Thursday, October 28, 2010

D300: Craigslist Value of the Momment

Thinking of upgrading to a D7000?

Consider the D300 for a moment. They're going for under $900 on Craigslist, and there are a number of good reasons to consider one if you are upgrading from a D90 or lesser camera:
  • Build quality. It's a machine far tougher than what you're used to
  • It's a workhorse. Lots of units out there, most of them working reliably
  • It's optimized for detail. If you've used a D90, the sensor output is not exactly the same as the D300... it's the same chip, but there are subtle differences in how the jpeg engine works. The D90 was made for consumers, and emphasizes noise reduction; the D300 was targeted at working pros who shoot with NEF.
  • The D7000's high ISO abilities aren't quite what they are cracked up to be. Yes, the initial samples were impressive, but don't be too hasty. There are a lot of good reasons to consider this camera, but too many people got caught up in the apparent noise handling characteristics without considering how the camera was applying it's tone curve or how much noise reduction was actually being laid down by the jpeg engine.
  • If you have a D90,the D7000 is realistically an incremental improvement over your current camera. You're most likely to get the most benefit out of an upgrade if you skip camera generations; by going from D90 to D300, you're staying on the same generation image quality wise, but you are opening yourself up to a host of other new capabilities such as improved exposure metering and more sophisticated auto-focus tracking. 
  • Picture submissions. Most agencies and purchasers of pictures have a list of 'approved' cameras. If they don't, the list is more of an unofficial one. These lists are not so much about excluding inferior cameras as they are about excluding inferior photographers; it saves the poor editor from sifting through mounds of submissions from amateurs shooting on consumer cameras. Because not everybody can afford a semi-pro camera, the chances of finding a suitable submission go up for the editor.  When it was new, the D90 would have been on most of the approved lists because it was current technology, but I'll bet that it would have fallen out of favor by now. The D300 will remain on for some time. Yes, this is discrimination; yes it is snobbery. Yes, it is a fact of life.
Look for low shutter count bodies used by serious enthusiasts. Cameras from paid professionals will likely have high shutter counts, especially if they've shot weddings.The rubber hand grip tends to unpeel, but can be cheaply put back into place with a little bit of rubber cement. Be extra careful looking over these machines; Nikon warranties are not transferable. Also be careful not to pick up a unit that was originally bought outside of your country, your local Nikon center won't even bother to fix it.

Also look out for unusally low priced D300s bodies... the probably of encountering a scam post is higher. This cameras should still command relatively high asking prices above the $1,000 mark, which doesn't make them that appealing on the used market.

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