Beginner Nikon D80 "basic" equipment needed or ready to go ?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by calvin_choy, Jun 2, 2008.

  1. Hi everyone,

    I have been trolling in this forum for a couple of days, looking what DSLR to
    buy. After a lot of reading and comparison I have decided to get the Nikon D80.
    I am a total beginner with DSLR camera's and hope the Nikon D80 fits me well, I
    expect it will give me enough room to expand if I know more about DSLRs, please
    correct me if im wrong with my choice.

    Another problem that I face now is determining what the minimum tools are that I
    need for my camera. I see lots of posts about bags, dust, lens protection,
    cleaning of the camera lenses etc. It kinda scares me of to purchase my camera,
    gives me a feeling that i will hurt my camera easily since i dont know much
    about how to maintain a DSLR.

    I would like to have some suggestion/recommendations that I should take into
    account or figure out before i start getting the camera and start shooting . . I
    will probably go to a store and get the Nikon D80 kit with the default lens.

    I think most of my interest will go to portraits and nature photography, will
    the default lens be enough to keep me going ? What points should i really take
    into consider regarding equipment for traveling and maintaining the camera ? I
    live in europe and planning to go to asia this summer, anything i need to know
    regarding the differneces in huminity and temperature ?

    Hope I am not asking too much, any comment is a big help since I am starting
    from scratch :)

    Thank You
  2. Try and get the 18-70 instead of the 18-55 and you'll be happier. It is a lens that
    EVERYBODY seems to think is excellent, whereas the 18-55 (still a good lens,
    you'll probably like it) and the 18-135 don't get as much of a unanimous vote of
    approval. The 18-200 is overkill for you, the 16-85 might be, too.

    Other than the body, lens and a bag to hold it in, I recommend buying NOTHING
    right away other than the camera and the lens. After reading the manual, learning the
    camera, and taking lots of pictures (and continuing to lurk on you will
    KNOW what you need next, but no one can tell you.

    You might want a flash next. you might want a 50mm f1.8 or 30mm sigma first, or a
    long zoom... You might not know yet, so wait to buy.
  3. Can you comment on your general level of comfort with computer-related issues? One of the things that catches a lot people off guard is that they are starting to produce hundreds of gigabytes of images files, and they're not really sure what to DO with them. Obviously, it can be helpful to have a spare battery, at least one extra SD card.

    For a lot of people, a good tripod is essential (though they never believe this until they finally discover this for themselves, and have purchased at least three inadequate cheap tripods first). A good tripod can be especially important when you're starting out with the provided kit lenses. Because those are not big, expensive fast ("fast," in the sense that faster lenses gather a lot of light and allow for faster shutter speeds in more marginal light) lenses, a stable shooting platform can provide much looked-for sharpness in images where the slower lenses force a longer exposure.

    Get a "rocket blower" for clearing dust from your lenses and the body. Never used compressed air products.
  4. As a beginner you won't need more than the camera and kit lens for now. First get used to taking pics and playing around before you settle into what you like and what further lenses and equipment you need.
    However, a good bag to protect your camera is eesential.
    Don't stress about humidity difference. Nikon's are built to last. You on the other hand might need some water...
  5. There are two lenses that commonly sell with the D80, so I'm not sure what your 'Default' lens is. Either lens is a very good value so you can't go wrong with it. The lenses are a good place to start, and then you can add to your lens kit later, after you figure out what your current lens can't do that you would like to do.

    Here are a list of 'minimum' things you need when you buy your new D80:

    1) A lens - sounds like you've got that covered.

    2) A memory card. - A 2GB SD Card can be had for $10-20 on the internet.

    3) A UV Lens Filter - OK, you don't need this, but it's good to have to protect your lens. Either 52mm or 67mm depending on the 'Default' lens you get.

    4) A lens cleaning kit. - You don't really need this either, but you'll wish you had one. It's basically some special fluid and a dust free cloth. Pretty cheap.

    That's it!
    You don't need to worry about sensor cleaning yet, because you only have one lens so you won't be changing it allowing dust into your camera. You don't need a camera bag or any other stuff. Everything else can be purchased later when and if you decide you want it.
  6. For your Asia trip, you need plenty of memory cards. I shoot in RAW (I recommend you do too) and get about 400 shots per 4gb memory card. I'd reckon on about half a dozen 4gb cards for a 2 week trip & more for longer).

    For lenses, the ultimate travel zoom is the 18-200VR. I have one (It's in at Nikon at the moment to fix an excessively sloppy zoom and for them to take a look at the softness at 200mm & I miss it already). Subbing for it at the moment is my Nikkor 28-200G lens. I also have the 18-70 zoom, but it's not my favourite (a view shared by a friend with a D50 & a D80 who much prefers his 18-55).

    If you are not getting a VR lens, then a monopod is desirable for travel (I'm not a tripod fan when travelling).

    To add to the cleaning equipment, I'd include a blower for cleaning the sensor now and again.

    Finally a spare battery is needed - I reckon on about 300-400 shots per charge.

    Hope this helps.
  7. Not really knowing your photographic experience and assuming that you have used only P&S cameras on auto, I would recommend a book on the fundamentals of photography. Particularly one that focuses on the relationships of aperture, shutter speed, and exposure values. Understanding the basics of "non-automatic" photography can further in improving your images than any additional equipment at this stage.
  8. I second Evan's suggestion: Get a book or take a course. Some of these concepts can be difficult to understand when first starting out.
  9. Wow, thanks all for the great comments, very valuable to get a beginner getting started ! I really feel more confident now about getting my D80 :)

    To answer Matt Laur question, I have good experience with computer related issues, I study computer science and have been doing stuff like graphics and web design in my spare time . . . and now starting with photography.

    I think my lens included with the kit will be the 18-55 or 18-70 one, I see that some people prefer one to another, but they both sound great to get started with.

    I think I will purchase some extra memory cards, battery packs and a good travel bag first and later on if i know more ( and got some money again :p ) I will look at the lenses and other equipment such as flashes tripods etc.

    I think I will be busy for a while figuring all the functionalities of the camera and reading the manual and photography theories on the internet !

    Again, thank you all !
  10. Woops . . i used " I think ..." so many times in the previous post, sorry haha. I should review my posts better next time.
  11. Once you have a body and lens you will need a card. I would get a large card or two. A second battery is nice to have. I use a small backpack from LowePro. Use your lens hood. A filter maybe. After you have gotten familiar with the camera you may want a flash (SB-600) or a tripod (read tripod section). Get the right one first. When you find you have need for another lens then you will know what it is that you need. Processing software for your images and I also recommend you shoot in RAW. I would rather have two prime lenses, a 20mm f2.8 and a 50mm f1.8 for the larger aperture but that would raise the cost. You may want to look at the 18-70mm as its a bit faster and longer for portraiture.
  12. I recommend Nikon's 18-135mm lens. It is light, inexpensive, has an impressive zoom range and gives great results throughout its zoom range. Image quality will be pretty much the same as the other two lenses (18-55 and 18-70).
  13. To Justin and Evan,

    I am planning to get a book these days, because it is true that I only have experience with p&s camera's so it kinda difficult for me to follow some terms regarding aperture, focus, lenses, etc. Taking a course will be great, but I will have to digg into my agenda first and check the prices. For now already 3 people suggested 3 different lenses, 18-135, 18-70, 18-55 . . to be honest it only confuses me because they are probably all great :p But I know there must be some post/guide about lenses for beginners so I will look for those first before i start asking questions :) and check some books in the bookstore.

    Thanks all for the tips :)
  14. A little lens help for you:

    18-55: Cheapest & Lightest.

    18-135: Greatest focal range. Probably best for your current needs.

    18-70: Highest quality.
  15. All this stuff has a reasonable second hand value too. Get out there, get the kit,
    something to clean the lens and start taking pictures. Start looking at pictures,
    particularly on here at, then go for it.

    If you take portraits indoors, you'll almost certainly want a flash next with those kit
    lenses, but take your time as others have said.
  16. Hey Calvin... Good choice! I THINK everybody covered everything already. My suggestion is that you buy a book FIRST. That will teach you the difference on how lenses work and then you can decide what kit lens to get. We will all tell you what we prefer so is better that after you understand the basics of exposure you decide what you need. For example, I don't wanna confuse you, if you choose between 18-70 and 18-135 the second gives you a better range but the first one is faster and you might need it since you won't have a tripod right away. Those are the things you need to consider. What to compromise.

    You mention you will get a bag. That's good but think ahead. If you get a small bag you might run out of room as your equipment starts multiplying and then you will need another bag. That's how money runs out! Don't worry about not having a bag right away, I know you'll be careful with it anyway.

    A lens, a camera and a blower should be your first purchase. After the book!

    The Digital Photography by Scott Kelby and Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson are really good books. That could be a good start.

    Anything else just come back and ask over here! We'll be glad to tell you how to expend your money and we won't even charge you for that!

    Good luck and enjoy it! Rene'
  17. D80 body only

    Sigma 30 1/4 prime - Super fast with bright viewfinder. Every photographer should own a fast normal prime (this is normal on crop body)!

    Nikon 18-200 VR - great focal range with VR - enough said.

    This kit with 4gb or 8gb card will get you started the right way. Expensive yes, but your skills will improve. Why upgrade from and point and shoot and put a cheap kit lens on a dslr? Makes no sense. Always invest in excellent glass not bodies.
  18. The key to taking good pictures is understanding light. This web site and book made all the difference in a very simple manner.

    Good luck to you, and welcome to Dslr's.
  19. Thanks for the information. I almost forgot that it is not necessary to buy the kit, I should be able to get the body only. I thought buying the kit was a bit more on the safe side for me since I don't know much about lenses. But if anyone have suggestion for other lenses than the kit lens, your welcome to give suggestion :)

    If I buy the body separate I think I will have money for one lens of $300 to $400, of course I will prefer an overall lens first. The sigma lens sound great and should be within my budget.

  20. As many of the chaps above say, - if you can get the 18-70mm to go with the body, it's a cracking lens to start out with. Personally speaking, for your Asia tour I would stick to JPEG.s - you will get so many more, probably 3 times as many pictures on each card, and they are so much quicker and easier to deal with than RAW. I'm with Ken Rockwell (just google the name and have a look) in that most times I can't tell the difference in the finished result anyway.
  21. "Another problem that I face now is determining what the minimum tools are that I need for my camera."

    What hasn't been mentioned is the most vital ingredient to imaging: the process. In drawing up a budget you should consider equipping yourself with at least a basic production line. A camera body. A lens. A computer. Good image processing software, probably two (say, Capture NX and at least Photoshop elements 6.0). You will need a calibrated monitor, so you need a good calibrator. You will need a good printer. It drinks ink.

    Without this, you will be on the outside looking in, no matter what gear you have, unless all you want to do is show online. If so you can cross out only the printer.

    This is the self-righteousness of reform speaking; I've sinned exceedingly on all of the above for years. Now I see the light. Have corrected my ways and hope to save you some time.

    As a post script: Always shoot in RAW. Who cares how many jpg pictures you can cram on a card? Repect the art. When you take a great shot, you will appreciate the fact that you have it in a raw format and how much room you have to work with it, just like in a darkroom. And when you take a great shot with the wrong exposure, you will appreciate RAW even more.

  22. I, too, have been lurking here and learning much from the experience and talent of some great people. I bought my D80 a bit under a month ago, not having been anywhere near serious about photography since high-school.

    I registered just now so that I could add to this forum that you may want to consider Blue Crane Digital's "Introduction to the Nikon D80" video. I just bought it a couple of days ago and am finding it so very useful (along with the manual) in understanding how to use the camera. The video touches on everything from camera controls to lighting andcomposition. This camera has so much potential, a lttle help is great!
  23. Much has been said on the equipment you need, all is right depending on the experience and preferences of the blogger. There is only one small little thing that I would add, I actually buy one every time I buy a lense with a new diameter:


    I just cannot stop to thank those for the wonderful deep blu skies and the luscious green vegetation hues they give.
    You can replace almost any other filter with skillful postprocessing, not a polarizer. Good luck with your trip, and please, post your pics!
  24. sorry to confuse you more, but if you have only $400 to spend, i'm not sure that i'd go the 30/1.4 route.

    the idea is that with a superzoom and a prime (single focal length) you can cover almost any situation, but if you cant afford a superzoom, you may feel limited with just a prime alone, especially if you are coming from a P&S background (if you have a 35mm background you might already be used to using a prime lens).

    an 18-200 + a 30/1.4 would be an awesome kit for travel but costs almost $1100 new.

    so... if you only have $400 to spend, you could get a 30/1.4 by itself (which would be kind of a spartan/purist approach) or an 18-70 and a 50/1.8. the 50mm will also work well in low light and the 18-70 will still give you a fairly versatile range, from wide to medium telephoto, for walkaround situations. then you can just switch to the 50 for night shots. bonus is that in addition to a good low light performer you get a portrait lens too, all for just over $100!

    you will still need filters, cards, spare batteries and a bag (preferably a discreet one). a CP is a good idea, but a $10 UV filter can also save your expensive glass from getting dings. a bottle of E2 cleaning solution and some swabs may be necessary as well, especially if you are going into a dusty area. (tip: if you get a bag with visibly-bright lining (like a kata), you can change lenses in the bag, even at night with enough practice)
  25. If you plan to get a 18-55 lens, consider the VR version. The VR could be very helpful. The 18-70 would a step up, but the lens has some weird distortion and it vignetts at f/3.5 and 18mm. The 18-135 will offer you an impressive zoom range around the price of the 18-70, but its build quality is slightly inferior than the 18-70.

    I would suggest a 50 1.8 lens for low light and portraits.

    You may also want to get a flash and/or a tripod later.
  26. bmm


    Can I strongly agree with Rene

    The book "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson completely changed the way I started in the hobby and is responsible for many of my good habits now. It is an amazing reference.

    You can figure out gear enhancements through research and asking questions here - god knows I do all the time even almost a year into the hobby!!
  27. Thank you all again for the information !

    I started reading some theory on the internet right away yesterday and I am starting to understand some basic stuff regarding the lenses and other equipment.

    I think one of the "difficult" task when choosing a new DSLR for the first time is that coming from a P&S consumer background you always have the feeling that you should just get the newest camera/body ( because P&S cameras are "easily" replaceable). And therefore you forget about the importance of lenses. Furthermore, getting into DLSR is like choosing a path where u should stick to . . which kinda scares people off haha ( it's a pain to switch).

    if i go to a store and ask which DSLR to buy, they will just say: that new one (canon rebel XSi) and they are finished. If I ask why, they only talk about the body . . about the megapixels, the extra features, sensors etc.

    I am happy to get so many information here about everything except the body, it seems like there are a lot of X vs. Y concerning the body than lenses, which most of the time end with the same conclusion: they are both good, but the new one got some new features and slightly better IQ and noise reduction :p, but how noticeable is it ?

    Anyway, thanks all again for the great input !
  28. Just another nod to Understanding Exposure. Great book.

    Best of luck with your photography! I am sure you will enjoy it.
  29. If you only have a couple of hundred dollars for a lens then look at the kit lenses. If you have $400 I would save just a bit more and look closely at the Tamron 17-50mm. It is faster which can give you more creative control. IMHO its a bit short for portraits but could be the perfect travel - event lense. I do like the 18-70 most for the price speed and range. Books may very well be the most important part now. With knowledge you will be able to do more with whatever camera/lense you do purchase.
  30. The benefit of buying used is that you can get great starter gear for cheap. Since you aren't likely to stick with the kit lens forever, there's no reason not to consider picking one up used for cheap. 1-2 years is a good amount of time to spend with the kit lens getting comfortable with DSLR... After that you are likely to upgrade to something better, and you arn't really losing if you hardly spent anything on your first lens in the first place. There's nothing wrong with throwing a Sigma 30 or a Nikon 50 1.8 in your bag. Cheapish lenses that are great entries into fixed focal length and big apertures.
  31. What about 18-200?

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