query for photographers - nikon cameras


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i gather that we have a few knowledgable folk on the forum re photography.

i have used nikons for many years and found them excellent. my last one was a D70 and it has been superb but time to move on. it is playing up a bit and quite old now.

wondering if any suggestions for what i should look at now with nikon SLR's? doesn't have to be their top, most expensive one. i have not used it for video's in the past but may. that is not crucial.

appreciate any thoughts.

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I personally really like Nikon, but like Smithy I'd say go Canon. All my classmates swear by Canon and if I've learned one thing over the past 3 years it's that Asian KNOW their cameras!

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I personally really like Nikon, but like Smithy I'd say go Canon. All my classmates swear by Canon and if I've learned one thing over the past 3 years it's that Asian KNOW their cameras!

have nothing personal against canon, other than an inate mistrust of anything smithy suggests, but nikon has always been terrific for me and i have interchangable lenses so it makes sense to stick with them.

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Yeah like I said, I'm a big Nikon fan myself, but sometimes you just need to go with the masses. If you have Nikon lenses than I'd stick with Nikon. I'll check what advice the Chino Braintrust has to offer on the subject ;)

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Ken I bought the Nikon D3100 SLR for my Honeymoon in Bora Bora, it is a simple yet fantastic camera. Easy operation and plenty of shooting options. Quick Lens attachment, light and compact enough for travel without being a burden. Price was somewhat modest and more affordable than the Canon Comparable. (Its the bloody high speed memory cards that send you to the poor house)

The aforementioned took amazing quality pictures of French Polynesia, a great all around camera for the novice. I attached a few pics.

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Ken I bought the Nikon D3100 SLR for my Honeymoon in Bora Bora, it is a simple yet fantastic camera. Easy operation and plenty of shooting options. Quick Lens attachment, light and compact enough for travel without being a burden. Price was somewhat modest and more affordable than the Canon Comparable. (Its the bloody high speed memory cards that send you to the poor house)

The aforementioned took amazing quality pictures of French Polynesia, a great all around camera for the novice. I attached a few pics.

You've been waiting for an excuse to show us your holiday photos hey ;)

On a serious note I agree the D3100 is quite good, easy to use and we all know Ken you dont like anything to confuse you :daydream:, it's also cheaper.

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If you're starting fresh, shop around. I like Canon and own a 20D. The only reason I bought it though was because I had invested in a few lenses already with my 35mm SLR. At the time, the competitors had some great pricing and packages but I did not want to re-buy lenses. Plus I got mine from a friend who upgraded to a 5D.

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Ken...my suggestion would be to make the change. Yes, you have Nikon lenses, but you can always sell those w/o taking a big hit if they are well cared for.

My suggestion would be to go with the Olympus E-P2. If you're not in a rush the Olympus E-P3 is due out soon. They take great pics and are much easier to lug around. There are also a number of interchangeable lenses. For the non-professional, I definitely think this is the way to go.

33870562-2-440-OVR-1.gif

Here is a link to the details for this camera...

Olympus E-P2

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Hi Ken, I get asked this question probably every other day. FWIW i'll tell you the same as i tell everyone else.

Canon or Nikon - both great, go with what feels right. if you're invested in the nikon system, stay there. they are great.

Get the body that does what you need, nothing more. they change so often there will always be upgrade-envy. I'm not up on current Nikon bodies but as far as I'm concerned the entry level body will do for the mass of people...the rest is upsell.

Spend your money on GOOD glass. get the best lens you can afford, or stretch your budget a little. the lens that comes packaged with the camera and it's cheap zoom cousins are shite, and will be, if anything gear-related, the ceiling of your photography experience. get a constant aperture normal zoom (ie. 24-70 f/2.8, 17-50 f/2.8, etc). Cheaper lenses have apertures that constrict as you zoom in...choking out the valuable light that you need at longer focal lengths to obtain images free from camera shake blur. I know the Canon and Nikon variations of these lenses are quite expensive ($1500+) but I suggest people look into third party manufacturers like Sigma or Tamron as they have some quality glass in the sub-$1000 range. if you want specific recommendations let me know.

Glass matters and is (nearly) forever - bodies come and go.

Disclosure: i'm a canon guy. not because i think canon is superion, but because its just the system i evolved into from point&shoot stage. I successfully used a rebel xt and 20D to make many clients happy. today i've moved on to 5D and 5DmkII because i could rationalize the expense for the added low-light capabilities and the resolution. to be honest i still have and enjoy my 20D.

hope this helps!

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Excellent and balanced advice, tdl. I can tell that your perspective is that of a practical nature rather than unabashed loyalty. :clap: I am of the same stripe except that while I was a Canon man in film (AE-1 Program, baby!) I switched to Nikon for digital. Across my D40 and D90 bodies, I've racked up well over 30,000 shots, some of them good. :lol2: Allow me to add to your insight. (my BIL, who is a professional, shoots both brands a 30D, 5D, D90, and D7000 with all the attendant glass, for different kinds of jobs).

Ken, if you're intent on sticking with Nikon, presumably because you have glass, then the D7000 is the body to get, end of story.

As for video on a dSLR, IMO it's still half-baked, even for the dedicated amateur. I own a digital camcorder and dSLRs and if I have planned ahead to shoot video, I bring my Panasonic TM700. 1080p60. If I haven't planned for it, the video function in the D90 will suffice but it is more primitive than a first generation camcorder: no autofocus, no auto exposure, no image stabilization while shooting. Maximum 5 minutes shooting at 720P24 resolution. Granted, the latest gen dSLRs are getting closer to the minimal function of even a basic camcorder, but I consider them backup rather than a tractable video rig for the casual shooter. If you are a pro, can deal with a dolly, stabilizer rig, follow-focus assembly, etc., then yes, you can do some pretty amazing stuff. But I reckon you won't have this while on a bonefish junket.

The issue of the "best glass you can afford" is one that bears further scrutiny. For (semi)pros, yes, absolutely this is the case. However, for the casualist, the weight is a serious consideration. Good glass is HEAVY. Also, maximum aperture is useful but if you do a ton of outdoor shooting or use flash for controlled lighting, then frankly it is superfluous. In any case, on a sunny day, you won't be shooting action at f/2.8 anyway. You'd stop down and use an ND filter to get maximum sharpness at the shutter speed necessary to get the desired motion blur. You wouldn't just shoot f/2.8 willy nilly. But I agree on principle, greater light gathering ability means greater freedom...at a cost.

Another thing to keep in mind is that pro zoom glass usually has a narrower range than consumer-grade zooms especially in the long range. While pros can carry two bodies, say with a 14-24 and a 24-70, this combination will weigh maybe 4 times as much as an 18-105. And that's not counting the extra body.

And one final thing on pro glass in the Nikon world. Much of the new stuff is designed for FX full frame sensors so they are extra heavy because the optics are designed to accommodate the larger image circle of the larger sensor. This is wasted on anything less than a full-frame (D700 and up) body. Shoot DX, use good DX glass, spend less, carry less weight. All is good.

Here is what I have for glass:

18-200VR - heaviest user, most versatile

10-24 - you'd be surprised how important it is to have a superwide zoom

35 f1.8 - great, sharp low light DX lens and light as a feather

18-55VR - great sharp, light lens when going absolutely lightest you can

18-105VR - came with my D90 body kit, not bad, wouldn't break my heart if I dropped and smashed it

And very importantly, a SB-700 flash. I use this extensively to control the light and as fill/bounce flash indoors and out.

Wilkey

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Wilkey, great follow up post, and packed with solid advice. the third party f/2.8 zooms aren't as bulky as the canon/nikon version from what i recall. i approach it from the perspective of most flexibility/growability without having to upgrade later, which becomes more expensive. your approach is quite practical and likely is suitable for the majority.

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My 2 cents.

The wife and I got back from a week of cigars and snorkeling in the Cayman Islands a few weeks ago. She insisted on visiting the turtle farm so I gave in and paid the $36 US so she could get a few shots of the sea turtles. Long story short, she dropped her camera in one of the juvenile tanks.....twice. So I found a camera store in George Town and we bought a Nikon D3100 kit. The camera has been great and I could really tell a huge difference in our vacation photos with the old Olympus and the new Nikon. Not the top of the line by any means, but for the recreational photographer, well worth the money.

On another note, I would wager that that was the most expensive turtle farm visit of all time. <_<

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Wilkey, great follow up post, and packed with solid advice. the third party f/2.8 zooms aren't as bulky as the canon/nikon version from what i recall. i approach it from the perspective of most flexibility/growability without having to upgrade later, which becomes more expensive. your approach is quite practical and likely is suitable for the majority.

The Sigma and Tamron stuff is pretty decent in its own right...but you really have to try them out to be sure. I've experienced some back focus and metering issues with non-Nikon lenses. Most recently, the Sigma 30f1.4. A fast lens, heavy, but strangely inconsistent exposure as compared to the much lighter Nikon 35f1.8. The Sigma 50-150f2.8 is quite a good constant aperture long zoom (DX). I used it to good effect for a while before I sold it off. Both lenses were solidly built, reasonably priced, but just a hair short of Nikon in terms of feel.

It's worth noting that my perspective is tilted more toward the cost conscious and the practical. System weight and handling figure pretty heavily in my reckoning. I am, after all, for the vast majority of my shooting, a dad chasing after his girls climbing rocks, dressing up as princesses, etc.

Wilkey

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Ken-

It really depends on how serious you are into photography and how much you're willing to spend.

I'm a Nikon user and currently use a D200. I've had it for 5 years now and have gotten good use out of it. I don't really see the need to change except that I would like better low-light performance, so I am thinking about getting a D700 or its successor when it comes time to buy a new DSLR. I feel that a D300S is not enough of an upgrade and would like to get a FX format camera for the larger sensor- the only time this really comes into play for me is taking tourist photos where flash photography is prohibited.

Otherwise, I'd be happy with a lower-end camera. The only other thing to think about it memory cards- if you lean toward the high-end of Nikons, you will be using CF cards rather than SD. It's easier and cheaper to find really fast CF cards in larger capacities than SD, although that is changing due to video.

I'd get something like a D5100 if you're looking to just do casual shots without a massive cash outlay, but would lean toward a D300S or D700 if you want pro quality and the ease of use of having a lot of dedicated function buttons and dials, which makes shooting a lot easier and faster.

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Ken-

It really depends on how serious you are into photography and how much you're willing to spend.

...I would like better low-light performance...the only time this really comes into play for me is taking tourist photos where flash photography is prohibited.

The only other thing to think about it memory cards...

I'd get something like a D5100 if you're looking to just do casual shots without a massive cash outlay, but would lean toward a D300S or D700 if you want pro quality and the ease of use of having a lot of dedicated function buttons and dials, which makes shooting a lot easier and faster.

Wow, so much good advice in this thread it's a pleasure to riff on some of the experiences.

His first point is really the critical unspoken question. There is a continuum of people who take photos with neither end holding the hallowed ground. On the one end, those who just want to be able to capture a moment in time to aid in remembering. Technical rigor is typically neither valued nor desired. On the other end is the photographic technologist. Here, technical complication and variation is essential to the experience. Typically expense tracks this continuum pretty closely. Understand where you are, what kind of a shooter you are, and be honest with yourself, your tolerances and delights and your well-considered choices will be fulfilling ones.

Low light capability is frequently fun, often useful, and occasionally indispensable. At the end of this post is a shot I took, handheld, at the Virgina Museum of Fine Arts. EXIF:

Lens focal length : 35.0 mm

Exposure time : 1/40 s

F number : 1.8

ISO speed rating : 500

It's not often that one needs candlelight capability. But in this example, a no-flash museum, a DX sensor body at f1.8 and moderate ISO did the trick. What was the other trick? Taking several exposures. Out of 2-5, expect one sharp keeper. And one nice additional benefit of using a large aperture? Depth of field blurring. Sometimes this adds a very nice effect.

Dedicated controls are most useful, if you are in a situation that:

Has significant, frequent, and rapid changes in exposure, lighting, or compositional conditions and...

certain adjustments are critical to one's determination of quality.

The counterpoint to this is that for the casual to enthusiast shootist, modern camera P (program) or full auto modes are incredibly competent and entirely sufficient. Really, from AWB to metering, cameras like the D7000 come pretty close to hands-free perfection. Even on my last gen D90, the only things I need to tinker with in the course of shooting are the metering pattern and the autofocus point (between auto and fixed).

Whatever your choice, I envy you the opportunity to choose. As for me, I am looking forward to replacing my D90 with the D7000's successor in the next year or two. Assuming dSLRs are still a viable prosumer device, the intelligence and low light capability of that body will probably fulfill all my most decadent photographic desires.

Wilkey

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