It's not just the glass. (D300 vs. D80)

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Shacklebolt, Mar 17, 2008.

  1. Shacklebolt macrumors 6502a

    Shacklebolt

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    #1
    I'm sorry but, after two weeks of D300 ownership (despite a rather limited lens collection (50mm f/1.4, 70-200mm f/2.8, 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6)), and equal tests of all lenses on both cameras, I have to say, especially with the prime, that the notion that the glass matters more than the body is a bit overstated.

    I'm not the best photographer in the world, but the D300, at, okay, twice the cost of the D80 - or the same as the cost of a Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 (which I plan on picking up eventually), -is something like five times the camera. High ISO (800>) shots don't just look normal-ish/weak - they look great. Practically double the continuous shooting rate, the autofocus, etc. etc. etc. And man, the thing really feels built like a tank. To be sure, I'm envious of the 24-70, but man, a camera that's just so much better than the D80 makes me not mind, too much, that I have to hold onto the 18-135 for a while.

    This is, of course, not to say that the D80 is bad, just that the D300 is that much better. So the next time you're eyeing a really expensive piece of glass which you're leaning towards over a camera body, give that body another look (Nikon, Canon, Pentax, whichever). It really can make all the difference.
     
  2. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #2
    Yeah, my camera is probably 2 times better than my D50 was, which isn't difficult. New lenses have helped me and has allowed me to do a bit more, but the D300 camera itself is outstanding. Flawless at ISO 800. However, that's not the biggest thing.

    To me, being able to change settings quickly makes more of a difference than a new lens. I guess new lenses would matter more if you only had the 18-55 mm kit lens, but if you have 2 or 3 decent lenses, or at least you own the lenses that would allow you to shoot in a particular situation (eg: a concert), then buying more glass isn't going to help. That's kind of the situation I'm currently in. I don't need more lenses.

    I think if I were to give you some photos I took yesterday at the concert I attended, the photos taken at ISO 200 and 800 are nearly identical. There's no point even worrying about it.
     
  3. QuantumLo0p macrumors 6502a

    QuantumLo0p

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2006
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #3
    The 300 is a great body. Finally, a Nikon digital slr that is much closer to the top shelf Nikons! When I was shooting film the F100 was not too far below a F5. So far, the 300 seems to be the top contender to close up the digital gap to the D3.

    Hopefully Nikon won't stall on this trend. The D100 was barely an effort. The D200 was much better but not spectacular. Now the D300 is a great camera.

    For serious shooting great glass is a minimum requirement. A great body should lessen time spent processing down stream.
     
  4. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    #4
    Yeah, a nicer body is always a plus, despite what others may tell you. Their point is nonetheless, that you need to have that nice glass (like the 70-200, or the 50 prime) in order to enjoy it. Most of the advice I've seen, and agree with, is that it's better to have a 70-200 on a D40, than it is to have a kit lens on a D3. No one is arguing that the D300 is not a superior camera in every aspect to the D80.
     
  5. mrsollars macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    #5
    i'm sticking with quality lenses over updating the body.

    i'll update bodies eventually.....but i can use quality lenses .....forever.

    (i'm not talking about ais vs afs...and ''not on the d40'' arguments..)

    good glass....high quality elements......etc.......last. people are still producing incredible images from old bodies with old glass.

    d300 is nice though.
     
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #6
    Do you have some images you shot that shows this off. For example shots that you never could have taken with a D80 because of it's slower AF or continous frame rate.

    Some of the difference between cameras is on the image processor. If you shoot JPG format yuo are using the processor inside the camera. As time moves on or as you spend more money you can get a beter processor. The one they put in the D300 is tunned for people who will mostly be using the images straight out of the camera and it makes rather smooth, noise free images but at a slight cost in sharpness. The D300 makes smooth, wel saturated images.

    An interesting experimant might be to take the D80 and D300 raw NEF files and put them through Adobe Camera Raw with iidentical settings and see how the images compare.
     
  7. onomatopoeia macrumors 6502

    onomatopoeia

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2007
    #7
    As mentioned above, I think the more obvious difference to me (also a D80 to D300 upgrader) has been the quick access to necessary settings. I can make changes on the fly much faster than I ever could with the D80 and that is a huge advantage.

    At mid-to-high ISO there will be no comparison.
     
  8. iBallz macrumors 6502

    iBallz

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Location:
    So. Utah
    #8
    Ok, here is my edumacated evaluation of the dust problem.

    I think the body is fine. (I would like to see a better seal between the the lens and body)

    But with the zoom lens, I tend to think it is not very air tight.

    So... if the lens is out on 200mm. Then I zoom it back in, and it moves a lot of air in the process.

    If dust get in through the lens,(and I've seen a good bit of stuff 'in' the glass) and then I zoom back in, that dust is being pushed right into the sensor/mirror area.

    So maybe a better sealed lens, or prime lens would help. But I know I'd be changing prime lens more often.?:confused:
     
  9. macgruder macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #9
    One issue though is that this is a lot to do with sensor technology which is relatively new whereas glass is more mature. So in 1 to 2 years time your D300 will be caught up by the D40, say, for noise etc but an expensive piece of glass will remain near the best for years. Resolution has just about maxed out (reaching the limit of the glass) so noise is the next challenge for sensors, and I suspect when cameras like the D40 are producing good results at 6400 then we'll all be happy.

    Landscape photographers are probably hoping for 11" sensors.:)
     
  10. Kamera RAWr macrumors 65816

    Kamera RAWr

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Location:
    I'm where I need to be
    #10
    I recently upgraded from the D80 to the D300 myself. All I can say is that it was a fantastic step up for me. I love the build quality and all the features that I do use that are better (many I'm sure I don't use). The main reason I upgraded was for all the dedicated external controls. No more fumbling in the menu or playing with multi-use buttons. Not a hinderance for some, but for me I seemed to notice.

    I disagree with the OP though. You can't replace good glass, IMO. I have some great glass and haven't seen leaps and bounds increases in the overall quality of my photos (perhaps I'm a bad photographer).

    One last note... I do love the extra 2MP when cropping in on a bird shot though :D
     
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #11
    You are right about that. Larger formats have always been the choise of landscape photographers. The only reason anyone ever used 35mm film for landscapes was because that was all they had. It was never optimal. Today we have digital cameras with 40mm scuare sensors but few can justify the price so we use the more afordable Canon and Nikon systems

    There is a limit imposed by physics. As technology progresses all we can hope for is that noise reaches the limit imposed by physics. It turns out we are close already and I don't expect it to get radicaly better, ever.

    Try this experiment to see the cause of noise: Get a chessboard. call it a "camera sensor" and get a bunch or darts and call them "photons" toss the darts at theboard untill 64 of them have hit the board. You will notice that on average each square has one dart. But actually some squares have 2, 3 or 4 darts and some zero. There is a lot of "noise" because most square do not have the same dart count as the one next door. Now repeate the experiment but toss 64,000 darts. Now it is very unlikely that one square will move a much different "dart count"

    Noise is simply the result of what they call "the staistics of small numbers". When the light is dim and the pixels are very small there are a surprizingly small number of Photons that hit each pixel. No way that technology can help. The best we can hope for is a sensor that counts every photon, or one with bigger pixels.
     
  12. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #12
    I think the reason I agreed with the OP (in some ways) is that I went from a D50 to a D300. If I had gone from a D80 to D300, that wouldn't have been nearly as big a step up. You can still change many of the main settings on the D80 body, except that you push a button and scroll the wheel rather than flip a switch.

    If there was a D90, I may have gone for it instead. There isn't one, and people don't always buy something that just fits their needs anyway.
     
  13. Shacklebolt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Shacklebolt

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    #13
    Life is short - if you think another camera body is better for your needs right now, then get the camera body. Even if the D60x or whatever catches up to the D300 in capability in two years, I'll be glad that I 1) still have a working camera in the D300 that has far greater shutter durability <knock on wood> and 2) that I've had 2 years with a camera that has allowed me to take better pictures than I would have with an 50mm f/1.4 strapped to a D80.
     
  14. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2006
    Location:
    Oregon coast
    #14
    Shacklebolt - Bro, as long as you can justify the purchase of the D300 to yourself, 'nuff said. It's an awesome body with great capabilities that will certainly allow someone to grow into all the functionality that's available. Hell, I'm jealous! :cool: I took a good look at one last week in a store, and was impressed. Definitely built like a M1 tank. I'd stick an extended grip on it to make it handle a bit better since it is a bit heavy. The extended grip would give me something to hang on to and balance the weight out. I love the notion of decent high ISO shooting and fast response with AF and continuous shooting, and changing settings on the fly. This is a real working camera. Increased image quality for me is just gravy, but durability and professional features make it a must-have for me. I just wish it were FX so I could get back to "normal" focal length lenses. (The new Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8 is a real serious WA zoom for full-frame shooting, with image quality to match a couple of different primes.) But, until the day Nikon makes a FX format D300 category body, the D300 will do just fine.

    After using it for a bit, give us a serious review. Cheers.
     
  15. macgruder macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #15
    Well of course if we ignore the price issue this is true. Weight is an important issue too. My wife got a great picture with her mobile phone recently. In that situation it was a better camera than my SLR because the SLR was at home. In general, I think we worry too much about the camera rather than the user.
     
  16. seany916 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2006
    Location:
    Southern California
    #16
    D300 is an awesome camera.

    Lenses trump body. Body allows you to get the shot you want easier.

    D300 is an awesome camera. If you can afford it, get it.
     
  17. cube macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
  18. buddhahacker macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2006
    #18
    D80 or D300 - Better glass or better body? Or something else?

    Eternal questions, these. In the end it comes down to the photographer. Coming from the cycling world, a great cyclist is pretty darn good on a club bike but a club cyclist is a club cyclist on any bike. Regardless of how much they spend on their ride.

    Disclosure, I have been shooting SLR's for over 20 years and recently switched to a DSLR. It is different! I didn't want to spend a tone of cash right away i.e. under $2k total. I bounced between Canon and Nikon. Finally selecting Nikon and then the agony of deciding between the D40, D40x, D80 or the D300. I was taken by the D300 and fell in love. However, in the end I selected the D80. Why? Because I found that I was really in love with the D300 tech specs. If you are a great photographer and will use all of the capabilities of a D300 then go for it. Life will be grand. For most it is over kill and simply bragging rights.

    Recommendation: Glass or body? Buy a good sound body and spend on the glass, especially now with the VR etc., the glass is vital. Will a great body give you great shots? Maybe. But a good body with great glass will give you great shots.

    Again, ultimately it is the capability of the photographer which drives the quality of thee shots. Not the equipment.
     
  19. TimTheEnchanter macrumors 6502a

    TimTheEnchanter

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    #19
    I currently shoot with a D70 but plan on upgrading. What's your thoughts on D200 vs D300? I see a bunch of D200s being sold at very decent prices by people looking for the next best thing (D300). I do know someone that did just that and swears it was worth the upgrade.
     
  20. pinktank macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2005
    #20
    what lenses do you have? I'd rather learn photography on d70 with some good/fast lenses, it's never about the camera
     
  21. TimTheEnchanter macrumors 6502a

    TimTheEnchanter

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    #21
    I've been investing all my money since I bought it (almost 4 years ago) into quality glass... although not top-end pro glass that you have to take out a second mortgage for. I have 2 general purpose VR zooms, 3 nice primes (1.4 & 1.8) and some others like the kit lens, a few Tamrons & older manual Nikkors. I'm pretty happy with my glass line-up right now but do plan on getting bigger & better as I can afford them.

    I've been shoot for many years, the D70 was my first real DSLR as I slowly switched from film. I think I'm at the point of replacing the body soon. I know there are some nice upgrades with the D300 from the D200, but debating if those upgrades are worth it to me. I've always believed in the think glass first approach to equipment as I've sat and watched the upgrades pass me by, but I do also feel there are measurable advantages to body upgrades that can give a photographer more ability and creativity. It really comes down to what your style is, how you shoot & what level you are. The more technical you are, the more you'll benefit from higher-end pro equipment. If you're not into the nuts-n-bolts of photography, I've seen some amazing images from even point-n-shoots that could be in National Geographic. At times, I love to shoot with utter simplicity, set automatic and just let my creative juices flow, but I have been working towards being a knowledgeable and technical photographer as well. It's one of the reasons I feel I'm in need of an upgrade soon.

    I agree with you about glass being most important, but there are big differences in bodies that can either hold you back or tip you over to the next level. Sensor technology improves, not just pixel count but actual image quality. Speed can be a huge factor for some that entry- and mid-level DSLRs fall short on. Sure these are technical things that without first having creative ability would be pointless, but for a creative they are more valuable tools. :)
     
  22. Joedy macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    #23
    I've logged over six thousand photos on my Nikon D70 and I plan on upgrading to the D300.

    Aside from the great ISO performance, the amazing customization features are what have won me over to the D300.

    The notion that you can change the direction of the metering scale as well as change the rotation of the Main Selector dial is one of the most welcome features that I have found on the D300.

    I've always thought that Nikon had their metering scale display backwards and instead of trying to please one set of customers over another, they have finally given us the ability to customize the scale and the dials to suit our own preferences.

    I also really like the customization of the Function Key as well as the customizable MyMenu setting. These features are not available on the D70 and would be nice to have.



    By and large, the very vast majority of reviewers and new D300 owners are reporting positive and enjoyable experiences with their new bodies; from Pros to Amateurs almost everyone purports to liking the D300.

    And (of course) in the gist of the main reason for the upgrade, these users are posting some amazing photos of the D300 in action.

    I've read the D300 manual (twice now) and I keep becoming more and more impressed at this camera.

    -joedy
     

Share This Page