Upgrading from a D300 for a Wedding Photographer

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by patrick_mateer, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. Hi,
    I have quite an old kit that I use to shoot weddings - A D300 with zoom wide angle, macro, telephoto and 35mm, plus an ancient D100 as a back up body (not had to use this for many years thankfully - though I must admit it did a fine job back in the day when it was still good kit)
    I shoot 3 - 5 weddings a year plus some band / gig photography (so better low light response would be good), plus landscapes and other events...this is all part time and sometimes I am only making a very small amount and it is for the sheer love it. However, looking to increase this now and really need another body anyway, a D100 would clearly not cut it - touch wood - should my D300 ever fail mid job. I should clearly not have typed that!
    So I am wondering, for an upgrade (as I look to take on more work), where should I be looking? What are the benefits for the different models up from a D300? I would like to have the option to switch to video as well (my D300 is pre-DSLR video), I currently use a pro quality Sony HD - but again this is outdated and uses HD tape. Not ideal.
    How does the 610 compare to the D800? Would a 7100 cut it, or is it a false economy to go up only that far? How is the video quality shooting on a DSLR?
    Any advice you could give would be really appreciated.
  2. Do you have predominantly DX lenses? The upgrade to FX for weddings is going to be very expensive glass wise.
    I suspect the D7100 will fulfill your needs unless you do lots of high speed stuff, when you might fill the buffer.
    If you need the backup to have Video as-well, and have mostly AF-S lenses, maybe get a used D5300?
    The quality of the Video itself is fine, but the form factor is only really suited to tripods and rig use. For some users AF can be sketchy in poor light.
  3. sorry to say, but nikon doesnt offer an upgrade for d300
  4. hi mag - sorry, i meant more 'a step up' in terms of a new camera than upgrade i guess. should have said more simply: looking to get a new body so my d300 becomes my back up...
    mike - thanks for the advice. yes, good point about lenses. perhaps d7100 is the best choice, certainly seems good value at around £500 from some outlets.
    what sort of increase in quality will i see, image wise?
    never had an issue with maxing the buffer on my d300, so i guess this suggests d7100 would be fine? back in the days of the d100 it was a different story! (in 2008 shot my first wedding on D100 and realised i had to upgrade fairly quickly)
    on the d7100 - the video options seem very good. i'll be shooting on tripod with wedding and get an external light which should help with af issues? for my band stuff i would be shooting more at low light...
    d5300 could be an option for a second video in the future / back up, good idea. anything any cheaper than that that would shoot video of any worth for a second camera?
  5. Mag M, although you are sadly correct in the truth of there's no-where to go up from the D300....
    The D7100 has approx double the pixels, 1 EV better ISO and maybe 2 EVs of Dynamic Range
    The D5300 has maybe a tiny bit more ISO and DR but can't AF with non AF-S lenses and has a weaker UI. If you want to do slo-mo vid, the D5300 does Full HD at a true 60P, ie not interlaced.
    Oddly (AKA stupidly!) the buffer of the 300 is way bigger than the 7100...in number of captured frames if not in MBs.
  6. I've been waiting for the D400 for some time and clearly Nikon has gone in another direction. More's the pity. Since all my glass is FX compatible that's the direction I'm going to have to go. Based on your description it looks like the d7100 is the answer for you for now but to me it is a huge compromise and one that doesn't interest me. I find it amusing the way everyone simply dismisses older bodies as useless or hopelessly incapable of producing quality images. I also have a D100 sitting in the closet, one with low miles and use it as a backup. Took it and a D1X both to an airshow last year and they performed very well. Buffer space is really the only issue. Just being older doesn't mean these earlier bodies are doorstops. They may not perform as fast as current offerings but they still have their uses. OK, my apologies. Rant off.
    Rick H.
  7. Mike, it is likely the buffer size is the same on both the 300 and the 7100 but you are just pushing twice as many pixels with the 7100.
  8. rick - used the d100 for an event last year as d300 was getting cleaned. the buffering is horrendous and the noise is very poor too. and it's incredibly slow when on raw. this was for a low key event - shooting a wedding with it would be incredibly hard! i have done it once in 2008, just remember the the buffering was terrible and that was when i knew i had to get a different model to do weddings justice. my colleague stuck in on a tripod recently inside a church and it really suffered in the low light, that was the first time i'd used as such in 6 years...
    but as i said, it was great back in the day - i shot some lovely landscape stuff for my photo degree show and got it blown up to 6 x 4 feet. looked the bees knees. just is nowhere near the standard i would need for a wedding. but i'd be happy to take it out on a walk and shoot some landscape owith natural light.
    mike - the buffering does concern me on the d7100, the more i think back to the d100! how poorly does it compare to the d300 in terms of memory/buffering? just read another thread were it was panned in comparison to the d300... i also like to shoot time lapse/interval with my d300, i guess quick intervals will be out on the d7100? is that option of intervals on the d7100?
    thanks for the advice, really appreciated.
  9. he buffering does concern me on the d7100, the more i think back to the d100! how poorly does it compare to the d300 in terms of memory/buffering? just read another thread were it was panned in comparison to the d300...​
    You can get about a 1.5-second burst at full speed (or about 10 frames), then the camera will slow down to about 3fps (i.e. as fast as a 95/MB/s UHS-1 can be written to). For some applications it's still too shallow and too slow - but it's a far cry from, for example, a D200 which gave you about 2-3 second burst at high speed and then locked up for 30 seconds or thereabouts. FWIW, I never ran against the buffer limit of my D300. I believe we are now close enough to the release of a D7100 successor that I just hold out and wait.
  10. Last year I changed from D300 to D600. D600 has clearly better sensor, but body and functionality has been a step down for me. I understand that D7100 is about the same. As others pointed out there is no clear path after D300 in nikon's camera line. I think nikon dropped the ball not making another pro body with DX sensor in it.
  11. I had a D5100. I don't think you'd want to use one for an event. Especially a wedding. Too difficult to change settings in that kind of frenetic atmosphere since it's basically all menu driven. The D5200 and D5300 haven't changed this. Image wise, they look really good. The D7100 is great. Except the buffer does fill up very quickly. Especially if you're using RAW. You might get off six-seven shots at once before you fill up. If you shoot jpg, then you can pop off up to 60 if you use the 1.3 crop mode. Video is really good, but an external microphone will be needed if you want good sound. I'm surprised no one suggested a used or refurbished D300s. Another thing, the D7100 is much smaller than the D300. I really like my D7100, but I did put a grip on it and it makes it a lot more substantial to work with.
  12. I was shooting a D300, now use a D7100. I've done about 10 weddings with D7100 (a pair) since getting the camera last April. It's more than good enough. The focus system is noticeably better than that on the D600. It does not have a PC port, but I never missed that since I use CyberSync triggers anyway. The video is quite good, and it has dual SD card slots. I set that to back up so I always have each shot put on two cards. I think the D7100 is probably the best value camera for weddings, especially if you are doing less than 10/yr.
    Kent in SD
  13. As others pointed out there is no clear path after D300 in nikon's camera line. I think nikon dropped the ball not making another pro body with DX sensor in it.​
    and now we come to the sad truth for d300 users: there's nowhere to go, really, as far as an upgrade with the same functionality. the d7100 comes closest but there's that buffer issue. the d7000 has a worse AF module; same thing with the d600/d610. moving to FX you'll probably take a huge financial hit if you mainly used DX lenses with the d300 unless you go with legacy, used and 3rd party lenses, besides the fact that unless you shell out for a d800 or d4, you'll be paying more for less functionality in some key areas.
    If i was the OP, i'd be looking at either the d7000 or the d7100. both improve on the d300 in at least a few key areas, including video, but neither is pro-specc'd like the d300 was.
    it would be helpful to know what lenses the OP uses. depending on the answer, it might be a better option to save some money on the body and get the sigma 18-35/1.8 which will add more than a stop of low-light performance over a 2.8 zoom on DX.
    overall, i dont think this is a great time to invest in nikon until they show they have a handle on their future direction. certainly the high-end DX market segment is one area they've largely abandoned. it does make sense, however, to have a newer body if you are going to shoot paid gigs with a DX set-up.
  14. I don't do much "social" photography any more, mostly some editorial assignments, but whatever I've been shooting lately
    has been on D7100 with Metz 52 flash and some Gary Fong stuff and has been perfect. I can get plenty of ambient light
    and the D7100 low light capability and good AF allows me to mix and match however I want. It's a little plasticy compared
    to D200-300 series, but on a sturdy bracket is no problem.
  15. "I think nikon dropped the ball not making another pro body with DX sensor in it."

    "overall, i dont think this is a great time to invest in nikon until they show they have a handle on their future direction. certainly the high-end DX market segment is one area they've largely abandoned. it does make sense, however, to have a newer body if you are going to shoot paid gigs with a DX set-up."
    I'm sure if there was money to be made with a D300s successor, Nikon would have released it. The high end DX market is essentially dead or dying with the advent of reasonably priced full frame cameras. You can now get a D610 for not much more than what a new D300s costs. Sure there are features a D300 has that are better than a D610, but the majority of people will go with the better full frame sensor. Most people who purchased a D300 in 2007/2008 most likely found the cost of full-frame excessive. Today they would probably opt for a D610 even if Nikon came out with a D400. I own a D300 but would never purchase it's replacement if there was one. Nearly all professionals now shoot full-frame and wouldn't have much of an interest in a high end DX body. It's definitely an issue though for people who acquired a stable of DX lenses and are financially tied to the system and not willing to dump them for full frame. Personally I only bought one DX lens for wide angle shots and dealt with the crop factor for all the rest, knowing that full frame would eventually become affordable and I would switch. At the moment my D300 does everything I need it to and I am still waiting till a full frame pro-layout body like the D800 comes down a little or I save up enough.
  16. Can't say anything about DX since I never had one, but I just received D610 and it's a really nice camera. The resulting files are crisp and 22-36MP (so far) in resolution. It's quieter than my previous rig (D700)...and that's before I use the Q-setting. I ripped ISO's to 1,000 and saw no noise. I can always switch to DX and have the resolution of the D300 or thereabouts. Anyway, what's not to like ? My 2 centavos.
  17. If you are happy with the D300, just get another.
  18. And get a dedicated, high quality video camera.
    Assuming you have appropriate lenses, a new body may not make a huge difference for you. You will likely require new lenses if the lenses you have are DX.
    While video quality is quite good from newer DSLRs, shooting video with a DSLR is totally different than shooting with a dedicated video camera.
  19. My reference to new lenses is with regard to going from DX to FX.
  20. I use the D7100 for events, and have used a D300. Properly set up, with 95MB/s cards in both losts, and capturing 12-bit raw files, the relatively small buffer of the D7100 never caused me a problem when shooting events. (I did have trouble once when photographing birds in flight, but that's very different.) My suggestion: rent one, and use it for an event with your D300 as a backup.
    Alternatively, B&H, and possibly other stores, have D300s bodies available as open-box items, with full warranties. They cost more than a new D7100, but the cost might be worth it to you.
    Finally, while many have given up hoping that Nikon will produce a D400, it is likely that there will be a successor to the D7100 will be updated, particularly since there is now a new processing engine for other DX Nikon bodies, such as the D5300. As others have said, we can hope that a D7100 successor will have a larger buffer.
  21. Check out the "An Interview with Nikon Executives: thread- http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00cOKM

    The four senior Nikon executives left users hanging on and totally confused with their answer to the question- Will you make a replacement for the D300S? "Our official comment about this question is that we are not able to make any comment on future products. But we always consider every possibility to meet users’ needs and market trends. We are of course considering all such requests!"

    From reading here at Photo.net and other threads it would seem like there is a market:D
    Also, some funny comments at the DPR link.
  22. I do agree with Kent Staubus. For wedding, shooting DX, a wise option is the D7100 with a f/2.8 lenses and if they allow you, either the SB-700 or if you can afford it, the SB-910. The D300 is not better than the D7100 in the ISO department and Dynamic Range, more pixels, etc. Beside, for wedding you do not need to shoot 8 fps so the D7100 in my opinion, is much better than the D300 for wedding photography / portraiture / low light shooting.
    I don’t think Nikon will give us the expected D400, but I do believe, there will be a probably D7200 which I expect at least, keeps everything that the D7100 has + much better buffer. If so, that camera would probably be, the D300 replacement. However, I don’t expect Nikon to add 8 fps to that camera.
    With plenty of money in the pocket, the D4 and two lenses : 24-70 f/2.8 and 70-200 f/2.8 or f/4. In my opinion, nothing better than that combo, but again, it is almost 10k.
    Right now, I do have the D300, but I bought the Nikon 70-200 f/4 ED VR which will help me a lot to stay close to the right spot when shooting weddings. I am waiting till August - September, to see if Nikon will come up with the expected D7100 replacement and if so, I probably would buy that camera which I do expect will have everything that the D7100 has and more, otherwise, I will buy the D7100. My problem is to find the right lens in the middle-range department. Probably the 16-35 f/4 will do the job but I would love that Nikon give us the 16-85 f/4 and that should be a great combo to pair it with my new 70-200 f/4. I don’t like third party lenses, except the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 and this is not a lens to shoot weddings but landscaping.
  23. A lightly used D700 would probably satisfy your needs. And all the accessories would function the same (brackets, flash, etc.).
  24. Like I mentioned before with reference to the flash, I have been using the Metz 52 touch screen flash and it has been
    great in real life shooting situations especially using some Gary Fong attachments. Check it out instead of the other
    expensive Nikon flashes if you want to save some $$. I forgot to mention, besides the D7100, it works great on the D5100 too for candid shooting with the screen folded out above eye level over a crowd is fantastic you can see what you're actually shooting instead of just aiming.
  25. For 4 yrs the D300 was my main event lens until I purchased the D700 2 yrs ago. I now have all FX lens but I loved the images that come from the D300 and since the battery, grip, CF cards and layout of the D300 and D700 are virtually the same I feel so at ease when I go between them at events. The D300 usually only used with 85mm 1.4 and 180mm 2.8 when I need the reach and the D700 usually has Nikon 28-70mm 2.8 or assortment of primes 35mm 1.4 or 50mm 1.4.
    So as someone else suggested keep the D300 and add a lightly used D700 and you might be satisfied.
  26. Resolution, megapixels, resolution……so
    • great colour (esp. SOOC),
    • tonal response &tonal gradations,
    • great skin tones & skin colours (why do so many experienced posters have mixed these two up over the years is beyond me) under a wide variety of conditions SOOC (straight-out-of-camera),
    • wide & subtle gradations in highlight DR (bride's dress, anyone?)
    are of no importance in a wedding photographer's job if one were to go by threads like these.
  27. thanks for all the replies on this all who took time to comment, some really useful information. seems the D7100 would be a more than adequate upgrade for now if i cannot afford a D800
    the far better d800 video function really appeals to me though - buying a load of new lenses does not! well, it appeals, but is not really feasible.

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