D90, D300/300s or D700

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by soulgazephotography, Aug 6, 2009.

  1. I'm planning to upgrade from a D40. I'm stuck deciding between 3 really good Nikons. What would help me decide is if anyone that owns one of these three models could tell me why they do and don't like them and why they chose that camera over the others. Thanks for your help!
  2. I have a D90 and like it quite a lot. It's got great ergonomics, isn't too huge and the image quality is excellent. If only the darn AF worked while shooting video I'd call it the perfect crop-sensor DSLR.
    The D90, D300 and D300S are similar in many ways, the main differences being things that mostly concern pro photographers - faster rapid fire, more robust body construction (the D90 is more robust than the D40 and is enough for most purposes), a higher performance AF system and it can meter when using manual focus lenses. If these things are important to you, look at the D300.
    In image quality areas, the D90 is equal to the D300 or slightly better. The D300S adds some new features to the D300; the list of features is published all over.
    A D700 is a lot like a D300 but with the FX sensor. The main advantage of this is low light performance. It requires non-DX lenses.
  3. D90: video, small body
    D300: magnesium body, better AF, higher frame rate, larger viewfinder
    D300S: D300 + video
    D700: full frame, best viewfinder, good quality at high ISO
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    It is best if the OP can tell us what types of subject matters she likes to shoot, which lenses she already has and her overall budget. The D40 is a tiny DSLR; either the D300/D300s or D700 will be a lot heavier, which is a plus or some and a drawback for some others.
    A very common mistake a lot of beginners make is to spend most of their budget on a D700 body with little left for bodies. At least to me, that is not at all a smart way to go.
  5. To Shun Cheung:
    Size or weight doesnt matter to me I take what I do seriously and if it's heavy, but can give me more flexibility and creativity then i'm fine. I photograph anything and everything...infrared, nature, portraits...honestly it would be hard for me to choose a category. This is my reason for upgrading. I dont feel the D40 has the speed or features I want...and also because I bought the D40 mostly for usage doing my infrared photography. Budget on camera body doesnt matter IF the body will be one that I can stick with for several years regardless of the constant upgrades and new models released. As for my camera and lenses in the Nikon family I only have the D40 and kit 18-55mm lens. I know I plan to buy the 10.5mm fisheye and 105mm macro. I also understand about blowing money on body and having nothing left for lenses, but I plan to get the body now, get a better lens my birthday, christmas and then whatever else I wanted with my taxes next year. I've been saving up for a while and thanks to help from my current photography income I should be ok.
  6. I likely take my photography just as seriously as you do (and sell to magazines, calendars, etc.) I also am very eclectic in what I photo. I've come to think that a camera is the LEAST important thing. Put money on lenses and lighting. I have also come to think that putting money in good software and a robust computer is now at least as important as the camera body, if not more so. I've been using a D300, but honestly the D5000 would do 95% of what I want. For my family outings and vacations I've been using my old D80 plus cheap kit lenses 18-55mm VR & 55-200mm VR. They do about 90% of what I want, and I've been getting some tremendous photos from them. Some I've sold for more than what I paid for the lenses. There are certainly times I'm content to leave $8,000 bag worth of pro camera gear at home and take the $600 bag. You say that a heavy camera system won't bother you, but I'll point out that you've never hauled one around. I have. Shun is exactly right about people buying expensive cameras, thinking they are somehow "magic," and then going short on the lenses, which are what actually does the "work." Your biggest need is lenses, very clearly. You also don't seem to have any off camera lighting at all. Without it you won't make portraits, just snapshots.
    One thing I advise all newbies is to CAREFULLY think through what you want a camera system to do. That will determine what you need. The other key is to think not of cameras, but of a photo SYSTEM. It all works together. For what you've said you want to do I'd advise a medium weight system with flexible lenses. Here's what I think might be a good fit: Nikon D90, Tamron 17-50mm f2.8, Nikon 70-300mm VR, Canon 500D macro attachment, multi-coated polarizer, carbon fiber tripod, AcraTech Ultimate ballhead, Nikon SB-900 flash, Nikon SB-600 flash, lightstands & umbrellas, sensor cleaning kit (including Rocket bulb.) That stuff alone is going to cost you something like $3,500, but it's a very capable SYSTEM that will deliver superb image quality. I'm estimating something like $600 for tripod & ballhead alone. Yes, they are that important. The $600 is minimum. For macro I spent $1,000 on tripod/ballhead.
    You say you're thinking of buying a camera now and then a lens here & there over several years. Bad plan. Here's why: the camera body will most certainly drop in price, major drops. Meanwhile the lenses will at a minimum hold value and could well continue to increase in price. Buy good lenses now, since they are most important, will make the most difference in your image quality, and will not be dropping in price. I buy a new camera every two years. They are disposable, like computers. I've had the same tripod for nine years now, and most of my lenses have now seen three different cameras come & go. Cameras aren't a "magic" box and really aren't that important for memorable images. The most common beginner's mistake is to have a grossly inflated idea of a camera's importance to the SYSTEM.
    Kent in SD
  7. I used my D70 for 5 years professionally and recently during July in Venezuela. It did a wonderful job. the D90 is the more advanced version. Sounds like it would do you. I did upgrade to D300. Heavier but more sturdy.
    Just having 2 adjustment wheels is an advance.
  8. Would second the D90. Unless you need to use CF cards, the D90 will do all you need.
  9. if you even have to ask this question, chances are, a d90 is all the camera you need.
    no need to spend more on a body than you have to.
  10. To Kent Staubus: Thank you for your long reply! I understand about the value of lenses vs camera body down the road. I have know about this for a while which is why i've taken my time deciding which 'system' as you put it. I prefer to buy a body that i will want to stay with for a long time regardless of newer models. I know they are always making better ones....look at how the D300 just got better with a 300s. Either thing I go with will be replaced. I understand that. I want what i will be able to be the most flexible with now. I'd been mostly wanting the D90 the last few months until I read how much better sealed the D300 and D700 are. Considering i'm outdoors alot and like to photograph anywhere and anytime, that's important to me. I also desire good ISO and from what I've read all three are great, but the 700 is the best. As for the weight, I was serious. It really doesnt bother me. I'm a mother of two...carrying diaperbags, purse, camera case, baby in carrier and toddler around and trust me you can handle anything. If it's to pursue my passion It makes it even easier to overlook the weight. Another reason i've been taking my time with this is because one thing that I know definately I want to do is photograph weather. I plan to get a degree in metorology and i would love to storm chase for real as well. I've seen what the D700 can do from samples from a really great weather photographer www.jimreedphoto.com and that's actually been what's got me rethinking getting the D90 like I origionally wanted. I know logically I could get a 90, better lenses, lighting and do most of what I want. Considering how much i'm outdoors and what i'm planning to do in my future that's why i asked this question. Also with the format being different on the D700 i've waited on lenses until I decide which body. I plan to get some lenses with the body and then do what I was saying and get more as money permits such as my birthday and holidays. As for lighting, I am aware that I need better lighting, but for now I'm more worried about lenses and the body because i'm still reading and learning about the strobists techniches which is how I plan to go considering how much I plan to be outdoors and on locations rather than shooting in a studio like what I've started to do.
  11. Don't overestimate the value of weather sealing. It's not like a D90 cannot handle a drop of rain. But, stormchasing is another thing, though, if you really go for that then the D300 or D700 become a must. And also some lenses who can take that level of abuse (I don't the think the 18-55 would be the best for that extreme sports).
    Do not play down the matter of weight. The fact that you're strong enough is not being disputed. But these heavier, and larger, bodies can be more difficult to hold still if your hands are somewhat smaller (reverse, with larger hands they can be nicer). Extra weight does have impact on handling - it's not about the sheer muscle power, it's about balance. To exemplify: I do not mind going on 4-5 hour walks with 10 kilos of gear. But after a full day of shooting, I do feel in the muscles in my hand that a D300 is bigger than my D80 was.. not in a problematic way, but the difference is there.
    So, for this, I can only recommend: go to a shop, and ask if you can try them a bit, feel how things work for you - do not assume anything as far as this point is concerned.
    Overall, though, frankly, I'm with Eric Arnold here: if you need to ask, get the D90. The D700 will need a new kitlens as well, unless you only want to use it with the 105 macro (in which case, the D700 has the disadvantage of less depth of field, which is very annoying in macro photography), so it will be quite an investment. Both the D300 and D700 represent a steeper learning curve, with a gazillion options in the menu and a AF system that's more advanced than most of us ever need. The D90 is more accessible in that respect, and in addition it leaves you more money to invest in good lenses and a flash, without any sacrifice in image quality. The D90 just is a very good value offer.
  12. I opted for a D700 because I often shoot indoor sports. Fast action in low light dictated my choice. No regrets. YMMV.
  13. I socond Kent. Lense should come first - depending on what you intend to shoot most. As for the body, since I am not a pro, the weight does matter. I have a D700 and do weekend shooting walking around with a few lenses in a big bag. It is getting tough for my aging shoulder and hand. I can't do that when traveling with family. So, I got D90 and light zoom for that purpose. D90 is really good body - much better than I had expected. With that spec, you can take photos with single hand. Very, very good quality. From D40, I would pick D90, so that I could have extra funds to explore, experience, experiment, and extend the lense variety.
  14. Another vote for a good lens first. In the past 25 years I upgraded from Nikon FE2 camera to F3, F4 and finaly F100 and then from D70S to D300 I use today. Nevertheless the biggest step in quality of my photos was when I moved from consumer zooms f/3.5-4.5-5.6 to professional 2.8 lenses.
    Regards, Marko
  15. rj


    Ah, come on. Take out a loan and get yourself a D700 and a D300s, a 70-200 af-s, 24-70 af-s, 50f1.4 af-s, 14-24 af-s and you are set, unless you want a longer telephoto. You will probably have to take out another loan for that though. You know you want it. ;-)
    I really liked the D90 when I had a chance to play with it. I like the size of the body and the control layout, and of course the price. The viewfinder is pretty good for an aps sized body. I think its one of the better bang for your buck in the Nikon lineup at the moment.
  16. Amber,
    Too much thinking.
    If you know you need full-frame, get the D700. If you don't know you need it, you probably don't.
    If you need to use old non-AF lenses, get the D300. If you don't know... you probably don't.
    If you think you will get more creativity and flexibility from one or the other of those, you are happily incorrect. Creativity is in you, not the camera. Any of these cameras will work in P, S, A, or M mode. In the hands of the right photographer, and with the right lens, they will all take the same photo.
    Seriously, I'd get the D90 and a decent standard lens and be done with it.
  17. amber, you asked for opinions and you got them. the best answer by far was, go to a shop and try them out. i think it will reinforce your own inclination coming into this discussion, but that's only a guess.
    sometimes the very linear, rational approach works the best, and for other times -- and other people -- it doesn't. what inspires and motivates you should carry considerable weight, IMO.
    camera bodies come and go -- that's so true. but you've no doubt noticed that plenty of people continue to use bodies several generations "old," without complaint. the important thing, i believe, is to choose the one that does the things you want, and don't look back.
  18. I am almost strictly an outdoor photographer, and an adventurous one at that. My favorite photo conditions are a Dakota blizzard. Last May I was in Disney/FL during the heaviest rains I've ever seen (8 inches per hour at one point.) I used a D80 in all these conditions and had zero problems. You wouldn't believe what my D80 has been through in my kayak either. I would not be a bit afraid of taking a D90 out in whatever weather you can stand. I bought a D300 because of the higher flash sync, which is useful for me. (I bought a refurb for $1040, wouldn't pay $1,500 though.) There is one other feature a D300 has that might be useful for you if you're serious about macro, and that's MLU. Have to do a lot of macro to make it worth it though.
    I highly doubt a D700 will do anything for you that a D300 won't. Here's something else that's in the equation. If you don't have the high quality lenses to support a camera like the D300 or D700, why bother. It's the LENS that creates the image. If weather sealing is important to you, why would you buy a weather sealed camera and then stick an inexpensive unsealed lens on it? That's where the water gets in--the lens mount. The newer pro lenses are weather sealed. So, I'm back to talking about lenses.
    You mention you saw Jim Reed's photos and they were made with a D700. You might be falling into another classic beginner's mistake, one we all have at one time or another. It's the myth that if we had the same photo gear as the experienced pros do, our photos would look the same. As Peter H above mentioned, this just isn't the case. I would bet a day's pay that if the guy who made the shot had your current photo gear to work with, he'd be making the same high quality shots. Make that two day's pay. For those photos, a D90, Nikon 17-55mm f2.8, and 80-400mm VR could EASILY do them. You would see no difference in image quality with a different camera. You have to have the LENSES to make those shots. If Reed has $2,500 in a camera, it's pretty safe to assume he has $7,500 in lenses and tripod--the important stuff.
    As for location flash, that's my thing, only on a BIG scale. I am a mega Strobist. I light up trains, canyons, grain elevators. On that forum, I am the Duckgrabber. Lighting gets very expensive, very quickly. I now have about $5,000 tied up in a lighting system and am looking to buy another $1,500 worth. By going cheap on things that don't matter (i.e. camera) and buying used, I have the cash to buy the things that do matter. I have lived in KS or SD all my life. I don't chase tornadoes. I don't want my car all beat to pieces from hail, LOL. I have seen three, including an F5 wedge. I hit the gas and went the other way at 90 mph when I figured out what it was. Another plus for the D90 over D300 or D700: it has HD quality video. I'd much rather have D90/video than just a D700 if chasing storms.
    Kent in SD
  19. If you want to go on full frame, than D700, no doubt. Otherwise, D300!
  20. Wouter Willemse: I do really want to go for that, but also still do what i've been doing. Yeah I dont plan to use my current lens...it's not got the range that I know i'd need for safety reasons and better quality. I've handled a D90 and compared to the D40 it is heavier but doesnt really bother me. I actually like the weight because I feel less like I could drop it. As for the D700, I'm thinking of eliminating it anyway FOR NOW. Mostly because of where I read that using the non-FX lenses would cause it to be as good in quality as a camera half it's MP and I'd not be able to use it too it's full potential. Also that the price is just not worth it unless someone plans to buy all FX lenses which i'm not. That leaves me to decide between the D90 and d300/300s. I'm leaning more towards either the D90 or the new D300s pending reviews after it's came out. The 300s has the video like the D90 and the weatherproofing and features of the D300 which was popular and not too much more than the D90...still waiting to see what more opinions are before I decide for certain.
    Kent Staubus: I understand what you're saying because i've had my D40 get rained on during outside shots and sofar it's not hurt it. I just assumed that 'weatherproofing' would be an asset considering the amount that I am outdoors and what I plan to do with it down the road. I definately plan to do more macro too so i'm glad you mentioned that. You also made a good point that I hadnt even thought about. 'weatherproof camera' wont do much good if the lenses arent!! I assume the new one's are alot higher too which would'nt be worth the tag if I was carefull? I also understand what you're saying about seeing and assuming abilities judging by his equipment...it's easy to do your right...I was just so impressed with the quality of those photos it was hard to not be 'starstruck' by the D700. I've been planing on getting more active with learning about strobist's technices so I can decide what flashes I will need and then add to my system as I go. Id much rather light that way and some of the photos I've seen look excellant with alot less gear to carry. Well worth looking into! Wow...I've never got to see a tornado! I've been lucky where I live...i feel sorry for those that have experianced them, but I'd love to go in the middle of nowhere and photograph one. There's something so beatiful about the power they have even though I hate to see what they do to people's lives. I agree that the video would be great for chasing too, which is why I'm having to decide between the D90 and D300s now...pending the reviews of the D300s which was susposed to come out August/September if I read correctly.
  21. To everyone else: So basically i've decided no-go on the 700 for now. Untill I need full-frame or am ready to invest in FX lenses. That leaves me with the D90 and D300/300s. I'm leaning more to the D300s because it has the features of the D300 but with video like the D90. What are your opinions on that? Most of you have said the D90 is plenty, but for a few hundred more what are the differences between the D90 and D300/300s that would help me decide between the two? What about the AF point difference (11 vs 51)? Also with either of them what lenses would you recommend? Are the kit lenses provided with them good quality or am I better off getting just the bodies and a diffferent lens? Here's examples of the cheapest I've found with a lens:
    D90 with 18-105VR lens: $1139.95
    with 18-105mm VR Lens & 70-300mm VR Lens is $1595.95
    D300 with 18-200mm VR is $2279.95
    D300s with 18-200mm VR II is 2649.95
    The D90 with both lenses is the better deal, but would I miss the AF difference in the d300 or how i've read the ISO performance is better? If you know of other kits that would be better or lenses and just the bodies, feel free to recommend them. My 25th birthday is August 30th, and I plan to make a decision by then. Thank you!
  22. I would rule out the D300 if you're planning on chasing tornadoes, for real, soon. The video would be very nice to have. If chasing tornadoes soon is not likely, I'd go for either a D90 or a refurb D300. The kit lens 70-300mm VR is good, but the others I would definitely avoid. The Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 is a natural partner for the 70-300mm VR because it takes 67mm filter and because it gives you low light capability. A D90 with Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 and a 70-200mm f2.8 lens (Sigma or Nikon) would be even better option. You're still WAY too hung up on camera bodies. That almost always leads to disappointment. Note that there are some VERY experienced and accomplished photographers here and virtually every one has said, "D90 and superb lenses." I'd rather use your D40 with the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR than a D300 with the 18-200mm. At least, if my priority was image quality rather than convenience. I would forget the kits and just buy a refurb body, and the lenses separately. The difference between D90 and D300 is easily enough to buy a pro level lens. Buy the lens, and with what's left over buy a used/refurb camera. Do NOT skimp on lenses or you WILL be disappointed.
    Kent in SD
  23. isa


    D700 is clearly far superior in low light.I have worked on RAW files underexposed and the results are wonderful and incredible.Ithink i the best sensor to day in the middle - high class of cost. Far superior vs. D 90.
  24. I'd suggest if you're going for the D300S- just makes sense to get the most latest version, especially with DSLR.
  25. My suggestion is very simple.. and I did not read all of the other comments... if you are going to make an investment, rent the body of interest for day or two and test drive it. The only opinion that really counts... is yours.
    I shot with a D70 and thought it was the best thing on the earth. I shot with the D200, it was a gift from the gods.. and now I am using a D700.... and I can not figure out who is higher than the gods.... to thank.....
    Test drive..and decide whether it is the machine for you. Personally, I want the D3x.. 25 megapixels with the D3/D700 low light capabilities.... who knows what I might do for that...)))
    Good luck!
  26. There is nothing wrong with any of these cameras, but I think if you are really serious about photography it makes sense to get the best semi pro / pro quality camera (and lenses) provided you can afford them. Part of this is about joy of ownership of course and I certainly find I am happier such equipment. I can only say what I would do - In this case I think I would go for the D700 as I like the ability to shoot in low light although I suppose the D300/s comes close. What might tip it for me is the fact that in an FX camera you the lenses give the field of view they arguably should. Would I shoot better photos - well I think it opens up the possibility of shooting some images I would not otherwise be able to - such as in low light or at high iso. I presently have a D200 and the one hting I do not enjoy is the relatively high level of noise it generates. The D300/s and D700 have a CMOS chip which has inherently less noise than a CCD one.
  27. On a bit more serious note... do you want the higher noise but the 1.5 sensor multiplier and do you only have DX lenses? or do you want a a full frame, high ISO capability. I do portrait work and some environmental and with the D700, I would not hesitate to shoot at 1600 or even 2400 ISO, if the conditions demanded it. You can see some commentary on my facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Elmhurst-IL/e2Photography-LLC/58421424901?) I don't have a D300 but that would give me 1.5 times multiplier (a 70mm lens functions as 105mm) but at 1 stop less light sensitivity. Personally, I will take the light sensitivity and use my feet for the multiplier... seems like the best deal in town!
  28. rdo


    In my opinion D90 is one gut option, like the other expensive models like D300(s), D700, they share advantage technologies like: They have motor for auto focus (let you use efficient more lenses), live view, GPS extension, relative gut possibility with high ISO, more picture pro second and more area for autofocus, etc. Also D90 camera in combination with gut lenses bring you a gut quality in your picture and relative low cost. D90 already let you make videos and not so heavy.
    If you get D700 is not doubt is the best camera, but you have to thing about to get new non-Dx lenses( FX lenses) and give a lot of money. This camera is perfect in situation with low condition of light (Hi ISO and better in combination with lenses with gut aperture f/ 2,8 1,8 1,4... ).
    The D300 or D300S they are a robust camera with better possibilities and quality as D90, cost more but you feel really you have already a real camera, an you can use (like D90) the same lenses that you already have in your D40. Best regard..!
  29. Amber, just buy a D700 and be done with it. Then you can add lenses and assessories to it for years to come.
  30. thank you everyone for the current replys :)

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