a high res body would be tripod based, mostly of still subjects (landscape/architecture/macro) and I feel a body without the integral vertical grip is preferable in such a case. But I suspect a D700s is more likely in light of Nikon's interviews etc. which suggest Nikon to have a contempt to user preference of more pixels rather than higher SNR. I personally feel the D700 level of SNR/high ISO performance is sufficient for my purposes (including low light concert and wedding photography) and I don't feel an urge to upgrade to D3s or a hypothetical D700s. I agree that skipping a generation or two is wise. But I also feel that for low-light people photography applications, the difference between FX and DX is greater than the difference that any technological improvement might make to the sensors (or even the SNR difference). By using DX with a fast lens (e.g. like the 85/1.8), wide open the MTF is quite low at the sampling frequency of the sensor, but the detail contrast at the pixel level goes up when you switch from DX to FX (assuming equal pixel count) and also the focusing accuracy needs to be higher on DX to render those small pixels with detail. Unfortunately many of Nikon's fast primes do not yet have SWM and they do a bit better on FX which is more forgiving when the final print size is the same. I think a purchase of an FX body (any FX body) would be a good move given the OP's applications even though I don't disagree that it is good to skip a generation, in general, when upgrading.
    If a D700X/s/D900 is announced soon, the D700 will make an entrance on the second hand market (I suspect at around 1200 USD/EUR price range), which might allow the OP to purchase both the body as well as update the lenses (i.e. to a fast prime or two, such as the 85/1.4 or 1.8 and/or 135/2). My experience is that f/2.8 zooms are practical for these applications but often there is some residual subject movement blur because of the aperture. Nikon's current 24-70 and 70-200 II are very high contrast lenses which does not seem to lend well to photography in high contrast stage light. I shot two recent concerts with the 70-200 II and was criticized by the band for harsh shadows. Previously I've used primes and they liked the results better (not only is the contrast more forgiving but the aperture allows the movement to be stopped and backgrounds cleaner). I don't necessarily fully agree with the criticism - I thought the contrast and lack of flare of the new zoom was remarkable but I guess technical perfection doesn't always go with subjective aesthetics. (Yes, fill flash is an option but complicated to apply in stage environment IMO). Anyway, the purchase of a 85/1.8 etc. in the OP's situation would be useful on the current DX body but I think the full potential of these lenses are only realized with an FX body. I don't say this as an absolute, but I do a lot of this type of photography and the MTF and focus accuracy considerations were an important reason for me to stop using DX.
     
  15. The D300 should be able to give you pretty good indoor results up to ISO 1600. The D700 will give you one extra stop at high ISO over the D300, but you clearly need to upgrade your 17-55mm lens and the 70-200 will be shorter on the D700. You will be paying a lot of money for that one extra stop.
    The D3S will now provide another stop of high-ISO results than the D3/D700. It is a matter of time the D3S' technology will move down to the D700's level. If you can get a two-stop improvement over your current D300, it'll be a much more worthwhile upgrade. Otherwise, you run the risk that you'll be tempted to making those small one-stop upgrades over and over.​
    that's the problem, in a nutshell, for low-light event photography. shun, you have essentially stated the conundrum perfectly.
    david, 1/200-1/320 with no flash indoors is asking a lot. when i shoot concert stuff with a d300, my fastest shutter speed in low-light is probably 1/160, and i aim for 1/125 which is usually enough to give me decent sharpness at 2.8. i've bumped the ISO to 2000 or 2500 and have gotten decent results with the sigma 50-150, probably for the same reason you've gotten more keepers with the 70-200: with a close-up of a face at high ISO, there's less noise, whereas with a wider lens, you get a lot of shadow areas from the background which can be quite noisy indeed.
    but with dance, you need faster shutters than with musical performance or spoken word. a d3 or d700 would essentially give you one stop, but at a high premium, plus you would also need to replace the 17-55. therein lies the rub. i have the tamron 28-75, and it's not a bad option if you can't afford the 24-70. unfortunately, it's not quite as good as the 17-50 (and, likely, the 17-55 and 24-70) at 2.8, though it does deliver nice contrast.
    as shun hints, essentially, david, you need a D3s or a D3s sensor to get the performance demanded by your application. it probably does make more sense to wait for that two-stop differential to trickle down; otherwise you'll end up paying more in the long run. besides needing a FX-capable 2.8 zoom, another problem is you really need two bodies here. not sure there's really an easy solution here apart from renting a d700 (and possibly a 24-70) until you can afford both. and even then, that's not going to completely solve your problem.
     
  16. David,
    indoor dance photography is hard, and I think you have to make some sacrifices, or use PS/LR quite a bit, if the light is low. Depending on how far away from your objects you are, have you considered a fast prime. You need all the light you can get, so maybe a 1.8 or 1.4 lens would do the trick?
    This image was taken with a D300 and a 50/1.8 prime. 1/200 sec, f2.2 and ISO 6400. No flash , but a little bit of noice reduction using Neat Image. http://www.photo.net/photo/10575396
    If I was better using Lightroom/Photoshop or had better time, the image could surely be improved.
     
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I think DSLRs have reached a point that each new generation only represents a small incremental improvement. To me, it is not worthwhile to spend a lot of money to get merely one-stop of high-ISO improvement. When you can get two stops + video + dual memory cards ..., the upgrade becomes a lot more worthwhile. Even though most of us are primarily still photographers, if you can shoot some occasional video of dancing, it is a major plus.
    Given that the D700 is over a year and half old, I am fairly sure that it is going to be replaced within 2010. Other than that, I am not going to make any further speculation because my speculation will be as useless as anybody else's. The PMA is just around the corner and there will be Photokina in the fall. There will be plenty of opportunities for Nikon to announce new cameras and lenses.
     
  18. pge

    pge

    Is Shun spreading rumours again, sorry Shun I could not resist.
    Someone mentioned the idea of renting a D700. I agree with this. I own a D700 and as spectacular as it is, it is not magic, and after spending an enormous amount of money on a camera, and after reading amazing reviews, some people expect magic results which is does not provide.
    Phil
     
  19. Shun, regarding a D700 replacement. I have heard that the FX sensor used in the D3/D700 is no longer being produced. If true, then a D700 replacement is certainly on the horizon.
    Doug
     
  20. If noise is a major issue, I think you'll find the D700 is pretty loud too. It has a much larger mirror to throw around. I've noticed fellow photogs using Canon gear tend to have much quieter camera's, but it's a distance observation, I haven't held one up to my face to really check if there's any difference as I mainly photograph kids!
    You may miss the crop factor of the D300, but only if you then crop again in post or print big. The D700 has 6MP covering the small crop factor, which is still a lot of MP.
     
  21. I'll play the role of heretic and point out that Canon 5D bodies are now going for $1,000 used now. Used D700 prices continue to drift downward. As Shun points out, prices for pro f2.8 zooms stays pretty stable. If anything, they seem to slowly drift upwards. I've decided that for me not enough difference between D300 and D700 given the cost of lens exchange. I will sit it out and see what replaces D300. Or, see if a D700 replacement gives me at least two stops more ISO. The past year I've spent thousands on lighting system, new computer, new software, and I want to take a "breather" from spending. :)
    Kent in SD
     
  22. PS: The current version, DxO Labs Optics 6.0 is supposedly even better at noise reduction. I am going to purchase the upgrade from 5 to 6 soon just for that additional improvement alone.
     
  23. This question seems to reappear regularly. I will add my usual reason for the switch. I upgraded lens before moving to fx. Loved the 70-200 on dx but it started at 105 equivalent, taking away the 70-105 range I use so often for portraits. Now I can work seamlessly without a lens change in my preferred range from 70 right up to 200 for head shots. If I need wider for full length now, usually just change to the Sigma 50 1.4 which also accepts 77 mm filters, including my softar, which at 275 new(mine wasnt) I wouldnt want to have to buy 2.
     
  24. OPK

    OPK

    David,
    combo you have is the best for the money. don't make a mistake by this upgrade... firstly: D700 is very heavy camera. its jpg quality straight from camera is inferior to jpg's from D300. 24-70 lens is heavier and longer than 17-55 DX. yes - D700 has outstandig pictures quality on 3200 and above, but do you REALLY need this? shortly Nikon anounce another new body, probably D700x/s or whatever. still - would you change a car becouse of better engine or brigter mirrors?
    for me, such an upgrade I made last year was a mistake. D300 was best Nikon body I've had. D70s was a second.
    think it twice and maybe buy some additional lenses or flashes
     
  25. Hi Martin,
    I do not know what's your experiene with D700 but I have both D700 and D300 cameras and for the kind of work OP needs, the D700 wipe down with D300 at every single point. And this is not just my opinion, but comes from professional tests too, see: http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/eng/DxOMark-Sensor (The chart does not include yet D3s)
    At low light ISO D700 rules! No Canon, no Sony, no Phase One, nobody... Even my travel camera D5000 shows better performance for low light than D300. I do not speak about using in good light... but in poor light, same image taken at ISO 800 with D300 is horrible noisy comparing with one at ISO 3200 from D700.
    IMHO D700 is the best camera for the money made by Nikon... D3X and D3s are far too expensive in comparison. If soon D700 will be replaced with even a better camera I expect that the cost will raise considerably too.
     
  26. Many thanks for the responses again. I'm going to stick with the D300 at this stage, use my 50 and 85mm 1.8 lenses more frequently (though changing lenses often means missed shots) and see what Nikon brings out over the next six months while trying to save $$.
    Thanks again :)
     
  27. Mihai Ciuca
    "Even my travel camera D5000 shows better performance for low light than D300."​
    That's interesting. How are you comparing the two? Raw or JPEG? In-camera NR or not?
     
  28. Lex, I shoot only RAW. The comparison is done just by simply experiencing D700, D300 and D5000 in various shooting situations, especially working on events in available lights. While I like very much that D300 keeps the same controls and versatility like D700, I dislike that D5000 has slightly better performance in these situations over D300. I mostly use in camera noise reduction but I did a try for a while with NR off without to observe any difference. I know for sure that other people observed the same thing - recently I've read about someone that sold his D90 in order to upgrade to D300s and soon after sold D300s unhappy to see that besides the bells and whistles he lost 'something' in the IQ and went back to a D90.
     

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