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

Started Nov 14, 2013 | Discussions
ZinMe Contributing Member • Posts: 771
Re: Will do, unfortunately not this weekend....

thanks, will look for your follow-up!

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Tony Beach Forum Pro • Posts: 11,068
Re: Stop analyzing. The D3s is your savior.

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.

OP jfriend00 Forum Pro • Posts: 11,921
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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Grevture Veteran Member • Posts: 4,188
Well, for a temporary solution ...

You sure put some very strict demands on that temporary solution ... I shoot sport for a living, albeit only part time, but still, and I seem to have less stringent demands then you

jfriend00 wrote:

D700 - looks like about $1500 on eBay for good condition with no too many clicks on it. Could use my D300 grip and batteries with it to get 8fps. About 1 to 1.5 stops better at high ISO than my D300. Lose quite a bit of reach compared to my D300.

I know this is a touchy subject with at least one big thread being active where the arguments fly in all directions, but really, the whole reach advantage thing is a bit overblown. You can put a TC-14 on your D700 to get the same reach and still have about half a stop better low light capabilities then with a D300. Yes, you can, really.

D3 - looks like $1800-$2500 on ebay. Pretty much same the same sensor as the D700, you get better AF and more fps and buffer and obviously the large body style.

Actually, if you buy a D3 which has not been upgraded with a buffer extension, you do bizarrely enough get less of a buffer then with a D700. The AF difference is subtle and you have no dust shake on the sensor (which is a dust magnet).

D3s - looks like around $3000 on ebay. High ISO improved even more, but more money.

Ans 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.

I'm a bit worried about the reach of all these 12MP FX cameras so if I decide which one I'm interested in getting, I will probably rent first to verify I'm OK with the reach.

Again, I shoot sport on a regular basis and I find the whole reach discussion a bit overblown. Get a TC-14 and forget about it.

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.

You can of course have all sorts of demands, but seriously, why being so strict with 8 fps?

While I appreciate having 8 fps for those occasions when it helps, I actually run my D3 and D3s on 5 fps most of the time.

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.

The D700 would be the most money efficient. However, I'm tempted by the additional high ISO improvement in the D3s and would enjoy the faster fps, but it seems kind of spendy for an interim camera. I have money, but am interested in being efficient with it.

The main target is full field soccer in twilight. I will typically shoot 3-400 shots per game and cull that down. I have three types of shooting and I use all three: single shot timed for peak moment, short burst of 3-6 shots around a possible peak moment (such as players going up for a header or a player collision or a goalie diving for a ball), longer burst of a sequence that remains interesting for an extended period of time (sometimes 15 shots or even until the buffer is full). An example here might be a break-away forward dribbling toward the goalie, making moves as they go and I don't know when they're going to actually shoot or what the goalie will do.

What would you recommend I acquire and why?

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.

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.

Below a somewhat random selection of sport shots, mostly soccer since that what we consider football in the civilized parts of the world

D3s + 200-400/4

D3 + 70-200 + TC-17 ... Teleconverters work fine for sports

Women's volleyball, national championship final

My favorite sport ... Wish I could see Red Wings live

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OP jfriend00 Forum Pro • Posts: 11,921
Re: Well, for a temporary solution ...

Grevture wrote:

You sure put some very strict demands on that temporary solution ... I shoot sport for a living, albeit only part time, but still, and I seem to have less stringent demands then you

Thanks for chiming in to help.

jfriend00 wrote:

D700 - looks like about $1500 on eBay for good condition with no too many clicks on it. Could use my D300 grip and batteries with it to get 8fps. About 1 to 1.5 stops better at high ISO than my D300. Lose quite a bit of reach compared to my D300.

I know this is a touchy subject with at least one big thread being active where the arguments fly in all directions, but really, the whole reach advantage thing is a bit overblown. You can put a TC-14 on your D700 to get the same reach and still have about half a stop better low light capabilities then with a D300. Yes, you can, really.

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

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.

D3 - looks like $1800-$2500 on ebay. Pretty much same the same sensor as the D700, you get better AF and more fps and buffer and obviously the large body style.

Actually, if you buy a D3 which has not been upgraded with a buffer extension, you do bizarrely enough get less of a buffer then with a D700. The AF difference is subtle and you have no dust shake on the sensor (which is a dust magnet).

I wouldn't buy a D3 without buffer expansion.

D3s - looks like around $3000 on ebay. High ISO improved even more, but more money.

Ans 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.

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.

I'm a bit worried about the reach of all these 12MP FX cameras so if I decide which one I'm interested in getting, I will probably rent first to verify I'm OK with the reach.

Again, I shoot sport on a regular basis and I find the whole reach discussion a bit overblown. Get a TC-14 and forget about it.

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.

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.

You can of course have all sorts of demands, but seriously, why being so strict with 8 fps?

While I appreciate having 8 fps for those occasions when it helps, I actually run my D3 and D3s on 5 fps most of the time.

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.

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? D800 in crop mode?  I've rented the D800 and found full frame 4fps too restrictive and 36MP a pain for large sports shoots 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, 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 D700 would be the most money efficient. However, I'm tempted by the additional high ISO improvement in the D3s and would enjoy the faster fps, but it seems kind of spendy for an interim camera. I have money, but am interested in being efficient with it.

The main target is full field soccer in twilight. I will typically shoot 3-400 shots per game and cull that down. I have three types of shooting and I use all three: single shot timed for peak moment, short burst of 3-6 shots around a possible peak moment (such as players going up for a header or a player collision or a goalie diving for a ball), longer burst of a sequence that remains interesting for an extended period of time (sometimes 15 shots or even until the buffer is full). An example here might be a break-away forward dribbling toward the goalie, making moves as they go and I don't know when they're going to actually shoot or what the goalie will do.

What would you recommend I acquire and why?

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.

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?

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Cliff Fujii
Cliff Fujii Veteran Member • Posts: 8,318
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

Your problem is that you want a D700 with the ISO performance of a D3.  If you can afford a used D3, that's what I would get.  In my PJ days, the publisher paid for the cameras and we always had Nikon single digit cameras.  Of course, with the D3, it gives you an extra dimension to work with, ISO.  I'm interested in resolution so if there was one, I would get a D4x.  Since there is no such animal, I have a D800.  I'm selling my D600 kit and have ordered the Df so that I can get great high ISO performance.  It's not that I like spending money, but the hole in my gear is a high ISO camera and a D3 is just too heavy for me to lug around for a couple of weeks.  I really hope you find the camera combination that will suit your needs.  Believe me, I know what it's like to need something and not have it.

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Cliff

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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?
2

You can pick up a two stop ISO improvement, and get more focal length flexibility by getting the following:

D7100 (+1 stop better than D300)

Trade your 200-400 for a 300mm f2.8 VR (1 stop better than the 200-400- maybe more if you look at t-stops)

Use a 70-200mm for shorter ranges (again f2.8 is really helpful.)

Use an 85mm f1.8 (or 1.4) indoors (basketball / volleyball) which is great.

Use a 1.4 TC to get an effective 600mm+ focal length with the 300mm VR- usable in good light.

I currently shoot a D300 with the above lens combinations for sports, and every time I do the math on the "upgrade" to FX, I give up a stop on the lens choices because I'm not willing to buy (and lug around) a 400mm f2.8.    I've been waiting for a D400, but it appears  I will have to decide whether to accept one of Nikons artificially de-featured DSLRs (why can't they give us best AF, good buffer and a good sensor for $2,000 like they did with the D300?)

Don't get me wrong, a D3S + 200-400mm is going to be better in low light than what I suggest above, but the affordable and highly effective and portable lens combinations for sports in my opinion are worth considering in addition to the sensor advantage of FX for sports.

I know I'll get blistered on this forum, but there it is.   Some samples mostly with the 300VR:

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OP jfriend00 Forum Pro • Posts: 11,921
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

Cliff Fujii wrote:

Your problem is that you want a D700 with the ISO performance of a D3. If you can afford a used D3, that's what I would get. In my PJ days, the publisher paid for the cameras and we always had Nikon single digit cameras. Of course, with the D3, it gives you an extra dimension to work with, ISO. I'm interested in resolution so if there was one, I would get a D4x. Since there is no such animal, I have a D800. I'm selling my D600 kit and have ordered the Df so that I can get great high ISO performance. It's not that I like spending money, but the hole in my gear is a high ISO camera and a D3 is just too heavy for me to lug around for a couple of weeks. I really hope you find the camera combination that will suit your needs. Believe me, I know what it's like to need something and not have it.

The D700 and D3 have the same sensor and the same high ISO performance so I'm not sure what your first sentence means.   The D3s is improved over both, but that isn't what you referenced.

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OP jfriend00 Forum Pro • Posts: 11,921
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

ZinMe wrote:

You can pick up a two stop ISO improvement, and get more focal length flexibility by getting the following:

D7100 (+1 stop better than D300)

Trade your 200-400 for a 300mm f2.8 VR (1 stop better than the 200-400- maybe more if you look at t-stops)

Use a 70-200mm for shorter ranges (again f2.8 is really helpful.)

Use an 85mm f1.8 (or 1.4) indoors (basketball / volleyball) which is great.

Use a 1.4 TC to get an effective 600mm+ focal length with the 300mm VR- usable in good light.

I currently shoot a D300 with the above lens combinations for sports, and every time I do the math on the "upgrade" to FX, I give up a stop on the lens choices because I'm not willing to buy (and lug around) a 400mm f2.8. I've been waiting for a D400, but it appears I will have to decide whether to accept one of Nikons artificially de-featured DSLRs (why can't they give us best AF, good buffer and a good sensor for $2,000 like they did with the D300?)

Don't get me wrong, a D3S + 200-400mm is going to be better in low light than what I suggest above, but the affordable and highly effective and portable lens combinations for sports in my opinion are worth considering in addition to the sensor advantage of FX for sports.

I know I'll get blistered on this forum, but there it is. Some samples mostly with the 300VR:

I hear you on the lack of a D400. I'm not sure why Nikon is avoiding that. They are also avoiding a D750 (FX speed camera).

I can't change lenses during the action so it sounds like you're suggesting I just shoot with D7100 and 300mm f/2.8. The issues with that are:

1) You're asking me to spend $5800 on the 300 f/2.8

2) The D7100 is only 6fps and has a pretty small buffer

3) Shooting with a prime instead of the zoom significantly compromises how much of the soccer field I can cover.

I think I'd rather spend less money on a used D3s with my 200-400 and not have any of these issues.

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Grevture Veteran Member • Posts: 4,188
Re: Well, for a temporary solution ...
5

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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Cliff Fujii
Cliff Fujii Veteran Member • Posts: 8,318
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

Sorry, I meant D3s.

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Cliff

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ragspix Senior Member • Posts: 1,034
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

jfriend00 wrote:

ZinMe wrote:

You can pick up a two stop ISO improvement, and get more focal length flexibility by getting the following:

D7100 (+1 stop better than D300)

Trade your 200-400 for a 300mm f2.8 VR (1 stop better than the 200-400- maybe more if you look at t-stops)

Use a 70-200mm for shorter ranges (again f2.8 is really helpful.)

Use an 85mm f1.8 (or 1.4) indoors (basketball / volleyball) which is great.

Use a 1.4 TC to get an effective 600mm+ focal length with the 300mm VR- usable in good light.

I currently shoot a D300 with the above lens combinations for sports, and every time I do the math on the "upgrade" to FX, I give up a stop on the lens choices because I'm not willing to buy (and lug around) a 400mm f2.8. I've been waiting for a D400, but it appears I will have to decide whether to accept one of Nikons artificially de-featured DSLRs (why can't they give us best AF, good buffer and a good sensor for $2,000 like they did with the D300?)

Don't get me wrong, a D3S + 200-400mm is going to be better in low light than what I suggest above, but the affordable and highly effective and portable lens combinations for sports in my opinion are worth considering in addition to the sensor advantage of FX for sports.

I know I'll get blistered on this forum, but there it is. Some samples mostly with the 300VR:

I hear you on the lack of a D400. I'm not sure why Nikon is avoiding that. They are also avoiding a D750 (FX speed camera).

I can't change lenses during the action so it sounds like you're suggesting I just shoot with D7100 and 300mm f/2.8. The issues with that are:

1) You're asking me to spend $5800 on the 300 f/2.8

2) The D7100 is only 6fps and has a pretty small buffer

3) Shooting with a prime instead of the zoom significantly compromises how much of the soccer field I can cover.

I think I'd rather spend less money on a used D3s with my 200-400 and not have any of these issues.

My kit is a 300S (not acceptable over 800iso) and a 700 (not acceptable over 1600 iso)

I use two bodies in dirty conditions no lens change and the 700 in low light.

Usually load the 300 3.8 on the 300S for long and the 70/200 on the 700 (I have the MB10)

I would like a little more resolution and better noise control.

Nikon hasn't made a dslr cam for me yet and I'm at the point where I probably wouldn't get it

What I need is a EVF small cam with a silent shutter that can shoot motion, that I will buy.

Last Thursday I was in Tijuana trying to shoot prostitutes on the street with a d700 and a 24/70.... I couldn't sneak a shot... Duh.... It was embarrassing...

If you shoot soccer consider the two body approach (similar controls or you'll go nutz), it works for me in Polo

Rags

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 hear you on the lack of a D400. I'm not sure why Nikon is avoiding that. They are also avoiding a D750 (FX speed camera).

Those would be the ideal solutions, certainly.

I can't change lenses during the action so it sounds like you're suggesting I just shoot with D7100 and 300mm f/2.8. The issues with that are:

1) You're asking me to spend $5800 on the 300 f/2.8

2) The D7100 is only 6fps and has a pretty small buffer

3) Shooting with a prime instead of the zoom significantly compromises how much of the soccer field I can cover.

I think I'd rather spend less money on a used D3s with my 200-400 and not have any of these issues.

I've been pondering your questions for a while and I simply can't come up with a really good option. All have good/bad points. My testing of the d7100 has been mostly a testing of my patience and frustration. I haven't been able to do the tests that I wanted to do, even though I've extended the rental period a few days.

Even so, my impressions of the d7100 are that, thus far, it seems to be a better choice than I had originally thought it would be. The AF is as good as I've seen on a DX body. Using 12bit files and the 95MB/s Sandisk cards, I have been able to shoot RAW + basic JPG in decent bursts. This would work for all but the most demanding times where 8fps really shines.

I would also suggest that you look at the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8. A full stop of light is always a good thing. Yes, you lose 400mm, but you don't lose the zoom and it is about half the price of the Nikon 300 f/2.8, IIRC. It works very nicely on the d300, about like having an overweight 70-200vr.

You can get a refurbished d7100 for $919 right now. Of course, I don't think it is a better option overall than the d3s, but I'd do both, as I've been doing all along. The UI and handling leave a lot to be desired, but from what I've seen thus far, the AF makes the camera just stomp all over the d7k.

Of course, you could go wild and crazy, getting a d7100 and a d700, keep the 200-400 and get a 120-300 for the lower light stuff.

It's a tough nut to crack and I hope that I've given you something positive to consider. As an interim body, the d3s is very expensive. If you were going to keep it and run dual formats as I do, then the cost isn't so bad.

Food for thought.

Kerry

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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?

Kerry Pierce wrote:

Of course, you could go wild and crazy, getting a d7100 and a d700, keep the 200-400 and get a 120-300 for the lower light stuff.

If you could live with the slower AF and slightly worse overall performance, the Sigma 120-300 plus their 1.4X TC would offer the best of both worlds (f/2.8 when you need it or 420mm f/4 when you need reach).

For what the 200-400/4 can be sold for versus the new cost of a 120-300/2.8 and TC ($2500 + $224) you can get a D700/D3 for free and possibly have some change left. The not-yet-available latest 120-300/2.8 is a little pricier though ($3600).

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tomnorth
tomnorth Contributing Member • Posts: 895
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

The D700 with the optional battery pack makes a fantastic action camera at a reasonable price. I wrote about the D700 as an action camera over at my blog. If you're viewing this as an interim step, then I'd avoid over investing by going up to the D3 series.

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OP jfriend00 Forum Pro • Posts: 11,921
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

Kerry Pierce wrote:

jfriend00 wrote:

I hear you on the lack of a D400. I'm not sure why Nikon is avoiding that. They are also avoiding a D750 (FX speed camera).

Those would be the ideal solutions, certainly.

I can't change lenses during the action so it sounds like you're suggesting I just shoot with D7100 and 300mm f/2.8. The issues with that are:

1) You're asking me to spend $5800 on the 300 f/2.8

2) The D7100 is only 6fps and has a pretty small buffer

3) Shooting with a prime instead of the zoom significantly compromises how much of the soccer field I can cover.

I think I'd rather spend less money on a used D3s with my 200-400 and not have any of these issues.

I've been pondering your questions for a while and I simply can't come up with a really good option. All have good/bad points. My testing of the d7100 has been mostly a testing of my patience and frustration. I haven't been able to do the tests that I wanted to do, even though I've extended the rental period a few days.

Even so, my impressions of the d7100 are that, thus far, it seems to be a better choice than I had originally thought it would be. The AF is as good as I've seen on a DX body. Using 12bit files and the 95MB/s Sandisk cards, I have been able to shoot RAW + basic JPG in decent bursts. This would work for all but the most demanding times where 8fps really shines.

I would also suggest that you look at the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8. A full stop of light is always a good thing. Yes, you lose 400mm, but you don't lose the zoom and it is about half the price of the Nikon 300 f/2.8, IIRC. It works very nicely on the d300, about like having an overweight 70-200vr.

You can get a refurbished d7100 for $919 right now. Of course, I don't think it is a better option overall than the d3s, but I'd do both, as I've been doing all along. The UI and handling leave a lot to be desired, but from what I've seen thus far, the AF makes the camera just stomp all over the d7k.

Of course, you could go wild and crazy, getting a d7100 and a d700, keep the 200-400 and get a 120-300 for the lower light stuff.

It's a tough nut to crack and I hope that I've given you something positive to consider. As an interim body, the d3s is very expensive. If you were going to keep it and run dual formats as I do, then the cost isn't so bad.

Food for thought.

Thanks for the info on the D7100.  Unless I can see holding onto a D3s for a long time, I think the common sense approach is for me to rent a D700 and try that to see how well it works for me.  It's basically a twin of the D300 so that would be the least adjustment in handling too and at this point an FX complement to my D300 is probably useful.  I could imagine holding on to a d700 as a backup sports body even after getting something newer (if and when Nikon ever makes another semi-affordable sports body).

If I have reach issues with the D700, then the D7100 is probably the next thing I should rent and try and see if losing a little high ISO performance vs. the D700 is OK and if I'm OK with the fps/buffer on the D7100.  Refurbished might make sense for the D7100 too because it's not the be-all-end-all camera for what I shoot either that I would keep for a really long time so I'll probably replace it when something better comes along.

Unfortunately, I don't have any events in the right twilight lighting to actually try all this on before the season starts in early January so that makes it a little hard to evaluate and get the right hardware tested and acquired in time.  I'll have to find some sort of action around the same hour of the day to try to shoot now with a rental.

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OP jfriend00 Forum Pro • Posts: 11,921
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

joejack951 wrote:

Kerry Pierce wrote:

Of course, you could go wild and crazy, getting a d7100 and a d700, keep the 200-400 and get a 120-300 for the lower light stuff.

If you could live with the slower AF and slightly worse overall performance, the Sigma 120-300 plus their 1.4X TC would offer the best of both worlds (f/2.8 when you need it or 420mm f/4 when you need reach).

For what the 200-400/4 can be sold for versus the new cost of a 120-300/2.8 and TC ($2500 + $224) you can get a D700/D3 for free and possibly have some change left. The not-yet-available latest 120-300/2.8 is a little pricier though ($3600).

I don't really want to swap out lenses.  I've gotten a lot of great use out of the 200-400 and would like to keep it for many other things I shoot.  If I were to buy a Sigma, I'd probably only buy one with the changeable mount because I'm not convinced I'm staying with Nikon forever since they seem to be avoiding the semi-affordable action camera segment of the market in both FX and DX.  If Canon swoops in with some compelling hardware, I could be going that way.

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Tim the Grey Veteran Member • Posts: 6,310
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

My D700 shoots motorsports mainly. 5fps is just fine, but if I wack the D3 battery in the grip, I get 8fps. Noise is fine, even at 3AM at Le Mans!

What you MAY find limiting is the AF coverage? My son uses a D300s, and complains the AF points in a 700 don't go out far enough.

X2 converter should cover your reach requirements.

Hope you find your answer in a way to suit.

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OP jfriend00 Forum Pro • Posts: 11,921
Re: What to buy for shooting action that doesn't cost as much as a D4?

Tim the Grey wrote:

My D700 shoots motorsports mainly. 5fps is just fine, but if I wack the D3 battery in the grip, I get 8fps. Noise is fine, even at 3AM at Le Mans!

What you MAY find limiting is the AF coverage? My son uses a D300s, and complains the AF points in a 700 don't go out far enough.

I don't think AF coverage would be an issue for me as I use center 9 points for sports tracking which should work just fine on D700.

X2 converter should cover your reach requirements.

The loss of two stops of light wouldn't exactly make the TC 2.0 good for low light shooting.

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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?

The 200-400 is versatile, but f4 (or actually I think it is a t5.x something) is really slow for sports.   You give up 1.5 stops vs a good f2.8 lens.  Think about it.  I'm not saying its the right decision to give up your 200-400mm, there are other factors, but if you really want low light capability keep in mind you are giving away more than a stop using that lens.

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