Nikon D300 vs Canon 50D & Lens choice...

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by TelaMoon, Oct 18, 2008.

  1. TelaMoon macrumors newbie

    Sep 13, 2007
    I keep going back & forth between the Nikon D300 & Canon's new 50D and would really love some feedback.

    I shoot animals specifically dogs in motion, wildlife, bright/vibrant lights or objects at night, sports, concerts, landscapes, architecture and very ornate detailed objects. I prefer using natural/available light.

    I looked at samples from each camera side-by-side at
    and it seems that the Nikon is sharper, more vibrant and the colors are richer, but I have also seen some photos on line taken with the Canon 40D and they were quite impressive too.

    I would be starting out fresh, no lenses etc... want to make sure I am buying something that gives me the rich colors I am looking for, is great to shoot with at night without a flash, is fast etc...

    Lastly, what lens(es) do you suggest I invest in first? Have been considering 24-70 - 2.8
    70-200 - 2.8
    18 - 200

    Thank you!
  2. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    With pretty much any camera you have some control over how vibrant/saturated the colors end up being, even straight out of the camera. I didn't see specific info on how those comparison shots were made, but I'd guess it was using each camera's default settings - so all that comparison likely tells you is Nikon's default settings run closer to your personal preferences than Canon's default settings.

    The features and ergonomics are what, in my opinion, you should be basing this decision on. You're not going to get "better pictures" from one camera or the other. Also, unless you have some specific odd niche in mind, you're going to have great lens choices regardless of camera brand.

    You sound like you're new to photography. So be warned - there will likely be a bit of fanboy'ism that gets posted in this thread, and a lot of people will try to sway you to one side or the other (or especially to the brands you haven't considered) based on anecdotal stories. But with regards to the end result, brand rarely matters.
  3. UltraMegaMan macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2008
    Colors can be tweaked to your likings so it's a non-issue. I don't see more details in the D300 shots compared to the 50D's but I do see more contrast in the D300. Vibrant and contrasty images look sharper to most people but they really aren't. Again, these are settings you can be changed on both cameras.

    If you want something in the 24-70mm range, you should look at the Tamron 17-50 2.8. It's not exactly the same focal range but it is an amazing lens for the price.

    Have you looked at other brands beside the big two? The Sony A700 is cheaper and has comparable results to the D300 with its latest firmware. It is also the only camera system for which those incredible Zeiss lenses are available with auto-focus. Btw, I shoot Pentax and Canon: just making sure you looked at the other options available. I'm not a Sony fanboy or anything.
  4. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    If you really want low light performance, I'd suggest ponying up for the D700 instead of the D300. If you're shooting agility, then I'd probably go with the 70-200 to start.

    If you decide to get serious about shooting wildlife, you won't find much in the way of fast, long glass outside of Canon or Nikon.
  5. jaduffy108 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 12, 2005
    For low light performance, the 50D and D300 are pretty equal.

    For action photography...shooting wildlife, etc...there is *NO* comparison. The D300 is much better because of it's PRO AF system.
  6. taylorwilsdon macrumors 68000


    Nov 16, 2006
    New York City
    Cosign this. The d300 is the better camera for what you're doing.
  7. Taal macrumors newbie

    Oct 15, 2008
    London, UK
    The autofocus in the D300 is incredibly good when paired with the 70-200 2.8. Add the grip and you also get 8fps continuous shooting. Having said that though, if money is no object, go with the D700 for the full-frame goodness and even better high-ISO performance, along with 8fps with the grip.

    Assuming you can only afford the D300 and it feels good in your hand, the setup you'll eventually need for all the stuff you want to do is:

    - Nikon D300 with MB-D10 grip
    - Nikon 12-24mm f/4
    - Nikon 35mm f/2
    - Nikon 50mm f/1.4
    - Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR
    - Nikon 2x teleconverter

    In terms of what to buy first, it comes down to what you want to shoot the most to start off with. Get the 12-24 if you want to architecture and landscapes first. Get the 35 and 50 if you want to shoot gigs first. Get the 70-200 (and the teleconverter too if you can stretch) if you want to shoot wildlife first.

    Finally, invest in Photoshop so you can use Adobe Camera RAW.
  8. luminosity macrumors 65816


    Jan 10, 2006
    I have a D300, and I much prefer the feel of it over the Canons I've held (but not owned).

    Perhaps a small thing, but if you're not liking what you're taking pictures with, that might affect your picture quality.
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Any of the above f/2.8 lenses. The 70-200 is a clasic must-have for the type of work you describe. But consider some even faster primes like the 85mm, 50, or a wider 24. The 85 is either 2 or 1.5 stops faster then the zoom. The Nikon 18-200 is not in the same class as the 70-200. The 18-200 is best used by some one on vacation who does not want to cary more then one lens

    How did you choose the D300? On price? For the work you describe, low light sports and wildlife and then you ask about sharpness, contrast and color you'd be best off with a "Full Frame" body. Yes FF bodies are expensive but it loks like you are planning to spend at least $3K on lenses already.
  10. TelaMoon thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 13, 2007
    Nikon vs Canon...

    Firstly I want to thank everyone for the great feedback, this is really great and the initial set-up info is very very helpful... THANK YOU!

    If money wasn't a factor, I would probably go for the D700. I am learning a lot pretty quickly and still have much much much to learn... hopefully im not giving up too much by not having the full frame sensor. In a perfect world, I would purchase a camera that offered the best of everything... but at this point I'm trying to get the most for what I can afford and is why I've been having a hard time choosing between the D300 & the 50D... i want to make sure im getting it. Someone threw Fugifilm s50 into the mix but after researching it a bit this morning, I still feel Im far better off with the Nikon or Canon. I'm really leaning towards the Nikon because of the weather protection of the body (I go down to the beach often, hike and plan to take it to snow), the 51 point auto-focus, I like the fps especially because of subject matter I like to shoot, but im gonna hold them both and give 'em each a test drive.

    In regards to sports and animals, I need the fps to be as good as I can get for my money. On the flip side because I like shooting detail, ornate fixtures both lit and unlit, architecture etc... I really wanted to be sure I have a camera that grabs what I see, the details, as precisely as possible. I am new to this and the D300 is a good price, has a ton to offer, is a little lighter than the D700 and its gives me something to grow into.

    Im hoping not to have to spend 3000. on lenses yet... thats why I want to make sure i get what i really need for now... then I'll treat myself later.

    My dad has some old Nikon lenses... he doesn't believe I can use them the new ones but I keep telling him I can... what limitations would I have with them?
  11. costabunny macrumors 68020


    May 15, 2008
    Weymouth, UK
    Ill say the D300 with a 70-200 f/2.8 is awesome for wildlife in motion (I have thi setup tho I use the Sigma lens as i didnt want the stabiliser and I prefer its more firmer feel). With the grip it is an amazing performer (8fps) and I chose to use the 8x AA's (2700mwa Rechargables).

    Its not too light, but I find it ok in the field (I shoot a lot of birds in flight and cats/dogs).

    The AF and colour is perfect in my opinion and th handling rules (I switched from Canon to Nikon as the handling (controls) are better suitd for me).

    I think the Nikon will serve you well.
  12. jake-g macrumors member

    Feb 28, 2008
    I would go with the d300 and the 18-200. That gives you an awesome camera with a great focal range. Play around with that and then decide with lens you want to go with. I would definitely steer clear of buying the 70-200 as your primary lens. It is a great lens but becomes too long on a dx body if you are shooting anything that is not a good distance off. If you have the cash go for the d300, 24-70, and the 70-200.
  13. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    The 18-200 is a consumer-grade superzoom, it's not ideal for dogs in motion (fast animals want fast shutter speeds,) wildlife, or concerts for sure. I doubt it'd be great for architecture and I'd suspect its flare resistance is going to be sub-par for shooting bright lights at night. The folks I know who shoot agility trials use the 70-200 or 300/2.8. I regularly shoot wildlife, and I find a 400/2.8 too short a lot of time time. In either case, I can't imagine any situation where it's advantageous to shoot at f/5.6 on the long end of the zoom range- subject motion blur, lack of subject isolation, inability to shoot when wildlife is most active...

    Since the OP mentioned dogs in motion and wildlife as the first two requirements, I'd say that 70-200mm is good for dogs in motion at agility trials, races, or almost anything that's not fluffy jumping on the couch. For wildlife, 200mm is about as short as you can go and still get reasonably reliable images at a variety of venues that don't end in the name 'Zoo,' and frankly it tends to be too short in many of those cases.

    I can't imagine, given the OP's requirements that the 18-200 would be a good choice for their preferred subjects and conditions.
  14. jake-g macrumors member

    Feb 28, 2008

    We can throw all sorts of long fast lenses out there, but he stated his budget and your suggestions far exceed that. The 70-200 is of limited use and will not cover all of what he wants to shoot. My personal prefence of a 24-70 and a 70-200 would exceed his budget. So, the 18-200 is an excellent suggestion. Plus despite the fact that it is a bit slow, it is an excellent lens, don't overlook it's usefullness just because it doesn't have a gold ring.
  15. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    The OP stated in their follow up that they didn't want to spend $3000 on lenses yet- the 70-200 isn't $3000.

    His first two subjects are moving dogs and wildlife. No single lens will do well at all subjects (the 18-200 compromises optical quality to try to be all things in one lens, it's outperformed .) Everyone I know who shoots agility dogs professionally (fast moving dogs, sometimes inside with horrible lighting, sometimes outside) uses either the 70-200 or the 300/2.8. The 300/2.8 is well outside the OP's price range.

    I don't know how much wildlife or canine activity you've shot, but I've shot a bunch, and I'll flat-out say that a lens that starts out at f/5.6 is a non-starter if you're not shooting in the mid-day sun- and you need 2 stops past that to get the 18-200 to be its sharpest- that puts you at f/11, the edge of diffraction on high-res bodies, let alone what AF is going to do in spotty light at f/5.6 (try and AF on a black dog.) The 18-200 is a fantastic travel lens, and a good all-around lens, but it's not a good fast dog or wildlife lens by two stops.

    Secondly, the OP is the one who listed the 70-200 as a option, not something I'd expect them to do if it were outside of their budget.

    "A bit slow" doesn't cover it- it needs 4 *times* as much light as the 70-200. The 70-200 along with an 18-55 or 18-70 is a much better solution- even a 35-70 isn't all that bad a choice if the OP's main subjects are moving animals and wildlife. The utility of a lens outside mid-day goes down significantly as its light requirements go up. It's the lack of a large aperture that makes the 18-200 not the right choice for animals or wildlife, combined with the fact that it wants stopped down one to two stops from f/5.6 to be it its sweet spot. That's not good for movement, and it's not good for subject isolation. Also, the 70-200 will perform acceptably with a 1.4x TC, making it usable for most wildlife outside of small songbirds in the wild.

    In terms of pure resolution, if you look at Nikon's on MTFs, you can see that the 18-200's resolution drops off well before getting to the edge of the DX-sized frame, while the 70-200's is much, much better (note the scale different for FX and DX lenses- on a DX body, the 70-200 is all in the sweet spot):

    Finally, the 18-200 is a DX format lens, so if the OP decides they really do need the better low-light performance of an FX body, they'd be less-well covered by the 18-200 than by the 70-200.

    You can shoot landscapes and architecture off a tripod (though the 18-200 needs a fair bit of correction if you're serious about your architecture) and not worry too much, wildlife doesn't give you the same range of options.

    I won't say I've never sold wildlife shots done at f/5.6 or even f/6.3, but there's a heck of a difference in what and when you can shoot that slow, and there's a heck of a lot of difference in the results. As for AF on black or white dogs, even with an f/2.8 lens that's often a challenge- take two stops away from the AF sensors and you're going to have more misses.

    We're just going to have to agree to disagree, but I'd bet I've spent more time shooting wildlife than anyone recommending an f/5.6 lens as anything other than a base compromise, let alone calling it "good."
  16. jake-g macrumors member

    Feb 28, 2008
    I just can't fathom why you are stating that the OP must have professional lenses, compuwar. Is the 70-200 a great lens? Of course. Is it mandatory for every photographer's first kit? No, please don't act like it is. There are many more things which need to be purchased besides a camera and one long focal length lens.

    To the OP, don't forget a strobe, camera bag, cards, spare battery, grip?, photoshop or some processing software (NX 1 does not cut it), insurance. I'm sure there are a few other things in there ;P It is easy to go crazy.
  17. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Because of their choice of subjects- once again, I point out that the first two things they listed as wanting to shoot were moving animals and wildlife, where an f/5.6 lens is about as bad as it gets.

    I don't understand why you keep recommending such a slow lens for those subjects- have you actually ever shot either of those subjects? Because I've shot tens of thousands of frames of wildlife images, and the difference between f/2.8 and f/5.6 is up to four hours of shooting each day as well as the difference between getting shots of wildlife when it's active and getting blurry shots of moving things that could be wildlife but aren't useful at all.

    FWIW, 70-200mm isn't all that "long" in terms of focal length for wildlife. Their other choices of subject can mostly be shot easily off a tripod with a slow lens - their first two can't.

    I've been shooting wildlife for a while with Nikon bodies- starting with the 8008s, and I own a 300 prime (f/4@300mm,) 80-400VR (f/5.6@400mm,) Sigma 50-500mm (f/6.3@500mm) and 400 prime (f/2.8@400mm.) I've sold shots from all but the 300/4- and I can tell you that outside of a handful of places on the East Coast where wildlife is extremely approachable and active late in the day, the 80-400 and 50-500 are almost useless- in early morning when wildlife is most active you'll just get blurry shots because f/5.6 and f/6.3 are simply way too slow to capture even slowly moving wildlife like grazing deer.

    You could get the 70-200 plus a TC-14E-II for what I paid for the 80-400 and 50-500 and be ahead of the game. While the 300/4 is a very good deal and excellent glass, and it'll give you about an hour or so's more shooting than the slower lenses, you'd be way better off with the 70-200 and a 1.4x TC because you can shoot at f/2.8 when you can get close. The 50-500 is an awesome lens for its price, and 500mm helps a lot for small birds, but you lose even more light, putting you in the field when they big boys are returning home with all their shots nailed, while you're hoping that there are some late stragglers around to still shoot.
  18. TelaMoon thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 13, 2007
    I just wanted to add somethings that might help make lens suggestions easier... this may be repetative but since I need to decide on my initial lenses i think it would be best to narrow it down (if I can)

    I love shooting at night without a flash... I especially like shooting lights and shadows as they are... their mood...i tend to choose ornate fixtures for their detail. I also love photographing fluorescent lights. When photographing friends at night, I would probably use flash, but for a more artistic shot, would like to find a lens that would allow me to photograph without a flash to keep the mood subdued. I've tried it with point and shoots but the quality is noisy (im gonna post a question about p&s cams because I want the best for night shooting if anyone has any suggestions or thoughts... least amount of blur, iso settings, image stabilization, excellent pic quality, has f2.8 etc...)

    Because I live by the beach, a lot of what I want to start shooting will revolve around it...
    this might sound strange (or not) but since im new I have no idea, but I like shooting into the sun... don't know what/how lens for this
    I like close-ups of things like rocks in the water and the same looking up the beach with a nice background.

    and of course DOGS love shooting them... close up portraits and playing

    Hope that helps...

    ps im a petite she not a he, but strong, so lens weight might be a factor

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