I currently use a D2Xs and a D300. I'm very happy with the IQ of these cameras and find they do what I want done, except in one situation. I photograph racing airplanes in Reno every year. These racers are running up to 500 mph, often straight at me, so are VERY demanding of an autofocus system! I have been able to use D3 bodies borrowed from NPS (a sponsor of the Races) for the last couple of years. Nikon says the D300 has the same AF "engine" as the D3, but I have very consistently found that my percentage of "keepers" is considerably higher with the D3 even though I am using a 300 F4 with TC-14 for the D3 and usually a straight 300 with the smaller camera. Moose Peterson, who also shoots the Races, agrees with me on this question, so I'm not imagining things. I am sure that the D3 has a considerably better AF speed for this application.
I'm now considering springing for the big gun, even though my wife mutters about having too many cameras already.
What I'm now wondering, is whether I could go for a D700 instead and get the same benefit? Has anybody out there used the D300, D3, and D700 enough in demanding focussing situations to say whether the D700 is as good as the D3 at really fast-moving subjects, or closer to the D300?
This shot was done with a D300 -- I have no concerns about the IQ with the D300 just the focussing speed and percentage of in focus publishable shots.
Thanks for any opinions...
Attachment#1 (jpg file)
#1. "RE: A question about the D700..." | In response to Reply # 0
The D3 and D700 autofocus modules are the Nikon TTL phase detection MultiCAM 3500FX versions. The D300 contains the MultiCAM 3500DX module. The modules are not interchangeable, and internally they're not exactly the same. The 3500FX design is an evolution of the earlier DX module. The processing engines and programming in the D3 and D700 are somewhat more advanced than the D300. Compare the autofocus performance (focus acquisiton speed, tracking accuracy, etc.) of the same lens on all three cameras and you'll find that the D300 lags slightly, and that the D700 and D3 are essentially identical to each other and faster than the D300.
I've used all three. They're all great cameras. The D700 is my all purpose workhorse. Depending on the lens, the D700 can handle anything well, and most things beautifully. In any case, it would be my choice for the purpose you described.
I think your shot is very good. It's possible to get a higher percentage of keepers with a D700 I think. But the D300 remains a great camera IMO, so I also think it's more likely that mechanically faster lenses and digging deeper to find ways to tweak your technique with this subject matter may make an even bigger improvement to your percentage of keepers.
#2. "RE: A question about the D700..." | In response to Reply # 1
Thanks for the quick and detailed reply. I agree about the D300 -- as I said, I'm delighted with the image quality (as I am with the D2x and even the D200 at its best). I feel no need for a full frame camera for quality issues at all. I and others doing this sort of shooting have, however, found that the D3 simply does focus better -- my technique is certainly the same with both cameras and there is a significant difference in the results. Also, I should have mentioned that my 300 mm lenses are AFS versions, so are pretty fast-focussing, and I've been covering this event since 1976 so feel my technique is pretty well-honed. Try doing this work with Kodachrome II and a 1970s manual focus 300 F4.5 -- which how I started out!
Maybe a D700 is the answer...
I would like more opinions and observations on the D3 vs D700 issue, if anybody out there has any.
#3. "RE: A question about the D700..." | In response to Reply # 2
I don't know what is in a D700, but I'm told that the D3 has two chips for AF and the D300 has just one - which would go a long way toward explaining how the D3 tracks better. I've only used a D700 in static situations (landscapes) so cannot comment on its performance. My suspicion is that it has only one chip though, given the large difference in price. But I really have no idea.
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
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#4. "RE: A question about the D700..." | In response to Reply # 3
I have a similar interest in photographing aircraft in flight, but usually much slower, as they are about to land. I have both a D300 and a D700 and I tend to use the D300 for these shots. The reason? I can hold the D300 more easily and with the DX magnification factor of 1.5, I can use a shorter lens, less chance of camera shake, which I find is an issue. I use the D700 for static displays or if I can get really close to the runway, which is infrequent, due to safety restrictions.
#5. "RE: A question about the D700..." | In response to Reply # 3
Nikon USA has been quoted elsewhere on Nikonians (and on competing forums too) stating that the autofocus system in the D700 is exactly (Nikon's emphasis) the same as the D3. A Nikon Canada rep at the Henry's Digital Imaging & Photography Show in Toronto in October 2008 told me the exact same thing directly (when I asked about the differences between the two cameras).
#6. "RE: A question about the D700..." | In response to Reply # 0
#7. "RE: A question about the D700..." | In response to Reply # 6
One of the very best aircraft shots I have ever seen - can only say the D700 will do no better - in fact the loss of the crop factor may well disappoint. However if you need a camera that excels at low light photography you can't go wrong (but remember a 300mm lens on a DX is effectively 450mm on an FX it is a lowly 300mm - and yes the tc's will degrade your images. www.vmphotography.co.uk
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#8. "RE: A question about the D700..." | In response to Reply # 7
Concerning the wife's objections to adding another camera to the "herd:" years ago in Japan I was able to get a deal on an F-3, five lenses and a pile of filters, flashes, etc. I was asked how I would explain it to Mama, and I said I would handle it like a man: I wouldn't tell her. Except for the discerning, if you've seen one black camera you've pretty muchly seen them all! A chrome-black mix is too obvious, and just don't ever let all the equipment show up in the same place at the same time. If you get caught, buy her a necklace and tell her you needed the new camera to photograph her wearing it. She'll know better, but you'll be off the hook until the next time.
And PS - Great aerial shot!
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