Wanna help a teacher out... Nikon D300S vs. D700

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by robin_citrin, Feb 16, 2010.

  1. Hey, I'm having a buying dilemma, and really could use some help...
    I teach high school in Boston, and shoot kids basketball, football, soccer, prom, graduation... on and on.
    I currently have a D90, but am going to give it to my best friend, as he's having a baby soon.
    So, I have the following glass: 35mm 1.8, 50mm 1.8, 85mm 1.8, 55-200 VR (3.5-5.6) and a 35-70 2.8. My choices are either a D300s or a D700. Money is a little tight, but I'm willing to go for either, if it's the right solution.
    the problem is, I don't have a ton more for lenses. Basketball season just ended, and our gym lighting is atrocious. I can't really go more than 200/s shutter in it, even with the 1.8 glass. This makes me want a D700. But then I think of football season, and how the extra reach of DX will mean that all I can't get with my current lineup is nighttime football... but during the day, I'm all set with the 55-200.
    So, in short, given what I shoot, which body do I get? Believe me, I'd rather save the cash and get the D300, but a lot of what I shoot is in the dark (prom, assemblies...) and I'm afraid that I may need the D700.
    Being that you all know way more about this than I do, please advise me before I drive myself insane...
    Thanks! :)
  2. Robin,
    My experience of both bodies is that the D700 is worth the extra $$ over the D300 for the low avail. light / noise penalty factor. Esp. when dealing with the auditorium/ school hall dim lighting.
    Aside of the 55-200mm DX lens your remaining lens group are FX, all quite fast and all worth keeping if you went D700 - you can maximise the faster lenses on the D700.
    I'd be going for the D700 and saving more $$ for a longer faster tele (like the 80-200mm f/2.8) whilst in the mean time using your current 55-200mm VR in DX mode on the D700.
    Either way $$ wise or convenience wise, like everything else related to photography, it';s a compromise and one only you know the correct answer for.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    As we have repeated in this forum many times, the D700/D3 will give you merely one more stop of high-ISO results over the D300/D300S/D90. While one additional stop is non-trivial, it isn't like that will make a huge huge difference.
    The D700 is not some miracle camera that will immediately resolve all of your high-ISO problems. By the same token, the D3S is merely 1 to about 1-1/3 stops better than the D3/D700. Again, that is not trivial, but it isn't like the D3S will resolve all high-ISO problems either.
    If I were you, I would upgrade those consumer lenses such as the 55-200 first.
  4. I'd get a D90 (wait a minute, I did get a D90) and put the money saved into a Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 HSM EX II. I see the advantage of the D700, but I don't think it's worth the extra money for your needs. I don't see an advantage of the D300s over the D90 for you. You'll be paying almost $1000 for weather sealing and rugged construction that you don't need. The sensor is the same and the IQ is the same.
    It's a trade off. A D700 that you probably can't afford. A D90 with a Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 (or similar), or a D300s that doesn't give you anything that you really need.
    It's your money to spend as you please, but I'm tired of seeing people spend money they don't have for things they don't need.
  5. Thanks guys...
    @Mark: the thing is I am giving my friend my D90, and so need to get a new body either way. So the options would be either a refurb D300, or a new D300s or D700.
    I think I only have the 55-200 and the 35mm that are DX lenses, and even then, on FX the 50mm will take the place of the 35mm perfectly, leaving me the 85mm for basketball/yearbook portraits...
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Do you shoot video with your D90? That should tell you whether you should get the D300 or D300S.
  7. I have used it a little, but to be honest the mono sound is crap, and it has always been a pain to have to focus manually. Does the D300s still have that issue, or will it auto-focus video?
  8. Sorry, Robin, I ommited the 35mm lens from my take on your lens line up.
    D700 or D300, either way, you will appreciate the improved AF servo module for sporting action on these bodies compared to the D90.
    Mark Drutz's suggestion about the Sigma HSM 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is too, a good one IMHO.
    I think I only have the 55-200 and the 35mm that are DX lenses, and even then, on FX the 50mm will take the place of the 35mm perfectly, leaving me the 85mm for basketball/yearbook portraits...​
    You may have answered your own question right there.
  9. In your situation get the D300s. The D700 would not work with your 35 1.8 or your 55-200 leaving you with no zoom. It's a no brainer, the D300s is the better choice.
  10. I agree with Dave Lee. The D300 is an excellent camera, and you already have the lenses for it.
  11. I have just bought the D700 and have found that it is a great camera it does work with DX lenses as i have a few it just crops the image within the view finder the best suggestion would be to go into a camera shop with some lenses and ask to try the cameras out to see which works better for you
  12. I see you are no proffesional photographer, so I guess all is a matter of compromises. What about a D300 + a 80-200 f/2.8 AF? That would cost more or less what your D700 body would cost. As I understand VR is of no help here to stop players movement so it doesn't matter that your lens have or not. Then a 1.4 AF teleconverter could be used to push your zoom to a 112-280 f/4 for the football shoots. If you need to take some wider pictures you still have your 35 and 50 primes for this purpose.
    It may not be the state of the art combo ,but is versatile, good quality and fullfills your budget. Well, at least on numbers, on numbers I haven tried any of the things I have recomended! :p
  13. I apologize, I am not sure that you can use a teleconverter with AF lenses. Still there is a 80-200 f/2.8 AFS version that could be use with a AFS teleconverter.
  14. "The D700 would not work with your 35 1.8 or your 55-200 leaving you with no zoom."
    Absolutely untrue. The DX lenses work, they are just cropped to the size of a DX sensor. Not a huge issue unless you plan to make large prints.
    I shoot indoor basketball often, and I opted for the D700. The low light performance is very good. I'd much prefer the D700 with a prime to a D300 with an expensive zoom.
  15. I think the best return for money for those applications and given a limited budget would be some kind of f/2.8 telezoom. It doesn't need to be the latest type. The D300s/D300 have great autofocus which would also be helpful but the image quality should be comparable so maybe changing to the higher end DX body isn't cost-effective. If you want the best results in indoor sports you probably need an FX body but since you have so many DX lenses you'd have to get a lot of new glass. So I'd proceed in this order: purchase a 80-200/2.8 or 70-200/2.8 that you can afford. This should help a lot with outdoor sports compared to the 55-200. Then you'd also be "FX ready" in the range 35mm to 200mm for indoor work, when you can put in the investment for such a body. But I would not go & get an FX body before you have the lenses for it. By that time, if you wait 6-12 months, you the D3s sensor may have progressed to a "D700s", giving a bigger edge in low-light work than the current D700 would. I like the D700 myself a lot, but go update your lenses first. Be patient with the body purchase; there's a lot going on in the sensor development.
  16. In your position, I'd go for the D300/D300s and something in the 80-200 range, if you can swing it. However, even though the 55-200 is a DX lens, it may actually cover the FX sensor at the long end. Perhaps someone else can confirm this? I know the 18-70 DX from my D200 could cover the FX sensor on my D700 past about 24mm. Just a thought.
  17. even though the 55-200 is a DX lens, it may actually cover the FX sensor at the long end.
    This lens has substantial vignetting even on DX so I would very much doubt its usefulness on FX.
  18. I agree with Robert in this issue. I own and shoot both D700 and D300. I may have a bad copy of D300, I do not know... but generally I found D700 at ISO 6400 being much better than D300 at ISO 1600 in low light situations. For me the real difference (only for low light....) is like that from Agony and Extase :)
    For normal light situations, the difference is not so dramatic, but for low light I'd prefer like Robert, D700 and a prime instead D300 and 80-200.
  19. The D700 may be much better but we are thinking about a very specific aplication here which is sport photography. I am not a pro but I can imagine that a D700 + a prime is much more limiting than a D300+80-200. Is not only about the purest/best photography but also to have the tools to get it.
  20. This lens has substantial vignetting even on DX so I would very much doubt its usefulness on FX.​
    Thanks for clearing that up, Ilkka.
  21. I have the D200, D300 and the D700. Shoot HS and College Sports. My vote > D700 hands down. Current setup is my D200 stays in my studio, the D300 is on my shoulder as backup on the sidelines and the D700 is my main. (I'm finding that I do not use my backup that much in my HS shooting) Next year I will upgrade to the D3, have the D700 as backup. Turn the D300 into my Studio Camera and and pass along the D200 to a young upcoming Photographer.
  22. You have a tough problem. I shoot similar situations including horribly lit indoor basketball. In these circumstances, EVERY stop of sensor capability is valuable. And don't underestimate the need for a sensitive, low-noise sensor for football season. I've shot night football games in poorly lit high school stadiums where I also needed to push the limits of my D300 to get usable results using the 70-200/2.8 VR.
    The ideal solution no doubt is to win the lottery and have tons of money to spend on a great body and lots of great glass. In the real world, you will be making trade-offs. Anytime I have traded for better quality glass, I have never regretted it. I can't say the same when I have skimped on glass quality.
    My recommendation: Get the D300 or D300s and put the savings towards a great long prime or zoom. The focusing capability of the D300 is a big step up over the D90, especially in low light. I have had good (though not great) results in poorly lit venues when using good glass. The DX format wil give you badly needed reach when shooting footbal. With the D700, you will probably not be happy shooting football at night with anything less than a 300/2.8. On the D300, a good 200mm/2.8 or zoom with similar capability will be acceptable.
  23. http://www.digital-camera.gr/index.php?option=photos&action=view&photo_id=35699
    The above are with the Nikon AF 85mm D f/1.4. Personaly I would go for the D700. I got both but on the games I used the D700. In the site you might see some more with the D700 with another lens (70-200mm). The 35-70 you got is very nice for shots near to the basket.
  24. Robin,
    While the D700 will help with low light, I'm not sure it will help as much as a fast tele-zoom or fast tele-prime. What the D300/s will give you over the D90 is faster, more precise focusing. Look at your budget and then consider the following:
    D700: $2400
    D300s: $1500
    Nikon 80-200 f/2.8 : $1100
    Nikon 300mm f/4: $1400
    I think the choice is clear. The D300s and either of the lenses listed will cost close to just the D700 Body. What would be even better would be to purchase a used D300 and a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR. I always say purchase quality lenses as they will last longer than 5-10 camera bodies.
  25. Thanks for all of the responses guys... one thing...
    I see a lot of you say that I need to not invest in the D700, but rather in better glass. The thing is, indoors, in a gym that is horribly lit, I can't really get much better glass than a prime 50mm or 85mm 1.8. The jump to 1.4 isn't going to do much.
    You can see a home game on my photostream here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tbaphotoalbum/page6/
    Some of the away ones are much better lit, and aren't as much of an issue. If someone has the time, browse around, and tell me what to do... God, it's like I'm talking to my wife! ;-)
    Thanks for your help guys!
  26. Actually, better stuff here to make the point...
  27. Robin-
    Those are difficult shooting situations, for sure. One question that I think is important - do you feel like the D90 is letting you down in terms of its AF accuracy and tracking, or its burst fire rate? If either of those are a big problem, the D300 is an important improvement. If not, it doesn't do much for you and you should get another D90 and an f/2.8 tele zoom.
    Actually, I'm going to go outside the box here and throw in another idea. Get your friend a refurb D5000 kit - which is great for family shooting - keep your D90 and if that's saved enough of your budget, get one of these and give your friend the 55-200 lens. That would be a much better indoor sports kit than your current lenses with a new body.
  28. " I am not a pro but I can imagine that a D700 + a prime is much more limiting than a D300+80-200."
    I shoot with primes most of the time and don't find it limiting at all. It actually forces me to frame differently based on distance, and that adds variety to my shots. I do, on occasion, rent an 80-200 AF-S for $30 for an entire weekend. But most of my shooting is with primes.
    "The thing is, indoors, in a gym that is horribly lit, I can't really get much better glass than a prime 50mm or 85mm 1.8."
    Exactly right. Sometimes f/2.8 is just too slow. You can get a stop better performance from a relatively inexpensive prime, and an additional stop better, or more, performance from a D700. Seems like the right choice to me.
  29. Before moving into administration, I was a teacher shooting the exact shots you've described - and under the same conditions. Our gym was built in 1968, and I'm convinced that the lighting is original. Anyway, here's my take:
    I agree with Richard (above) in that you should look to buy a used 70-200VR. For football shots from the sideline, there's just no substitute for a fast zoom. Since the introduction of the new version of the lens, many people are selling the original version at fairly reasonable prices.
    I also agree that you should look into getting a used D300. You can shoot up to ISO2000 with acceptable results. This combo will serve you well for football, baseball, soccer, and softball. Don't be afraid to buy used if you can find a deal. Just use Opanda to check the actuations - and try to buy one with less than 10K clicks. The D300/70-200 combo will cost about the same as a new D700 body. Invest in a good monopod such as the Bogen 680B (which is what I use).
    I'd also suggest that you pick up an SB-600. Ideally, you might find an SB-800, but they're quite expensive on the used market. I always used a flash as a last resort, but I've managed to get quite a few great football shots with one. I've managed to stay away from flash at basketball games and other indoor activities by using faster glass.
    A 50 1.4 and 80 1.8 will be great lenses for courtside shooting at basketball games. The 50 might work for under-the-basket shooting, but it's probably too long unless you move back a couple feet. For this type of shooting, your 35 1.8 should work perfectly.
    If you choose this direction, be sure you have good processing software. I use CS3 and Lightroom2. I also have Noise Ninja that I will use in case of emergency. Shooting RAW and using these processing tools should get about 90% of the shots you're after.
  30. In order to get better sharpness out of the 70-200 2.8 or the 80-200 2.8 you have to go to 3.2 or 3.5 but with a prime like the 85mm you just have to go to 2.2 or max at 2.8. This allows for better speed which is essential if you like to freeze some action. From your published photos I see that the light conditions are similar to those I had in my pictures. Go for the D700 (you can find a used one) sell the DX lenses and save for a used 80-200 2.8. It is pointless to have a good glass if the camera cannot make the most out of it. Imagine shooting now with a 3mp camera with iso up to 400. Whatever the glass you couldn't do very well. On the other hand I have an older Nikon AF 28-200 which performs very well with D700.
  31. Ok, so I looked over most of my football shots, and many of them were shot at 200mm (I have a 55-200VR, and had an 80-200 2.8 for a while) with the crop factor however, that was really 300mm.
    Then I looked to see what I would have to pay to have that same focal length on the D700, and it was bloody $5000! I had never dreamed that it would be that expensive for decent zooms. there is no way that the increase in D700 high ISO performance would allow me to get the same results using say a 70-300 as with the D300 with an 80-200 2.8.
    I'm now leaning more towards the D300s, saving the $1000 and buying another 80-200 in time for next year's football season. This also means that I only need to lay out $1500 today.
    Here is my thinking that is pushing me towards the D300s, I'd be buying tomorrow, so please feel free to chime in if I'm wrong, or have missed anything...
    • Weighting of camera- I hated the 80-200 on the D90, it always felt as though the weight was too much for the D90's mount, and felt out of place on the smaller body.
    • Faster AF: The 80-200 was (I felt) slowed down by the weaker auto-focus motor on the D90. Am I correct that the D300s has a more powerful focus motor?
    • More substantial: I teach around kids, bang the thing around a lot, and am just more confident with a more robust body
    • Better AF: Would the 51 points help me in terms of things like basketball?
    • Faster FPS: Speaks for itself
  32. re: I see a lot of you say that I need to not invest in the D700, but rather in better glass. The thing is, indoors, in a gym that is horribly lit, I can't really get much better glass than a prime 50mm or 85mm 1.8. The jump to 1.4 isn't going to do much.
    The problem with using too fast of glass is that the DOF is too shallow. For indoor basketball, 2.8 is about the minimum that makes sense for most general purpose shots. High ISO capability is key for the low-light situations where fast shutter speeds are also needed. And every stop of light counts in these circumstances, IMHO.
    The D700 would be a big improvement over the D300 for indoor basketball. Indoor basketball, especially high school, where athletes move quickly, is one of the toughest venues (often very limited light, can't use flash, need good DOF, and requires fast shuuter speed). If you were shooting PRIMARILY basketball, I would say go for the D700. Your problem is that you also are shooting football and soccer. With the D700, your glass costs will be exponentially higher for the needed reach for football/soccer. Even the 300mm/2.8 will feel short in these outdoor fieldsw with a FX camera. This is where the D300 really shines. Given the compromises required for your situation, the D300 is probaly a good choice, particularly if you could really use a workhorse lense like a 70-200/2.8 VR and cash is an issue. You can always upgrade the body later - and they tend to depreciate the fastest anyway.
    The D300 will be a big step up in focus speed and has a faster 6 fps in Countinuous High mode (vs 4.5 for the D90). While you won't be able to shoot at higher ISO, you will likely get more usable shots. My experience is that with reasonable post-processing, the D300 is good up to as much as 2500 ISO for indoor basketball as long as you aren't printing posters. Just my opinion, but I would lean towards the D300 and add the 70-200/2.8 VR as a reasonably good solution without breaking the bank.
  33. Robin,
    You are coming to the same conclusion that I did for your situation. I find myself in very similar circumstances and the D300 has been great. I must admit to occassionally wishing for D700 or even better high ISO performance in a DX body, but most of the time I am very happy with the D300. The D300 is solid and well balanced, even with larger lenses attached (though even it feels lightweight with a 400/2.8 attached!).
    • re: Better AF: Would the 51 points help me in terms of things like basketball?
    I prefer to not use 51 point for basketball. I find myselft using the point focus or 9/15/21 pt (can't remember what it is on my D300!) most of the time. I feel I get more usable shots that way.
  34. Hmmm, so the more I look into this, the more I realize the HUGE downside presented to me by going with the D700...
    So on my D90, and an a D300, I can get an 80-200, and get by fine shooting football, with the equivalent coverage of a 300mm 2.8 lens.
    On the D700, for me to get comparable coverage, I'd have to get a fixed 300mm 2.8 lens that goes for between $4000 (sigma) and $5000 (nikon)
    Is it just me, or is this factor a huge one for anyone that needs 2.8 reach and just doesn't have $5000 laying around to spend on lenses?
    Or am I missing something?
  35. Robin, there are DX f2.8 zoom lenses made by Sigma and Tokina that are excellent. Sigma makes a 50-150mm f2.8 and Tokina makes a 50-135mm f2.8. I think the Sigma has the edge image quality wise. Well worth looking at for your needs.
    I had a D300 and bought the D700. I liked it, especially it is very impressive at ISO 6400. But at ISO 6400 there is still a lot of grain (unless you turn on the in-camera noise reduction, which I found very ugly), it's not a grainless image by any measure. I liked the image quality, and more importantly, the handling of the D300 over the D700. The D700 is a chunky camera in my hand. I don't have large hands, average I guess. The F100 is my all time favorite camera in my hand, it just feels right to me. The D300 is a close second, the D700 a distant third. I had a D80 before my D300 and loved that one too, but the D300 (as the D200 before it, and F100 before it) has that nice grippy rubber on the body which makes the camera feel very solid. So in the end I sold my D700 for a couple hundred less than I paid for it after owning it for 7 months, and bought a new D300 a couple months later (after trying to live with the bargain $600 D200 from Best Buy. I couldn't do it, the D300 is that much better than the D200, so off that went). The D300 is truly a classic Nikon digital SLR. It really hits the node with image quality, handling, features, etc. You may even like the video function the D300s offers as well, which the D700 doesn't have.
  36. Ok...I'll try to address a couple of the issues you've brought up.
    First, the D90 can handle the weight of the 80-200. Just get a monopod and attach the lens to the 'pod and you're set. If you insist on shooting handheld, you should really look into the 70-200VR. The AF-S motor in this lens makes it about 20% faster to focus as well. If the weight issue is really a balance issue, pick up the battery grip for the camera.
    As far as 300mm 2.8 lenses go, they're extremely expensive. However there are cheaper alternatives. Sigma makes a 120-300mm 2.8 zoom that's supposed to be a good performer, but I've never used it. Sigma and Tamron also make 300 2.8 lenses that are cheaper than the Nikon version. I've seen great shots from these lenses, but again, I've never shot with either. My solution (with the D700) was to pick up a used Nikon 300 2.8 AF lens. This is the one without any internal focusing motor. The screw-drive in the D700 focuses fast enough for high school sports. I picked up this lens in mint condition for $1600. That's expensive, but it's really a deal compared to the other Nikon-branded options. If you choose to go with the D300, you really won't need a 300mm lens...the 70/80-200 lens will be long enough.
  37. Thanks guys so much for all the help!
    I decided that the best option for me right now is to grab a D300s, and stick to all of my current lenses. The $1000 that I save can go into a virtual camera fund, and is enough to either pay for an 80-200 in the summer or go towards my next body should I want... just makes sense.
    Thanks again for being so kind and generous with your advice! :)
  38. We all look forward to your first report on the D300s!
  39. "On the D700, for me to get comparable coverage, I'd have to get a fixed 300mm 2.8 lens that goes for between $4000 (sigma) and $5000 (nikon)"
    Many people opt for relatively inexpensive teleconverters to get additional reach.

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