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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> D90 vs. D300s
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11/13/2009 07:38:44 AM · #1
What's so special about the D300s? Same sensor, same movie mode, 95% same features...

The only differences I've found:
Sync speed - 1/320 on the D300s, 1/200 on the D90
Stereo mic input for movies - D300s has it, D90 doesn't (useless)
Body material - D300s is metal (and heavier), D90 is plastic (and lighter)
ADR Bracketing, whatever that is - the D300s has it, the D90 doesn't
Lens compatibility - the D300s can meter through AI/AI-S lenses (A and M modes only), the D90 can't
Virtual horizon - the D300s has it, the D90 doesn't (at 12.3 MP, you can afford to lose a bit of quality by rotating in PS)
Focusing - better on the D300s, worse on the D90
Card slots - the D300s has SD+CF, the D90 is SD only

I don't consider most of these important enough to warrant spending double (or more). The only one that really matters to me from this list is lens compatibility, which to me is not worth spending $900+ for. Am I missing something? Are there other differences that might convince me to choose the D300s over the D90?

ETA: D300s shoots 7 fps, D90 shoots 4.5. Again, not important to me... but I can see why it'd be important to others.

ETA2: Also, if anyone that's not obsessed with either Nikon or Canon could tell me... why would I get (a) the Canon T1i instead of the D90, or (b) the Canon 7D instead of the D300s?

Message edited by author 2009-11-13 07:55:42.
11/13/2009 07:52:26 AM · #2
About the only thing I wish I had on my D90 that the D300 has is the weatherproofing. Germany can be quite damp.
11/13/2009 07:53:56 AM · #3
quote=george917 What's so special about the D300s? Same sensor, same movie mode, 95% same features...

The only differences I've found:
Sync speed - 1/320 on the D300s, 1/200 on the D90
Basically the same... both can sync up to their max shutter speed with Nikon speed lights anyways on Auto FP

Stereo mic input for movies - D300s has it, D90 doesn't (useless)
Exactly

Body material - D300s is metal (and heavier), D90 is plastic (and lighter)
Also grip for D90 is plasitc not metal... sooo D90 grip is $150 and grip for D300s is lik3 $280

ADR Bracketing, whatever that is - the D300s has it, the D90 doesn't
?

Lens compatibility - the D300s can meter through AI/AI-S lenses (A and M modes only), the D90 can't
Do you really plan on using Manual Focus lenses on a DSLR? (aside from macro lenses)

Virtual horizon - the D300s has it, the D90 doesn't (at 12.3 MP, you can afford to lose a bit of quality by rotating in PS)
If MP are that important to you, but a D700 FX

Focusing - better on the D300s, worse on the D90
BAH! They are the same

Card slots - the D300s has SD+CF, the D90 is SD only
SD cards cost LESS than Half of CF cards! if you have both slots you will porobably end up using SD cards only anyways

I don't consider most of these important enough to warrant spending double (or more). The only one that really matters to me from this list is lens compatibility, which to me is not worth spending $900+ for. Am I missing something? Are there other differences that might convince me to choose the D300s over the D90?

ETA: D300s shoots 7 fps, D90 shoots 4.5. Again, not important to me... but I can see why it'd be important to others. /quote
That does matter to me, but 4.5 is pretty good.. and it's not worth the extra $

.

I had the same dilema which is why I ended up with a D90... for me, there's no pointinf buying a big metal body unless it's Full frame FX...

Buy the D90 for now, and stick that $900 in the bank to up for a future FX camera like the D700 =)

.

Message edited by author 2009-11-13 07:54:50.
11/13/2009 08:00:48 AM · #4
Originally posted by Shutter-For-Hire:

[long list of responses]

Thanks for the quick reply. I'm actually thinking of getting a push-pull manual focus zoom (1 ring only) and trying it out on my D40... maybe a 70-210mm 75-150mm Series E from the 80s. Seems like an interesting lens type, and I wanna see if I can focus as quickly with that as with the 55-200mm AF-S that costs twice as much.

Message edited by author 2009-11-13 08:27:00.
11/13/2009 08:05:42 AM · #5
Originally posted by Shutter-For-Hire:

Buy the D90 for now, and stick that $900 in the bank to up for a future FX camera like the D700 =)


Or for some FX lenses that will work on the D90? I'm not gonna be able to afford an FX camera for a couple years or so anyway, so I might as well buy a couple lenses... say, the AF-S 70-300mm VR (~$570) and that MF push-pull. That should leave me with about $200 for a cheapo flash.
11/13/2009 08:07:21 AM · #6
Difference between the D300s and D90

Message edited by author 2009-11-13 08:08:06.
11/13/2009 08:08:18 AM · #7
Originally posted by david1707:

About the only thing I wish I had on my D90 that the D300 has is the weatherproofing. Germany can be quite damp.

I've had my D40 out in the pouring rain quite a bit, and the only defect (aside from the flash not working because it almost snapped off on another occasion) is that sometimes the autofocus won't work (contacts might have to be cleaned, I don't think it had to do with the rain either).

ETA:
Originally posted by Dirt_Diver:

Difference between the D300s and D90

Thanks. It seems they don't have about half of the things I listed above, though. Based on that, I should add to the original post:
Fastest shutter - 1/8000 for the D300s, 1/4000 for the D90 (only a 1-stop difference though, so I wouldn't mind stopping down the aperture instead)
External flash - hot shoe + sync on the D300s, hot shoe only on the D90 (unimportant to me... I'd only use a separate unit if I had a studio, and that's not happening any time soon)

Message edited by author 2009-11-13 08:15:03.
11/13/2009 08:41:45 AM · #8
We had the same dilemma, ended up with 3 x D90's and 1 x D80. Have a range of lenses dating back to 1994 up till latest Sigma HSM and all work A1. D90 is sharp, tack sharp, auto focus AF-s AF-a and AF-c took me a month to master. Macro go manual.
Both the D80 and one of the D90's took a 1 metre fall onto a tiled surface, despite small blemish on the case, no damage to cameras at all. Titanium case and moisture seals are for the Jungle 100% humidity and 4 inches of rain in 1/2 an hour and Desert Storm. If you don't plan on any of that I doubt you will need a D300 (discontinued) replaced with D300s.

Further the DX is advantageous with the 1.5 crop factor on Full Frame lenses and has the same or slightly better density per mm than even the high end FX Nikon D3x running at 24.5Mp and $8000-00
My D90 rocks and the last two (bodies) I got for $809.95 at B&H with free USA shipping.

A D300s will go for $1699.95 at B&H and I'd rather have 2 x D90's for versatility than 1 x D300s (unless I am the Camel Man)

Have a look at a few of my bird shots with the D90 and a 1994 Sigma 70-300mm here. Originals are better then the lousy flickr jpg off course. Check this one out as well Tawny Eagle

In order to shoot at 4.5 fps you must have a highish shutter speed.
On my D90 (which can handle 300x SDHC cards-I run 133x), I'm getting it at sports days, car racing, athletics in RAW mode wehre the file is 8-10Mb EACH but it MUST be at ISO 100. The D90 has an internal buffer not ducumented anywhere that I have found, and it is about 1Gb in size based on simple calculations I've done. In low light even 4.5 FPS at 6400 ISO is a problem (obv with no flash).

You will not regret 2 X D90's for the price of 1 x D300s

Proof of the pudding is in the eating:
D90 Highest Rated Photographs Page
D90 users that I like so far:
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11/13/2009 09:14:27 AM · #9
Originally posted by Magnum_za:

Further the DX is advantageous with the 1.5 crop factor on Full Frame lenses
Good point. Get the effective focal length of a 300mm lens but buy a cheaper, faster 200mm lens.

Originally posted by Magnum_za:

and has the same or slightly better density per mm than even the high end FX Nikon
That's something I don't like. Generally speaking, higher pixel density means lower quality pixels. But then again, 12.3 MP is more than I need. My "Symmetry" image (640px wide) is a 100% crop from my D40... I already got an "out of focus" comment b/c of the low quality of the older, lower-MP sensor.

Originally posted by Magnum_za:

Have a look at a few of my bird shots with the D90 and a 1994 Sigma 70-300mm here. Originals are better then the lousy flickr jpg off course. Check this one out as well Tawny Eagle
Very nice shots. How much was the Sigma? I was considering getting the Nikon 70-300mm VR and using it on the D40 until I have enough money for the D90... it's 10+ years newer, costs about $570 new, is not a DX lens, is quiet (internal focusing), and will work on every DSLR within the next decade (or more).

Originally posted by Magnum_za:

In order to shoot at 4.5 fps you must have a highish shutter speed.
High like 1/125, or high like 1/500? There's only two stops of difference there, but you end up with a "stop motion" effect after about 1/500 and I'd rather be panning at about 1/125-1/200.

Message edited by author 2009-11-13 09:18:12.
11/13/2009 09:22:46 AM · #10
My wife loves her D90. Since she's had it she's entered 3 or 4 challenges and done much better than her other challenges.
11/13/2009 09:37:52 AM · #11
I upgraded from the D50 and was wanting the D300 but Choose the D90 because like your OP I could not justify spending the extra money for pretty much the same features. I really can not say anything about the D300 but so far I have enjoyed the D90 has been great, I used the savings to add the battery grip and a lens.
11/13/2009 12:58:45 PM · #12
The Sigma (its a 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 APO Macro not 70-300 as I mentioned) ran on a Nikon 801s Film camera for years.
On eBay if you can get one about $2-300.00 and is my workhorse for nature and family. Whilst there's a Sigma DG (Full Frame) 70-200mm f/2.8 EX APO IF HSM in my stable I only use that for really low light where I don't want to push the ISO on the older f/4.5, especially in the evenening (after 5pm) when our African game comes out to play. If you get such an older lens the only issue is scratches, fungus etc. The glass in itself (APO) is outstanding. Having said that you don't want to spend twice by getting a 70-200 DG Full Frame 2.8 later when you have the money or the equivalent Nikon f/2.8 if you can afford it. Personal circumstance and preference will guide you here. DONT buy the DX lenses intended for Small Frame for 2 reasons, 1) You lose the crop factor (unless you really want the 18mm-70mm exact focal length) 2) The MTF is generally not as good.

As far as sharpness is concerned, I find that at ISO 200 or less, if the SS is right, I got top notch results on the D90 with that "old" lens. Your out of focus comment could be the compression ratio you used and a <150kb jpg or the commentators LCD is out of focus *cough*, or in my case it might be my old eyes!
I've zoomed the original Tawny image to 100% and I can see bits of chicken stuck in his beak from breakfast...and his iris...all at him travelling at 100+ km/h and no USM or PS tricks, the original RAW file...

Here's the CamInfo direct from the RAW file for that Tawny Eagle shot at ISO 800 as it was a bit overcast:

Camera Info
Device: Nikon D90
Lens: 75-300mm F/4.5-5.6
Focal Length: 300mm
Focus Mode: AF-A
AF-Area Mode: Dynamic, 3D/Wide

Exposure
Aperture: F/14
Shutter Speed: 1/800s
Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority
Exposure Comp.: 0EV
Exposure Tuning:
Metering: Matrix
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 800

As far as FPS is concerned if you shoot at ISO 400 or more, the D90 internal mem will buffer a maximum of 9 frames RAW before it starts writing to the SDHC card. If at 200 ISO I can get a whopping 99 frames into the buffer and hold the button down. The D90 is designed to handle the new gen 300x Sandisk Extreme III cards that perport to handle 30Mb/s i.e. only 3 RAW shots (10mb each or so) per second! The reality is a lot less. Toms Hardware did a shoot out on cards and the Sandisk 300x ExtIII only did about 19Mb/s on write speed. You need to be 1/250th or faster to achieve 4.5fps so the math doesn't add up, that's where the internal buffer comes in. And that Sandisk 300x ExtIII is not cheap. So I use 133x or 150x Kingston's or Transcend's and they work fine. We just got some Hoodman RAWs and will see how they perform on our next trip to the race track.

When stopping motion and panning on a bright sunny day I found 1/800th to be the right speed for that f/4.5-5.6 with a bit of DOF. More than ample to get 4.5fps and a decent burst of a SBK or an F1 whizzing past. The damn things go fast past you that 1-2 seconds is all your gonna get anyway. All this techno BS is just that, BS till you try it yourself. The Auto focus will be the hardest thing to master. And the 15 year old Sigma with a screw mechanism from Cam to Glass is not slow, despite many reviews of even newer HSM Sigmas being slow. FFS if it's that slow, prefocus and get your DOF right...

Your D40 should still get some marvelous results but you cant use the older glass because it doesnt have that little screw focus mechanism and you have to use the newer lenses that IF. The D90 LETS you buy older but necessarily worse glass. I'm looking at a Nikkor f/2.8 105mm D (not the new VR) n eBay right now. 5ish years old and bidding is peaking at $400-00. The new VRII is $950-00 new... need I say more.

Keep the D40 as Cam #2 for everyday. It's light, your familiar with it, but the D90, for all the hype of the D300s, is a really good buy. Right now mine is on bulb pointed out my window doing a 30 minute night shot with my 15 year old Nikkor 35-70mm.

Enough already! Go get one.
11/13/2009 02:04:58 PM · #13
I love my D300s!
One of the big things for me was focus points
D300s has 51 of them, and they all work great.
D90 has 11, they all probably work great too, I have no first hand knowledge of them. BUt the last camera I used regularly had 4(D50) and by the end only the center one worked well.
Also with weather sealing I don't think about the weather, and I tend to go to the beach in bad weather and walk around the city when it rains. The 7 fps is very nice even if not used often. I use it for hand held HDR shots mostly. The low noise may be comparable but here is one I just took at ISO 3200 that I thought was great and I routinely walk around at ISO 800 without thinking about or noticing noise, it is my starting point instead of IS0 200. Either way you will be happy. But the focus points and some heavier construction/weather sealing were big selling points and it is nice to have 7 fps when I need it. I hear very good things about the D90.


11/13/2009 02:18:00 PM · #14
Jo, quite right, the build quality and seals prevent the lack of worrying about scrambling to the nearest umbrella, it certainly must give one so much more freedom.
11/13/2009 02:29:53 PM · #15
Originally posted by Magnum_za:

DONT buy the DX lenses intended for Small Frame for 2 reasons, 1) You lose the crop factor (unless you really want the 18mm-70mm exact focal length.


I believe the crop factor is a function of the sensor not the lens. Shooting at 18 mm on an 18-70 mm DX lens will look the same as shooting 18 mm on a 17-35 mm FX lens in terms what you will see in the frame on a Dx sensor. However on a full frame sensor the 18-70 mm would only be able to be used with a smaller part of the sensor and less MP. I believe atleast the D3 will allow you to use them at 5 MP. If not the 18-70 mm on a full frame is useless.
Originally posted by Magnum_za:


You need to be 1/250th or faster to achieve 4.5fps so the math doesn't add up.


To shoot 4.5 fps you only need a shutter speed of 1/5th.

Harvey, it may cheaper to get an umbrella, but I didn't have one when I got my camera, any excuse to upgrade. :P


11/14/2009 12:33:02 AM · #16
Jo mathematically speaking, you're quite right.
1/5th second = 0.2 second
1s / 4.5fps = 0.222222
4.5 * 0.2 (1/5th) = 0.9 or near enough 1 second (actually slightly faster than 1 second, 1/100th faster)

But I've tried it on M Mode to see if the D90 actually shoots 4.5 fps on RAW, continuously over a 5-10-15-20 second burst on 1/5th. There is delay between each shot as the mirror works, curtain works, the camera re-exposes the moving object, refocuses and refires.
I found that a 1/250th is about the sweet spot to get 4.5 fps on the D90 and anything above 200 ISO gives you only 9 frames before the internal buffer is chock full (shooting RAW @ 9-10Mb per image) or about 2 seconds of shooting before the camera actually slows down transferring the buffer to the SDHC card. In this case it's worth getting that 300x from Sandisk as it is the fastest in the market or shooting in low quality JPG only :) A bit pricey though just to see if it makes a difference! If I'm happy in reduced quality, and its for fun only I can go jpg. For RAW on ISO 200 I can get about a 2 second burst of 9'ish shots before the camera slows down waiting for the data to be written to SDHC before the buffer is free to accept the next shot...anyway I'm just a noob with a camera...math was never my forte.

If you can figure out what the buffer size is on the D300 you should be able to test this yourself on fast moving action subjects and see how long it takes before the camera slows down shooting to keep up with the buffer to card transfer. Wonder if the dual card system has any benefit?

Happy w/e shooting.

Message edited by author 2009-11-14 01:00:35.
11/14/2009 08:38:49 AM · #17
I wanted to have a more expensive camera than most of my potential clients.
It's tough to get a paying photography job when the client has the same camera as you do.
11/14/2009 08:52:15 AM · #18
Originally posted by Magnum_za:

There is delay between each shot as the mirror works, curtain works, the camera re-exposes the moving object, refocuses and refires.

4.5 fps is measured without refocusing. That means either AF-L or MF, I don't think anyone was actually expecting 4.5 including refocusing. So technically, about 1/10 sec should be enough including the mirror flipping back and forth. It does flip back and forth on the D90, right? It'd be kinda cool if such an inexpensive camera had it lock up...
11/14/2009 08:53:13 AM · #19
Originally posted by wdamman:

It's tough to get a paying photography job when the client has the same camera as you do.

That's why you show him your portfolio, not your camera.
11/14/2009 09:07:41 AM · #20
Originally posted by george917:

Originally posted by wdamman:

It's tough to get a paying photography job when the client has the same camera as you do.

That's why you show him your portfolio, not your camera.


I have to agree with george on this one. I take my D40x with me on my paying gigs all the time and I've even had clients that have a more professional camera than me. I just tell them wait until they see their pictures. I haven't had one person complain about any of my photos. Although I do plan to upgrade when I get the money just so I can take pictures at a higher ISO and that's the only reason.
11/14/2009 09:29:39 AM · #21
I have never used either camera but if the difference in build quality and ease of use (i.e. construction, external controls, etc.) is anything like the difference between the D200 and D70, I would pick the D300 no question.
11/14/2009 01:38:40 PM · #22
Originally posted by Maverick:

(i.e. construction, external controls, etc.)

Construction - better on the D300s, but I don't mind the D40 and the D90 could really only be a step up.
External Controls - The D300s has right hand dials for AE and AF modes (spot/center/matrix) and an AF-ON button, none of which I see on the D90. On the front, the D300s has a DOF preview button... it looks like the D90 does, too, but the image I'm looking at has the lens in the way (They both have a DOF Preview button). Also the front, the D300s has an extra button/switch (I can't really tell what it is) that the D90 doesn't; it's below the lens mount button.

ETA: The D90 does have a button to select metering I believe... also on the right side, and you can hold it pressed and scroll with the scroll wheel thing, so also a right-handed operation (albeit a bit more difficult).

Message edited by author 2009-11-14 13:42:39.
11/14/2009 01:49:15 PM · #23
Originally posted by george917:

Also the front, the D300s has an extra button/switch (I can't really tell what it is) that the D90 doesn't; it's below the lens mount button.

That's the focus mode switch to select continuous servo auto, single servo auto, or manual focus.
11/14/2009 01:49:48 PM · #24
The ability to meter AI and AIS lenses on the D300 is worth the price difference in my book....but then again I have a handful of AI/AIS lenses in my bag....

Message edited by author 2009-11-14 13:50:01.
11/14/2009 02:04:28 PM · #25
The D90 has an "Fn" button on the right hand side (front) as well as the DOF preview button just below it.
You can choose the role played by the Fn button. This option is available in all shooting modes.
It has taken me about two months to get to grips with it. I agree more dedicated buttons are useful and instantaneous such as found on the D300, especially if you are new to DSLR as I am. However a bit of effort and experimentation on my part and I found it quite simple to setup and change on the fly when shooting based on the subject.

Framing grid / Press the Fn button and rotate the main command dial to turn the grid display in the viewfinder on or off.

AF-area mode / Press the Fn button and rotate the main command dial to select the AFarea mode

Center focus point / Press the Fn button and rotate the main command dial to choose between normal and wide center focus points

FV lock (default) / Press the Fn button to lock flash value (built-in flash and SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, SB-400, and SB-R200 flash units only). Press again to cancel FV lock.

Flash off / The built-in flash and optional flash units turn off while the Fn button is pressed.

Matrix metering / Matrix metering is activated while the Fn button is pressed.

Centerweighted metering / Center-weighted metering is activated while the Fn button is pressed.

Spot metering / Spot metering is activated while the Fn button is pressed.

Access top item in MY MENU / Press the Fn button to jump to the top item in “MY MENU.” Select this option for quick access to a frequently-used menu item.

RAW +NEF (RAW) / If image quality is set to JPEG fine, JPEG normal, or JPEG basic, “RAW” will be displayed in the control panel and an NEF (RAW) copy will be recorded with the next picture taken after the Fn button is pressed. To exit without recording an NEF (RAW) copy, press the Fn button again or turn the camera off.

There is also a convenient AE-L/AF-L button on the rear.

Message edited by author 2009-11-14 15:17:44.
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