Event coming up - Use my D300 or D5100?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by simon_hickie|1, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. I have an interesting dilemma. I will be photographing my daughter's best friend's wedding reception in January. I've photographed a number of weddings, so know what to expect and how to set things up. My dilemma is whether to use my D300 as the primary camera, or my D5100. I'll be using 35mm, 50mm & 90mm primes (the last with no built in motor), as well as my 18-200mm VR for the short end if needed. I have an SB600 and SB800 plus Demb type diffuser and 'A Better Bounce Card'. I usually bounce flash with a little fill and use a flash bracket to keep flash above the lens for portrait shots.
    My dilemma is that the D5100 has better low light capability and generally better image quality than the D300, but the D300 has better handling, better viewfinder, better off camera flash capability if needed (I have a lighting stand), and better AF.
    The venue is indoors with average lighting - I'm anticipating 1/60th f2.8 ISO 1600 territory if shooting available light and maybe 1/40th f3.5 ISO 800 if using flash and dragging the shutter a bit to give some ambient light on backgrounds. I'm prepared to gel the flash if needed to get closer flash/ambient light mix - in this respect the D300 has far superior colour temperature control - a 3200K setting can be dialed in to go with a full CTO flash gel.
    I post process with a mixture of Capture NX, DXO and PhotoShop - NX for raw conversions, DXO for lens corrections if needed and PS for final tweaking.
    I know I'll end up using both, but the question is which to use for the 'important' and more formal shots (using a PJ type of approach). BTW, I'm offering my services for free, so there are no contractual issues - indeed the couple weren't going to have a photographer at all.
     
  2. Since the 90mm prime doesn't have a built-in motor, I would put that on the D300 and put any of the other lenses on the D5100 and use that as a the "primary".
     
  3. Since you're talking about reception shots, and contemporary young people as your subjects ... the main venue for the output is going to be online viewing of relatively low-res images. Right away, my thoughts go to the D300's superior AF system, since the IQ of scaled-down web-res images is much harder to discern (between those two classes of bodies) and not worth the risk of out-of-focus images. We're splitting hairs, though - as both bodies will do the job nicely, as long as you're being fair and comparing them with only AF-S lenses on the D5100.
     
  4. D300 hands down...AF is better and faster for low light.
    Dave
     
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Simon, if it is a mostly indoor wedding under dim light, I would definitely use the D300 as the main camera. The D300's AF system is far superior than the Mutli-CAM 1000 on the D5100. While the D5100 maybe a bit better at high ISO, getting more in-focus images is far more important.
    The D300's high-ISO results are still good, but it is 5-year-old technology and is not state of the art any more.
     
  6. If you are using flash I would think you can keep the ISO in an area where noise won't be a problem, making the 510's better ISO performance a moot issue. Based on my use of the D300 I would trust it more, especially focus, and it is hard to get a re do on wedding pics!
    I am still astonished there is no D400 yet. Maybe a Christmas surprise? For all the D300 & D300s owners who don't want FX and want to keep controls familiar it seems they are being treated rather poorly, but I guess the profits from mass consumer cameras exceed the flood of D400's that would be sold!
     
  7. Thanks for all the replies. AF accuracy is certainly a big issue. I tend to use the central AF point and recompose. On the D5100, there is no focus point lock and I am forever selecting the wrong point by accident. On the D300, the AF switch is easy to move from S to C - a little black tape might be wise.
    I looks like the primes and the SB800 on the D300 then, and the 18-200 and SB600 on the D5100. With the D300 and using flash in bounce mode, I tend to find that +2/3ev flash compensation works well. Auto ISO is also OK up to a point, but Nikon bodies tend to up the ISO before pushing out full power from the flash.
    However, as I type, I may have a decent offer for my D300 - with a view to replacing it with a D7000 and the benefits of the better sensor, almost as good AF and dual SD cards (important for weddings I think).
     
  8. I have both of those cameras, and would bring both of course. As long as I was getting shutter speeds of at least 1/60s (with flash if necessary,) I would use the D300 as primary. In practice it is faster and easier to use. I've never been afraid to shoot it at ISO 800, and ISO 1600 in a pinch. Above that, the D5100 will begin to pull ahead if it can focus.
    Kent in SD
     
  9. I shoot events all the time with two D300s bodies and SB600 strobes. I use aperture priority and set the Auto ISO to 1600 max for when I turn off the flash, but when it's on, the ISO is usually around 300-400. Works great for me.
     
  10. In your shoes I'd stick SB800 on D5100 in order to use the flash autofocus assist system. I can not put my hand in fire but I believe SB800 performs better than SB600 in this regard. I know for sure that SB700 and especially SB900/SB910 are doing better. Anyhow doing so the precision of your D5100 AF in low light increases consistently.
    D300 AF system is much better... but if the light goes worse you can use the help of SB600 AF assist light. At least with the center point it has to be precise.
     
  11. as others have noted, the d300's better ergonomics and AF system make it far better than the d5100 for event shooting in general. in low-light situations, either use flash or primes. with two bodies, you have a lot of flexibility, although using the 18-200 as a primary lens is much more of a limiting factor IMO than using either body. my advice, however, is don't overthink this; just use the gear you have to get the best results possible.
    btw, i wouldnt trade a d300 for a d7000 if event shooting was what i intended to do. mainly for the ergonomics of the bigger body, which comes into play with rapid high-frame-rate shots. i also prefer CF cards, which are more durable than SD cards. it's a tough call, though, as the d7000 is better in many key areas. but not for action.
     
  12. More good advice - thanks! I did manage to use the 18-200 on the D5100 at a recent Wishbone Ash gig, but the frame rate and buffer were indeed limiting as were the handling and slow max aperture. However, ISO 3200 shots were excellent. The D300 in machine gun mode can be quite useful. As I mentioned above, my biggest gripe with D300 handling is moving the AF lever by accident.
     
  13. the frame rate and buffer were indeed limiting as were the handling and slow max aperture.​
    one solution is to use the d5100 for posed shots with the 35 and the d300 with the 18-200 (and a flash, if necessary) for candids. that way you're not overextending the d5100's capabilities, and you'll get better IQ for the shots which count. you may not even need the 50 and 90, although i would certainly bring them just in case. when shooting with two bodies, having a prime on one and a zoom on the other is a lot of capability, especially since the 18-200 can cover wide angle to telephoto. i would think the 35 would be the go-to prime, as it does a good job with full-body shots in vertical orientation and 2-person shots in horizontal orientation. the 50 is probably better for headshots, although the 90 could work too if you have enough room. i assume you have the tamron 90, which is reputedly a bit soft @2.8 -- not necessarily a bad thing as macro lenses can be "too sharp" for portraits. the 90mm could also work for the ring ceremony if you need to get close. good luck!
     
  14. Many thanks Eric.
    My thinking currently is 50mm for headshots as you suggest, 35mm for individuals & vertical couple shots & something else for larger groups if needed. The wedding will already have happened (in Austria), so we're just talking sit-down meal and dance type reception. I've still to discuss with the bride whether she would like some formals. I'm currently bemoaning the lack of affordable fast(ish) wide angle DX primes and currently considering another Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 (I used to have one with built-in motor but found the AF too twitchy - IQ was great though). The model without motor can be had for less than the price of a 24mm f2.8, and even less if bought used. I calculate that I'll need 24mm at 3.6m to allow a 3.5m wide by 2.4m high group - about 8-10 people if carefully arranged. 35mm would need a 5.2m shooting distance for the same group - could be tricky indoors.
    Experimenting in my study by bouncing the flash off a 3.2m high pale ceilings allows me about a 3.5m shooting distance at f4 1/60th ISO 400 with the SB600 in iTTL mode. The SB800 and ISO 800 gives me still more wiggle room and is still in the zone for OK D300 noise.
    Time for more shooting and less paralysis by analysis I think - bad back permitting.
     
  15. Your D5100 has the same AF system as my D200. Do you think that it will be enough for your venue and shooting style? Can you put up with the shortcomings of its handling? i.e. when I use a friend's D3100, I just shoot in aperture priorty, and live with the settings I have, working around the camera. You can use the SB800 for the AF-assist, and even tell it not to fire the flash, which should lessen the disparity between the D300's and D5100's AF systems when using all focus points (although the converse is true, as flash also allows you to keep the ISO down). Plus, if you only use the center AF point as you mention further down, then there will be no difference in the two AF systems, as both just have a center cross point. If those sound good to you, then I'd use the D5100 as the main camera.
     
  16. The model without motor can be had for less than the price of a 24mm f2.8, and even less if bought used. I calculate that I'll need 24mm at 3.6m to allow a 3.5m wide by 2.4m high group - about 8-10 people if carefully arranged. 35mm would need a 5.2m shooting distance for the same group - could be tricky indoors.​
    right, well, i was trying to find a solution which didn't require purchasing an additional lens. however, the 17-50 is a great lens, with much better IQ than the 18-200, although the superzoom is best at the wide end. i currently use the sigma 17-50 OS for my DX kit, but prior to that i had the original version of the Tamron for 3 years. on a D300 the AF is fairly accurate. you could probably shoot 80% of the necessary shots with a 17-50.
    Plus, if you only use the center AF point as you mention further down, then there will be no difference in the two AF systems, as both just have a center cross point. If those sound good to you, then I'd use the D5100 as the main camera.​
    i don't think that's true. the D300 does have more cross-type sensors, which means you dont have to rely on focus-recompose when shooting action or rapid shooting from off-center. you can also move the focus point around quickly with shallow DoF and get subject isolation on various targets fairly quickly, which is helpful if you want to separate the bride and/or groom from the rest of the wedding party.
    But there are other differences as well; the d300 is far better at focus acquisition than the d5100 module--which is also in the d80 and d90--and also has a powerful built-in motor, which is helpful if you're using screw-drive lenses. i guess if you're going to shoot in A-priority and only use the center focus point, you can sort of dumb down the d300 to the d5100's level, but the d300 is far better for shooting in manual because of the two control wheels and overall is way more intuitive to shoot because of the additional external controls. The d300 also has a faster frame rate and is just a more responsive beast overall for critical shooting environments. I'm not sure why anyone would want to use a less-capable camera for a once-in-a lifetime event, but YMMV.
     
  17. Right Eric, but earlier Simon said, "I tend to use the central AF point and recompose." If that's the case, then there is negligible performance difference between the two cameras with regards to AF performance, except that the D300 can dial in focus misalignments with a specific lens, if there are any. The higher number of cross-type sensors is irrelevant if only the center point is used. If Simon prefers to use focus-recompose with his shooting, or needs to (for example, if his subjects are outside of the AF area, as often happens to me, or if he needs to use the cross-type in the center for accurate AF, because he can't rely on the focus accuracy of the far right or left points, which also happens to me) then it is what it is. All of the cross-type sensors are still bundled in the middle of the scene. Second, we know that Simon has a 35mm and 50mm lens, both with built in motors, plus the 18-200mm, which also has the built-in motor, so that is a moot point for his main shooting. We're not talking about a hypothetical situation here: Simon has clearly laid out his gear, and is shooting a wedding soon.

    As for shooting modes, yes, if you are the kind of person that shoots in manual, then the extra wheel helps. For event shooting myself, unless it was an evenly lit locale, like the floor of an indoor sports arena, or I was using flash in a specific way, I didn't shoot manual. I don't want to speak for other photographers, but if I had to venture a guess, I would assume that a minority of wedding and event photographers are shooting in manual. If that assumption is correct, then the loss of a second control wheel is not such a big deal. As for "less-capable," well that's subjective, and it's the basis for the neverending D800 vs D4, D7000 vs D300, etc. etc. etc. threads that exist. Everything is a trade-off. If a camera has yesteryear's AF system that is still decent (I use my D200 well enough, and when it came out, I don't recall anyone upset at its shortcomings or its AF system being panned in reviews), and has enough of a framerate/buffer to fulfill one's needs, while providing superior image quality, then I'd argue that the D300s is the less-capable camera. Again, I asked if Simon would be able to put up with the control shortcomings.


    For example, I often use the focus selector switch (that current cameras lost, btw, so obviously I'm doing something wrong), but I could live without the need to quickly change metering, bracketing, flash control (everything I need is controlled by the SB800's rear screen), I've realized that I don't need both an AF-on button AND an exposure lock button at the same time (much as I talked myself into it being a make-or-break feature when I got my camera), I don't need a DOF preview (by the time I check it, I could have taken shots at 3-4 different apertures and just choose later, which is what I just do now, and I don't use modeling flash, again a feature I told myself was necessary when getting this), I don't need QUAL or white balance controls (I shoot in RAW), etc. The things I do like on my D200 are the image playback zoom compared to "lesser" Nikons, the framerate dial (I set continuous low to 3 fps, and switch between it and the full 5 for those times when I need it), and the buffer that I nearly never run up against. But, if you came to me and held a gun to my head, I could easily "make do" with just a D3100 or D5100.
     
  18. If that's the case, then there is negligible performance difference between the two cameras with regards to AF performance,​
    i dont think so. i have the d90, which has the same AF module as the d5100, and it's just not as good as my d300s for shooting action, no matter which AF point is used. the d300s is better at focus acquisition in all modes and focus tracking in AF-C. it also has a better viewfinder which aids in composition. and its bigger size makes for a more stable platform, especially with longer lenses. the d5100 has a newer sensor with slightly better resolution and better hi-ISO. also better in live view due to flip-out screen.that's about it.
    For event shooting myself, unless it was an evenly lit locale, like the floor of an indoor sports arena, or I was using flash in a specific way, I didn't shoot manual. I don't want to speak for other photographers, but if I had to venture a guess, I would assume that a minority of wedding and event photographers are shooting in manual. I don't want to speak for other photographers, but if I had to venture a guess, I would assume that a minority of wedding and event photographers are shooting in manual. If that assumption is correct, then the loss of a second control wheel is not such a big deal.​
    again, i don't think so. being able to quickly adjust parameters on the fly is a "pro" feature; that's why it's in pro cameras like the d300. the issue i have with A-priority is that it sometimes doesn't give you a fast enough shutter speed to freeze motion. that's less of an issue with flash, granted, but i'd hardly say it's not a big deal to not have a second control wheel. if i were to venture a guess, i'd say the percentage of professional wedding shooters using a d5100 is fairly low.
    As for "less-capable," well that's subjective, and it's the basis for the neverending D800 vs D4, D7000 vs D300, etc. etc. etc.​
    not really. the d300 has more pro features than the d5100, which is a mid-level camera. the d5100 is far more suited to casual use. in critical situations, i.e. action, weddings, sports, movement, concerts, etc.-- the d300 wins, except for ISO above 1600. if you're using flash that becomes a non-issue. the d5100 is less capable in those situations for the same reason the d7000 is less capable in those situations.
    If a camera has yesteryear's AF system that is still decent (I use my D200 well enough, and when it came out, I don't recall anyone upset at its shortcomings or its AF system being panned in reviews), and has enough of a framerate/buffer to fulfill one's needs, while providing superior image quality, then I'd argue that the D300s is the less-capable camera.​
    now you're making nonsensical arguments. the AF module in the d300, the multi-cam 3500, is the same found in the D700, d3, d3s, and d4. so not exactly "yesteryear," more like still state of the art, since nikon doesn't make anything better for its top-end performance cameras. sorry,b ut your argument about the d200 being decent in its day so therefore the d300 is less capable than a d5100 is laughable; are you really saying this? or is that a typo? that simply doesnt hold water because the AF module in the d300 is more advanced than the d200's. in fact, the d300 made the d200 obsolete. you can't say the d5100 does that to the d300. well, you can, i suppose, but it wouldn't be very credible.
    if you came to me and held a gun to my head, I could easily "make do" with just a D3100 or D5100.​
    honestly, i think you're arguing just to argue at this point. the whole point of external controls is to make for a more intuitive shooting experience; the OP doesn't have to "make do" with a less feature-rich camera because he has a d300 already.
     
  19. Hi Eric & Ariel
    Thanks for your input. One issue I didn't mention is that I have some peripheral neuropathy in both hands, meaning that I have reduced sensation when touching / feeling etc. This can result in accidentally changing settings, especially the focus points on the D5100 where there is no lock function.
    With flash, I shoot in manual, meaning I need quick access to both aperture and shutter speed controls. I use the focus and recompose approach more on the D5100 than the D300. The focusing points on the D300 are easier to see and use than on the D5100 and the D300 has a superior focusing screen. Finally the D300 is easier to use with glasses than the D5100 (better eyepoint I think) plus more adjustment when not using glasses.
    Therefore, it seems to boil down to handling versus IQ and for one off occasions I think the balance is falling on better handing and getting the shot plus fixing in post processing if needed. DxO and Topaz have some excellent noise reduction capabilities too.
    So it looks like the D300 as primary I think with perhaps acquiring a Tamron 17-50.
    This is the beauty(?) of PNET - different opinions based on different ways of working and experiences!
     
  20. I use the focus and recompose approach more on the D5100 than the D300. The focusing points on the D300 are easier to see and use than on the D5100 and the D300 has a superior focusing screen.​
    i end up using focus and recompose more on the d90 for the same reason. with the d300, you simply have more capability when it comes to AF. i dont think that's even a debatable point. i dont know why Ariel wants to argue about the merits of two cameras he doesn't own, but having shot paid events with both the d300 and the d90--which, again, has the same AF as the d5100--i agree with the OP that that the better handling and ergonomics of the d300 makes for a better shooting experience. IMHO, the IQ differential between the 12mp d300 sensor and the 16mp d5100 sensor isn't as much of a factor as the IQ differential between the 18-200 and the tamron 17-50 or one of the primes.
    anyway, i'm sure the event will be a success.
     
  21. Just make sure the ISO is set high enough to get decent ambient lighting. To fix this in post doesn't always give you the result you want. There is always NR software if the ISO noise is too noticable. I guess the reason why Nikon turns up the auto ISO before adding more flash light, is because they are trying to balance the flash light with the ambient light in the best possible way. ISO 400 sounds low to me, but you know the room and the ambient light there. I have to go higher than that when shooting still objects in my living room. I believe even in day time.
    I hope you don't mind half a side step. For those of you that are using ViewNX2 and are not aware of it, the shadow protection adjustment in ViewNX2 is an excellent tool to bring more ambient light into a flash exposed photo in post. It can work wonders, but it has it's limitations. It will work on NEF's, TIFF's and JPG's. There is also highlight protection and D-Lighting HS there, but I haven't found them to work that well. While I am at it, the color booster for people or nature in ViewNX2 is also good. I do use levels and curves in Gimp to adjust the exposure of a photo. But sometimes the Shadow Protection in ViewNX2 will do the better job of bringing more ambient light into the exposure.
     
  22. Thanks Ann and Eric.
    I've been giving the D300 the same set of experiments I did with the D5100 (in my study). For handling, it's no contest - D300 every time. I also turned off ADL - this reduced auto-ISO by 1/3 stop. I'm around ISO 640 f4 with bounced + Dembed SB800 at a distance of 3.5m. For 1.5m I'm back down at ISO 200. Ambient is showing 1/20th f4 iso 640. That gives some useful shutter dragging potential (although that might mean gelling the flash to match ambient light CT).
    On the NR front, I find DxO to be excellent. So I can convert in NX2 to TIFF and then use DxO to do the lens corrections & NR. Yes, shadow protection is great!
     
  23. Are you using the camera's 3D matrix meetering and i-TTL balanced flash fill meetering (i-TTL BL) on the speedlights? I guess the ISO would be dependent on all three meetering modes.
     
  24. I don't have to have own the cameras to have used them, or have experience with them. I've also driven a Maserati, a Porsche, and a BMW M5 and can give you solid reviews of each, despite also not owning any of those. A good friend switched to from Canon to Nikon just when the D300 first came out, and having been a Nikon user for decades, he hung out with me a lot borrowing equipment at the beginning of the switch to see what worked and what didn't on his new acquisition, so I got a good amount of seat time with the camera. I've had enough experience with later cameras as well, such as the D5100, but I have an eclectic collection of lenses that hasn't had me itch to trade my money for a better body yet, for one reason or another, but largely because I currently have better things to do with my money than buy more camera gear. From Simon's earlier comments, which I took at face value, since I am many amazing things, but I am not telepathic, I did not understand his "I only use the center focus point" to mean that he only did so with the D5100; I assumed that was his shooting style regardless of camera. I also was unable to read his mind and know that he has a degenerative condition that causes him to mess up an unlocked focus selector, or that he had poor enough eyesight that it was the difference between usability of a D5100 or not. Or, that the second control wheel was a dealbreaker (if it was, I assume he would have mentioned it, you know, this being a D5100 vs D300 thread). One of my professors in college drilled into us that "aperture priority is king," an idea that I wholeheartedly agree with. Doesn't matter whether I'm using my D200 or a D5100, I shoot in A and use exposure compensation. Same button combo on both cameras: press exposure comp with your right pointer finger, and spin the dial. Hasn't let me down yet, but that's why I left the caveat above, asking Simon if the dumbed-down controls were still enough for him. Aperture priority gives you the best shutter speed you can get; the widest aperture, for a given ISO, is your limit without underexposing the photo. And you misinterpreted my post; I called the D5100's AF system from yesteryear. Do you really need that good AF-C for a bride slowly walking down the aisle? Are you anticipating Gabrielle Douglas handspringing to the altar here?
    I'm just tired of people claiming what a "professional" camera is. It's nonsense. A professional camera is the one that gives you the best image quality, either for your own use, or your clients. If both cameras have shortcomings with respect to the other, then you have to weigh for your own situation which tradeoffs you prefer. Back when I did shoot professionally, and had clients, I knew that if my photos didn't look as good as the competition, then I couldn't whine to them, "but my camera is more professional, look at how many switches it has, so hire me!" If the camera is the difference between getting a photo and not getting a photo, as you are arguing as a case for the D300s, then that's a different story. But I still maintain that using a 35mm AF-S, a 50mm AF-S, and an 18-200mm AF-S lens on both cameras, using the center focus point, especially with an SB800's AF assist lamp, the keeper rate will be near-identical, as long as you don't to shoot in manual or have to change settings like metering on the fly. Even using the whole AF system, again with the SB800's AF lamp, to me the D200/D5100 is fine.
     
  25. Now it registered with me that you are using the CLS speedlights in manual mode. Sorry. I am not going to ask you why :)
     
  26. Ann, the camera will be in manual, the SB800 in iTTL!
     
  27. Okey! Good luck to you :)
     

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