D300 and 70-200mm f/2.8 OR D700? (for photographing dance)

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by george_hampton|1, Sep 28, 2008.

  1. I have a budget enough to buy either a D700 body or a D300 body and a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, and I need help deciding
    which one to go with. I currently have a D40 with the kit lens and the 55-200mm f/4--5.6 lens.

    My primary reason for upgrading is to be better able to photograph dance performances, i.e. fast action in
    low-light. Based on what I've read, it seems like the ISO upgrade from the D700 is enough to warrant spending the
    extra money, but I don't have the money to get both the pro body AND the pro lens (yet). Will using a consumer
    level lens hamper the pro body so much that I shouldn't bother?
  2. Your 55-200 will only project an image onto part of a D700's sensor (it's a DX-specific lens, and the D700 is an FX format camera). That would be a huge waste of the D700's capabilities.

    What sort of situations are we talking about, here? Dance competition (like ballroom), or stage performances? How far away are you from the action? There are other lens options that might get you by, but it will help to know more about how you'll actually use the rig.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Since the D700 was introduced on July 1, we have had several threads where we repeat Dan Brown's comment:
    "is like dressing Miss America in a burlap bag." You might want to take a look at those threads:

  4. Do you have a credit card? That will take care of any problem deciding!
  5. a lens like the 70-200mm f2.8 is going to outlast camera's in this digital era. my motto buy glass first.
  6. mjt


    @Rene' Villela wrote, "Do you have a credit card? That will take care of any problem deciding!"<br /><br />

    Ok, so your answer might be a bit TIC - however, it is very, shall we say, uneducated.
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I would assume Rene's comment is a bit of a joke.
  8. mjt


    You're always better off with top-notch glass, so I want to answer you directly:<br />
    go with the D300 and 70-200 - that lens is irreplaceable. Eventually, if you decide<br />
    to go with the D700/etc (FF), you'll enjoy it even more.<br /><br />

    Granted, I dont have experience with the 55-200mm, but with that lens, considering<br />
    what you're shooting, you'll most likely be at 5.6 at best. The 70-200 2.8 will, forgive me,<br />
    "smoke" the 55-200 with regards to speed and quality. Combine it with the D300 and you<br />
    have a great combination.
  9. I just find that the answer is simple..... I wouldn't buy a D700 to use with a 55-200 coz that is a waste of camera. A D300
    and 70-200 seems a like a great set but it seems that the OP is wishing for the high ISO of a D700. His D40 with a 70-200
    will do great and can keep him going for a while until he save more for a D700 or the D700 goes down in price. I find it so simple. Now if he
    wants everything at once... I don't
    think there is so much the PN community can do, he has to settle for a D300/70-200 combo. As Shun say, there are so many threads like
    this in PN.
  10. George... Sorry if it sounded rude and uneducated! Rene'
  11. Always buy the best glass first and the good camera later. A D800 may be in the horizon but you can't replace a good lens.
  12. Buy the D700 because you need to shoot in low light. There is nothing that you can do that will make the D300 perform as well. You can buy some excellent lenses for very little money. The 50/1.8 is just over $100. The 85/1.8 and 180/2.8 IF are also excellent and much less expensive than the 70-200. Also consider older glass, such as the 75-150 mm f/3.5 Nikon Series E Zoom.

    High-quality glass does not have to be expensive, particularly if you're willing to use manual focus. And with the D700 finder, there is no reason to restrict yourself to AF.

    Lots of good ideas on lenses here:

  13. "Do you have a credit card? That will take care of any problem deciding!"

    I actually agree with Rene's comment even if it was meant as a joke (or not). And even though I don't agree with spending money you don't have (I learned the hard way), I would suggest it in this case if you really, really want/need the D700.

    If you shop carefully and patiently, you can pick up a D700 at hundreds less than the original selling price. A used 70-200mm can also be found on occasion at a favorable price (although it may take a lot of patience on this as the lens is in short supply, and of course a used lens has no warranty)

    "Will using a consumer level lens hamper the pro body so much that I shouldn't bother?" Yes.

    My suggestion is to buy the 70-200mm and use it on your D40 (or rent/borrow one so you can try it out and see if the combo works for you_. I get great results with it on mine and find the D40 quite usable up to ISO 1600. With good post processing software , you can probably get the results you desire with the D40 (if you shoot RAW). If you can't get the exact results you are looking for, save for the D700 and get it when you can afford it.
  14. "Live within your income, even if you have to borrow money to do so."
    - Josh BIllings
  15. GET the LENS! +1 on that.

    a used 80-200 f2.8 would do good for you maybe, too. You don't need VR to capture motion anyway. Get the D300 and
    that. Or just get the 80-200 AFS used (which will focus on the D40 but costs a little more) and wait for the D300. Your D40
    is, interestingly enough, one of the best consumer cameras at 1600!
  16. The lens will give you one to two stops extra speed over what you currently have. It will auto focus on the D40. That would be my first place to look. The older 80-200mm may work just as well at half the price. VR will not stop action so this may be a better choice but would mate better with a D300 for auto focus. For me that would be a better solution.
  17. Or you can just use your D40 with 70-200mm, and just wait for the time is right to get a 'proper' body. I know it sounds weird, combining D40 with 70-200mm, but I've seen a sample shots taken from D40 with a Nikon 200mm f/2. They were jaw-dropping.

    So moral of the story is: lens first, body later. Plus D40 isn't half bad at higher ISOs too.
  18. After using a D70s and f/3.5 to 5.6 lenses for events and concerts, and finding that to be very satisfactory, I plan on
    moving up to a D300 and Sigma 50-150 f/2.8 for price, ISO functionality, and 1.5 crop factor that improves over all weight.
  19. D700 + 80-200 f2.8. VR will bring you nothing with the type of photography you mentioned. Dancers/low light. You might get an extra stop or so by using the MBD-10 as you'll be much more stable, still cheaper than VR.
  20. I doubt you will be happy with the autofocus performance in low light with the D300 which is severely challenged in this area. The D700 while still not as good as the D2x in terms of low light AF is still significantly better than the D300.

    With dance you will be shooting at 1/125 or faster and for that you need f2.8 at whatever focal length you will be shooting. A lens that will work well with the D700 is the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens that sells for under $400. An exceptional lens to consider is the 80-200 f2.8 ED IF which can be purchased used in excellent condition for $500. The lack of VR is not a concern if you are photographing people in motion.

    In terms of low light AF the Canon 30D will outperform either the D300 or the D3 in my own experience photographing weddings. A used 1D Mark III will significantly outperform any other camera available today in terms of low light AF and with your limited investment in Nikon at this point in time, should also be considered if dance photography is important.
  21. Bruce,

    Although I haven't used either, this is the first time I have ever heard someone claim that the Canon 30D is better at low light focussing than the Nikon D3.

    Has anyone else experienced this?

  22. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Bruce, your experience with the Nikon D3, D700, and D300 seems to contradict that from most people.
    In particular, the D700 and D300 use exactly the same AF module, the Multi-CAM 3500. It seems strange that you find the D700 "significantly better" than the D300. If anything, because of the D300's small sensor area, those same 51 AF points cover a much higher percentage of the frame.
  23. Hi George,

    In my opinon, get the D300 and the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens. If you get the D700, you will be getting the better body but your glass you currently have will defeat the purpose of the sensor in the camera. (Full frame sensor (FX) with your current Dx lenses.) You will need full frame lenses to get the best use out of the camera. As far as low light is concerned, the D300 and the D700 both are designed from what I read to handle high iso so low light will not be a problem, even if you decide not to purchase the better glass. (But I like good glass as glass lasts for many years where the body will be outdated before). The 70-200mm f/2.8VR is pro glass. If you were buying this and the D700 you would have no problems, but the final decision will undoubtly be yours. The question you have to ask yourself is do I really need a full frame sensor for my camera? If you did a lot of scenery shots then the D700 is the better camera, but if you are doing the more portrait type, I would think the D700 is just a little too much. Hope this helps.
  24. If the choice is really a D700 plus kit lens vs a D300 with the 70-200VR, this is a no brainer to me. Yeah, the D700 will probably give you an extra stop but you lose that and more with such a slow lens. If you can increase your budget to add a fast lens to the D700, that's what I would be buying.
  25. So far no-one has mentioned the 70-200 f2.8 lenses by Sigma and Tamron- a whole lot cheaper than the gorgeous Nikon. Surely they are an option? And if getting a D300 = settling for "less" then life is grand in your neck of the woods!
  26. Invest in GLASS! Always invest in GLASS
  27. One powerful feature about the D300 that some people forget: 6 shots a second out of the box, and 8 shots a second with the battery pack. The D700 I think is under 3-4 shots a second. This is important especially during rare moments like the groom dipping the bride, or picking her up, or any other action type shots during the dance. I think for action the D300 and FX-fast glass would be the better choice - the D300 is only around $1700 and you will always be able to sell it later and upgrade for a faster full-frame body: the D3!

    As far as Bruce Stenmans' comment about the D300's problems with Autofocus - I've never had a problem and it's low light shooting capability is much better than the Canon 30D, as reviewed on most popular photography websites. I'm not sure where he's getting his numbers from, especially the ones comparing the Canon 30D to the D3. The D3 is in it's own class, at least for now: the 5D Mark II might compete on low-light ability but will still be a slower camera than the D3.
  28. I second the advice to get the lens first, use it on your D40 and see what kind of results you get. While it may not have the high iso capability that the D300 does, it is very good and you may find that it does the job.

    One other factor in favor of the DX cameras versus the FX one is that your 70-200 gets a 1.5 factor increase by virtue of smaller sensor size. So you effectively get a 105-300 zoom at f2.8 which may make things easier if you are far away from the stage.
  29. Also, George, tell us what kind of results you have had with your existing equipment. It may be worth it to try a cheaper option (like a 70-300 VR) and see what kind of results you get before you splurge on expensive, heavy glass. Do you anticipate using the lens for other subjects?

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