Old 04-16-2013, 06:24 PM   #1
Wesley Greer
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So I was thinking about getting a new camera, preferably nikon, since I already have nikon lenses. The D700 looks pretty nice. Any suggestions for cameras and feedback on the D700?
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Old 04-16-2013, 06:51 PM   #2
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I've never used one, but my friend has a D700 and its dynamic range never ceases to amaze me. A lot better than my Sony in that area.

What do you currently use?
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Old 04-16-2013, 07:16 PM   #3
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Hi Wesley,

Unless you can find a dealer who still has a stash of new D700 bodies, I don't think you're going to find a new one. Nikon replaced that camera with the D600 and D800. The D700 is manufacture-discontinued.

IMHO, although both new cameras have higher res (24 MP and 36 MP respectively) and probably better high ISO performance, both suffer from problems that are non-starters for me. The D600 has all of the AF points in a narrow window in the center of the frame and a maximum burst rate of 5.5 fps. It also allegedly has a nasty oil/dust on the sensor problem that Nikon still hasn't fessed up to. The D800 also has a centered AF array and bursts at a blistering 4 fps. The new bodies may technically be better, but from a photographer's standpoint, they are less desirable than the D700 was.

If they had just put a newer technology sensor in the D700, they would have had something.

I believe that the only other FF cameras that Nikon makes are the D3X and D4. Both are very capable cameras, but both will cost you as much as a used car.
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Old 04-16-2013, 11:05 PM   #4
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The D700 is now about six years old, and is only ~13mp. You didn't say what lenses you have, and really that's the critical thing. For weddings I"ve been using a D800, but it's WAY overkill for railfanning. For that I just bought a new Nikon D7100. (Also my back up camera for weddings.) The D7100 has stunning image quality! The AF on it is Nikon's best, and it has 24mp. More important is the cost. Not only is the camera currently Nikon's best value, the lenses for it cost WAY less than FX lenses do. And that's where you put your money--lenses. Buying an expensive camera and then sticking 30 yr. old lenses on it because you're out of money is backwards. I would avoid FX cameras as they and their lenses are super expensive, and I highly doubt you'll see any difference. Not one of my paying customers can tell any difference at all between images shot with my D7100 and a D800. Put the money where it matters--lenses. Cameras lose value SO fast; lenses keep their value very well.

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Old 04-17-2013, 01:07 AM   #5
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I would avoid FX cameras as they and their lenses are super expensive, and I highly doubt you'll see any difference.
Whether or not an FX camera will help you is very much related to the types of shots you take. If you only go out on nice, sunny days, don't waste your money on FX. There's not much point. On the other hand, if you go out regardless of the conditions, or if you shoot at night, indoors or in museums, having an FX body can help you take shots that would be miserable with a DX camera.

Right this minute, I have two DX bodies; a D90 and a D7000. Ultimately, my goal is to have one DX and one FX....and the right combination of lenses so I have the necessary focal lengths covered. DX for super-wide and super-telephoto. FX for everything else. I will probably get a D7100, and then wait until Nikon makes a REAL FX camera at a price an enthusiast can afford. The D600 and D800 have crappy AF arrays and slow burst rates. They don't cut it for the way I shoot.
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Old 04-17-2013, 03:24 AM   #6
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Whether or not an FX camera will help you is very much related to the types of shots you take. If you only go out on nice, sunny days, don't waste your money on FX. There's not much point. On the other hand, if you go out regardless of the conditions, or if you shoot at night, indoors or in museums, having an FX body can help you take shots that would be miserable with a DX camera.
I agree there isn't much (if any) point to spend the bucks for FX if you shoot on sunny days. However, the advantage of FX in low light is often overhyped. I find it to be about a stop & half at most between the D800 and D7100. That difference will cost you about $1,500 plus the lenses! I am primarily a night photographer in winter, and even with that I've had no trouble shooting Nikon DX cameras outdoors at night. Heck, for that matter I've been shooting my 4x5 at night using ISO 25 film and getting great results.

There are several key advantages DX has for foamers. First is the cost. With the value of cameras crashing so fast after you buy them, I just hate putting much $$ into them. Second is you get that added reach. A 70-200mm f2.8 becomes a 300mm f2.8. Anyone checked the price of a 300mm f2.8 lately? Third, you get an extra stop of DoF from DX, which translates into one stop faster shutter speed most of the time. All in all, I think FX has been overhyped.
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:18 PM   #7
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I suppose the choice of a camera will depend first off on what you have for lenses. If all you have are full frame (35mm) lenses, a FX camera makes sense. If all you have are crop DX lenses, a FX camera doesn't make a lot of sense unless you want to buy all new lenses to go with the camera.

A friend bought a D700 last year and is quite happy with it over the D200 he replaced. I am now 100% full frame and couldn't be happier. I came into this with all of 35mm film Nikon equipment. I hated shooting with the two DX type digital cameras I did have as I always had to remember that the lenses were not going to behave the same way as they did on my film cameras. I never did buy any DX lenses, so when I got my first FX digital it was nice to see that my wide angles were wide angles again! With the latest versions of Nikon's cameras you can crop the heck out of photos, if you think you still need that DX effect with your telephotos. In this case, more mega pixels is better.

The latest Nikon full frame cameras have excellent auto focusing systems and at least with the D800, and the various D3/D700 types of cameras have a reasonable pattern that will work with most types of photos that the average rail photographer might take. Only you can say what frame rate is acceptable. I have one camera that shoots at 9 FPS and other at 4 FPS. For my style and experience, going way back to full manual 35mm cameras that in most cases all you could get was one shot, 4 FPS is plenty fast for my needs.

I don't have any experience with the latest DX Nikon cameras, so I can't compare the current versions with the current versions of the FX cameras.

Hope this is of some help to your thinking.

DS

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Old 04-17-2013, 09:44 PM   #8
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The latest Nikon FX cameras do have a "DX mode", so if you have DX lenses, you won't have to crop them in post. The downside to this "DX mode" is that you lose a significant piece of the camera's resolution. With the D600, you'll end up with a 10-12 MP image, which is acceptable for most applications, but doesn't hold up to pixel-peeping all that well. On the other hand, the D800 in "DX mode" will give you about a 16 MP image, which is plenty acceptable.

My chief complaint about Nikon's new FX cameras is the placement of the points in the AF array. If you're like me and you prefer to compose with the viewfinder, you'll be in deep pooh if your subject is in the lower third. You could focus, use focus lock and recompose, but that's a royal PITA when a train is barreling at you. I have no interest in paying three grand for a camera that requires a lot of work-arounds. When the train comes, I'm not there to snap a few frames, I want to "gun it down" and decide what I like later.

WRT the frame rates, a low burst rate becomes a problem if you're shooting a tight scene and subject placement is really critical. It's also not helpful for those of use who shoot steam engines exclusively. As many are aware, we shoot for the rods-down condition and that can be a problematic capture when one's brand new, $3200 D800 can only do 4 fps.

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Old 04-17-2013, 11:12 PM   #9
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The latest Nikon FX cameras do have a "DX mode", so if you have DX lenses, you won't have to crop them in post. The downside to this "DX mode" is that you lose a significant piece of the camera's resolution. With the D600, you'll end up with a 10-12 MP image, which is acceptable for most applications, but doesn't hold up to pixel-peeping all that well. On the other hand, the D800 in "DX mode" will give you about a 16 MP image, which is plenty acceptable.

My chief complaint about Nikon's new FX cameras is the placement of the points in the AF array. If you're like me and you prefer to compose with the viewfinder, you'll be in deep pooh if your subject is in the lower third. You could focus, use focus lock and recompose, but that's a royal PITA when a train is barreling at you. I have no interest in paying three grand for a camera that requires a lot of work-arounds. When the train comes, I'm not there to snap a few frames, I want to "gun it down" and decide what I like later.

WRT the frame rates, a low burst rate becomes a problem if you're shooting a tight scene and subject placement is really critical. It's also not helpful for those of use who shoot steam engines exclusively. As many are aware, we shoot for the rods-down condition and that can be a problematic capture when one's brand new, $3200 D800 can only do 4 fps.

Thias got me "back button focusing," and now it is so automatic I have not used anything but the center focus point for over a year. Of course my old EOS Elan only had a center focus point, so that wasn't too big of an adjustment. I find I almost never have an oof shot this way.
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:57 PM   #10
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My first DSLR was a Fuji S2. It had the typical widely spread out focus points that DX cameras have. Only one problem, that camera couldn't acquire focus on anything moving. I used to have to manually pre-focus and hope that I nailed it. That camera was a useless piece of crap. The next was a D2x - sounds like an almost perfect camera for KevinM - broad focusing screen and 5 fps. The AF worked much better, but it got noisy at anything above 400 iso. The F5 killer (narrow AF array, 8 fps, film eater) was the D3s. Even though that's a 9 fps camera, KevinM wouldn't like the AF array on it either. The D800e is a step backwards (I guess) because of the 4 FPS. I will say that AF performance has increased significantly from the D2x to the D3s and again, a slight increase in performance from the D3s to the D800e. I looked a few samples of KevinM's photos on RP net and didn't see any that couldn't be auto focused using a F5, D3s or D800e. But of course, that's my opinion.

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Old 04-18-2013, 01:19 AM   #11
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The latest Nikon FX cameras do have a "DX mode", so if you have DX lenses, you won't have to crop them in post. The downside to this "DX mode" is that you lose a significant piece of the camera's resolution. With the D600, you'll end up with a 10-12 MP image,

When I see this mentioned, my question always is, "Why would you spend ~$1,800 on a camera, and then shoot it in such a way that it's not as good as a $1,200 camera? (D7100 with 24mp and better autofocus.) If one has modern (made in the past ~12 years) FX lenses, then obviously that would be the way to go. If you have older generation AF-D etc. lenses, my experience is you're better off replacing them, most of the time. Just as cameras have changed in the past 25 years, lenses have changed just as much. A D7100 with a Sigma 18-50mm f2.8 OS and a Nikon 70-200mm f4 VR is an awesome mid-priced combo. I'd much rather have that than a D800 and older AF-D, AiS etc. lenses. The lens coatings alone are worth the switch.


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Old 04-18-2013, 02:58 AM   #12
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I'm still using a number of AF-D lenses on the D800e with good results. 18 2.8D, 17-35 2.8D, 50 1.4D, 105 2.0D, 180 2.8D. In fact, Ducky, Tuesday's MWOTD was shot with the D800e and the old 180 2.8D. No magic coatings needed!
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Old 04-18-2013, 03:52 AM   #13
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When I see this mentioned, my question always is, "Why would you spend ~$1,800 on a camera, and then shoot it in such a way that it's not as good as a $1,200 camera? (D7100 with 24mp and better autofocus.)
Hi Kent,

I think that the "DX mode" on the new FX cameras is Nikon's attempt to suck in DX customers who have a heavy investment in DX lenses and know they'll lose their shirts if they sell them. DX owners envy FX owners because they can shoot reasonable shutter speeds in low light and not get grainy, noisy photos. Nikon's hope is that the DX guys will buy an FX camera and put up with the loss of resolution (who needs 36 MP anyway?) just to get that low-light performance.

I must admit, I have a friend with a D3S and I do have a case of camera envy. He shoots ridiculous ISOs and gets nice, clean images. I know that anything over 800 ISO with my D7000 is a complete crap-shoot. I've gotten some decent pics, but most of the time, the images lack detail and require noise reduction software that further decreases the detail.

Not only that, but there's just something manly about 10 fps.
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Old 04-18-2013, 03:56 AM   #14
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I'm still using a number of AF-D lenses on the D800e with good results. 18 2.8D, 17-35 2.8D, 50 1.4D, 105 2.0D, 180 2.8D. In fact, Ducky, Tuesday's MWOTD was shot with the D800e and the old 180 2.8D. No magic coatings needed!

I have done a fair amount of field testing as I once owned a number of old AF-D (and a couple of AiS) lenses for my F100 and F5. Looking at the shots made on the same camera between old generation lenses and the new, I did notice better saturation, better contrast, less CA, less flare and somewhat better edge sharpness with the modern lenses. They also focus faster (AFS) and I love the VR when I don't use a tripod. On sharpness there isn't a lot of difference, and there was no detectable difference around f8. A huge plus for me is the quickness of using modern f2.8 zooms in my wedding photography, and another is I only routinely carry three lenses with me (including the one on the camera.) In the outdoor conditions I often shoot in, changing lenses can be risky for the sensor.

The worst aspect of some of my old lenses was the CA, and that can be noticeable. The Nikon 85mm f1.8D was the worst lens I've ever owned when it came to flare and CA. I'm including the lenses I own that were made in the 19th century (i.e. 1800s). Cameras have changed a lot over the preceding decades, and lenses have changed every bit as much.


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Old 04-18-2013, 04:53 AM   #15
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The worst aspect of some of my old lenses was the CA, and that can be noticeable. The Nikon 85mm f1.8D was the worst lens I've ever owned when it came to flare and CA. I'm including the lenses I own that were made in the 19th century (i.e. 1800s). Cameras have changed a lot over the preceding decades, and lenses have changed every bit as much.


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Agreed on the 85 f1.8D. I dumped mine once I stopped shooting film. The 85 1.4G performs much, much better. I have 3 newer lenses as well.

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Old 04-18-2013, 03:56 PM   #16
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I've been using the D700 and am very pleased with it. The camera never ceases to amaze me. I upgraded from a D200, and now that one just sits at home. Luckily I have only one DX lens and that's the one that came with the D200 kit. Yep, the D200 works great on nice sunny days, but as soon as I crank up the ISO, the grain becomes very apparent.

Here is a sample of a grab shot taken with the D700. The other train was moving pretty fast as I pulled up and there was not time to set up a tripod. So I pushed the ISO to 5600 and hand held it. I still got a somewhat decent picture.



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