Older Professional DSLRs?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by gryffinwings, May 3, 2012.

  1. gryffinwings macrumors regular

    Mar 25, 2012
    I already have a Nikon D5100, but I've been thinking about getting myself an older Professional DSLR, looking at anything from a Nikon D1, D1H, D1X, and the D2H (If I can afford it). I know that the batteries can suck, but I'd be getting aftermarket ones to cure that issue.

    Now does anyone here have any experience with any of these cameras? I don't want any here-say or anything, theories are okay, but please no random guesses. I've already heard that pixels don't matter too much, except in picture size.

    The good thing I know is that my current DX lens I have are completely compatible as far as I know.
  2. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    Actually if I were you, I'd also consider a D200. But that depends on why you were looking at the older professional D-SLRs.

    As for pixels, I have a couple of nice 20 inch by 30 inch prints from a 6 megapixel camera (D100). It's not just the number of pixels, it's the quality of the shot overall.
  3. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2010
    What are you looking to get out of the cameras?
  4. gryffinwings thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 25, 2012
    Durability and fast picture taking with decent photo quality. I post process my pictures in raw anyways.
  5. TheReef macrumors 68000


    Sep 30, 2007
    NSW, Australia.
    The thing is modern sensors have improved so much that even entry level dSLRs can outdo older high-end models in terms of IQ.

    All you're really getting with an older pro model is the ergonomics - a larger more rigid body, possibly weather sealing, FPS and more sophisticated AF and metering options.

    But now, you can get most of that in modern mid-range bodies, I think that's the direction you'd want to be looking in, look at the Nikon d7000, there is a lot of camera there.
    It's excellent sensor would easily out-do any of the early pro Nikon models.
  6. gryffinwings thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 25, 2012
    I think everyone is missing the point. I have a Nikon D5100 already.
  7. AlanShutko macrumors 6502a

    Jun 2, 2008
    I still use my D1x and like it a lot. The pictures are quite good and I have done a 20x30 which turned out well.

    The only things I can think of that you'd GAIN by switching to that camera:

    • Compatibility with older lenses: you can autofocus with screw-drive lenses, you can meter with AI and better.
    • Faster max shutter speed
    • Firewire tethering?

    You'd have worse AF performance, worse flash metering, worse resolution, slower continuous shots... you might possibly get better ergonomics, since the pro bodies are nicely laid out, but I've never had a D5100 so I can't say.

    If you like, we can do an even swap....
  8. charlieroberts macrumors 6502a


    Feb 5, 2007
    I was browsing ebay and saw a lot of older pro bodies going cheap. And was about to convince myself to get one, but then thought this exact same thing. None of the older pro bodies is going to be better than my entry level newer nikon .
  9. TheReef, May 4, 2012
    Last edited: May 4, 2012

    TheReef macrumors 68000


    Sep 30, 2007
    NSW, Australia.
    If you're convinced one of these cameras is for you, then I would look carefully at the history of the camera.

    These cameras live hard lives in the hands of photojournalists and sports photographers, usually racking up higher-than-normal shutter counts (especially due to the high FPS figures), and in general are in poorer condition, with bumps, knocks, scrapes etc...
    I would never buy from a surf photographer.

    I think your best bet would be to find someone who used the camera to satisfy their hobby, I'm only speaking generally but they tend to be in better condition.
  10. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    Any entry-level dslr will have much better image quality and allow you to take photos at much higher ISO settings than old pro dslrs. So in some areas, old pro dslrs will actually limit you more than the body you already own. Also, in terms of speed, unless you get a high speed model such as the D2H, the 4 fps that your D5100 gives you is probably plenty. I have ~6 fps on my D7000 and I rarely if ever use Ch mode and usually switch to Cl (~3 fps) instead. Also, dslrs have been switching on instantly for a long time now, so I don't really expect you can reap any benefits from using an older pro body.

    Rather, you should invest the money you think of spending on the pro body on lenses or perhaps a flash (a used SB-600, for instance).
  11. ssmed macrumors 6502


    Sep 28, 2009
    Owning a D2H and having photos from it on the walls and sold commercially I have great fondness for that 4.2 MP camera. If you buy a second hand body, your will not have those associations although you might enjoy it for the feel, handling or fps.

    I would suggest using the money for a pro flash or lenses depending on your photography, or the thing that lots of people neglect, just going nice places for the experience and to take pictures.

    Its better to have one (or two) cameras that you have with you when you are out rather than having ten cameras at home. The Dn series bodies are heavy and large and this is an impediment to discrete and easy transport.
  12. macjonny1 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 10, 2006
    Honestly I think you would be crazy to trade in your 5100 for an older pro body. As folks have said, you are trading better in almost every way for an advantage in FPS (slight) and weather sealing. The IQ (and isn't that what ultimately matters?) in that 5100 will beat those older pro bodies by FAR
  13. gryffinwings thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 25, 2012
    I wouldn't trade my D5100 for one.

    I'd buy it as a second have fun messing with a pro type camera.
  14. fa8362, May 4, 2012
    Last edited: May 4, 2012

    fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    That's not true. The 5100 is a consumer camera, inferior in most ways to the pro camera. Inferior focus, inferior exposure metering, inferior lens compatibility, inferior speed, inferior handling, inferior shutter, inferior durability. Nearly everything is inferior, save the sensor.
  15. AlanShutko macrumors 6502a

    Jun 2, 2008
    Compared to the D1x, it has a newer AF module, more AF points, newer exposure module, and iTTL flash instead of the woefully broken DTTL flash. It's got faster fps but the fastest shutter speed isn't as fast. The frame size is similar, and the viewfinder has about the same coverage of the frame.

    You've got definite points when comparing to current or recent pro bodies, but a pro body a decade old doesn't stack up as well.
  16. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    With the exception of the sensor, the D2h is far superior to the 5100 and that's almost a decade old.
  17. gryffinwings thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 25, 2012
    I was thinking about getting one for when I eventually go out on deployments (I'm in the Navy). That way, it's less likely to get stolen and I won't have to worry about it as much because it can take the abuse, my D5100 can't.

    Besides, I've seen some pretty good pictures from a D2H. Such as these from this thread:
  18. waloshin macrumors 68040

    Oct 9, 2008
    Simple sell the D5100 then buy a D7000. Best of both worlds.

    -39 focus points
    - weather sealing
    - 6 fps
  19. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    I understand completely about wanting to do something and then looking for support. I've done it many times. It's clear you want to do what you want to do. That's cool.

    But I'll join the others with suggestions.

    Somebody mentioned looking for a D200, which is a good idea. I had one and it was versatile and sturdy.

    I sold it when I got the D300 I've been using since they came out.

    The D300 is well-sealed and very sturdy and makes great images. And in the used market, the D300 (which wasn't on the market long before being superceded by the D300s) is well-priced.

    If my damn D800 would just ship I'd offer you the D300 at an attractive price.
  20. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Mar 1, 2010
    New Jersey
    Look for a D300. Refurbs can be found at Cameta camera on ebay for a great price with warranty.

    I have owned D70, D200 and two D300 bodies. The focusing and better noise control was the prime reason for each upgrade. Each body was sold when it had 40-50,000 clicks except my second D300 body with is almost 4 years old and have about 20,000 clicks. My D300 has been outside for as long as two weeks straight from camping trips.

    If you are considering an older body, I would go straight for a D300 or D300s and forget other older designs. A D200 doesn't hold a candle to a D300 for shooting moving subjects and is not great at ISO 800. I have no real complaints about my D300 and any problems are the result of the photographer not the equipment.

    Also, good glass is one of the best investments
  21. macjonny1 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 10, 2006
    Your answer is overly simplistic (as was mine I'll admit), but here is a comparison from a computer generated site. I'm guessing this OP isn't going to care about older lenses, and whether a shutter is rated to 150,000 cycles or not. Inferior metering? Even if so who cares with RAW and a better dynamic range sensor.

  22. SimonUK5 macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2010
    I wouldn't hesitate at all in getting one, they were great cameras then and they still are now. I've shot with both a Canon 1D mk1, swell as Nikon D100 and D1x, and they are all great bodys

    MP count, counts for almost nothing..
  23. Ruahrc, May 4, 2012
    Last edited: May 4, 2012

    Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    I'm not sold on the "less likely to get stolen" thing. Most non-photographers don't know a D1 from a D4 from a D3000. To them, the bigger the camera (or the longer the lens extension) the more expensive, and better it is. If anything an old D2H is more likely to get stolen because it "looks" more like a pro camera. Thieves aren't going to rifle through your stuff and think "well, that's only a D2H, nah I'll pass on that" and walk away.

    As far as if it will actually be better, it really depends on your intended usage. And don't discount the performance of your D5100 because it's supposed to be "entry level". The focusing units on entry-level to midrange bodies is usually the high-end focusing module from the pro bodies 2-3 generations back. Specifically in this case, the D2H uses the Multi Cam 2000 focusing module, and the D5100 uses the Multi Cam 1000 module, an only slightly-worse derivative of the 2000 which was first introduced on the D200. Frankly, AF performance between a D5100 and D2H are going to be very similar. It is by no means unreasonable to assume the Multi Cam 1000 on the D5100 is easily as good or even better than the older generation Multi Cam 1300 found on the D1 series cameras.

    As far as ergonomics goes, go back and actually look at the D1 series cameras. I think you will be surprised at how few buttons they have, and how far ergonomics have come on the D5100. Not to mention you will have lost Live View functionality, and also taking a MAJOR step backwards in terms of the rear LCD.

    IMHO you are giving up way too much in the imaging chain to compensate for "pro body ergonomics", the merits of which are also debatable. Unless you have a very specific need for high-fps shots (and if you think you do, don't forget to read this recent thread very carefully: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1366563) and only intend to publish on the web, then I don't think it's worth it to get a D2H. Despite what people tell you, 4.1MP is sorely lacking for modern prints unless you keep the output size really small. 4.1MP is a 4x6" print at 360ppi. Barely above 5x7 at 300ppi. At 200ppi, where you are really getting to the marginal definition of "tack sharp" you're still only at around 8x12.

    You're also losing significant high ISO capability, and so unless you have an arsenal of only the fastest (as in f1.4) lenses to back it up, all you're going to get from a D2H are 7 blurry, grainy, and unusable shots per second in marginal light. Whereas with the D5100, you're limited to fewer fps but can at least get much more usable pictures.

    As far as build quality goes, yes a D2H is built better, but unless you find one being sold by a rich doctor or lawyer who's stepping up to the latest and greatest, it has also experienced years worth of additional wear and tear. You'd be surprised at how tough/resilient the D5100 is. Additionally, with its built-in dust removal system, the D5100 would arguably fare even better than a D2H in dusty conditions.

    Newer derivatives like the D2x and D2xs still do hold their own, as their imaging capabilities are still very capable- but they are also quite a bit more expensive. I'll agree with Vantage Point that a D300 is in a great sweet spot right now as far as getting a dated body on the cheap that still has a very modern, capable imaging chain, and has "pro-grade" build and features.

    IMHO, you're better off saving your money to put towards a more modern, more capable body. Sounds like you are just fantasizing about using a "pro" body with "pro" build and "pro" features, without really needing them, or without really realizing how "pro" your D5100 really can be when used properly.

    Think about it this way: if you had both a D5100 and a D2H, and carried them both everywhere you went, which one would you want to be shooting with to produce optimum results? I know if it were me, I would prefer the D5100 every time, except if I absolutely had to shoot at 7fps, or if I were absolutely forced to shoot in a driving rainstorm (even then, I could get external rain protection for my D5100 and probably get better images). Every other instance, I want the D5100- so times I would actually prefer and benefit from the really old pro body are exceedingly small.
  24. mofunk macrumors 68020


    Aug 26, 2009
    I would go with a D200. I see a lot of pro photogs using it. If you pair that with some good glass, you'll be good to go. You still get most of the pro features. I bet it would be fun to shoot with.
  25. rpmor macrumors member

    Apr 25, 2012
    i owened a D200 (bought it second hand) was an upgrade from a D60 (this was in 2010); it was a great step up from the D60 with the ability to meter with ai-s leneses and focus with af-d ones. as a student both these feature sets came in handy. however iso is the greatest limiting factor in this camera hands down. this year i was able to get a great deal on a barely used D700 (300 shutter actuations) for 1400. pristine condition. obviously i jumped all over it and found myself having more camera and a better feature set than i could have hoped for from having gone for the D7000 (which was a consideration). as many have mentioned here you're better of going for a low end model currently available which not only will they out perform the D200 or older bodies in IQ but in ISO capabilities as well (samples of the D3200 images out perform the D200 in every way)....however the features on the body can make it worth while but i wouldnt recommend it

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