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Thread: Advice on new/secondhand Nikon cameras please

  1. #1

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    Advice on new/secondhand Nikon cameras please

    A friend has asked me for some advice on purchasing a decent Nikon camera body for his daughter. She has done a photography college course using an old Nikon film camera and he wants to get her a good digital dslr which will use her present lenses.

    We are looking at serious photography here, but on a tight budget.

    I was thinking about the Nikon equivalent of the Canon 40D; which I guess would possibly be the Nikon D90. But I don't know much about the newer Nikon range.

    However, I think this could be a touch more than he can afford; although he may be pushed another 100 by some good endorsements. He has been offered a secondhand D200 for 400 which seems a good deal. But I don't really know what to advise.

    I think she did a general arts course which included photography so she won't be turning professional tomorrow and just wants to continue learning photography but switch to digital.

    What would the Nikon men suggest?

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    Re: Advice on new/secondhand Nikon cameras please

    I'm doing just fine with my D40. However, keep in mind that I have film cameras which I use for truly serious work. My scenic shots do great with the D40, and group shots of people are fine. However, for work requiring extreme detail, portraits, tele over 200mm or fast action, I turn to the N80, with the N60 as backup. I keep the FG-20 around for fishing and hunting trips, because it is quite a bit like a Timex.

    I just picked up an N-70 body from Adorama on Ebay for $8.05 and $15 shipping. I bid $10 on it in the last 8 hours of the auction only because nobody else had.

    Pops

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    Re: Advice on new/secondhand Nikon cameras please

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    I was thinking about the Nikon equivalent of the Canon 40D; which I guess would possibly be the Nikon D90. But I don't know much about the newer Nikon range.

    However, I think this could be a touch more than he can afford; although he may be pushed another 100 by some good endorsements. He has been offered a secondhand D200 for 400 which seems a good deal. But I don't really know what to advise.

    What would the Nikon men suggest?
    Nikon men? Okay, how about a Nikon woman. The mid-range bodies for Nikon are the D90, D300 (now discontinued), and D300s. That's a pretty fair price for a used D200 and it would be a great starter camera that she can grow with. The control layouts are the same as the D300 (most commonly used controls (WB, ISO, Quality) and functions are on the exterior, no menu surfing unlike the D90), much better weather sealing and build quality than the D90. Students are expected to shoot in all kinds of weather and situations to understand and master exposure so you want a "sturdy" camera. FYI later up grading is a snap because the layout remains the same.

    The most important factor in going to photography school is acquiring a flash and the right lenses, often times at least one fast prime is involved. Some schools will loan students lenses but others may ask you get your own. If the school loans, make sure you have a compatible body. A good starter combo of primes would be Nikon's 35 1.8G and 50 1.4G; great for learning DOF and low lighting situations plus easy on the pockets. Ask the school what they would prefer as a starter lens.

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    Re: Advice on new/secondhand Nikon cameras please

    Thanks, I will pass on all the information. I have already sent him several links of camera reviews from sites that I use. But being 'Canon fodder' myself I'm not too sure about Nikon bodies.

    I did wonder about adding ladies to the 'Nikon men' but in some strange way I always regard the larger Nikons primarily as a gentleman's camera while Canon is more unisex. I know it's silly but that is just the way my mind works, or doesn't work!

    Actually, my friend's daughter (I think she is 22 next year) has successfully completed her arts course where she was only allowed to use manual controls of a film camera in black and while; and she had to do her own dish developing. Now that she has finished this part of her education she would like to learn more about advanced digital photography and editing.

    So she doesn't want a starter camera but something which is fairly basic, without needing to use any of the auto programme controls or video etc, and is of good quality but affordable.

    I would fully recommend the Canon 30D or 40D to suit her needs, but she wanted to stay with Nikon.

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    Re: Advice on new/secondhand Nikon cameras please

    Nikonians is a safe analogy. D3 and D700 user here and freelance documentary/sports shooter. Soooo, I guess you would be pretty uncomfortable around me. LOL.. Actually more female photographers prefer Nikon over Canon especially if you have small hands.

    Then the D200 would serve her well because it's an advanced/avid amateur and semi-pro body. There are no basic icon settings on the D200; just program, shutter priority, and manual mode. It's a "working camera" that gives the shooter full control. The D90 is still a worthing camera but designed more for the avid advanced hobbyist.

    "Bodies will come and go but lenses will stay with you from body to body". Save her money up for investing in really good quality lenses and a hot shoe flash. The cool thing about Nikon is that it offers "backwards technology" where older lenses (including film) will still work on the D200. But some much older lenses will only focus manually.

    Renting is also a very good option if she's not sure on which brand to go with. It's best to take a look at the whole lens line and see what fits your needs best. Photography has always been and will remain a very expensive love. Not to mention switching systems is also very very costly so tell her choose wisely.
    Last edited by Amberglass; 17th December 2009 at 12:51 AM.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on new/secondhand Nikon cameras please

    Hi Geoff,

    Wise advice above from Amberglass. (and the others)

    It's best to take a look at the whole lens line and see what fits your needs best.
    I think there is an implied (but very important) "and budget" at the end of that sentence.

    When considering "lens line", I would strongly urge excluding third party manufacturers wares, so see if what the camera manufacturer offers is within his/her budget, thinking ahead to the next 2 or 3 lens.

    I have twice, once recently, once decades ago, had bad IQ/performance experiences with third party lenses which have put me off going that way again - I guess the only way I'd consider it now is to rent or borrow one for an extended period and see if I was happy with the IQ and functionality for my shooting style and subjects.

    I think Pops' usage demonstrates that although the body is "now't but a box to let the light in", if it is too basic, you won't be able to do a good job on certain subjects - it will become the limiting factor and push the photographer to something else, or if not available, become frustrated. This is one of the reasons I chose the D5000 over cheaper bodies - caveat, I'm not suggesting the D3000/D5000 for your friend's daughter because it won't be able to auto-focus older, non AF-S lenses, I suggest she should have a Dxxx body with a focus motor in, for optimum lens compatibility. It wasn't an issue for me, although I guess it might be argued it limits my s/h lens choices if I want AF.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 17th December 2009 at 09:25 AM.

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    Re: Advice on new/secondhand Nikon cameras please

    In regards to my thoughts on third party lenses; I will say that third party lenses like Tamron and Sigma have come a long way in performance. But there has always been an issue with quality control. Yes, you can get amazing performing lenses with third parties but often times it's hit or miss. Unfortunately you can't just test them for a month and return them if they don't work out.

    It's best to buy your lenses from very reputable camera houses with awesome customer's service. In the US, BH and Adorama will take back any gear if you're not satisfied within the first week or so of ownership. That may not sound like a lot of time, but testing your lens for sharpness is very important.

    How to do that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HS0hlQ9lSps

    Once you find and know you have a good copy and take really good care of it, you have a lens for life. Some of Nikon's older lenses actually performs better than some of it's current models minus VR or image stabilization. No biggie, you can learn to hold relatively still and use a pod. Some lenses may not AF as fast as the more expensive and modern lenses, but bottom line it that it gives you the IQ you're looking for, fulfills your particular needs at the time, and gets the job done. Remember, photography is a skill that needs to be perfected over time.
    Last edited by Amberglass; 17th December 2009 at 12:51 PM.

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    Re: Advice on new/secondhand Nikon cameras please

    Actually, the quote is that the body is just a box to keep the light out.

    Let's take the analogy around another corner. I once built a car for a specific purpose. The body was just a shell to contain the motor, drive gear, driver and controls. That was about all I kept of that original car. I wanted the up-built motor, the up-built transmission, the redesigned suspension, the doubled frame members, the up-built transaxle, the 6-point harness...etc. I ended up with a 1959 Ford Custom 300 which would turn a clocked 150mph in the flying mile and take mountain curves like a Morgan on steroids. I won many races with that car and drove my neighbor (the Jaguar owner) nuts.

    The controls and how they work together are very important. It is extremely important for a beginner that they be simple, straight-forward and convenient to use. Those same functions are even more important to the artist and the professional. More shots have been missed because the photographer was too busy fussing with the controls of the camera to see the picture, thus getting only a photograph.

    I think choosing a camera for a relative beginner is pretty simple. However, choosing one for someone who has some experience and has "the eye" is much more difficult. I will offer the same advice here that I offer my students, whether photography class or shooting class: "The tool is right when it fits you." Decide on a few of those with good reputations and reviews and then try them via rentals or borrows until you find the one which fits you, your psyche and your emotional attachment to that one. If you think one certain one will do a better job for you than the one recommended by dear ol' Dad, then it is the right one for you.

    I'm not sure I'm making a lot of sense here, but I'm trying to express my approach to the quandary.

    Pops

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on new/secondhand Nikon cameras please

    Quote Originally Posted by PopsPhotos View Post
    Actually, the quote is that the body is just a box to keep the light out.

    I'm not sure I'm making a lot of sense here, but I'm trying to express my approach to the quandary.
    Hi Pops,

    All I can say to the first sentence is; that if that's all it does, there would be a lot of boring (monotone) photos

    You are making sense and I cannot disagree with what you say, the user must be comfortable with the camera.

    To take the car analogy further, it is like learning to drive, in the early days, control of the car is paramount and you're pleased how well your doing, only your instructor is aware of all the accidents you almost had
    Later on, when the driving bit becomes second nature, allowing a margin for other numbskulls and not getting into situation where recovery is impossible should anything unexpected happen, is where the skill lies.

    But, be honest, if you had a 10fps 20+MP DSLR, wouldn't you use that over film for those subjects that get you reaching for film now?

    Cheers,

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    Amberglass's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on new/secondhand Nikon cameras please

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    But, be honest, if you had a 10fps 20+MP DSLR, wouldn't you use that over film for those subjects that get you reaching for film now?
    I started out with film and went all the way to using large format. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages to your camera, learning to work around them, will make you become a better photographer. Because the camera will become an extension of yourself. Photography has always been about "working and capturing in available light" which is also effected by "the quality of light".

    If I had the time and money, I would go back to using large format cameras and the darkroom. I've been a long time admirer of master photographer Michael Fatali's work and am a firm believer of "finding the light". He uses only large format cameras, no filters, and old fashion darkroom processing. His images will absolutely blow you away.

    Enjoy http://www.fatali.com/index-frame.php

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    Re: Advice on new/secondhand Nikon cameras please

    I've shot a lot of frames with large format. I carried a 4x5 Speed Grafic in Alaska and loved the results. What I didn't like was the 40 pounds of equipment in addition to the 30 pounds of survival gear required for that work.

    All I can say to the first sentence is; that if that's all it does, there would be a lot of boring (monotone) photos
    I remember being in the depths of Bryce Canyon in 1948 with Bill Belknap. I was whining about my camera (Brownie Hawkeye) not taking the quality of pictures Bill was getting. The next day, he took my Brownie away from me and handed me his Rollieflex. He shot all day with the Hawkeye and I shot happily with his Rollie. His pictures were still outstanding and mine were pretty sucky. That was the day that I REALLY learned about "the eye."

    Don't knock "monotone." In my opinion, it takes more skill and attention to detail to bring in really great shots in B&W than color. I shot very little color until the early '70s. Once I migrated to 35mm I started shooting almost exclusively in color and my skills actually declined.

    But, be honest, if you had a 10fps 20+MP DSLR, wouldn't you use that over film for those subjects that get you reaching for film now?
    Probably not. However, I do believe that might be more a function of comfort than quality. I've been shooting film since 1947 and old habits, like old dogs, are hard to break. I see things as ASA 100 Ektachrome sees them. (I am shooting Fujichrome, now, but the eyes are still trained for Ektachrome.)

    I'm a bit of a "tool nut." I have more cameras than is practical, and am getting more all the time.

    Pops

  12. #12
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on new/secondhand Nikon cameras please

    HI Pops,

    Quote Originally Posted by PopsPhotos View Post
    Don't knock "monotone."
    This is a misunderstanding, I wasn't knocking.

    What I meant was, taking your original words literally, if it kept the light out there would be no exposure - hence the boring picture!

    I chose "monotone" over saying "black picture" in case someone picked me up on an unexposed negative being transparent (or 'white') vs a DSLRs unexposed image being black (excepting any hot pixels).

    You can't be too careful

    I agree that it may be ergonics (plus the instant feedback) of the top-end DSLR that would attract you to digital from film, not the quality as such, nor the need to PP. Still at least a computer keyboard doesn't stain/bleach your clothes during a PP session

    I have done my own processing, plus mono and colour printing in my own attic darkroom and even had an MF camera myself once (although I didn't appreciate it as much as I would now).

    I'm sure you could arrive at a set of "Ektachrome" defaults for your ACR RAW workflow if you tried - but I know exactly what you mean and be assured I intend no disrespect in any of my comments.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 19th December 2009 at 01:12 AM.

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    Re: Advice on new/secondhand Nikon cameras please

    Dave, I neglected to put a smilie in when I said "Don't knock monotone." I knew you were joshing, but didn't get my point across. As the blind man said, "I can't see you smiling as you insult me." We all trade insults, quips and gibes back and forth when face to face, which become dangerous to friendships when committed to the keyboard.

    My apologies, sir.

    Now, we get to trade concurrent apologies and caveats back and forth for awhile, right?

    Pops

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on new/secondhand Nikon cameras please

    Quote Originally Posted by PopsPhotos View Post
    ~ My apologies, sir.

    Now, we get to trade concurrent apologies and caveats back and forth for awhile, right?
    Yep

    This is where I say "no apology needed" (and I do mean it).

    Shall we stop there?, or do ya think we should keep it going?

    As the blind man said, "I can't see you smiling as you insult me." We all trade insults, quips and gibes back and forth when face to face, which become dangerous to friendships when committed to the keyboard.
    Very true.

    But please; just say what you mean in future AND DON'T FORGET THE SMILIES

    I think we're on the same wavelength now
    I do hope so

    Cheers,

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    PopsPhotos's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on new/secondhand Nikon cameras please

    This is where I say "no apology needed" (and I do mean it).

    Shall we stop there?, or do ya think we should keep it going?
    I think we have fulfilled the spirit of the rules, if not to the letter.

    Pops

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    Re: Advice on new/secondhand Nikon cameras please

    Just an update. They finally decided on a D3000, which I think is the new version of the well trusted D40.

    So thanks for the help.

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