I am trying to decide whether to invest in the D7K or D300s. I am planning a safari trip next year and using my 80-400m will be essential. I have used it on safari in the past with my old D80 with reasonable results. Until the D7K came out I was seriously thinking about the D300s because of its faster drive motor for this lens. However, given all the positive reviews of the D7K and its newer technology I am tempted by it.
Has anyone used this combination and any thoughts on which will give faster autofocus, particularly in low light conditions. This is where the high ISO results of the D7K is very attractive.
#1. "RE: D7K & 80-400 mm" In response to Reply # 0
The AF of the D7000 is pretty good, but it depends a bit on the lens. I don't have the 80-400 so you probably need feedback from someone with that combination.
The advantage of the D7000 is that it has a new AF system that represents an upgrade. It also has video which could be a plus on a safari. For low light, the better high ISO performance might be enough to favor the D7000.
My biggest concern would be the 80-400 - it is a good choice, but AF is not that fast. I probably would not weight AF speed as my number one criteria since your lens is a big part of the problem regardless of your camera choice.
I don't see a reason to choose the D300s over the D7000 if you are buying new now. The D7000 has the newest technology on the market and a number of advantages. If you already had the D300/D300s I would not see a compelling reason to replace them just for AF speed.
#2. "RE: D7K & 80-400 mm" In response to Reply # 0 Mon 13-Dec-10 07:15 PM by richardd300
I was in the same dilema as you about either the D7K and D300s, in the end I went for the D7K. I won't bang on about my experiences as they can be read elsewhere, however, my principal wild life and BIF lenses are both the 80-400mm on its own and the 70-200 f/2.8 with both a x1.4 and x1.7 teleconverter. I have used the 80-400mm extensively with the D700 and D90 and now have used it a few times with the D7K. In terms of focus speed and always allowing that the 80-400 is rather glacial in it's speed and has the ability to get confused with very contrasty scenes, I have found no noticeable speed difference between the D7K or D700/D90. As the D700 is very much a D300 but full frame I think it's a fair comparison.
One thing though, yes I do use AF for static subjects, but also use in manual on both cameras.
#4. "RE: D7K & 80-400 mm" In response to Reply # 2
Thanks that's helpful. I know the 80-400 can get confused easily but once you get used to its idiosyncrasies IMHO it is a great lens.
I have toyed with the 70-200 f/2.8 plus teleconverter combination and would love another f/2.8 lens having just acquired the 17-55 f/2.8. However I think it would be a better option to get a second camera body so that on safari I can have both the 80-400 mm and 17-55 immediately available to cope with any eventuality. It could be too great a strain on family relations, not to mention finances, if I succumbed to NAS yet further.
#6. "RE: D7K & 80-400 mm" In response to Reply # 0 Tue 14-Dec-10 10:05 AM by Len Shepherd
Having done 6 African safaris AF on the 80-400 which you already own is plenty fast enough for 99% of safari shots. Most activity is fairly static or slow moving - and with approximate pre focus the lens can AF in much less than one tenth of a second. Digressing AF from infinity to minimum focus is not far behind the 50mm f1.4 G - the G have very slow AF for it's aperture. Based on what is around now go for the D7000 and maybe consider renting a 200-400 and TC 14e. AF was used for only 1 of the pictures below.
Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.
#7. "RE: D7K & 80-400 mm" In response to Reply # 6
Monterey Bay, US
I went to Pinnacles two weeks ago and brought one of my 80-400 lens. I would say that with the D7000 a MonoPod is highly recommended, especially at 400mm. For stills I use a TriPod, zoom in on the LCD and use manual override.
If you really want to see the AutoFocus on the 80-400 come to life, put it on a D3 and hand hold it. I found the discontinued N-AF 1.5X TELEPLUS MC DG KENKO works pretty good on a D3 also. It will AutoFocus with very minor image degradation at 400, but again you will need a good TriPod.
#9. "RE: D7K & 80-400 mm" In response to Reply # 6
Many thanks for the advice. I agree that pre-focus improves the performance of the 80-400 and that most activity is slow or static.
I loved the pictures. I have uploaded some of my own which were taken with the 80-400 in 2007. The leopard and cubs were particularly difficult as the light was fading fast by the time our guide found her so they have needed some work in Lightroom and Photoshop to sharpen the pictures. The others have needed no sharpening
I have now purchased the D7000 as an early Christmas present and look forward to having time to begin to master my new camera. Many thanks for the helpful feedback