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

Started Nov 14, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP jfriend00 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,367
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

Cliff Fujii wrote:

The D700 has a CH of 5 frames/sec. The D610 has a CH of 6frames/sec. The Df has a CH of 5.5 frames/sec. If you consider the D700 an action camera (which I don't), then the D610 and the Df should fill the bill. The D610 has a composite body where the Df has a magnesium body. If you are considering durability, then the Df wins here. Both the D610 and the Df have a consumer grade focusing system. The fast focusing system is on the D800 and the D4.

The single digit Nikons (the D3, D4, etc.) are designed for PJ or action sports. The D4 has a CH of 11frames/sec. Very fast. Very heavy (1100g). Great at high ISOs. You also need to consider the lens. The AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR will cost over $10,000. Since you are shooting at twilight, If you have stadium lights, you might be able to get away with an f/4 lens and ISO of 12,000. You might want to go to a game and find out what your conditions are going to be. If the pitch you are going to cover has great stadium lights, you might be able to get away with less ISO capability.

For covering action sports, you need a camera that has a high frame rate, a fast focusing system with good tracking, and is durable. That usually means the single digit Nikons.

In case it wasn't clear, I've shot hundreds of daytime soccer games so I'm well familiar with soccer photography.  I'm now trying to extend my shooting capabilities into twilight (right after the sun has gone down) for the high school season and need a camera capable of good action shooting with better high ISO performance than the D300 for that.

The D700 with grip goes 8fps (like the D300).  I own the grip already (use it on my D300) and that's what I'm interested in (8fps).  I'm also interested in the better AF system (in D700, D800, D3, D3s, D4).  I shoot with the 200-400 f/4 (already own it).  I also own the 600 f/4, but it's a bit much for soccer and you can only really set up for one type of shot in one location with it so it ends up being not very flexible (the 200-400 zoom allows you to get many more types of shots from a particular location).

I already know exactly what the lighting is like from last season.  To shoot the second half of the game, I will need ISO 3200-6400 at f/4.  The first half of the game is as the sun is going down and there is more light.  It is twilight (sun already set, but still light from the sky) and the stadium lights aren't really contributing most of the light yet.

FYI, high school stadium lights are generally not very bright.  I tried shooting a full-on night game last year with a rented D800 and the lighting was horrible - I was at ISO 12800 and the lighting color was variable.  I got very few keepers from that test.  f/2.8 or even f/2 would be required for that.  Fortunately, that's not what I'm aiming for.

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