D300 good enough - or start saving for D700?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by pcnilssen, Apr 17, 2009.

  1. Friends,
    I have inherited a very small amount of money from my aunt, and being a photo enthusiast, I thought that I could buy either a D700 or a 24-70 2,8, that could be "from her".
    I have read numerous posts about the differences between the D300 and the D700, and to be a bit brutal, it boils down to the High ISO capabilities. I have tried to look for comparisons of the same Hi-ISO motive between the D300 and D700, but have just found a very few, not enough to make a clear desicion.
    I guess that I some time in the future might convert to FX, however I am quite satisfied with my D300 today, but this being an uncertainty, I think I will not buy any more DX lenses.
    My everyday shooting style is a bit of everything, almost all the time low ISO. However, my daughter is having dance competitions (freestyle/discojazz) in badly lit indoor sportsarenas, and I would like to know whether you think the D700 would serve me better here.
    I currently use the D300, and in the arenas, I use the 85/1.8 and the 50/1.8. Most often I use the available light, meaning I shoot somewhere between ISO 3000-6400 (AutoISO). 1/400 and f 2.5. In the last competition, I shot with a flash, with the values of ISO 640 (approx. - ISO set to Auto) 1/250, f2.8. I link to some of the pictures below, but be aware that these are not Pulitzer Price winners, nor will they have VII or Magnum camping outside my door to make me apply for membership! ;)
    Bottom line (and question) is: Will a D700 serve me any better respecting image quality, or is the image (=D300) good enough as a basis, it is just more PS training I need? Or should I phase out the 50 and 85 lenses in favor of the 24-70?
    Any comment is welcome! Thanks in advance.
    available light: 100% crop: (face of one of the dancers has been masked for her privacy) : http://home.broadpark.no/~perchrn/div/dance.jpg
    with flash: http://home.broadpark.no/~perchrn/div/20090307_0171.jpg
  2. Buy the lens first, keep using D300. Unless you need to shoot at ISO 3200 and above, the D300 should suit your needs just fine, in my experience.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

  4. Shun,
    I have read the mentioned threads, and I guess I must seem like a complete id**t - at least I feel like one, not able to decide. By the way, thank you for responding, I have always found your advice very good.
    I guess that you can reduce my ramblings into the following:
    - will I see any difference in IQ if I pay the 1000$ between the D300 and D700 - for low lit images such as the enclosed examples
    - please tell me that the D300 is enough, guys. It is I that have to be better educated in PS skills.
    :) :)
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Per-Christian, in my case I have both the D300 and D700. I use them for slightly different purposes. It all depends on what you shoot and how much you want to spend; in other words, what is really important to you. We can all tell you the pros and cons about the D300 vs. D700 1000 times, but only you can decide what is good for you.
    If you still cannot decide, my guess is that you don't really need the D700. As usual, you are better off spending your hard-earn (or maybe easily earned in some cases) money on lenses.
  6. One thing to consider after looking at your images, with a FF D700, you might also have to purchase a longer lens. I use my D300 for concerts with the 85mm 1.8 and get great results. I also shoot available light, ISO 1600 or so. Black and whites look better than Tri-x (ISO 400) as far as sharpness, in my opinion.
  7. Per-Christian, my feeling is that you should keep the D300 and wait for a full frame successor to the D700. Who knows when Nikon will release whatever it will be...D800...whatever. But, my guess is that it will give you more reasons to upgrade than high iso. If you purchase more lenses, stick with something that will work on full frame. Just my opinion, but I think the D300 is a great camera. Hopefully, the next full frame offering from Nikon will have things like a 100% viewfinder, great high iso performance, possibly a 24 MP sensor and a frame rate at 14-bit RAW of at least 8 fps. Just a thought:)
  8. If you purchase the D700, then you will want the 70-200 2.8 for taking the dance photos, your 85mm won't be the 127.5mm you are used to now. Even if you get the 24-70 2.8 you are probably going to want to use the 85mm for some of the dance photos, simply to get closer and to shoot at 1.8 instead of 2.8. Since you shoot a bit of everything, the 17-85mm 2.8 DX might be a great lens for you right now. If you purchased it used the value wouldn't drop all that much for when you possibly transition to FX.
    I would second the idea that if you don't know if you need the D700 you probably shouldn't spend the money on it. That money is mostly gone forever very quickly unlike lenses.
  9. Stick with the D300 until a significant upgrade (ie. 20+ MP) is made to the D700. You will likely have a lens for many many years to come which makes it more befitting as a "gift" from your aunt.
    As for phasing out your primes for a zoom, that is backwards to me, especially for your lowlight necessities. For less money you could consider the Nikon AF 180/2.8 or Nikon AF 135/2 DC which would give you a better focal length in my opinion.
  10. If the D300 is retarding your ability to shoot clean images with low level avail. light then the D700 will indeed assist you. If you have no real 'issues' with the D300 and can live with it's High ISO performance then keep it, cherish it and wear it out and invest in glass. If you save and swap to a D700 then keep in mind that 50mm and 85mm on FX will have significantly less reach than on the D300........
    I would go against John Crow's advice here, if you need to make images in very poor light then a megapixel boosted D700x or D800 with 20Mp or more - given current technology will only create more noise at higher ISO settings and might leave you with a similar noise performance to the D300 you already have. The current 12 MP sensors of the D3 / D700 are the best shot for you in so far as gaining clean images in dim light.
    DX format is here to stay at least for the prolonged working life of a D300 (and my hunch is for even longer than that), don't discount DX lenses just because thay are 'DX' - if the lens fits your requirements......... then buy it...........
    If Nikon comes up with an 'MX' medium format digital back system with MX lenses then is FX dead? I think not........
  11. the flash pic looks so much better, why not just shoot with flash all the time? i'm with the other posters on this, get a longer lens, not a new body. if most of your shots are low-ISO, you dont need a D700. and it doesnt make a whole lot of sense to get a d700 and still not be able to reach the action for your daughter's dance performances because your primes dont have enough reach. i think your aunt really wants you to have the 70-200 (which would actually be optimal for this kind of work, since it's pretty good wide open). add an sb-900 which has more reach than the sb-800 and call it a day.
    btw, there is no nikon 17-85/2.8. there is a 17-55, which doesnt provide any more reach nor better IQ than Per-Christian's current lenses.
  12. D700!
    It's an amazing camera, I've had both D300 and D700, and the D700 is beyond belief. Image Quality is fantastic and pictures that were once impossible (6400 ISO with nearly no noticeable noise) is amazing. I would HIGHLY recommend it. A good lens option on a budget would be the tamron 28-75mm or the sigma 24-70mm in case you're looking for one. Also, don't underestimate how nice the big viewfinder of the D700 is ;-)
  13. The D700 is the next evolutionary step of the D300, there's no doubt about it, FF is the way to go. If they had invented the FF sensor before, then the D300 etc would probably never have been made. But how many times is the same question going to asked ? "can't decide between the D300 or D700". Blimey, read every third or so post.
  14. Thank you, guys, for all creative comments. I have read them, and will consider what you all have said in today's dance competition (while her mother is talking to all the other dance moms - which could take some time... - lol ;) ). Will try to answer when I come back later this afternoon.
  15. I replaced a D200 (well, it is on "permanent loan" to my brother) with a D700 and couldn't be happier. I couldn't have been happier with the D200 either and when I look at the Best Buy deal (of the year!), I'm thinking buying another one. The D200 was my first foray into the DSLR realm. There are arguments about which sensor format is "better" but I can tell you, you can take some amazing pics under very low light with the D700. I shot some using hi-2 in a very dark room and even liked those. That being said, the D300 is no slouch either. Gee, I bet that helps.
  16. The thing is that you seem to be a short tele kind of guy not a wide angle shooter. FF cameras are for those who are wide angle shooters since they have no crop factor. Thats about it unless you want to enlarge big and then you can alway use software like Genuine Fractals to give you double the file size without any decernable ill effects.
    Both cameras are good at high iso, and then again Noise Ninja or Neat image could make the D300 files just as clean noise wise.
    So it comes down to using your current camera and getting more fast lenses, I have a Manual AIS lens that is just dandy its the 28mm f/2.0 AIS Nikon Nikkor. Faster Sigma made a 24mm f/1.8 a few years back that was just so so on FF but good for DX. The two of these together would fill out your primes. IF you ever want a wider angle you might have to go for a slower 2.8 lens say 12mm but they will be not be as fast as what you are currently using.
  17. Here is another thought for a pretty fast wide angle. Tokina 11mm- 16mm f/2.8
    I have a test for you to read, its the same lens tested on Canon its several pages long.
    my thought is that the D300 is great, get lenses for your outfit, whats missing is wider angle or long end that should be covered.
    Another thing might be a good flash outfit or extra flashes
  18. Thought I would share my experience with the noise performance of the D300 and D700. I own both and used them to shoot a series of portraits for a ballet recital last December. I shot manual on both cameras; ISO640, 1/125, f5.6. I used the 17-55mm f2.8 set at 34mm (effective 51mm) on the D300 and the 50mm f1.4 on the D700. The photos were shot in raw with no adjustments applied. I set the white balance on both cameras (the D300 has a slightly warmer appearance). The D300 images are on the left, the D700 on the right.
    Since I can only post one image at a time, I'll make three separate posts to show the results. Here is the first, full size image:
  19. Here is a close up on the face of the girl
  20. ....and a closeup on the veil.
    There is a noticeable difference at only ISO640. The D700 results in a 'silkier' image. I was surprised by the result at the ISO setting....higer ISO settings are much more noticeable.
    There is no question if you are shooting indoor images, the D700 will give you fabulous results!
  21. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Steve, I don't doubt at all that even at ISO 640, the D700 will give you a more noise free image. However, I wonder why you did not shoot at the base ISO 200 under an apparently completely controlled studio setting?
    I too have both the D300 and D700. As far as I can tell, everybody agrees that the D700 and D3 are superior at higher ISOs. The real question is for the OP's situation, does it make sense to spend a large percentage of the budget on a fast-depreciating DSLR body. Obvsiouly in my own case, I thought it was totally worthwhile to get the D700 myself.
  22. Thank you everybody, for thoughtful comments. Even though many were wide apart in their reccommendations, I have been able to make a desicion.
    @Dave: You made me think whether I am quite content with my sub-ISO3200 images. Yes I am. However, coming from the pre-digital SLRs, I am used to think in 35mm-terms, and (wrongfully?) think that the depth-of-field and similar parameters are better in FX. Irrintating problem: Why should I care about 35mm-depth of fields - I have not shot analog in the latest 12 years!
    @Michael: If I go FX, I certainly have to buy better and more long-reached lenses. After the 85mm, I have a 180 2,8 and the difference between those to would certainly imply another lens between those. 70-200? However, I cannot afford one setup for my ordinary shooting, and one for the dance competitions.
    @Eric: I have been somewhat reluctant to using flash at the competitions. Both because I do not like to draw attention and stick out being the one that "always shoots" - You know, some of the parents might be a little overanxious - even though I am not shooting their kids. I have also been afraid to blind the dancers with my flash. I talked to my daughter yesterday, and she assured me that they were all so concentrated and flashes "rained" from everywhere, that the dancers could not possibly be annoyed.
    @Jack: Your post really made me laugh. So in a way - It helped!
    @Harvey: "The thing is that you seem to be a short tele kind of guy not a wide angle shooter". You are spot on. I made a statistic of all my keepers the last 5 years (from my dSLR-era) and 80% of my shotes are in the 24-85mm range. I have used my kit 18-70 as a everyday lens. This christmas I also bought a Tamron 11-18, which was on a special sale. I guess that I have taken 15-20 pictures with it. It is collecting dust on the shelf. My 180 2,8 is always with me - seldom used, and my 70-300G nonVR zoom - only used on holidays, and seldom then.
    @Matthew: I hope you are right. Even though DX is serving me well for ordinary pictures, I hate the idea of being stuck with an out of date format - and I know that the cameras do not immediately seize to function - but Nikon marketing loves to give us that impression!
    @Steve: Thank you for taking your time to post the comparative images. I can see that the D700 gives me more noisefree images in a setup such as yours.
    @Shun: Last but NOT least: I think you are quite right. For my ordinary shooting I don't need the D700. Is the D700 worth 1000$ from my wallet for the dance photos (for the time being) and what if my daughter suddenly decides that she wants to quit (other interests, boys, ...) ? I agree, better glass do not deteriorate, and as many of you say, a newer, better, camera is always just round the corner.
    @everyone else that have taken time to answer me: Thank you, you have all given extremely valuable information to me, and have helped me make a desicion and fight NAS!
    I have decided to keep the D300, as it has only 6K clicks on the meter, and instead look for somee excellent lenses. Now I have to consider what is best for me for my shooting styles: 24-70 or 70-200, or....??? I think that I can make pictures that are good enough for me with the D300 and a more educated use of flash. I also want to invest some time in how to use Photoshop better.
    Thank you everybody for your help!
    a picture from yesterdays competition: http://home.broadpark.no/~perchrn/div/dans2.jpg
    D300 - 85mm 1.8, 1/250s at f2.8 ISO(auto)=200.
  23. Shun, good question about why not shoot at ISO200....partly due to inexperience (the protrait setup was at the instructor's home) and because I didn't think that ISO640 would be an issue. I'll certainly be dialing down the ISO settings in the future!
    You also bring up a good point about whether it is worthwhile to invest in the D700. I think if the OP was in business selling his work then it would be worthwhile to produce the best images possible (and the price of the D700 certainly brings the high ISO performance into budget range compared with the D3!). But if it is for his own use, then he must consider the cost-benefit ratio. The flash definitely improves the results but that isn't always an option since the flash might affect the performers. One suggestion on improving the quality of the non-flash images is to position the camera so the performers are lit by the spotlight. The original posted non-flash image was backlit so the noise was very noticeable. He should be able to lower the ISO with the spotlit performers and get much better results. Good luck!
  24. The D700 is just the beginning of full frame sensor cameras from Nikon. OK, the D3 was the beginning, but I prefer the size of the D700. I see a great future in imaging, it can only get better. I'm not talking about more megapixels, but better image quality. The D200 is excellent, the D300 is an improvement! The D700 is also excellent, I'm wondering about the improvement coming from Nikon! For now I'm sitting on the sidelines having sold the wonderful D700 and still adjusting to the D200. But I am enjoying the D200 for what it is, and the price I paid for it brand new from Best Buy can't be beat.
    Late Afternoon, D200, April 15th, 2009. Tokina 17-35mm. 17mm f8 ISO 100
  25. Hi, I can speak to this from experience. I faced the same decision. I purchased a D300, mainly because of the cost difference, and I was never completely happy with it as it didn't suit my situation. It was a great camera, but I take a lot of night shots and a lot of shots inside churches, museums, etc. I just wasn't happy with the noise levels at 400 ISO and up.
    So, I was then stupid enough to leave the D300 in the Atlanta airport where it was never seen again (perhaps I should have inserted "incredibly" before "stupid"). I finally bit the bullet and replaced it with the D 700 and there is no comparison. This low light ability is revolutionary. ISO 6400 is perfectly useable. In a case like your shot of the dancers, I imagine that all that noise in the shadows will be gone.

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