Advice on choosing between D90 - D300S - 7D

Started Nov 23, 2009 | Discussions thread
west29 Regular Member • Posts: 166
Re: Advice on choosing between D90 - D300S - 7D

I can only talk to Nikon. Being a bit glib, let's assume that the basic potential to capture an image is the same because of the same sensor and look at what matters to me about the package.

Up front, I'm going to say that I really noticed the difference between a D300 and a D90 when lugging them around. How you are going to carry and use them may actually be a defining thing. Taking a D90 with a small prime to a restaurant is much less in the subject's face than a D300. (Or for anyone else come to that which may be a security / privacy / embarrassment factor.) Obviously it depends on the coat but I can get a D90 into an outside pocket where there's no hope with a D300 - that takes a bag or a strap or a firm hand. Unless you're a proud possessor of huge hands for which the D90 is too dinky, I say D90 wins.

Ergonomically, the differences are not as much as you might expect. Where the D300 has a number of single use knobs and switches, the D90 has dual use of most. Whilst that sounds more cumbersome, most are actually single use for what you are doing at the time. So, when taking pics, the WB button only does white balance. There's no difference between the number of steps to change it between the two bodies. That generally holds true for most of the commonly changed items but not all. I put the AF-area mode onto the function button. You do lose the AF-ON button to lock focus but I just do the half press thing. I'm sure some will appreciate that with dedicated switches the visual feedback for the current status is clear and easy. That might be true if you're migrating from a long line of Nikons but as a newbie like me, you can just learn to press the info button which makes it all pretty clear anyway. Score draw.

The biggy for me with the D300(s) is the AF system. In theory it's cracking and great for fast moving kids. I don't think that it is night and day different from the D90 but it's has the advantage that it largely gets out of your way rather than being something that you have to factor to some degree. Of course, that all depends on the AF motor speed & accuracy of the lens in use. No point having a satnav in a Robin Reliant. That says get a prime for inside or good light outside with a standard/slower zoom where you can stop down and get some flexibility.

If you've got the balls to consider a D300, I'm not sure that I agree that you have to regard the D300 as more complicated than a D90. It suggests to me that you're aiming to select your mode using letters rather than nifty icons. That being the case, know where to start with a D300 and ignore all the finessing for the time being. Use P or A while you get familiar and then start fiddling. That's what you're going to have to do with a D90 anyway...

Unless you are quite hardcore with your photography, I'm not sure that rugged or weather sealing are all that material. Are you really going to be snapping in the rain we've been having or on a jaunt to the sand and dust of the Sahara? Are you expecting to be swinging bodies around your neck whilst hiking or jumping in and out of vehicles? If you're just a normal Dad who looks after his toys any Nikon is rugged enough to last through to obsolescence barring an accident that you have real insurance for.

FWIW, I mentally went 'SNAP' reading your description of yourself. I sold my D300 and kept the D90. Being honest though that was an unusual outbreak of head over heart and my kit fever still has me lusting after a D300s. Objectively though, I'd line up with the groupthink and urge you to spend the same, get a D90 and use the difference on improving the lens outfit which will last longer than the body. 16-85mm, 35mm and depending on dosh/expected use, the Tokina 11-16mm or Nikon 70-300mm or both. Or if really flush and rugged of heart (being rich wont make it any smaller or lighter) the lot.

Oh and another thing. If you want to take a picture of the Aurora, I'd imagine that some kind of tripod is going to come in handy. As you're travelling with the family, that probably means a Gorilla Pod. You aren't going to be wanting to crawl around on the floor much so do consider using either the timer and exposure delay mode or a remote or both. On that note, the D90's dinky ML-L3 is cheap as chips and very serviceable. The D300's Nikon answer is horrifically expensive so get a Cleon off eBay (which is also a wireless remote - yay!).

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Andrew

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