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Old Mar 11, 2009, 5:22 PM   #1
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I am getting ready to upgrade from my Olympus Evolt E-500 and want to switch to Nikon. I am finding the price for the D300 and D90 are close enough that I am having a hard time deciding which one to buy. I know the D90 is a much newer camera, but the D300 in many ways seems to be a "better" camera.

The video on the D90 doesn't matter to me at all. I am looking for a camera to take some general family-type pictures as well as pictures at indoor events, such as weddings.

Given that the cost of that the cost of the D300 with the 18-200mm lens is about the same price as the D90 with the 18-105mm and 70-300mm lenses, what do you recommend?

Thanks in advance.
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Old Mar 11, 2009, 7:01 PM   #2
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The D90 with the 18-105/70-300 is a better combination lens wise, than the D300 with the 18-200. Better IQ at all focal lengths plus extra reach. Also, it doesn't sound like you need the extra speed, customization, or build quality the D300 offers. The D300 is also quite heavy. When in doubt, better lenses with a lesser camera will yield better results (usually).
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Old Mar 12, 2009, 9:32 AM   #3
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My guess is all of those lenses have about the same image quality for the average user like us. I'm sure there is a difference when you look at some level of performance we don't normally encounter. I have the 18-200 and the 70-300 and I think they are the same. I can't say for the 18-105, but I can assume. I use my 18-200 most of the time on my D80 and D300. I have three Nikon's now and they all have advantages over each other. The only disadvantage the D300 has is it is heavy and Big especially with the 18-200. The D80 and I assume the D90 is easier to carry around all day. That's why I kept it. I use the D300 when I want to additional reach the 1.5 crop factor gives me. The image quality is about the same for well exposed shots. I have a D700 now and with the other two I don't think I will ever buy another camera. 12mp is enough for very large prints and I don't see any need for whatever Nikon has in store next.

If you even remotely think you may want to buy a full frame camera in the future I would limit the number of DX lenses to a minimum. The older 70-300s can be had for about a hundred dollars used from places like KEH, no VR but that's why they make tripods. So I would buy the D90 with either the 18-200 or the 18-105 and start collecting used lenses as the need arises. I recommend the 18-200 because it is a great all purpose lens with good reach and it's not to heavy on the D90.

The D300 does outperform the D80 at higher ISO but I suspect the D90 is about the same as the D300. The difference between the D300 and D700 is huge.

D90 and get one lens you want, then start collecting like the rest of us.
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Old Mar 15, 2009, 7:32 AM   #4
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I would go with the lens and D90. The lenses give you more lattitude and will outlast the camera body.

The image quality between the two cameras are virtually the same but flexibility, features and speed (sports type shooting) goes to the D300.


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Old May 10, 2009, 5:28 PM   #5
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I am also looking at purchasing the D300 or D90. I really want good pics of my kids at their performances/dance recitals. which should I go for?
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Old May 11, 2009, 4:44 PM   #6
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Both are very capable cameras. But I think that the D90, being a newer model, is a better choice. I have read a number of reports on other threads about it, and the users are very happy with it. But the camera by itself isn't going to automatically guarantee perfect pictures every time. You need to do a lot of experimenting with whatever camera you purchase, so that you understand how to use it and understand which modes and settings will be best for your camera handling abilities as well as the situation.

In my opinion, just about any Nikon DSLR is a good choice. On another forum someone posted some pictures taken with available stage light from a play their grandson was in. They were very nice images. Many comments were being posted about how capable the camera was (D90 in this instance). As I looked at the images, I compared them with some taken by my son-in-law with his D70. Same type of lighting, same kind of stage lighting, same excellent results. I decided to post a couple of the D70 images, and it quickly brought the discussion to an end.

My point is that you can expect results from any model. The D90 I'm sure would serve you well. Just make sure you have a lens with plenty of reach. And then practice till you are comfortable with your results.
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Old May 28, 2009, 4:06 PM   #7
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D90 vs. D300. I went with D90. Newer camera and does pretty much what the D300 can and have read that D90 outperforms the D300 in some ways (ie. low light situations). The HD video, i didn't really put too much thought on it but it is really nice to know you have the option to capture some video clips. Also, i liked the D90's fit with my hand and the weight was not too light (plasticy) nor too heavy and bulky.

Regarding 18-105/70-300 vs. 18-200 combination, i echo what rjseeney said and i'm loving my 18-105 (walk around lens) and 70-300 for that extra reach.

Either way, whatever you decide you'll never go wrong. Good luck with your choice.
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Old May 28, 2009, 4:44 PM   #8
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I have to disagree with the posters who claim the D90 "outperforms" the D300, or is better because it is newer. Aside from maybe slightly better IQ at high iso's, in terms of speed, customization, flexibility etc, the D300 is clearly better. The D90 does not do almost everything the D300 does. Need 6 or 8 FPS..it's the D300. Need custom shooting banks to rapidly recall commonly used settings..D300. Need to fine tune focus with individual lenses...D300. Image copyrighting, 1/8000 shutter speed, faster more sophisticated AF are other features on the D300, not on the D90. It's also got better weather sealing. For basic use, yes the D300 and D90 will perform roughly the same, and you're better off saving the money. But if you need features, and speed, it's not even close.

Last edited by rjseeney; May 28, 2009 at 4:47 PM.
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Old Jun 2, 2009, 1:11 PM   #9
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Oh come on, Kenrockwell said, "forget the D300 and get the D90 instead." Just kidding..

D300 definitely is model up higher than D90 and can do a lot more feature wise. Also, depending on the shooting needs you can never go wrong either way. But, if i had the money and save for a higher model body, i'd go full frame and get D700 instead.
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Old Jun 3, 2009, 9:54 AM   #10
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Don't discount the impact of the lenses you use. It astounds me that people consider a prosumer DSLR because of how great it will be but want to cripple the ability by using consumer grade lenses like the 18-200. I shoot Canon, not Nikon but I've owned all 3 levels of Canon DSLR - entry, mid and pro. I've shot with entry, mid and pro level lenses. Without question, glass will have a bigger impact on your photos than camera body. Sometimes you need the features a given body provides. But chances are - without the right glass you'll still get poor results. While I agree the D300 is a much more capable camera the whole idea is to pay for the features you NEED. Having a D90 with better glass and external flash and/or tripod/head etc... can be a MUCH better solution than d300 with kit lens.

For example - the OP stated they want to take family photos, weddings (presumably just as a guest and not official photographer) and dance recitals.

Guess what? The cameras mentioned with only the lenses mentioned are going to do a very poor job of weddings and dance recitals.

For wedding shots - assume primarily you'll be taking shots at the reception - you want an external flash. Want even better quality? Get a flash bracket. If you want to take photos at the ceremonies - flash is usually discouraged. Now you're going to want an f2.8 or faster lens to get shutter speeds you need - and VR can be very beneficial.

For dance recitals - again you'll want f2.8 or faster lenses. Selecting the right lens has a lot to do with distance to stage. The more variation there will be in distance the more you need the flexibility of something like a 70-200 2.8 lens.

Without the necessary lens/flash the OP will not do well at either of those stated activities.
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