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my Nikon D60 is a great little camera, but then again, it is limited in the range of lenses that can be mounted on it, flash sync speed, shooting options, degrading picture quality at higher ISOs etc. It's nice, but I would like to try something a bit more advanced. If I could buy new, I would probably go for a D7500, but the body alone is quite expensive (at least in the 500-600 EUR range), so I was thinking of buying refurbished or lightly used older models (APS-C format).

Now the Nikon D300 (and the 300s upgrade) are both models from around the time that the D60 was released (2007-2009) - which means they're pretty old! Of course, them being old, means that shooting in low light and at high ISO will not be as good as with newer models, but they do have the advantage of being reasonably prices (200-300 EUR).And, at the same time, they were designed as professional-grade APS-C cameras.

I would like to get a model that I won't have to replace soon and that will have all the functionality I could reasonably require. Video is nice (300s), but not a deal breaker.

Are these two models still a good buy today? Or should I look into some newer used models in the 5xxx or 7xxx range?

  • It all depends on what you want to do with it. For some use cases a newer, lower tier body would outperform an older upper tier body. For other use cases the older upper tier body may well still offer advantages the newer body does not. – Michael C Jan 11 at 22:00
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    You mentioned quality at higher ISOs. Generally this requires a newer generation of sensors. – user10216038 Jan 11 at 22:30
  • I'd like to upgrade my camera with one that has better characteristics, including ISO performance. Of course, as you pointed out, this gets better as new models are released and D300(s) is probably lagging in this regard. However, I am also limited with my budget, so I am trying to find an optimal solution. If I were to buy new, I could only get an entry level body (better ISO performance, less functionality, probably AF-P compatibility). D300 OTH is probably better than my D60 in every regard, but it is an old camera ... – ansich Jan 11 at 22:51
  • From the reading I have done I would get a used d7xxx series body. If your budget can afford it the d7200 (looks like the peak price performance, even outperforming the d7500 in some test) but even the d7000 seems to have a newer much more low light noise friendly sensor and the d7100 falling in between. (Note I have not used these but I was researching them extensivly for my own use a year back but ended up on the canon side of the fence where my reasearch proved accurate) – lijat Jan 12 at 5:07
  • Is buying new an option? 10 years is a lot for cameras. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jan 12 at 17:21
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I would generally strongly recommend an older high end body over a new entry level body. New bodies do have better sensors, but because of their lower quality autofocus modules that do not have the possibility of fine tuning, they usually give much lower quality pictures. If you only do landscape or astro photography, and don't mind to focus manually or in live-view, a new body could be a better choice.

Other reasons why I would recommend an older body are that prices of second hand bodies are very low, typically only about 25% of their new price. Many of the extra functions that higher end bodies offer don't seem very important when you are comparing camera's, but actually make a pretty big difference in everyday use. Examples are extra buttons, two command dials end weather sealing. The extra command dial seemed like a very small thing when I bought my D7000, but I ended up using it almost every picture I took. It is very nice to be able to change exposure compensation without having to press a button too.

I switched from a D7000 to a D810 a few months ago, and it is my impression that there is not that much difference in everyday use between a prosumer and a 'professional' camera. When I switched from entry to prosumer the difference was huge though. It was very clear that everything is much better.

About the camera's you mentioned, I don't think the D300 would be a great choice. They are quite old now, and I think you can get a D7x00 for almost the same price. I would not recommend the D5x00 series because they don't have a focus motor, among other things.

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  • Thank yo for your input, if I understand you correctly, the D7x00 series should offer most of the functionality of the D300(s), together with better performance in low light? Looking at the specifications, I see that D7100 already has 51 AF-focus points, so this model (and the ones after it) should be similar in auto-focus quality than the D300? – ansich Jan 12 at 20:29
  • The D7100 has a better AF system than the D300, but they are all high level and cannot be compared to entry level. I wouldn't worry too much about small differences. The D300 has a much bigger buffer and also some extra buttons, in pretty much every other aspect the D7100 seems much better. I would recommend DXOmark if you want to know anything about image quality, and here some information on Nikon AF modules nikonrumors.com/2016/12/30/…, besides that there are loads of reviews and comparisons out there. Have fun ;) – Orbit Jan 12 at 23:22
  • The question is closed but I'd like to thank you for your input regarding the D300 compared to the newer models. I looked more into the D7000 and saw that it was actually also meant as a sort-of replacement for the outdated D300. That certainly puts things into a slightly different perspective. Will keep looking, but suffice to say that the D300 is far from being the main option it previously was :) Thanks! – ansich Jan 15 at 16:04

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