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

Started Nov 14, 2013 | Discussions
Kerry Pierce
Kerry Pierce Forum Pro • Posts: 19,757
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

jfriend00 wrote:

I would be using my 200-400 on the FX speed camera as I appreciate the zoom for soccer to help cover more of the field and a wider variety of players from one shooting position. I generally do not put a TC on it because it really knocks down the AF performance and I can notice some IQ degradation with the TC at 400mm (my 200-400 is tack sharp at 200) and I don't want to give up a stop of light. I would also like to get more background isolation with f/4 on FX and not give that back by using the TC.

I've never used a 200-400, so have no idea how it will focus with any given camera. IMO, the d3 bodies will AF slightly better than the d300/d700. If the 200-400 is already a problem in low light, the d700 may not give you the performance you want.

If you're noise sensitive and want the absolute best AF in all conditions, I'd point at the d3s.

Rental is probably a good idea once I have an idea of which I want to go for and I particularly need to make sure I'm OK with the range of the 200-400 on FX for how I shoot (or discover how I can adapt how I shoot to the different range).

Yes, I agree completely. It's too bad that you & I don't live close. I'd let you borrow the d700 and d3s to see the difference. In all honesty, if you're thinking of spending the big bucks on the d3s or even the d3, I'd suggest renting both the d700 and d3s for a few days and testing them against one another. You may find that the d700 does what you need done at half the price of a d3s.

good luck
Kerry

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OP jfriend00 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,395
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

Micheal Hall wrote:

I've been considering this same thing lately myself.

I'd go with a D800, a vertical grip and bounce between shooting in FX/DX mode. You're already used to DX and you still get 15.4MP when you're there. And you have the 51 point AF system that is in the D4.

I shoot both Nikon and Canon and love my D3s, but the lenses I have for that is for indoor sports and I lack what I need for shooting soccer. On the other hand, I have a number Canon 1D mkIIIs I could be using and they perform excellently at 10fps. But at only 10.1MP they just aren't quite what I need in terms of resolution for the lenses I have. So this Fall I've been shooting soccer, waterpolo, tennis and cross country with my Canon 1Ds mkIII and a 200mm 1.8 + 1.4TC. It gives me a 280mm 2.5 at 21MP (or 16.7MP at 364mm at 1.3x crop factor - the same as the 1DmkIV).

The only thing I give up is frame rate - it's only 3fps but I've been walking away with 300 - 400+ keepers after the games (waterpolo and soccer). But sports is more about timing than sequences, I've always felt.

The 21MP resolution allows me to crop in a bit more and I've been printing some sample images here in the studio as 12x18s and they are holding up excellently. I've felt the lack of raw fps a couple of times, but have overall been very happy with it.

I would think that it might be worth renting a D800 and grip and giving it a go. Another plus point is that you can quickly switch from DX to FX without having to change cameras making your lenses a bit more versatile at the expense of frame rate. Not only that, but now you have an incredible high resolution, full frame body for other uses.

Just a few thoughts - I'm leaning in this direction myself.

I have rented a D800 for soccer and found it was not a good fit for how I shoot for a number of reasons.  I don't care to sidetrack this thread with that argument all over again so I won't go into my reasons, but I have given it a try and shot three games with it and it is not what I want.

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OP jfriend00 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,395
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

Kerry Pierce wrote:

jfriend00 wrote:

I would be using my 200-400 on the FX speed camera as I appreciate the zoom for soccer to help cover more of the field and a wider variety of players from one shooting position. I generally do not put a TC on it because it really knocks down the AF performance and I can notice some IQ degradation with the TC at 400mm (my 200-400 is tack sharp at 200) and I don't want to give up a stop of light. I would also like to get more background isolation with f/4 on FX and not give that back by using the TC.

I've never used a 200-400, so have no idea how it will focus with any given camera. IMO, the d3 bodies will AF slightly better than the d300/d700. If the 200-400 is already a problem in low light, the d700 may not give you the performance you want.

If you're noise sensitive and want the absolute best AF in all conditions, I'd point at the d3s.

Rental is probably a good idea once I have an idea of which I want to go for and I particularly need to make sure I'm OK with the range of the 200-400 on FX for how I shoot (or discover how I can adapt how I shoot to the different range).

Yes, I agree completely. It's too bad that you & I don't live close. I'd let you borrow the d700 and d3s to see the difference. In all honesty, if you're thinking of spending the big bucks on the d3s or even the d3, I'd suggest renting both the d700 and d3s for a few days and testing them against one another. You may find that the d700 does what you need done at half the price of a d3s.

Yeah, probably the best solution is to rent the D700 and if it works good enough for what I'm trying to accomplish, then I can go with the less expensive option.  My challenge would be testing the rental on a real game in the real lighting at the real venue (a pre-season game) and then finding the right used D700 quick enough before the season starts.  Finding the right D700 that has an acceptable shutter count and isn't overbid on price and then winning the auction looks like it could take some time.

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Micheal Hall Senior Member • Posts: 1,040
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?
1

Ah, I didn't realize this thread was connected with any sort of previous argument on the topic.

Since you are dead set against the D800 and I've since seen that you are shooting the 200-400, I'd lean toward the D3s. I also have a couple of D700s and a D3 and the D3s is a very notable improvement. It's simply an incredible camera and I've been looking to pick up a couple more of them. I've shot soccer with a 400 2.8 and the D3s and was very happy with the results and the experience.

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Micheal

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tommiejeep Veteran Member • Posts: 6,588
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

A D400 with better high iso may or may not come .   Nikon seems to have dropped the Amateur Sports Shooter in a hole.  I do not always need the high fps but when I want it I really want it.

For a few years I've been shooting soccer matches with 3 to 4 cameras each match.  Until earlier this year all matches started at 3: or 3:30 PM (everything is late in Goa ) , now they officially start at 4PM .

I was able to shoot D300, D300s with grips, 70-200vr and 300 2.8vr for about an hour or so and then the D3S and D700(gripped for the remainder of the matches.  Loss of reach is a pain but the 300 2.8vr w/ TC works fine just ups the iso.

The D700 w/ grip (as has been suggested) works well.

Next week I will be trying the D610.  The 39 pts is not a problem for the way I shoot soccer and the 24 MP is a big improvement for cropping.  I have shot the D610 for BIF and think it is slightly faster and more positive than the D7100.  I'll shoot it against the D700 and see.   The D3S is my favourite,  it just allows so much more scope for light and speed, but in good light the D300s/ /grip is very good.

So according to cost : used D4, used D3s , used D700 w/grip . Shame about the buffer on the D7100 , I've not shot it much for soccer but at dusk it does seem to do ISO's 1600-3200 better than the D300s ( a very different noise) .

Cheers,

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seahawk
seahawk Senior Member • Posts: 2,896
a very good question
1

Imho there is no replacement for a D300 / D700 in the current Nikon line-up.

Fast like the D300 and better high-ISO. Imho it is either a used D700 or a new D7100 (if you shoot jpg it works, if you shoot RAW buffer is a problem).

D3S should work as well but is still quite expensive.

But all in all Nikon currently has no new camera below the D4 that is not a bad compromise of some kind for the action shooter.

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DesertLefty Regular Member • Posts: 355
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

jfriend00 wrote:

I own a D300 now and it suits my needs when the light is good... But, I need ... ISO 1600 and above... So, I'm trying to figure out what to get to tide me over until a new action camera does come out. As none of the options available new are ideal for what I shoot, I will only buy used so as to not lose as much money when the actual camera I want becomes available and want to trade up.

The D700 is a wonderful camera, but its sensor is just as old as your D300 (albeit bigger).

If you like the reach of DX, consider getting a D7100. You will find the sensor to be DRAMATICALLY better than your D300 in low light and maybe even a little better in bright light (greater dynamic range). You'll give up some frame rate, but you'll still have the 51-point "pro" AF system and you'll still have the reach of a DX sensor. Plus it's cheap enough that you can buy new.

If you really want FX, get a used D600 and a cleaning kit. I paid $1200 for mine (with 92 clicks). You'll get even better color and lowlight performance plus the "pop" of FX, but you'll cuss the tiny spread on the 39-point AF system every time you use it. However, you're experienced enough to work around the limitations in the tool. And it's not forever. So, consider it a challenge. Here's a sample from mine:

D600 + 70-200mm VR-II + TC-17

DesertLefty Regular Member • Posts: 355
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?
3

jfriend00 wrote:

I'm only considering options that get me 8fps so that rules out D7000, D7100, D600, D610 and D800. I rented a D800 last season for a couple games and did not find it to be a good solution for me.

By fixating on just one dimension of camera performance (frame rate), you're making it hard to find a balanced solution - especially if price is a consideration.

The sensors on the D700 and D3 are just too old. By choosing either of them you will deny yourself the chance to take advantage of some really big improvements that have been made in last 6 years. Since better high-ISO performance is driving factor here, don't put the cart before the horse.

If you really MUST have 8 fps plus noise-free high ISO plus fast AF, then your only choices are the D3s or D4. So, get out your credit card. In my opinion, you might as well get the D4 so that you'll have a few extra MP for cropping, but some people who've used both prefer the D3s.

If, on the other hand, you can give a little bit on frame rate, then you'll have more choices.

Why heck! If one you guys would buy me a Df, I'll bet I could even make that work! Plus it'd be a lot nicer for backpacking and family events than a D3s.

Over 90% of your shots are gonna end up on cutting room floor anyhow. So, who cares if the camera missed a few more because the frame rate was little slower or the AF sensor was lame. As you said, nobody's paying you to do this. They'll be thrilled beyond belief with the quality of your work. You're the only one who will know that the camera missed a few shots. And if YOU really care that much, then pony up for the D4. Over and out! Lefty

M Lammerse
M Lammerse Forum Pro • Posts: 11,444
Re: Renting
1

jfriend00 wrote:

M Lammerse wrote:

Hi jfriend00,

In your situation and I would not own a D3S, D4 or other fast camera suited to capture sports in low/nasty light conditions, rent one.
You write you need to in that case I would assume that you work for an organization who pays you your expenses/rent you etc.

Nobody is paying my expenses. I'm choosing to get something better than my D300 for low light and trying to balance what I get with what I spend to get it (e.g. be efficient with the money).

Renting a D700 for 3 months would cost ~$600. Renting a D3s would cost $1300. Renting a D4 would cost $1700.

Hi john,

Wow, that is indeed expensive over there. That is if you have to rent it on a daily basis I guess?
Well, than it is a question of purchasing a used body if you think it's worth the expense for hobby, A D3S will do it well.
I still use myself a D3S, and in comparison with the D700 it has besides faster operation better constant tracking. Even people say that the focus system is similar, the operation is not.
Is the D700 tracking bad, no but the D3S is better.
You own yourself a D300, the D300 tracking ability is comparable with the D700, so if you are happy with that and with the speed, a D700 will do well.
Michel

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joejack951 Senior Member • Posts: 2,682
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

I love the D3S that I purchased mainly for my wife as a higher-ISO capable replacement for the D300S (and it delivers there in spades). As the sports shooter in the family, I also wanted it over say a D700 for the slightly faster frame rate and larger buffer. However, my own and only gripe with the camera relative to the D300S w/grip, D700 w/grip, or D4 is the loss of the joystick on the vertical shooting grip. Changing focus points on the D3S while using the vertical grip is awkward at best. I've tried to get used to using the scroll wheels plus the function button for this task but too often I screw that up and revert back to the awkward thumb reach to the four-way controller. If you can in any way manage to spring for the D4 (which has a joystick on the grip), it's worth it for that reason alone, assuming you shoot a lot of verticals, like using the grip, and use off-center AF points.

At the time I bought the used D3S, only new D4s were available at $6000. If I had an option for a used one at $4500 at the time, I would have bought it.

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ZinMe Contributing Member • Posts: 771
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

tommiejeep wrote:

Next week I will be trying the D610. The 39 pts is not a problem for the way I shoot soccer and the 24 MP is a big improvement for cropping. I have shot the D610 for BIF and think it is slightly faster and more positive than the D7100. I'll shoot it against the D700 and see.

Let us know how it goes with the D610.   I am thinking about making that change as well.  I shoot a D300 with a 300mm 2.8 VRI for sports.   I think I could trade my 300mmf2.8 for a used 200-400mm f4 + a little cash, which would address the reach issue of going to FX, and even though I'd be a stop slower at f4, the D610 would still be much better at high ISO and I think I can live with the AF and lower burst.  I find that I shoot my D300 for sports using only the 9 central AF points, because otherwise the system doesn't keep up with movement well enough as I use very shallow DOF to blur the crappy backgrounds associated with most playing fields.   My understanding is the D610 AF is fast and accurate provided you don't need the larger coverage area.  The D610 also has the benefit of being useful for general photography not just sports when you don't want to lug a pro-body around.  6fps is not bad either.   Let us know how it goes.

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OP jfriend00 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,395
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?
1

DesertLefty wrote:

Over 90% of your shots are gonna end up on cutting room floor anyhow. So, who cares if the camera missed a few more because the frame rate was little slower or the AF sensor was lame.

Are you joking here. I care about frame rate and AF. I'm guessing you don't shoot a lot of action yourself or you wouldn't be making these statements. AF is the single most important aspect of a camera when shooting action. An out-of-focus shot is worthless - an out-of-focus sequence is maddening. And, I know the difference between 4fps and 8fps - it's significant for the way I shoot certain types of action sequences.

As you said, nobody's paying you to do this. They'll be thrilled beyond belief with the quality of your work. You're the only one who will know that the camera missed a few shots. And if YOU really care that much, then pony up for the D4. Over and out! Lefty

You make it sound like because I'm not making money on this, I don't care about the quality of my work. Sorry, Charlie - that's just not the case. A D4 might be nice, but it's not required to shoot action so I'm investigating the options that are much more efficient with my money.

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Kerry Pierce
Kerry Pierce Forum Pro • Posts: 19,757
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

jfriend00 wrote:

Yeah, probably the best solution is to rent the D700 and if it works good enough for what I'm trying to accomplish, then I can go with the less expensive option. My challenge would be testing the rental on a real game in the real lighting at the real venue (a pre-season game) and then finding the right used D700 quick enough before the season starts. Finding the right D700 that has an acceptable shutter count and isn't overbid on price and then winning the auction looks like it could take some time.

Yes, getting to the resolution of the issue can be an exercise in frustration.

Check your PM's, I sent one with some other info.

Kerry

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alan54g Regular Member • Posts: 469
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?
3

DesertLefty wrote:

jfriend00 wrote:

I'm only considering options that get me 8fps so that rules out D7000, D7100, D600, D610 and D800. I rented a D800 last season for a couple games and did not find it to be a good solution for me.

By fixating on just one dimension of camera performance (frame rate), you're making it hard to find a balanced solution - especially if price is a consideration.

The sensors on the D700 and D3 are just too old. By choosing either of them you will deny yourself the chance to take advantage of some really big improvements that have been made in last 6 years. Since better high-ISO performance is driving factor here, don't put the cart before the horse.

If you really MUST have 8 fps plus noise-free high ISO plus fast AF, then your only choices are the D3s or D4. So, get out your credit card. In my opinion, you might as well get the D4 so that you'll have a few extra MP for cropping, but some people who've used both prefer the D3s.

If, on the other hand, you can give a little bit on frame rate, then you'll have more choices.

Why heck! If one you guys would buy me a Df, I'll bet I could even make that work! Plus it'd be a lot nicer for backpacking and family events than a D3s.

Over 90% of your shots are gonna end up on cutting room floor anyhow. So, who cares if the camera missed a few more because the frame rate was little slower or the AF sensor was lame. As you said, nobody's paying you to do this. They'll be thrilled beyond belief with the quality of your work. You're the only one who will know that the camera missed a few shots. And if YOU really care that much, then pony up for the D4. Over and out! Lefty

Well I couldn't agree more with DesertLefty. The pro's shoot hundreds of shots and only 1 or a few get printed.

I told you last night what I thought and my comment got stripped. So one must be careful on being truthful. You are all over the map with your wants and needs but you won't listen to anyone or put the money out.

Good luck shooter.

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OP jfriend00 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,395
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

alan54g wrote:

DesertLefty wrote:

jfriend00 wrote:

I'm only considering options that get me 8fps so that rules out D7000, D7100, D600, D610 and D800. I rented a D800 last season for a couple games and did not find it to be a good solution for me.

By fixating on just one dimension of camera performance (frame rate), you're making it hard to find a balanced solution - especially if price is a consideration.

The sensors on the D700 and D3 are just too old. By choosing either of them you will deny yourself the chance to take advantage of some really big improvements that have been made in last 6 years. Since better high-ISO performance is driving factor here, don't put the cart before the horse.

If you really MUST have 8 fps plus noise-free high ISO plus fast AF, then your only choices are the D3s or D4. So, get out your credit card. In my opinion, you might as well get the D4 so that you'll have a few extra MP for cropping, but some people who've used both prefer the D3s.

If, on the other hand, you can give a little bit on frame rate, then you'll have more choices.

Why heck! If one you guys would buy me a Df, I'll bet I could even make that work! Plus it'd be a lot nicer for backpacking and family events than a D3s.

Over 90% of your shots are gonna end up on cutting room floor anyhow. So, who cares if the camera missed a few more because the frame rate was little slower or the AF sensor was lame. As you said, nobody's paying you to do this. They'll be thrilled beyond belief with the quality of your work. You're the only one who will know that the camera missed a few shots. And if YOU really care that much, then pony up for the D4. Over and out! Lefty

Well I couldn't agree more with DesertLefty. The pro's shoot hundreds of shots and only 1 or a few get printed.

I told you last night what I thought and my comment got stripped. So one must be careful on being truthful. You are all over the map with your wants and needs but you won't listen to anyone or put the money out.

Good luck shooter.

What I'm looking for has not been all over the map at all.  My desires are very consistent with what action/sports shooters are interested in.  AF, frame rate and buffer size are all important characteristics.  Since I will be shooting in winter twilight (just before and after sunset), high ISO performance at 1600-6400 is also important.

My one additional consideration is that I'm trying to be efficient with my money in the used camera market because none of the cameras available now are ideal for what I do so there's nothing out there I'm willing splurge on that will last me for 5 years.  So, whatever I get will be an interim camera, probably replaced in a year when Nikon comes out with a new camera more suited to what I do.  So, since this is an interim camera, I want to be efficient with the $.

Also, why does it make any difference that only a few shots from a game get printed.  The whole point of having the right gear is to increase the odds of getting the few best shots.  But, if you somehow think this matters, I will typically share 30-40 shots from a given game and it will be up to others how many they want to print.

I'd love to have a new D4, but $6k isn't in the budget - so I'm looking at used options for D3, D3s and D700.

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RikD800 Junior Member • Posts: 41
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

If you don't mind the size and weight I think the D3s is Nikon's best all rounder. I also have a D700 which is a brilliant camera, but the D3s handles so beautifully and of course you know about the high ISO. Get a D3s, it's awesome

DesertLefty Regular Member • Posts: 355
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

jfriend00 wrote:

DesertLefty wrote:

Over 90% of your shots are gonna end up on cutting room floor anyhow. So, who cares if the camera missed a few more because the frame rate was little slower or the AF sensor was lame.

Are you joking here. I care about frame rate and AF. I'm guessing you don't shoot a lot of action yourself or you wouldn't be making these statements. AF is the single most important aspect of a camera when shooting action. An out-of-focus shot is worthless - an out-of-focus sequence is maddening. And, I know the difference between 4fps and 8fps - it's significant for the way I shoot certain types of action sequences.

As you said, nobody's paying you to do this. They'll be thrilled beyond belief with the quality of your work. You're the only one who will know that the camera missed a few shots. And if YOU really care that much, then pony up for the D4. Over and out! Lefty

You make it sound like because I'm not making money on this, I don't care about the quality of my work. Sorry, Charlie - that's just not the case. A D4 might be nice, but it's not required to shoot action so I'm investigating the options that are much more efficient with my money.

John,

Sorry that you missed my point. Maybe my tone wasn't quite right.

I've been watching your galleries for a long time now. You're an outstandingly good photographer. Way better than I am.

My point was that because this isn't a commercial assignment, only YOU can decide the appropriate balance between quality and cost.

Yes, it is frustrating when the camera misses shot, but that's the nature of action sports. What's your keeper rate for soccer? Would it really make a difference if it was 5% lower? At the end of the day, a photographer like you is gonna walk away with a lot of great shots.

P.S. If you haven't tried out a D7100 yet, I suggest that you consider it. It is a very good camera that has almost everything you're looking for.

alan54g Regular Member • Posts: 469
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?
1

A few have said to try a D7100.

You should try a D7100. It is a great camera. If someone knows what they are doing with this camera it will do what you are asking for. You will save a lot of money. The results will not look any different over the cameras you are looking at. It will give you 7 fps in crop mode which works good for sports. You will also save on file size.

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OP jfriend00 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,395
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

alan54g wrote:

A few have said to try a D7100.

You should try a D7100. It is a great camera. If someone knows what they are doing with this camera it will do what you are asking for. You will save a lot of money. The results will not look any different over the cameras you are looking at. It will give you 7 fps in crop mode which works good for sports. You will also save on file size.

Per DXOMark , the high ISO performance of the D700 is about a stop better than the D7100. I think that would be significant at ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 which is what I have to use in the 2nd half of these evening games. That's one reason why if I'm going to get an interim camera, I'm thinking it should be an FX camera that can do high ISO better than even the latest DX camera.

Plus crop mode compromises the high ISO performance even more so I'm not interested in using that at all.

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John Cerra2 Regular Member • Posts: 289
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

I shot a top 25 boys hs basketball team last year with a D600.  Almost always at iso 3200.  The print quality is amazing, I had several professionally printed at 24x36" with no sign od degradation.

Get the fastest card possible, set the AE/AL to being the autofocus button, and shoot afc 9.  You might not then umber of shots per second, but you will get plenty of keepers.

If you message me, I will give you a link to a directory and a password.

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Also shooting with Konica 35mm SLRS (T3 and FT-1) with numerous Hexanon Lenses. Printer: Canon i9900.

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