d600 vs d7000 as a solution for low light telephoto

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by martynas_photo, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. Hi all,
    banging my head on the wall with silly money-related issue. As I cannot afford a 200-400mm at this stage (and my d700 is starting to cause problems), I need a camera that would equal my d700 in terms of high iso quality AND would give me the extra reach using the 80-200mm lens. In d600 sense this means that I would mostly use it in dx mode or crop heavily. I do theatre photography and iso 1600/2000 is the maximum setting that I can safely use on my d700 (because I expose for the highlighted soloists and have to recover the shadows (often - most of the frame) in post). d600 is twice the price of d7000 - but is its iso performance also that much better? Or, to put it another way - how does the iso1600/2000 of d7000 compare to that of d700 in real life low light situations?
    ps. all the lenses I own are for FX, so no problem in either case - all I need is high iso and a good telephoto reach (btw, fixed focal length lens with extender is not an option as I must have the flexibility of the zoom)
  2. Get the D7000. The D700 and D600 have better high ISO images, but what you're really comparing here, based on your particular need, is the amount of detail you can capture in a high ISO shot from a D7000, vs. the same shot using the DX crop area of a D700 or D600. The D7000 is going to come out ahead and be in budget.
  3. Agree with Andy. If you end up cropping or using DX mode most of the time, getting DX for a lot less money makes a lot more sense. And the D7000 is already pretty awesome in high ISO, not that far from a D700 (but yes, tests show the D600 is better still, but at ISO1600, all 3 are solid performers).
  4. D7000 is very very close to D700 in image quality. In my experience, noise becomes apparent maybe 1/2 stop earlier with D7000, but in my opinion D7000 handles high ISO noise better so that I have results (in bright light) that are very acceptable for me in the ISO 4000-5000 range which I cannot achieve with D700. There are other differences - I am one of those who found the D7000 AF more difficult to work with, but on the other hand I thought Auto-WB worked better; with D700 I would be doing custom WB more often. Bottom line is that D7000 is a very good option unless you have demanding AF or weather-sealing requirements. I have never used the D600.
  5. I guess that I agree with the earlier posters (D7000) for the specific theater photo assignment. But, if your D700 is failing (not sure if I understand "cause problem" statement), I think that the D600 is a better general purpose replacement for the D700.
  6. Andy and Wouter - thank you!
    Nick - I've read that the two cameras (d7000 and d600) share the same AF module that was slightly redesigned for the full-frame d600. I mostly shoot using single centre focus point, with no tracking - so, hopefully, the d7000 will be able to handle that ok. heck, even my old d100 does that pretty well.
    Robert - my d700 has served me well, but it simply needs thorough cleaning and servicing now (maybe a shutter replacement as well, since it is way past the rated "safe" limit). I hope I will be able to use it long afterwards. So I am mainly buying a second camera to be on a safe side and in order to achieve the extra mm on the far end at a fraction of cost of something like 200-400mm f/4.
  7. The D600 in DX mode only gives a 10.3 megapixel image. Surely you're going to find that insufficient by today's standards Martynas? Also the tiny screen size of a D600 in crop mode is going to leave you with eyestrain looking at a dimly lit stage through it all evening.
    IMO 1600 ISO is nothing for almost any modern DSLR. Are you shooting RAW? Because I can't believe you're having trouble pulling up shadow detail from a D700's RAW files, even shooting higher than 1600 ISO. RAW also gives you over a stop more headroom for highlights, meaning you can give a bit more exposure over a JPEG and still retain highlight detail. Switching from JPEG shooting to RAW might make all the difference.
  8. Why not have Nikon take a look at your D700 first? It might well be cost effective to repair, but if not you can always decline the repairs and buy the D600/D7000.
    EDIT: Oops, sorry, I just read your 5:31 comment to Robert about looking for a second camera.
  9. Rodeo Joe - I meant to say that if I had a
    d600, I would most likely heavily crop the
    image until I get what I need. The point is - I
    work in a huge theatre and I mostly work
    during live performances,which greatly limits
    my ability to move around and get closer to
    the stage. This is no problem during dress
    rehearsals, but when the hall is full of people,
    I simply have to work from a distance. So,
    what I actually need is a fast telephoto lens
    in the 300-500mm range, but we all know
    the price of such glass. So, I decided to go
    the other way and get a camera instead. If I
    get D600 - the serviced d700 becomes my
    backup. If I go for d7000 - it would be mostly
    used as "telephoto camera". May sound
    weird, but that's the only way I can think of to
    extend the range of my 80-200 without
    investing a fortune into good glass at this
    As for the shadows and iso - trust me on this
    one. When an artist on stage is lit with
    powerful spotlights, the difference in
    exposure (when compared to the darker
    background sets) can be 5 stops and more.
    Try to recover some reasonable detail in the
    background that was originaly
    underexposed by 5 stops (and lit with lights
    of different temperature, no compensation) -
    and you will see what I mean. And yes, I only
    shoot Raw:)
    James - I really hope that it will be cost
    effective to repair the d700, as I like that
    camera a lot. I simply need a good backup
    body, that would also give me some extra
    reach and resolution.
  10. If you can wait, there could be an upgraded D7000 in the next six months. The 24mp D5200 has already been announced.
    Kent in SD
  11. Kent,
    unfortunately, I can't wait, because I have lots of work to do, and the d200 that serves as an emergency backup is simply unfit for most of my assignments, due to high iso requirements. another thing - all of my lenses are non-afs, which eliminates most bodies, as they have no internal focussing motor.The d700 is still running, but it started producong random errors, cf write problems and its shutter is above 200k actiations. So - not exactly broken, but soon to be serviced.
  12. mm How about another ( used, low actuation count, or refurb) D700 ?
    That way your (future) backup cam. is exactly the same, and all your accesories you already have do fit ...
  13. mm one submit , dubble post ?
  14. It is important to have a working backup that will give acceptable image quality, but in my experience the D7000 isn't that great as a high ISO camera. I liked its output up to ISO 400. At ISO 800 the shadows were blocked up a bit already and the FX cameras that I had at the time (e.g. D700) pulled clearly ahead at that ISO and above (when shot full frame, of course not if cropped to DX format!). Others seem to like the D7000 at higher ISO but the output seems a bit noisy and thin to me. At ISO 100-200 (maybe 400), it was excellent, of course.
    In the long term, consider getting a second hand AF-S Nikkor 300/2.8 and shoot it from a tripod and use the 80-200 you have for groups of performers (mounted on a second camera; this is why I suggest using the 300 on a tripod as then you can just switch cameras without finding a place to put the big 3 while it's resting), the general scene setting pics and so on. Using a high quality, longer lens will give you more focus keepers and more robust quality overall than stretching the image from a 80-200 by cropping.
    As to which camera to buy, I would go preferentially with the D800; the AF system is better than in the D600 (or D7000), and because of its large pixel count you can reframe shots in post-processing while retaining higher quality than you would with many other cameras. I've found the D800 invaluable in stage photography and I crop from 200mm myself, and you can do this too, but the focus precision is really going to be tested as you do this. Even with the 70-200/2.8 II, a lot of the time the focus precision dictates whether the cropping is successful or not, and in stage photography a lot of things can cause slight misfocus. I would therefore highly recommend that you set your long-term goal on a second hand 300/2.8.
    If you can afford to buy a new camera body, then I would put the D800 ahead of the D600 because you suggest you'll need to crop, and because of its AF. If it is too expensive then consider D600, or D7000 though personally I am no big fan of the D7000; for the money it is very good but for this kind of use, an FX camera is in my opinion better suited. I like the fact that with a 24-36MP FX camera you can e.g. do panoramics of the stage with very high quality simply by shooting just wide enough and then cropping from the top and bottom, still retaining enough pixels for a large print.
    Another way to improve quality and put off the 300/2.8 purchase is to swap the 80-200 for the 70-200/2.8 II, as the latter has excellent quality at 200mm, f/2.8 and more precise autofocus than the screwdriver lens, so you have higher probability of getting good quality crops than with your current lens. This is what I base much of my stage photography at the moment; by combining the D800 with the 70-200II gives a lot of flexibility from a stage-wide panorama to tight cropped shots; the only problem is that the focus consistency, even with this AF-S lens isn't perfect when the subjects are e.g. dancing, and some of the shots are rejects because they can't withstand the 1.5x-2x crop that I need at 200mm for a tight shot in some cases, when working from a longer distance. But if the light is good, focus consistency is better, of course, but still cropping really pushes things to the limits, and shooting full frame with a longer lens is definitely better if you can afford it at a later point. But the 70-200 II and D800 combination works "well enough" for me; by shooting enough frames I get enough keepers, and retaining the flexibility to zoom back can be handy.
    Another possibility is to work with the organizers to get access to a better shooting position where 200mm would be sufficient without cropping. However, you seem to be saying that this isn't possible.
  15. C.P.M. - another d700 would solve only the backup body problem, not the demand for telephoto.
    Ikka, thank you very much for such an exhaustive comment.
    first about the shooting situation - no, I cannot change the position as this would mean that I would be surrounded by people who have paid for the tickets. My shooting cannot disturb the audience, period. No problem with moving around during dress rehearsals, I can even get on stage if I really need to. To get the idea of the surroundings I work in - visit http://www.opera.lt/en/about-the-theatre/virtual-tour (the orchestra pit itself is huge, perhaps 4-5 meters wide, plus no one ever performs at the edge of the stage, so add another 2-10 meters). And no, I cannot sit in the centre section of the hall unless I ABSOLUTELY TOTALLY have to. but then I'd better not click too often)
    this means that I need to stand behind the seats on either side of the hall. I may, of course shoot from the closest position to the side of the stage, but that does not work for most productions, as I loose most of the background behind dancer/singer (most of the sets are centered).
    the 80-200 is good enough for me to shoot ballet and other "fast moving targets" even with old cameras like d100/d200, so that is not an issue as well. Sure, the 70-200 is better, but I could not justify its cost right now.
    300mm is a perfect lens, but again - due to the structure of the hall I work in, I have limited space to move back and forth, so, I need to have a zoom lens. Looking at what I shoot and how I crop - a 200-400 would be a perfect choice. However, moneywise it is too expensive for me at this stage.
    So, my main problem is - how do I maintain the maximum resolution possible after cropping (once I cannot get closer or afford an abovementioned lens). While d800 might be the obvious choice - it also has some not so obvious drawbacks (well, at least for me): I'm not sure about the results of its combo with the existing 80-200, its files are way larger, requiring upgrade of my current computer at work and at home and, last but not least - it is also fairly expensive. Perhaps I will see the day, when I will have no problem buying a camera in this price range whenever I need to, but today is not that day:) Because if money was not an issue I would buy the said zooming beast and be happy (I have tried it and it worked like a charm for me).
    I do agree that the AF is great on D800, but... I don't have a problem with that in either of my cameras or even when manual focusing the Mamiya 500mm f5.6 attached via the adapter, so that is no bonus for me. And you also mention that it is very demanding on focus precision... Yes the pixel count is impressive, but what about the ISO? how does it compare to that of d700, or, for that matter, the d600?
    now, back to the d7000. I am really surprised to read that you find it acceptable up to iso 400 only. While that may be true for cameras like d100 or d200 that I own - I have never had any problems pushing them up to 800, while here we are talking about a fairly new product... Even the tiny and fun-to-use small sensor Fujifilm x10 is quite acceptable at 800, for medium sized prints. So, your comment on this has alerted me, but maybe its all about personal preference? I mean - I do not mind even visible noise in the print as long as the image itself is worth printing.
  16. While I mention that focusing is not perfectly consistent from shot to shot at the widest apertures when photographing in low light, the D800 is in my opinion still better than the D7000 in that respect, and the older FX cameras (i.e. D3, D700) did hunt more in low light than the D800 does, so perhaps it would be best say that the AF of the D800 is not perfect but it is better than that of any other camera I've used in low light! And the use of AF-S lenses does increase the keeper rate when shooting wide open.
    The high ISO performance of the D800 is excellent; if you use the whole image frame it is better than the D700 (when the images are printed to the same size); if you use DX crop then it should be slightly better or about the same as the D7000 at high ISO. The D800 has some blue channel noise at ISO 6400 which affects results if you have to color correct the images shot on low-K lights such as tungsten, but otherwise it is excellent and the ISO 6400 results are more useable than those from the D700. On the D700 I would rarely go above ISO 4000 or so; on the D800 I use ISO 6400 when I must and as long as the exposure is correct and no extreme WB adjustments are needed, the quality is surprisingly good.
    back to the d7000. I am really surprised to read that you find it acceptable up to iso 400 only.
    What I meant to say is that I got better results using the D700 (using the full FX image area) at ISO 800 and above than with the D7000 at equal ISO, whereas in the lower ISO range, in some situations the D7000 actually yielded better results than the D700, especially at ISO 100 (which the D700 doesn't have), and for macro and telephoto shots. I did not mean that the D7000 shots at ISO 800 are not useable; they are, but there are cameras that can yield better quality results provided that you have a long enough and fast enough lens. If you need to do a DX crop, then the D7000 is much better than the D700.
    300mm is a perfect lens, but again - due to the structure of the hall I work in, I have limited space to move back and forth, so, I need to have a zoom lens. Looking at what I shoot and how I crop - a 200-400 would be a perfect choice.
    I think it's tough to have to shoot from a worse position (further away) than any of the audience! ;-) I think the 200-400/4 is not ideal for this situation as when you take tighter close-ups you often have to increase shutter speed as the movement of the subjects is magnified by the lens and the f/4 maximum aperture of the zoom is a limitation. I have never seen it use in an indoor stage situation, though sometimes I've seen it at large outdoor concerts. With the 200-400/4 I think you would be shooting quite often at ISO 6400 and at least I try to use lower ISO when possible. Also the lens is physically quite long - do you have enough space for the lens and tripod? With these limitations I can see the zoom would be helpful, but I would still go with the 300/2.8 and crop when you need tighter framing, and for the wider shots, use the f/2.8 telezoom. Using a fixed focal length lens is not that bad! :) Well, it takes some time to get used to.
    If you can shoot more freely at the dress rehearsals, you would probably get better results by doing most of the close-up shots there; the intimacy of shooting from a close position is transmitted into the pictures and the viewer can see when the shots were made from a long distance away.
  17. Ilkka- thanks once again, I now have a lot to think about.
    regarding the apertures - I keep mentioning the 200-400 because: I mostly shoot at f4 anyway, so the iso increase would not be that significant (or not significant for cameras like d700, d7000 or d600). I also use older dx cameras, where I simply cannot go beyond iso 800 - and I still manage to get the shots I need, maintaining the aperture around f4. So - I see no limitation here. I have also used canon gear and specifically their 70-200 f4 - I had no problem with that as well. Sure, 2.8 is always better :)
    speaking of closeups and dress rehearsals - you are absolutely right and the close-up shots are my main objective at any rehearsal, BUT... I also have to photograph all the debuting and touring artists, as well as diverse concerts and other events featuring individual soloists, which means that there is a continuous demand for "portrait" shots.
  18. Martynas, it seems to me that what you're really lacking is a decent long, fast lens. Yet you seem fixated on buying another camera body. I think if I was in your position I'd definitely be putting any spare cash into better glassware.
    A faster lens would also pay dividends in lowering shadow noise. It's the absolute brightness of the sensor image, or rather lack of it, that creates noisy shadows. You can see this by shooting at a high ISO in daylight, and at the same ISO in dim light. The dim light shot will show far more noise, even though the ISO hasn't changed. A wider aperture lens would be just like turning the lighting up a notch.
    Incidentally, I quite often use curves to equalise the brightness of shadows and highlights. The shot below was taken with a D700 at twighlight at ISO 3200. The contrast between the lighted phone boxes, the streetlight and the shadowed railings must have been at least 6 stops. The RAW file (right) was adjusted for curves, exposure and white balance in capture One. This did leave some obvious noise, but that was easily removed with a despeckle filter. Had I been using PhotoShop the whole thing could have been done in ACR in one go.
    The left half of the comparison is the JPEG straight from the camera, to give an idea of how much shadow detail can easily be pulled from a D700 RAW image at 3200 ISO. I actually prefer the darker shot BTW.
  19. Martynas, While driving this AM. I had one further thought that Ilkka hit on, the 300mm/2.8 but with a twist. The AFS versions sell for around $3K and up, but the first gen AF versions often can be found for less than $1.5K. I have one of those for the few situations that I need it. It is a great and underrated lens, IMO. My example is sharper than my 80-200 AFS, is at least 1/3 stop faster in actual use (maybe 1/2), and focuses fast enough to track most sports action, contrary to internet opinion. Use your 80-200 when you need 200mm, the 300 when it is right, and maybe add a 1.4 Kenko TC for $100 to create a 420mm/4. In your case, an older manual focus version might work for way less than $1k. Or, there is the first version 300mm/4 AF that often sells for less than $500. Technology marches on (rapidly), but good glass always seems to deliver. Sounds like you have enough light for the f/4 lens.
    I will add that I replaced the highly thought of 300mm/4 AFS with the older 300/2.8 in my line up. The more than 1 stop of effective lens speed I picked up made two sporting events that I shoot viable (shooting a D3s at somewhere around ISO 8-10K). The 300/4 AFS just did not deliver enough scarce photons at those venues. Only problem is that it is too big/heavy to lug around for casual use, so I added a cheap beater 300mm/4 AF to the lens closet.
    Even with the D3s and D800 cameras, shooting at lower ISO's with faster glass seems to deliver better net image quality.
  20. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Get the D7000, while it will not match the D700's ISO capability and AF capability, it makes absolutely no sense to get a D600 and use it mainly in the DX crop mode. The main reason an FX body costs more is the larger sensor. If you are not using the larger sensor area, don't get an FX body.
  21. Side note about camera repair. Yesterday I was picking up my old d300 camera from authorized nikon repair shop. It has 126k shutter clicks on it. Nikon rates it's shutter life at 150k. Mine developed problem with mirror freezing in up position. I expected the repair to require new shutter. The fault was in mirror sequencing mechanism. According to a guy who works in the shop (he has been there for years and I value his words) modern nikon cameras rarely need full shutter replacement, shutters live well past it's nominal life span, it is mirror sequencing mechanism which goes bad first and the repair is less expensive than total shutter replacement. I paid US $310 for the repair including grip rubber covering replacement, adjustments to metering and sensor cleaning. A repair (at respectable shop) might be a god option for your still adequate d700.
  22. If I understand your need it is to have a second camera and a longer reach. I don't see why zoom is needed on the same
    camera as the longer reach. So I'd opt for the D7000 and a long prime. Since money is an issue, I'd look at the 300/2.8
    in the used market as suggested above, or even the 200/2+TC also in the used market (although most of those I've seen
    look like they've served time in war zones, I suspect some folks use them for jack stands.) The point being that although I
    truly love my 70-200VRII, if you are trying to get longer and that is important, I think you should get longer the best way
    you can, and not force that lens to also be a zoom. Good luck.
  23. Rodeo Joe - you are right - I need a good fast telephoto lens. Unfortunately, at the same time I also need a backup camera body, because I would not want to be in a situation when I am on assignment and my camera fails (especially, when I am somewhere in another city). So far, this situation never occurred, but I always bring the d200 to have at least something, if sh*t happens. The best in the world telephoto, prime or zoom, would be of no use in such case. Regarding the image you posted - this one is easy to recover. I'll try to find something to illustrate my point.
    Robert - thank you for comparing the two lenses (300mm f2.8 and f4). At some point I thought about the f4 version, but if it did not quite work for you with a d3s at such high iso, then I do not see how it could work on a lower class camera body. BTW, I have tried Kenko 1.4x with my 80-200 - and hated the results (too much focus hunting and soft images) - but I realise that TCs should mainly be used with primes.
    Shun, perhaps that is indeed the only reasonable way for me to go (from the cropping perspective). As for the high iso - around 50% of my shots demand 1600/2000 (ok on d700). Others fit in the 500-800 range, which should be ok with d7000. It is a temporary solution anyway, until I find out what is the situation with my d700 and/or earn for a fast lens. the main problem is that I cannot spend more than several days without a working camera.
    Thomas, thanks. So far I had no issues with the shutter - just occasional freezing and errors. But that is enough to get me alerted, what do I do IF...
    Joel, yes, you got it all right, just like Robert, who wrote about the 300mm. Perhaps its time to rethink my shooting habits.
    Thank you all again for your kind responses. Unfortunately, the type of photography I do is not among the best paid photographic jobs in my area, to say the least, so each and every acquisition is a real pain and... a necessity.
  24. Oh, you already have a D200, so you already know how a DX camera is going to work for you with its crop factor contributing to your tele range. A D7000 is going to be the same, but better in most ways - better AF system (not as good as on the D700 but an upgrade to the 11-point system on the D200), more resolution, much better image at higher ISO. The alternatives, if you want to save money, are a used D300 (D700 body and AF system, DX sensor that's between the D200 and D7000 in resolution and high ISO performance) or D90 (similar size to D7000, with the D300 sensor and AF system similar to D200).

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