comparing fps rates/buffers and why you might care

Started Dec 8, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Kerry Pierce
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comparing fps rates/buffers and why you might care

Below is a comparison of the buffer/fps rate for 4 cameras, primarily compared against the d300s standard of performance.

The use of high FPS rates are apparently not well understood by a lot of folks, but suffice it to say that the pros that shoot sports, action, wildlife, etc, have very high fps rates available in the pro class cameras, such as the d4.  The d4 sets a new standard for Nikon, by having 10fps with AF, 11fps with focus and exposure locked. The d3s has 9fps with AF and up to 11fps with focus locked.

The fact that both the d300 and the 7d are 8fps capable, is very significant to the amateur sports/action shooting crowd,  because they are not far off of the top fps rates available to the pros.

Of course, any sports/action shooter wants to try to time his shots to get the best shot of any given action by the subject. The more familiar one is with a particular sport, the more experience one has shooting a particular sport, the better he can time his shots.  Motor drives were invented because even the best pro shooters couldn't always time their shots for the best photo available.  The higher the fps rate, the better the chance that one could get the best photo available, out of any possible sequence of photos.

The high fps rates available today, allow the shooter to not only capture the peak moment of action, but different facial expressions or other important details can also be captured during the peak moments.

The professionals have a huge advantage for shooting sports/action, because they garner tons of experience shooting any given sport, which allows them to much more easily predict peak moments of action that needs to be captured.

Amateurs usually don't have the time invested, not even close to what the pros have, so it is much more difficult for them to predict peak moments. Amateurs know that they need to predict peak moments, but they don't have the skills/experience needed to do so. This is especially true for the amateurs that are trying to shoot multiple sports events. That's where the higher fps rates and especially the larger buffers come into play for the amateur shooters.  It helps to make up for their lack of experience and knowledge of any given sport, by giving them a technological advantage.

d300s buffer capacity/fps        100 JPG  @ 7fps  or 17 NEF  @ 7fps.

d300s/d700 with el4a battery   100 JPG  @ 8fps  or 19 NEF  @ 8fps

7d                                         320 JPG  @ 8fps  or 24 RAW  @ 8fps

70d                                        17 JPG  @ 7.2fps or 11 RAW @ 7.5fps

d7100                                     50 JPG  @ 5.9fps or  6 NEF  @ 5.9fps

d7100 1.3x Crop mode (15mp) 100 JPG  @ 7fps   or  7 NEF  @ 7fps

Both the 7d and d300s are about the same age, 3 to 4 years old, yet they are still much better suited to shooting action, than either of the newest offerings from Canon or Nikon, especially when the buffers are considered.

The 7d is exceptional for high speed shooting with RAW, giving the user a full 3 seconds of any given action sequence.  The d300s only gives about 2.4 seconds of an action sequence.  The d7100 is the worst of the lot, only giving 1 second of an action sequence.

Having said all that, I would guess that the number of times that a user would actually use the full time/buffer allotted by the d300 or 7d would be few.  What I would normally do is shoot several smaller sequences of shots, often in rapid succession, rather than 1 long sequence, but the problems are almost the same.  When you shoot several sequences in rapid succession, you must have a big buffer, just as you would if you were shooting one long burst.

There is nothing more frustrating to an action shooter than pressing the shutter release on what you can see is a special moment, and having the camera do nothing, because the buffer is full... Too often, those moments are gone forever.

Aside from shooting sports/action, I frequently use high fps rates when shooting portraits, especially candids and/group portraits.  I use the fps rates and buffer to allow me to get the best facial expressions. With candids and group portraits, getting good facial expressions can be difficult.  Unlike sports, you can't predict anything.  People will blink, open/close their mouth, frown, etc with no warning.  The more people in the shot, the more difficult it is to get a shot where all of the people have good facial expressions, eyes open, natural smiles, etc.

Here is hoping that the d300s is not the last/best word from Nikon for the amateur shooter.


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 Kerry Pierce's gear list:Kerry Pierce's gear list
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D Nikon AF Nikkor 105mm f/2D DC Nikon AF Nikkor 135mm f/2D DC +17 more
Canon EOS 70D Canon EOS 7D Nikon D300 Nikon D300S Nikon D3S Nikon D4 Nikon D7100
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