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Upgrade bug time, where to go from D2X


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#1 ssra30

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 12:39 AM

I have my D2X/Subal setup for a little over 4 years now and really for no good reason, I am thinking that it might be time to start looking around.
I suppose if I really have to find reason for upgrade, it could be
a) video mode
b) better/faster autofocus system (D2X is much much better than my old D70 but with 105VR in low light condition, it still could use some more help especially when focus light is not an option).
c) going fullframe ? I am not convince of that yet. For macro, forget about all the technicality of DX format size vs fullframe size, 105VR on FF would be almost like shooting with 60mm on
DX format which is not desirable for me. However, the new Nikon 2X teleconverter make 105VR more interesting with FF, I think. On land 14-24mm looks like a lot of fun but I have not seen too
many example of underwater example and 17-35mm at about F8 FF is not exactly beating up the 12-24mm at the same F stop on DX format. The only real advantage I could see is the narrower
depth of field. I found it is quite difficult to get anything below F5 or 5.6, ISO100 with dual strobe when fastest shutterspeed is 1/250s with macro picture.

Anyhow, Canon 7D looks interesting but I am not ready to abandon Nikon yet. I would prefer a smaller body rather than pro body like D3X as I hate to carry big camera with me on land.
I would seriously think about D3S if not for the size. D700 would be perfect if it does video and I am not convince that D300s will be worthwhile investment as I would need new housing
and ports as well. My ideal camera would be a D700X with higher mp and video mode but with the release of D3S, I assume Nikon will not release anything with higher MP as well as video
in a smaller package anytime soon.

hmmmm...look like I might have to stick with D2X for awhile longer unless somebody can convince me that D300s might be a worthwhile upgrade.

#2 Drew

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 01:33 AM

Khun MorBoi
The D300s is a minor upgrade with 14bit and better ISO, the resolution will be the same so it's minor unless you shoot high ISO. So Get that in the interim until the newer Dxxx comes out with higher resolution.
You have the Subal Gen 3 ports (100mm) so you can use the D300s with a Gen 3 port opening. All you lose are the newer lenses like the 14-24.
Canon has the better resolution cameras right now with the 7/5D2. The 7D AF is pretty good but I haven't shot macro with it yet. The 5D2 is ok but can goof up. The responsiveness is a bit lacking compared to a 1 series but that's to be expected.
If I were you, I'd switch to Canon and keep the DX lenses so you can switch back if Nikon produces a good camera with high resolution. My Nikon lenses are collecting dust waiting for that day! :D

I suppose the baht is now so strong you can change camera brands and get a new housing for 10baht, esp if Thaksin returns!!! :D

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#3 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 02:01 AM

Its an interesting question. For tropical diving, I see little benefit in high ISO, unless you do a lot of deep stuff. Which is the main strength of D3/D3s/D700. The D3X definitely takes the resolution to the next level, the only downsides are size and expensive to flood.

The D300 is an excellent camera, D300s a small upgrade unless you are a vidiot.

I currently have a D700, which I like very much and have shot a lot of photos that I am very pleased with over the last 12 months, and after a heavy year I am already through 40,000 images with it, which makes me start to think of replacements too. But I think that I have enjoyed the D700 because I have dived a great number of non-tropical destinations this year (Scotland, England, Canada, Norway, France, Spain, Italy) and at times I have wondered how I ever managed without it!

I see myself keeping the D700 for a few more years, but adding to it, with either a D700x (if it fits in the same housing) or a D400 (a DX, D300 replacement) if it keeps the D300 virtues and takes the resolution upwards, while maintaining image quality (the 7D does not seem to be hindered by diffraction). I can really see myself going back to DX with one camera.

To answer your question, if you need low light consider a D700, but it is due for replacement - so you're a bit late to that party. The D3X is very capable, and you would not regret it if you can afford to flood it. The D300s is probably the best all rounder - but as a minor upgrade on the D300 it is not really a camera for the future. For me the D3X is the only now purchase. I'm waiting for what the new year brings...

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#4 ssra30

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 03:29 AM

Drew, I am not surprise at your answer since you have been telling me to switch to Canon probably for the last 3 years :D
I am not really concern much with high ISO shooting as I never really had the urge to do anything much more than iso400.
I suppose if I get a smaller body camera that I will actually use on land, it might become handy. However, my D2X pretty
much stays in my cupboard permanent except when I go diving due to size and weight.

One concern I have with Canon actually is the AF system as I kept hearing that Nikon AF is better
( is it true? I never actually compared,Alex, Drew, have you ever compared?).
All I can say is that last week when I tried to take picture of purple dart goby and a wrasse with D2X/105VR, I wish AF could be faster.

I gave a serious thought about D3X but decided that I am not getting any younger and I don't want to deal with another big pro body with even
bigger housing. Thanks to some floater arms that I got recently, shooting D2X/Subal/Ikelite with one arm is more manageable now.

Personally I think the next gen D300 or next updated/replacement D700 may be it.
Video capability is not an absolute must but there are certain situations where I think video could be fun, now that Ikelite is going to
release DS161 so it would not be a big deal to switch between camera and video mode.

PS the bahts are doing pretty well now unfortunately the yen is doing better :(
However, my recent trip to the UK and my frequent mail order from the US is a lot more affordable now :D

#5 Poliwog

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 07:24 AM

I too, have been pondering the upgrade question. The D2x is a great camera but I think it is starting to show its' limitations, for me anyway. I'd be interested in a smaller lighter form factor as I really hate the whole airport luggage check-in process. I'm actually starting to fear the luggage check-in attendants more than the actual border guards at this point. :D

The areas I am interested in include electronic flash protocols, smaller form factors, sensor dust removal strategy, physically wider autofocus sensor arrays , full size pentaprism viewfinder (no pop-up flash) and a bump in the megapixel count to about 16-18 megapixels. Video capabilities are interesting but are very low on the scale of desirability for me. I would also like to see lower ISO performance (ISO 50) now that we have great high ISO performance.

I'm very interested to learn from others about Nikon's image sensor cleaning strategy as well as any experiences with third party iTTL adapters for underwater strobes with the D700 and D3x.

My next upgrade will be a FX Nikon simply because of my investment in all the glass that goes with the camera system. In the mean time, I'm going to try to wring a few more images out of the D2x while I wait for Nikon to announce their next camera model.
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#6 Tom_Kline

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 11:51 AM

I am in the same boat. I have not found a compelling reason to upgrade. There might be something to the idea of skipping a generation.

I have looked at some of the posted D3s pix and it looks like I would limit myself to ISO800 when shooting with a strobe if I had one. This year I have been using ISO250 with the D2X and strobe. So not much of a leap. For available light shots I have been experimenting using the D2H at ISO500 with the 20/1.8 Sigma lens used wide open and have gotten decent results. Also the D2H at ISO200 with the 20 stopped down to f/4 and one Inon Z220 turned down to -3 to -4 as 'kicker'. Nice results as well. One can do a lot even with 4 MP!

I think what really kills upgrading to the current generation is that the s models do not fit into non s-model housings. The D3 and D300 are now done. A D3X will not fit in a D3s housing should housings become available for the latter. I expect the next D700 type body (00 FF) will also require a new housing. Let us hope that Nikon will use a more consistent body (with respect to housing fit) in their next generation.

Video is probably a poor rationale for upgrading. The implementation is not appealing. For example, how would I remotely control it? Nikon has a 10-pin remote socket, used for stills, that does not seem to be used for activating video. I suspect this and other issues will be addressed in the future so that the current first generation of vidSLRs will seem like the D1 does today.

Edited by Tom_Kline, 14 December 2009 - 11:53 AM.

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#7 ssra30

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 12:53 AM

I am glad to hear I am not the only one with the dilemma :D
My dream upgrade would be something with small body, higher resolution (18MP would be plenty for me), FF (I think), video would be nice. I never shot any video so it would be one of those that I don't really know if I would use it until I have it kind of thing.

I suppose with all the cornor sharpness problem with FF and wide angle lens, higher performance at higher ISO 400-800 or more with F11-F16 might become handy.
Let see what Nikon has in store and see if they can convince me to upgrade.

It will not be a cheap upgrade for me however, even if I stay with Subal as I would go with the new bigger port system to accomodate the new bigger lenses rather than the smaller port with my ND2 housing, ouch.....

I am thinking of Nexus housing as it is quite a bit more affordable and there is a sort of local support but it just does not feel as good as a Subal or Seacam :D

#8 Drew

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 05:37 AM

One concern I have with Canon actually is the AF system as I kept hearing that Nikon AF is better
( is it true? I never actually compared,Alex, Drew, have you ever compared?).
All I can say is that last week when I tried to take picture of purple dart goby and a wrasse with D2X/105VR, I wish AF could be faster.

Personally I think the next gen D300 or next updated/replacement D700 may be it.
Video capability is not an absolute must but there are certain situations where I think video could be fun, now that Ikelite is going to
release DS161 so it would not be a big deal to switch between camera and video mode.

Well that's my point. You choose a camera based on the functions/strengths you need, and that should be irregardless of brand. I bought the 5D2 because I wanted something lighter and smaller. It's a great camera but just isn't a pro body in terms of responsiveness, AF or shutter wise. Then there's the extra grip which is great to use and battery life. Can't win with me :D
Now the 7D AF is right between the 5D2 and 1 series. As video is a big deal to me, Canon is the only choice for that. Nikon's implementation is so hokey and unimpressive I don't consider it anything but a real afterthought. As for the diffraction, the 7D is definitely more affected than the 5D2. The softer, diffraction look will probably soften images shot at f16-22 but it's not going to be significant enough to worry about. Resolution is probably the real reason to move to Canon. Next time I'm in BKK I'll show you the difference in detail capturing from 8-12-17-21 mp.
That is why I think Canon is the better buy right now. My 1DsII lasted 5 years and can still take shots in low ISO that compares very well with the current crop of 15-18mp cameras. Going from 12-17 is a big difference and to 21 or thirty...something mp (opps did I say that?!) is imho, awesome!
Still the issues of FF for underwater still are around. Corner sharpness, shorter DOF for macro at the same f stop as APS-C are still concerns. Moreover, going with a smaller camera, the AF will be slower than the pro bodies. If you want AF that is faster than your D2x (which isn't hard seeing it was kinda slow compared to the 1D Mark II series :D), it'll have to be a D3s/x. I doubt you'll be happy with a D700.
Well if you want a FF in Nikon and can wait another year or more for a D700, which probably is going to be 12mp again like the D3s. One has to realize that Nikon buys their sensors from other vendors, whereas Canon makes their own. They'll be leaping bounds in resolution while Nikon tries to convince Sony (or someone else) to sell them one.

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#9 ssra30

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 06:12 AM

Changing from Nikon to Canon for me is not just about brand royalty though. Not considering investing in completely new set of lenses, I am going to lose a good relationship/support that I have with Nikon in Bangkok by switching. I think that is a big deal for me.
To me FF narrower depth of field is advantage. I can always go up on the F-stop and boost ISO for bigger depth of field now that Nikon is coping with higher ISO significantly better than before. Unfortunately it is the narrower depth of field that I have hard time getting with DX sensor.

It is really the macro shot that I am a bit concerned with as my familiar usual working distance will be completely changed unless I stick a teleconverter on 105VR or go back to my bazooka 70-180mm or lots of creative cropping. I already have hard enough time sneaking up to
certain macro objects as is :D I wonder if anyone who switch from DX to FF have similar problem?

I agree that sooner or later, Nikon is going to have to find a better deal than Sony supplying the sensor otherwise Canon is always going to give Nikon hard time about resolution although I am not sure that Canon pixel is as good as Nikon pixel (ducking flying objects coming my way :D ).

One good news is that look like my D2X may need to serve me a little while longer. If I bought a Canon body 4-5 years ago, it is unlikely that I would be using the same body now.

#10 loftus

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 06:34 AM

Well that's my point. You choose a camera based on the functions/strengths you need, and that should be irregardless of brand. I bought the 5D2 because I wanted something lighter and smaller. It's a great camera but just isn't a pro body in terms of responsiveness, AF or shutter wise. Then there's the extra grip which is great to use and battery life. Can't win with me :D
Now the 7D AF is right between the 5D2 and 1 series. As video is a big deal to me, Canon is the only choice for that. Nikon's implementation is so hokey and unimpressive I don't consider it anything but a real afterthought. As for the diffraction, the 7D is definitely more affected than the 5D2. The softer, diffraction look will probably soften images shot at f16-22 but it's not going to be significant enough to worry about. Resolution is probably the real reason to move to Canon. Next time I'm in BKK I'll show you the difference in detail capturing from 8-12-17-21 mp.
That is why I think Canon is the better buy right now. My 1DsII lasted 5 years and can still take shots in low ISO that compares very well with the current crop of 15-18mp cameras. Going from 12-17 is a big difference and to 21 or thirty...something mp (opps did I say that?!) is imho, awesome!
Still the issues of FF for underwater still are around. Corner sharpness, shorter DOF for macro at the same f stop as APS-C are still concerns. Moreover, going with a smaller camera, the AF will be slower than the pro bodies. If you want AF that is faster than your D2x (which isn't hard seeing it was kinda slow compared to the 1D Mark II series :D), it'll have to be a D3s/x. I doubt you'll be happy with a D700.
Well if you want a FF in Nikon and can wait another year or more for a D700, which probably is going to be 12mp again like the D3s. One has to realize that Nikon buys their sensors from other vendors, whereas Canon makes their own. They'll be leaping bounds in resolution while Nikon tries to convince Sony (or someone else) to sell them one.

It seems to me if video is the main draw it's best to wait with both brands as video implementation has a ways to go yet on both.
The 7D vs D300(s) comparisons in terms of resolution presently on the net hardly show an impressive difference between the 2, particularly considering the D300 is 2 years old and Nikon will likely leapfrog again in a year or so with a D400 or something. D300 focusing has been almost on a par with D3 etc for a while now.
One real advantage that I use even with my 12MP camera with Nikon is the ability to cross between DX and FX lenses, this will become particularly useful as Nikon gets into the 16-24MP in most of their cameras in the next year or two.
Bottom line, jumping brands from Canon to Nikon or visa versa for someone invested in one brand, makes little sense unless one has money to burn.
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#11 MikeVeitch

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 07:00 AM

wow, Boi, haven't seen you on here in years. Welcome back

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#12 Drew

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 11:58 AM

If I bought a Canon body 4-5 years ago, it is unlikely that I would be using the same body now.

Well not always true. The Canon 1DsMkII still has the resolution and performance to keep up with the latest cameras up to 800ISO. And that's 5 years old and only 5 cameras have more resolution than it and only 2 are pro body performance. I think the upgrade bug is more about you than about the camera's ability :D

It seems to me if video is the main draw it's best to wait with both brands as video implementation has a ways to go yet on both.

If you think that, then you won't be happy with ViDSLR for another 4-6 years. The aliased video that is being squeezed out of the still CMOS sensors is only going to have minimal increments in quality because processors aren't powerful and cool enough to fit into a DSLR to do the proper compression. The sampling is what it's going to be. A dedicated processor like what the Scarlet is suppose to have should do much better.
AF won't be like on a camcorder for a while and seriously, the reason the Canon 5/7D is dominating the ViDSLR market is because of the sexiness of interchangeable lenses and shallow DoF. It's a filmmaker's tool and manual focus is what it's all about. Why do you think Zeiss has added more ZE lenses?

The 7D vs D300(s) comparisons in terms of resolution presently on the net hardly show an impressive difference between the 2, particularly considering the D300 is 2 years old and Nikon will likely leapfrog again in a year or so with a D400 or something. D300 focusing has been almost on a par with D3 etc for a while now.

Resolution isn't about shooting test charts and studio sets. It's about seeing the black spots on an eel at f29 at 16.7mp while at 12.1 you see blotches of aliased blur because the detail isn't there. That and the ability to crop. That is what resolution gets you.
The D300s is only a month old like the 7D and it's a poor upgrade as a ViDSLR. The AF performance of a pro body like the D3 is about 10-20% faster than a D700. This is my own observation after spending a day trying to track dolphin jumps and birding. I don't know about the D300/s. In lower light, the D3 AF is faster than the Canon 1D Mk III for acquisition, which is why it has sold so well and made some serious inroads into the pro body market. However, now that 1D Mk IV has emerged, and it's an awesome camera (I just spent 1/2 playing with it at a track) then the D3s seems like another afterthought upgrade. Let's just be real and just drop the 5D2 from fast AF conversation. It's like a geriatric camera when it comes to responsiveness. Oh but that lowlight performance with a 1.4 lens! :D

Bottom line, jumping brands from Canon to Nikon or visa versa for someone invested in one brand, makes little sense unless one has money to burn.

Not always. In 2003/4, a few friends and myself dumped our Nikon D100/D2H gear for Canon. I bought my70-200VR for about $1700 and sold it at $1500. I switched to a EF70-200L IS for $1400. My 400L was $1200 cheaper than the Nikon it replaced. I bought it 2nd hand, so I made money out of it. If I were to do it now, my 17-35 (bought at $1500 in 2002) would sell for about the same and the 16-35II is $1450.
The purported loss is sometimes exaggerated. The only part that is tough is the effort needed to find the better deals in 2nd hand or new lenses. Now that could be a deal breaker.
Now Morboi's (SSRA30) ties to Nikon is tougher to crack. Strong family ties are traditional in Thailand :(

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#13 ssra30

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 03:53 PM

Hi Mike, I am back......! I am still diving here and there but not nearly as much as I wish. I think I need to change career :D
It seems like Nikon Video for now is more of an accessory rather than a major feature. Oh well....
but if I am reading Drew's comment correct, it seems that at least subjectively, non of the Canon is going to be a major improvement
over D2X in term of focusing ability except for the 1D4, is that correct?
The comment about not keeping same body in Canon camp for 4-5 years is more of a comment on Canon upgrading more quickly with something that
seems like a worthwhile upgrade rather my ability for sure :D After all this is an upgrading bug thread rather I am out growing my D2X :(

#14 Tom_Kline

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 04:19 PM

Well not always true. The Canon 1DsMkII still has the resolution and performance to keep up with the latest cameras up to 800ISO. And that's 5 years old and only 5 cameras have more resolution than it and only 2 are pro body performance. I think the upgrade bug is more about you than about the camera's ability :D

SNIP
Not always. In 2003/4, a few friends and myself dumped our Nikon D100/D2H gear for Canon. I bought my70-200VR for about $1700 and sold it at $1500. I switched to a EF70-200L IS for $1400. My 400L was $1200 cheaper than the Nikon it replaced. I bought it 2nd hand, so I made money out of it. If I were to do it now, my 17-35 (bought at $1500 in 2002) would sell for about the same and the 16-35II is $1450.
The purported loss is sometimes exaggerated. The only part that is tough is the effort needed to find the better deals in 2nd hand or new lenses. Now that could be a deal breaker.
Now Morboi's (SSRA30) ties to Nikon is tougher to crack. Strong family ties are traditional in Thailand :D


Upgrading from the DsII poses the same question (this thread) as with the D2X!

At one point in the 2000's I considered Canon but have a lot of legacy glass, several doz MF Nikkors as well as all sorts of accessories, being a multiple decade Nikon user. Selling ones gear from the boondocks also has issues, even with Ebay available.

A VERY important consideration for me is AF performance. The usual tests (e.g., DPR) do a very poor job or no job at all with respect to AF in their 'tests'. So it is very hard to compare camera systems as well as models or generations of models.

Different situations favor different AF systems. I do remote control and cannot manually select AF points so I rely on whatever 'cyberfocus' is incorporated in the AF design. The D2 design using group AF, pattern #2, close-focus, focus-FPS priority has worked well. It starts to fail as dusk settles in when about 50% are OOF - at this point I can see reflected (from the stream bottom) LED light scattered to the side by the diffuser on my Seaflash150 (most of the LED's light is in the center and goes out through the hole in the center of the diffuser and ends up as a spot somewhat behind where I am looking) - i.e., it is pretty dark

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#15 Poliwog

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 05:06 PM

The only part that is tough is the effort needed to find the better deals


I would rather use that effort to take more photos. I already have enough distractions without trying to source a completely new (to me) system. :D
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#16 ssra30

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 07:24 PM

Come to think of autofocus speed, D2X is not exactly bad either.
Last week, I saw a couple of these flasher wrasse (?) so I give it a try with my 105VR and it took 2 shots to get this:
Posted Image

I remembered early this year in Burma where there was patch with lots and lots of these wrasses ad 3 friends
with Canon (5DII, I think) spent a whole dive there. I don't think their pictures were much better than my quick snap.

#17 Drew

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 10:10 PM

I think the D2x is a good camera for what it does. Certainly it's capable of awesome results as well. I think a lot of times the cameras are far superior to the photographers.
Obviously though, once you start having certain requirements from the equipment, then you need to examine the specs and try the camera. The 5D2 is a great camera but the AF is probably slower than Miss Daisy's driving vs the pro DSLRs! Doesn't mean you can't get great action shots (as proven by the awesome Marlin and Bryde's whale shots with a "measly" 5D or D700 in NatGeo) but subject acquisition speed for little stuff with behavior will have a lower hit ratio, especially in lower contrast, dim situations.

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#18 Rocha

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 09:25 AM

I am in the same boat too... My D2x is aging, but still does a great job. I don't really consider the D300 and D700 upgrades, as everything has the same rez, and, correct if I am wrong, but I am pretty sure the D2x has the best AF between the three (D2x, D300, D700). The ideal camera to me would be a 7D: 18MP, small, $1700 street price, but with a D2x focus accuracy (don't really care about vid).

But I think the bottom line for me is: do I really "need" an upgrade? Currently the D2x does everything I need, in terms of focus and resolution. The only real inconvenience is its size. So, since I am not as heavy a user as Alex is (I think I put as many shots in my D2x in four years as he put in his D700 in one), I think I will keep the D2x until Nikon comes up with a higher resolution D700x or D400.

Luiz Rocha - www.luizrocha.com
Nikon D800, Aquatica AD800, Ikelite strobes.


#19 TomR1

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 11:32 AM

I upgraded from a D200 to a D300 and found the upgrade minor in terms of picture quality. I think for macro photography the smaller sensor is better and the D300/40D/E-3 are as good as it gets and the D2x a tad behind.

For macro I prefer Nikon because of the Af-105-VR which is incredibly quick auto-focusing. I am able to get great snaps of moving fish by setting the D300 to focus priority for the shutter release.

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#20 Rocha

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 12:15 PM

I think for macro photography the smaller sensor is better and the D300/40D/E-3 are as good as it gets and the D2x a tad behind.


I don't think the D2x is behind these cameras at all. Actually, the only camera I ever tried that has an AF better than the D2x was the D3. I have to admit that I never tried a D700, but I don't think it would be ahead of the D2x in terms of focus. The same? Maybe. Ahead? I doubt. As for the smaller sensor being "better", that depends on how you define better :D There are advantages and disadvantages to both, I don't think a small sensor could ever attain resolutions of today's FF sensors (24mp) without having diffraction issues.

Luiz Rocha - www.luizrocha.com
Nikon D800, Aquatica AD800, Ikelite strobes.