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Old Sep 5, 2008, 5:46 PM   #1
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Hello, I am looking to get another camera, and I am looking at DSLR's. I am a dog breeder and take a lot of pictures of Dogs and puppies. Most all of my photo's I take are spontaneous, and are rarely posed except in the winners circle. My question is am I better off with a used older pro camera body like a Nikon D2Hs or has newer technology caught up with older pro models (even though the newer camera's might be rated consumer)? An example would be the Canon 50D or Nikon D90. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I do have a budget and these are in line with what I have to spend. Thank you for your help and compliments to this site for the wealth of information provided!
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Old Sep 5, 2008, 7:30 PM   #2
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Well... The D2Hs is a fine camera. It's a pro body which has pros (no pun intended) and cons. lol

It's a larger and heavier body compared to the entry level and advanced amateur models, and is designed for more rugged use. That can be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on your perspective (i.e., you may not want to lug a larger and heavier body around all the time). But, if you're using a larger and heavier lens with one (which you may or may not want), a heavier body can provide better balance (so that the camera isn't as "front heavy").

The D2Hs is in a different class for performance compared to a model like the D90. It has a more advanced AF sensor assembly with very fast AF tracking algorithms. Even though the D90 has a newer processing engine and lots of features that look good on paper, it's really not in the same class as the older D2Hs (which is a very fast camera). Nikon didn't even upgrade the AF sensor compared to the D80 in the D90. You can't expect everything in a model within this market niche, as Nikon has to leave a way for the pro bodies to distinguish themselves (older model or not, the D2Hs is a pro level body).

But, the D90 is probably going to be superior in some other areas (for example, noise levels at higher ISO speeds, with higher available ISO speeds). It's also a higher resolution camera (12 Megapixels versus 4 Megapixels) which could come in handy if you need to crop any, or need larger print/viewing sizes.

The new Canon 50D will probably outperform the D90 (AF speed, etc.). But, we'll have to wait to see more feedback from users to better judge how they compare. In the Nikon lineup, the D300 would be the one to look at in a niche just below a body like the D2Hs (or new D3), although it's not really in the same class as Nikon's D3 series models either (despite it's 51 point AF sensor, the AF processing is not as fast as a model like the new D3, which is a higher end body, and I doubt the D300's AF performance could outperform the D2Hs either for overall speed in tough conditions, even though the D2Hs AF sensor doesn't have as many AF points as the AF sensor in the newer D300). You may not need that kind of AF performance though, and some of the other benefits of a newer model may be more important to you (resolution, noise levels, and more).

Are we talking indoor events? I'm afraid I don't know much about these shows, although I've watched parts of some on Television with the trainers leading the dogs around a rink. My assumption is that's the kind of thing you want to take photos at (please let us know if that's not the case).

What kind of budget are you looking at for both camera and lenses? It's not uncommon for users to spend as much or more for lenses as they do for a body for shooting in tough conditions.

I'd also try to give as much detail as possible on the conditions you will be shooting in, your vantage point (distance to subjects) and the use for the images (desired print/viewing sizes, etc.) for better responses from members here.


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Old Sep 5, 2008, 8:10 PM   #3
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Hello Jim, thank you for the speedy reply. Well, yes what you see on t.v. (dog shows) is what I am talking about. However (this is a big one) maybe only 20 % of the time. Much of my shooting is in harsh environments not indoors or studio. Many of the shows are outside also. Other examples of shooting situations are on the beach, in the woods, in snow, in all weather conditions from hot to cold. I won't be using a tripod either because I am constantly moving with my dogs as they do. The harsh conditions I explained are key because the best dog photographs are at the same level as the dog which means I have to get on my knee's in a split second to take many photo's. So I guess sand, dirt and all of those good things would probably require me to have a very good housing I would imagine. Distance between me and my dogs during a normal shoot would be 8 to 12 yards. Two things are very important to me. One is speed of camera because I never know when the perfect shot is going to be there. Coupled with the jerky movements of a dog speed is a concern. Secondly the end product is decent picture quality for my efforts. I might go 4 hours to get that one good picture. Other days not even get one good picture. Not like working with a model where you can explain what your looking for to them. Which I do know the better the glass the better the picture. I could be wrong in my thinking but I figured a well taken care of used camera body with the rest of my money going to a newer or new lens. My budget will be $2000 to $2500 total for body and lens. Thank you Jim
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Old Sep 5, 2008, 9:51 PM   #4
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Looking at prices on a used D2Hs at http://www.keh.com (a reputable vendor of used gear), I see a couple of D2Hs bodies in EX+ condition there going in the $1,200's.

Nikon Digital Bodies at keh.com

They're not any lower at B&H:

Used Nikon Digital Bodies at B&H

The older D2H goes for much less. But, Nikon had component issues with the D2H. For example, reports of meter failures with this camera were relatively common, as were board failures impacting AF. At one time, Nikon was fixing these issues at no charge. But, I don't know what their current policy is on it (especially if you're not the original owner, since Nikon is pretty picky about servicing gear that you didn't buy new without charging you for the service, even if it's within the original warranty period). These problems were corrected in later production runs and the newer D2Hs should not be impacted.

Although reputable vendors of used gear like B&H and KEH do offer a short term warranty on used gear, you really don't know what a camera like that has been through. Keep in mind that this is a pro level body and it's not uncommon for one to have seen a *lot* of use.

Another thing you need to be aware of is that Nikon USA will refuse to service a grey market camera (one that was not intended for sale in the U.S.), even if you are willing to pay them for the service, and it's not uncommon to see a lot of these in the market (sometimes bought that way without the original purchaser being aware of it, thanks to a number of online dealers misrepresenting them).

Most of the advanced amateur level bodies have some weather sealing now (just not up to the same standards you'd find in their pro level bodies). If you want fast lenses, you'll also need to leave some room in your budget for those. AF responsiveness tends to vary a lot between lenses, too. For example, don't expect an "all in one" lens like a Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S VR to focus as fast as a pro grade lens like a Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 AF-S VR, even though they both have AF-S (Silent Wave Focusing). On the flip side, Nikon's pro bodies like the D2Hs tend to have faster built in AF motors. So, you may find responsiveness to be good with some of the less expensive lenses without AF-S.

You'll also need fast lenses (i.e., wider available apertures) for shooting the indoor events so that your shutter speeds will be fast enough to prevent motion blur. So, that means f/2.8 or brighter lenses. You'll also want high usable ISO speeds for the indoor shots, even with fast glass (which is one thing a newer body would give you, since improvements have been made in that area).

Let me sleep on it and I'll try to come up with a few options you may want to consider. Some of our other members may chime in with suggestions, too.

Is there a reason you're considering the D2Hs (for example, do you have any Nikon lenses already or have another reason to lean in that direction)?

How about time frame?

Photokina (a very large photography industry trade show held once every two years in Cologne, Germany) is this month from September 23-28.

You will likely see many announcements for new camera models from a variety of camera manufacturers leading into this show, as it's a very popular "launching point" for new photography related products, attended by many thousands of people, with press coverage from many photography related sites and magazines. Ditto for announcements for new lenses (from both the camera manufacturers and third party lens manufacturers).

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Old Sep 5, 2008, 11:05 PM   #5
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One other question... what camera (and lenses if it's a dSLR) are you shooting with now?

That would give us a better idea of how much improvement you may see with a given solution, since it sounds like you're having a lot of difficulty capturing what you want.



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Old Sep 6, 2008, 10:41 PM   #6
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I'm still trying to get a better understanding of what kind of dog shows and photos you're talking about and get a better idea of what you're using now where you're having lots of difficulty capturing the shots. So, more info there would probably help get better responses and help us understand how much a given system might improve your number of keepers.

I can understand wanting a weather proofed solution. But, at the same time, I'm thinking a newer model with higher usable ISO speeds may be a better bet for the indoor shows, and you really won't get both on your budget by the time you add a brighter zoom into the mix if you want a better than average AF system in a new body. The advanced amateur models do have some sealing (just not up to the pro body standards).

Some of the choices in new equipment that come to mind would be the Nikon D300, Canon EOS-40D (and now EOS-50D), and Sony A700. These would all give you ISO speeds up to 3200 in a pinch (with the Nikon D300, Canon 50D and Sony A700 able to higher if you had to).

Then, add a 70-200mm f/2.8 into their kits, which sounds like a good choice for the shooting distances you'll use (and f/2.8 would be probably be bright enough to work in a pinch for the indoor stuff if it's not practical to use a prime). You've got both camera manufacturers choices available, as well as third party choices like the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 (although the newer version of it is not shipping in Sony mount yet, it should be soon and they pop up on the used market from time to time). Tamron also has a new SP 70-200mm f/2.8 (but, I'd probably go with the Sigma in Nikon or Canon mounts if budget didn't permit the camera manufacturer's choices, and wait on user feedback for the Sony mount version when it hits dealer shelves). Only the Sony mount will use a body based focus motor with this one, and this lens model's built in motor in Canon and NIkon mount is a bit on the slow side from reports I've seen).

Olympus also has a weather sealed body in this niche now in the E3, and you could go with something like the weather sealed 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 Zuiko SWD lens with it (and their SWD lenses should focus faster). It's not quite as good as the others at it's highest ISO speed settings, and it's available ISO speeds don't go as high as the Sony A700, Canon 50D or Nikon D300. But, it would give you a good body for harsher conditions with better weather sealing compared to the other choices.

Personally, I'd probably lean towards one of the other solutions for best flexibility indoors. But, I'm still trying to get a feel for what you're using and more about the shows. I think most of us bring our cameras with us in a variety of conditions. So, I personally wouldn't worry about the weather sealing too much, unless I planned on leaving a camera exposed to rain or something (and you can get a rain cover for a camera).

The Pentax K20D is another weather proofed body available now. But, it's a little slower camera compared to some of the other choices (topping out at 3fps, with a bit slower AF speed from what I gather about this choice). It does seem to do relatively well at higher ISO speeds though (using a more conservative approach to noise reduction compared to most, but that can help retain detail, especially at typical viewing/print sizes).

Perhaps some of our other members will chime in with their thoughts on it.

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Old Sep 7, 2008, 2:14 AM   #7
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I must admit that I was thinking K20D too.

It has better low ISO performance than the E3, but still comes with weather sealing at a very reasonable price. A D300 would be best but it's going to blow the budget.

Lens selection for Pentax is not as great as the bigger guns, but I was just looking through the list available for Pentax mount and it's not too shabby at all, there is a choice of at least 2 manufacturers for most of the standard focal lengths, and Pentax make some very respectable lenses. The only area they might be lacking is medium telephoto primes for low light indoors.
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Old Sep 7, 2008, 8:35 AM   #8
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Looking at B&H prices, this is what I come up with in under $2,500 solutions (of course, you'll probably want a walk around lens starting out wider, too, but it could be a cheap one for everything except your dog photos or when the 70-200mm is too long).

Nikon:
D300 Body for $1699.99:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...al_Camera.html

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 (lastest II version) for $799.99
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...2_8_II_EX.html
------------
Nikon solution: $2,499.98

Canon:

Canon EOS-50D Body for $1,399.95 (expected in October):
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...R_Digital.html

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 for $799.99
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...2_8_II_EX.html
-------------
Canon solution: $2,199.90
Note that you may be able to squeeze in a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L lens instead of the Sigma (it's running $1,190 right now).

Sony:
Sony A700 Body for $1,099.90 ($1,299.99 - $200 instant rebate until Sept. 20th, add to cart to see lower the lower price):
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...al_Camera.html

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 for $799.99 (not in stock but accepting orders):
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._DG_MACRO.html
------------
Sony Solution: $1,898.99

Olympus:
Olympus E3 Body for $1,499.95:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...al_Camera.html

Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD Zuiko for $969.95:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._5_ED_SWD.html
-----------
Olympus Solution: $2,469.90

Pentax:

Pentax K20D Body for $1,009.95:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...al_Camera.html

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 for $799.00
B&H doesn't look like they're accepting orders for this lens in Pentax mount yet. Adorama has been taking orders for them for a while now, though (but, not in stock yet anywhere):
http://www.adorama.com/SG70200H2PXA.html
------------
Pentax Solution: $1,808.95

It looks like the Sigma prices were supposed to be $799 versus $799.99 above. But, you get the idea. Those should be close enough for rough estimates, and you may see price changes, better deals at elsewhere on one item or another, etc.

I'd also check prices at http://www.buydig.com
(but, B&H usually has a better selection of items in stock)


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Old Sep 7, 2008, 8:57 AM   #9
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My wife breeds IGs (Italian Greyhounds) and has been invited to Crufts several years ago. A number of things come to mind (in no particular order).
  • Your going to be handling the camera for potentially long periods of time. Does camera size and weight matter to you? A combination of a small person with a large heavy camera may not work well.[/*]
  • Also, what particular breed or a wide assortment of breeds? Large fairly slow dogs, or smaller extremely fast dogs. I am use to the smaller, go from completely at sleep to 20mph and accelerating, within a couple of seconds. Also, sight hounds (runs in packs), or other breeds. With more dogs together, depth of field becomes more important (especially for group shots).
    [/*]
  • With all the moving around between you and the dogs, with minimum setup time, I would think that a fast auto focus along with image stabilization in either the lens or body would be a good idea. In-Body stabilization would support a wider selection in lenses
    [/*]
  • Your comment concerning putting funds towards a better faster lens, I think would be wise. I would also think that a zoom lens would help, although that is one more adjustment to make and a bit heavier, however it would help reduce lens changes (dust and dirt along with carrying extra lenses) would increase the potential ability to get the picture. Prime lenses would be faster, fewer adjustments (zooming), but probably more lens changes (dust and dirt), and a larger kit. The auto-focusing speed, in not the best light, is a large concern (especially in low contrast situations). The burst rate of the camera would also be of concern - I would think about 3 fps would be adequate and maybe 5 fps for the smaller faster breeds would help. [/*]
  • A smaller sensor (4:3 Olympus) would help with depth of field and lens size at moderate telephoto lengths (50-200 and probably no need for anything over 300). Pentax has a 50-135/2.8 highly regarded, weather sealed lens and body (K20), but their auto focus is not the fastest. Also, 135 may be a bit short.
    [/*]
  • This is sport shooting with an unpredictable (unable to always forecast where they will be going next) and un-cooperative model.[/*]
I would probably start with lens selection, then work backwards, especially if size and weight are not extremely important.

I see that JimC provided a great set of selections. With using the Sigma lens you loose image stabilization with the Nikon and Canon bodies. Olympus, Sony and Pentax with in body stabilization would provide it across all lenses. Having said that, Nikon and Canon would provide the fastest auto focus speeds.

Hope that helps....
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Old Sep 7, 2008, 9:50 AM   #10
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interested_observer wrote:
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Having said that, Nikon and Canon would provide the fastest auto focus speeds.
I wouldn't be too sure about that for the cameras in this market niche. If I wanted a responsive AF system, I wouldn't trade my Sony A700 for any camera I've tried to date, except for perhaps a D3. Of course, I'm very accustomed to it since I've had one since October and others may be able to squeeze more out of a different system. It's just that Sony is the "new kid on the block" in this market niche and not a lot of users in it have gone to Sony yet. So, it's a more unproven solution.

I doubt you're going to see much difference in them with most similar lenses, and the A700 has a pretty good built in AF motor for driving older lens types, too (especially if they're geared towards faster focusing with less turns of their focus screw). We'll have to wait and see how well Sigma's HSM works in the new Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 in this mount, which will be the first time Sigma has released one of it's lenses with HSM for Minolta/Sony mount (although they've had previous versions of their 70-200mm f/2.8 EX lenses in Minolta AF mount without HSM). Now that B&H is taking orders and immediately charging cards for it in Sony Alpha/Minolta Maxxum mount, I suspect that this Sigma is probably in route now (since B&H doesn't usually accept preorders on that kind of thing). We'll have to wait and see how the HSM version of it works on the A700 when it's in Sony users hands.

The new Nikon D700 should be interesting and very hard to beat for AF performance, if it inherits the D3's guts for processing. I haven't personally followed it that closely yet.

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