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: 12,317
Re: Stop analyzing. The D3s is your savior.

Tony Beach wrote:

jfriend00 wrote:.

I would love the extra stop of high ISO performance and extra speed of the D3s over the D700. If I was shooting HS night games where it was this dark under the lights much of the time, I would probably have no choice but a D3s or D4. But, my situation isn't quite that dark and the D3s would cost me more than double what a D700 would (~$3300 vs. $1500) so I'm still evaluating. I'm trying to decide which one to rent first and give it a try.

It seems to me that for your purposes a D700 with a 1.4x teleconverter is mostly a sideways move from your D300. You don't gain fps, and if you use the teleconverter you gain about a third of a stop of ISO (according to DxO Mark) and if don't use the teleconverter you loose reach.

The D3s would be more of an upgrade for you. Looking at DxO Mark the D3s does about a third of a stop better than the D700, and you would actually increase fps, so you would be up two thirds of a stop and have a couple more fps. If you had a fast lens with the same reach as what you currently have, you would be up by about a stop and a half of ISO performance over your D300. I would also note that reports are fairly consistent in these forums that the D3s is a noticeable improvement in AF over the D300.

Just to put this in perspective, if you "settled" for 6 fps from a D7000 you could get that camera really cheap and it would give you more reach and about a third of a stop better ISO performance than your D300 (again, this is according to DxO Mark; I do not profess to know if these numbers are accurate and as always -- YMMV). Also, if you eventually sell the D3s then the price of having used it will be offset by that, so you are effectively "leasing" it, and that wouldn't be a bad deal if the D3s can deliver you customers.

I agree - D700 w/1.4x converter would be a sideways move and not worth it.  The converter detracts from both IQ and AF performance too (more so with the 200-400 than other lenses for some reason) so those are negatives too.  The D700 would only make sense if I thought I could live with the loss of reach and not use the TC which I might be able to do.  The 200-400 on the D300 is actually a bit too much reach on the short end, though there are plenty of times when I appreciate the 400 end for reaching down the field a bit.  I'd have to give up some of that.

The D3s would be nice - more fps and stronger AF.  Unfortunately apparently lots of other folks thing that too because they are still pretty pricey.  They appear to be selling for $3200-$4000 on eBay.  So, if I want the D3s, I'd have to figure out how to get the purchase through procurement (at home).  The D700 would probably lose less total value in a year's use (e.g. a cheaper lease).  If Nikon came out with a semi-affordable 24MP FX sports camera (e.g. a D750), I would expect both D3s and D700 to both drop some more in price since that's the market they are serving.

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