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comparing autofocus speed and quality on D700, D3, D3s

Jon Schwartz

US
19 posts

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Jon Schwartz Registered since 03rd Feb 2010
Wed 03-Feb-10 07:06 AM

What is the difference in the method and mechanics of autofocus on the D700, D3, and D3s, and is the speed and quality of autofocus on the D3s better than the D3, and is the D3 better than the D700?

I shoot for magazines with very picky editors. The subjects are large fish jumping erratically- erupting from the water at spots that are hard to predict. I use a f2.8 28-70mm and a 70-200 f2.8 70-200mm from a moving, heaving boat. I've had some covers and also thousands of "just not quite sharp enough" photos. Don't we all.

Problem is the fish are often not in high contrast to the water- they blend in. So I need the very best autocusing system ( more tack sharp shots means the difference between a possible usable cover or a useless photo) and I am interested in someone with actual knowledge of how these cameras differ mechanically in that one area. I have read all the promo specs and literature and I am wondering if there is really any difference in the autofusing mechanism of the D700 to the D3, or D3s. My go to camera is a D700 with an MBD10 grip giving me a high RAW frame rate. If I am in a location where the fish are doing their jumps farther away from the boat I might use a D300 for the extra reach on the 70-200( although I wonder if I would be better off sticking with the FX with a 1.4 or 1.7 teleconverter?)

If there is no real difference- and improvement-I will just stick with my 700's because with the battery pack I get most of what I need and I like being able to take the MBD10 off and walk around with a smaller body when on land. That, and saving about 5 grand!

Just as an FYI for this type of fishing action I try to shoot between f5.6 and f8 with a max ISO of 400 and a shutter speed of 1/1200 to 1/2000. Once in awhile with poor light I will bump up the ISO to 600. I've tried different combinations of aperture and shutter speed and this works the best, although if the sun is out really bright I will bump up my shutter speeds and lower my ISO's.

In some way I feel kind of silly using cameras that a lot of soccer moms use, even though I know it's a great camera(D700), because I am investing a lot of money in travel to get to these spots (I am a freelancer). At times I think maybe I should be spending the 5k on the new Nikon D3s, because I am shooting high paced, unpredictable action for super picky editors. Then again, maybe it won't make a big difference in the one thing I care about- the quickest autofocus. I have gotten some good results with the D700, but I am wondering if I would be getting a higher percentage of shots in sharp focus with the D3 or D3s. If the answer is yes, I should do it, because I would make a lot more money. If not it would be an expensive, unnecessary investment.
Thanks very much in advance for your input
Jon Schwartz
Travel Articles and Photography
www.bluewaterjon.com
Blog: http://bluewaterjon.blogspot.com/

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