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Photography Question 
Axel Scholz
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/26/2008

To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade?

I am currently using a Nikon D90 and I am thinking to upgrade to a full format - D700 or even D3x or D3s. I am just not sure if it will make a difference at the amateur level, where I am. Thoughts welcome.

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4/24/2011 2:27:39 AM

Kay Beausoleil
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2004
  Not an easy question to answer, Axel. Most importantly, WHY do you want to upgrade? What would the D700 do for you that you find lacking in the D90?

I'm an enthusiastic amateur with a D300. It's not a full capture camera, and I've been wondering about the D700, which is, but have decided against it for now. Many reasons why - maybe they'll help you.
Even at 11x17 inch prints, I'm perfectly happy with the results, and I can't imagine how they could be better. I know my camera well, with all its quirks. It's lighter than the D700 and fits perfectly in my carry-on luggage. The D700 has nothing more I want, even though there are times I wonder if a full-frame model would make a difference. Then I say to myself, make a difference to what? And I can't come up with a satisfactory answer.
Some of my lower-end zooms would be a problem on a full-frame model, so depending on what you presently have, that may be an issue for you. But all my good lenses are not digital-sized, which will be great when I eventually switch. And I will when one of my two camera bodies breaks down or when the new high ISOs become so noiseless and fast that I can't resist whatever the D700 will become next.
I really hope you're not feeling you don't deserve a new camera because you think your photography isn't good enough. Your galleries are wonderful, a treat for the eyes. Or even worse, I hope you don't think more expensive equipment will magically make your photography better.
Professionals take the cost of their stuff off their income tax. That's the most important difference between them and amateurs, not the skill and the heart it takes to make good photography. So being at what you rate as "amateur level" shouldn't be a consideration. What you need, you want, you can carry, and you can afford should be your considerations.

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4/24/2011 10:22:32 AM

Lynn R. Powers   There is a saying among full-frame users that goes like this, "I went to full frame and never looked back." When they go out the door, the full-frame camera is almost always their first choice. Now that I have said that, do not get rid of the D90 unless you have to in order to afford the D700 or the D3. I still have my 40D for certain occasions.
The reason to keep the D90 is for taking photos of wildlife, not in zoos, air shows, birds or want the greater working distance with a macro lens. For everything else, the D700 is the best bet.
I came to digital and the cropped sensor after using a 35mm camera for decades. The lack of a smaller depth of field that I thought I should have wasn't there. I had a long learning curve, plus the fact that I had never used a camera with autofocus and all of the other bells and whistles that my Canon 20D did. I did know composition, understand ISO, aperture, f/stops, and depth of field, and understood how they worked together with various lenses. You may also have a learning process with the full-frame camera. I would suggest you check every control and take test shots as well as do a lot of chimping to learn how each adjustment affects your photos. I wouldn't even download these but only reformat the card in-camera, which you should always do anyway. Reformatting that is. :=)
If you use a wide-angle of 17-22mm with your D90, you will love the wider view with the D700. When going to 17mm, be careful that your feet aren't in the photo. With a portrait lens, you will find that your DOF preview will come in handy to both insure that the lens is closed down enough and make sure the background is blurred.
When it comes to working with the photos while doing your post processing, the photo is much cleaner even at ISO 1600, it is easier to work with, and the enlargements made me feel like I was a real photographer again. You will find it a pure joy to use. And that is why it is always the all-around camera for me. If you purchase a 300mm lens for it, you will be in hogs heaven and it gets better with the addition a 1.4X teleconverter.
Now this is from a staunch Canon user. The D700 will give you the same feeling and joy that I have. I only hope that you have the correct lenses for it. I knew from the git-go that I would eventually change to a full-frame camera and purchased both EF and the "L" lenses while I still had the cropped camera. The Canon cropped cameras will take both the lenses for the cropped camera and those for the FF cameras.Lynn

PS: If you do get one, let me know how you like it after a couple months of use.

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4/24/2011 5:57:48 PM

Axel Scholz
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/26/2008
  Thank you both for your input. This is really helps to consider. Still not decided, but on the way.
Thanks again.

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4/25/2011 2:43:48 AM

Bruce A. Dart   Axel and all,
I am a working professional, photographing people for a living and shooting landscape and nature for fun for the past 30+ years, and I am looking to upgrade one of my camera bodies from the two Nikon D200's that I have. Digital technology makes that necessary. When I started in business, one could invest in camera equipment and expect to use it (barring repairs) for nearly a decade. Not so any more! One of the considerations for me -- all of the cameras are good, some have favorites they are used to --but if the camera I upgrade to has the same type of memory card and battery so they are interchangeable it is helpful. More importantly, the industry has NEVER standardized sizes (4x5 or 4x6; 5x7, 8x10 now 8x12, etc) and each is a different proportion. Now that I got used to the smaller sensor, it is a practical thing about shooting to produce certain sizes that I don't want to start all over with a full frame. We all have the technology to make prints much larger than anything we will ever use but we still want more. Perhaps it is just a bigger carrot dangled by the manufacturers. Bottom line: most of us already have the equipment to do what we need. Buying a Jaguar to get us from place to place instead of a Ford Focus, for example, isn't what we need, it's what we WANT!
Best wishes.

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4/26/2011 7:10:06 AM

Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
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Bunny's Gallery
  It's not the camera that makes the difference, it's what the photographer can do with any camera, even a point and shoot that makes the difference.

I've seen the work of photograhers using a point and shoot and they have garnered second prize winners at with their equipment. It is because they have acquired the eye. Knowing what makes for good composition, knowing how to create perfect exposures and get the most from their raw image in photoshop.

Having a good camera is only part of the equation. One needs to know not only how to operate that camera, but to get the most from the images in photoshop, and have the eye of the photographer with composition and design. No expensive camera can give you that. It is acquired with education and lots of practice.

In other words, it's what you do with what you have that counts.

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4/28/2011 11:52:39 AM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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Carlton's Gallery
  Hi Axel,
When I made the switch from 35mm to digital in 2005, I wanted a full frame camera because I do a lot of landscape & low light photography (full frame performs better at higher ISO's) but I couldn't afford a Canon 5D or 1DS Mk II at that time so I got a 20D (APS-C) to learn on. After building my lens collection and continuing to learn & grow as a photographer - I bought a used 1DS & a new 40D and sold the 20D in 2008. The next year the 5D Mk II came out and I was happy the price was comparable to the original 5D and I quickly replaced the 1DS. I love this camera and it fits my type of shooting and is everything I want in a camera. I dont even look at the new cameras coming out as I am completely satisfied with my 5D2 and it may be a few years before I consider upgrading again.
My .02,

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4/30/2011 12:34:27 AM

Clyde P. Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/8/2008
  I just upgraded to a D700 after shooting with a D40x (10.2MP 3/4 frame) for the last four years. The first thing I noticed was the lack of noise, (when I did a close up crop on a bird for example. Even with the loss in focal length do to the DX coversion - 300mm = 450mm. Also the images have more "pop" seperation between the objects.

The D700 although slightly heavier is so much eaisier to use with the most of the controls at your finger tips, i.e ISO, WB, both shutter and apeture adjust.

If the price is not an issue for you, I say do it!

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5/11/2011 4:25:56 PM

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