Trying to make a plan for buying new equipment

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by lisae, Nov 26, 2011.

  1. I'm currently using a D5000, with an assortment of lenses, all of which meet my modest needs very well. Since the most challenging thing I do is shoot pictures for my son's Acrobatic Gymnastics team, I had planned to upgrade my camera to the D300s successor this year. I've considered the D7000, but quite honestly, I want the autofocus capabilities of the D300s and I can wait to see if the next model offers what I need. Since Nikon's production of new cameras seems to be on hold, I'm thinking about other options to put on my Christmas list.
    I rarely use flash, but have an SB-600 for the occasional indoor family picture. I'm thinking that I might add an SB-700 because it will work as a commander (hope I got that right) on my camera. Then I can start playing with off-camera flash. I took a group picture of my husband's family last night with my SB-600 on-camera and bounced off the ceiling. It worked fine for them, but it might be nice to have some lighting options for family pictures.
    I've also thought about upgrading my gymnastics lens, currently the non-OS Sigma 70-200/2.8. (It has served me very well.) I could buy the Nikon, but I might save some money and get the OS version of the Sigma. I don't have a 24-70/2.8, but I'm not sure how useful that would be for gymnastics. If I need something shorter (which is rare), I use my Nikon 50/1.4. And I'm thinking that when I buy a new camera, Nikon will probably offer a rebate on a camera + lens so if I'm going to upgrade to a Nikon lens I probably want to wait for that option.
    Any suggestions?
     
  2. Lisa -
    Even if Nikon announces a D300s replacement in the next few weeks, (which is a very unlikely situation), you likely wouldn't have your camera until January or February unless Nikon has completely re-vamped their manufacturing/distribution pipeline.
    I know we've discussed your gymnastics photos before and I can't remember if you're able to use a tripod/monopod. Personally, if I could use a tripod/monopod at the events, this would be the purchase I would make for Christmas.
    On the other hand, if you can't use a tripod/monopod, sn SB-700 is a great flash...far easier to use than the SB-600 plus it can be a commander (yes, you got it right). If you want to start experimenting with off-camera flash, this would be the way to go.
    Personally, I'm putting all Nikon purchases on hold until I see the upcoming Nikon pro level cameras, but I already have 2 speedlights and a slew of lenses...
    RS
     
  3. Thanks, Richard, and thanks for remembering me. :) I do have a nice Manfrotto tripod, but it's almost impossible to use one at a meet, just due to the crowding. This past year I was allowed to move inside the ropes, but the gyms are small and the athletes are moving all around so I usually end up wedged between bars and beams so no one bumps me as they move past. It's a crazy set-up. Plus, it's an advantage to have some mobility so that I can *quickly* move to get better views of the floor as the athletes move across the floor. When I have the option, I brace my arms on a beam or a pommel horse. :)
    My plan has been to rent a camera for the meets if I need to, but hold on to my money until Nikon comes out with a new camera. (Our first meet is in March.) Then I will decide if I want to upgrade both camera and lens, or just camera. My priority is an improvement in low-light and autofocus abilities because my Sigma lens is working sufficiently. (Quite honestly, even the pros who cover Nationals get very few exceptional pictures so I'm not sure the lens matters as much as my technique and style.)
    So maybe a new flash is my best option....
     
  4. Well...I'm a huge fan of the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR (both I and II). I only own the VRI, but the VRII is an exceptional performer.
    Shooting Gymnastices, I imagine that you are shooting at fairly high shutter speeds in order to stop motion. This means that you likely won't benefit much from VR for events. If your Sigma is performing adequately I'd start with a newer body and then, if you still feel your AF isn't performing adequately, look into the Nikon flavor of the 70-200mm.
    RS
     
  5. Of course no one really knows, but I'm betting the Nikon "D400" won't be available in any quantity until next summer (e.g. July.) THe Sigma is a decent lens, especially if it has HSM (and I think it would have to for the D5000.) If you really need a camera with better AF this spring, buy a used D300. If you need video, then look for a used D300s, then sell when the D400 comes Also sell D5000. Should be cheaper than renting.
    Kent in SD
     
  6. I would go for the flash Lisa. If you decide not to, you might consider a Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 OS and a D5100 body. Eventually you can upgrade your D5000 to whatever replaces the D300s, by selling it. If you have two bodies, you will not only have the ability to shoot more and more often, with two different lenses, thereby shooting a greater number of good shots, but you will have redundancy, just in case you get a malfunction with a camera. Right now you don't have that "safety" factor, do you?
    -
    O.S. on your 70-200 is probably not necessary (just as it is probably not necessary in the 17-50 most of the time), since you shoot at speeds fast enough to freeze your subjects. That can't change (or at least it shouldn't), so I don't think you'll see any benefit from getting a long O.S. lens to replace a lens you already have that works.
    -
    I suggest the Sigma lens, because you will have the ability to zoom out, and the image quality will be about as good as you can get with your prime lens at just about every focal length. The new Sigma 17-50mm OS is a stellar performer, as far as what I've read about it, and it is not expensive, like all the Nikon f2.8 zooms seem to be.
     
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Earlier this month, Nikon announced that they would stop selling essentially all EN-EL3e-based products in Japan on November 20 since those batteries have exposed electronic contacts: http://www.nikon-image.com/support/whatsnew/2011/wnew111108.htm (That page is in Japanese.)
    In other words, Nikon are not selling the D300S, D700, MB-D10, MB-D80, etc. in Japan any more. Therefore, I am sure it is their priority to provide udpate to those camera models.
    Meanwhile, all Nikon DX-format DSLRs were produced by their Thailand factory where production has stopped since October 6 due to flooding. Apparently Nikon has plans to move production elsewhere and things should gradually get back to normal by March next year, but it is not clear what the current status is.
    It is pointless to speculate when new cameras will appear, but my (educated) guess is that the successors to the D300S and D700 are not that far away as Japan is an important market for Nikon. Of course, I thought the D700 would be replaced in 2010; therefore, it is way overdue anyway. You can draw your own conclusions.
    00Zew6-419419584.jpg
     
  8. I own both the D300 with upgraded firmware and the D7000. So far, the auto focus on my D7000 is as quick and accurate than my D300. Other's can let me know if I'm missing something but the auto focus on the D7000 is able to capture fast moving birds in flight. Arguably, the D7000 is simply a better camera than the D300 (but not worth the upgrade if you already own the D300). My only complaint with the D7000 is the limited buffer, but I would have to shoot large JPEGs at 6-8 FPS on both cameras to avoid filling the buffer.
     
  9. Shun: I hadn't heard about the batteries. That makes me feel a little more hopeful! But quite honestly, my D5000 has been almost perfect for me. In fact, I won't sell it. I'm going to continue to use it when I want something light or as a backup camera. (Scott, I have thought about the need for a backup. Since I do this as a volunteer, I just haven't put that kind of pressure on myself. If my camera fails, it just does. The only critical thing lost is a few pictures for the website. For now, I can live with that.)
    Kent: I hadn't thought about buying a used D300 and then reselling it. That's something to consider, and it could serve as a backup. Michael: that's good to know. My plan has been to rent a D7000 if I need to. I think I would love the D7000, but I'm hoping the upgrade to the D300s will be even more exciting. :)
    So it sounds like I'm on the right track - camera first, then lens once I see what I need. I'll spend some time thinking about which would be better. And in the meantime I think I will put the flash on my Christmas list, and keep saving my money a little longer.
    Thanks!
     
  10. Lisa, I forgot to mention that the D7000 is significantly smaller and lighter than the D300. If you are going to carry some extra lenses, then weight becomes a major issue, especially if you are going to carry a pack for several hours at a time.
     
  11. didn't know that about the batteries shun. good catch.
    My priority is an improvement in low-light and autofocus abilities​
    the d300s would improve AF over d5000 but not low-light. the d7000 would improve both over the d5000 but AF is not as good as D300s. for shooting sports, i would much rather do it on a pro body than a prosumer body.
    but here's the rub: if you can wait until march, no need to get a new body before then. and, as soon as the new cameras are announced, prices on the old ones will fall as long as there is available stock. there will also be more bodies appearing on the used market. so that's kind of a win-win: you can either get one of the new bodies or a better deal on a D300s, which may prove sufficient for your needs. and if you dont need anything shorter than 50mm, a 17-50 or 17-55 wouldn't be that useful. also a 24-70 would only be useful from 51-70mm. the 24-70 does have very fast focus, especially on a pro body, but i wouldn't get one if you dont need one. i'd probably get a sigma 85/1.4 instead, which complements both the 50/1.4 and 70-200 (and reportedly focuses way faster than the more expensive nikon G version). i do like the idea of a sb-700 if you just have to buy something now.
     
  12. Michael, weight is definitely an issue for me. But I love my Sigma lens so much that I haul it around the Zoo almost every Wednesday and take pictures while my daughter is volunteering. I'm hoping I can adjust to a heavier camera, too.
    Eric, a 24-70 would be useful in our home gym. I occasionally take pictures of training or, as I did in October, choreography sessions. On those occasions I can stand just off the floor. The 50mm is sometimes too short but the 70-200 requires me to scramble between equipment. A 24-70 would be very nice to have but it's not a priority. I can see myself using an 85/1.4 for other things, so I'll put that on my list of possibilities. Thanks for your suggestions.
     
  13. cjk

    cjk

    Lisa:
    I have been shooting swim meets for a little bit over a year now, averaging once a month. These are school meets, so fairly laid back, which gives me full access to the sides of the pool, so I guess somewhat similar to your situation. About 2/3 are outdoor events and 1/3 indoors (we temporarily live in a very sunny part of the world), so flash is not needed (and might not be allowed either). Shutter speed has to be over 1/1000 to freeze motion, so I deactivate VR. Like you I don't use a tripod because I move around a lot.
    I've been using a D7000, most often with a Nikkor 70-200 VR2 and I absolutely love it. The autofocus is plenty fast, enough to capture swimmers diving off the starting plots, even indoors with crappy lighting. The 6 fps is good and while I would have preferred 7-8 fps, I am quite happy with 6. I have a couple of photos in my portfolio if you want to check them.
    The main limitation I have is the inability of going "wide" when I want to capture a large number of swimmers at the start of a race. Often I end up changing lenses and switching to a 35mm or a 16-85mm for a few minutes.
    All this to say that:
    - Your current lens (70-200) should be fine
    - You might want to look at a shorter lens for group shots. If you have enough light, the 16-85 is great. Oherwise the 24-70 could help. I am longing for a Nikkor 24-70 (bad case of NAS) but it would mostly be for portraits!
    - Don't underestimate the autofocus capabilities of the D7000. While I never used a D300s so I cannot compare, there are very few shots I miss because of the AF (except user-error ones like where the sensor was not on the subject). Yes, the camera sometimes focuses on the droplets of water in front of the swimmer's face, but I guess there isn't much that can be done about that.
    Bottom line: you probably want to rent a D7000 for one of the meets (or maybe at a training session?) and check it out.
    I hope this helps
    CJK
     
  14. I know of no issues with the D7000 focus. Mine is fine. Every now and then the software may not guess where I wanted it to focus, but that is probably more user error than anything else. I also concur about the buffer issue. I shoot RAW and can load the buffer momentarily if using high speed continuous shutter. This issue usually resolves itself in a second or two.
     
  15. Cesar: Thank you very much. Yes, I think we probably have similar challenges so I appreciate your advice. I'm sure I will be back to read your post again!
    John: the issue is not with the autofocus capability of the D7000, and I'm sure it is better than what I have now. My D5000 and Sigma lens are more than sufficient outdoors, but in dark gyms, they struggle to focus on anything moving. If I'm going to spend the money, I want the best I can get.
    Thanks again to all who replied.
     
  16. I know of no issues with the D7000 focus.​
    john, the d7000 is by all accounta a very capable and versatile camera, but it has a prosumer-spec AF module; the d300/300s/700/700/3/3s/3x all share the same pro-spec AF module. the reality, is, it's just more responsive overall in challenging conditions, i.e. shooting moving subjects when using AF-C. there are a few other ergonomic things that make the d300s a better action camera than a d7000, but i will admit to being sometimes frustrated with the d300s' performance over 1600 ISO.
    i also have a D3s, and the AF speed and focus accuracy with the 24-70, and to a lesser extent the 70-200, is so intuitive, it's scary. i don't shoot a whole lot of sports, but i do shoot a lot of concerts in dimly-lit clubs, with unpredictable subject movement, which is about as challenging as it gets. in those situations, i find a sub-2.8 lens invaluable, even with the D3s' hi-ISO capabilities, because of the uneven stage lighting, which can blow out highlights if you raise the ISO too much. i've been using the sigma 50/1.4, but am going to get an 85 for the times when the 70-200 is just too heavy. i would definitely recommend the 24-70 for just about anything, though it might be overkill for landscapes.
     
  17. In the dark virtually all cameras will have autofocus issues. The software is based upon being able to distinguish contrasting edges. When the light gets too low that can't happen. I don't know, but would suggest that the light capture capabilities of the seniors outstrip the auto focussing capabilities. Which is why many will turn off autofocus in those situations and rely on manual focus.
     
  18. Lisa, I don't think a flash is your best bet for gymnastics. My son and daughter are both active in gymnastics, and people really freak out if somebody uses flash. I've even seen people being asked to put their camera away or leave from the use of the focus assist light. I use a D7000 with the Sigma 70-200 non-OS with fairly good results. OS or VR really doesn't help too much, subject motion being biggest problem you will likely have to deal with. Put the tripod away, and find a monopod that is comfortable and sturdy.
    Or, Get a setup like this...
    My subjects are too young to publish, so I try to get pictures of other photographers at some of the meets.
    00ZfDR-419715584.JPG
     
  19. Peter: It's good to meet another gymnastics parent-photographer! Now I know who to ask when I have a gymnastics-related question!
    I'm sorry for the confusion. The flash isn't for gymnastics; it's for personal use. You are absolutely correct that we are asked to turn off all lights, including focus-assist lights. That makes it more challenging. I'm the "team photographer" (which really means I'm the one with the equipment and knowledge), so my pictures are used for the gym's website. And I don't use a monopod or tripod because there isn't enough room. (Believe me, there really isn't. At one meet I found a small triangle of space between parallel bars and their anchor in the floor. That kept me out of the way of the volunteers and gymnasts moving back and forth. The only time it looks like this guy is at Nationals and then I'm in the stands.) Acro is a bit different than Artistic because the athletes only use the floor. The equipment is pushed to the side so that there are a couple of warm-up floors and room for athletes to congregate and for spectators. Artistic meets are not quite as crowded.
    I agree with your policy on posting pictures. Pictures on the team website are covered by the gym's photo release, but I password-protect the rest on my Zenfolio site.
    I'm assuming this photo isn't from Nationals? USAG is tightening up photography policies at Nationals, so that 70-200 lenses are the longest allowed. (I don't know what this one is, but it looks huge.) I'm afraid they are going to start restricting DSLR's because so many parents now have them and I'm sure it affects photo sales.
     
  20. Living in japan, I was surprised to read Shun's comment about certain Nikon such as D700 not being sold any longer so I went to have a look during my break and I can assure you that the D700 and such are still very much being sold in Japan.
     
  21. That picture was from the Tim Daggett National Invitational, an early meet in western MA. I know the name says "National", but this was only a regional qualifier. The lens above is a 200 f2.0. This was probably the best lit gym I have ever shot in, I was shooting mostly at ISO 1600, and shutter speeds were near the length of the lens. This was shot at 1/100th f3.2 at 120mm.
    If the USAG restricts parents with cameras to increase print sales, they will soon see how it backfires, and they start losing parents and competitors.
    You really don't need extra room for a monopod, just don't try to use it if you are in the stands. Unless the stands are made of cement, every movement of every person transfers right to the camera. The monopod would be perfect in your little triangle near the parallel bars.
     
  22. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Living in japan, I was surprised to read Shun's comment about certain Nikon such as D700 not being sold any longer so I went to have a look during my break and I can assure you that the D700 and such are still very much being sold in Japan.​
    Pascal, those are not exactly my comments; I am merely relaying information from Nikon's Japanese web site: http://www.nikon-image.com/support/whatsnew/2011/wnew111108.htm
    Since you live in Japan, could you find out a little more about the background? According to that Nikon new article, the safety law for electrical appliances was revised on November 20, 2008, but there was a three-year grace period, which was up on November 20 this year.
    The D700 was introduced in July 2008, just prior to the revision of that law. The D300S was introduced in mid 2009 as a minor upgrade to the original D300; that was after the revision of the law and the D300S is the last DSLR that uses the EN-EL3e. After that, the D7000 uses the newer EN-EL15 which does not have those exposed contacts.
    Given that 3-year advanced notice and grace period, I would imagine that Nikon had plans to replace the D300S and D700 a while back, but the two major natural disasters: earthquake in Japan in March and the Thailand flood in October interruped all the plans. There must still be D700 and D300S in stock in the stores; it is not all of sudden they are major hazards. But I wonder whether it is legal for Nikon to ship any more of them within Japan.
    Again, those who live in Japan should be in a much better position to find out more than I can from the US. I don't really read Japanese, but I can figure something out from the Chinese words they use and Google translation.
     
  23. The D7000 would improve resolution, AF, and high ISO performance significantly. Plus it offers HD video.

    Lenses tend to be a very personal choice, and you already seem to know what you like in that department.
     
  24. Peter, the lighting at Nationals is usually better than the local gyms. The lighting in our gym is better than most. But I almost always shoot at 3200 so I can use the highest shutter speed possible. 1/320 is a minimum and I can get 1/400 or above at Nationals. So high ISO is going to be a priority for my next camera. By the way, I think the photo policy actually restricts lenses greater than a certain length. It allows for a 70-200. (I think they are more restrictive at events like the VISA Championships or other elite competitions.) And I agree that they are going to have a huge backlash if they tighten the policy any further, but I am sensing more tension between the pro photographer and parents.
    Have you ever seen an Acro routine? At the elite levels they are fun to watch and photograph - lots of cool lines and bright colors.
    Dan, thanks. I'm hoping to wait for the upgrade to the D300s, but the D7000 will be my backup plan.
     
  25. No, I don't think I've seen an Acro routine, I have seen a few Rythmic routines, and would like to try some photography with a tripod. If you know of any Acro meets going on near Boston, let me know, I'll see if I can get there.
    If you're looking for something to put on your Christmas list, go for the SB700. It should work as a commander for the SB600. If you can wait, go for the D7000. When production gets up again, there might be some rebates. The D7000 will also work as a commander for the SB600. I use the on camera flash as fill (in commander mode) sometimes with 2 or 3 SB700s, or sometimes use one of the 700s to control the others. The SC28 cord is on my list, to get the main flash also as commander away from the camera.
     
  26. If I hear of one, I'll let you know. I don't know of any Acro teams in MA; the closest ones are probably in Maryland. I love Rhythmic, too, but I don't think we have any competitive teams in the area. (Wait, I just found one! Cool!)
    Thanks, again!
     

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