Musings on body upgrade

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by bmm, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. bmm

    bmm

    With a year of learning on my trusty D80 under my belt and with Christmas bonus on the horizon, my mind is turning
    to a potential upgrade of my camera body.

    I am not fussed with just upgrading to the 'current model' at a particular price/feature point so I'm not really
    contemplating D90. My view across a range of technologies has been to go for upgrades that give me a real jump in
    performance, features or creative options - so that as well as 'becoming current' I also go to the next price/feature
    point. (I write this acknowledging the significantly upgraded sensor in the D90 and the possibility - though to be
    confirmed - that the D80's metering issues have been addressed in this new model).

    So it's a choice between D300 or D700 for me. And while, in going to FX, D700 clearly meets my desire for real
    change rather than just an incremental upgrade, I don't know how to judge D300 in this respect. Is D300 a different
    beast altogether from D80? Or is it 'just a little bit more' than its junior sibling?

    For reference my lens-set is relatively FX-friendly, with only one DX-specific lens (the 18-200VR zoom). The rest of
    my lineup is 35/2, 50/1.4, 85/1.4, 80-200/2.8 and an inherited old 70-210 push-pull.

    And because I know some of you will ask "but what do I want to shoot", the answer is a bit of everything but with a
    preference for candid/street/travel photography, interesting features and portraits, and low-light.

    Most interested in your views. My heart says D700 at the moment but maybe I'm underestimating the degree to
    which going from D80 to D300 would be a genuine step up.
     
  2. You may want to wait for an answer from someone who owns a D300 to tell you about their technical differences, but until then I offer this; The D300 body is on a different level construction wise from the D80. It is heavier, and better sealed against moisture and dust. Of course, this is also true of the D700. A heavier camera body may not seem like an advantage , especially for travel photography, but if you use your 80-200mm at slow shutter speeds (around 1/50 - 1 sec), the added mass of a Pro-level body will help dampen vibrations faster. I own a D70s that I rarely use anymore. One of the reasons that I switched from it back to my Pro-body film cameras was because I could not get sharp images with the D70s and my 300mm f/4. At first I blamed my tripod and head, but after doing many test it became evident that the problem was only with the D70s. I found that it went away if I either set something on top of, or hung something from, the camera to give it more mass to balance the weight of the lens. Since I could not afford to by a D2x at the time and I absolutely hate the DX crop, I went back to shooting film. So I guess what I am saying is, either camera, the D300 or D700 would be an improvement over your D80, especially if you plan to purchase some longer lenses down the road. It's up to you to decide if the FX sensor in the D700 is worth the extra money.
     
  3. Bernard.... There is nothing to think about.

    It seems you've got a lot of your D80 already and an upgrade would be wise. A d90 is not really an upgrade, is just
    getting the latest model of what you already got.

    The upgrade is a D300 or D700. My own opinion is they are the same and you have to analyze what you have in glass
    and what your needs are.

    For example, if I had to choose between these 2 I would get the DX model coz I shoot birds and macro a lot and the
    crop helps. On the wide side, I have my DX 11-16 and DX 17-55. That is wide enough for me. I am planning to get a 700
    just because I want a 2nd camera, not really to upgrade.

    So, if you have too many DX lenses and you need the extra reach a DX body will be better.

    If you have a lot of normal lenses, I know you do, and you don't care for the extra reach you should go for a 700 and get
    the benefits of better high ISO handling. Your 85 will work great with it.

    Besides that, I don't think we can help you in anything else. You'll have to flip the coin! Rene'
     
  4. TBH I would get the D300 over the D700, because like Nick and Rene said, there isn't that much of a difference, unless you're planning to take pictures with really poor lighting. Plus, getting the D700 means you're losing your currently owned lenses. If you keep on using your DX lenses, you would end up using 6.67 MP, which defeats the purpose of upgrading in the first place.
     
  5. It depends on what you're willing to sacrifice. The D700 is pretty much a D300 with a full frame sensor, so consider this:

    -Would you rather have all your lens' become shorter (no crop factor) or would you rather have them at what you have now (1.5x crop) ?

    -Is the low light ability of the D700 more important then the lower price of a D300.

    -Is 35mm wide enough for you? If you get a D700, you might have to spend $150 and get a 24mm f2.8 or 28mm f2.8 to replace what the 18mm end of the 18-200 was on your D80.

    I think it's really split between those couple issues. Good luck!
     
  6. Bernard, I went from the D80 to the D300 about ten months ago. There is a post here somewhere about my experience with the differences.

    The things that stand out the most...... the D300 is noticably larger. That size/weight difference goes away after awhile but you sure notice it in the beginning.

    In terms of quality, they really are night and day. The D300 easily gives you a 2-stop advantage over the D80. For all but the very best light, you will see the difference immediately.

    Another big difference is the autofocus system. The D80 just has nothing to compare with the 15 cross points of the D300, not to mention the possibility of 51 pts total.

    And then there is the metering. Maybe it was just my D80 copy but it was inconsistent. Couldn't be better with the D300.

    Of course, there are other advantages with the D300 like sealed body, double the fps, more settings options, etc. But in the end, this is one comparision where you get what you pay for.

    Obviously the D700 wasn't available ten months ago but if I was making a choice today, personally I would stick with the D300. It is still smaller and lighter than the D700 and can use lighter/less expensive lenses. Since I often have a backpack loaded with gear, I am sensitive to additional weight.

    You have some great lenses that will work wonderfully with the D700. Your 50mm will be a real 'normal' lens and the 35mm is a wonderful wide angle. OTOH, you lose the crop factor so your 80-200 won't give you the reach you have with the D80/D300. However, you will pick up perhaps another stop.

    In the end, this is all about compromises and tradeoffs. You won't go wrong with either one.
     
  7. I'm going to through something out here no one has mentioned. For candid "street" photography low light performance is a definite plus, so a lens like the Sigma 30mm f1.4 would actually be useful. Now to really throw a wrench in it. I've done some of this kind of thing in Chicago, and my preference would be for the Nikon D60. It is small and doesn't attract much attention, especially with a 30mm f1.4. It's a good performer with AFS lenses, and best of all if you drop it or it gets stolen, you won't cry as hard. So that's my suggestion. A D60 plus Sigma 30mm f1.4 and Sigma 50mm f1.4. Buy a D300 with the money you save from NOT buying a D700 for the other stuff you photo.



    Kent in SD
     
  8. Ditto to the above. To amplify . . .

    The D300 is bigger, but the ergonomics are such that it seems right. The increased size quickly passed into oblivion for me. It's definitely heavier than the D80, but when I hold it, my little brain says "this just seems right".

    There are a lot of great things about the D300, but my favorite is the controls layout. Your ability to get to the controls you want and need is great - and that is where I find it maximizes my creative and technical abilities. I grew up on manual or aperture priority cameras and still crave that kind of control, and the D300 is fabulous in satisfying my urges. Plus, changing ISO on the fly is so much easier than with my old Pentax LX! ;-)

    I'm still on the steep learning curve with my D300, and I haven't handled or used the D700, but my sense is that the D700 makes more sense if you shoot wide more than tele, if weight is less of a concern, or if low noise at high ISO levels is extremely important. Otherwise, I haven't seen or heard much to push me in that direction for almost 2x the cost. For me, if both were in my budget, I'd take the D300 again and spend the balance on accessories. But, YMMV.
     
  9. I guess I need to accept that I am long winded when I get engaged. :)

    "My heart says D700 at the moment but maybe I'm underestimating the degree to which going from D80 to D300 would be a genuine step up."

    In re-reading your post, that stuck out. I think you probably are. Unless you shoot very wide, or in very low light (the D700's lower pixel density gives it less noise) everything I've read suggests that there's not a huge difference between the two. And larger film/sensor sizes means everything gets larger (though in your case you have FX lenses already, so that part of the equation doesn't matter). There certainly is no rush of people ditching D300's to get D700's.

    Your lenses stop @ 35mm at the wide end, and that's the same FOV for the D80 and D300. Go to the D700 and the 35mm lens becomes like a 24mm for the former.

    I love to have the latest and greatest. But I have the D300 and have virtually no urge to get the D700, and I wouldn't be surprised if the same holds for you.

    But the great news is - no matter which you get, it's a huge win!
     
  10. bmm

    bmm

    Hmmm... Lots of great stuff to consider here.

    In terms of the way you guys seem to have put the choice, the answer is that for me better low light performance
    trumps reach, and in fact I am more curious about going wider than going longer. I'm also not averse to cropping to
    get "reach" and - within reason of course - am not fixated on a final post-processed image still having double-digit
    megapixel counts. For these reasons, whatever I do in terms of body, my next lens is likely to be the 20/2.8 prime or
    if I get a rush of blood to the head the (bloody big!) 14-24.

    Tam - the only DX-specific lens I have is the 18-200VR. I would miss it as my one-stop-shop holiday lens, which it is
    absolutely awesome as, but overall my lens lineup would not suffer terribly. I'd probably try to trade the DX zoom for
    the 20mm prime if I went to FX.

    Kent - for what I admit are totally non-rational reasons (probably a touch of OCD!) I can only bring myself to using
    Nikon glass in front of my Nikon body. Or else I'd have bought the Sigma 30/1.4 long ago. Agree though that a
    compact kit is nice to have. I've often been out with only my D80 and 35/2 for just that reason.
     
  11. "In terms of the way you guys seem to have put the choice, the answer is that for me better low light performance trumps reach, and in fact I am more curious about going wider than going longer. I'm also not averse to cropping to get "reach" and - within reason of course - am not fixated on a final post-processed image still having double-digit megapixel counts."

    Sound logic - on that basis get the D700. You won't look back.

    BTW - what you described with the D80 & 35/2, i.e. normal lens prime setup - my absolute all time favorite! Except with the D700, you'll be using the 50/1.4 instead! ;-)
     
  12. About the size, I was walking around with my D300 and a 35 f/2 (I removed the battery pack) and it was, IS, such a small
    combo! Easy to handle and it is just like a toy! how much smaller would you need a camera to be?

    One more thing that i forgot in my previous reply. Having upgraded myself from a D80 to a D300, I will just say that the
    difference is like night and day. I won't even bother to try to explain all the pros of the the upgrade! Rene'
     
  13. I upgrade my D200 and D2X to a D300, and even when I was very skeptical in the beginning, is just like Rene' says, even from a D200,D2X the difference is like night and day.
     
  14. bmm

    bmm

    Rene I'm sure you're right. For one, whichever way I go, I'm going to have to 'unlearn' my eyes in terms of the EV adjustments I dial in with my D80, which I've become pretty good at picking. I'll have to recalibrate myself for the different/better metering of the more advanced bodies!

    Oh and Chris/Rene, on the compact setup, the beauty of the 50/1.4 is that it is almost identical in size and shape to the 35/2, so much so that they are impossible to tell apart in my bag without seeing the lettering. So I don't lose the ergonomics of my 'compact mode' either way.
     
  15. really no reason to get a D700 until you have something really wide for it. if your widest lens is a 35/2, i'd get a 14-24 or 17-35 first. actually you can get either and a D300 for around the same $$ as a D700. i guess you could get a 20 or 24mm for the wide end on FX, but i cant imagine not being happy upgrading from a d80 to a d300.
     
  16. bmm

    bmm

    But Eric I don't quite understand. What if I just want to use my current 35 as a genuine 35, and in really low light? My yearnings are not only about those focal lengths between 10 and 20mm...

    (not intended as a dig but can you see what I'm saying?)
     
  17. I also wonder why the interest in superwides and the assumption that that's somehow the reason to get an FX body. It's hard to take enduring photos with a 14mm on FX/35mm, and personally I have no interest in that area. On DX a 14mm makes sense though.
     
  18. "What if I just want to use my current 35 as a genuine 35, and in really low light? "

    um, use the 35?

    not sure if you're being philosophical or what, i was thinking on practical terms. but if that yearning's worth diving into
    FX for you, go for it. i'm sure that combo would be sweet.
     
  19. I understand what Eric meant and it is a valid thought!

    I also agree with Bernard. Some people really like to go wide but 12-24 in an FX is really for wide freaks (Peter for
    instance) :). I come from film (Canon FD) and I never felt the need to go wider than 28. Since Bernard is so happy with
    his 35 and in the case he went FX I'm sure a 24 or 28 prime would make him real happy. If it was me the 17-35 would be
    the lens to buy but when we add up you can buy a house in a third world country with that amount of money.

    Bernard... Are you planning to keep your D80? If you did and later on you feel the need to go wider you can always get a
    DX lens for it which are cheaper.

    My own opinion is a 50 is always better on FX and that also goes for the 85. Then again you can't go wrong upgrading
    from D80 to D300/700 but it is only YOU the one that can help you after thinking what you will compromise.

    Rene' (Again)
     
  20. "Tam - the only DX-specific lens I have is the 18-200VR. I would miss it as my one-stop-shop holiday lens, which it is absolutely awesome as, but overall my lens lineup would not suffer terribly. I'd probably try to trade the DX zoom for the 20mm prime if I went to FX. "

    Why couldn't you just use the 18-200 in the DX-crop mode on the D700?
     
  21. it's really a question of semantics, isn't it? i'm sure there are traditionalists who will pick up a D700/D3 so they can use 35/50/85 primes at original lengths, and sure, you get more low-light capabilities. for others, a D700 justifies a 14-24 or 24-70 purchase (or vice-versa). but as a D300 owner, i just don't feel like i'm missing too much. if the d700 had been out before i picked up the D300, i would definitely have had to consider the cost/benefit ratio between the two bodies. i'm fairly invested in DX right now so that's probably the biggest factor in that decision, since to me it doesnt make sense to get a D700 without a complement of FF lenses with which to use it on. replacing my entire lens line-up doesnt seem that appealing; right now, about the only real benefit to me is that my 15mm fisheye would be an actual fish and not a semi-fish. i get good wide-angle performance from my tokina 12-24, and good low-light performance from my 30/1.4. (i can just pretend it's a 50). sure, an extra stop of ISO would be nice. but for $3k, it would probably make more sense for me just to invest in glass. i did read the DPreview assessment of the new sigma 50/1.4 with interest, though, since it appears to have far better IQ than the nikkor 50/1.4 at wider apertures, and far better resolution on FX than DX.
    00QooG-70529784.jpg
     

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