Updated (December, 2011): Compare the Nikon D300S vs Nikon D800

Nikon D700

Winner
Nikon D700

85

vs

Nikon D300S

68

Nikon D300S

Runner-up
     
 

Reasons to buy the Nikon D700

Low light performance
Low noise at high ISO
2,303 ISO
Viewfinder size
Large viewfinder
0.72x
Sensor size
Large sensor
Full frame 36.0x23.9mm
Focus points
Many focus points
51
 

Reasons to buy the Nikon D300S

Continuous shooting
Rapid fire
7 fps
Lens availability
Slightly more lenses available
205 lenses
Focus points
Many focus points
51
Storage slots
More storage slots
2
 
Differences | Recommendations | Cast your vote | Similarities | Competitors | Appearance | Discussion

differences

Advantages of the Nikon D300S

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Movie format Shoots movies 720p @ 24fps vs None
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Shoots HD (720p) video as well as still pictures
Lens availability Significantly more lenses available 205 lenses vs 152 lenses
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More than 30% more lenses available
Viewfinder coverage Much better viewfinder coverage 100% vs 95%
Help
Around 10% better viewfinder coverage
Continuous shooting Shoots faster 7 fps vs 5 fps
Help
40% faster continuous shooting
Storage slots Has more storage slots 2 vs 1
Help
More slots allows storing more images without switching memory cards
Startup delay Slightly less startup delay 300 ms vs 400 ms
Help
Around 30% less delay when turning on
Size Smaller 147x114x74 mm vs 147x123x77 mm
Help
More than 10% smaller
Lowest price Cheaper $1,583.00 vs $3,395.00
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The best price we've seen is $1,812 cheaper (2.1x less)
Weight Lighter 938 g vs 1,074 g
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More than 10% lighter
Thickness Thinner 2.9" vs 3"
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Almost the same
Nikon D300S Learn more about
the Nikon D300S

Advantages of the Nikon D700

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Low light performance Significantly lower noise at high ISO 2,303 ISO vs 787 ISO
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The D700 has excellent image quality 1.5 f-stops higher ISO than the D300S
Overall image quality Better image quality 80.0 vs 70.0
Help
More than 10% better image quality
Sensor size Much larger sensor Full frame 36.0x23.9mm vs APS-C 23.6x15.8mm
Help
Around 2.5x larger sensor
Viewfinder size Significantly larger viewfinder 0.72x vs 0.62x
Help
Around 40% larger viewfinder
Color depth Better color depth 23.5 bits vs 22.5 bits
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Distinguishes 1 more bits of color
Shutter lag Less shutter lag 197 ms vs 225 ms
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More than 10% less delay when taking photos
Light sensitivity Better maximum light sensitivity 6,400 ISO vs 3,200 ISO
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The D700's maximum light sensitivity is 1 f-stop better
Light sensitivity (boost) Better boost ISO 25,600 ISO vs 6,400 ISO
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The D700's boost ISO is 2 f-stops better
Nikon D700 Learn more about
the Nikon D700
vs

recommendations

Which camera do we recommend? Relative to the best recent pro DSLRs, and ignoring price

Snapsort Recommends
Nikon D300S Nikon D300S 68
Retailer
    Style
      Color
        You save

        vs

        85 Nikon D700 Nikon D700
        Retailer
          Style
            Color
              You save

              similarities

              Compared to recent DSLRs

              Common Strengths Common Weaknesses
              Focus points Many focus points Help
              51
              Weather sealed Weather sealed Help
              Shoot in extreme weather
              Startup delay Minimal startup delay Help
              D300S:300 ms
              D700:400 ms
              Viewfinder Both have pentaprism viewfinders Help
              Pentaprism
              Built-in focus motor Both have a built-in lens focus motor, which is uncommon in cameras similar to these Help
              Autofocuses with more lenses
              Fastest shutter speed Fast max shutter speeds Help
              1/8000 of a second
              Built-in flash Each has a built-in flash Help
              External flash not needed
              Weight Heavy Help
              D300S:938 g
              D700:1,074 g
              Autofocus No video autofocus Help
              Manual focus only
              HDR Neither has in-camera HDR Help
              You could do HDR manually
              True resolution Capture low resolution images Help
              D300S:12.2 MP
              D700:12.1 MP
              Light sensitivity Poor maximum light sensitivity Help
              D300S:3,200 ISO
              D700:6,400 ISO
              Screen flips out No flip-out screens Help
              Less flexible
              Panorama Neither camera stitches together panoramas Help
              You could stitch photos in post
              Image stabilization No image stabilization Help
              Risk of blur
              Movie format One shoots movies Help
              D300S:720p @ 24fps
              D700:None

              Compared to recent pro DSLRs

              Common Strengths Common Weaknesses
              Thickness Thin Help
              D300S:2.9"
              D700:3"
              Light sensitivity (boost) Poor boost ISO Help
              D300S:6,400 ISO
              D700:25,600 ISO
              GPS No built-in GPS Help
              Missing geo-tagging
              Screen size Very small screens Help
              3.0"
              Overall image quality Low image quality Help
              D300S:70.0
              D700:80.0

              dxomark

              DXOMark

              competitors

              Shared Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Nikon D7100

              Nikon D7100

              Entry-level DSLR

              $1,097 - $1,147 body only

              $1,397 with 18-140mm lens

              Movie format Records higher quality movies
              Dynamic range Has slightly wider dynamic range
              Shutter lag Has slightly more shutter lag
              Nikon D7000

              Nikon D7000

              Entry-level DSLR

              $701 - $840 body only

              $913 - $989 with 18-105mm lens

              Movie format Records higher quality movies
              Dynamic range Has slightly wider dynamic range
              Thickness Is thicker
              Shutter lag Has slightly more shutter lag
              Nikon D610

              Nikon D610

              Pro DSLR

              $1,897 body only

              $2,397 - $2,430 with 24-85mm lens

              Low light performance Is slightly less noisy at high ISO
              Overall image quality Has significantly better image quality
              Fastest shutter speed Has a slower max shutter speed
              Thickness Is thicker
              Nikon D600

              Nikon D600

              Pro DSLR

              $1,529 - $1,600 body only

              $2,001 - $2,150 with 24-85mm lens

              Low light performance Is slightly less noisy at high ISO
              Overall image quality Has significantly better image quality
              Fastest shutter speed Has a slower max shutter speed
              Thickness Is thicker
              Nikon D800

              Nikon D800

              Pro DSLR

              $2,797 - $3,297 body only

              $3,997 - $4,597 with 24-120mm lens

              Low light performance Is slightly less noisy at high ISO
              Overall image quality Has significantly better image quality
              Thickness Is thicker
              Size Is slightly larger
              Nikon D300

              Nikon D300

              Pro DSLR

              $1,700 body only

              Nikon D90

              Nikon D90

              Entry-level DSLR

              $575 - $629 body only

              $848 - $966 with 18-105mm lens

              Size Is slightly smaller
              Weight Is slightly lighter
              Fastest shutter speed Has a slower max shutter speed
              Thickness Is thicker

              Nikon D300S Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              No significant competitors found that are specific to the Nikon D300S.

              Nikon D700 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              No significant competitors found that are specific to the Nikon D700.

              appearance

              Nikon D300S Nikon D700
              Nikon D300S Nikon D700
              Nikon D300S Nikon D700

              discussion

              Nikon D300S
              D300S
              Nikon

              Report a correction
              Nikon D700
              D700
              Nikon

              Report a correction

              Showing 19 comments

              Avatar for BSherratt BSherratt (2:34 PM, November 23, 2012)
              Thanks for pointing that out, we will fix that up soon.
               
              d300sowner (9:05 AM, November 23, 2012)
              low light really is better on the d700
               
              d300sowner (8:58 AM, November 23, 2012)
              just wanted to point out that the d700 also has 15 cross-type (not 9)
               
              Avatar for Alex Black Alex Black (2:34 PM, June 27, 2010)
              Hi Tabitha, I've been super busy with Snapsort, sorry. Feel free to fire me an email, (my first name at snapsort.com) and I can see if I can help with specific questions.
               
              Avatar for tabithaking tabithaking (9:57 PM, June 26, 2010)
              Hi Alex. I hope you are doing well. I responded to your last message but haven't heard anything yet. Maybe you are busy or maybe I asked too much and put you off (?)
              I hope to hear from you. THANKS!




              ________________________________
               
              Avatar for tabithaking tabithaking (3:33 AM, June 23, 2010)
              Hi Alex! Thank you for checking back with me. YES: A decision has been made. Over the course of 10 days, I had four D700 deals fall apart. I'm a pretty tenacious person. However, after the fourth deal fell apart, I began wondering if someone was trying to tell me something: that maybe I don't need to get the D700 (at least not yet). I *do* like the chase. For a narrow span of time, I like to dig into the research and challenge myself to find the best item for the best price. However, when it stops being fun and starts to become bothersome and tiring, I know it's time to wrap it up. During my chase for a fab deal on a D700, I ran into several individuals who sold their D700's to go to the D90. Each of the men raved about the D700 and each of them stated almost the same reasons for going back to the D90. They said that the D700 is more than they need at this point in time; that the D700 is not the most fun thing to pack around for long periods;
              that the D700 is a large investment and they found themselves protecting it more than using it; and two of them felt that packing around the D700 and some of the lenses, made them targets for ill-intentioned individuals. Three of the four individuals claimed to be pro photographers and each had their own website where their work was showcased. I'm not talking about Flickr. I mean personal business websites. The fourth guy claimed to be semi pro. His photos were on Flickr. All four guys have owned their D90's between one and three months. Each of them said that although there is NO comparison between the D90 and the D700, they love their D90: that it's the best (or one of the best) cameras they have ever owned.  
               
              In my last posting, I said that I was going to keep an open mind between the D90 and the D700; whatever I found to be the deal of the century, that's what I was going to get. Well, I found a fab deal on a D90. In fact, I believe it was such a good deal that there's no way I can possibly go wrong. I got the D90 in new condition with all of the normal box accessories; 2 memory cards, 2 Nikon batteries, a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens, remote control, a set of 52mm magnification lenses, and a dolphin gray Pelican brand travel case: ALL for $530.00. I was able to take the stuff to an authorized Nikon repair center where they checked it out for free. Everything seems to be in perfect working order. The repair person noticed a couple of dirt spots on the sensor and blew it out with a can of something. I think it was air. It only took a split second. As he did this, he told me to NEVER try it myself. He said that he knows what he's doing and he knows not
              to directly shoot the sensor. When he was done, he took a few photos and zoomed in on them to see if he really removed the dirt spots. Neither of us could see anything odd in the photos. He told me to open the photos on my PC or on my 1080p television and if the dirt is still there, it will definitely show up in the photos. I haven't had the chance to do this yet. If you have any input here, please let me know. Everything he did was free. If I need to pay the $89.00 to get it cleaned in a way which requires more than a can of air, please let me know. I'm a little anxious about what is on the sensor and if what he did really "fixed" it.
               
              Now...I need to make some smart choices regarding lenses. I got the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 in the deal. I love shooting WIDE landscapes; I love macro; and I like being able to zoom in on things that I can't get close enough to with feet zoom. It has been suggested that I get the Nikon 18-200mm VR lens. I am faintly aware of the 1.5X magnification factor of the D90. Due to this, I am guessing that I don’t need more than 200mm.
               
              With regard to the 18-200mm  lens, although I know very little about lenses, in life I have found that general usage (all in one) products can never do just ONE thing really well. They are designed to be "okay" for a bunch of stuff. I'm not sure if this is the way to go. I'm open to it but I'm skeptical at this point. I also like the fisheye but I doubt that I would use it much. Usually, when I'm inspired and artistically captured by something that could be a cool photo, I'm not thinking about how great it would be to distort the image with fisheye. :) However, I am hearing that I can use a standard wide angle lens and then add the fisheye effect during the editing process. Is this true? Is this wise?
               
              I was told to go with FX lenses and to do my best to find f/1.4 to f/2.8 lenses: no slower. I figured going with FX would be smart because if I eventually move on to a full frame, I will already have the lenses. The guy at the local Nikon store told me today that it is not wise to get FX lenses because the camera is ideally made for DX: that I will likely experience distortion and I will lose the side edges of my photos. He said that I should have a tripod if I am using any type of zoom...which might not be too practical for long trips by foot. I'm not sure. Feel free to share your thoughts and recommendations. 
               
              I'm tempted to look for gently used AF Nikkor lenses but I'm not sure what to look for: if there was a red flag to be seen or it was somehow damaged, I might miss it because I know nothing about what to look for in a lens. For example, I saw a lens listed; the owner said it has visible dust on the inside but it's "no big deal." To me, dust inside the lens points to a problem and it *is* a big deal... but that's just my guess.
               
              With your experience: what brand of camera bags you like. Although I have not seen one, I am visualizing a thick canvas cross-body messenger bag that has all the features of a fab higher end camera bag but looks more hip and young and NOT much like a camera bag. Any suggestions as to where to look? Is there any down-fall to what I described?
               
              This message is probably long enough. I have a few more questions but I will save them for next time. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for your help!
               
              ~taBitha
               


              ________________________________
               
              Avatar for Alex Black Alex Black (8:56 PM, June 22, 2010)
              Hey Tabitha, any decision yet? :)

              I use my D700 most of all. But for several years I used just my D70. When I don't feel like packing a bunch of gear I use the Panasonic DMC-GF1 I just bought. When I use the D70 or GF1, the biggest thing I notice is more noise at high ISO, and you can't really fix that in software.. you can a little, but not much. The other thing I miss when not using the D700 (or D70) is a good external flash that can be bounced off the ceiling or a wall.

              You asked would it be reasonable to use your point&shoot. Probably, it depends on the camera and your skills :) I'm sure it can be done, with the right lighting for example you can take incredible looking shots with any camera. Shallow depth of field is one thing thats hard to get with a point and shoot, you probably don't need/want that for old buildings, but its great for portraits of people.
               
              Avatar for tabithaking tabithaking (7:51 PM, June 19, 2010)
              HI Alex. Thanks for the quick reply. I'm open to any of the models: D90, D300S or D700. I'm not as impressed with the D300S. If I was going to spend the money for a D300S, I'd go ahead and buy the D700. Prices for the D700 are going down. I find that I have more negotiating power on hardly used D700's than I do with the D300S. If not right now, in the next few months, I can probably buy a D700 for the same cost as the D300S. However, I am keeping an open mind. On Thursday night I ran across a guy with a D90, battery grip, extra battery, home/car charger and metal case. He said the camera might have 200 clicks on it. He said he would let me take it to a Nikon dealer and get it checked out before keeping my money. We agreed to $600.00. OH...and he was throwing in a Nikon 50mm f1.8 AF lens. I told him that I would definitely come and get it today (Saturday) because I was unsure of my work schedule for Friday. I worked over 15 hours yesterday. Apparently,
              he emailed me and since I didn't respond soon enough, he sold the stuff to a guy at 9pm last night. : ( I'm not mad at him but I feel like crap over it. He's older and thought I decided against it without telling him. We spoke this morning and he apologized a hundred different ways. This is an example of me keeping an open mind. I think the D90 or the D700 would be great. Granted, the D700 seems more complicated and I will have to put more effort into learning it to get the most out of it. However, if I run across a really sweet deal on either one of the models, I think that will be the ONE for me. :) Since you explained that bulkiness is the case with any DSLR and not something that is especially bad about the D700, I am especially validated in my line of thinking that if the deal of the century comes up on either one of them, I'm in.

              When you don't feel feel like packing a bunch of gear, what do you use? When using a smaller less powerful camera, are you able to fix things with editing software? Is there one camera that you used for MOST or ALL of the shots I saw on your site? I know you mentioned owning three cameras. If you could only have one...from what you currently own...or what you might want to buy, what would it be?

              If I use one of my higher end point and shoot cameras to photograph old buildings, churches, peoples etc for the high gloss travel guide (in normal/ideal lighting) would anyone at my job ever know? They are not going to be with me when I take the pics. We are not talking about low lighting or moving objects. In this case, I wonder if I can get great photos with my P&S and if needed, use an editing program after the fact??? Wise? Not a safe bet? I'm very confident in my ability and the knowledge of my current cameras. This is only about what you think the cameras are capable of. 
              I understand that even if a P&S has very similar specs as a DSLR, they are not the same. The DSLR will always out-perform the P&S because of the sensor or processor size. However, we are not talking about placing high demands on the p&s camera. haha.

              I need a break from thinking about all of this stuff. The next time you hear from me, I will have a camera in my hands and I will be asking about lens choices. To go over it now is irrelevant. My brain is tired. haha.

              THANK YOU!!     



              ________________________________
               
              Avatar for Alex Black Alex Black (6:20 PM, June 19, 2010)
              Hi Tabitha, I think its good to research and spend time on big decisions like this!

              You asked about the weight difference between the D300s and the D700. I don't think I meant that the D700 was a lot bulkier, I meant any SLR is big and bulky compared to point and shoots, more so than most people realize, but, for shooting professionally, you do need an SLR.

              You also asked about 51-point auto focus, personally I don't use it. I use the center focus point only, i am a focus-and-recompose guy. Others do use the points, either manually (by using the arrow pad), or automatically using one of the fancy focus modes. I probably would use those points and fancy modes (e.g. 3d matrix) if I was photographing something moving fast. Another thing to realize is that some of the focus points are better than others (some detect vertical AND horizontal contrast, others only one direction, the center is one of the ones that does both).

              Also you raised the question of sensor size, resolution, etc. Sensor size - you need a big full frame sensor if you want to shoot in low light at high ISO and still get good quality images. The D700 excels at this. Resolution though, is a different story, its my opinion that 6MP is enough for just about anything (I have done 16x20 prints from the 6MP D70), so I don't think you should consider resolution at all.

              As to which one you should buy - really tough call. My main thoughts are that the D90 would probably do everything you want, and the D700 would be overkill, but the D700 is an incredible camera, and I'd never trade it for a D90 now that I've used it. The things I love most about the D700 are the big and bright viewfinder, how fast it responds (focusing, menus, previewing, etc), and how good quality the images are at high ISO. If you've got the money, and those features are important to you, then get the D700!

              Thx for the compliments on my photography, a lot of what I like most in my shots comes from shooting a lot with prime lenses at wide apertures, my 85mm f/1.8 is my favorite lens. Actually I'm photographing an engagement ceremony tonight, the wedding is next summer.
               
              Avatar for tabithaking tabithaking (5:44 PM, June 19, 2010)
              Good morning. Thanks for the info. I guess I should make a decision soon and stick with it. If I don't, there's a likelihood that I will put the nice SLR purchase out of my head and quietly long for it who knows how many more years. I work long hours. I have spent a great deal of my sleeping time and exercise time to research and make the wise choice. Not because of you but because of me,  I'm getting aggravated, stressed, tired and discouraged. I'm the only person I know who would stress like this over a camera. I feel pretty foolish but I'm sucked in and I can't help it.
               
              This is HUGE to me...as important or MORE important than buying a car. I grew up very poor. At a young age I learned to conserve and in most cases, do without while figuring out how to feel great about the circumstances. I can be generous and spend money on anyone but myself. During childhood, I learned how to tighten my belt and I have never figured out how to loosen it. In recent weeks, I have made progress. The turning point came when I realize that I have waited most of my life for a purchase like this: that I deserve it; that I can use it to help myself; that I can use it to help others. The big part is helping others. If this potential purchase was simply for me and my desires, I'm not sure that I would be doing it. It's ironic. When I decided to finally move forward and I began thinking about how I can use the gear and my talent to help others, professional doors opened out of the blue. Weird since both offers: to do newspaper photography and
              shoot photos for the NM travel/relocation guide came from my boss who knows that I do not own a nice camera and knows that I have not shot professionally. She wasn't even aware that I was considering the purchase. 
               
              Sure, I might be a able to help a few people who can't afford a high priced photographer; sure I might be able to make a few bucks shooting photos for the newspaper or shooting for the travel guide, but ultimately, I will be using the new camera for myself. The D90 is as much of a huge stressful purchase as the D300S or the D700. Since I haven't been able to decide which model is right for me, I figured whichever one I get a steal on will be the "right" one. This is an extreme example but if I can find a D700 for the same price as a D300S, then it seems obvious to choose the D700. True? Unless it's such a pain in the butt to carry around that getting a fab deal doesn't matter? I remain concerned about the weight. I still don't understand your point of view and I truly want to. If the difference between all three cameras is roughly .65lbs, and all of the lenses weigh the same, how come a D700 is so much more bulky and cumbersome? I'm not stuck on
              getting the D700. Please don't think that I am defending it. I simply want to understand.
               
              No sir; you didn't offend me. :) I was trying to address all of your comments without too many long explanations. I have felt like a bit of a nuisance with my extra long postings. Sorry if I sounded defensive. I truly love The On-line Photographer site. The author made some very good points. I found them to be true and yet tragically funny. I saved the site to my favorites. I mentioned my education because I want you to know more about who I am. I know folks who have P&S cameras or upper level student model DSLRs and don't know anything about them except how to point the camera and push the button. I've met a few guys with the D300, D2x, and one of them had a D3. None of the three guys truly knew how to use those cameras and their pictures looked awful. The guy with the D3x was blaming the camera. Having something like that or even owning a higher end consumer grade DSLR is the equivalent of using a world-class race horse to pull a plow
              in the field. The point that I'm trying make and the reason that I mentioned my desire to learn and my love for education is to say that there are many, many people out there with wonderful cameras and gear but they don't really know how to use them and they are perfectly fine with that. I'm not one of those people. :) With regard to George's story at The On-line Photographer site, my snarf at 'camera envy' or having a 'short lens complex' was an attempt at wry humor. In case you didn't catch on, think about it. Maybe you will laugh. The thought came to mind as I was reading the section about George being criticized over his camera and feeling insecure. 
               
              By the way, I checked out your blogs and your photography site. I love your pictures. Staring into the details and the composition, I looked at each of them 5 or 6 times. I was saying to myself...WOW. I WANNA DO THAT...and more. If I remember correctly, you are shooting a wedding today. I'm sure the pics will be beautiful. Good luck!!
               
              A key feature on the D300S and the D700 is the 51-point auto focus. I spent a few hours last night reading about why this matters. It seems to be important: a really great feature. Is it? I notice that the D90 does not have this feature.  
               
              I still need to understand the thing about weight and bulkiness that I mentioned above. In addition, with what I told you in the last message about my usage and future aspirations, in your opinion, what is it that I need? Please go back and take a look at what I communicated wanting to do with a new DSLR. I have given a few examples here but I did not really cover it like I did yesterday. With your camera experience, you may know that I don't need a big sensor or I don't need 6-7 fps unless I hope to capture every frame of Cheetah running across the Kenyan plains; or unless I am trying to shoot a bunch of frames of an an NBA player in mid-flight as he leaps to the basket. I *do*  want high resolution photos for the travel guide and for the newspaper and I truly want to help a few families per year with their photos. Sometimes our technology can be overkill. I'm not sure how much power, sensor size and resolution I need to accomplish this. In the
              old days, cameras were not equipped with all of the high technology stuff of today and photographers managed to get some pretty amazing shots. It's not like good photos just started happening at the birth of higher end DSLRs. haha.
               
              You have not offended me and you are not going to offend me. You have much more expertise than I. Good or bad, if I didn't want your opinions I wouldn't be asking for them. :) I am very appreciative of your time and thoughts. Thank you.
               
              taBitha
               
               
               
                 



              ________________________________
               
              Avatar for Alex Black Alex Black (11:39 AM, June 19, 2010)
              Hi Tabitha, well you've definitely thought this through and researched it a lot. Now all you need to do is make your decision :)

              It sounds like I insulted you when I spoke of lack of information/education, I didn't mean to insult. I was basically just reflecting back the impression I got from you based on your questions (e.g. comparing f/1.8 to f1/4) in mm. The other part of it is that when making any big purchasing decision its hard/impossible to know everything beforehand. E.g. until you have owned and shot with an SLR, you won't know for sure what is and what isn't important to you in an SLR.

              My only reason to link to that blog article was to point out that yes you can go right from point&shoot to D700 in one step, but most people take more, some as many as 25 :)

              We were talking about 4fps vs 7fps and you mentioned shooting on a bouncy jeep and some being blurry. 7fps won't help here, what you need is a fast shutter speed, which requires the camera to have a fast shutter speed (most do) and it requires enough light (either bright sun, or using a wide aperture and/or high ISO).

              Good luck. Let me know if I can answer any more questions.

              (Let us know what you decide!)
               
              Avatar for tabithaking tabithaking (5:21 AM, June 19, 2010)
              Hi Alex. TGIF.  :) Thanks for your thoughtful input. I read your first message around 5am this morning but I was running out the door to work. All day I was thinking about your message and looking forward to reading it again. By the time I got home, at 8pm, you had sent another message to comment on something you forgot to mention in the 5am message. This makes a huge statement about you and your helpful attitude. This has not gone unnoticed. Thank you.
               
              I love the link to The Online Photographer. Very witty. I get the feeling that the letter from George was set up by Mike Johnston so he could respond and present all of those unfortunate but entertaining truths. If it's true that Mr. Johnston wrote both the letter from George as well as his response, I find it particularly humorous that others folks responded as if the posting was legit. I have never experienced camera envy and I hope to never have a short lens complex. :)   
               
              As far as the links you included for much more basic cameras, I have been using two of those types for the last 4 years or so. I have read the manuals front to back; I have gone back to tab essential pages for quick reference. There have been many occasions that my machines were max'd out and I was outta luck with getting the shot. I looked at the specs on both of the models you suggested. In some areas, they appear to be inferior to the P&S cameras I already have. If I was going to buy one of those, I'd simply keep what I have.   
               
              I have a small hook-up for one of the three cameras. I can get the D90 will go for about $1000. The D300S is about $1500. The D700 is about $2000. The D700 is usually about $2700.00. Therefore, with this specific model, I am getting the biggest discount AND (from what I understand) it gets better image quality than the D300S. I ask myself if the difference in image quality is worth $500. and the answer is: I don't know. haha. Right now, My biggest concern is weight of camera and gear. D90 body= 1.55lbs; D300S= 2.1 lbs; D700= 2.19lbs. On paper, the .64lb difference in weight between the D90 and the D700 doesn't seem that significant. All three cameras require the same lenses (if I want to stick with FX). Therefore, no matter which model I go with, won't I be carrying the same bulk give or take .64lbs? I love to learn. I have recently signed up for college level photography classes. This is not because I am lacking an upper level education. I have a
              number of degrees. I signed up because I want to know more and I am passionate about learning. 
               
              To answer your question, I'm not sure how fast I need a camera to be to capture action shots. I used my Olympus last weekend and shot from the back of a bouncy jeep, off road, in the mountains. Most of the photos were taken at vehicle speeds of 15-18mph. The biggest problem I had was 105F heat, high noon sunshine to work with and lots of thick dirt in the air. Out of 40 shots, I had only one or two that were blurry..
               
              I like taking pictures of EVERYTHING: travel photography, vast landscapes, moving water, moving aircraft, a pulsating water fountain that is lit from below. I like shooting animals and people in action. I also like taking super close-up photos of things like flowers, tiny bugs, a droplet of water on a leaf, snowflakes, etc. I want to be able to capture the power, vibrancy and detail of a lightning storm. I want to capture the vibrant colors of the hot air balloons in ABQ. I also like photographing simple stuff like my dogs, family reunions, and birthday parties. I want to be able to capture the colorful details of a rainbow, sunset, sunrise or moon-rise on one of those purple haze evenings. I want crisp detail to succeed in photographing the moon at night or uniquely shaped clouds during the day. From a safe distance, I want to be able to zoom in on a rattlesnake, elk, bear or an alligator and get a crisp, clear picture. In the past, I have risk my
              personal safety to get as close as possible for the perfect shot (and I got it). What a RUSH but kind of scary too. :) A rattlesnake once struck at me while I was trying to shoot it. I wanted to capture the strike but (1) My camera was not fast enough and (2) I was busy getting out of the way.
              I want to shoot low flying military aircraft; I want to shoot a lightning storm; I want to lie down super close to the train tracks and photograph a passing train with a few different angles and lenses. How fast does a camera need to be for this stuff?
               
              Aside from all of this stuff, which is primarily for my own enjoyment, I have a few business opportunities coming up. In the Fall, I will be writing a 30 page high gloss, travel/relocation guide for Albuquerque, NM. I was told that I can also do a great deal of the photography for the book...*if* I produce high resolution photos that will transfer well to a high gloss magazine. I write for our base newspaper. I was recently offered the chance to do some photography for the paper when the contract photographers have used their strictly enforced 40 hours per week OR when they are busy with other events.
               
              Ultimately, I would like to help low income folks who would never be able to afford the typical pro photographer: not because they are cheap but because they truly can't afford it. I have the talent and the creative mind. When others see my photographs, I always get a great deal of positive feedback. I am very flattered when I hear someone gasp and ask how I was able to get a specific shot. They sometimes ask if I cheated by altering the photos with editing software which I have never used. They often assume that I was using a high end camera, but I don't own one. Recently, I have been asked to photograph a wedding reception, a high school graduation and a 50th Anniversary party for money. I declined. I would be scared to show up at one of those events with my Sony DCS-T9 or the Olympus. If they are counting on me for amazing photos, I do not want to let them down. In the future, when I have the appropriate equipment and additional training, I would
              like to do this. It would be great to help people who want great photos but can’t afford a high-priced photographer. If I knew that I was helping someone to capture memories that could possibly last through generations of their family, I would work for nothing but the joy and a little gas money. I have been scolded by a few photographers for mentioning this. It seems that they were offended that I might be taking business from them. However, I don't see it this way. The folks I want to help are not in the client base of pro photographers. They are the folks who would wish for nice photos but never take the time to call a pro because they already know that they can't afford it. I hope this makes sense. I do not wish to offend you or other pro photographers.
               
              With what I told you about my camera usage and aspirations, does it become easier to determine what I should purchase?
               
              I wanted to mention lenses and I have a few more comments about your 5am message but this is probably long enough. I enjoy hearing from you. Once I'm done killing myself with the camera decision, I will miss your input and your witty comments. Have a great evening.
               
              THANK YOU!
              taB


               




              ________________________________
               
              Avatar for Alex Black Alex Black (0:10 AM, June 19, 2010)
              Hi Tabitha, one more point:

              You mentioned the guy in the camera store said ISO 25,600 was not literal, it was only one f-stop. He's got the right idea. The difference between ISO 400 and ISO 800 is one f-stop, and so is the difference between ISO 12,800 and ISO 25,600. Just like the difference between ISO 100 and ISO 800 is 3 stops, and the difference between ISO 3,200 and ISO 25,600 is three stops. Each stop lets you double your shutter speed, or half your shutter. So yes ISO 25,600 is a high ISO value, but its not as big as it might seem.
               
              Avatar for Alex Black Alex Black (11:39 AM, June 18, 2010)
              Wow Tabitha, thats a lot of questions. :) Its not easy to make these types of decisions, I'll see if I can help answer some of your questions. Something to keep in mind is only you can make these decisions, based on how much you want to spend, and your predictions on what you'll use the camera for and how much you'll need high-end features.

              I have two high level thoughts:
              A. The D700 with good lenses is awesome, but you'd be making a huge purchase with little knowledge (not a criticism). It might cost you a bit more to buy a D90 at first, but it might save you thousands. Hard call. I think its likely you don't yet have enough knowledge/experience to decide if you need a D700 or not, so you'd be taking a bet. It'd be safer to start smaller/cheaper, but then the risk is if go to the D700 eventually then you might have wasted time/money.

              Check out: http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2010/05/letter-to-george.html :)

              B. My intuition is that some of the advice you're getting is not that tailored to your situation. Be sure you take all advice (including mine) with a grain of salt, people usually give advice from their own perspective. E.g. ask a race car driver what car to buy and you'll be driving a ferrari :)

              C. Just to throw a wrench in things, you might consider starting much lower end, with a Canon S90 or Panasonic DMC-LX3:

              http://snapsort.com/compare/Canon_PowerShot_S90-vs-Panasonic_Lumix_DMC-LX3

              Both have larger sensors than other point & shoots, both shoot RAW, have wide apertures, manual controls etc. What they lack is zoom (compared to other small cameras) and image quality (compared to DSLRs, specially at high ISO).

              Let me try to answer your questions:

              1. No, the card slots is not worth thinking about. Many professional photographers have shot hundreds of thousands of photos every year for years on single slot cameras. I have heard pros say you MUST have two slots, when just years before they were shooting with one slot cameras :) The reason to have two slots is to reduce the chance you'll lose an image. You'd be changing the chance from very low, to very very low.

              2. FPS, its up to you. Even 4fps is very fast compared to most cameras. Would you use this feature much? I like the idea of it, but I don't end up using it much. It is fun for photographing action though.

              3. I don't know, sorry.

              4. Not sure, sorry.

              5. It will be very cumbersome. I have a big camera bag with my D700, and lenses, 28-70, 70-200, 50mm, 85mm, 30mm etc. Because of that I find I use it less. I recently bought the Panasonic DMC-GF1 to try to get the same image quality in a smaller body. Its very nice, but I miss the low-noise at high ISO of the D700. http://snapsort.com/cameras/Panasonic/Lumix_DMC-GF1

              6. I think you can take the D90/D300/D700 all into the jungle. I took my D70 (comparable to but older than the D90) into the jungle in Rwanda to photograph gorillas, on safari in Kenya/Uganda, all around India (including safari), in rain forests in Costa Rica. The D70 did a great job. I also shot weddings using it. I once used it alongside a D2X (older high end Nikon DSLR), and you couldn't tell the difference in image quality between the two. Though the D2X had a much nicer body and higher end features (bigger viewfinder, faster fps, etc).

              Last points:
              - you asked about the Nikon f/1.4 vs f/1.8. I've owned both, there isn't much difference. If you're a hardcore pro go for the 1.4, but you'll get 98% of what you want out of the 1.8. The difference is not in mm, its aperture, so its stops. I think its less than 0.5 stops difference.
              - you asked about inferior lenses, these are the types of things pros who shoot professionally 5 days a week need to worry about. the differences are often so small its hard to tell. For me, the most important thing in lenses is the focal length (mm) and aperture, I love wide apertures (f/1.8 etc). That said, I do own two very high end lenses (28-70 f/2.8 and 70-200 f/2.8) and they are great, but they are expensive and bulky.

              Overall, I think buying a Nikon D90 with kit lens and a 50mm f/1.8 lens would be a great way for you to start. But only you can judge how fast you might outgrow that. But, many people buy DSLRs and do the opposite of outgrow them, they never end up getting the most out of them and in fact stop using them in favour of smaller cameras.

              Your biggest hurdle is lack of knowledge/experience, making your decision harder, hence my suggestion you start smaller/cheaper in case you're wrong about needing the *best* (e.g. D700 with pro lenses).
               
              Avatar for tabithaking tabithaking (2:28 AM, June 18, 2010)
              Thank you. You are a big help. I have a few more questions for you. I was originally looking at the D90 but several issues came to mind. (1) I am afraid that I will out-grow it. (2) I'm scared that I will be dissatisfied with its performance. If I take the leap and make the purchase, I hope to never feel the frustration of having my machine max'd out and missing the shot (3) On paper, it seems to be a great deal slower w/ FPS (4) I like the weather resistant bodys on the D300S and D700 (5) I have heard that the D700 and D300S have no significant plastic parts on the inside whereas the D90 does (6) It seems that the higher end cameras hold their value longer than student level models such as the D90 (7) If I buy the D90 or the D700 or the D300S, I had planned to buy FX lenses no matter what. I assume the cost for lenses will be the same regardless. I was planning to stick with Nikkor FX if at all possible. I was told to do this. I have no experience with how the DX lenses perform but I heard they are cheaper and inferior to the FX lenses. On the Nikon site, they show sample photos from different cameras in their line-up and the lens size and aperature setting is usually provided. It would be nice if they would provide exact details about the lens. :) I think there is a reason for this. Maybe the lenses being used are way up there in price so it becomes irrelevant for most OR perhaps the profiled pros on the site aren't using Nikon or Nikkor products. :)
              This is only a faint thought.

              I saw a 50mm Nikkor 1.8 AF-S on the Nikon site for a little over $100.00 I was told to avoid the 1.8 and go with the 1.4.
              Is the .4mm in difference that big of a deal? The f1.4 AF-S is a little over $400.00. I have a few more questions about lenses but I will address them in the next message. This one is going to be long without discussing the lenses.

              I remain open to the idea of the D90. Above, I listed my reasons for ruling out the D90. Maybe my cited reasons are not valid. Perhaps my logic was wrong. Maybe for what I want to do, the D90 would be great. However, I am not shooting for sufficient; I am shooting for great. In the next message I will elaborate on my usage and future aspirations. Feel free. School me. If I'm wrong, I want to know.

              1. Is it a big loss to have only one card slot on the D700 vs two on the D300S?
              2. Does the difference between FPS on th D300s or the D700 make that much difference?
              3. I hear the new D700 will arrive by mid-July. Any speculation on its "new and improved" tech specs?
              4. I need to find a good deal. Do prices seem to fall on older versions when the new ones are released?
              5. I have been use to packing a very small camera or two. I am wondering how cumbersome it will be to drag around the
              D700 and a few lenses and whatever else I'm suppose to carry. I'm afraid that it might not be too practical to pack all
              over the place. It would be awful to buy it and then most of the time take the T9 because it's easier and I don't
              want to risk hurting the D700. Do you think the D700 is practical for taking into the jungle, to the top of Mt Kenya, or
              out into the middle of the desert on a mountain bike. This is an extreme example but I have been in these situations.

              I also hope to capture some of the violent lightning storms which travel across the summer sky of NM. To accomplish this, I will likely be outside sitting under a big piece of plastic (in possible rain).

              Okay. I have probably typed way too much. My next message will include the len questions and a description of what I plan to do with a new camera.

              THANK YOU!



               
              Avatar for Alex Black Alex Black (1:42 PM, June 17, 2010)
              Hi Tabitha, see this comparison of the D300s vs the D90, there is a comment thread on there too!

              http://snapsort.com/compare/Nikon_D300S-vs-Nikon_D90
               
              Avatar for Alex Black Alex Black (1:24 PM, June 17, 2010)
              Hi Tabitha!

              The D700 will get better quality images than the D300s at 6,400 ISO (and at every ISO). Both the D300s and the D700 will get MUCH better quality images than your Sony T9 at any ISO setting. The main reason is the sensor size. The D700's sensor is significantly larger than the D300s (864mm² vs 373mm²) and both are WAY larger than any point and shoots (their sensors are mostly 24mm²).

              To answer your question more directly, no, even though both the D300s and D700 reach 6400 ISO they are not comparable. The D700 will be much better. Just because a camera can reach a specific ISO, does not mean it will take good quality pictures at that ISO. As you increase the ISO the sensor becomes more light sensitive (allowing you a narrower aperture or faster shutter), but the tradeoff is noise (e.g. grain and color splotches) in the image. The D700 is one of the best DSLRs out there for low noise at high ISO.

              Having said all that, the D700 is a high end pro camera, so is the D300. They're both big and bulky, and for you to get the most out of them will require several (if not many) lenses costing you even more money. Regardless which one you get, you might like to get Nikon's 50mm f/1.8 prime lens, you can get it for less than $200, and its incredible value, letting you get great low-light shots at wide apertures (f/1.8), but the trade-off is no zoom (e.g. zoom with your feet).

              In summary, the D700 will get much better image quality than the D300s at high ISO. However, both will be HUGE improvements over your T9. You might even consider starting with the D90. The D90's image quality is on par with the D300s, but it costs way less, mostly its lacking some pro features (shutter is not rated for as many shots, doesn't have two card slots like the D300s, not pro built quality).

              I have 3 DSLRs because I used to shoot weddings professionally. (See http://www.alexblackphotography.com/blog.asp)
               
              Avatar for tabithaking tabithaking (4:05 AM, June 17, 2010)
              Hi. Thanks for the info. haha. I have been waiting for ONE nice camera for 19 years and you have 3 of them? Something seems sooo wrong with that. j/k

              I have done some pretty amazing photography with my point and shoot. Until recently, I knew very little about the tech language: ISO, focal point length, white balance, depth of field, aperture, and so on. Those settings were on my point and shoot. I knew how to adjust them to make the picture great but I did not know the language. If someone asked me to explain what I was doing, I couldn't have. I simply knew my machine and knew what I needed to do to get the shot. In the past two weeks, I have spent a huge amount of time trying to learn the verbage because I know this will help me make the better choice.

              As far as ISO you said you push your D700 to 6400 and it's okay but the 12,800 ISO is too low quality. If it's true that the D300S reaches ISO 6400 and the D700 reaches 6400, wouldn't they be pretty comparable? I am trying to figure out what they employee in the camera store meant when she said the ISO 25,600 on the D700 is not literal and the number is misleading because the difference is "only" one f-stop. It seems weird that the ISO does not surpass my little point and shoot. I have a 4ish year old (P and S) Sony T9 that has an ISO of 6400. I have been a mile underground (in a cave) and have gotten some really good shots with my litte T9.

              Does the difference lie in processor size? sensor size? I have no idea what I'm talking about here.
              Is ISO only an issue in low light? or does ISO effect image quality in other conditions besides low lighting?
              Due to prosessor size or sensor size (if I am using the corrent terms) should I be able to get all around better image quality from the D700?

              As of yet, most of my photographs are for me and my personal enjoyment. I am by no means a professional but I know the frustration of having a machine that is max'd out and not being able to get the shot that I want. Once I learn the D700 or whatever camera I end up getting, I will have the opportunity to do some professional work with the air base newspaper where I currently perform writing and editing duties. In the near future, I will also be photographing scenic areas in NM for a travel/relocation guide that I have been asked to put together. I am letting you know this because it may be relevant to my camera selection.

              THANKS!

               
              Avatar for Alex Black Alex Black (1:50 AM, June 17, 2010)
              Tabitha asked:

              "I am trying to decide between the Nikon D700 and the D300S. On Snapsort, in a side by side comparison, the D300S wins. At first, it seemed that I had the answers that I was looking for. Then, I noticed that the D700 is full frame and has an ISO of 25,600 with boost. I don't care about the video on the 300S. I am wondering if the D300S wins due to price and fairly comparable specs to the D700 (with exception of full frame and the ISO). As D700 prices begin to drop, does it become wiser to get the D700 OVER the D300S?
              I was told that the high ISO on the D700 is not literal and therefore, the D700 is not superior to the D300S in ISO. Can someone help me make sense of all of this? I have waited 19 yrs to splurge on a nice camera. I want to make the best decision. Somebody...PLZ...fill me in. Thanks!"

              Hi Tabitha, the D700 has much better image quality at high ISO (e.g. much less noise). DXOMark did some tests and they claim the D700's image quality at approx 2,300 ISO is the same as the D300s at approx 800 ISO. I actually own the D700 (and the D200 and D70) and its awesome. I shoot at ISO 1600 without blinking, and even at 3200 get great shots. Sometimes I push it to 6400, and its ok, 12,800 is too low quality for my tastes.

              If image quality at high ISO is important to you then definitely go for the D700.