Tag Archives: camera equipment

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.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Nikon, photography

New equipment day

No, not new equipment for me, new equipment for Nikon. This was expected, at least for anyone “in the know”, or anyone like me who checks the Nikon Rumors site on a daily basis to see what’s up. :)

The new D3s camera body is a nice announcement, but not really relevant to me, as I doubt I’ll ever need a pro body like that. Of more interest is the announcement of a new 85mm macro lens. It’s a DX lens, f/3.5 and will supposedly cost $529 once it’s available.

I’ve been wondering what to do about the macro problem for a while now. Strictly speaking, I don’t need a macro lens, which is generally considered to be a lens capable of 1:1 magnification of the subject on the sensor. But I do find myself wanting something that’s good for photos of flowers and the occasional insect.

My original solution was to use the D40 kit lens at 55mm. This worked better before I lost autofocus capability on that lens (and is the main reason I am even bothering to think about getting it fixed at all). While I’ve been doing some recent experimenting with manual focus mode on that lens, I find that it’s generally pretty hard to focus it closely at 55mm, where the tolerance is so fine that slight waverings of my body as I stand can easily throw the subject out of focus.

The other alternative I currently have is to use my 18-200mm zoom at 200mm. It doesn’t magnify as much as the kit lens, but it’s adequate in some situations. Image quality is not as good as the kit lens, though.

All of this leads me to think that maybe a dedicated macro lens would work better, even if I don’t entirely need the 1:1 magnification. The problem is that the main offerings available for my camera were not exactly what I would have wanted. Nikon’s 60mm AF-S micro is a bit shorter than I would prefer (yes, it’s actually longer than my 55mm option, but doing macro work at those short shooting distances is not optimal—I’d prefer more distance). Nikon offers a 105mm AF-S micro which by all accounts is a pretty nice lens…except it costs $900, which is out of my price range for such a specialized application. The remaining micro lenses, prior to today, were not AF-S lenses, which would mean manual focus only. Sometimes autofocus really does help, such as one occasion recently when I was laying flat on my belly photographing a caterpillar. Caterpillars move surprisingly fast, when viewed from the perspective of keeping a macro shot in focus. :)

In any case, there is now a new AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR lens to consider. If the price manages to drop below $500, it’ll end up being a very appealing choice. It won’t be at the top of my “want” list, but it’ll be there, probably right below the 10-24mm zoom and above the 10.5mm fisheye. :)

Leave a comment

Filed under Nikon, photography