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Thread: D300 or D700 For Birds?

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    D300 or D700 For Birds?

    I've never had an autofocus weather resistant SLR, and I think it's about time. My main reason for getting one would be birds and wildlife.

    In the D300's favor is longer reach with the same lens, i.e., a 300 mm acts like a 400 mm giving a cheaper lighter kit.

    In the D700's favor is better higher ISO giving faster shutter speeds (I like to shoot flying birds) and greater dof. Will the bigger dof result in more in focus shots with autofocus? (Also it'd be nice to have a good high ISO camera in general.)

    What do bird and wildlife shooters think of these trade offs? Price plays a part but is not my primary consideration.

    What lenses would you recommend? I lean towards primes for less weight and faster speed. How long does one really need? Are 500 and 600mm much more difficult to use because of shake and small dof?

    If you can shoot at 1/500 or higher is vibration reduction superfluous?

    Would a 300 f4 with a 1.4 converter be adequate for a D700?

    Thanks for any help,

    Best,

    Mitchell

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    Re: D300 or D700 For Birds?

    I use a D3...I have not had either of these, but the D3 is very similar to the D700. I would say that the D300 is probably the better buy in this circumstance. The extra reach is really nice for wildlife (shooting birds there will be times where a 500mm lens is nice and helpful), and the high ISO performance is still great. You are probably not going to be shooting at ISO 3200 outside. At 400-1000 you will probably not see too much of a difference in real world performance. Plus, it is cheaper and smaller. I did find that when I was shooting the Leica DMR, the crop factor really helped in wildlife photography. It's crop was 1.37x and I found I often used a 180mm f/2.8 with a 2x teleconverter. Even then, there were times I wanted more reach.
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    Re: D300 or D700 For Birds?

    Those little critters are REAL FAST. Anything you can do to get higher shutter speeds or strobes is even better. I have hundreds of shots at 1/500 showing motion blur with a D3 and a 400mm lens and a very good tripod fyi.
    I am of the opinion that bird shots that are sharp are more luck than gear.
    -bob

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    Re: D300 or D700 For Birds?

    Which makes Doug Herr's work all the more amazing.

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    Re: D300 or D700 For Birds?

    Stuart,

    How do you think the autofocus compares between the 300 and 700?

    Bob,

    Are you referring to blur from bird movement of camera movement.
    When I've shot small birds close from a tripod, I find 1/700 shows a little bit of wing tip blur, but is a good compromise. The little bit of motion can actually look good. But, anything slower usually is too much blur from bird movement.

    Woody,

    Doug is a marvel. I can't stalk or focus near as well as he. So I want to try auto focus.

    Thanks for all your help.

    Best,

    Mitchell

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    Re: D300 or D700 For Birds?

    I've never had an autofocus weather resistant SLR, and I think it's about time. My main reason for getting one would be birds and wildlife.
    *************
    Birding is $$$$$$.....I have just started with a D300 and the "poor mans" 500..A 300 f/4 + TC-17. In looking at "bird" sites, people seem to be using shutter speeds 1/1500-2000 for birds in flight. A good place to look is at "FM"

    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/board/41

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    Re: D300 or D700 For Birds?

    I'm not sure you need to go that fast. For example, this was shot at 1/1000. There's blur here, but I don't think it hurts the image though you may disagree.

    On my monitor, this lacks contrast. (But not in the print.) I'm too lazy to fix it now, and it doesn't change the point I'm trying to make.

    Best,

    Mitchell


    Attachment 10739

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    Re: D300 or D700 For Birds?

    A lot of it depends on relative motion and distance. While you may need 1/1000th for a small bird flying completely horizontally to you at a close distance, but something further out at more of an angle might require a slower shutter speed. Also, different birds have very different flight dynamics -- a hummingbird is going to beat its wings a lot more than a raptor etc.

    I think this was 1/1500th or so...with a 180mm and 2x converter on a 1.37x, so around 500mm.
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    Re: D300 or D700 For Birds?

    That's a cool shot, Stuart. Those top-left three birds almost look like a multiple exposure on one bird.

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    Re: D300 or D700 For Birds?

    Thanks. I have posted it here, there and everywhere, so apologies if people have seen it before. It is just a good example for this kind of photography. By the way, that is manual focus. I am not totally convinced that autofocus is all that useful for this sort of thing. Even with the D3, I find that sometimes its "guess" as to what you want to focus on is just dead wrong. The focus on the 180/2.8 APO elmarit is so light and quick, that it seems easier in a way than AF, especially if you pre-focus and wait for the bird/person/object to enter the area of prime focus. AF makes it more difficult to do that...it will lock focus, but what it locks on may not be the exact right spot. I am probably completely wrong about this...the longest lens I have used on the D3 was a 70-200.
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    Re: D300 or D700 For Birds?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitchell View Post
    Stuart,
    Bob,

    Are you referring to blur from bird movement of camera movement.
    When I've shot small birds close from a tripod, I find 1/700 shows a little bit of wing tip blur, but is a good compromise. The little bit of motion can actually look good. But, anything slower usually is too much blur from bird movement.
    Mitchell
    It was bird movement.
    They move remarkably fast when they are feeding. I could get crisp eyes and body feathers, but often the beaks would show motion blur.
    I don't have any really long and fast glass, and even with the D3, I found pushing the iso above 800 to cause mediocre results at least for my taste. All of the good shots I got were with high speed strobe, but then it looked like I was shooting at night.
    -bob

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    Re: D300 or D700 For Birds?

    Stuart,

    Not having used autofocus, I thought I'd try one center focus sensor, focus and then recompose. I think this might be faster and hopefully more reliable for me than manual focus.

    Bob,

    Yes, I want to avoid the look of flash. Sorry to hear you don't like the look above 800 ISO, but that is still an improvement over my Leicas.

    Thanks to you both.

    Mitchell

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