D700/D300 tradeoffs: are we thinking clearly?

Started Apr 18, 2009 | Discussions thread
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Pete Holzmann
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D700/D300 tradeoffs: are we thinking clearly?
Apr 18, 2009

Background

I'm "tech support" casual shooter; my wife is naturalist/photographer. She comes by it honestly: her dad was an award-winning photographer in his day.

My sweetie is no longer raising kids, and is ready to go pro. She's extremely tired of the limitations of her non-DSLR kit, and ready to return to the SLR world (DSLR of course.) She's a nature photographer through and through. If there's a human in the photo, she gets nervous ... her usual fare is birds, plants, flowers, and other critters great and small. She uses PS/etc to clean up photos.

Morning and evening twilight are the best times to catch the action. The action might be a slug on a path, or a bird taking off from the water 1/4 mile away. Oh, and she has this amazing tendency to get a bit wet, whether from the weather or stepping in the wrong place

Her Dad's willing to help with the cost. (e.g. our birding glass includes a high-end Swarovski scope... nothing to sneeze at.)

Our Thinking

We'll ignore cost to the extent possible
Carrying weight is sometimes a factor, even if you're strong
Fast focusing is crucial for moving animals
Big Glass or High ISO is crucial for twilight
DX gives more telephoto and lighter weight

FX gives more WA, amazing DR, N stops extra low light without Big Glass, and (?) faster focusing.

Tentative decisions

Go with Nikon, which has better environmental seals than Canon. And maybe we can use some of our old glass**

Go with D700. For all the above reasons, she'll be able to grow into it for a long time to come.

Get a lighter telephoto lens and don't worry about largest aperture (since we have more ISO range.)
(If necessary, could do extreme telephoto in DX mode but TC seems better?)

+++ Are we thinking straight about the above? +++

Lens Confusion

Telephoto: those huge telephoto lenses look awesome. But also very heavy for someone who has to lug their own kit around. (And the cost is a bit much) For wildlife, it seems a zoom is better.

So... what do you do? Are the lighter lenses like 70-300 (with TC when needed) good enough? I could see spending up to $2k on a good telephoto... I think the weight is more an issue than $$$.

Macro: any pointers on a good zoom macro lens?

That's more than enough questions for my first Nikon posting...

THANKS!
Pete
------

We have a small remaining glass collection that perhaps will be useful: 24 f2.8 MF, 28-85 f3.5 AF, 43-86 f3.5 MF, and 80-200 f4.5 MF. All MF's are AI.

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