Nikon D40 or D300 as 1st SLR?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by hoboahoy, May 28, 2008.

  1. hoboahoy

    hoboahoy TPF Noob!

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    Hello all. I have owned and used three "point & shoot" digital cameras in the past several years and I finally feel I'm growing out of the limited ability and functions of P&S cameras. I take very many photos of our dog inside the house at night under a poor light condition, and also outside at the field at sunset when the dog runs around fast. Dogs make unpredictable quick moves, and I can not predict when & how the moment of good photo shoot arrives. I currently use a P&S Canon SD1000, which is a compact convenient camera to carry around, but it does not only produce subpar photos of the dog under a poor lighting in the evening, but it also often misses the very chance of taking photo since the SD1000 takes more than few seconds to be shoot-ready after I power up the camera. When the moment comes, I turned on the SD1000, but often the shooting chance is gone. This leads me to the idea of getting my first SLR camera specifically to capture the image of unexpectedly fast moving dogs at sunset, or under a poor lighting condition inside the house at night.

    As I explore the option, Nikon D300 seems to be candidate for my purpose, and I am ready to pay $2500 if it's recommended. However I also heard the Nikon D40 is a great camera, but I worry if a D40 can handle rapidly moving dogs in poor lighting. One thing I want to avoid is to repurchase or upgrade the first DLR very soon after my first purchase, given that I am willing to pay $2500 for a D300 if it has clear advantages over D40 for my particular applications. I am planning to match the camera with a Nikkor 18-200 mm DX VR lens primarily for convenience since I prefer not to swap lenses often.

    Would you recommend a Nikon D40 or D300 for me (to use with Nikkor 18-200 mm DX VR lens)? I would greatly appreciate your opinions from seasoned photographers in this forum. Thank you very much for your input.
     
  2. JimmyO

    JimmyO TPF Noob!

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    Well the D300 is an AMAZING camera, but im unsure you would be able to apppreciate all it can do. But then i feel if your ready to spend the money you would be able to do better then the d40, although that camera would be able to do everything you expect and probably more. I sugget you look right inbetween at something like the D80.

    Also, the 18-200mm is a nice lens, but you may want to looks at something a little bit faster so you can get better pictures that freeze the action in lowlight conditions
     
  3. Socrates

    Socrates TPF Noob!

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    Neither.
    Get the D80.
     
  4. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    Forget them both and just get a D3.

    Capturing fast moving objects like dogs in poor lighting and inside is enormously difficult. I have enough trouble freezing my 14 month old daughter indoors and she moves a lot slower than a dog, and that's with my Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens too. An f/1.4 is sixteen times more sensitive to dim light than an 18-200VR at f/5.6.

    If you can use a flash then get the D40. It has the fastest flash sync of any camera in Nikon's DSLR lineup at 1/500s. That's faster than even a D300 or D3, or pretty much any other DSLR on the market from what I've seen. I have a D40 specifically for the 1/500s flash sync capability, among other things. It works great. Using a flash would probably be your best option.

    If you can't use a flash the D300 is fine, but forget the 18-200VR. You'll still need a super fast lens like a 50mm f/1.8 or an f/1.4 without a flash or other lighting.
     
  5. Alfred D.

    Alfred D. TPF Noob!

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    Hi Hobo,

    that reminds me of someone who wants to upgrade from an otherwise very capable Mini Cooper and now is waffling between getting either a Ferrari, or a BMW M3, imho. You are contemplating quite a leap in gear.
    Speaking of which: I cannot seem to find a "Nikkor 18-200 mm DX VR" in Nikon's current line up of zoom lenses. What lens would that be?
     
  6. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Holy crap!!!! Socrates we agree how did that happen I guss the 18-200 is not involved well sort of. Listen, if you can afford the D300 to shoot your dog with the 18-200 more power to you I am all for anyone getting what they can afford why else would the camera companies keep making better cameras. I know people buying $1500++ cameras when they don't need them is a big impetus for them to keep innovating. Anyway back to your question if you have the cash to buy a D300 go out and buy a D80 and invest in some decent glass what glass you say mabye the 17-55 2.8 or how about the 70-200 VR 2.8 THAT will improve your image quality immensly and to boot will last you alot longer than a new body. As I said before I always support someone buying a good camera but it is always better to go for the good glass first.
     
  7. hoboahoy

    hoboahoy TPF Noob!

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  8. passerby

    passerby TPF Noob!

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    D40 is reasonably suitable and capable DSLR for your need with good ISO performance at 1600. But if money is not a problem than D300 is preferable I heard it performs so well at ISO 6400, 2 stops faster. Combined this with Nikkor 24-70 f2.8 I believe you have capable speedy camera, albeit this zoom lens is very expensive glass designed for full frame D3 (I think).

    The speed difference between f2.8 and f5.6 is 2 or 3 stops. For an example if at f5.6 the SS is 1/10 of a second than at f2.8 it will be 1/40 of a second. Than after that combined it with the increase of ISO speed.

    That zoom lens cost around $2200 - $2400, as it is professional camera. The Sigma make the same 24-70 f2.8 also for less than $500 at ebay.
    Alternatively you may persuade the dog to slow down a bit for posing purpose :D.

    Happy shooting.

    Edit: Also this lens weight almost 1 kg, it's heavy alright.
     
  9. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Wow, that's the first time I've seen anyone ask "Should I spend $400 or $1800?" :lmao:

    IMO buy the better equipment if you can afford it, and since you are in that price range, buy NO LESS than a D200.

    Why?
    • D80 is an awesome camera that I recommend to people who are willing to spend more, but not wanting to spend over $1000 (with lens)
    • D80 is an awesome camera, but it is "geared" a little more towards the P+S crowd... it has things like "portrait" mode and a full-on-auto mode that even selects your focus points... not that you have to use them, but the 100,200,300 don't have them... so you have to ask yourself why the D80 does.
    • The D40 is an awesome budget camera, but that's it. If you're not on a budget, then please god don't buy a budget camera. There's nothing wrong with the thing, necessarily, but you get what you pay for and it does have some irksome limitations.
    So I would say at the very least, get a D200, but if you have the cash go for the 300. It's a hell of a nice rig.

    One thing to consider... you are paying a big premium for what could be argued is a D200++, but again... have the money? Go for it. If you had a D200 today I'd say not to bother and wait to see what a D400 looks like in a couple years.
     
  10. Ben-71

    Ben-71 TPF Noob!

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    The 18-200 is a very nice all-rounder, but not pro quality,
    and slow when the light is low.

    Sooner or later, you'll add other & faster lenses.
    While the lenses are good for many years, bodies (electronics)
    change much faster.
    The D300's capabilities would keep you learning and improving
    over at least the next 2 body generations.

    The lens that's on my D300 most of the time is the 18-200,
    because moments don't wait for me to exchange lenses.

    The body is good enough to deliver everything I want, until
    the D500~D600 or D5~D6 are out there.

    Even then, except for situations that allow the time to exchange
    lenses (and use a tripod, if needed) I may stil use the 18-200...
    This zoom range allows capturing in an instant.
     
  11. Ben-71

    Ben-71 TPF Noob!

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    The D200 has a tendency to create noise.
    The D300 is free of that, at much higher ISO.
     
  12. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'm not sure how you could say the D300 is so significantly better as to call the D200 not a pro body. Technically both are considered ProSumer bodies, but really... I used my D100 when I started doing pro work. It did (and does still) rock, it's just that there is an expectation for more and the newer bodies are simply better overall in so many ways.

    Doesn't make the D100 bad, just means the 200 and 300 are better.

    The D300 has better noise handling at higher ISOs.

    Also of note when compared to the D200...
    - really nice LCD
    - +2 mp
    - faster fps (+2 I think)
    - flash commander mode

    Ummm... I'm sure there's more, but those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

    Still nothing I see there to call the D300 a pro model OVER the D200.
     

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