D7000 or D300s?

I’ve been meaning for a while now to upgrade my camera body (a Nikon D40), and had pretty much decided on a Nikon D300s body. Then the D7000 body was announced, and the specs turned out to be so close to the D300s that it raised the question of whether the extra few hundred bucks for the D300s would be worth it. Prices on the D300s seem to have come down just a tad since then (or maybe that’s my imagination), and the D7000 body is still hard to get a hold of if you don’t want the kit lens. I had actually been leaning towards the D7000, since it does have some nice features that seem to improve on the older body, such as higher ISO capability, and better video function. This was in spite of the fact that right now I make do with a camera with a practical limit of ISO1600, and that I know nothing about video at all.

So it was a welcome development today when I encountered this review which is actually somewhat critical of the D7000. There’s a lot there worth reading, including the comments. In particular, this comment, does an excellent job of cutting through all the hype and bullshit surrounding the newer camera, taking it down to just a quick, simple summary of the advantages of each body.

What it boils down to is that the D300s is better built, has a better grip, a better autofocusing system (in fact, its CAM3500DX system, shared with the D700, is considered an industry leader at this point), “more professional buttons” (in particular, the AF-ON button, which I think would be useful for my purposes), and can use compact flash cards. The best points in favor of the D7000 are better metering, and better high-ISO capability. It’s also lighter. On the other hand, there has been some question surrounding the shutter release button on the D7000, with some claiming that it’s too sensitive, and can’t be used with gloves. This is important, due to the fact that I do a fair amount of outdoor shooting in the winter, and have no desire to freeze my fingertip off. :) Some have also criticized the grip, saying it’s too slippery, and smaller than earlier cameras like the D90.

Anyway, it’s some food for thought. I wonder how the D300s replacement (D400?) will stack up? Rumors are that it’s due for release sometime next year. In theory, it should blow the D300s out of the water, but things like ergonomics and button-pressure are precisely the sort of changes which really can’t be predicted. In those respects, the newer camera may not be as good as the old. (In general, technology is like that. “Upgrades” always focus on marketable characteristics, and not on vague, fuzzy concepts like “actual usability.” This is why I gave up being a gearhead. It was too frustrating.)

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