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

Started Nov 14, 2013 | Discussions thread
Grevture Veteran Member • Posts: 4,188
Re: Well, for a temporary solution ...

jfriend00 wrote:

I'm not interested in spending $1500 to get 1/2 stop improvement.

But it is not like you would use the TC on every lens, all the time? While if you go for the so called "DX reach advantage" you actually do limit your light gathering, your DOF control for every single shot regardless of lens.

To me FX + TC is a much more flexible way of obtaining reach then using a DX sensor.

And, by the way, my experience with a TC 1.4 on my 200-400 is that it also compromises AF performance and sharpness at 400mm. That option does not seem like a good use of $1500.

But if you have the 200-400 I cannot really see why you need the extra reach for soccer anyway. 400 mm and 12 MP is plenty of reach.

If I buy a D700, I would not use a TC for soccer and just deal with the reach difference. My shooting range would have to move closer.

Which is not an altogether bad idea. I shoot soccer with 70-200 for close action (around a goal) and 300 or 300 + TC-14 for field shots. If I had a 200-400 I would not bother with a TC either.

I wouldn't buy a D3 without buffer expansion.

OK, I was just checking, many are not aware of that peculiarity of the D3 vs D700.

OK, but a D3s costs $3200-$4000. That's a lot for an "interim" camera that I don't intend to keep for the long haul.

But then why not keep if for the long haul? It is a great camera. Or, sell it with a minor loss after a year or two - a lot cheaper then renting for sure.

See earlier comments about using the TC - I don't find it a useful tradeoff in this case. If light is brighter, it can be more useful because you aren't pushing high ISO so the 1-stop loss doesn't bother you as much and AF performance isn't as affected by adding the TC. But, this purpose of this purchase is low light situations (ISO 3200-6400) at f/4.

Going from f4 to f5.6, I can see your point, but again, to me a 200-400 basically solves the issue anyway. 400 mm is plenty of reach.

This is the conundrum Nikon has forced people like me to face. There is no new camera that's semi-affordable that does 8fps. So, options for a new camera to get better high ISO are asking to spend significant money and accept a downgrade in fps. When the hardest things I shoot are action sports and birds in flight (where fps is helpful), I don't enjoy the thought of spending a bunch of money for a different body and accepting a downgrade in fps. When I dole out for new Nikon body, I try to buy one that I'm going to be happy with for at least 4 years and not be wanting to replace it a year from now. That simply wouldn't be the case if I bought a 6fps body. So, I'm looking at older cameras to try to avoid this compromise. I wouldn't get as much sensor improvement or as many MP, but I'd spend a lot less money so I could replace it when Nikon finally gets off their butt and comes out with either a D750 or D400.

Well, it is as much of a conundrum as you make it ... Nikon does not force you to demand 8 fps - that is entirely your choice. Up until the D300 no camera of that price range had 8 fps as an option, and frankly I feel many people (not only you) are over obsessing a bit about it.

I have shot sports for 30+ years now, and as much as I appreciate having the 9 fps of the D3 and D3s, again, I run them in 5 fps mode most of the time anyway. It is only in rather rare occasions that is a real limitation, and dealing with all the extra megabytes produced by a higher framerate is in most cases just not worth it in my eyes.

Now I would leave D7000, D600 and D610 out of the discussion for another reason - while the 39 point AF works well in normal light, in weak light it is noticeably less reliable then the 51 point AF you get in the other cameras you are considering.

So, if you leave those cameras out of the discussion, what camera should I consider that is less than 8fps, that is a good camera for action and that would solve my high ISO issue? D7100?

D7100 is a good choice if you are convinced the "DX reach advantage" really is important to you. Basically its only shortcomings as a sports camera are the buffer and the somewhat large file size (but you seem to want 24 MP, so that should not be an issue).

D800 in crop mode? I've rented the D800 and found full frame 4fps too restrictive and 36MP a pain for large sports shoots

So if 36 MP at 4 fps is such a pain, then should not 24 MP at 8 fps (which seem to be what you want from a theoretical D400) be a even bigger issue? Its 33% mode megabytes to process for any given situation ...

and found DX crop mode too much of a viewfinder compromise. Again, this is not a camera optimized for what I do that I would want to keep for sports for at least 4 years. A D7100 wouldn't give me as much high ISO advantage as the D700,

They are actually surprisingly close as long as you do not make the mistake of comparing at 100%.

but would be about a stop better than my D300 at only $1150, but ouch that tiny buffer size seems like a serious detractor even at 6fps. So, what else are you recommending that doesn't do 8fps?

The D7100 if you want the "DX reach" or a D3s if you really want the best iso performance for the buck. Or a D3 if you want a cheaper solution. Just as I wrote below:

The D3s sure is a brilliant camera and would be my first recommendation, that is if you really like working with a large camera body. Personally I love the big cameras - which is why I have three of them - but if you have not used one a lot, do try before you buy - some photographers just don't like them. If you feel the price is too high, then go for a D3. And if you don't like a big body, then the D700 would be my next recommendation very closely followed by a D7100.

I owned and shot with a D2x for awhile and always shoot sports with the grip attached to my D300 and on a monopod so the large body style is fine with me.

I like it to. With big lenses a small camera body just means less grip area which mean a tighter grip, meaning more tense muscles, meaning ... Pain.

Either way, you are going to be fine. I got my first D3 body when it was first released in late 2007, added a second body a little over a year later and then a D3s two and a half years ago. Between them, they have taken about 600 000 images, the vast majority sports images. I almost exclusively shoot with 70-200/2,8 + 300/2,8, the latter often with a TC-14.

Besides the high ISO improvement, are there any other differences between the D3 and D3s? Did the D3s add video?

As I wrote in my previous reply

And also, compared to the D3, you get a twice as large buffer, dust shake and a camera which is usually about two years newer then the average used D3. So there is more to the price difference then just higher iso.

And yes, you get a rudimentary but useful video (720p, and MJPG compression). And it adds some very subtle AF improvements.

And overall ...

You are of course completely free to set any limits or any demands on the camera you want, that is entirely your choice. But I cannot escape a feeling you are a little over fixated on some numbers to a degree where you sort of miss the bigger picture.

A D7100, D700, a D3, or a D3s are all great F mount cameras for capturing sports. None of them match precisely your ideal spec sheet, but that does not take away the fact they are all in various ways meaningful upgrades over your current D300. None of them are perfect in terms of fulfilling your dream specification, but they all add some advantages and some disadvantages.

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