"Upgrading" to FX, Best Compromise: D600, D3S, or ?

obajobaobajoba Posts: 206Member
edited January 2013 in Nikon DSLR cameras
Gonna need some background and very specific usage details for this discussion sooooo... here we go. I recently sold my much loved D7000 and all of the DX lenses I had. I still have my Nikkor 14-24, and 70-200 f/2.8 VR (not II) and while I know about the caveats of going FX with that lens (compared to the VRII version) that is not my concern today. Truly I felt I was pushing beyond the limits of the D7000 for the type of photography I was doing, plus I am going on a 7 day safari in ZA early this summer and I want FX quality for that alone.

I shoot RAW+JPEG and I primarily shoot football games, some indoor swimming, wakesurfing and wakeboarding. I found the D7000 to be a bit slow on the AF side, not great above ISO800 (even though I did have some 'ok' shots at 1600 and 3200, they were of non-moving subjects), and the buffer when shooting raw is MAYBE 10 frames... maybe. I also quickly grew tired of spending more than 5 minutes in LR and other software to clean up an action shot above ISO800 from the D7000, and printing anything larger than 12x24 was still completely out of the question. It became quite clear that in order to shoot an evening or night game, even with the venerable 70-200 2.8 VR on a monopod, I need an FX body with excellent high ISO performance. I also understand that sports photogs probably drop the largest amount of coin to do their job because, well, sports photography pushes the limits the equipment in most every case since additional lighting typically is not an option.

SO - all of this in mind, do I settle for ~5fps, similar AF speed to the D7000, and great high ISO performance at a low price point with the D600? Or, do I man up and go to the D3s for awesome high ISO, faster AF performance but sacrifice DR and pixels (not that I would mind editing smaller photos, I have zero patience to edit a 35+mp photo.) A D4 is out of the question, I am a hobbyist and $6k for a body alone is just too steep. For what I am shooting the D800 seems to me as a waste of $1k that I could spend on glass in comparison to the D600.

Thoughts? Am I missing something blatantly obvious? Should I have tried out a D300s? Should I continue to wait patiently to see if Nikon makes some surprise announcement in the next 30-45 days?
D4 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 24-70 2.8 | TC-17e II
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Comments

  • studio460studio460 Posts: 205Member
    No, I don't think you're missing a thing. Forget about the D300S or any other DX body if you're not happy with the D7000's noise characteristics. It really sounds like the D3s is for you. I own a D7000, a D800E, and a D3s. My D3s is my go-to camera for anything in low-light, anything which requires lots of shooting (e.g., events) where file size becomes an issue, or when I need high FPS. Unless you're often printing very large prints, the 12.1MP D3s is fine. The D800E, I use for studio, landscape, and portfolio work; i.e., slow, careful work. I never even shoot my D7000 anymore.

    One thing is that the D800/E focuses as fast or faster than the D3s. But, I've compared my D3s images, up-sampled to D800-resolution, and the image detail holds up surprisingly well. The D3s' noise, when blown up is impressive, compared with the D800. The D3s' noise looks like fine sand, whereas, the D800E's noise (at same ISO) looks like blotches of color. It's also a great time to buy a used D3s. They're going for as little as the low 2,000s on Ebay right now.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    LR might be not the best software to get the max out of D7000. Anyway, 12 × 24 is large - you get a resolution of 208 dpi with D7000, and that only if you don't need to crop. Are you looking with a (too) small distance at such huge prints? If you as hobbyist have so huge expectations, you should go D3s, there's no other choice: D7000 too small, slow AF (I don't see that, but I don't shoot sport), D800 too big files and D600 is also "only" prosumer.

    If you compare your work with pro photogs and want it equal quality wise, you need pro-tools.
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    dedicated Software could get you a bit more on the noise (Nik Define, Noise Ninja, and others) but from what you described, the D3s is what you would want - If your pocketbook can handle it.

    D800 does have the updated AF of the D4 and smokes the D600 from my little play time with the D600. If you get over the MP count (people focus on it way to much as a negative) the D800 is a great camera and can easily kick to 6400 with high detail. Use a dedicated NR program and it performs like a D3s to iso 12,000 in my book. Of course the buffer can be an issue and you have to choose your timing much better rather than just machine gunning shots.

    You are in the same quandary most of us have been, or still are in. We are not all as lucky as Studio460 and can have both the high speed and high resolution. To me, the AF comes first then noise. IF you can't focus on the subject, it doesn't matter what the noise level is.

    I'm not sure what Studio460 is looking at on Ebay - maybe just current bids, but the D3s are going for $3,500 - $4,000 depending on the condition, shutter count, included items like batteries etc. Any of the Sub $3,000 sales are busted, 200k shutter counts, or are body only with no batteries.
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • obajobaobajoba Posts: 206Member
    It's also a great time to buy a used D3s. They're going for as little as the low 2,000s on Ebay right now.
    I didn't see any that cheap, low $3,000's but not 2's.

    @studio460 - Thanks for the input! I suppose the pixel pitch on the D3s is a huge advantage for the high ISO stuff and explains the find sand vs blotchy color effect. The D4 seems like the happy medium between IQ and high ISO performance... If only I could magically find an extra couple thousand bucks to snag a D4... :)

    @JJ_SO - I'm sure I still have much to learn especially about AF, I openly admit that, but the AF speed on the D7000 is fantastic - unless you're trying to get a clean shot of a running back coming straight at you with 3 other guys partially in-frame, it's dark (you're only lights are crappy stadium lights,) and you're running wide open f/2.8 at 200mm (300 on the DX). I actually found it was better to run at 3fps CL, especially when shooting wakesurfers, because 5fps resulted in only a couple sharp photos per every 5 or 6, even in daylight. Some of that is also because you're on a moving boat, there's water spraying everywhere, etc. That *did* however force me to really play with the AF on the D7000.

    As for LR and the D7000, I also use Nik's plug-ins for noise and sharpening, as well as PS when I am being really picky. I've only just begun to dig into printing so I am sure that I will learn tons more on that topic in the future. I don't, however, find 16x24 to be a 'very' large print (and I originally meant 16x24, not 12x24) but that is purely subjective, of course.

    D4 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 24-70 2.8 | TC-17e II
  • mirtosmirtos Posts: 16Member
    Weight and comfort are also issues too, arent they?
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    Not when you are shooting that stuff - there is no half way point - it's either "heavy" or "really heavy"
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • obajobaobajoba Posts: 206Member
    Not when you are shooting that stuff - there is no half way point - it's either "heavy" or "really heavy"
    ^+1
    D4 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 24-70 2.8 | TC-17e II
  • mirtosmirtos Posts: 16Member
    true, and to be honest, i havent looked at the bodies, and i have to play around myself when i upgrade (hobbyist myself), but i have a friend that recently upgraded an she chose the d600 over other bodies because she felt more comfortable with it. as a hobbyist, since you arent as likely to have a ton of bodies, i chose the "heavy" option.
  • obajobaobajoba Posts: 206Member
    I suppose I will have to find a method of publishing some photos, whether it be flickr or picasa/G+ or something else as well. And I probably should have noticed that I started this thread as a 'Question' and not a Discussion/Topic - but I don't see a way to change that now.

    I am slightly hesitant on the D3s, not because of MP (honestly, the worst spec to use for comparing DSLR's IMHO) but because of age and technological advancements. Of course, resale will also play into that. I sold my D7000 for a couple hundred bucks less than I had into it.

    Perhaps I should find a D3s to rent and see how I like it because it really seems that is where I am headed.
    D4 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 24-70 2.8 | TC-17e II
  • marpatermarpater Posts: 7Member
    If you are budget conscious a D700 can be had for less than a 600 performs very well at high ISO and with the MB grip will achieve 8 fps.
  • SkintBritSkintBrit Posts: 79Member
    edited January 2013
    My vote would be for a D3s. If I could find a good value clean example, I'd consider getting another to replace my D700 (which I still think is a decent camera).
    Post edited by SkintBrit on
    D3s's D700 F100 / Trinity 2.8 Zooms & 1.4 Primes / 105 micro. SB900s with Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 / Mini TT1s. Camranger remote control system.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    Neither D7k nor D600 were designed to suit your needs - but they are able to save some of the shots you wnat to make. If you want to get most of the shots, a pro body is essential. My suggestion would be, check at lensrentals.com the prices to rent two bodies and find for yourself, which one suits you best. If you go for less, you always stay unsatisfied.
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator

    @obajoba...welcome to our forum and thanks for giving us good info on your style of photography. I would have to agree, given you budget, the D3x is the body to go with. As for pricing, keep an eye on Craigslist as well...buy Local only, or in a set distance you are willing to drive to; and be sure to test it out thoroughly with your lenses!

    Lastly, when I shoot action shots, I mostly shot in JPEG...bet it on my D7000 or D4. If you try to save files in both of these formats at the same time, then without question your buffer will fill up much faster. With that in mind make sure you also get the fastest CF cards you can for your D3s. My recommendation would be SanDisk Extreme Pro 16 or 32 Gig UDMA 90MB/s

    Happy shopping and good luck.
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • obajobaobajoba Posts: 206Member
    @JJ_SO - that's kind of been the concern all along. I bought the D7k so I could learn the digital side of the world and see if I could re-ignite the passion I once had for photography. In theory, I could spend loads of money on film and processing, and fire up the N90s to get fantastic photos. But that just doesn't seem realistic today.

    I took 13 years off from using an SLR and the D7K served it's purpose. It brought back my passion for photography, forced me to delve into the digital processing world and... within 6 months I found myself frustrated with the limitations before me. So, I sold it. I refuse all requests to be paid for photos, I do it because I enjoy it, and share the results with others so they can enjoy the photos as well.

    I go out with friends to the lake, or to my son's football games and shoot 300-400 action shots, learn a little more every time I PP, and share them out. These are a few of my decent images that represent what I'm shooting and why I am concerned with AF speed and high ISO performance:
    http://goo.gl/ASgvn

    It also doesn't help that I'm going on a safari in South Africa later this year and I want to get the most out of that opportunity.
    D4 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 24-70 2.8 | TC-17e II
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited January 2013
    I need an FX body with excellent high ISO performance. .........Or, do I man up and go to the D3s for awesome high ISO, faster AF performance but sacrifice DR and pixels (not that I would mind editing smaller photos, I have zero patience to edit a 35+mp photo.) A D4 is out of the ......Should I continue to wait patiently to see if Nikon makes some surprise announcement in the next 30-45 days?.....
    I don't think Nikon are going to introduce a cut price D4 ( D400) in the next 30 to 45days

    Re slow editing in LR. You simply need a faster computer (i7 with at least 12gb ram ) or just have a cup of tea while LR batch processes all your High ISO shots

    Re Camera choice only 3 options :
    D3s seems to tick all your boxes, if you can get a good one
    D800 but beware, this has a fairly small buffer (36 mp is not an issue if you have a modern computer)
    D4 yes it is very expensive but it is what you want and need ( here at NRF we love spending other peoples money)
    I dont think the D600 is going to cut the mustard






    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • obajobaobajoba Posts: 206Member
    edited January 2013

    Re slow editing in LR. You simply need a faster computer (i7 with at least 12gb ram ) or just have a cup of tea while LR batch processes all your High ISO shots
    That's not an issue, I have a quad i7 MBP Retina 16GB and a well balanced install/setup. :)

    I dont think the D600 is going to cut the mustard
    You are probably correct. I was at a local shop the other day and played with one, it felt slow, it sounded slow, it was... well, it just seemed slow. Maybe because it was a display model but it felt cheaper and slower than my D7000 ever did.

    I can probably sacrifice the FPS, I got along fine with the D7k on FPS considering the AF couldn't truly keep up at 5FPS on a subject moving toward me. A D800 in DX crop mode (or another mode) may also be the compromise I am looking for to assist with high ISO and faster AF. Oh <>, who am I kidding, I'm just doing circles and in the end I will tell the wife I spent $3k but actually spend 6k and buy <> D4.... :D






    Post edited by Msmoto on
    D4 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 24-70 2.8 | TC-17e II
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    edited January 2013

    Oh hell, who am I kidding, I'm just doing circles and in the end I will tell the wife I spent $3k but actually spend 6k and buy damned D4.... :D
    And the truth shall set you free. I have always told myself to: never settle in getting something equivalent, when deep in your heart I know exactly what I want. If you have the passion, as many of us due regarding photography, then by all mean get the gear you want. The D4 will blow your mind and you will not regret a single penny!

    Best wishes....
    Post edited by Golf007sd on
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited January 2013
    we won't tell

    ;) ;) ;)
    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,968Member
    edited January 2013
    Nobody in my family notices when I upgrade cameras (they all look the same to them if it says Nikon on the front), so I'm sure you'll be fine. :)
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • obajobaobajoba Posts: 206Member
    Thanks everyone for the input!

    I'm kind of a "special" case when it comes to "married guy finances", she honestly would never know and would probably be happier not to know. :) But, a D3S with an aquatic housing sure would be fun for shooting wakesurf and wakeboard shots; I think that's probably close to the price of a D4 by itself, no?. Ohhhhhhh man. THIS is what happens when you have surgery and spend a month at home in the middle of a Colorado winter. The good news? I've got time to decide since I'm not allowed to even use my camera for another 4-6 weeks.
    D4 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 24-70 2.8 | TC-17e II
  • obajobaobajoba Posts: 206Member
    In fact, Cameta sells Nikon D4 Refurbs for $5200, anyone have experience with them and/or Nikon refurbs?
    D4 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 24-70 2.8 | TC-17e II
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    You will find that Nikon's refurbished gears to be outstanding. If you happen to see a D4 go for it without hesitation...period!
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • obajobaobajoba Posts: 206Member
    You will find that Nikon's refurbished gears to be outstanding. If you happen to see a D4 go for it without hesitation...period!
    Thanks for the heads up! Also, This morning I found a lightly used D4 about 2 miles from my house that was purchased in September for ~$5k. I am going to take a look at it and if I can pucker up for it (not gonna be easy to drop that kind of coin) then I think it's about as good a deal as I will find.

    D4 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 24-70 2.8 | TC-17e II
  • adamzadamz Posts: 842Moderator
    @obajoba - I don't know the conditions for shooting wake-boarders, but was using my d3s on the beach and even got some bad splashes (needed to shower the camera after it) and it still work as it should. So unless You get a good deal on this d4 get d3s, it's always better to get the best in class than the lowest in class when the difference is only 1 gen. as for DR, up to iso 800 I don't see any problems, after that it drops but I'll say You can get up to iso 6400 for print quality results and iso 12800 for web.
  • obajobaobajoba Posts: 206Member
    edited January 2013
    @obajoba - I don't know the conditions for shooting wake-boarders, but was using my d3s on the beach and even got some bad splashes (needed to shower the camera after it) and it still work as it should. So unless You get a good deal on this d4 get d3s, it's always better to get the best in class than the lowest in class when the difference is only 1 gen.
    I find it is sometimes difficult to remember that only a year ago the D4 wasn't even an option and millions of photojournalists, sports photogs, etc. were using the D3s to shoot everything we all found to be absolutely amazing.

    As for shooting wakeboarding and/or wakesurfing, here's an example of the "spray"
    20120909-115434-4.jpg
    Post edited by obajoba on
    D4 | 70-200 2.8 VR | 24-70 2.8 | TC-17e II
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