photovent 2010, day 23: believe (and the difference between the nikon d300 and the nikon d700 in low light)

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality."

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Christmas fast approaches, my friends.  And it dawned on me yesterday evening that I promised you some low-light shots to compare my Nikon D300 with the Nikon D700 that Nikon lent me; yet here we are, and I had yet to do it.  So for those of you who don't care about such things, please feel free to click over to The Beauty of Different blog, where I talk about the vision boards that Alex and I made this past weekend.  However, for those of you who do care about such things, read on below (and then, you know, feel free to click over). 

So yesterday evening, I took both cameras out, set the ISO to 6400 (which is the highest the ISO goes on my D300) on both cameras, attached the 16-35mm lens Nikon lent me to each, set the aperture and shutter speeds on each camera to the exactly same, and shot away at my Christmas tree in our living room window (you know, to add a festive feel to this whole experiment).  Here are the results, both completely unretouched:

The D300.


The D700.

Dude, are you seeing this?  Look at the image on top:  notice how fuzzy the image is?  Film enthusiasts would call that "graininess"; digital camera buffs call the same thing "noise."  It's very common when shooting at a high ISO number (which is typically how you would shoot an image in low light, if you didn't want to pull your flash out).

But in the bottom picture -- notice how crisp and clear that is?  This -- this -- is where the power of the D700 lies:  it does a lovely job shooting in low light (and is capable of even higher ISO numbers, up to 25,600!!). Really amazing.

So my verdict?  If, like me, you're the type of person that shoots mostly in daytime in natural light, unless you really want that full-frame sensor capturing all the scene on the periphery, you're probably fine with the D300, and spending the extra $1,000 for the D700 probably isn't worth it.  As you saw before, the difference in detail in daylight was truly undetectable (and in fact, the D300 ostensibly would be ever-so-microscopically-slightly sharper).

If, however, you plan on shooting a lot at night, or at dusk, or at, say, live concerts or other dimly-lit venues (like my incredibly talented friend Sarah-Ji does, for example), then perhaps shelling out the extra cash for the D700 might be well worth it.  Because the difference is definitely noticeable.

So there you go.  Santa only has 2 more shopping days -- better let him know ahead of time which one you'd like!

(As for me, I'm going to stick with my D300.  But I'm going to have a lot of fun with this D700 before I have to turn it back in.  Thanks so much, Nikon!)


The image at the top of this post is the 23rd image of Photovent 2010You can download the pdf for it here.  And click here to learn how to use it to assemble a beautifully different photo garland

SongChugjug by Family of the Year