The more I read, the more undecided...

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Osprey, Dec 20, 2008.

  1. Osprey macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Here's the deal: In my younger days I did a lot of 35mm photography, including my own developing, etc. But then I had children and my life became pretty busy and focused on other things. Kids are grown and have kids of their own now and I would like to take my photography a little more seriously once again.

    Several years ago I purchased a Nikon D70 and have really enjoyed it. To be honest, the main thing that I use it for is to photograph my students and use the photos and video I shoot to create DVDs for them. When I am using the camera for myself, I am usually taking wildlife, nature and grandchildren photos.

    So my problem is that I am pretty sure I want to get a newer Nikon. My husband has actually offered to buy me a new Nikon D700, but the price puts me off a little. I live in the mountains where we have elk, deer, etc. that often visit and I want to take really good photos, but I am afraid the D700 might be overkill. I love the idea of full frame, but something keeps nagging at me that I would probably be just as well off with a D300. I actually went as far to buy the D90, but returned it unopened.

    Is DX going to stay around for a long time or will everything eventually go FX? So many questions, plus the fact that I would simply feel guilty for letting him buy me such an expensive camera, especially if I never use it to full potential.

    I would greatly appreciate any advice, opinions, ideas that could help me make what has become a very difficult decision. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. FX120 macrumors 65816

    FX120

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    #2
    I wouldn't dump thousands of dollars into DX glass planning to use it on bodies you'll buy 10 years from now...

    But by buying a DX body today in no way limits you from buying lenses suitable for use on FF bodies. If you're planning on doing nature photography, a DX body is probably more suitable as it will alow you to get an additional 50% of lenght out of your lenses.

    Getting a D300 and a nice long lens such as the 70-200 F/2.8 VR is probably what you're after.

    This is a wonderful lens from what I've heard, equal to it's Canon counterpart which I own and love. It's expensive, but it is also a long term investment as years from now if you decide to pick up a FX format body, this lens will work.
     
  3. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #3
    If you have a great camera and a mediocre lens, then you most certainly will not be getting the most out of your camera. So if you don't already have some great glass to go with that D700, opt for a lesser camera body and a great lens to go with it. The one FX120 suggested would be great for your wildlife photography.
     
  4. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #4
    You shouldn't worry that dslrs crop sensor will die out, it's fairly certain they won't, at least in the consumer market. The sensors are a lot, lot cheaper to manufacturer, lenses are smaller and lighter, too.

    If you are into wild life photography, crop sensors have advantages (as pointed out by others). For portraits, you can use your old 28-70 f/2.8 zoom (if you have one), otherwise, you can get 35 or 50 mm lenses for little money (depending on the type of portraits you do). I also agree with the sentiment to invest money in lenses rather than an very expensive body. The D300 is a wonderful camera. Perhaps you should also have a look at some of Sigma's zooms, they have three 120-300/400 zooms (although the top-of-the-line model costs about as much as Nikon's 200-400 zoom).
     
  5. wheelhot macrumors 68020

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    #5
    Well its up to you in what you want, a full frame is the nicest and of course you had experience in the 35mm photography. To me the best part of FF is the picture quality at higher ISOs, APS-C sensor just cant produce the quality of images produce by FF at higher sensitives.

    Now will the future be all FF or it will remain at the top end (and hopefully trickle down to the mid range), well no one can be certain.

    The one thing I envy with Nikon/Sony/whatever else out there besides Canon is that a APS-C lens is compatible with FF unlike Canon EF-S lens which is not compatible at all (unless with extension tubes, but it has downside) with Canon Full Frames. I never understood why Canon did that, the only reason I can think of is that Canon is certain that in the future, Full Frame sensors can be found at the mid range DSLRs (D40/D50 and higher)

    And like Phrasikleia says, as long as you have good lenses to go with the D700, then go for it! :)
     
  6. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #6
    I was in my local camera shop the other day, and a guy was buying his wife a Nikon D300. He looked happy, she looked happy... no problem. :)

    Overkill? Full potential?? I've had my D200 for two years, and don't plan to look at other cameras for at least two more years. I'm very happy with it, and the way my photography has improved since I 'went digital' (I too grew up with film, and I really wasn't confident about learning a whole new technology. Well, you can teach an old dog new tricks ;))...

    I don't suppose I get the 'full potential' from my camera either (I try to keep everything as simple as possible, and don't use most of the programs and functions), but I enjoy the way it meets every new challenge. That is: you don't always know what you want from a camera till you've had it a few months.

    I'm sure you would be very happy with either the D300 or the D700. The D300 would do everything I need (and more), and that's what I would go for. Use some of the money left over to buy one of those self-help books to help you deal with the guilt. ;)

    The guy wants to buy you a new camera; don't deprive him of that pleasure... :)
     
  7. cube macrumors G5

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    #7
    If you shoot landscape and not only wildlife, you might want to think about the D700 + Sigma 12-24.
     
  8. PCMacUser macrumors 68000

    PCMacUser

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    #8
    Both the D300 and D700 look like great cameras. I'm a little disappointed that the D700 doesn't have a 100% viewfinder though.

    Perhaps one factor that could sway you either way is the weight. The D700 comes in (with battery) at 1075g - more than a kilogram! The D300 is 903g. If you're going to combine the camera with a long, heavy lens, weight will be an issue.
     
  9. buffalomike macrumors newbie

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    #9
    What about the d70 is holding you back? That might help with suggestions.
     
  10. Hmac macrumors 68020

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    #10
    I wouldn't buy any DX lenses if I were you, but I'd have no fear of a DX body. Eventually, it will all go FX, but that would only likely matter in the lens arena. By the time full frame has the whole market, your D300 body will be long dead.

    I've never understood why people tend to be afraid of buying a camera that has more capability than they have skills. If you buy a camera that matches your currents skills, doesn't that just hold you back from getting better? Just because you buy a Porsche doesn't mean you HAVE to drive it 150 mph....

    Anyway, for your stated purposes, I think you'd do very, very well with the D300. It's a great camera. Not as capable as a D700 (by a small margin IMHO) but it would probably be less intimidating to you.

    Read this article: http://www.bythom.com/d3ord300.htm , and subsitute "D700" for "D3" in the article.
     
  11. Osprey thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #11
    First of all thank all of you so much for your advice and for taking the time to respond! Everyone has given some excellent advice and I think that I may be leaning more towards the Nikon D300 with a new lens.

    I have been enjoying all the beautiful photos that all of you post on here for two years now. I guess that I am a little intimidated by the quality I see, but probably more inspired than intimidated. BTW Doylem, I truly appreciate your work, it is always beautiful.

    I have Nikon lenses from way back. It isn't that I am intimidated by the D700, I just believe that it may be more than I'll ever really need in a camera. Let's face it, at my age, I am not talking about a career. I just want to take really good picture and I like your advice. I also paint watercolors and my paintings are almost always in the same vein as my photography: wildlife, landscapes and portraits. I would be using the camera to shoot photos that I could use a reference for my watercolors and for this, the camera would play an integral part.

    I have given a lot of thought to the weight of the camera as well. Mainly because it is nice not to have something too big to haul around when hiking. As for the guilt, I just can't seem to help it when I look around and see so many people hurting. I see it with my students every day and although my husband and I both do everything we can to help out, it never seems to be enough. We have so much, and I am not talking about money. You just don't get rich in education, especially in a small community, but we have a wonderful life that I wouldn't trade with anyone.

    My husband coaches his fifth and sixth graders in both basketball and track and since I have managed to take some relatively usable shots with my D70, I am pretty sure that either the D300 or D700 will be an improvement. My only other concern is that although at this time I don't see myself making large prints, I do make DVDs for them. When you are showing something on a large screen, the starting quality needs to be fairly decent. Of course most of the time the kids are just so excited to see themselves and their friends, that they don't think much about the quality, but I do.

    Once again, thanks to all of you for your advice and I will let you know when I finally decide what to do. Who knows, maybe some day I might even get brave enough to post some of my own photos. But for now, I will continue to enjoy all of the creative, beautiful shots that I see here everyday. I am always amazed by the incredible variety that is posted.
     
  12. wheelhot macrumors 68020

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    #12
    No problems Osprey, that is the point of forum isn't it? For discussion and to learn :).

    Be sure to post some pics when you are free, would love to see subjects you take picture of ;)
     
  13. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #13
    No one knows for sure, but it looks like the ppro cameras will be going back to FX. I say "back to" because that is the size we were using back in the 1950's, 60' and into the 90's only recently was DX invented as a way to make cameras cheaper. But I'm sure it will be around a long time becase with consummer level cameras cheaper is better.

    But you are not looking at this 100% right. Don't think D700 vs. D300. No. Look at the entire "system". For you needs you are going to need a long and fast lens. Get an f/2.8 telephoto zoom. But thing "system" going DX saves you some money because an 70-200 f/2.8 is much cheaper then a 300mm f/2.8 lens and with an FX you'd need a 50% longer lens at double the price.

    So, thinking "system" you save a big bundle of money with DX. But if you do buy those f/2.8 pro lenses that are all FX. This means yo can get the D90 but just buy lenses that will work on the FX later. You can do this with all except the wide angle. You will want at least the "kit" DX llens that goes out to 18mm.

    You will also need a good tripod and a ball head is great for wild life.

    So, if buying the expansive body means you have to go cheap on the lenses and tripod then go DX. Don't compromise on the optics.

    What's different with digital is that now the bodies are "consumables" you used them for a few years then upgrade/replace them. the llenses last "forever". In the old days of film SLR you'd keep a body forever but now DSLR bodies are like computers -- no one wants a ten year old computer, even if it's not broken and still works.


    You ar right about the quality. But you do NOT need a lot of pixels for a DVD. Even if you were manking a Blu-ray disc and showing it on a 1080p HD screen, even that only has 2 megapixels. You D70 has 3X more pixels then required for an HD screen. But a DVD has only 1/2 the resolution of the HD screen. You don't need more pixels, what you need is the best optics you can afford and good lighting.

    If you do the math to D70 will give you prints up to a bit over 10" (at 300 DPI) but doubling the number of pixels gives you prints that are 14 inches. (print size is proportional to the square root of the pixel count, so you need 4x more pixels for a print 2x larger)
     
  14. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #14
    I'm not sure how true that will be in the next few years. A Nikon D3/Canon 5D II will be serviceable for a very long time. Technology is reaching a point with cameras that the best of the new stuff is great by any standard, just as computers from several years ago are still very usable in all but the most demanding settings.
     
  15. Hmac macrumors 68020

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    #15
    At this point in history of dSLR, the technology leaps for camera bodies is still going to way outstrip lenses for at least a few more years.
     
  16. Osprey thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Alright before I order, one more question. As I said I had a D90 and returned it unopened. Would it perhaps be better to buy it with the Nikkor 70-200 lens with a D90 or does the D300 offer that much more? I doubt that I would use the video aspect of the D90 any, so I don't really consider it par of the decision.
     
  17. FX120 macrumors 65816

    FX120

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    #17
    The D300 is really a worthwhile step up in construction IMO, it will feel a little more balanced on the end of a 70-200, the vertical grip capability is also nice as it will boost your frame rate up to 8FPS, which could be helpful for trying to capture wildlife or kids playing.
     
  18. cube macrumors G5

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    #18
    The D300 is weather sealed, has autofocus finetuning and meters with AI lenses (nice for some fast used bargains).
     
  19. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #19
    300/4 AF-S is probably the way to go for a relatively inexpensive wildlife lens..

    There's no reason for camera manufacturers to put bigger sensors on cameras if they don't need to- and until we get to perfect yields, there's every reason not to. I wouldn't expect DX to go away anytime soon. Even all the "full frame" fans haven't bought full-frame cameras.


    D300 and 300/4 AF-S for a fair start, it won't get you close for birds, but it's great optically and it'll take a 1.4x TC- so with a TC-14EII it'll be a 420/5.6, which isn't too bad on a new body that does high-ISO reasonably well.

    Unlike a previous poster, I find the 70-200 way too short for wildlife, it's relatively ok for zoo trips and nature parks, but after that there are few and far opportunities to get consistent shots at such a short focal length.
     
  20. Osprey thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #20
    And just what do you use to capture those gorgeous eagle shots? They truly are amazing! I have really enjoyed seeing them.

    Thanks for the advice. I really think the D300 would be a pretty decent camera.
     
  21. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #21
    I shoot primarily with a Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 AF-S II, sometimes with a 1.4x TC and rarely with a 1.7x TC on a D2x, which allows me some great crop options. The monster needs a Wimberly II or similar gimball head and a hefty tripod.

    Where I shoot the Eagles[1] is one of the few places you could actually get Eagle shots at 200mm, though likely not fishing or fighting over fish. Once I figure out what's blocking my central AF point and get some good weather I hope to get back down there and shoot some more- otherwise I'll have to wait until next November, as I missed some killer shots last time. If I can get some PS time soon, I have a series of four shots of a fish fight that's really cool, I'm not sure if I can get the heads down enough though.

    Sigma makes some ok NN-500mm lenses, though they tend to be fairly slow (~6.3) at the long ends, so they need lots of light- and we all know animals tend to be most active near dawn and dusk when you don't get much light. But I still think the Nikkor 300mm f/4 is a bargain, and in AF-S it'll work with the -II series of teleconverters, I think that's worth the $200 or so over the old EDIF version.

    I've got a print at 13x19 on the wall in my office of one of the Bald Eagles, and it makes me smile every time I look at it.

    [1] Conowingo Dam, Maryland.
     
  22. Osprey thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #22
    We have an old snag that sits right across from us that usually has either Osprey (with a freshly caught fish) or Red-Tail Hawk sitting in it. Two years ago on Christmas morning, we had the most beautiful Bald Eagle sitting in it. It was quite the Christmas present. He was so regal and beautiful. Our school's mascot is the eagle. I would love to be able to capture the Osprey that reside in our area in the same way you have captured your eagles, but that Nikkor 400mm f2.8 is way out of my price range. Besides if I ever owned one, I know that I'd probably drop it just because I would be so nervous. Anyway I will be looking for more of your photos.
     
  23. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #23
    I think you'd be happy with the 300/4 if you get a body that'll give you a couple of stops of high ISO.

    The D700 is ~$2700, so if that's your price target, then here's my recommendation (and I think you can get great raptor shots with it- elk and deer are easy!)

    The 300/4 AF-S is ~1100.
    The D300 is ~1500.
    The TC14E-II is ~350.

    That puts you at $2950. If you've got a tripod/head that works you're in the right place- if not, you'll want to spend some on that, probably ~350. You can shoot this combination hand-held, but you need enough shutter speed to get a good shot.

    With the D300 you should be able to get to 13x19 prints from half-frame shots, so cropping will help you get "closer" without losing too much quality.

    The only wrinkle would be if Nikon finally decides to update the 80-400VR, the extra 100mm would be nice (I have the current 80-400VR and while it's occasionally useful, it's not a lens I tend to recommend.)

    Now, if you're unsure- since you already have a D70, I'd seriously consider renting the 300/4 and the 1.4x TC for a week and shooting your heart out- knowing that the D300 will go to at least ISO 2400, probably 3200 without any serious noise issues. Rentglass.com has the 300/4 for $44 for a week and the TC-14E II for $18 for a week. Understanding that you'll get 2-3 stops better shutter speed or low light, you could try the lens and lens with TC out on your D70 and see what sort of distance and IQ you'd get, and just imagine better AF and IQ.

    [For about the same money, you could simply buy a good Bald Eagle picture- heck, even a decent Osprey picture if I can find her ;)]

    More seriously, thanks for the kind words on the pictures, if you decide to try or buy the lens, please let us know how it works out.
     
  24. Osprey thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #24
    Well my husband ordered the Nikon D300 for me today. Right now I need a pretty versatile lens because I will be taking pictures mainly of our students for awhile. As the end of the school year approaches and I have more time, I will order the lenses you suggested. I will really put the camera through its paces (assuming I am still smart enough to figure it out, boy it really has been a long time) once I receive it.

    I do have one more question. I have an old 50 mm, albeit a really decent lens. It fits on the D70 I own, but I haven't been able to get it to work. Should it work and perhaps I am just missing something?

    Thanks everyone so much for your help and advice.
     
  25. termina3 macrumors 65816

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    #25
    Define "not working." And what additional info can you give us about this 50?
     

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