Upgrading from D200 - Need Advice !!!

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by gcgrant, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. Hello -
    I am looking to upgrade my DSLR from a D200 and need some advice. So you have some background info, here's what I typically shoot. 1. I do a lot of portraits (studio and location), modeling headshots and some fashion for web stores. 2. I sell fine art landscapes. Believe it or not, I've gotten wonderful images (you can see many on this site) with my D200 using a 24mm f2.8 prime lens. What's the obvious? These are all outside images with good lighting! 3. I sometime shoot in low light (events, sports) and for those situations the D200 is aweful! I'm thanksful for my high quality lens (50MM f1.4D & 80-200MM F2.8 ED). Shooting wide open, I can get some good images, but still notice grain at low ISO's.
    I've not invested in DX lenses or G mounts. All of my lenses are D mount, so I can use them on either format body. I did that knowing at some point I'd go full frame. I'm just not sure if now is the time. I hear alot of opinions about the D300s, the new D7000 and the D700. Yes, Nikon will eventually get around to announcing a D700 replacement and will do so eventually as more resolution is packed onto their FF sensors. Those are givens. But when, nobody knows. It won't be this year, as all the cameras are "locked" for the holiday season.
    So, knowing what I shoot and the lens types I have, what are your opinions. If not an upgrade to a D700, what's your suggestion for the next DX body?
    Thanks,
    Greg
     
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Well, why do you need to upgrade the D200 to begin with? I know you shoot under some low-light conditions; do you shoot enough of those to justify an upgrade?
    If you indeed want to upgrade, what is the budget you have in mind?
    BTW, all Nikon 35mm-format SLR lenses have the F mount. There are no D and G mounts.
     
  3. Thanks Shun. You make good points as always! :)
    The only reason (other than the low light situations) to upgrade is to take full advantage of my lens. As I mentioned, I have gotten good landscape shots with my 24mm, but would like to have a bit more width in the frame. Perhaps a really good wide angle is more in order? I'm open to suggestion as long as it's not a G lens.
    My mistake. Yes, I know they are F mount. I meant D vs G lens. I still shoot film and like the aperture ring (and need it) on some of my older cameras.
     
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Again, what's your budget? On today's high-pixel DSLRs, the 24mm/f2.8 is likely going to show its age. Mine is ok on the D700 and D3, but on the D3X, corner sharpness is a serious problem, especially for landscapes.
     
  5. I am not surprised you get good images from the D200, I still have mine (despite also having and using mostly a D700) and love it. It is a camera with some limitations, but all are. Within its limitations (mostly noise at high ISO, and if you want, resolution) it produced excellent images which paid the rent and the bills to many professionals, and there is no reason it should stop.
    If you want (I don't much believe in "need" in this field) to upgrade, I firmly believe in buying what does the job you want it to do, not in the latest & greatest. So it depends:
    - you indeed want the latest and greatest. Stay DX, and go for the 7000, or wait for D400. Go FX, wait for D800.
    - you are OK with the resolution you got from D200. Stay DX and buy a D300s (I discarded this option back then, not enough improvement for me). Go FX and take a D700. You get massively better quality images (which does NOT mean better photos, but the sensor output is dramatically better), plus all the nice things you had with D300s also (AF, better MB-10 much better than MB-D200, display etc.), plus a much better viewfinder. But you will have to readjust your lens collection.... which might be good or bad, e.g. your portrait focal length is not anymore 50mm, which is good since the 50 1.4 has fairly poor bokeh (better in the AF-S, but still not good)... you have to see. But going to FX costs you some glass re-thinking anyway.
    - You want more resolution. Stay DX, and your only option is D7000. I'm not sure ou gain much in resolution, but it seems other aspects (e.g. noise and DR) are quite good. Handling / build / speed are likely a tiny bit under D300s, but AF at least should be definitely better than in your D200. Plus all the bonuses (video etc.). Go FX, you know the answer is only a D3x right now. Or wait, of course.
    -You want video. D7000 in DX or D3s in FX. Or wait.
    So, as you see the question is basically if you want DX or FX. I have moved to FX and I'm loving it, but it is a matter of needs and tastes and lenses you use. There is no absolute answer, and the "FX is pro, DX is amateur" story makes no sense (besides, I'm an amateur). But I guess you need to figure out this choice first, once you do, you always have a camera option which is more than competent (except the FX+video case, perhaps). This boils down to lens options that do in FX what you do now in DX. Do you own them? or are you willing to buy them? and do you WANT to use them instead of what you are using now?
    Good luck!
    L.
     
  6. The D700 is within my budget range. Therefore the D300s and D7000 fall within it as well. I've heard about some "softness" issues within the D3 family, but have not heard anything about the D700. If I were to go with a D700, is there a better "D" wide angle available? I prefer a prime lens for landscapes, including older AI lens.
     
  7. I guess the above points cover most of the questions you should ask yourself, but to eloborate a bit on 2 points raised:
    - wide angle on DX and a lens with aperture ring... Maybe you should reconsider this and accept that you have one lens that will not work properly on your film bodies. For the really wide angles, you will simply be better off with a DX lens (which are all without aperture rings) if you want value for money. The only other I could think of would be the 17-35 f/2.8, not exactly a cheap option. Something like the Tokina or Sigma DX wide angles will not cost an arm and a leg, and give very good performance and really wide angles.
    - High ISO noise in the D200: I've seen great looking ISO800 and somewhat above photos from D200; I owned a D80 with the same sensor, and it could do ISO1000 fairly well; ISO1250 required care. But, big but, that is shooting RAW and careful post-processing. Good recent software will improve the output here. So, while the D200 has a bad reputation maybe, modern software can pull out more of those NEFs than the D200 itself could.
    Just additional thoughts there to complicate matters :).
     
  8. bms

    bms

    Well, it really depends on how wide you want to go. I have a D700 and the 24 AF-D but do not use it very much, as I usually have my 24-70 lens mounted. That of course is another major expense. As far as primes go, I recently took a few photos with a borrowed 20 f2.8 wand was not overly impressed. You could consider a 35 mm (f/2 or f/1.4), which give you about the same field of view on FX, but obviously the f/1.4 does not come cheap either.... I have the 35mm f/2, it does OK for portraits on the D700 but may not have the desired quality for fine art landscapes. Others here may have more first hand experience with that.... There is a recent thread with some interesting examples of the 16mm AIS fisheye on a DX body...... ahhh, the choices.
     
  9. “I've not invested in DX lenses or G mounts. All of my lenses are D mount, so I can use them on either format body. I did that knowing at some point I'd go full frame. I'm just not sure if now is the time.”
     
    Similar to you, I have been using a D200 but eventually plan on getting an FX digital. I also tried to avoid DX and G lenses because I want my lenses to work on my F2 and F4 film bodies. However, I did get the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G auto focus because there was no D equivalent zoom lens. I also bought the 18-55mm f/3.5 to 5.6G VR DX zoom lens because I could use this good performer as an inexpensive backup lens.
     
    I did not buy the Kodak full frame because it had too many issue. I did not buy the D3 because it was way out of my price range. I did not buy the D700 because even though it was less expensive than the D3, it was still out of my price range. However, I did decide to wait and buy it when its price drops after its replacement is announced. For me, that is the right time to buy.

    .
     
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    GC, my suggestion is that if you move up to FX, especially to a future FX body with higher pixel density similar to the D3X, you will likely find that some of your older lenses will not perform as well, or at least you cannot take full advantage of those modern DSLR bodies. Therefore, you need to budget for some good lenses as well.
    I also expect that the new D7000 is more demanding on lenses than the D200, but I need to test them thoroughly.
     
  11. GC, my suggestion is you buy the D300s. It doesn't suffer from the softness seen in the D700 and D3. I have a D300 and went from that to the D700 and back again to the D300. Even with the D300, you can buy top lenses, you don't need an FX body to do that. And FX lenses work on the D300 too, so it's the best of both worlds.
     
  12. Where is "softness" in a D3, D3X, or D700 documented? That has to be one of the silliest comments I've seen even on the internet! Some of the best and most demanding photographers in the world use these cameras and believe me, they are sharp. I'll match my D700 against anything. Even the D3X just has somewhat higher resolution, the D3 is a bit more sturdy, but the image quality is there.
    DX is cheaper, FX is arguably a bit higher quality. If you're selling landscapes from a D200, quality is not the issue. Read Thom Hogan's website. He comments that most modern cameras are quite a bit better than most modern photographers and most upgrades are "wants" with no demonstrable "need." Even on photonet, one fellow was complaining that he needed a better camera but admitted to having shaky hands. He needs a tripod, not a new camera.
    Get what you want, assuming you're not taking financial resources from something more important, and enjoy.
     
  13. bms

    bms

    Agree with Eric - maybe it's my sample, but my D700 is not soft. The body is magnesium alloy..... Even the plastic parts feel pretty tough...
    Sorry, could not resist :)
     
  14. Eric, having owned the D300 and the D700 respectively, the D700 has softer out of camera output than the D300. Why does this comment sound silly to you? It has to do with design. The D700 has a strong anti-alias filter, which causes the softness. Just in case you can't understand that, the softness can be defined as a lower per-pixel sharpness due to the larger sensor used on the D700. It was one of many disappointments I experienced while owning the D700 for 9 months before selling it to go back to the D300, which I am very happy with.
     
  15. Where is "softness" in a D3, D3X, or D700 documented?​
    Well, to be honest, I have a soft spot for my D700. Now it's documented :)
     
  16. Wait and see what the D400 is like if/when it eventually comes out ?
    That's what I'm doing - I don't see anything else to radically improve on my D200 at the moment even if I spend large amounts of cash..
     
  17. GC, keep your D200 for sports and use your spare cash to upgrade to an RB67 or large format for your fashion, portraits, and particularly you landscape.
     
  18. The D700 is within my budget range. Therefore the D300s and D7000 fall within it as well. I've heard about some "softness" issues within the D3 family, but have not heard anything about the D700. If I were to go with a D700, is there a better "D" wide angle available? I prefer a prime lens for landscapes, including older AI lens.​
    On the first issue, I have as you a D200 and now a D700. D3 and D700 have extremely close outputs to what I know (to be expected). Neither D200 nor D700 produce images that "look" totally sharp unless a bit of USM is applied to the full resolution image. This is to some varying extent true for all cameras using an anti-aliasing filter, but I have heard other cameras from other brands do look slightly sharper, while both D200 and 700 have rather beefy anti-aliasing. Myself, I know I have always applied a fixed tiny amount of USM to every full-resolution D200 image as standard part of my postprocessing, I have moved the same process to the D700 files and it looks OK for me there as well, so I would say they behave more or less the same way from this point of view.
    Wide angles: here the situation to my experience is not so easy if you want to stick with D lenses. I own a 20 2.8 AFD, and have tried two more copies as a check, and that lens just does not perform on digital. It was ugly on DX, it is worse on FX. Yes it was great on film. I never used a 17-35 2.8 myself, but I keep hearing bad things about it, and if you have access to diglloyd.com reviews (paying , but worth it in my opinion) there is a vast comparison of the Nikon ultra wide angle lenses (mostly the zooms) on D3x, and the two new ones (14-24 2.8 and 16-35 4 VR) perform vastly better in his test images. Based on that, I would never, ever consider buying a 17-35 2.8. But as I said, I never tried one myself.
    Of the other D short primes I own, and really enjoy the 35 f2 (which is wide on FX only of course). It is a small, humble lens with a great, consistent performance. Pretty decent at f2 already, flawless by f5.6, draws nicely, good color... and it is cheap too. Definitely a must have. I did not try the 28 and 24 2.8 but I don't hear much love for them around. It gets better if you accept to go for G lenses. I own since a short time a 16-35 f4 VR, and I'm very pleased with it so far. It is big, indeed, but quite light. Sharpness is quite impressive at anything but 35mm (where is still good, just not quite as good as below, and besides, there I would tend to use the 35 f2 anyway). Contrast is impressive, and the VR is surprisingly useful. Mighty distortion, on the other hand, at the wide end, but this can be managed in postproduction. It would of course be better if it was not there. A very well built lens, also.
    The 14-24 is almost insanely good by any account, but it is big, heavy, and really expensive.
    I tried the 24 1.4, and I can say, you are better off not trying it if you don't have the money to buy it, because it caused me a major case of lens lust... it is SO good. I just cannot spend that money, but if you can, it is an admirable lens.
    Ciao
    L.
     
  19. I have a D200 and I decided to keep it to use for travel and I upgraded to a Nikon FM2n for my hobby photos and family photos (I want a negative to save). I understand that most folks do not want a film rig so I would consider the D7000. It has the latest technology out there. The other more expensive models have a much higher rate of depreciation and they are all pretty much ready for obsolescence already. Computer technology gets old very quick as you know. You can buy the D7000 now and in a couple years sell it off when you are ready for your next upgrade.
     
  20. Used D300 bodies seem to be increasingly available sensible prices. A lightly used D300 would make a lot of sense if you are looking at better low light performance (not to mention better battery life). Handling would be very similar to your D200 too.
     
  21. If you can wait it out, I think it is going to be very interesting to see what the "D400" has to offer--likely next year. Although it will presumably be DX, I am expecting markedly better high ISO performance, AF, plus video as a bonus compared to my D200. Obviously they will up the MP as well but it won't come close to FX quality. Still, with such a leap up from the D200 in resolution, will you really be disappointed? I think a lot of people already make gorgeous 16 x 20's from the D200. (Unless you're a pixel peeper and view them at 6 inches) Even on the subject of noise, to my eyes--after some judicious cleanup post exposure--I think the D200 is a whole lot better than film ever was at 800 at least--maybe even 1600. If you need 3200 and up, well that's a different matter. In that event you NEED FX; nothing less will do.
    Personally, I did switch my lenses over to DX because I felt the performance to price ratio was terrific: the Tokina 12-24 and the Nikkor 16-85 VR. From my existing collection, I had preserved the 50 mm 1.8 (hard to argue with a $100 prime), a Tokina 100 mm macro, and the--marginal at best--Nikkor 70-300 D. For me this is more than sufficient. In my budget, I think I did great with this system. So I'm happy with DX and looking forward to the D400. I'm not sure I would step up to FX ever for what I do. Would I love it? Sure, how could you not? But it's a big jump up in price for everything.
     
  22. Thanks everyone for your honest opinions and input. It's been very informative and confusing ;-)
    I find it extremely interesting that opinions vary to such a large degree over the same equipment, namely camera bodies, DX vs. FX and performance of lens. I guess it all boils down to what's best for the individual and their budget. Let's face it, 99% of the people that are going to purchase photographs are never going to see what we see! They're not going to look at that image of their little girl and think "wow, that image is tack sharp in the center, but gets a little soft in the outer 2% of the edges." I learned a long time ago that if you get too caught up in the technicalities of imaging, you can quite possibly loose your sense of purpose and creativity. While I certainly promote having quality equipment, especially glass, I don't see my self as every being one that gets hung up on an image being +.3 overexposed, etc. I know it's important in areas such as commercial product work, but not for what I do.
    Anyway, thanks again for all your help. It really was solid feedback and I took it all to heart.
    Happy shooting!
     
  23. I'd hazard a guess that the D300s replacement will actually be called the D9000 in keeping with the new system of numbering DX cameras, not that it really matters.
    There is no telling what Nikon will name the D700 successor. They went and used up so many round numbers that there are now only a few left unused (D10, D20, D30, D400, D500, D600, D800, D900). If they're smart they'll call the D700 successor the D710 so they can reserve D720-D790 for future versions of that camera.
     
  24. Get a good used D700...let someone else cop the depreciation. $1800 should see you through. If you want DX, thats tricky...maybe a D7000 for sure, but the D300 replacement might just smoke everyone.
     

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