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Old May 4, 2008, 12:56 PM   #1
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I've been mulling this over for weeks now. I'm not a professional, just an enthusiastic amateur looking to expand my skills. I currently use a Fuji S5200 P&S. It's a pretty good camera for it's class, but I'm ready to move beyond it's limits.

I've read countless reviews and user opinions. I've looked at hundreds of samples of photos taken with these camera's. I've gone to the local camera stores and handled all three.

I don't have anything specific I like to shoot. I just like taking pictures of anything that I find interesting. I have no doubt all three of these camera when paired with the right glass will handle that.

The only specific thing that I want to be sure I can take good pictures of is martial arts competitions. My daughter is a black belt and I'd like to be able to capture her performances. This requires the ability to stop action in average indoor lighting (florescent and incandescent). The catch is that in most cases they don't allow flash photography. I can usually get within 15 to 20 feet of the rings, though not always.

I've also handled the Sony and Oly cameras, and though I know they have their proponents, I prefer to stick with the Nikon or Canon.

I had originally set my target budget at around $1500 and had been comparing the D80 to the 40D. I realize they are not really in the same class, but they were the best of each respective brand under the budget.

I like the feel of all three, despite the fact that the D300 and 40D were noticeably heaver and larger than the D80.

If you are still reading, here's the crux of the issue:

Does anyone know if the D80 will be able to focus and shoot fast enough for my martial arts photos. It's certainly the cheapest option of the bunch and the extra money could be used for some better glass.

Failing that, the Canon seems to be a solid option, but is there a compelling reason to consider shelling out almost $600 more for the D300. It's certainly not within my original budget, but I can consider it if there's a good argument for it.
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Old May 4, 2008, 2:23 PM   #2
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smithkt wrote:
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The only specific thing that I want to be sure I can take good pictures of is martial arts competitions. My daughter is a black belt and I'd like to be able to capture her performances. This requires the ability to stop action in average indoor lighting (florescent and incandescent). The catch is that in most cases they don't allow flash photography. I can usually get within 15 to 20 feet of the rings, though not always.
Some of our Sports Shooters with experience shooting Martial Arts can probably give you a better informed response. But, I suspect that you're going to need to shoot using an f/2 or brighter lens (with brighter lenses represented by smaller f/stop numbers) for best results, using relatively high ISO speed settings to reduce the amount of blur you see from subject movement.

In a Canon solution, I'd probably look at the 30D or 40D coupled with a Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM lens. In a Nikon solution, I'd lean towards the D300 if budget permits, coupled with a Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 AF lens. The D300 has an upgraded AF system over the D80, as well as better higher ISO speed performance, including ISO speeds from ISO 4000 to ISO 6400 available if needed.

Then, decide on lenses for walk around use when not shooting indoor sports.
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Old May 4, 2008, 4:49 PM   #3
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I am sure that many out there would be able to give a better response, but I would imagine that even the new Canon XSi would do the trick as it is sharp up to its maximum 1600 ISO. But you would need to invest your money in a good lens. Regarding the D80, I went to local Nikon specialist and they told me that even the D60 is sharper at higher ISOs due its new processor. The D80 is rather an old camera by now although it is rumoured that its replacement, the D90, will soon be released.
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Old May 4, 2008, 6:47 PM   #4
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In a Canon solution, I'd probably look at the 30D or 40D coupled with a Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM lens. In a Nikon solution, I'd lean towards the D300 if budget permits, coupled with a Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 AF lens. The D300 has an upgraded AF system over the D80, as well as better higher ISO speed performance, including ISO speeds from ISO 4000 to ISO 6400 available if needed. Then, decide on lenses for walk around use when not shooting indoor sports.
JimC, thanks for the quick response. Very good information. If I take the D80 out of the equation, the question is whether the D300 offers enough of an advantage to me to justify the $600 premium of the 40D. I have to continue to mull that over. That $600 could be put towards the better lenses.....


Mikael A wrote:
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I am sure that many out there would be able to give a better response, but I would imagine that even the new Canon XSi would do the trick as it is sharp up to its maximum 1600 ISO. But you would need to invest your money in a good lens. Regarding the D80, I went to local Nikon specialist and they told me that even the D60 is sharper at higher ISOs due its new processor. The D80 is rather an old camera by now although it is rumoured that its replacement, the D90, will soon be released.
Mikael, thank you also. To be honest, I checked out the Rebels. I really did not like the grip at all. Way too small. The 40D has a very nice grip. I've seen the rumors about the D90, but with no substantive info regarding features or availability, I'm not going to wait it out. It could be several more months before we see it. The problem with the D40, D40x and D60 is they lack a built in AF motor, so if you use anything but a AF-S type lense, you have to focus manually. It was an odd choice to make if you ask me. It limits the lense choice.
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Old May 4, 2008, 7:04 PM   #5
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I've got the xsi and love it so far. I too was concerned about the grip but it is not too bad once you start working with the camera. I heard people say that adding the battery grip makes this camera more comfortable.

My choices came down to the xsi and 40d. The 40d did have a better grip feel, 6.5 fps, and slightly better AF. I decided on the xsi and $450 savings. I did not think the step up was warranted for my purposes and I can use the money saved to put towards the 70-100mm f2.8 lens I want for hockey season.

Another factor for me was the wife. She has some photo experience but I did not want to overwhelm her. I though it would be easier to teach with the xsi. I thought the xsi not being as menu driven as the 40d would be helpful. Don't know if this qualifies as a concern for you, but I though it worth mentioning.
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Old May 4, 2008, 7:09 PM   #6
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smithkt wrote:
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JimC, thanks for the quick response. Very good information. If I take the D80 out of the equation, the question is whether the D300 offers enough of an advantage to me to justify the $600 premium of the 40D. I have to continue to mull that over. That $600 could be put towards the better lenses.....
That's true. I don't think there is a lot of difference between noise levels for similar detail retention at equivalent ISO Speeds between the models from Nikon and Canon in that market niche. But, without being more familiar with the lighting you're going to encounter, I'd lean towards a model with higher available ISO speeds if budget permits. You never know when you made need them. Sometimes a bit more noise is better than blurry photos (although even with higher ISO speeds, you may not stop all blur from hand and foot movement indoors without a flash, depending on the lighting). Of course, some blurring of hand and foot movement may not be bad.

Hopefully, some of our Sports shooters with experience taking photos of Martial Arts Competitions will chime in and offer some opinions.

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Old May 4, 2008, 7:43 PM   #7
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@MurphyJP
Thanks for the feedback on the Rebel grip. I just really did not like it. I don't think I would get used to it. This camera will be for my own use only, so I'm not really worried about having to teach anybody else. Frankly, my soon-to-be ex wasn't going to be a soon-to-be ex, I probably wouldn't be buying a camera at all.

@JimC
From the comparisons I have seen between the D300 and the 40D, the high ISO performance is really close on both, so I think I need to remove the D300 from the discussion.

Sounds like the 40D is the clear choice as long as I buy the right glass to go along with it. I'll wait to see if someone who shoots this kind of stuff chimes in with additional info.

Thanks for all the help so far.
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Old May 5, 2008, 8:30 AM   #8
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I shoot alot of sports, and have been doing it with the D80 for the last 18 months. It is competant, and as long as your exposure is right, noise is not a huge issue. that being said, I just got a D300, and the difference is night and day. the extra FPS and customization is huge. Couple that with better high iso performance, and I feel like an idiot for not doing it sooner. The 40d is about 1/2 step below the d300 in performance, and you're probably better off getting the 40d and putting the money saved toward some good glass. I've shot Nikon for years, and got the D300 because I'm not interested in switching systems. For a new user wanting great bang for the buck for the type of shooting you're doing, you're making the right choice with the 40d.
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Old May 5, 2008, 10:29 AM   #9
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rjseeney wrote:
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I shoot alot of sports, and have been doing it with the D80 for the last 18 months. It is competant, and as long as your exposure is right, noise is not a huge issue. that being said, I just got a D300, and the difference is night and day. the extra FPS and customization is huge. Couple that with better high iso performance, and I feel like an idiot for not doing it sooner. The 40d is about 1/2 step below the d300 in performance, and you're probably better off getting the 40d and putting the money saved toward some good glass. I've shot Nikon for years, and got the D300 because I'm not interested in switching systems. For a new user wanting great bang for the buck for the type of shooting you're doing, you're making the right choice with the 40d.
Thanks for the honest assessment. As silly as this sounds, it's good to hear someone using Nikon gear suggesting the Canon 40D. Rather than biased, brand loyalist responses, I get a straight forward, unbiased group of responses. It's refreshing.

Now, off to find the best prices...


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Old May 5, 2008, 5:33 PM   #10
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smithkt wrote:
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Thanks for the honest assessment. As silly as this sounds, it's good to hear someone using Nikon gear suggesting the Canon 40D. Rather than biased, brand loyalist responses, I get a straight forward, unbiased group of responses. It's refreshing.

Now, off to find the best prices...

I think you will find a lot of people here who are more into the photography and getting the right kit for the job and telling everyone to use what they had to make themselves feel good. For example I use Canon but will happily advise Nikon or any other system if it is best for the user.

However in this case I think the 40D is a great way for you to go as getting the glass is what will make the difference over the body so if you can't afford/justify the D300 with good glass then don't go that way. My camera body investment (3 dSLR's) is about £4200 UK, and my lenses are about £5500, on top of that we have to look at flashes etc etc so the glass and accessories are where the money is. As you progress if you have the right glass you won't need to change that (unless you want longer/faster lenses) but bodies always get cheaper and new ones are released so if you need more resolution, faster shooting etc you can get it in the future. It's rare for anyone to keep the same body nearly as long as a lens.
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