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Old Jun 4, 2009, 12:52 PM   #1
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Default Fast Far and Low Light

Understanding that the lens plays a huge role in taking action photos in low light I'm trying to find a body that will allow the lens to do its job. I'm currently looking at the D90, D300, and D700; I haven't shot nikon yet, from what I've heard and seen they're the way to go, please speak up if otherwise. The pictures I'm trying to take are of horses jumping about 50-100 feet away in very poorly lit arenas. I would prefer not to spend any more money than I have to; I don't want to cut myself short either.

I would also like to have the option of getting prints of these pictures poster size if possible (without loss of quality) but at a minimum of 11x14.

Lastly I do quite a bit of hiking and like to shoot close and landscapes. I figure any camera body that can do low light action will excel in these other to area, but if not than that is an issue.

Any help with this would be greatly appreciated as I've been trying to sort this out for a while now.
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Old Jun 4, 2009, 2:07 PM   #2
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What you want to do is tough. For that subject at that distance, a 70-200/2.8 should work as well as can be expected for a zoom lens. f/2.8 is the fastest aperture you'll find in a zoom lens for those cameras, but Canon and Nikon also have good assortments of medium telephoto lenses with apertures of f/2.0 or better.

Sony also has Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 and 135mm f/1.8 lenses that are the best of their kind, so you might want to look at the Sony A700 as well. Another consideration is that you might have to shoot at relatively slow shutter speeds, so image stabilization should be a consideration. Canon and Nikon have stabilized fast, medium telephoto zooms, but no stabilized primes. Since Sony has the stabilization in the body, all their lenses are stabilized.
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Old Jun 4, 2009, 2:21 PM   #3
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Mane,

The cameras stack up in the order of D700, d300 and d90.

The d700 is the unquestioned leader in high ISO performance of the 3 - gorgeous photos. But at a steep price. The d700 and d300 also have a slightly more advanced AF system than t he d90. But the d90 is no slouch either. Obviously the pixel advantage is there too. The real question is: can you really afford a D700 plus a 70-200 2.8 lens? I think you might find a prrime lens (although brighter) to be too limiting unless you would always be the same distance from your subject.

For what it's worth, i think Nikon offers the best sports shooting opportunity on the market right now, followed by Canon. So all 3 cameras are going to be good. But the high ISO IQ of the D700 is clearly better than the other two - if you can afford it AND the right lens. The d90 with great lens will get you better results than the D700 with poor lens.
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Old Jun 4, 2009, 2:50 PM   #4
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The D90 and D300 both use a Sony 12MP APS-C size CMOS sensor. They're both pretty good cameras. But the D700 is a much better choice for higher ISO speed use. Ditto for the D3.

The D3 and D700 both use a Nikon designed full frame sensor (same size as 35mm film) with the same the number of pixels (12MP) as you get in the APS-C sensor size based camera bodies.

But, with the larger sensor in the D3 or D700, you have more surface area available so that the individual photosites for each pixel can be made much larger than you'd have in a 12MP APS-C size sensor like the Sony sensors used in the D300 and D90. That larger surface area for each pixel lets them generate a stronger signal for the same amount of light (requiring less amplification for equivalent exposure results using the same aperture and shutter speeds,with less amplification resulting in lower noise levels, better dynamic range and more. IOW, the Nikon D3 and D700 have the better sensor if you need higher ISO speeds.
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Old Jun 4, 2009, 3:28 PM   #5
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The D700 is a full frame dSLR, which means a wider angle of view. A 70-200/2.8 would be a good choice for an APS-C dSLR, but the equivalent on a FF body would be a 100-300/2.8. There aren't a lot of those to be found. Of course, if you can use a highter ISO, you could lose an f-stop, so a Sigma 100-300mm f/4.0 might do the trick.

I think the advantage of the D700 to use a higher ISO would be lost because of the dimmer lens.
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Old Jun 4, 2009, 3:46 PM   #6
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Or, you could use a Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 (or manufacturer's 300mm f/2.8 prime) *if* you really need the extra range. ;-)

JohnG and Mark1616 both have that Sigma. Of course, it's not cheap.

At higher ISO speeds, you could probably crop the image from the full frame Nikon models using a 70-200mm f/2.8, and still end up with as much or more detail as you could using the same lens on an APS-C size sensor at higher ISO speeds anyway.

Noise and/or loss of detail from noise reduction tends to destroy a lot of detail once you get up into the ISO 3200+ settings. You're going to have at least a stop advantage with the full frame Nikon designed 12MP sensor as compared to the Sony 12MP APS-C size sensor from what I can tell from using Nikon cameras with them. As much as I like my Sony A700, if I really needed the best solution for low light work at higher ISO speeds right now (without waiting for Sony to come up with something better), regardless of cost, I'd go with a D3 or D700 using their Nikon designed full frame 12MP sensor.
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Old Jun 4, 2009, 3:55 PM   #7
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This sure is easy when it's OPM (Other People's Money), isn't it?
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Old Jun 4, 2009, 6:13 PM   #8
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Yes. But, if the OP wants "poster size" prints at the highest quality possible in low light, then the larger Nikon 12MP full frame sensor is hard to beat right now for that purpose. The OP will need to decide if the expense of going with that type of solution is worth it or not.
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