D600 vs. D7100 for Wildlife

globeglimpser

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Hi all.

Situation:
I am looking for a suitable camera to couple with my soon to be Nikkor 80-400mm (F4.5-5.6D ED VR) and Nikon teleconverter (1.4x). I will the make the purchase around July-September and want the camera for my 3 month trip to South Africa - ie. for wildlife photography (mammals and birds). I currently own a D5100, 18-55mm, 55-300mm

Options:
A) I buy a D7100 as a primary body, then in a year or so replace the D5100 with a currently unreleased full frame which becomes my primary
B) I buy a D600 as a primary body and make no other body upgrades in the forseeable future

My thinking:
I think I may get more use out of a D7100 for wildlife photography. The crop and tele factors mean that I will have 400 x 1.5 x 1.4 = 840mm equivalent zoom on a 24MP sensor as opposed to 400 x 1.4 = 560mm on an equivalently sized sensor. Equating these two means that 840mm can be achieved on the DX portion of the D600 sensor which is only 10.4 MP. Based on this I am assuming that I will be able to get a greater reach and higher quality (at say 600mm) with the D7100 than the D600.

My Questions:
Is my logic flawed?
Does anyone have experience relating to this?
Have I missed any key differences between the cameras and frame sizes?
Is there anything helpful you could add?
Which option would you chose and why?
 

Derrel

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Wildlife and bird shooters have long tended to show some preference for APS-C camera with high MP counts, instead of FX cameras. Why???? "Pixel density". The smaller sensor puts more pixels into a smaller area, boosting the pixel density. This is pretty well-known, so your thinking is pretty much in line with what many other wildlife and bird shooters have said they like. For daylight use, the comparisons of the D600 and D7100 that I have seen show the cameras pretty much equal in resolving ability. The D7100 is a $1200 camera in the USA, probably more in Australia, so her, in the US, the idea would be to simply buy one. The D600 from Adorama is $1599 refurbished. So...not much more money.
 

Sw1tchFX

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Go for the 7100.
 

baturn

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Not sure why you want to upgrade bodies, just buy the lens and enjoy.
 
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globeglimpser

globeglimpser

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Hi - the price difference is not the concern in this instance. I was also wondering though - won't there be a newer and far better consumer grade full frame in time (by the end of next year). I am more than happy to wait for that and for the time being would like to upgrade from the camera I feel I have outgrown.

Further Question: 80-400 D, does that even work with a Nikon 1.4x or do I have to go Kenko...
 

Derrel

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You do not WANT to use an 80-400 AF-D with ANY converter. I own the lens...have for a decade...it,or any other slow, long tele-zoom, is a poor,poor choice for use with a converter. The lens would be sooooooo slow, even wide-open....the chances for subject motion blue would be legion. Not to mention the loss of quality. With a 24MP, small-sensor camera, the new Standard Operating Procedure is to CROP THE FILES, not ruin the image quality with a converter.

I personally do not think the 80-400 AF-D is good enough for a 24MP sensor. The "new" 80-400 AF-S G on the other hand is markedly better--and much more costly also.
 

dwswager

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Hi all.
Options:
A) I buy a D7100 as a primary body, then in a year or so replace the D5100 with a currently unreleased full frame which becomes my primary
B) I buy a D600 as a primary body and make no other body upgrades in the forseeable future

My thinking:
I think I may get more use out of a D7100 for wildlife photography. The crop and tele factors mean that I will have 400 x 1.5 x 1.4 = 840mm equivalent zoom on a 24MP sensor as opposed to 400 x 1.4 = 560mm on an equivalently sized sensor. Equating these two means that 840mm can be achieved on the DX portion of the D600 sensor which is only 10.4 MP. Based on this I am assuming that I will be able to get a greater reach and higher quality (at say 600mm) with the D7100 than the D600.
I'm coming around to your Option A if your replace Wildlife with Sports! I currently shoot a D300 (12.1MP, DX). Coming from the N90s before that, I have plenty of FX glass, but I find I just can't afford/justify some of the longer, fast lenses necessary for sports. I was going to go straight to a D800 and use DX mode (15MP) when shooting sports. Note that this is a hobby, not my job.

My current logic is similar. Get the D7100 now and see what updates get made to the D800/D600 cameras. Then since the D7100 is relatively inexpensive, I end up with 2 bodies: one FX and one DX. The downside here is if I go to the D800, the camera operation paradigms are different! Damn Nikon. From and operational standpoint, the D600/D7100 pair would be much more similar.

BTW, someone mentioned Wildlife photographers wanting high pixel density sensors. Not technically true. Everything is a tradeoff. What they want is Pixel Density on Subject. [24MP DX image versus cropping out of a 24MP FX image] Wildlife needs high resolution because it usually has very fine detail (think fur and feathers). Once you understand pixel count alone does not equal resolution and the quality of those pixels is important, then so long as Signal to Noise of the sensor (much less a problem with new technolgy than 10 years ago), diffraction and lens quality don't hose you up, the DX sensor size (with FX lenses) ends up a plus because:

  1. Provides more working distance (at same reproduction ratio) or higher reproduction ratio [more pixel density on subject] (at same working distance) with the same lens versus a FX sensor camera.
  2. Diffraction not an issue because usually below f/5.6.
  3. They get to use the sweet center of an FX lens (sharper with less distortion and vignetting).

Of cousre, with diffraction issues being amplified as pixel density increases, a D7100 would be a poor choice for a landscape photographer shooting f/11 and smaller over the D600 with a larger sensor and identical pixel count.
 
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globeglimpser

globeglimpser

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Well I have decided against the D600 since I feel that if I pay for a full frame, I would rather splash out and get a D800 although by time I have saved up for it - there may be a newer Full Frame...

Now my choice is to stick with my D5100 or to replace it with a D7100 in the near future. It would cost me about 800 to trade in so is that worth it? I would love to have a D7100 as a backup body even once I have bought my full frame camera.
 

coastalconn

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I would also vote for the D7100. The older 80-400 is very slow to focus and imho an ok lens. The new one is supposed to be much much better but at a cost of 2700 US. Most wildlife nikon people swear by the 300 F4 with a TC as it is sharper than the 80-400... Although you loose the zoom factor which might be handy on safari..
 

bike4fun12

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keep the D5100 for a back-up and get the full frame in the future. wait a little bit longer to see if a new FX body comes out. D400 or whatever.

If time is not a problem, wait it out. maybe towards the end of the year. sounds like a long time, but it will go by quickly. check nikon rumors often.

I love the D7100 a lot. I do a lot of sports/wildlife photography, so, sticking with the cropped body was best for me. eventually, in a few years, I will get a full frame. the only thing that will interested me now in DX bodies is a bigger buffer and 8-10 fps. the D7100 would be the perfect camera with those 2 things added. other than that, if you get the D7100, you will not be disappointed at all.

comparing the D7100 and D600, they are pretty close. the ISO on the D600 is about 1.5 stops better. under ISO 1600, it is hard to tell. the AF is better on the D7100. 51 vs 39 points. D7100 for wildlife/sports, D600 if you want full frame.
 
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globeglimpser

globeglimpser

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I hav decided to keep my D5100 considering I only got it last year July. Instead I am going to buy the new 80-400 F4.5-5.6G which will be amazing :D
 

bike4fun12

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nice, globeglimpser. I got the 70-200mm f/4 instead of that. I just couldn't see myself paying $2600 for that lens. at $2000, I probably would of bought it. I'm jealous!! lol

should be a fun lens.
 

dwswager

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I would also vote for the D7100. The older 80-400 is very slow to focus and imho an ok lens. The new one is supposed to be much much better but at a cost of 2700 US. Most wildlife nikon people swear by the 300 F4 with a TC as it is sharper than the 80-400... Although you loose the zoom factor which might be handy on safari..

The old 80-400mm had 2 big knocks on it, at least for sports (I don't really shoot wildlife so can't comment): 1) It was slow focusing because it was specifically geared for precision focus and it was soft from 300-400mm. The new AF-S 80-400mm added about $1100 or so to the price and for that $1100 you get fast focusing and a much sharper lens, especially at the long end. It is sharper at 400mm than the AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII with the TC-20E 2.0X teleconverter. Admittedly, the TC-20E has never been known for being super sharp with any lens! How it compares to the AF-S 300mm f/4 with TC-14E, I have no experience.

I purchased the AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII to replace a 16 year old AF-D 80-200mm f/2.8 (tripod mount) specifically so I could us the TCs. I own the TC-14E II and TC-20E III precisely because I could not live with the older 80-400mm. Had the new lens been available when I purchased, I would have kept the the older 80-200 and added the AF-S 80-400mm. What I'm saying is for budget consious shooters (not buying $4000-$7000 lenses), the current 80-400mm and the 300mm w/ or w/o the TC-14E is about as good as you are ever going to get! If you need the 300-40mm focal length, then one of these options should probably be in your kit!
 

Onbird

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A lot of good info on this subject and can agree with most of them. I do a fair bit of this style of photography and find that there is no one camera fits all solution. Now I am fortunate to live close to a company which rents cameras and lens. If this trip was a once in a life time trip you may want to consider renting a fast Prime or Zoom, personally I would not go into the field without considering this as an option especially if it is that once in a lifetime event! To buy these lenses will set you back and you may not use these on your everyday photography.
 

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