What should I buy?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by gary_morrolf|1, Aug 13, 2013.

  1. I currently have a Nikon D300s, 18-70mm, and 50mm 1.8 D. I can borrow a flash, Nikon 80-400mm and 500mm lenses. I am an amateur that enjoys photographing my grade/middle school aged kids' volleyball and basketball games. I was planning to upgrade my 50mm 1.8 D to a 50mm 1.8 G. My original plan was to use the 'new' lens through their intermediate/junior high school careers and if they are still involved in their sports in high school I would upgrade to a better body and/or faster lens(es). However, I recently unexpectedly received a $500 gift card from a local camera store. My question is how should I spend it? I was considering trading in my D300s and buying a newer body with higher ISO and faster AF. I would have to keep the 50mm 1.8 D. I have considered a full frame. I would have to buy a good used or refurbished body because of budget restrictions. The 85 mm lenses are too long for the smaller gyms in which they play. At this time I cannot afford a good fast lens, 24-70 2.8 or 70-200 2.8. I have not determine if the card has an expiration date or if the value is reduced over time. I have Lightroom 4/Photoshop 6. Any suggestion on what I can do with the 'money' to help improve my capabilities in low light/available light situations. I have an additional $200-$300 plus Nikon D300s trade-in if I choose to upgrade the body.
  2. D7100 and update/upgrade Lightroom to Lightroom 5.
  3. D300 has a better buffer if you're shooting sports. The D7100 fills up quickly, especially if you shoot raw. There is nothing
    wrong with the 300. The d7100 is better in crop mode and if you're doing short bursts, you'd be ok. I bought a d7100 and
    it is really nice, believe me. The autofocus is brilliant. A new d7100 is about $1200 US? I know a couple of pros who
    refuse to give up their 300's and even used ones are holding some pretty good value.
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    However, I recently unexpectedly received a $500 gift card from a local camera store. My question is how should I spend it?​

    And Ellis suggests:
    D7100 and update/upgrade Lightroom to Lightroom 5.​
    Bad answer.
    The OP should send the gift card to me.
    Seriously, I wouldn't use the Nikon 50mm AF-S lenses, be it f1,4 or f1.8, to shoot sports. They are well known to have slow AF. They are optimized for precise, but slow, AF.
  5. The 85 mm lenses are too long for the smaller gyms in which they play.​
    I don't understand this statement. At all. I'd get the 85mm, f/1.8G with your gift card. For one, it is a lens you will never get rid of. For another, the kids will get bigger and their gyms will too.
  6. Nothing wrong with your body - glass is generally the best upgrade.
    I would follow Joel's advice and also update your 50mm to the new AF-S version which would give your superior IQ and AF. For what you are shooting, the AF will be much more than sufficient.
    Between the 50mm and 85mm lenses, you should be set for a long time. These simple but effective 'upgrades' are also well within your budget.
  7. Gary, take a step back first. It's not how you should spend the money, it's what problem you want to overcome. What exactly are your biggest limitations you run into at the moment? It sounds like the high ISO performance is your biggest hurdle (to me)? Even thought I think the D300(s) is still very respectable in this respect, you will gain about 1 stop of better high ISO performance moving to a D7100. This body also has slightly better AF (but do not expect miracles - the D300 has about as good AF as you'll find). But, a D7100 is going to be tight given the budget you describe.
    Full frame doesn't look at option - you'd need new lenses too, and the D600 takes a step back in AF compared to the D300; but most of all, it simply wouldn't fit your budget, from what I read.
    The other options - even though I think the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G is a much nicer lens than the older D lens you have, it's not an upgrade that seems to solve a problem. It's performance at wide apertures is better, otherwise AF is slower than the AF-D basically. So, it's a mixed bag, and not a huge upgrade.
    Getting other lenses - you know best which focal length you'd need. If you say a 85 is too long, then I guess it's too long. Otherwise, as Shun said, these fast primes aren't made for AF speed, but for AF precision. They're not sports lenses.
    The option I'd choose is to first check if there is an expiration date. If there isn't, or it's only to expire in a few years, do nothing for now. None of the upgrades mentioned are huge upgrades (or I should say: I find one additional stop of better high ISO performance on the D7100 not earth shattering). Save up, so you can get something later on that really gives a serious boost to your options, rather than making small, intermediate steps now that do not bring a whole lot to the table.
  8. Forget the upgrade. The D300S buffer and speed is better suited for sports than any newer bodies out there. Also, most gyms are well lit and doesn't require you to crank up the ISO by much. With your budget, don't limit yourself to Nikon brands alone. Since you said 85mm maybe too long, you may want to check out third party lenses such as the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8.
  9. I agree that I'd not rush to do anything, and that there shouldn't be anything wrong with a D300 for what you want (especially with the autofocus). I'm surprised that a 50mm is long enough, but that's your call - but it's true that the AF isn't all that fast.

    Within your budget, if you do want to spend it now...
    a) Is a flash an option, or would that be too disruptive to the sporting events? (It would be useful creatively, freeze action, and solve any ISO problems.) You did say you can borrow one, but there's no harm (creatively) in having more. The D300 can remote trigger Nikon CLS, after all.
    b) Don't rule out the benefit of monopods. The children may be moving, and there may not be much you can do about that, but having a reasonably steady camera can help. They're also good for dangling a camera for a high-up view.

    The (old) 80-400 is also not known for fast focus - if you did want to go lens shopping, maybe a 70-300 VR (or third party one) would be worthwhile? Otherwise, going ultrawide sometimes has merits, especially if you can remote trigger your camera.

    Good luck with whatever you choose.
  10. Yeah .. why rush. Think about it what you really benefit from.
    The 50G yeah .. does it seem that important for you though? There is the 85 yeah ... and while it can be useful, would you end up using it much? I don't necessarily agree to buy it b/c you'll grow into it, do it if it is certain b/c over time the prices of lenses might drop a bit or they might have Nikon rebate promotions or something better might come around that you need or your situation may change or you have a new photography interest and want to capture that.
    Also don't rule out used stuff, could be a great deal for things. Also about just upgrading bodies, do you need it and remember bodies depreciate and depreciate. If you don't need it now and if it expires 12 or 24 months later ... digital pace is fast maybe something later comes out and you need that or other items..... or rather you get it used.
    Check when it expires etc.....
  11. I also would suggest to keep your D300s for what you wish to do. It is still a fine camera. I would invest the money to get a lens. Richard suggestion for third party lenses such as the Tamron 28-75 F/2.8 sounds a good one. But, it's your call...cheers!
  12. grh


    Richard suggestion for third party lenses such as the Tamron 28-75 F/2.8 sounds a good one.​
    +1 on this lens. It's a great lens, will give you telephoto capability + decent aperture, and you can find a used one for $400. I use this for dance performances where there's no light to speak of; in a gym it should perform quite well.
  13. In poorly lit gyms, the OP will gain one stop with primes. Since he mentions he is looking for improved high ISO performance, it doesn't make sense to go to a lens that would cause him to loose 1 stop and worsen high ISO performance.
    While the AF on the 50mm and 85mm are not as fast as some of Nikon's pro lenses, they are fast enough for most sporting events, especially middle school kids, especially on a D300s. My 85mm f1.8 has been my favorite lens for poorly lit sporting venues on my D800 because of its size, weight and exceptional image quality wide open. I shoot fast paced adult events with it and even with its slower AF as compared to faster pro AFS lens, it has no trouble keeping up with the action and I notice no difference in 'keepers' with regard to AF as compared to the other lenses I have that focus faster, such as the 70-200mm AFS II.
  14. My experience is similar in that I found a 50mm f1.8 on a D300 to be near-perfect for indoor basketball in a small gym. Replacing that with the G might be a good step for you. However, what I would have found more helpful regularly is something a little wider -- the 35mm f1.8 would have been helpful for me. Perhaps a good move for you, too.
    An f2.8 zoom sounds good, but personally, I was often shooting at f2-2.8 at ISO 1600 to get fast enough shutter speeds -- so, a prime lens was essential. The 85 was too long for full-body shots as well as too long to include more than one head in the frame.
    In your situation, personally, I would have bought the 35 1.8 and an SB-910.
  15. I say put the $500 together with another $450 and and get the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 HSM OS, it will be a kick butt lens in any size gym. I use it with my D300s to shoot concerts in large venues like Disney Hall, down to small banquet rooms. (I also use it for portraits where I might have little or a lot of room behind me.)
  16. Gary, I have taken pictures of my teens playing volleyball, as well as some basketball, in indoor setting. I have the D300 and used the 85mm f/1.8 AF-D lens for volleyball, and still had to bump up the ISO to 1600 and beyond. I have to agree with the higher ISO need, because the D300 images beyond 1600 are not as good as I like them to be. Faster AF than a D300 I am not so sure you need, at least in my humble opinion. Particularly for volleyball, usually most of the motion is vertical, and typically the distance from which you are going to be shooting (stands, I am guessing) AF is not going to vary much. For basketball, most of the action is going to be near the goal as well, i think any of the newer Nikons are going to be just fine, AF is a non-issue. D7100 seems like a good bet over the D300 if you can get a one or two stop ISO advantage. Unless you are finding that you are too close to the subject and need a wider view, full-frame does not enter into this question, unless you have other needs for FF.
  17. "D7100 seems like a good bet over the D300 if you can get a one or two stop ISO advantage"

    According to the DXOMark site, the D7100 has about 1/2 stop advantage over the D300s. It is better but IMHO, not worth the upgrade cost wise. I maintain that better lenses will help the OP more than a new D7100 body will. Also, he will have to go beyond his budget to do so.
  18. "D7100 seems like a good bet over the D300 if you can get a one or two stop ISO advantage"

    According to the DXOMark site, the D7100 has about 1/2 stop advantage over the D300s. It is better but IMHO, not worth the upgrade cost wise. I maintain that better lenses will help the OP more than a new D7100 body will. Also, he will have to go beyond his budget to do so (getting a D7100).
  19. keep the d300s and put the $500 toward the sigma 18-35/1.8.
  20. Elliot, I am not sure myself and maybe you are right on the 1/2 stop, which is why I said "if" you get an improvement. As far as glass, if you have shot school volleyball and/or basketball, issue number one is always the lack of adequate light for the motion. In general, glass is a good thing to upgrade over a body, I agree. On medium-tele, from a distance, the DoF at f/1.8 is OK, and in this case, sharpness/optical quality is not the issue. The real issue here is being able to use higher ISO.
    I just realized that Gary said he used the 50mm f/1.8 and was thinking that the 85mm was too long. Only being at the court and looking at it can you say what the focal length needs to be. In my experience, 85mm worked better than 50mm, since the wider you go you get more and more things/players that are not pertinent to the action. I would forget going to f2.8 or smaller max-aperture.
  21. I have shot a lot of my kid's sporting events over the years and unless I'm missing something, I don't think the 50mm is enough or the 85mm too much, even considering the crop factor. Unless you are the referee. :) Given your budget, I would agree with everyone that says to stay with your D300s. A useful body upgrade would exhaust your budget, and you'd have to go with the borrowed 80-400 and 500. I'd be prone to spend the $ on glass. For intermediate telephoto in sports a zoom is nice and covering the effective 100-300 range is probably what you need in a gym. If the Sigma 50-150 (which I know nothing about) is sufficiently fast in its AF and sufficiently sharp, and you could afford it, it might be a great option.
  22. Rod, obviously the right lens could be the 35mm prime, 50mm prime and/or the 85mm prime, or Eric's suggestion for the wide angle fast soon to be released Sigma zoom - all may be good depending on where you are seated and what type of shots you are trying to get.
    Since the primes are small and light, they are convenient to carry around and change as needed.
    There is no one best answer here, but I agree with Sasvata, that light (or lack of it) is always an issue at indoor gyms and going to a slower lens, IMHO, is not the answer - and based on the OP's budget, there are not a lot of choices that will significantly improve his images.
  23. Come to think of it, another solution if you keep the D300s, it would be the Tokina AF 50-135mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX. A very nice lens...
  24. besides the fact that the 50-135 has been discontinued for some time, the OP clearly stated he felt the 85 was too long for smaller gyms, so a telephoto probably isnt the answer for him. i'm going to reiterate my recommendation for the 18-35, which IMO is perfect for a d300s user. if, as Elliot said, you get 1/2 stop advantage from a d7100--which puts the noise line at about ISO 2500--consider that the 18-35 is more than two full stops faster throughout its entire zoom range than the 18-70 the OP currently has, which is only 3.5 at 18mm. the 18-70 loses another 1/2 stop at the long end btw, so it's clearly not ideal for the OP's intended purpose.
    clearly, wide to mid-angle focal length is the OP's area of greatest need, but on top of its fast aperture the reason to get the lens is because, unlike the 50/1.8 D, it's actually sharp at max aperture (according to DxO). IMO the 50/1.8 doesnt sharpen up until 2.8, which negates the speed advantage. with the 18-35 you can shoot at lower ISOs comfortably, since you have more leeway with max aperture.
    It really doesnt make any sense to upgrade to a d7100 and still have a slow variable aperture zoom on it, while trying to shoot indoor sports. and the 18-35 offers more than a stop of aperture over every other 2.8 zoom, which is important when shooting with an older body, like the d300s. in effect, it makes the old camera competitive again, while delivering much better sharpness than not only a kit zoom, but some primes. so that's why, as i was trying to explain to shun, the 18-35 is indeed a game-changer for DX shooters. it seems perfect in situations like this, shooting indoor sports on an older body--which many of us have. and it would work just as good on a newer DX body. as long as the focal length works for you, the 18-35 looks like a winner for DX shooters.
  25. I remain a little surprised that 85mm would be too long, but I also don't think that primes are "obvious" for shooting a sport that has people running from side to side of a large court - there's too much frequent variation in framing. So long as it's not too wide for you - and too wide + cropping is better than too long, generally - Eric's suggestion of the 18-35 f/1.8 (which I tend to ignore as an FX shooter) does seem worth a look. Now, if Sigma make a 35-70 f/1.8 to go with it, you'll be laughing...
  26. besides the fact that the 50-135 has been discontinued for some time, the OP clearly stated he felt the 85 was too long for smaller gyms, so a telephoto probably isnt the answer for him​
    Is the fact that the lens is discontinued that categorizes it as a non worthy purchase? I thought it was the quality that matters...
    Also the OP did say that as well: "At this time I cannot afford a good fast lens, 24-70 2.8 or 70-200 2.8"
    If he can't afford a full frame 70-200 f/2.8, then I thought that he might be interested in solutions like the Tokina or the already mentioned Sigma 50-150, in DX format, which is almost equivalent to 70-200 in full frame.
  27. I have been shooting HS basketball for the last 5 years. Our gym has poor lighting. My typical setting is 1/640 at f/2.2 at above ISO 6400 using an FX camera. I am able to shoot from the baseline.
    This setup is after a lot of experimentation. Most would comment that 1/640 is higher than necessary, but, after looking at 50-100 shots per game, I think I see greater clarity with 1/640 vs 1/500.
    1. I had the 50mm1.8D. I replaced it with the 50mm 1.4D which was significantly better at around f/2.2. I also have the 50 and 85 1.8G lenses. Both G lenses seem to AF fast enough on my D600 (and D3 and D800). I would look into replacing the 50mm1.8D first, it is not great below f/4 compared to other lenses.
    2. I have the 28-70/2.8AFS. AF is fast, but there just is not enough light in many gyms for this lens to work well without jacking the ISO WAY up. I would not spend a lot of $'s on a 2.8 zoom for indoor HS sports, it just does not work out in many venues. Get an FX body instead.
    3. I have a D300, shooting raw I can get acceptable results in many gyms. But the FX cameras are a LOT better here. Have not used a D7100, can't comment on how much better it is than a D300 in a gym, but the difference is probably significant, but...
    4. Look into a used D3 or D700. Used D3 is something of a bargain right now, I think. Others have had great success with the D700, but I did not love the two that I had. I now have a beater D3 that I like quite a bit, but the D600 edges it out when the ISO gets way up there. And, I think the auto white balance is better with the D600.
    5. Used D3s is probably the best, but still pricey used. Used one last year off and on. Am sure a D4 is better, but big $.
    6. College gyms and coliseums have a lot (2-3 stops typical) more light than HS gyms around here. When the games are at the local coliseum, I am able to back off the ISO and use zooms. Pretty dismal lighting in many HS gyms, though, which makes shooting a challenge. Have been through a lot of gear chasing the best possible results.
  28. Robert, spoken from experience, well said.
  29. Would add to my posting that I am pretty happy using the D600 for basketball. Overall, AF and noise are pretty similar to the D3s I was able to use on occasion. Maybe the D3s AF maybe had a higher % of in focus shots, but I am not sure about that. Pretty sure that auto white balance is better with the D600. In practice, the smaller D600 AF array has not proven to be a significant issue.
    For whatever reason(s), it seems that liking and recommending the D600 is not popular, but I replaced my D700 with a D600 and have not missed the D700 since. When the ISO is above 6400, I am sure that a D600 would deliver notably better results than a D7100 (or D700/D3).
    Also, I have a 70-200/2.8VR1. I wish the 2.8 zooms would work out, but I get better results with primes.
  30. OP states that he can 'borrow a flash', but I wonder what flash? A good flash (SB x00) might be valuable.
  31. Is the fact that the lens is discontinued that categorizes it as a non worthy purchase?​
    no, the fact the 50-135 was discontinued makes it more difficult to obtain one. i heard the optics on that were pretty good, though at the time, i opted for the sigma 50-150 (non-OS), which i still have. what makes a telephoto a dubious recommendation for the OP is the fact he stated an 85 is too long.
    When the ISO is above 6400, I am sure that a D600 would deliver notably better results than a D7100 (or D700/D3).​
    That is an obvious point.FX does have better low-light ability and is one of the reasons i own a D3s. however, the OP has stated he has $500 to spend and is maybe willing to throw in an extra $300. A d600 will set you back at least $1500-$1600, which is twice the OP's budget. if he did somehow manage to do that, he'd be in an even worse situation, since he'd have to get a replacement for the 18-70. As previously stated, a d7100 may not be the way to go because you're still looking at shooting with a too-slow lens.
    OTOH, the 18-35 is $800, so within the OP's reach. zooms are better than primes for sports since the action is so fluid, except for the fact that other zooms only go to 2.8. in low light, this necessitates a lens which can shoot at sub-2.8. the more i think about it, the better the 18-35 looks for the OP's situation. in the long run, an FX body would be ideal, but youre looking at much higher cost -- not just for the camera, but for FX-compatible lenses. however, the 18-35 would certainly make a difference right now to the OP, by allowing more than two stops of aperture over his current zoom and allowing him to keep the ISO reasonable.
  32. Eric, good points.
    A lot would depend on the gyms that the OP intends to shoot in. If these gyms have enough light to keep the ISO at 1600 or a little higher with reasonable shutter speed and f stop, then keeping the D300s and adding the Sigma 18-35/1.8 would be a great option assuming that the lens performs well, though I would want to upgrade the 50/1.8D also.
    In many gyms that I shoot, I find that I am usually around ISO 6400 or more, which is a real challenge for the DX cameras (and the FX ones, also!)

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