What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

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jfriend00
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What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?
10 months ago

As many of you know, I've been waiting for a new 24MP camera optimized for shooting action from Nikon for quite a long time in either FX or DX (e.g. D400 or D750). But, alas, Nikon hasn't produced either of those cameras and we're now waiting 6 years since the D700/D300 came to market.

I own a D300 now and it suits my needs when the light is good. 8fps, great AF, acceptable buffer and the reach works for me when either shooting birds in flight or large field sports.

But, I need to shoot a high school soccer season this winter where most of the games start around 5pm so they are played in the twilight which means ISO 1600 and above. My D300 just doesn't produce what I want in the 2nd half of those games (noise, DR and color). I was hoping I'd have either a D750 or D400 to choose from by now, but Nikon doesn't seem to be in a hurry to make either one.

So, I'm trying to figure out what to get to tide me over until a new action camera does come out. As none of the options available new are ideal for what I shoot, I will only buy used so as to not lose as much money when the actual camera I want becomes available and want to trade up. Here are my options with brief commentary:

D700 - looks like about $1500 on eBay for good condition with no too many clicks on it. Could use my D300 grip and batteries with it to get 8fps. About 1 to 1.5 stops better at high ISO than my D300. Lose quite a bit of reach compared to my D300.

D3 - looks like $1800-$2500 on ebay. Pretty much same the same sensor as the D700, you get better AF and more fps and buffer and obviously the large body style.

D3s - looks like around $3000 on ebay. High ISO improved even more, but more money.

I'm a bit worried about the reach of all these 12MP FX cameras so if I decide which one I'm interested in getting, I will probably rent first to verify I'm OK with the reach.

I'm only considering options that get me 8fps so that rules out D7000, D7100, D600, D610 and D800. I rented a D800 last season for a couple games and did not find it to be a good solution for me.

The D700 would be the most money efficient. However, I'm tempted by the additional high ISO improvement in the D3s and would enjoy the faster fps, but it seems kind of spendy for an interim camera. I have money, but am interested in being efficient with it.

The main target is full field soccer in twilight. I will typically shoot 3-400 shots per game and cull that down. I have three types of shooting and I use all three: single shot timed for peak moment, short burst of 3-6 shots around a possible peak moment (such as players going up for a header or a player collision or a goalie diving for a ball), longer burst of a sequence that remains interesting for an extended period of time (sometimes 15 shots or even until the buffer is full). An example here might be a break-away forward dribbling toward the goalie, making moves as they go and I don't know when they're going to actually shoot or what the goalie will do.

What would you recommend I acquire and why?

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Nikon D300 Nikon D3S Nikon D4 Nikon D40 Nikon D600 Nikon D610 Nikon D700 Nikon D7000 Nikon D7100 Nikon D800
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