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Thread: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

  1. #1
    brucehughw's Avatar
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    Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    Hello,
    In two months my family and I will travel to Ecuador and visit Quito and the Galapagos Islands. I have a D50 with a 50 mm/f1.8 lens (love that shallow DOF and deep DOF) and the 18-55 mm kit lens. I'm considering purchasing a D7000 (although this forum had more critical comments than I expected regarding dust and other issues). I'm also considering keeping this camera and purchasing a longer lens, to photograph birds and the like.

    My question: will the D7000 and its capabilities greatly improve my photos, or is the D50 a decent camera and I should put the $1,000 into lenses (if so, which?).

    As for my skill level: hard to say. I used to do darkroom work and know my way around the basic camera settings. I use RAW files and Lightroom to edit, although I have limited time to do it. As for subject matter: I guess I like odd angles, odd views, puddles and their reflections, nature, some portraits, rocks - interesting, pretty things that are there for one to see, but usually overlooked. At some point, I'd like to put my photos in a book, maybe make the occasional poster (but this won't be very often).

    Thanks, all!

    Bruce

  2. #2
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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    Bruce, The D50 is a fine camera although I do understand the want for something new. For your trip however I think the question is....what are you lacking that you will wish you had?

    IMO you are lacking a telephoto being you are going to the Galapagos Islands. I am envious.

    You mention birds and the like. For this something in the 300mm range would do if you must buy. However if I were you I would look into lens rental. Rent a 100-400mm for your trip. This way you get a longer bit of glass than the current budget will allow. Apon your return home you will have a better idea on which way you need to go and will not have spent your money based on a short vacation.

    I look forward to seeing some images from your trip. Oh an welcome to the forum Bruce.

    Paul
    Last edited by jeeperman; 4th October 2012 at 02:25 PM.

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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    I'd say buy either the Tamron or the Nikon stablilized 70-300 lens. You'll need some reach and both of them are very nice lenses. Their apertures are on the small side, but getting a faster lens will cost a lot and weigh more than you want to lug around on a trip. As long as you have good light, those teles will be fine. Optically, they are both very capable. I have the Nikon tele and usually keep the aperture at f/7.1 At that aperture, the lens is a stellar performer at any focal length. FWIW

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    We had a similar issue about a year ago; my wife and I both have D90 cameras and I had a 80-400mm lens, amongst others. The longest lens my wife had was her 18-200mm lens. We were heading off to Namibia for 3 weeks and were spending a fair bit of time in major game areas, so we ended up picking up a Sigma 150-500mm lens for her.

    A longer lens is going to do a lot more for you than a new camera body. I would agree with Paul's suggestion with 300mm being the bare minimum; longer is better. Currently you have nothing that will give you a decent wildlife shot. The one suggestion that I would make is that you get the lens well before your trip. Handholding a longer lens and getting good composition is something that needs some practice. You also want to be familiar with how the autofocus mechanism works; in my experience the camera tends to want to focus on the tree branches near the bird you are trying to get a picture of, rather than the bird itself....

  5. #5
    xpatUSA's Avatar
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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    I too say keep the D50 and get the longer lens. I have a D50 and would only replace it with a D700 (I like big pixels, not everyone's cup of tea of course :-). I bought the D50 body-only, then a macro lens for watch shots and only later did I buy the kit lens and was highly impressed by it.

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    brucehughw's Avatar
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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    I thank you all for giving me such great advice. It's wonderful to benefit from your expertise, and I'll certainly put my money towards a lens first.

    Any suggestions for lens rentals? I found http://www.borrowlenses.com/product/...5.6_AF-S_DX_VR. One of you recommended a 400 mm lens, so there is also this option, http://www.borrowlenses.com/product/Nikon_80-400mm_f4.5-5.6D_ED_VR .

    thank you, Bruce

  7. #7
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    I own the 80-400 and it is a bit slow to focus, as it uses the camera motor and I don't know if the D50 has this features. I suspect it does if you are using the f/1.8 50D lens, because if requires the camera motor to focus as well, while your 18-55mm has the focus motor built into the lens. It is quite good, if you know how to use it.

    The 18-300mm lens I don't know. I've heard that it is okay, but not great at 300mm. I personally think you may find it a bit short for the shooting you are planning to do. A lot of design tradeoffs were made to give you the 18mm -300mm range.

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    Mark von Kanel's Avatar
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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    Hi, i have a sigma 50-500 os and i like it a lot, the sigma 150-500 is a lot more affordable and if its as good optically as mine id go for that, maybe manfred can tell you what its like as his wife has one.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark von Kanel View Post
    Hi, i have a sigma 50-500 os and i like it a lot, the sigma 150-500 is a lot more affordable and if its as good optically as mine id go for that, maybe manfred can tell you what its like as his wife has one.
    To answer Mark's question; otical quality almost as good as the Nikon 80-400mm. From a cost standpoint, it is less expensive than the Nikon but it does not seem to be as robust. As it has an internal focus motor, so the focus is much faster than the Nikon's. It takes an unusual filter size - 86mm.

    I hesitate to recommend it wholeheartedly because it has been back to Sigma twice within 6 months after we bought it. Both times the lens electronics failed and once the focus motor failed.

    I think it may have been bad luck, as we bought the lens on the recommendation of a friend who has not expereineced any issues with it, and I didn't find a lot of bad things on the net either.

  10. #10
    Mark von Kanel's Avatar
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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    Wow Manfred that is bad luck! about the only problem ive found with mine is that if you dont switch the image stabilization off when using a tripod the focus point wonders up the viewfinder, but then that happens with my nikors as well.....

  11. #11
    brucehughw's Avatar
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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    Thanks for all your replies! Do you recommend using this lens (or other) with a monopod (light) or tripod (heavier)? I have no experience with VR / OS lenses.

  12. #12
    Mark von Kanel's Avatar
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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    Ive used my 50-500 hand held, mono & tripod, and as i said above if you use a tripod turn the os /is off, using a monopod is fine with stabilization and helps an enormous amount. The lens is heavy but i rarely get any shake now because ive practiced my holding technique and know the slowest shutter speed i can use before i get shake, but this is something that is individual.

    you need to get the lens ASAP and get out there and play with it.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark von Kanel View Post
    Wow Manfred that is bad luck! about the only problem ive found with mine is that if you dont switch the image stabilization off when using a tripod the focus point wonders up the viewfinder, but then that happens with my nikors as well.....
    We were lucky in a way. The lens failed late on the second-last day we were in Etosha National Park in Namibia, so most of the wildlife shots were behind us, and shooting on the next few days was better with a shorter lens., but no, we were not impressed.

  14. #14
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by brucehughw View Post
    Thanks for all your replies! Do you recommend using this lens (or other) with a monopod (light) or tripod (heavier)? I have no experience with VR / OS lenses.
    I do have a monopod, but very rarely use it. I do like shooting from a tripod with long lenses just to help frame the image better, but that is just personal taste. VR reduces the impact from camera shake, and in my view it is vital on any long lens, especially if you hand hold it. If you have a good tripod, you shouldn't use VR.

  15. #15
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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    Another option would be to check with a local quality camera shop, if available. I just purchased an old sigma 400mm for about $300 US, and it should fit the bill. If you find something similar, you should research it thoroughly, to ascertain there are no issues. As example, the lens that I just picked up apparently will not function properly with certain canons, but apparently works well on pretty much any Nikon.

    As I am currently learning, shooting with a big lens takes practice. Just a few pointers- any vibration and you will capture nothing but blur. Unless you have the skill of a biathlete, this is not a good lens for handholding. Use a sturdy tripod or monopod with a quality ballhead. You should plan on shooting at 1/500 sec or faster. Shutter vibration is a big problem, laying your left hand across the barrel of the lens will help greatly, use the viewfinder to frame the shot and brace camera against brow to help stabilize the rig, roll finger across shutter.

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    Here's a thought! I would never want to travel to a far "once in a lifetime" destination with only a single camera. A second camera makes swapping focal lengths easier by simply grabbing the second camera. However, its prime value is in case your main camera goes down for some reason or another.

    I fell climbing a slippery Alaskan slope on the first day of a ten-day trip to that photogenic state. I broke my 40D camera when I fell but, my 30D saved the day and saved my photography for that trip.

    You don't need to be climbing in the boonies to break your camera. A fellow tour member broke his Nikon DSLR when he fell on the cobble stone street in front of the City Wall of Xi'an, China. He had no second camera to fall back upon and missed photography on the tour (including the Terra Cotta Warriors of Xi'an) until we arrived at Hong Kong where he was able to purchase a replacement camera.

    I would definitely recommend a long focal length lens for your trip and this is when a second camera comes in handy. Shooting with two cameras (I carry them on an Optech Dual Harness) is a great way to get the utmost from each lens.

    However, while long focal length lenses are usually the weapons of choice for nature photographers, it appears that the wildlife of the Gallapagos Islands can be approached quite close and can be shot with mid range zooms and wide angle lenses.

  17. #17
    brucehughw's Avatar
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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    I thank you all for your advice. I will rent a lens for the trip and post some photos when I return.

    Thanks again and good shooting,

    Bruce

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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    Bruce,

    Consider lensrentals.com. I can vouch for them.

    You might also consider adding your location to the information displayed on the left side of your posts. That can be very helpful when people are making suggestions that are location-specific.

  19. #19
    brucehughw's Avatar
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    Re: Replace Nikon D50 or purchase a new lens?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    Bruce,

    Consider lensrentals.com. I can vouch for them.

    You might also consider adding your location to the information displayed on the left side of your posts. That can be very helpful when people are making suggestions that are location-specific.
    Thanks, Mike. I appreciate your recommending them. And I've updated my profile.

    Bruce

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