Backup camera for Africa

Started Apr 12, 2013 | Discussions
mfouks
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to frenchy01, Apr 13, 2013

Your points are excellent.  If I wasn't afraid of the weight factor I would rent the 200-400 f4.0 along with a D7100 (or 600 if the dust issues become resolved).  I don't know anyone that has these cameras yet so I can't try one out at this point.  Because i am starting to enjoy photographing wildlife/birds I would like to actually own a longer telephoto which is why I am considering the 300 f2.8.   It isn't quite as heavy as the 200-400 and  less money.  The person who is leading the trip says she uses her 500mm lens a lot.  So the 300 with the 1.4 or 1.7 might work fine.

Thanks again.  Fortunately I still have time to think about it.

Marsha

frenchy01 wrote:

I have been to Kenya with D300 + Sigma 500mm f/4.5 and D200 + Nikon 70-300mm AF-S VR. I took about half of my pictures with each camera, which means you definitely need a shorter telephoto lens. Neither of above camera's is very good in low light (my standard limit with D300 is 800iso, with some exceptions at 1600iso), and you are definitely better equiped with the D800 (which I have also now and would use up to 3200iso).

In your case I would rent the 200-400mm f/4 to put on the D800 and buy a D7200 or D600 to put the 70-200mm on, so you would have:

D800: 36MPix 200-400mm with good low light capability (up to 500mm in x1.25 crop and 600mm in DX crop). Eventually to be combined with TC1.4 to extend the reach to 280-560mm in 36MPix (up to 840mm in DX crop)

D7200: 24MPix 105-300mm equivalent with average low light capability (I have the D5200 and would limit iso to 800, max 1600 in "good light") or alternatively a D600 which would give you 24Mpix with a reach of 70-200mm with good low light capability.

And of  course you'll need a standard lens (24-85mm FX or 16-85mm DX) for a few landscape pictures...

You could also rent the 300mm f/2.8, and use it with TC1.4 (or even TC2.0 if you really need more reach) on the D800, but then you'll loose the flexibility of the zoom. I would not use a TC2.0 with the 70-200mm.

Regards,

Frenchie

P.S.: D7200 vs D600 is your call, depending on what you generally shoot. D7200 has the better AF system, but D600 has better quality 24MPix... You still have a few month before your travel, if you know some friends having those camera's just try them out (also in low light) to get a better idea of what you can expect.

P.S.2: during safari you are in a car, so the weight of the gear is not a major problem (you just need to move it from room to car and back...). Just check that the hand luggage weight allows you to take the gear with you (most international flights are at 10-12kg, but if you take small national planes this can go down to 7kg?)...

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mfouks
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to chris_uk, Apr 13, 2013

I could consider that option.  I'm not sure would be able to get used to that much weight though.   Something to think about- I've never actually held a D4 so I should just to see what I thought of it.  Thanks for thinking of that option.

Marsha

chris_uk wrote:

Just had another thought....

Is this a "once in a lifetime" trip? If so, rent a D4. The D800 is not a low light specialist and once you go above 800ISO you are throwing away the benefits of the high megapixel sensor. Image quality from the D4 at 1600 and higher is head and shoulders above the D800 at the same ISO. The D800 is clearly better at ISO800 and lower though. Also with the D4, the higher burst rate could be handy with moving animals or birds in flight.

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mfouks
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to Phil_L, Apr 13, 2013

I am so looking forward to this experience!  For sure I will be getting a second camera.  I never thought about renting the D4 before the previous post.  That would be ideal but not sure that I want to handle the weight which is why I was considering buying a D7100.  I am considering either the new 80-400 or a 300 f2.8 with a teleconverter.  I would also have my 70-200 (no converter) on the new camera.  I'm thinking that the D7100 should be ok through ISO 800.  Maybe the D600 if the dust issue gets fixed in the next couple of months as I still have time to make a final decision.

Thanks again,

Marsha

Phil_L wrote:

I would definitely take a second camera if cost isn't an issue.

You are going to have dust "problems" and changing lenses and or adding or removing TC's is a recipe for ruining your equipment and a royal pita.

Take plastic bags to put your camera(s) in when not in use!

Put the 70-200 f2.8 on the D800 and rent/buy a D4/D3s and a 200-400 f4, ev. two 1.4TCs.

The 200-400 is heavy, consider the new 80-400 as an alternative if you don't want to carry too much.

I just came back from the Masai Mara a few weeks ago and used the lens combo above on a single D300. Could I have used a second body and better low light performance? You bet!

Have fun, you are in for a fantastic experience and be prepared to want to return.

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mfouks
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to Brandon birder, Apr 13, 2013

Thanks Chris.  I would pretty much have to decide each day which TC to use with the 300 2.8 (if I went that route) which definitely loses flexibility.

Marsha

Brandon birder wrote:

chris_uk wrote:

Just had another thought....

Is this a "once in a lifetime" trip? If so, rent a D4. The D800 is not a low light specialist and once you go above 800ISO you are throwing away the benefits of the high megapixel sensor. Image quality from the D4 at 1600 and higher is head and shoulders above the D800 at the same ISO. The D800 is clearly better at ISO800 and lower though. Also with the D4, the higher burst rate could be handy with moving animals or birds in flight.

The D4 and D800 are head to head upto iso 6400 when viewed at the same  size. And the D800 will always resolve more than the D4.

To the OP. The nearest DX camera to the D800 you already have is the D7100 in terms of resolution and ISP performance.  The new 80-400 vr is sharper at f5.6 than the 70-200 with 2tc at f5.6. The 300f2.8 with all the TC's is sharpest at correct apertures but problems of tc changing in dusty environments is real.

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mfouks
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to Ebreuk, Apr 13, 2013

Good point.

Marsha

Ebreuk wrote:

Hello,

Went to Tanzania, used a d700 for WA and low light  (24-70 2.8) and a cheaper D5100 and 70-300 Nik. to get some reach. This setup was fine for me:  i did not have to change lenses (dust,dust, dust) and i had a reach from 24 mm (FF) to 450 mm (DX converted to FF) in a second.

I had very good results with this but fotography was not my main goal. I spent a lot of time looking and made pictures just for the memory. Was okay for me, saw many people only making pictures and missing (in my opinion) the experience. But that's fine, everybody should enjoy this on their one way and needs.  Have a great time!

Greetings

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jfriend00
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to mfouks, Apr 13, 2013

mfouks wrote:

I agree with you John- I will need a second camera.  Although I said backup camera, I really meant complimentary.   I'm kind of thinking about the D800 with a 300mm f2.8 lens withe teleconverter and a D7100 with my 70-200.  However, the new 80-400 is very tempting given its weight and reach.

I personally think that primes are difficult on Safari unless you plan to crop a lot because you don't control your distance to the subject.  You're in the vehicle and the animal is where it is. You have to adapt without changing lenses.  With a prime, there isn't a lot you can do if you're a little too close for the camera you have in your hands.

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mfouks
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to T O Shooter, Apr 13, 2013

Something to think about. If I got the 7100 I would have to use it quite a bit first to get used to it.  If I did get a second D800, I would be tempted to rent the D800E.  I would have to look into the costs but it is pretty expensive to rent equipment in Canada- I would need to rent it for 3 weeks.  I think I would rather buy because I do want a backup Nikon camera and I really like the idea of a lighter one for travel purposes.

Marsha

T O Shooter wrote:

chris_uk wrote:

IQ from the 80-400 is better than from the 70-200 with a TC attached so I would take an 80-400 and leave the 70-200 at home. You also have the option of using your TC with it as there have been good reports of how it performs.

For a backup camera, hire another D800. If anything does happen to your camera, you will be happier that your backup is exactly the same - especially when looking at your pictures years later!

X2. You have the DX built into the D800  Any of the D7000, D7100, D600 bodies will also have different control layouts and that will (might) only cause you to miss shots in the heat of the moment. I'd take one D800 gripped and probably the second one not.

And as some have said, a D4 as a second body is a good option if money is no problem or you can rent one.  I use a D800 / D4 combo.  Never been to Africa though, so can't comment specifically to that situation, but I would prefer two D800s. I think!

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mfouks
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to Oscarroos, Apr 13, 2013

Thanks Oscar.  I never thought about the D700.  I have rented it once before and really liked it (my first experience with Nikon while waiting for the D800).  I have to say that it was quite expensive to rent just for one week which is why I would rather buy a second camera.    I think the 200-400 would be ideal but it is too heavy for me which is why I was thinking about the 300 2.8 with a teleconverter.  I am still considering the 80-400 as well as that would give me more flexibility than the 300 although less PQ.

Marsha

Oscarroos wrote:

mfouks wrote:

I am going on a photo safari in African (Kenya)  in September and I was thinking that I would get an additional backup camera.  I am currently using a D800.  My telephoto lens at the moment is a 70-200 f2.8 with a 2X extender.   My first question is what would make sense as a second camera?  I was thinking that the D7200 would be a good choice but perhaps a D600 would be better (assuming no dust issues).  I believe both are about the same size/weight.

My second issue which I will also post on the lens forum is what telephoto lens to either invest in or rent.  I am looking for something not too heavy (will be using beanbags not a  tripod) as I am very concerned about holding and travelling with a heavy lens although I guess the beanbags will help.  So I am considering the 300 f2.8 lens or the new 80-400 lens that has just come out.  I have rented the 300 f2.8 for another trip and found it to be about as heavy as I can handle.  I also used the 1.4 and the 2X teleconverter with it.  Am I correct that the image quality will be much better using the 300 2.8 lens with teleconverters  as opposed to the new 80-400 lens?  I was thinking that one camera would be used with the 70-200 and the other would be used with the longer lens.

Any comments/ideas would be very much appreciated.

Marsha

Hi Marsha -  I took the family on a safari, trip of a life time, to Tanzania last June.  My recommendation is to consider the D-700 as a 2nd camera because the two are very similar in set-up and it is easier to switch between them.

I found the following set - up best for me:  I had the 200-400 f 4 on the D-800 and the 70-200 f 2.8 on the D-700 most of the time.  I also used the 24-70 f 2.8 occasionally on the D-800.  Dust is an issue and having the two cameras as I did was just about perfect and I rarely had to change lens and risk getting dust inside.

Today, because of size and weight of the 200-400, I would consider the new AF-S 80-400 instead.

I also took the 1.4 TC but never used it relying on the high MP of the D-800 to crop which worked great.

Remember to put down the camera from time to time and enjoy it.  Photos are important but so are the memories.  Africa safaris are amazing and for most of us a trip of a life time -ENJOY!!!!!

Oscar

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mfouks
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to Mark Dennis, Apr 13, 2013

Have a great trip.  Your lens choices sound very good.

Marsha

Mark Dennis wrote:

I am off to South Africa in August. I will hopefully get time to do a little wildlife photography. I plan to take the D600 and D700 along with the new 80--400mm, the 24-120 F4 and a 50mm 1.8G plus a couple of SB700 flash guns. I have also considered taking my D300S instead of the D600 as have a have a relation out there who has a few DX lenses I could borrow. She has said that dust is a major issue. It is difficult knowing quite what to take. Whilst there I have to photograph a couple of projects for a charity. Maybe I need an 85mm. Tricky....Good luck with your choice and your trip.

Kind regards,

Mark

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mfouks
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to jfriend00, Apr 13, 2013

So maybe the 70-200 on one camera and a 80-400 on the other camera would be best?  Certainly a lighter option than the 300 f2.8.

Thanks,

Marsha

jfriend00 wrote:

mfouks wrote:

I agree with you John- I will need a second camera.  Although I said backup camera, I really meant complimentary.   I'm kind of thinking about the D800 with a 300mm f2.8 lens withe teleconverter and a D7100 with my 70-200.  However, the new 80-400 is very tempting given its weight and reach.

I personally think that primes are difficult on Safari unless you plan to crop a lot because you don't control your distance to the subject.  You're in the vehicle and the animal is where it is. You have to adapt without changing lenses.  With a prime, there isn't a lot you can do if you're a little too close for the camera you have in your hands.

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JK5700
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to mfouks, Apr 13, 2013

I would suggest you get the D7100 plus AF-S 80-400VR. It does not weigh too much and being FX gives you an effective 120-800* without changing lenses (you get 800 by using the 1.3 crop feature - I have programmed the FN button to allow me to switch quickly when I need it) and then add a 1.4 converter if you need more reach.

Then put the 70-200 on the D800 for close up or low light shots.

I have replaced my D300s with a D7100 and have the AF-S 80-400 on order. This is going to be my new lightweight wildlife kit which will be on my lap when driving. The D3s and 500VR will come out when stationary at waterholes or when I can use my Wimberley head on the Badger door mount.

If you are also going to shoot outside the parks, a 24-85VR on the D800 will work well.  I have the 24-120 f/4, but find it as cumbersome as the 24-70 f/2.8. The 50 f/1.8 is also a good idea for low light. Get the non-G version. It is actually faster and much cheaper. I would not bother with two flashes. Unless you use a range extender, it is useless for wildlife and may scare the game off. I only use mine for shooting birds or leopards up into trees.

Hope this helps....

* I know that you do not technically get more range, so do not flame me for saying that. It is just it seems that way to me...

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pjman792
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to mfouks, Apr 13, 2013

First, congratulations on the trip - it should be an incredible experience. My sister-in-law went to Tanzania two years ago, and her images are incredible. Incidentally, she said they were able to get much closer to the animal;s than she imagined.

For a second body, I'd select one that gives me capabilities the D800 does not have, such as low-light/high ISO IQ and high frames per second. If it were me, I'd select either the D3s or the D4. Yes, the bodies are a bit heavy, but you'll be in a vehicle most of the time, and not walking around with your gear. The 300mm f2.8 is an outstanding choice, but is very large and heavy. An excellent alternative would be the Nikkor 300mm f4. It's a terrific performer optically, focuses very close, and is less that half the size and weight of the 300mm 2.8.

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Rich Rosen
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to mfouks, Apr 13, 2013

This is the trip of a lifetime (right?) for you. I would want to go with the best equipment, I could afford. I would take the 70-200, a wide angle zoom, and rent a long tele in the 300-400 range. I am not a great fan of the 2x teleconverters. I think I would prefer the 400 2.8, putting that  on my primary camera. That camera could be your D800, or you could rent a D4. If  you choose to go with a D600, as your second camera, the 70-200 would be put on. The teleconverter would stay in the bag for emergencies.

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Christoph Stephan
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to Harry Behret, Apr 13, 2013

Harry Behret wrote:

I have shot Africa 3 times (twice in Kenya). I have always used FF bodies and have rarely missed the extra "reach" of a DX body. You will usually shoot in the early morning and the late afternoon and will want the low light performance of a FF body.

if you confine you interest to mammals and even then 1.6 x (APSC) crop + the 400 mm were barely sufficient. This shot taken in Etosha, Namibia, is already heavily cropped to a point it can only be sold in postcard size on redbubble.com:

Leopard leaping

For every bird picture, I needed the full reach of my 100-400mm on my crop camera, and even then, I had to digitally crop the pictures:

I love you so much!

It may be different with the new D600 and D800 as its enormous 36MP afford much more digital cropping than my humble 8 MP and now 10MP DX equivalents, but even with the 20MP Canon full frame EOS 6D you are left with 8 MPP if you crop to the equivalent size of DX.

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mfouks
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to Rich Rosen, Apr 13, 2013

I'm a bit concerned about weight, otherwise I would probably rent the 200-400 lens.  Having said that I would like to do some bird/nature photography so I am tending towards purchasing.  The largest lens that I would consider owning is the 300 f 2.8 which I could use with a TC.  However, it is tempting to look at the new 80-400 which seems to get great reviews from users.

Thanks for your input.  I will consider the D600.

Marsha

Rich Rosen wrote:

This is the trip of a lifetime (right?) for you. I would want to go with the best equipment, I could afford. I would take the 70-200, a wide angle zoom, and rent a long tele in the 300-400 range. I am not a great fan of the 2x teleconverters. I think I would prefer the 400 2.8, putting that  on my primary camera. That camera could be your D800, or you could rent a D4. If  you choose to go with a D600, as your second camera, the 70-200 would be put on. The teleconverter would stay in the bag for emergencies.

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ryan2007
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to mfouks, Apr 14, 2013

mfouks wrote:

I am going on a photo safari in African (Kenya)  in September and I was thinking that I would get an additional backup camera.  I am currently using a D800.  My telephoto lens at the moment is a 70-200 f2.8 with a 2X extender.   My first question is what would make sense as a second camera?  I was thinking that the D7200 would be a good choice but perhaps a D600 would be better (assuming no dust issues).  I believe both are about the same size/weight.

My second issue which I will also post on the lens forum is what telephoto lens to either invest in or rent.  I am looking for something not too heavy (will be using beanbags not a  tripod) as I am very concerned about holding and travelling with a heavy lens although I guess the beanbags will help.  So I am considering the 300 f2.8 lens or the new 80-400 lens that has just come out.  I have rented the 300 f2.8 for another trip and found it to be about as heavy as I can handle.  I also used the 1.4 and the 2X teleconverter with it.  Am I correct that the image quality will be much better using the 300 2.8 lens with teleconverters  as opposed to the new 80-400 lens?  I was thinking that one camera would be used with the 70-200 and the other would be used with the longer lens.

Any comments/ideas would be very much appreciated.

Marsha

Traveling light could mean going DX.  It could mean going to a different system and micro four thirds is worth it. Look at the Panasonic GH-3 or a rangefinder style.

next completely different for stills not so much for video is the Fuji x100s, X20, XE, Xpro

the Xpro, XE and even Nikon A have a large sensor.  You can go to B&H photos site and search point and shoot and arrange the list for cost high to low.  I think the Sony is a $2000, p&s.

If your shooting lots of action a DSLR is the best solution.  For everything else these are good options and you will like the lighter load.

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mfouks
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to ryan2007, Apr 14, 2013

Thanks.  I actually used a GH1 before switching to another system.  I did like that camera but I want to have a backup Nikon camera.  I don't actually have a problem with the weight of the D800- its just the really heavy lenses  like the 300 f2.8 that I might have trouble with and taking all of the equipment to Africa due to carry on weight restrictions.  I'm pretty sure I will go for a 7100 or D600 as a backup camera.

I do have a NEX 7 as well which I was planning on taking as well for a third camera.  I just need to get a good lens for it- for wide angle shots.  The Nikon systems would handle 90% of the shots.

Marsha

ryan2007 wrote:

mfouks wrote:

I am going on a photo safari in African (Kenya)  in September and I was thinking that I would get an additional backup camera.  I am currently using a D800.  My telephoto lens at the moment is a 70-200 f2.8 with a 2X extender.   My first question is what would make sense as a second camera?  I was thinking that the D7200 would be a good choice but perhaps a D600 would be better (assuming no dust issues).  I believe both are about the same size/weight.

My second issue which I will also post on the lens forum is what telephoto lens to either invest in or rent.  I am looking for something not too heavy (will be using beanbags not a  tripod) as I am very concerned about holding and travelling with a heavy lens although I guess the beanbags will help.  So I am considering the 300 f2.8 lens or the new 80-400 lens that has just come out.  I have rented the 300 f2.8 for another trip and found it to be about as heavy as I can handle.  I also used the 1.4 and the 2X teleconverter with it.  Am I correct that the image quality will be much better using the 300 2.8 lens with teleconverters  as opposed to the new 80-400 lens?  I was thinking that one camera would be used with the 70-200 and the other would be used with the longer lens.

Any comments/ideas would be very much appreciated.

Marsha

Traveling light could mean going DX.  It could mean going to a different system and micro four thirds is worth it. Look at the Panasonic GH-3 or a rangefinder style.

next completely different for stills not so much for video is the Fuji x100s, X20, XE, Xpro

the Xpro, XE and even Nikon A have a large sensor.  You can go to B&H photos site and search point and shoot and arrange the list for cost high to low.  I think the Sony is a $2000, p&s.

If your shooting lots of action a DSLR is the best solution.  For everything else these are good options and you will like the lighter load.

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joneil
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to mfouks, Apr 14, 2013

If you can at all, get another D800.  many of the suggestions on this thread have talked about some very good camera bodies, but the point is, even inside the same brand, form one model number to another there are enough differences to drive you nuts.   Different batteries, different chargers for the batteries, different settings for shooting, etc, etc.  Two matching bodies is really a lot easier in any situation.

This is not something new, it goes back to the days of film SLRs, something the old guys taught me.  In situations where you don't have much time to think about shooting (say sporting events, or even moments on a trip like yours), you want to concentrate on your subject first and foremost.

There was one exception - way back in the days of film ( you know, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, etc    ),  some guys used to shoot both colour and B&W film at the same time.  In those situations, a person would load one camera always with colour, and the other different body with B&W film, and this was how you told the difference.   A modern equivalent of this would be if you had an infra-red modified camera, then you shoot two different bodies for sure.

If you cannot get another D800, or cannot afford one, in full frame, look at a good used D700.  Different battery and card, but the thing is built like a tank.   The D600 has, IMO, better images, but the auto focus is not as good, and personally I find the D600 is a "delicate" camera, not a body to stand up to abuse in the field.   In the DX bodies, the older D300s are tough, and the new D7100s are pretty good too.  The advantage with the D7100, or even a D7000, is they use the same batteries

One more thing - when on a trip like this, you never, ever, ever have enough SD (or CF) cards.  Ever.  Trust me

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mfouks
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to joneil, Apr 14, 2013

Good advice-thanks.  Some one else suggested getting a second D800 (actually if I went that route I would probably get the D800e).   But I do like the idea of a lower weight camera and I do have carry on weight restrictions which has to be considered.  I'm very tempted to get the 7100 and the new 80-400 lens.  But I also really like the 300 2.8 with a TC (used it in Costa Rica) but that is a much heavier/more expensive lens than the 80-400 and less convenient/flexible.

It is nice that the 7100 uses the same battery so I think that might be my second choice rather than the D600.

Marsha

joneil wrote:

If you can at all, get another D800.  many of the suggestions on this thread have talked about some very good camera bodies, but the point is, even inside the same brand, form one model number to another there are enough differences to drive you nuts.   Different batteries, different chargers for the batteries, different settings for shooting, etc, etc.  Two matching bodies is really a lot easier in any situation.

This is not something new, it goes back to the days of film SLRs, something the old guys taught me.  In situations where you don't have much time to think about shooting (say sporting events, or even moments on a trip like yours), you want to concentrate on your subject first and foremost.

There was one exception - way back in the days of film ( you know, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, etc    ),  some guys used to shoot both colour and B&W film at the same time.  In those situations, a person would load one camera always with colour, and the other different body with B&W film, and this was how you told the difference.   A modern equivalent of this would be if you had an infra-red modified camera, then you shoot two different bodies for sure.

If you cannot get another D800, or cannot afford one, in full frame, look at a good used D700.  Different battery and card, but the thing is built like a tank.   The D600 has, IMO, better images, but the auto focus is not as good, and personally I find the D600 is a "delicate" camera, not a body to stand up to abuse in the field.   In the DX bodies, the older D300s are tough, and the new D7100s are pretty good too.  The advantage with the D7100, or even a D7000, is they use the same batteries

One more thing - when on a trip like this, you never, ever, ever have enough SD (or CF) cards.  Ever.  Trust me

 mfouks's gear list:mfouks's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon Df Nikon D810 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR +4 more
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larrywilson
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Re: Backup camera for Africa
In reply to mfouks, Apr 14, 2013

Watch out for the d7100 in lower light if your photographing in the morning and evenings.  The d7100 is limited for high iso's.  For low light you can't beat the d3s or d4 for low noise level and don't need to spend much time in pp for noise reduction which leads to lower subject detail.  If you keep the iso below 1600 then the d7100 might be ok.  I have a d4 and a d7100 and the d4 is my go with camera in anything but bright conditions.

Larry

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