Advice Needed On New Nikon Equipment

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by sallydouglas, Oct 3, 2009.

  1. Hi everybody... I am an amateur photographer, and have just started doing some study to become a pro... I have a Nikon D70 body, a AF-S Nikkor 18-70mm 1:3.5-4.5G ED DX lens, a AF Nikkor 70-300mm 1:4-5.6G lens, and a Nikon SB-600 flash...
    Question 1) I am finding the D70 body a bit out of date on megapixels, and want to upgrade... I have a long way to go before becoming a pro, so I am not yet ready to go the big expensive stuff, but would like to buy the next step up with more megapixels... What is your advice on a camera body in my circumstances...
    Question 2) My 70-300mm lens is very old, and was given to me second hand... I want to upgrade this too to a better lens... I want another 70-300, but looking on the website is very confusing for me due to my limited knowledge on gear at this stage... What would your advice be?...
    Question 3) Is there anything else that I should think about investing in at this stage?... I have heard of rings, filters etc, but really am not sure what they do, or if I really need them...
    To anyone who takes the time to help me out here, I thank you in advance and am extremely grateful... I really do not know anyone who is into photography, so the net is my only avenue for info...
    Sally...
     
  2. Sally, you have to ask yourself: do I really need more megapixels? Generally speaking, more pixels would allow you to print your images larger and crop them more freely. On the other hand, there's a very common misconception about the "benefit of extra megapixels": many people believe that having more pixels means the camera is capable of producing better (or sharper) images, which's not true at all.
    Of cource the D70 is not exactly a new camera. Your D70 could be considered as outdated because of other reasons: such as wear and tear, having a shutter that's about to fail (?), mediocre AF performance, slow image capture/process speed, low frame rate, poor low light performance, lack of new features like live-view or video, and more.
    Assume that the D70 is still in usable shape, it's still probably a good idea for you to continue practicing and experimenting with it, as an advanced camera might not be needed for one to improve as a photographer. If the D70 becomes unusable, a capable but moderately priced choice like the D90 would probably be a good bet. Of course the lower end models might also be good compromise choices.
    The 70-300 lens that's non-VR, non-AF-S, non-ED, and non-D is one of Nikon's cheapest and most basic lens: in terms of both construction and optical quality. Assume yours is unusable, and you still need a telephoto lens, then the 55-200 VR or the 70-300 VR could be good choices for you. Both of them features VR and ED glass elements. Neither of these are high end pro lenses, but they're not substandard designs.
    >> "Is there anything else that I should think about investing in at this stage?... I have heard of rings, filters etc, but really am not sure what they do, or if I really need them..."
    It's probably still too early to decide if you need them.
     
  3. Ray House

    Ray House Ray House

    I will say for a beginner you have an impressive portfolio started. The 70-300AFS VR is a very good lens and will work on the Nikons that need an "S" lens to auto focus (less expensive models). I think you should also consider keeping what you have (70-300G) and maybe getting a wide angle zoom or a fast prime such as the 35mm or 50mm. You also don't mention a tripod, and if you don't have one that should be a high priority. As far as "rings, filters etc.", let the limitations and needs of your equipment dictate what to buy. Best of everything to you in your endevor to become a pro.
     
  4. Hi Sally
    First I had D70 with 18-70 mm lens. It is ,no doubt, is wonderful camera and the lens 18-70 is great lens except at 18mm there will be dark area at the corner of the images , which ia called vignetting. After two years of learning from D70 , Ihave upgraded to D200 and after two years of prcticing in D200 , I have purchased D300 . I have both D200 and D 300 . In terms of picture quality and sharpness D300 is better than D200 and D200 is better than D70 . So prctice in D70 and get good lens instead of investing in Camera Body. But it is better to buy FX lens instaed of DX lens as you will be going to have full frame after two or three years if money is a constraint. So shoot and shoot and learn from D70 and by that time you will come to know whcih one id better for you.
     
  5. if you are serious about upgrading the body and long zoom lens, the most cost-effective choices would be a D5000 and a 70-300 VR.
    the D5000 has the same image sensor as a D90 or D300, and is 12 mp. it would give you much improved low-light performance. the main downside is that all your lenses need to be AF-S type to autofocus with that body.
    on the other hand, there's nothing wrong with your D70. you can see many works posted on PN taken with the D70, and if you didn't know, you probably wouldn't be able to tell which camera was used. lenses, however, make a BIG difference in many situations. i would put more funds into glass if i were you, before thinking about the other things.
     
  6. But it is better to buy FX lens instaed of DX lens as you will be going to have full frame after two or three years if money is a constraint.​
    Sorry, I find this bad advice. Buy what you need now (within reason), not anticipating what you might get some day. Not everybody "moves on to FX".
    If the D70 still works properly, you indeed should think twice whether you need a new body. More megapixels is not the quality benchmark, as Shuo indicates. If you decide to move up for a body, take a good look at the D90, the D300 second. The D300 is more professional and built even sturdier (nothing about the D90 is shabby, though), but that also comes at a price.
    Hang on to the 18-70. Very nice lens. You may want to consider getting a (good!) circular polariser for this lens, but it strongly depends on your types of photography whether you need one. They are most useful for landscape/cityscape roughly.
    The 70-300G you have is a nice performer for the price it used to cost. It was very cheap. I have one too, and while it can give nice results, it does take some effort and luck. So yeah, you will be better off with the new 70-300VR. It's the same size, a bit heavier and much better in all respects.
    Ray raises a good point: a wide angle can broaden the photographic horizon considerably. The Tokina 12-24 f/4 is one of the most affordable wide-angles, and very good.
    Finally, indeed do get some fast primes. The AF-S 35 f/1.8 DX is the prime suspect, and for many people also the 50 f/1.8, which is a bargain. If you like taking portraits much, do consider the 85 f/1.8 too.
    All the lenses mentioned are relatively cheap - but in my view they all offer tremendous value for money. Sure things can get better, but with significant pricetag increases. Since the total budget is not entirely clear from your topic start, it's only assumption to keep an half eye at the budget.
    Most important to keep in mind regarding the hardware: lenses are long-term investments, a body not. So given a choice between 2 fast primes or one new body, you may in fact be better off with the first.
    Another thing to consider too is the PC/Mac and the software to work with RAW. Working with a modern RAW converter will get you more from the D70 files than the D70 itself is capable off. At the least, download and install ViewNX (free) from Nikon, which has basic RAW conversion options. For more advanced editing, Capture NX2 is a very nice (albeit slow) program from Nikon (60 day trial free download). Photoshop is king of the "serious editing", but it has a steep price. Consider Photoshop Elements as cheap alternative. For Windows, Paint.NET makes a nice free alternative. For the hardware of your PC: get plenty of RAM (internal memory), all photo editing applications love it.
     
  7. i would not purchase a thing. you've got every conceivable focal length covered, 18-300. learn to use your flash. keep shooting. you can't buy good pictures. (i spent quite a sum learning this :) )
     
  8. This is amazing!!!... Thanks to all for your fantastic advice... I really appreciate it... I did not realise I would get such great advice... Maybe if I clarify my situation a bit, you guys could narrow it down even further for me...
    I have about $5K AUD to spend... A friend of mine is an air hostess, and can get stuff 20% cheaper than the Duty Free price for me... So this is my budget...
    My initial goal is to start a small business in my local area (semi-rural) as a portrait/general photographer... I want to take photo's of people and the things they love... Their kids, families, pets, homes, special occasions etc... I want to take photo's that people will hang on their walls because they love the content of the images, and those images MEAN something to them... I have no desire to run around the world taking landscape shots, or sit around photographing birds and bugs etc...
    I want to take shots late in the afternoon for soft lighting, so will need a camera that has high performance in this area... This is the scope of work I need gear for...
    I would rather get really good gear now while I have the money, and use the camera to help teach me... I will need something that gives really high quality images, that may be printed quite large...
    I have a tripod, but its really crappy and the camera will not sit level on it... What are the best brands to buy, and what features should I look for?...
    I had a really good computer built for me to specialise in graphics with plenty of RAM, I have ACDsee Photo Manager 2009, and Adobe Photoshop 6...
    You guys are terrific!!... Please keep the advice coming... The guys in the camera shops around here are totally useless...
    Thanks again... Sally...
     
  9. Hi. Sally. Good luck with your proposed business. My thoughts are that yes, you definitely need a good tripod, perhaps Gitzo or Manfrotto. And you gotta have lights. I'm not the one to advise on this, but that will have to be a priority; studio lights rather than flash guns, and you'll have to learn to use them.
     
  10. Stay away from bodies that only take AF-S lenses. The primary ones that I would consider are the D90, used D200, used D2X, and new or used D300/D300s. $5000 Australian sounds like a lot but I do not know if that gets you into a full frame used D700 or not. I find that the price of a new D700 or new D3 is way out of whack with the marketplace.
    I would not replace your existing lenses, I would augment them with far superior and yet affordable lenses like a used 300/4 (AF-S or non-AF-S), used 80-200/2.8 (any variation), or new 180/2.8. I am not so familiar with superior Nikon wideangle zoom lenses, but again you could supplement your zoom with a 20 or 28mm prime lens, again new or used.
    VR is generally an expensive option that is only useful in a very limited number of situations. How often do you photograph STILL subjects in extremely lowlight, and can't, or do not want to use flash?
     
  11. Sally.... I'm with others who say keep your current gear and learn learn learn. You might make an argument for a D90 considering your newly disclosed budget, but money or not, take your time. But either way, I would sell the 70-300G and get the excellent 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED lens with the aperture ring (it's the one the 70-300VR replaced). Nearly identical optics to the $500 VR lens, a half-stop faster at 70mm, and you can pick them up on eBay for $150. Remember, it's the only 70-300 with an aperture ring.
     
  12. Not sure this will fit into your budget but this would be my suggestion.
    Megapixels-reason for more megapixels is so that you have greater flexibility for cropping or you want to make huge prints. But if you are interested in portrait work, you can print to canvas (and large) which substantially diminishes the benefits of resolution of lots of megapixels.
    D700--my reason for this recommendation is it provides a huge benefit for taking portraits in lower light situations without necessarily requiring strobes or you can use a simpler strobe system such as the SB900 and bounce the light.
    70-200mm f2.8 VR--This has become my favorite portrait lens on the FX chip. Why VR? Because many times I want to drag the shutter to 1/100 @ 200mm and I will take all advantages that I can for sharp pictures. I don't use it if I don't have to, but there are plenty of times that I am grateful that I have it. I also like the 70-200 because of the bokeh of the lens. There is a new version coming out, but how much better it will be needs to be seen.
    24-70mm f2.8. When 70mm is simply two long, this is my second favorite lens.
    I would guess that I take 95+% of my portraits with one of these two lens. Before, I used them on a D200 and before that a D70. The bodies were good for when I had them, but the low light capabilities of the D700 will definitely make you think differently about portrait work in non-studio environments.
    If you visit my portfolio here, you can see examples of what this equipment can do.
    Good luck...
     
  13. To replace the lens in question a used 80-200/2.8 is a superb lens, works on anything Nikon and will last many years. I also would reccomend keeping at least two bodies, get a D200, D300 or D2X. Keep your D70 unless it is about to fail. You may need to invest in some lighting and I love the 17-55/2.8 if funds are there. It's about $1500US new. DX only though. That should cover most situations. Oh yeah, get a good bag, it can be a lifesaver.

    Rick H.
     
  14. Sally, for the pictures you mention, I wonder if you need anything 70-300 at all. The suggested 80-200 f/2.8 is a very nice lens (I love mine), but for what you want, you may have already enough length with a AF-D 85 f/1.8 (or the f/1.4 if you're VERY serious, but it is quite expensive). Maybe compliment it with a 180 f/2.8 later on if you find you need more reach.
    For the vast majority of work you envision, I would suggest a 17-50/55 f/2.8 lens, and I'd go for the Nikon there. Maybe if you find that the wide angle is not that important to you (the 18-70 should be able reveal that), in which case you might be better off with a 24-70 f/2.8 instead. Expensive, but these are the lenses that will make most of the money and earn themselves back. They're both sharp, built to last and fast focussing.
    The body still comes last in the line of things to upgrade. A D70 6MP picture can easily make a 40x50 cm print, especially with good sharp lenses. So while a D90 makes sense (after the 24-70, the D300 will eat too much of the remaining budget...), I would not put it too high on the list.
    Flash, tripod, yep, also very needed, but I'm not very expert on either, while others in this thread are. So I'll leave that up to them.
     
  15. Sally, Here are my thoughts:
    Nikon AF-S 70-300 VR- You will enjoy this zoom for outdoors, but will find it is to slow for indoor pictures. From 70-200mm stopped down it takes great pictures. Out to 300mm the pictures get a little softer but still very good. The indoor replacement for this range is the 70-200/2.8. Nikon version hands down is the 1st choice if you have $1700, otherwise the Sigma version would be my choice.
    Nikon 18-70: I have one and still think it is a great kit lens and again it is not made for low light shooting like inside of churches unless you use the flash all of the time.. I have the Tamron 17-50/2.8 and love it. Yes the auto focus is a little slow at times but it is tack sharp at 5.6. Indoors at ISO 1600 and at 2.8 it takes great pictures. Here again if you can afford the Nikon version 17-55/2.8 it is the recommended version for professionals.
    Don't forget to look at the Nikon primes. (35/2.0, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, and the 105/1.8. They all will take great pictures for You.
     
  16. Tip#1:
    Don't start a business until you can answer these questions your self.
    Tip#2:
    just for the better "dynamic range" and lower noise at higher ISO, a new camera body will help in low light situations, but, it will not make you pictures better. It will just make it more likely you'll be able to get a shot. The extra megapixels will be handy for enlarging.
    Tip#3:
    Get a good tripod if you plan on shooting stationary subjects, like portraits or scenics. If you what to shoot more natural poses , then you may be shooting on the fly and not have TIME to setup a tripod.
    Tip#4:
    Read up before you spend the money. Expensive gear does NOT equal pro results.
     
  17. I know that you have limited lenses, but have you thought about going up to the D700? On the other hand, you might keep the D70 for now and consider getting a very good lens that will work on either DX or FX formats--in case you decide to move to full-frame later.
    As for tripods, I have heavy and light, Gitzo and Bogen-Manfrotto legs, Arca-Swiss and Wimberley mounts, but what I find most useful is still a pretty basic Manfrotto 3021B tripod (legs) and quick-release, joystick-style ballhead mount (Manfrotto 3265). No need to spend a fortune when these will do. They set up quickly and take down quickly--at a modest cost.
    --Lannie
     
  18. I wouldn't necessarily rush out and replace your D70. I purchased two D70 bodies when they first came out and still use them -- they are still my only DSLR bodies.
    Sure, I've drooled over the D700 and would really like to have a D300 or even a D90, but I can't really justify spending $1000 or a whole lot more when my bodies are still in great condition and STILL give me great results. I have made many beautiful 16x20 prints from my D70's.
    Other factors -- such as good lenses, proper exposure, composition, camera handling techniques -- have at least as much to do with final picture quality as do mere megapixels.
    I would urge you to spend your money on really, really good lenses and buy a new body when you absolutely feel that an upgrade is absolutely necessary.
     
  19. As someone who tries to make money at portraits, the D700 will not take better pictures, but will give you a tool that will not constrain your imagination or skill. I shot with a D70 and a D200 for years and always found myself a bit constrained, many times because of light and forcing the use of strobes in environments that I would prefer not to use them. The D700 will provide a lot more flexibility in choices in how you shoot portraits. Except for the D3, none of the other Nikon cameras will give you that flexibility. If you are only going to shoot studio, then the D3x should be great. If you don't want to scale the wall to a D700, then look at the D300, again for about a 1 stop better performance in lower light.
    Good luck----
     
  20. Hi everyone...
    You all have convinced me... I am going to keep the D70 body for now... It works perfectly, although it is 5 years old and has never been serviced, so I am going to put it in with Nikon for a good check, clean etc...
    I am going to invest in the Nikon AFS 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6GVR Zoom lens, which I should be able to pick up for about $650 AUD duty free... I really do not know enough about prime lenses to make any decisions or purchases yet, and will let my learning guide me on this one...I will purchase a really good tripod, a really good camera bag to keep my gear in top condition, and some new memory card with more capacity (I only have 256's and am forever changing card)...
    You are all absolutely right in your advice, I need to practice and learn a lot more before making any decisions about new gear... It is no point purchasing something just to have it now when my knowledge is so limited... Better off getting some more experience and then buying something when I know is it really what I need...

    I want to say a big THANK YOU for all your fantastic advice and comments... I really appreciate the time and thought that was put into helping me with this... You guys are just terrific!!!...
    Best wishes to all... Sally...
     
  21. Sally,
    I've got the 70-300VR, and it's a nice lens. However, if you plan on shooting in less than optimum lighting, you'll need something faster. The 80-200 2.8 is a nice option. You can find them in excellent used condition for not much more than a new 70-300VR. I would also recommend looking for a used 180 2.8. This is one of Nikon's sharpest lenses, and unless you're shooting fast moving, sports shots, it's one of the best investments you'll ever make.
    I'll also recommend the following:
    Tamron 17-50 2.8. I shoot with a D90 (DX) and D700 (FX). This lens is only marginally less sharp than the Nikon 17-55.
    Sigma 30 1.4. This lens is the only reason I still have a DX camera. It's that good. The shallow depth of field is stunning. Just be sure that you can test it out before you buy it, as there is some sample variation with Sigma lenses. For what it's worth, I also have the Sigma 50 1.4 for my D700. I can't begin to explain how good it is.
    Nikon SB-600. You could easily spend twice as much for the SB-900, but it's proven to be a headache, and the 600 will work for 90% of the shots you'll want to take. The kicker is that the D70 will control the 600 off camera, so you can place it in different spots around the room. Hint: pick up a copy of Joe McNally's "The Hot Shoe Diaries." It's a great read, and you'll learn a lot about using off-camera flash. I would recommend the SB-800 (I have three of them), but they've been discontinued, and used prices are astronomical.
    Bogen 3021BPro. Look around to find one of these used, as they have ben discontinued. You should be able to find them relatively cheaply. They're quite sturdy. I paid $125USD for mine in mint condition. Some people will tell you that you need to pay big $$$ for Gitzo. I disagree. I've sold hundreds of shots taken from my lowly Bogen tripod and monopod.
    Arca Swiss B1. Well, there's no such thing as a free lunch. While you might find a good deal on a tripod, quality ball heads are expensive. Sure, you could go cheap and pick up a Benro or other inexpensive head. But this is the point in which the lens/camera meets the tripod. Spend the $$$ and get quality. RRS, Markins, and Acratech also make good quality heads. Just be sure to get one that will handle more that twice the heaviest load that you plan to put on it.
    I could go on and on, but this should at least point you in the right direction.
     
  22. Sally, Your reply about not knowing enough about Primes can be fixed easly by purchasing Nikons 50/1.8 for around only 120 dollars. You zoom in and out by using your feet to frame the picture.
     
  23. Sally,
    If your goal is to photograph people, in terms of lens, you need wide aperture lenses that can produce nice bokeh. Some have already recommended those 17-5x f2.8 zooms. Be aware that not all f1.8 or f1.4 lenses are built the same way to give you nice bokeh. For primes, consider the Sigma 50/1.4. If it is too big and heavy, consider the Nikon AFS version. These will give you nice head/shoulder shots. For nice head shots, the 85/1.8 is a good start, b/c it is not as expensive as the 85/1.4. The newer cameras, such as D90 and D5000, will give you much better dynamic range than the D70, and this means much smoother transition from the very bright to the very dark area, helpful when you cannot fully control the light in the environment.
     
  24. I agree with Alastair, get a great tripod and head with a quick release. I like Gitzo, Arca Swiss Z1 and Really Right Stuff quick releases. I'd also get a set of high quality light stands, such as Manfrotto and reflectors and studio lights. Add a pole for backdrops and a few backdrops and your work will look more professional, plus this stuff lasts forever.
    Then I'd take a deep breath, look at my work and decide what I wanted to shoot next. You say you want to be professional, but you don't say what area of interest. If you don't know yet, I'd work on taking a competent portrait with the equipment you now have. A good skill to have.
    When you know more about what you want to do, then buy more cameras and lenses, but don't let the money burn a hole in your pocket. If you want to be professional, learn the business and invest in equipment for the financial returns it can provide.
     
  25. Sally; I agree with a lot of the responders have to say about equipment choices. I also have a nikon D70s and its a great camera. I also have a hasselblad 500cm that i dont use to much anymore because of disabilities i have now. I have a back ground in film photography and know what rings-filters etc are used for. Don"t worry about equip to much at this stage because you will acquire this knowledge as you go along. I would personally pick up a nikon D90 or 300 body if can be afforded. Also a new nikon 70-300 vr lens would also help you. I would keep youre present equip for use or back-up as needed. Now you can forget about equip and get on photographing you"re world as you see it because you have the most important quality a photographer can have which is a good eye! I looked at youre gallery and liked your"re beach shot a lot. All of youre images are good because you have the abillity to see well. Keep up the good work you"re doing! Don
     

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