D300, D200?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by alana_soeh, Sep 7, 2008.

  1. Hi everyone,<br><br>

    I've saved up a bit of money for an upgrade but am in a pickle as to what to get. I currently own a Nikon D40,
    and plan on going into the photography profession after graduating college in 2010, and would like a more
    advanced camera. My major is not photography related though, and as far as I know there are no classes pertaining
    to photography that I could take. So I mostly rely on reading from books and the Internet and from practice of
    course (I also joined the campus paper to get more experience) for learning. I shoot gigs, portraits and outdoor
    travel, mostly. I usually use aperture or shutter priority on my D40.<br><br>

    The equipment I have are:<br><br>

    - Lens: 18-55mm, 55-200mm<br>
    - Flash: SB-600, SB-800<br>
    I used to have a tripod but it broke =(<br><br>

    I was initially considering purchasing the D300 (because of its low light capabilities among other things), but
    after further reading, felt like D200 would also be good, if not better as I would be able to afford a lens as
    well (I was thinking of the 24-85mm f/2.8-4).<br><br>

    Would it be better to purchase the D300 without a lens or a D200 with the 24-85 (or another lens in the similar
    price range)? Or save for a lens? <br><br>

    Any feedback would be much appreciated! Thank you in advance =)
  2. Upgrade? What do you want the camera to do the D40 does not do? To do more pro work, get a D700. Otherwise you have two with similar image quality.

    Now the lenses are both ok, but really just consumer lenses.
  3. "To do more pro work, get a D700."

    *Sigh* Are we to the point on this forum that the D200 or D300 no longer qualify as pro camera bodies?

    Really folks, get real!
  4. IMO the D300 is the BEST DX camera ever... (and I had D70/s, D1H, D1X, D2X, D2H, D200)

    Both D200 and D300 would be a nice upgrade to your D40.

    if you can get the D300 and little by little upgrade the glass.
  5. Alana, there are a couple things I would say. If you D40 doesn't give you the exposure or focus control you need then yeah, either of those models will help. The D300 is a bit better picture quality than the D200, but not by a big amount. If I were you, I would seriously consider buying better glass, even if you kept your D40. I've been recommending the 50mm f/1.8 a lot lately because it has the Nikon quality you can experience for very little money ($110). I've owned both zooms you have. I thought the 18-55 was a joke being played on me, and the 55-200mm was slightly better toward the long end. Do yourself a big favor and buy a great lens. Your work will move forward much more quickly, and once you've been enlightened by great optics, you will judge everything you shoot with and produce from it with that benchmark. Here are a couple of snapshots I just uploaded from my D200 that I took about an hour and a half ago. Both lenses are very affordable.
  6. If the lenses you have are doing the job then I would be spending my money on a new tripod. A good one that is very hard to break. A good ball head also. That task completed I would get photo shop and spend time to learn it well. I believe its the photographer not the camera. Learn how to expose in difficult situations. Practice and get better.
  7. 85mm f/1.8 (I think)... about $400.
  8. I think Ronald is right on (though I've only used the D40 once before). I was very impressed with its image quality... with decent lenses<g>.
  9. Leave the camera alone, and upgrade either your major or your college.

    Seriously, if you are planning on "going into" a "profession", and it's not only not your major, but you can't even take electives appropriate to it, you have a much more serious problem than whether to update your camera. What type of photography do you see yourself going into professionally? Product? Fashion? Wedding and event? Photojournalism? Fine art?

    Even if your major is business (perhaps the most useful degree a photographer can have) you have to gain experience in the business of photography, in addition to the art and the craft. A "dual major" is a useful path to pursue, provided your school offers the courses. You need to speak to a guidance counselor, you honestly have things going wrong in your life that are much more serious that anything we can help you with on an internet forum.

    That aside, your second greatest concern, after picking a school, is mastering the tripod (as Carl said). Be prepared for "sticker shock", a good professional tripod and head can easily pass $300 US (mine cost about $550). The good thing about tripods is that, if you buy a decent one, they're nearly eternal. I have three, one is 30 years old, the other two about 10 years old (one "big" 11 pound monster, one 3.5 pound carbon fiber rig that can strap to my backpack). I fully expect them to easily last another 10 years, despite my having beat the snot out of them. Do you know how many cameras you'll go through in 10-20 years? And again, what kind of tripod and head you need depends on the type of photography you're going to get into.

    In addition to the tripod, you need a remote control for the D40. That is without question more important than upgrading cameras or lenses.

    Then comes lenses. I notice that people have started giving lens advice without hearing what kind of photography you want to do. This is also futile without knowing what kind of photography you're going to be doing.

    OK, ball's in your court...
  10. The D90 is out now or at least very soon. Have you considered that one. I guess either the D90 or the D300. The technology in these cameras changes very quick and the D200 is already getting kind of old..I have one and it's a good camera but I think in 2 years it will be very old school and have virtually no value.
  11. do you guys even pay attention to what the OP says anymore?
    alana asked one specific question: she wants a more advanced camera and needs help deciding between D200 and
    D300. so far the responses have ranged from 'keep your current camera' to 'get a D700.' i'm surprised no one
    recommended a d3...

    alana, a d200 IMO would be an excellent investment for you. it's very capable and has that 'pro' feel. sure a d300 is
    newer/better, but the controls are very similar. plus as you noted, that leaves more $$ for lenses.

    the caveat is that the d200 isnt any better
    than a d40 at high ISO shooting. but if you get that rather than a d300, you can get a fast prime with the savings (or
    start saving toward a pro lens like the 70-200 VR) which will carry over into your next body when you go pro. a good
    tripod is also a
    good idea.
  12. "Would it be better to purchase the D300 without a lens or a D200 with the 24-85 (or another lens in the similar price range)? Or save for a lens?"

    Eric, Maybe this is the statement that threw me. Sounds like there was an opening for a discussion about lenses. Besides there isn't a vast chasm of difference between the IQ of a D40 and D200 from what I've seen.
  13. i hear you michael. i agree the 50/1.8 is a good lil' sharp one, but of course it performs much better on a d200 than a
    d40, since it will AF. :)

    my point was just that she specifically mentioned a more full-featured camera. i've just been seeing a lot of off-topic
    threads on PN lately, including one where the OP had to remind the hijackers of the intent of his original post.

    i'd agree you can take excellent pictures with a d40--those extra 4mp do give you room for cropping, tho--but the OP
    wasnt asking just about image quality, the d200 is a more 'advanced' camera than the d40 because of two command
    dials, more dedicated buttons, better ergonomics, mag-alloy body, better metering, more AF points, faster FPS,
    ability to meter with MF lenses, yadda yadda bada bing boo boo.
    (IMO, for someone who doesnt need the latest pro body but still wants a better than entry level camera, it's a great
    deal. why, it was only three years ago, it sold for $1700.)

    the d300 probably has slightly better IQ than the D300 (and one more stop of ISO), but at that price differential--
    assuming her budget is around $1500-$1700--alana would be better served IMO with a d200+ a good fast prime lens
    like the 85/1.8 or 35/2 than a d300+ nothing. i'd also take the primes over another variable aperture zoom, since she
    already has 18-200 covered by kit lenses.

    OTOH, getting a 70-200 VR for use on a D40 would give her glass that would outlive her next body in all probability.
    but the 70-200 is not a walkaround lens, and it looks like a pit bull mating with a chihuahua on a d40. of course,
    there's no one 'right' way to upgrade one's kit... and no shortage of opinions. that's my .02.
  14. whoops that should have been great dane/chihuahua.
  15. Hi Alana. I hope you realize that when you graduate in 2010, the D300 will be older technology. Why not wait until
    you're a pro to get that great camera you want?

    IMHO, this is what I would suggest, in this order:

    1. Tripod

    2. Lenses (try to stay with non-DX lenses so that if you upgrade to FX in the future, you will have what you need)
  16. The advanced focusing abilities of the D300 make is a far better value than just about any camera available, especially the D200. It focuses better in good light and significantly better in low light. Consider extra features it gives you are a 'bonus'.

    Two weeks ago I used my D200 (kept as a backup camera) to take some fun photos at the beach. I didn't appreciate how good and fast the auto focus is on the D300 until then. Needless to say, my D200 is up for sale.
  17. "I was initially considering purchasing the D300 (because of its low light capabilities among other things), but after further reading, felt like D200 would also be good, if not better as I would be able to afford a lens as well (I was thinking of the 24-85mm f/2.8-4)."

    I love the D200, it's great, but it's conceivable the D40 you already own is better at low light because it was released after the D200, and usually the newer models improve on the noise factor. The D300 would of course give the best low light.
  18. I was in your position last year this time when I got a D40 for my birthday, but after five months using the D40 I wanted more, so I got the D200 and I have been happy since. I is a lot of features with the D200 have that the D40 don't have that you are going to want. Like using SB600/SB800 flash off camera, more focus point than the D40 and the ability to use both AF/AF-S lenses.

    With that said, any one you choose you will be happy with it. All you have to do know is save again and get some good glass by 2010 you can look to upgrade the again.
  19. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The D300 has much better AF and low-light capabilities, but those advantages are not that important for portraits and travel photography. What exactly are those "gigs"?

    If you shot wedding or sports, I would get the D300. In your case, I would save some money on a D200 and build up your lenses. If you are serious about photography, you should outgrow the 18-55 and 55-200 consumer zooms in the near future.

    A bit off topic, but as Joseph points out, if you want to be a professional photographer in the long run, you'd better find the right major. The ability to run a small business (which could be a business of one person initially) will be important.
  20. Michael, the 85mm and 50mm look great, and if anything will be looking to get those in the near future. They won't
    autofocus on the d40, but that's alright.

    Joseph, I've yet to know for certain, but it would be a dream to be a sports photographer.

    And as far as majors go, in industrial engineering, we learn the business side of things, though not to the extent
    a business major would, of course. I was on the verge of switching to a photo program last year, but it was met
    with some objection.

    Carl, I've been using Photoshop CS2 =).

    Shun, the "gigs" are concerts and times vary to be in the day or night, and the ones I have gone to with my
    camera have been outdoor.

    And thank you all for the advice, I truly appreciate it.

  21. What about a D90 (sorry if somebody's already suggested this)? It has the same sensor as the D300, and some of its
    shortfalls, such as its AF system, are found on the D200 as well. It has excellent exposure metering as well (same as
    D300, I believe). I don't see many advantages the D200 has over the D90, in the same way that there aren't many
    advantages that the D2x has over the D300. Spend the rest of the money on good glass.
  22. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    First of all, the D90 has just become available this past weekend. Its metering system has yet to be evaluated. Nikon
    has been making great metering systems for years; who would have imagined that they would somewhat messed up
    the one in the D80? I can only assume that they have fixed the problem in the D90.

    The one big advantage for the D200 over the D90 is that the D200 can meter with olders manual-focus Nikkor lenses
    from the late 1970's to 1980's. It is also better built with weather sealings. But as far as technologies are concerned,
    the D200 is almost 3 years behind the D90, and that makes a non-trivial difference. But the D200 is certainly still a
    good DSLR today.

    If you shoot a lot of sports or under dim light, the AF system on the D200 and D90 can be an issue.
    If you mainly shoot outdoors with daylight, I wouldn't worry about it.
  23. Noooo, the 50mm and 85mm are both AF-D lenses. They've gotta work on the D40... no? Is there a reason why they wouldn't?
  24. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Michael, what is your definition for "work"? In this context, the D40 can meter and take pictures with all AF-D lenses (which are not AF-I or AF-S), but it cannot drive them to auto focus.
  25. shun's right that the newer tech of the d90 (d300 hand-me-downs) make it compelling, especially if the high ISO
    performance is close to the D300's. but its control layout is very similar to the d80, whereas the d200's controls are
    closer to the d300. this may seem insignificant when merely comparing specs on paper, but it makes a huge
    difference for actual shooting. just the other day i picked up my D80 and felt momentarily lost since there werent any
    dynamic-area AF dials like on my D300.

    if alana's intention is to get a 'more advanced' body to practice on, build up her lenses and technique, then get a pro
    body when she turns pro (by that time the d400 or d500 could be out, and the d300 might be much more affordable),
    IMO she'd be better off with a d200 over a d90. sure, the ISO over 800 isn't great, but there are
    workarounds such as getting fast glass, i.e. the 85/1.8 and
    50/1.8, which she'll need anyway evenutally.

    if she goes for the d90, she gets better high ISO (and a second
    command dial), but less dedicated buttons, no weather-sealing,and more extraneous features (like video). so there
    will be more of a learning curve when she finally gets a 'pro' body. of course, this is speculation to some degree since
    the d90 isnt out yet. also, if she gets a D300 now, all she'll be able to afford is the current lenses she has (except
    maybe the 50), whereas with a d200, she'll still have some money left to play around with. so i dont think its
    absolutely imperative for someone on the student level to have the newest camera out there, she just needs
    something a bit more advanced than a d40 as she continues to learn technique and skill.
  26. Alana,

    If you have the chance to get the D300 instead the D200, I'd encourage you to get the D300. You will have a better camera by 2010, of course new models will be on the market by that time and that reason also supports the D300 selection vs. the D200 which will be older in the market. Obsolescense also hits cameras.

    Consider also to get extra money by doing some photographic works, in that way, your customer become your friends since they contribute to pay your photo-toys.

    I'd recommend buying a lense like the 50mm F1.4 which is excellent for protraits, it also will give you the chance to try excellent night shots, of course you will need a new tripod but believe me, your future customers will pay for it.

    Since you are deciding to get into photography profession, you will need to spend more time in your own photographic education, practice get more sense when there is feedback and theory along with it.
  27. save ur money body wise until you can get a d700 or a d3...all else pales in comparision!
  28. "save ur money body wise until you can get a d700 or a d3...all else pales in comparision!" I see. So do we just sit on our asses and do nothing. Maybe you could enlighten us and SHOW how your D700/D3 would make the image below "pale in comparison"?
  29. As a D200 user, I am not impressed with the D300. The image quality is not substantially better from what i have seen.
    As for the D40, I would much rather have a body such as the D200 with more analog type controls on the body. The more
    consumer level gear often requires more use of the menus.
  30. Sorry for straying from the topic, but had to comment on Andy's post and photo: awesome!
    The macro shot is lifelike. My vote is for the D300 (don't own one, would like to get one; friend's D300
    photos are crisper and have more punch when taken with the same lenses compared to his D200).
  31. Alana,

    I'm a senior in Photography. . .I've used everything from the D70 up to the D300. I would strongly recommend choosing your camera based on what type of photography you're planning on doing. If you can't make up your mind, just get the D300, as it's the best all-round camera for under $2,000. I currently shoot with the D300 and it's an excellent camera--well worth the investment. . .of course in 2-3 years I'll be getting a newer model.

    Weddings: D700 all the way. It's the cheapest full-frame (Nikon) camera you can buy.

    Photojournalism / Sports: D300. It's got an incredible frame-rate so you don't miss a shot. The high ISO settings for low-light are incredible, and the body is more rugged than the D70, D80, and D200.

    Commercial photography: D700. The quality of a full-frame camera.

    Weekend projects / Hobby photography: D200. Save yourself a little money, get the D200, and save your money for the lenses, where the real investment is. While working as an assistant wedding photographer this summer, I fell in love with the D200.
  32. "As a D200 user, I am not impressed with the D300. The image quality is not substantially better from what i have seen."

    This is because the main difference lies with the photographer, not the camera. In the hands of a skilled person, shots taken from a D40 can look just as nice as ones from a D3. The better/newer cameras have capabilities to capture images under a huge variety of challenging circumstances, but under a wide variety of conditions, the final result lies with the person behind the lens, not the camera itself.
  33. "the final result lies with the person behind the lens, not the camera itself."

    Forgot to add, a wealthy acquantance has all top of the line Canon gear. His pictures are mediocre. Truly.
  34. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have pointed out several times that whether there is a big difference between the D200 and D300 highly depends on your subject matter. I have both of them and the D300's primary advantages are its superior AF, 8 frames/sec rate w/ the MB-D10 and its low-light capabilities. The D300 can also give you better JPEG straight out of the camera, but personally I don't shoot JPEG.

    If you shoot sports, action, or indoor existing light stuffs (e.g. no-flash indoor wedding), you can see a huge difference between the two cameras. If you mainly shoot still subjects, outdoor non-action stuffs, there could be very little difference. I think Alana is more like the latter group.
  35. Hello,

    few days ago I sold my D200 body and bought D300. There is a huge difference in picture quality (sharpness, colors, contrast, detail, noise). I've never liked my D200 very much. The body is very good, but the photos were very unsharp even when I used quality lenses. But I suspect I've got a very bad sample of used D200 body (sold as new) in Discountcamera shop in San Francisco. Now I can enjoy the quality of my 85 f/1.8, 17-55 f/2.8, 12-24 f/4, 80-200 f/2.8 and other lenses.

  36. I first purchased the D90 and then a D200. The D90 is an excellent camera, no doubt. However, for me I wanted the versatility of being able to use my collection of manual focus AI-S lenses. The D90 doesn't meter with the manual focus Nikkors, the D200 does. Secondly, I don't believe there is that much difference in quality between the two under typical conditions. The D90 gets good marks in low light photography at high ISO ratings, but this isn't that important to me as most of my subjects are still lifes or posed (under studio lights, flash, or camera on a tripod). I debated, thought, and gut wrenched over the decision to purchase the D200 or the D300. Ultimately, I decided to go with the 10 megapixel D200. I am really waiting for the cost of the FX sensor Nikons to drop below $1,500. At that price I can easier justify the large expenditure for a full frame sensor. Unitl then, I will happily use the D200, enjoy the flexibility of being able to use some really sweet manual AI-S glass, and enjoy the thought of getting a really great professional quality Nikon digital for abpit 50% of the price of a new D300. I am going to use the money saved buying the D200 (in lieu of the D300) to purchase a new 50mm manual Zeiss Sonnar ZF T. My two...

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