Best backup camera for a D300?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by geoff_smith|5, Nov 22, 2012.

  1. I need a new backup camera for my D300. My trusty D70 having finally given up the ghost.
    The obvious choice to me is the D90 but I'm well aware that both the D300 and the D90 are old cameras.
    Should I be looking to the D3200/D5200/D70** with there much improved sensors rather than sticking with what is now old technology?
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Yes, the D300 and D90 are both "old" cameras, based on the 12MP CMOS sensor from 2007.
    The best approach depends on how much money you want to spend and your photo subject matter; it also depends a bit on your time line.
    I should point out that it is always risky to speculate on future cameras, but I am a firm believer that there will "soon" be an update to the D300S, which can no longer be sold in Japan since a year ago due to the exposed battery contacts on the EN-EL3e batteries it uses. Therefore, a replacement is way over due. I expect an upgrade to appear after D600 sales levels off. However, you'll simply have to wait, perfaps for a few months, and any D300S replacement will likely be above $1500, close to the D600's cost.
    With this potential future update to the D300S as your main camera, the D300 will be your backup. The question will be the timeline and cost.
    Otherwise, I have been using the D7000 as the update to my D300 for two years. The D7000 has an improved sensor and the new battery, but its AF and frame rate are half a step backward from those on the D300.
    If you have been using a D300, it is probably not a good idea to jump back to the consumer-grade D3200, D5100 or D5200. However, Matt Laur is using a D300 and a new D3200. He can give you some first-hand experience on "stepping down" to a D3200.
  3. In general, it's better to move to new technology, unless there are solid reasons to choose otherwise - but if you have such considerations, they would specifically be in your question, I guess.
    So, I'd say the D7000 is your best choice; it has the same lens compatibility as the D300, is roughly equally capable, and your backup might quite probably become your primary camera. If you only use AF-S lenses, the smaller size of the D5100 or D5200 could be nice, and they could make a good choice too - depending on how competent you need the backup to be.
    The D300s also still is available in quite some places; could also be an option if you like to be able to move seamlessly between the 2 bodies. But personally, I think the D300s only makes sense if you really need either its AF system, or long continuous bursts, or want the large body - otherwise the D7000 is better in every way.
  4. I woke up this morning knowing there would be a thread like this. Must be the weather!

    Yes, I'm still very happily using a D300, and find myself very much chomping at the bit for its proper replacement to come along. In the meantime, I had need for a backup other than the trusty old D200 (which still works, but just can't be relied on over ISO400, honestly) and I had an immediate need for some video capability and some higher-resolution frames.

    The D3200 is a "step back" in some key areas, notably the AF system and the need to dive to menus for certain things while shooting. But it's also a stellar little camera for its size, weight, and especially its price. Though I greatly prefer the ergonomics and external controls of the D300-class body, I've been forcing myself to use the D3200 for tasks that aren't impacted by those issues. It has kind of grown on me, for those simpler tasks - mostly because it's such a small, light payload for unknown about-town carrying.

    I skipped the very nice D7000 because it was also lacking the D300's AF speed and features, and simply would have been a more expensive body in the role the D3200 is currently playing for me - while still sticking me with a less-featured interface, the different memory cards and batteries, etc. In short, the D3200 - at its absurdly low price - was a perfect solution, as long as I didn't need AF on older non AF-S lenses, and didn't need the pop-up flash to be a CLS controller.

    When the D300's proper heir shows up, and/or I get around to spending the money on lenses appropriate to one of the newer FX bodies and (also) go that route, I will still have the D3200 for its tiny footprint and low-cost-risk for being an in-the-car camera. Absolutely no regrets, but certainly an ackonowlegement that it's not - ergonomically and speed-wise - a D300. But it's not trying to be, either. And holy mackeral - all of those pixels to work with! For some macro work, it's been very cool to have that high-res sensor, provided I'm lighting things well and can keep the ISO settled down.

    For what it's worth, I just bought two D5100's for a turn-key project I'm setting up for my local county government. No serious work time with those bodies yet, but I'll have it booked soon. Again, for the price, it's amazing what you can get to tide you over (now, the D5200) while waiting for Nikon to lay that newer DX egg higher up on their pro/consumer scale.

    So, I truly sympathize with the need for a D300 backup, and would have waited if I hadn't lined up some work that would immediately pay for something like the D3200 and then some. So, it solved the problem. If I thought I'd been only a few weeks from the "D400," I'd just have rented for a couple of weeks. But even a couple of rentals comes close to buying you a D3200 anyway.

    Most of this, Geoff, comes down to what you shoot. The D3200 or new D5200 may actually do everything you need. AF, CLS, and run-and-gun ergonomics will dictate the answer for you.
  5. How about another D300?
  6. I began using a D5100 as a back up to my D300 last summer, during a trip to Iceland and Scotland. It's not as convenient a camera to use in manual mode, but I really like it's fold out screen. That allows me to shoot it at waist level, which is very steady. I think my perfect set up would be a "D400" and a "D5200" when both come out. I've been happy with the D5100 and use it as my main DSLR now.
    Kent in SD
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The problem with the second D300 approach is that the OP is well aware of the fact that the D300 and D90 (as well as the D5000) are based on a 5-year-old 12MP CMOS sensor from the original 2007 D300. Newer sensors will definitely make a difference, and that is why I haven't used my D300 for about two years.
    I think my perfect set up would be a "D400" and a "D5200" when both come out.​
    Perhaps. The D5200 is already out, at least in Asia and Europe. Nikon USA told me that they are not selling the D5200 in the US until January, and that is why it is not on Nikon USA's web site and is not prompted here.
    Concerning this "D400," as I mentioned earlier, we simply don't know the details and time frame, although personally I have no doubt that Nikon will introduce an update to the aging D300S as their new top-of-the-line DX body, most likely in the early part of 2013.
  8. Yesterday I saw some ads for a new D7000 for less than a $1,000 with or with without kit lens. Buy the one with the kit lens and sell the kit lens.
  9. Thanks for your well considered responses. The key factor seems to be the "new D400". I buy camera bodies only when they are a significant improvement on what I already own. The D70 semi-retired my F6 and got me into digital. The D300 was a quantum leap in image quality, build, functionality and ergonomics from the D70. I just hope the D400 is a real gamer breaker and makes my decision easy.
  10. What a weird thread.. ;-)

    The best backup to a D300 (I have one and like it a lot) is a second hand D300(s). They are getting very affordable even in The Netherlands now. Anything else makes this a very different forum thread (like: 'should I up-grade to the D600 or the D800?').
  11. What about a D700 and use the D300 as a backup. Or what about another D300 or a D300s maybe an older body but the D300s is still hard to beat if you need hi speed.
  12. D5100 is at a great price right now for Black Friday at B&H with a little kit. Great camera, I really love mine.
  13. Shun--
    I'm giving Nikon a few more months to release a D400, or a D7000 upgrade that makes me happy. If Canon comes out with a great upgrade to their 7D, I could well go that route. I'm becoming increasingly unhappy with Nikon, specifically Nikon USA. At any rate, I'm not in a great hurry. When it comes to digital cameras, patience is always rewarded. Meanwhile, I'm having a great time using my 1940s Leica gear and shooting pre-Civil War lenses on my Chamonix 4x5. I also have a "new" lens coming from SK Grimes sometime in the coming month to try on my Nikon DSLRs. More on that when it comes!
    Kent in SD
  14. I always use two of the exact same bodies, I don't want to have to get used to two different sets of functions and buttons. For 30 years it was two F2 bodies, then two D70s bodies, now two D300s bodies, and I'm very, very happy with them. It will be a long time, if at all, that move up from those.
  15. Shun, no offence but speaking about a D300 upgrade at a $1500 is like selling illusions to people. Nikon will not go this path.
    Most probably scenario is with a D7100 after corner somewhere... as a 24MB DX brother of D600. The two will be very close in everything excepting the sensor and probably the viewfinder. Remember the parallel D300 / D700.
    If Nikon will see a higher request for a real upgrade of D300 and if they will agree to go this way, that D400 will cost most probably around $2500, my estimation. The guys from Nikon are not stupid to give people a $1500 camera with a better build quality and with a better frame rate than the FX entry-level. Remember that in 2007/2008 the IQ difference between DX and FX sensor was big. At this time a DX sensor like the one from D7000 is good enough for almost every application... the shortcoming of D7000 is not about the sensor but about speed, ergonomic, build, etc. If five years ago Nikon required a significant amount of money for the simple difference between DX and FX sensor today things has changed. The big money are paid for ergonomy, build quality, speed, AF, buffer size, etc.
    Selling a D400 with a rugged body, weather sealed, ergonomic, D800 like, with a higher frame rate will not only kill D600 sales but also will kick seriously in D4 sales. Because at this time all people who want speed and AF are forced to look at D4, paying the big money. If speed and AF will be available for only $1500 in a body powered with a nice 24MP DX sensor very few people will consider to purchase an "inferior" D600 or a crazy expensive D4. Definitely Nikon knows what they are doing and they keep the latest and greatest features only for people willing to pay the price. Look how important is the speed for people... they keep use D300(s) and they still recommend it over newer models... but the bad news is that they will not receive speed coupled with top-notch AF anymore for an affordable price.
    I want to be a false prophet but I'm afraid that I am not.
  16. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Shun, no offence but speaking about a D300 upgrade at a $1500 is like selling illusions to people. Nikon will not go this path.​
    Mihai, may I suggest you read exactly what I wrote again?
    However, you'll simply have to wait, perfaps for a few months, and any D300S replacement will likely be above $1500, close to the D600's cost.​
    I said any D300S replacement "will likely be above $1500." $1501 is above $1500, so is $1800, $2000, and $9000. I never specify any exact price and I also qualified with the word "likely." The simple reason is that I have no insider information so that all we can do is guessing.
    The reason Nikon will definitely upgrade the D300S is very simple: Canon has a 7D and will also likely to upgrade that. If Nikon has no product in that category, they will lose a lot of business to their competition. Back in 2007 when the D300 was first introduced, Nikon Thailand was producing about 70K to 80K units a month. After one year Nikon sold roughly one million D300 bodies. That is by no means an insignificant market sector, although it might not be as important today compared to 2007 since there is now a sub-$2000 D600.
    Such camera will indeed affect D4 and D600 sales. That is exactly why Nikon is not introducing it in 2012. However, up to a certain point D4 and D600 sales will level off; in fact, Nikon is already discounting the D600 by a $100 rebate. If the only way Nikon users can get to 8 fps and top-end AF is to pay $6000 for a D4 while Canon, etc. have a $2000 option in the 7D or its successor, people will simply switch brands as Kent Staubus points out.
    The late Steven Jobs once said it very well:
    If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will.​

    BTW, the OP Geoff Smith has made it very clear twice that:
    I buy camera bodies only when they are a significant improvement on what I already own.​
    Maybe the subject is a bit mis-leading, but he is also looking for improvements, not merely a straight backup camera. That is why another D300 or D300S with their 5-year-old technology is not going to fly.
  17. I disagree to some extent about possible pricing on a possible D400. A "D400" will not compete with a d600, but rather it will be competing with the Canon 7D. The price on the Canon will hold the price on a "D400" in check. I do agree that a D400 could well be a much better camera than the D600. This is one reason I've been holding off buying anything right now. My guess on price? ~$1,800.
    Kent in SD
  18. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The reason that I keep on referring to the future camera as "the successor/update to the D300S" and priced it to a lower starting point, $1500 and above is that I am puzzled by Nikon putting the Multi-CAM 4800 into the new D5200. Essentially the D5200 is positioned higher than the D5000 and D5100, but it still has no AF motor.
    Nikon could potentially update the D7000 to a D7100 and the D300S to some D400 (or they can call it the D9000 or whatever they want). However, potentially Nikon can also merge the D7000 and D300S into just one model. Given that FX is now cheaper and there are now two mirrorless cameras in the V and J series, it is also possible that Nikon will reduce the number of models in the DX line and realign everything so that DX is between CX (Nikon 1 mirrorless) and FX.
    I sure don't want to turn this thread into some wild speculation. Until Nikon announces it offically, we can debate for all we want and it will remain as meaningless speculation. My guesses could well be wrong; only time will tell.
  19. I'm sorry Shun... the way I understood "will likely be above $1500" was a bit more than $1500. My bad English... :(
    Anyhow I still believe that Nikon will NOT cannibalize D600 less than one year since they launched it.
    Regarding the parallel with Canon and Canon 7D let me not believe it. I think the days when Nikon was following Canon are gone. The way Nikon plays lately shows that they decided to be the trend setter. They are not in a tango anymore with Canon.They were launching D4 long before Canon's 1DX... they introduced D800 that is puzzling canonistas and there is no yet any equivalent in Canon land after 8-9 months... Nikon surprised us with D600 when Canon just offer promises... The CX series is not copying anything from Canon... I was very reluctant to it but it is possible that the plan of CX / DX / FX to work, considering the great possibility to use your glass across the whole system. Honestly at this time I believe the big stress is on Canon to bring in the market products to stop the surge toward Nikon.
    Even though in this game Nikon deliberately accept to loose some people... remember that change is painful and unacceptable for some... they prove to be successful in business and they seem to know what they are doing.This is something I've learned from you :)
    I really believe that Nikon's strategy is to push advanced photographers toward FX. They are offering unbelievable good DX cameras but with limited ergonomic, just as an invitation in the system. It's like a hook. That's why they give cookies like Multi-CAM 4800 in D5200 because anyhow without AF motor and ergonomic body this does not threaten superior models. The new trend set by Nikon is that FX is the place for the advanced user and pro photographer. They do not want to mix anymore the two areas. All serious efforts are into improving FX glass lineup.
    If I have to guess... for those that need speed at a lesser price than D4 Nikon will create a new FX class of camera, somewhere between D600 and D800, but closer to D800... with a D600 kind of sensor in a D800 kind of body, but with higher fps, higher buffer, etc. This is the trend that Canon will have to follow :) Are you a serious landscaper or fashion/studio? D800 is the way to go. Are you a serious wildlife or action shooter? (wedding too...) The new DXXX will be the way to go... Are you a PJ or do you need the absolutely top notch performance? D4 is the way to go. Are you a DX shooter interested to try FX? D600 is the way to go.
    For some people the change will be unacceptable and they will leave. But definitely Canon will not be able to offer in a cheaper DX kind of body the quality in AF, speed, build, image processing... that Nikon will offer in a FX body for the right price. And I am sure that a greater number of people from the other boat will jump on the dark side if Nikon will play this way.
  20. The problem with the second D300 approach is that the OP is well aware of the fact that the D300 and D90 (as well as the D5000) are based on a 5-year-old 12MP CMOS sensor from the original 2007 D300.​
    mm If someone is loking for a backup, i think that the backup camera would be in the same class as the main camera is.. maybe a used one but still a camera as close as possible to the "main" camera, so that most stuff like batteries, flashes memory carda ( and a grip , is already owned ) would fit both camera's and performance.
    If looking/asking for an upgrade advice, then i would also look at a different or more current model with different ( better ??) specs...
    Theerfore i would still suggest a d300(S), so that all already owned accesoires still fit and switching between the two is totally intiutive...,.
    Just how i feel about the3se matters...
  21. I suppose it all comes down to how one uses the word "backup." For some people, it means a second camera hanging around their neck for instant use in the middle of a wedding processional if their primary body fails. Ready instantly, without a moment's thought.

    For other people, it means "another camera body that I can use with my existing lenses" - and which doesn't involve on-the-fly emergency fail-over in a high pressure event-shooting scenario or when there's a $100/hour model and a makeup artist standing there being expensive.

    I agree that high-pressure event shooting like weddings are not the place for mix-and-match camera bodies. But people seriously in that line of work are - most of them - already well into FX bodies at this point anyway. And that means a pair of D3/4 or D800/600 type bodies - where the dust has already settled. I could be misunderstanding the OP's circumstances, but I didn't get the impression we're talking about high-stakes events/sports/PJ type work.
  22. Mihai--
    The Canon 7D is a very good seller. It pushes lens sales, especially the longer and more expensive ones used for wildlife and sports. Nikon can't afford to leave the 7D unchallenged. As for back up cameras, my philosophy is this. When on an expensive trip or a paying job, I consider a back up a must. Ideally it uses all my lenses and has the same format. Where a full time pro might want the same body as a back up for simplicity's sake, I generally want two cameras with different capabilities. A D300 type for fast AF, advanced flash options, and ease of use in M mode, and a smaller camera for travel use and family outings. Most of the time, I don't need a super fast AF or fast FPS. More often, I'm finding the light weight and fold out screen of the D5100 works well for me. The other thing I like is the lower price. I hate putting a lot of $$ into camera bodies as it just doesn't seem like money well spent. The D5100 and D7000 series have much less money tied up and they are cheap to update. That frees up cash for higher priority things.

    Kent in SD
  23. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Anyhow I still believe that Nikon will NOT cannibalize D600 less than one year since they launched it.​
    And yet, Nikon introduced the D600 on 13th September, 2012, merely 7 months and 6 days after introducing the D800/D800E on 7th February, 2012. If anything, the D600 would cannibalize D800/D800E sales far far more than any D300S successor would to the D600.
    Think about it, the D800 is FX and so is the D600. The D800 has a very high pixel count at 36MP while the D600 is also quite high at 24MP. The D800 has Nikon's best AF system while the D600 still has a very good but 2nd-tier Multi-CAM 4800. However, the D600 is 30% cheaper initially and discounts on the D600 have already appeared, widening the price gap.
    If anything, the D600 is a very close competitor to the D800 with similar features but a lower cost. It is not all that surprising that Nikon had waited till the D800 shortage was over by July/August before announcing the D600, but Nikon knew very well that Canon had the 6D up on their sleeves. If Canon had the 6D at $2100 while Nikon's cheapest FX DSLR were the $3000 D800, the 6D would kill D800 sales. Once again, as Steven Jobs said very well:
    If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will.​
    On the other hand, hopefully the successor to the D300S will have the same or better AF, similar to those on the D3, D4, and D800, 8 to 9 frames/sec but DX. Other than the price will likely be close to the D600, the successor to the D300S should be a very different type of camera from the D600. Therefore, I don't see that it would affect D600 sales all that much. Those differences are precisely why I am also waiting for the D300S' successor but am not buying a D600, as I already have a D800E and a D700.
    The remaining issue is that any successor to the D300S will likely be manufactured by the same factory in Thailand and the same workers as those who make the D600. As long as they are still busy with the D600, the successor to the D300S will have to wait a bit longer. Once those who want to get into FX due to the relatively affordable D600 have their cameras, production capacity will open up for the future "D400" or whatever they will call it; it is way overdue.
  24. My thoughts about buying a "D400" aren't, in any way, impacted by my thoughts about buying (for example) a D600. Nikon isn't failing to sell me a D600 because I'm waiting on a D400, and a D400 purchase won't prevent me from getting a D600 or D800 if they have a role to play. People who want "a camera" and aren't making the distinction between FX and DX aren't going to be meaningfully doing the canabalizing thing.
  25. I also am just now updating my D70s to the D7000 to go along with my D300. I picked up a kit with the D7000 and 18-105 lens. I will sell the lens as I do not need it. I went for the D7000 as it can use older "D" type lens where as the others cannot and I like the small size. AF points have never been a concern for me as I use only one 99% of the time.

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