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d600 vs d7000 as a solution for low light telephoto

Martynas Aleksa , Jan 17, 2013; 04:36 p.m.

Hi all,
banging my head on the wall with silly money-related issue. As I cannot afford a 200-400mm at this stage (and my d700 is starting to cause problems), I need a camera that would equal my d700 in terms of high iso quality AND would give me the extra reach using the 80-200mm lens. In d600 sense this means that I would mostly use it in dx mode or crop heavily. I do theatre photography and iso 1600/2000 is the maximum setting that I can safely use on my d700 (because I expose for the highlighted soloists and have to recover the shadows (often - most of the frame) in post). d600 is twice the price of d7000 - but is its iso performance also that much better? Or, to put it another way - how does the iso1600/2000 of d7000 compare to that of d700 in real life low light situations?
ps. all the lenses I own are for FX, so no problem in either case - all I need is high iso and a good telephoto reach (btw, fixed focal length lens with extender is not an option as I must have the flexibility of the zoom)

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Andy L , Jan 17, 2013; 04:42 p.m.

Get the D7000. The D700 and D600 have better high ISO images, but what you're really comparing here, based on your particular need, is the amount of detail you can capture in a high ISO shot from a D7000, vs. the same shot using the DX crop area of a D700 or D600. The D7000 is going to come out ahead and be in budget.

Wouter Willemse , Jan 17, 2013; 04:47 p.m.

Agree with Andy. If you end up cropping or using DX mode most of the time, getting DX for a lot less money makes a lot more sense. And the D7000 is already pretty awesome in high ISO, not that far from a D700 (but yes, tests show the D600 is better still, but at ISO1600, all 3 are solid performers).

nick baker , Jan 17, 2013; 04:52 p.m.

D7000 is very very close to D700 in image quality. In my experience, noise becomes apparent maybe 1/2 stop earlier with D7000, but in my opinion D7000 handles high ISO noise better so that I have results (in bright light) that are very acceptable for me in the ISO 4000-5000 range which I cannot achieve with D700. There are other differences - I am one of those who found the D7000 AF more difficult to work with, but on the other hand I thought Auto-WB worked better; with D700 I would be doing custom WB more often. Bottom line is that D7000 is a very good option unless you have demanding AF or weather-sealing requirements. I have never used the D600.

Robert Bouknight , Jan 17, 2013; 05:19 p.m.

I guess that I agree with the earlier posters (D7000) for the specific theater photo assignment. But, if your D700 is failing (not sure if I understand "cause problem" statement), I think that the D600 is a better general purpose replacement for the D700.

Martynas Aleksa , Jan 17, 2013; 05:31 p.m.

Andy and Wouter - thank you!
Nick - I've read that the two cameras (d7000 and d600) share the same AF module that was slightly redesigned for the full-frame d600. I mostly shoot using single centre focus point, with no tracking - so, hopefully, the d7000 will be able to handle that ok. heck, even my old d100 does that pretty well.
Robert - my d700 has served me well, but it simply needs thorough cleaning and servicing now (maybe a shutter replacement as well, since it is way past the rated "safe" limit). I hope I will be able to use it long afterwards. So I am mainly buying a second camera to be on a safe side and in order to achieve the extra mm on the far end at a fraction of cost of something like 200-400mm f/4.

Rodeo Joe , Jan 17, 2013; 06:37 p.m.

The D600 in DX mode only gives a 10.3 megapixel image. Surely you're going to find that insufficient by today's standards Martynas? Also the tiny screen size of a D600 in crop mode is going to leave you with eyestrain looking at a dimly lit stage through it all evening.

IMO 1600 ISO is nothing for almost any modern DSLR. Are you shooting RAW? Because I can't believe you're having trouble pulling up shadow detail from a D700's RAW files, even shooting higher than 1600 ISO. RAW also gives you over a stop more headroom for highlights, meaning you can give a bit more exposure over a JPEG and still retain highlight detail. Switching from JPEG shooting to RAW might make all the difference.

James Lai , Jan 17, 2013; 06:46 p.m.

Why not have Nikon take a look at your D700 first? It might well be cost effective to repair, but if not you can always decline the repairs and buy the D600/D7000.

EDIT: Oops, sorry, I just read your 5:31 comment to Robert about looking for a second camera.

Martynas Aleksa , Jan 17, 2013; 07:59 p.m.

Rodeo Joe - I meant to say that if I had a d600, I would most likely heavily crop the image until I get what I need. The point is - I work in a huge theatre and I mostly work during live performances,which greatly limits my ability to move around and get closer to the stage. This is no problem during dress rehearsals, but when the hall is full of people, I simply have to work from a distance. So, what I actually need is a fast telephoto lens in the 300-500mm range, but we all know the price of such glass. So, I decided to go the other way and get a camera instead. If I get D600 - the serviced d700 becomes my backup. If I go for d7000 - it would be mostly used as "telephoto camera". May sound weird, but that's the only way I can think of to extend the range of my 80-200 without investing a fortune into good glass at this moment. As for the shadows and iso - trust me on this one. When an artist on stage is lit with powerful spotlights, the difference in exposure (when compared to the darker background sets) can be 5 stops and more. Try to recover some reasonable detail in the background that was originaly underexposed by 5 stops (and lit with lights of different temperature, no compensation) - and you will see what I mean. And yes, I only shoot Raw:) James - I really hope that it will be cost effective to repair the d700, as I like that camera a lot. I simply need a good backup body, that would also give me some extra reach and resolution.

Kent Staubus , Jan 17, 2013; 08:43 p.m.

If you can wait, there could be an upgraded D7000 in the next six months. The 24mp D5200 has already been announced.

Kent in SD


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