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

Started Nov 14, 2013 | Discussions thread
yray Senior Member • Posts: 1,739
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

Rent them or borrow them and try them out. I doubt you would get a noticeably better AF with the D3 than with the D700 (at least with the grip on for extra power), I don't see much if any improvement in D3s over D700 as far as AF goes. IMO, D700 AF is pretty much as good as they get already. So, I would rule the D3 out unless you're attracted to the full-sized bodies.

As far as the reach, I doubt 16MP D4 would have a dramatic advantage over any of those you mentioned. Also, not sure what you call twilight. In my experience twilight doesn't last long, certainly not a whole game duration. And when it gets dark, with high-school type stadium lighting, you will likely want an f/2.8 lens even on a D3s. I personally shot a game once which started under bright and clear sunset, so I used a TC which made my lens an f/4, and then took my chances and left the TC on for the second half of the game as well. By the midpoint of the second half I could hardly get any shots with manageable noise levels. Since then, I have always taken the TC off at halftime. This is something to keep in mind if you plan to use the 200-400.

IMO, 400mm on a 12MP FF, depending on the light quality of course, gives you good reach within 1/3 of the soccer field, and a so-so reach between about 1/3 and 1/2. By so-so I mean that you can, for instance, reach across the width of the field in good light and get a decent shot, but probably not with a so-so light. On the other hand, a 300mm on a 12MP FF, will give you good reach within about 1/4 of the field and so-so between 1/4 and 1/3. These are approximations of course, but there is a very tangible difference between 300 and 400mm. Unfortunately, 400mm f/2.8 is entirely out of my budget, not to mention that I strongly prefer zooms for sports.

And again, coming to the issue of twilight. Since I don't know your conditions and they might be better than I imagine, if you could stay within say ISO 3200, I would say don't bother with the D3s, you won't see much of a difference. Going into ISO 6400 - 12800 range might be a little different, but even then you should probably see the difference for yourself before you invest a fortune. And, as a side note, if you take the D700 grip off, it becomes relatively portable, while you can't say the same about D3s.

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