Expert Recommendation

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Best Digital SLR Camera for Action Photos Under $2500
Expert (2 Recommendations)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
September 10, 2008 Updated: September 14, 2008
Overview

I get it. You’re serious about taking professional quality action shots: the kind that make the crowds roar. Well maybe not ENTIRE crowds. Let’s be humble for now. But you want to knock people’s socks off. With a Nikon D300 knocking socks off will be just the start, capturing them flying through the air in a perfect, crisp sequence is where the fun really begins!

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My Best In Class Pick
Nikon D300 (with 18-200mm Lens)

I suppose you want to know why this 12.3 megapixel machine takes crisper, cleaner, and meaner action photos (including ones of socks flying through the air) than any other camera in its class, huh?

Well! The first question is what does action photography demand of a camera? The answer is autofocus, continuous shooting speed, buffer, ISO performance, and of course, usability!

The D300 (Nikon’s most advanced non-full frame digital SLR) has an incredible focusing system with a 51 focus point CMOS sensor. This blows away its class competitors which have between 9-11 focus points. Not only, editors at PopPhoto.com were dazzled by this camera’s ability to “track subjects by color and even skin tone.” They also noted that the AF system for this bad boy is the “fastest in very low light and most sophisticated we’ve ever seen.” -Awesome. (PopPhoto.com Best dslr of 2007 Article)

Onward! Continuous shooting speed right? This guy clocks in at 6 fps (frames per second) (8 fps with battery pack) for 100 JPEG. The Canon EOS 50D maxes out at 6.3fps for 90JPEG. So straight out of the box they’re comparable, but the Nikon D300 has much, much more potential!

So let’s say that you absolutely do not want to let up on the shutter. Well, there’s an area that temporarily stores those photos before they go to memory. That’s what buffer is. The D300’s buffer size is 100JPGs while the EOS 50D is only 60JPGs.

Finally, compared to its closest competitor, the EOS 50D, the D300 is more robust and better weather sealed. A lot of times action shots demand some action on the photographer’s part (makes sense, right?). Whether you’re out in the rain, cold, sleet, or snow this thing will perform. And when you’re in varied conditions with a lot of different elements who wants to be changing lenses? I sure don’t! That’s where the Nikkor AF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF DX VR lens comes into play. This lens single handedly can rock almost any type of shot you’d want to take with its incredibly broad spectrum. If you want to know how phenomenally it performs with that large of a range, you can read more here. But as a big mountain free skier and action photographer myself, who has used this lens in just about any condition one could imagine, I can truly say that it WILL NOT let you down.

Comparison with Canon EOS 50D (with 18-200mm IS Lens)

Short and sweet: The Nikon D300 has way more focus points, the potential for faster continuous shots, better buffer, and a much more robust build. The Canon EOS 50D has higher megapixels, higher ISO capabilities, and higher max resolution.

My advice to you is if you’re all about action and already spending around $2000, the extra $100 or so for the D300 is a no brainier. And plus, you have to remember that more megapixels does not always mean clearer images. On the other end.. if you were to be just taking portraits, being indoors, and in low light a lot, then I would say save a hundred bucks and buy the Canon EOS 50D.

Pros
  • +
    51 Auto focus points!
  • +
    Fast continuous shot capabilities
  • +
    Robust weatherproof build
Cons
  • -
    Lower Megapixels
  • -
    Could have better Max ISO
Nikon D300 (with 18-200mm Lens) is the Best Digital SLR Camera for Action Photos Under $2500
Where to buy
Nikon D300 (with 18-200mm Lens)
Recommended with
  • Nikon MB-D10 Multi Power Battery Pack for Nikon D300 & D700 Digital SLR Cameras
    $242.24 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 11.1x
  • Resolution: 12.3MP
  • AF Shutter Lag: 0.2 - 0.4s
  • Burst Speed: 6.1 fps
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Nikon D300 (with 18-200mm Lens)
2
Canon EOS 50D (with 18-200mm IS Lens)
Customer Rating
Price $1299.00
Autofocus Points 51 9
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 6.1 frames/sec (8 w/battery pack) 6.3 frames/sec
Buffer 100 JPG 60 JPG
Weatherproof Fully No
Max ISO Setting 6400 12800
Max Image Resolution 4288 x 2848 pixels 4752 x 3168 pixels
Megapixels 12.3 15.1
2
Canon EOS 50D (with 18-200mm IS Lens)

So maybe you love Canon’s, already have a lens assortment, or are just curious about what’s budging up to the Nikon D300 in terms of action photography? The Canon EOS 50D is still an incredible camera. In terms of action it does fall short of the D300, but its action capabilities are still quite good (check product comparison table), along with other features that one up the D300 like its 15.1 megapixels, it’s better ISO ratings, higher max resolution, and a slightly more attractive price.

Pros
  • +
    Super High ISO Capabilities
  • +
    High Max Resolution
  • +
    High Megapixels
Cons
  • -
    Lacks auto focus points for action
  • -
    Not as robust as D300
Canon EOS 50D (with 18-200mm IS Lens) is one of the Best Digital SLR Cameras for Action Photos Under $2500
Where to buy
Canon EOS 50D (with 18-200mm IS Lens)
  • Best Price: $1299
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 11.1x
  • Resolution: 15.1MP
  • Burst Speed: 6.3 fps
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com

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