Buying my first Nikon SLR - advice much needed!

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by sea_ram, Sep 25, 2009.

  1. Hi everyone, newbie here desperately needing some sensible advice!
    I've trawled through loads of information to try and make sense of the current range and work out which model to go for. My situation is this.. I was semi-pro 10+ years ago, sold off all my kit so have no old lenses etc. and now looking to get back into it in the digital age! Will very likely be doing some wedding work again and also landscapes for pleasure and perhaps hopefully some commercial/close up stills for business if all goes well.
    I have looked in detail at the current Nikon range and am pretty clued up in terms of the models and their strengths and weaknesses but I'm still very indecisive. Why?
    Well, money is a factor but for the absoutely right purchase I would be prepared to spend more. Immediate needs are a body and 2 lenses (I'm looking at the 18-200 and a 50mm prime). If money was no object I'd choose the D700 as by all accounts it looks a stunning bit of kit and FX is a big pull. But it is worth another £500 over the D300. Is it even worth thinking about the D300 when the D700 is only a couple of hundred more. Or is it worth over £1000 more than a D90 - is the D90 perfectly adequate for my needs? (Movie mode does not interest me)
    Or, should I hold back on a major purchase until Ive reaquainted myself with the basics, fully understand how to get the best out of DSLRs and be in a stronger position to make the right decision?
    With that theory in mind Im wondering whether to drop right down and snap up a cheap D40 or D3000, get a f1.8 prime lens and have some fun. This shouldn't cost much more than £400, even less if I buy it used and in the future if I did fork out for a D700 (or unreleased model), I still have a useful back up for hols and the lens would be put to great use too.
    The only concern with this option is if I will quickly be frustrated with any shortcomings of the budget models eg size, build quality, frame rate, sensor quality, af points etc and will I be wasting money on a DX model when my heart is really set on FX.
    I'm ready to press the button and just need a push in the right direction so your feedback will be much appreciated! Have basically narrowed it down to:
    D40/D3000 Budget/Practice choice
    D90 mid range compromise
    D700 stretching too far?
  2. Well, I bought a D40 kit for £258 just over two years ago (with rebate) as a first digital camera to see how I liked the idea before buying something more expensive. It has exceeded my expectations and I'm still using it.
    If I wanted to photograph sports then I suspect that the AF system wouldn't be good enough. If I wanted to photograph things in very poor light then an FX camera would be much better. If I was in a desperate hurry I might want more on-camera controls and a little less use of menus. If I wanted to make very large prints then more pixels might be helpful.
    None of these things apply so I'm happy. I appreciate the low weight and bulk, and the 1/500 flash sync. too
    Don't buy a D700 and an 18-200, but I expect you already knew that!
  3. if you're really on the fence as to whether to go up or down in features/price, consider the D5000, which shares a sensor w/D90 & D300, but lacks in-body focus motor for use with older AF lenses. the 18-200 and a 50/4 AF-S would both focus on it.
    as an ex-semi-pro, you may grow frustrated with some of the limtations of any of the consumer bodies, however. especially if you plan to work weddings and such, the D300 and D700 are well worth considering. in fact, i have one of each. they really are designed and built for working photogs, IMO.
    it's hard to tell from where i sit, but my guess is you will be more rather than less enthusiastic about shooting when you get back into it, so try not to end up spending money twice by underestimating...
  4. For someone like you (semi-pro experience), I don't think anything below a D90 would serve you well (if you want to do everything with it; the D40 and other small bodies are nice for other reasons), overall. Variable aperture zooms with a long zoom range like the 18-200 VR are generally versatile travel/candid lenses (in good lighting). They are quite suitable for what you do when you're just casually familiarizing yourself with the newer generation of technology, but their limitations could be unacceptable if you want to get into doing more serious work, like wedding.
    Please notice that the 18-200 VR is a DX lens, its smaller image circle designed to work with the "half-frame" APS-C sensors of the DX cameras by definition, won't properly cover the FX sensor on, let's say a D700. When used on a FX camera, the lens would work fine with the sensor in the crop-mode, or you'll risk ending up with vignetting and bad corners in your images.
    Since the D40 is really cheap now, you could start off by getting one. You'll get a better idea on where you wanna go after using it for awhile. I would stay away from the D3000, for that it has a older CCD sensor (D80/D200?); and since it's relatively new, it's still rather overpriced on the market. The D5000 is a better bet as a cost effective step-up option from the D40, because it has the D90's sensor and performs better in low light. The D90 would be a safe bet in the long run. Although in certain ways, it's not "as good" as the higher end models, it's a very capable camera. There's no reason why you can't get pro-grade results from D90, aside from the fact that it's not built as tough as a D300/D700.
  5. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them (take a look at the Wednesday Pic thread and you'll see beautiful images taken with all types of Nixon cameras/lenses), however, "will I be wasting money on a DX model when my heart is really set on FX?" answers the question. If you can afford it, then get it. William is right...I started back in April with a D40, and while it's a wonderful camera and a great size for me (light and small), I recently bought a D90 because some of the limitations of the D40 were starting to frustrate me. I still love the D40, but the D90 is helping overcome those frustrations (photography is only a hobby for me). I thought I'd sell the D40 to a friend who wants one, but decided to keep it because I still think it's a great camera and the smaller size/weight is nice. If you decide to go the "practice choice" route and decide to upgrade later, you'll most likely keep the "practice choice" for times when you want something light and small, so it really won't be money wasted. If FX is what your heart truly desires, I'd go ahead and spring for the D700.
  6. You can't go wrong with a D90. But if money isn't a problem the D300 is a step above. Personally, I love my D90 and won't change.
  7. Guys, thank you all sincerely for the replies so far. If only the D700 was nearer £1k then it would be a no brainer! Does anyone know someone who wants to trade up to a D3 and let their D700 go to a very good cause for a good price!?
    Reading above there seems to be a mix of people saying the practice route makes sense as does going for the D700 as thats where my heart is but.. the 'middle ground' of the impressive D90 is a good move too. This spread of opinion is exactly where my head is, so I'm still in 3 minds!
    If anyone knows of a killer deal on any of the models mentioned then please let me know as this probably will be the deciding factor right now, as if I get a really low price on something it gives me the confidence to trade up if needed and not lose out (and also buy a decent pair of lenses). There doesn't seem to be anything special kicking about on camerapricecheck. Loathed to go via ebay etc. as faulty/lacking paperwork/grey imports a major concern. Has to be new unless from a very trusted source.
    Thanks again!
  8. Pony up the money for a semi-pro camera if you are going to be shooting professionally, weddings especially are very demanding on cameras: high iso performance, high flash sync, control of off camera flash and good af are all important which means a D300 or D700. Allow some budget for a flash too obviously.
    You can get some money back from this since they work very well with the AI and AIS lenses which are excellent and can be had cheaply. These will be great for landscapes and anything else that doesn't move!
    If you want to go full frame in the future do it now and don't build a system with DX lenses.
  9. Go with the D700. I shoot with a D300 but had the chance to use a D700 for a couple of weeks. The difference is huge.
  10. If you can pick up an inexpensive kit, new or 2nd hand to test the waters, that may be your best move. Since you are familiar with the nikon system you may find soon what features you really want or need.
    I've owned a D40, 50, 80 and now a D300. There is something about using the aperture ring on the lens that makes me feel at home. I rather dislike the G design, and the best selection of nikkors are actually in the used market. However, not all lenses designed for film work as well with digital.
    My best advise is to spend some time and search your curiosities on this site and others. There is a lot of information here. But remember that everyone has their own flavor and opinion. If there is a retail store in your area, arm yourself with a few memory cards and take the test results home with you.
    Enjoy yourself too.
  11. I you are planning to work in weddings and commercial/close up stills for business, go for a pro camera such as the D700, basically because of the sensor and the possibilities you have for working in dim light conditions when doing some wedding pictures inside a church. Full frame sensor is better.
    Consider also the micro 105mm for the close up stills in case that you are thinking in small things to shoot, customers may ask anything.
    One important thing is to make a bussiness plan that focuses in the return of the investment in such a way that spending some money for high level toys is not a concern since that you are not the one who would pay for that, customers will help a lot, that should be the goal if you really mean to do some business.
    Therefore if the trade is excellent picutres for a good payment, in a short time you would be building an excellent equipment.
    Good luck !
  12. I think "starting cheap(er) and see if you still really like it" might be a very good move. Sounds utterly sensible. Now I never managed to be sensible when it comes to buying camera gear, so while I like the advice, I know for sure I would ignore it immediately.
    One thing that does puzzle me is "the pull of FX". Sure the D700 is an amazing body, but when working with the right lenses on the right format (say a 35 on DX, a 50 on FX), one does not notice the difference in sensor size. The viewfinder of the D700 is bigger, and it will perform better at high ISO. But as a camera, it is much the same as a D300... So be careful with that "pull", since it may steer you away from buying DX lenses, and some of the DX lenses are just very very good for what they are intended to do.
    But, the D3000/D40 body is really quite small, and if you are used to large(r) SLRs, they may feel cramped. In the current Nikon line-up, I think the D90 is the nicest camera. The D300 is a better body, but price/performance, i think the D90 is the sharper offer. Next choice, to me, would be the D700, but that demands a much heftier investment (not only the body, the D700 deserves good lenses).
    So all in all, my advice would be a D90, 16-85VR (it is better than the 18-200VR) and a 35 f/1.8. Yes, all DX, but very good performance and not too steep an investment. If the price of the 16-85VR does scare a bit, get the 18-105VR or a second hand 18-70. To me, it's the most sensible entry for an experienced person.
  13. If you are doing this as a hobby: I agree with many here, a D90 would be min. requirements, but would do a great job with some good glass. With a tight budget, not sure the D700 will work as the budget is shot to get some nice glass (good big zoom and a prime).
    If you are looking to get back into the 'biz', the D700 will give you many more options down the road for many different situations. More of the investment.
  14. Absolutely SKIP the D700. That would be the biggest mistake you could make, putting all your money into a camera body. You have no money for lenses, and that's the important thing. Lenses deterimine what you can photo, when you can photo it, and to a large extent the quality of the photo. A D700 without good lenses gives you nothing but frustration. The D90 has same sensor as the D300, but has a slower autofocus. If you like to photo sports or flying birds, the D300 has an advantage. Otherwise, I'd put the money on better lenses. For weddings, you already know you're going to need fast ones with quality. Consider the Nikon 17-55mm f2.8, or maybe a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8. Next, either a Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 (used, older) or Sigma/Tamron 70-200mm f2.8. For taking photos inside of churches, it's the LENSES that are going to matter. Starting from scratch? You'll need a flash. Or two. Don't want to try doing a wedding with a pop-up flash! Your choices are a used SB-800 or a new SB-900. You could try getting buy with an older flash such as SB-28 in manual or auto mode, once you see how much new flashes are! How about a decent carbon fiber tripod and ballhead for landscapes? That will cost you some money, but for sharp landscape photos a good tripod/head is essential. Now we come to the "new" essential--software. Good choices are Photoshop Elements 7.0, Nikon Capture NX2, PS CS4 is the pro standard. These cost money but are necessary in the digital age. Finally and last, we come to the camera. Spend whatever it is you have left on that. It's at the bottom of the list. A D90 will do everything you want, without wasting money that would be better spent on the more important things I just went over. You will become frustrated MUCH more quickly with poor/inadequate lenses than you will with a less expensive camera. Trust me on that one. A fast f2.8 zoom is exactly what you need for a wedding. BTW, I shoot a D300 and am familiar with the D700. There just isn't that much difference, and cameras lose value SO fast. Lenses first. Lenses, lenses, lenses. Just as cameras have really changed the past 20 years, so have lenses.
    Kent in SD
  15. I'm not a semi-pro, but after using my D300 I wouldn't recommend anything less. I'm just an amateur who came from a D80 and I can feel all the advantages of using a camera like a D300. You have your most useful controls right at your finger tips and don't have to look in the endless display menu. Another thing is I'm so careful with my cameras for just a few months, after that I don't really care much about them so a strong body like a D300 is really welcome.
    About a D700, have the same body construction as the D300. To be honest I want one too but I'm sure you can do almost as well shooting with a D300. The FX angle of view I don't really understand it that well. The way I see it is that what you can do with a 24-70 mounted on a D700 you can also do it with a D300 and a 17-55.
    OK! I might be a bit ignorant but that is the way I see it. I am not talking about high ISO performance.
    So for what you intend to use it, I think a D300 and a 17-55 AFS would do great! Cheers!
  16. I've been climbing the learning curve of digital SLRs for several years now. I choose the "jump in at the bottom" strategy with a D40. I made some wonderful images with it, and after 18 months had a much better idea of what I wanted. For example I didn't know when I was starting out that what I wanted was buttons for controls instead of menus. When I started I didn't know that I wanted more focus points because it gave more flexibility with spot metering. I didn't know that I wanted to rent extravagant zoom lenses, or older prime lenses, which is a bit more difficult on the D40. And I didn't know the value of auto-bracketing and mirror delay for a tripod when I was just getting started. Nevertheless, unless working fast is essential (and for me, really, it isn't) a D40 is a fine body with a lot of flexibility. However, if these kinds of details are important, then its time to move up the food chain.
    I wanted to make better photos, so I lusted after a better camera. Last year I got a D300, and my photos didn't see a lot of improvement early on, because I didn't really appreciate that technical skills and artistic skills come from two different places, and that while the buttons and so on were handy, they we're not the road to better images. By using both the D40 and the D300, I learned that every camera has limitations, and the solution is to get the body that allows you to do what you need, not necessarily what is possible. When starting out, the line between those two points is hard to find, but experience makes it clearer. Camera marketing doesn't make things easier, either, often times over-emphasizing minor differences and sometimes making them appear more important than they really are (I'm talking to you, sensor size!).
    At this point, I'm slowly beginning to appreciate that perhaps I want to move away from zoom lenses, as primes seem crisper, cheaper, and ultimately force changes in my shooting style that generate better images. Again, this flies in the face of marketing, which tends to value those fast pro zooms at many thousands of dollars per lens. But overall I learned from mixing the D40 with a rental of a 80-200 2.8 VR that its a great lens that gets me the image quality I desire above and beyond any other factor. When shooting a show, where I could not move around, a zoom was vital. But that was a rarity, in most cases, I can zoom with my feet or a little judicious cropping in post. The taught me that each decision a blend between what you need in a given situation, and that quality starts with the lens. I can work around a body's limitations easier than overcoming a lack of lens sharpness or its likelihood to flare.
    Buying upmarket is always safe, because it removes limitations. I certainly sometimes wish I had a D700 because it is indeed more capable camera. That's why it always looks like a better option overall. And I guess if money were no object then go for it. However, I learned a lot also by looking at the history of digital cameras of the last few years. The D300 didn't exist when I bought the D40, and had I gotten a D200 to start, I would have taken a bath in depreciation because the D300 drove D200 prices down to earth. This happens again and again going back ten years. Lesson learned, buying more than you need today, or for the next year or two, can be a waste of money because features keep moving down the food chain as SLRs evolve. Tomorrow's midmarket camera is yesterday's top of the line flagship.
    Overall, the best learning experiences I acquired was from renting. I learned far more about how to match my expectations to what was possible by actually using gear that I could otherwise not afford. I'm still learning, but this much I do know, what's possible with a D40 or D90 or D300 and 35mm prime is stunning compared to anything I was ever able to accomplish in the days of film cameras.
  17. Can understand how you feel - and only you can really sort this out.
    Now, given what you intend to shoot, I don't see how you can be happy with the 18-200 for long; certainly a nice travel lens - but weddings, landscape, close-up?
    I recently upgraded my lenses to constant f/2.8 glass, specifically Tokina 11-16/2.8 and Nikon 17-55/2.8 - the cost new for both would be around $1800. Add a D300/D300s - or maybe just a D90 (wouldn't step below that, especially considering the wedding part) - that's another $1000-$1800. Then perhaps a Sigma 50-150/2.8 or a Nikon 80-200/2.8 - another $1K or so. And for the close-ups a 60/2.8 or 105/2.8.
    I did have a look at the FX alternative - which would have been 24-70/2.8 and either 17-35/2.8 or 14-24/2.8 plus a D700 - that's $6K+ vs less than $4K for D300/11-16/17-55 - too rich for me.
    Many people suggest to purchase FX glass even if one has a DX camera - mostly to be ready for the inevitable upgrade of the camera body to FX; for example, get the 24-70 instead of the 17-55 DX. The break at 24mm between my 12-24 and 24-85 was one of the reasons I upgraded - it just didn't work for me and I constantly had to change lenses.
    BTW, I think Kent's suggestions are right on the money.
  18. I have a D90 and it's a great camera, and just as capable as a D300 in most areas except for using non-AF lenses, the robustness of body construction, frame rate and the more advanced AF system.
    If you plan to shoot weddings, it's the AF system that's going to make the D300 the right choice for you - working inside and in lower light, it's more sensitive and quicker and will definitely do a better job on things like tracking dancing guests at the reception.
  19. I have two DX cameras--a D300 and D50. Both produce better images, in lower light that my film Nikons ever did (IMO). It I was shoot pro--every day I might consider FF--but then I probably would want the D3 for durability. I regularly have photos published that were shot with DX bodies --even full color book dust jackets. Most photographers won't do work where they truly "need" full frame--its more a matter of "want." But if you can afford it, go for it.
  20. Im stunned at the quality and quantity of advice offered above, thanks everybody, would like to thank and comment on each post but impractical to do so.
    Suffice to say that Im starting to form a stronger gut feeling about the best set up for me right now and when Ive digested all this properly shall report back! Im feeling a bit more confused over glass though.. seems to be a big mix of opinions here!
    Thanks again everyone!
  21. A footnote to the glass issue: lenses hold their value much MUCH better than bodies, so its a forgiving choice.
    Mistakes or changes are easily rectified by selling the lens you have and buying the lens you want. With a lot of patience, I've built a kit almost entirely from used lenses, each of which can be sold in the next several years for the same or slightly more than what I paid. I get use of the lenses, supplement it with rentals, and learn a lot in the process.
    With lenses more than any other element of photography gear, you get what you pay for.
    Moreover, the lens choice is informed by the output intentions. Shooting for a video monitor is a lot more forgiving than shooting for print, especially larger prints.
    Also, post production is a factor. If you're like me, a near-infinte amount of time can be spent optimizing for print after its shot, a luxury that pros generally do not have. They have to get it 100% right in the camera.
  22. I have a D90 and love it. I don't know why you feel you'll need FX in the future, if you do, then get the D700 and be done with it. If professional is important and weddings a possibility, think about the dual card aspect of the D300s.
    All that said. I would agree that lenses are important, but the rest of the stuff is most important. Get a "great" tripod that meets your needs with a top-notch quick release system. Get light stands and reflectors. I'd forget Nikon flash stuff, I'd get a Quantum or Lumadyne (there are others to look at) for location work and a power pack and strobes for studio work. Get seamless backdrops - I've never had a frabic backdrop become obsolete or fail. If you plan on working with businesses, you'll probably need to and want to shoot portraits, so plan for that. For commercial close-ups and stills, I'd look at used prime macros, great resolution for the money, and in the studio you have time to deal with manual everything.
  23. @Ted,
    I would agree that lenses are important, but the rest of the stuff is most important.​
    Very well said. A skillfully lit image shot with a so-called "average" (but still very good) lens is going to outperform a lesser image shot with so-called "perfect" gear.
  24. My the different bodies and lenses you are interested in, work with them for a weekend and see what you like and what your results are. Pick a body based on what you like. You might like the D90 for its size and weight or you might like a D300 for the construction and manual controls. Don't count the D90 out because it isn't a "pro" camera as many pros are using the D90 especially when they travel.

    I rent lenses all the time. $40 (£25) to rent a lens for a day (2 days if I rent on Saturday) is much cheaper than what it costs to buy the lens, especially if it is a lens that I need for a certain situation but sit in the camera bag the rest of the time. I only own lenses that I use often, anything else I rent.

    Another thing to consider. Lenses are a much better investment; they hold their value. Camera bodies seem to get outdated fairly quickly with digital and they don't hold their value. If I was on a tight budget I would spring for a couple of good lenses first, as it would be likely that I may be trading my camera body in down the road anyways.
  25. Don't get a D40, I did, and it's like playing sport with one leg.
    Perhaps get a D300 and FX lenses? Then whenever a D700 is within the budget, you've got the lenses for it, and the upgrade would be easy.
  26. If you're planning to do weddings, the CLS flash commander features may swing your decision. I don't know about the D90, but certainly the D70s only supported 1 CLS channel and one group. By contrast the D700 supports 4 CLS channels and 2 groups (plus the built-in flash). Maybe your lighting setup for wedding shots will demand off-camera flash, in which case this could be a decisive factor.
  27. Sea Ram--
    It's my own observation that typically it's only beginners that run out and buy expensive cameras, then put dubious lenses on them because they're out of cash. This greatly cripples the performance of the camera, of course. Like the others here who've been around awhile, I've come to appreciate first class lenses not only for their image quality, but also because they are such a good value, compared to cameras which are a relatively poor value. I carefully reread your original post, and what I think would be the best fit for you would still be the D90, a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8, 70-200mm f2.8, a Nikon SB-800 or SB-600, a decent tripod & head (at least $300 U.S.), and Photoshop Elements 7.0. What you seem to be missing is that photos are taken by a SYSTEM. Your images will only be as good as the weakest link in your SYSTEM. A camera with blazing fast autofocus does you absolutely no good if you have non-AF lenses. You really can't shoot a wedding without at least one good flash, and two are better. For formal portraits, you will really want lightstands and umbrellas, if you want the "pro" look. To make your images pro quality, you will need capable photo software. And on and on. You don't seem to have any paying photo jobs lined up, and my impression is you mostly want to "dabble" with weddings at a later date. If you put big money into a camera now, you will have no money left for the important things, and won't be generating any income from the expensive camera to buy them either. You will be stuck. Start with a mid level camera, lenses that are capable of pro quality results, and a basic lighting system. Plus basic software. This is a true SYSTEM, and it will get you started. You can always dump money on a camera later. I'm betting that the more experienced you get, the more likely you are to spend that money on lenses and lighting system instead though, like most of us did. Remember, while you are learning digital, learning Photoshop, learning what you really need, the price on the D700 will continue to drop like a rock. Especially after the next "hot" camera body comes out, probably next Spring. Some people will be selling their D700 then and take a huge loss. They rarely sell their best lenses (or tripod & flash) those. Those things, you keep! Cameras are now disposable.
    Kent in SD
  28. Kent, I have Photoshop CS2, slightly dated I know but hopefully okay for now. I agree with some of rest of system. Was going for the SB-400 flash, not good?
    With all the above I am steering towards a D90 as this seems like the minimum standard of the range. I also think it'll be a good camera for a while, (possibly even a classic?!) will come in use Im sure in the future as convenience body, very sellable if not and at around £600 leaves me some change to get a good prime and tele.
    I imagine the D90 will stand me in good stead for a year or so and then I'll take stock and look at the market. If a D700 is then more affordable and FX makes sense then I'll have so much more knowledge and confidence at that point.
    Now, lets nail that glass! I was going for the 50mm f1.8 AF-S prime and a 18-200 AF-S as I think this covers the basics for now. I don't want more than 2 lenses for a while so if you can suggest a better combo then Im all ears. Quality is key as I want these to last but got to keep it at about £500 for both.
  29. D90....walk before you run. You have to unlearn a whole lot of stuff moving from film to digital. The D90 is a good compromise between consumer and semi pro.
  30. I too yearn for a D700 but currently own a D200. One point that you seem to miss is that yes the D700 is not a big deal over the semi pro DX bodies, but probably (like me) buying the D700 will mean that you'd want the best lenses that will add a substantial amount to your spending. When I think about the D700, I don't just see it as an expense of around 2000 but as a new system of around 6000 (with 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200 F2.8 lenses). The best advice is - if you're serious and don't afford to splash 6000 at one go, start with one of these lenses and get the cheapest body for now. By the time you save up for the D700 it will probably have gone down in price.
  31. I do weddings, landscapes, portraits etc and my advice would be, start with a D90 and Tamron 17-50 f2.8 and Sigma or Tokina 50-150 f2.8 lenses. you can cover everything you need for the work you are interested in.
    I have lately gone from DX to FX Nikons by getting a D700 but it is only about one stop better in low light and in most conditions in not distinguishable from FX. So learn on the above kit or something similar and then you will know what you really want for what you want to do. The above type of equipment will then serve as excellent backup, which is something you cannot do without if you are doing work for pay.
  32. IMHO you should consider your equipment as a system. I believe the body to be very important at certain times. There are many very good used lenses available for the DX format. The D300 has better AF in low light than the D90. If you are going to do weddings this may become critical. You may want to spend some time in the wedding forum for research. I don't do weddings but it seems like a 17-5xmm f2.8 zoom paired with a 80-200mm f2.8 zoom are the most used. I have the SB-400 flash and use it with my D700. I don't think it would do for wedding photography. You may want to spend some time reading Bjorn's reviews at:
    I find them very useful.
  33. There is no 50/1.8 AF-S lens - the lens is AF-D. There is, however, the new 35/1.8 DX AF-S. Since you intend to go with a DX camera, and if you want the same FOV you were used to from film with a 50mm lens, then you might want to consider the 35/1.8 AF-S DX instead. Instead of the 18-200, you might want to have a look at the 16-85. Personally, I would take the 18-55 VR/55-200 VR combo over the 18-200 anytime - but then again, I'd more likely invest in better glass - like the Tamron 17-50 and and then either the 50-135/2.8 Tokina or Sigma 50-150/2.8. Another option would be to forgo zooms altogether and get the 35/1.8 (or the more expensive Sigma 30/1.4) and the 85/1.8.
    Regarding CS2 - should do fine unless you plan on shooting RAW; the ACR converter of the CS2 edition can't be updated to read NEF (RAW) files of the newer Nikon DSLRs.
  34. I was considering D90/D300/D700 some time back - and went for the D90 as it allowed me to get better lenses (12-24mm DX Nikkor, 105mm Micro Nikkor and 50mm 1.4 Nikkor). I've been really pleased with it, and am happy with the image quality.
    The D700 felt like more camera than the D300, which in turn felt more than the D90 when I was trying them out - but for me, the D90 made most sense.
    My only 'regret' - if you can call it that - in not going the extra mile and getting the D700, is in the limitations for architectural photography (the 24mm Perspective Control Lens really needs the FF body) - for the moment I make do with the 12-24 on the D90 - and try to limit the distortion in Post-production.
    I would guess that for Wedding Photography, the D300 would be the choice - although it is still significantly more than the D90, for essentially the same sensor - the body is more durable, and heavier, more focus points (although managing focus points can be a bit of a handful for me with 11 on the D90) and focus speed.
    Have you tried digital at all as yet ?
    Good luck, Martin
  35. Since there is much logical advice already here, I'll say follow your heart(you do mention that twice).
    If your gonna cheat, it might as well be with a D700. :)
  36. I'd forget about the SB-400 for weddings. I love mine, but it's not capable of recharging fast enough or putting out enough light for professional use. You can find threads regarding SB-900s overheating, it's a great flash until you use it too much. Look at the flashes with separate power packs and get a good quality flash bracket. These work with any camera you might buy.
  37. "Starting cheep and see if you like it?” What is there to find out? "Heck, I don't like cameras. I'll do weddings with a paint brush and easel."
    Why waste your money on things your going to through away? My experience is that you can spend almost as much money on the low end stuff. Then spend it all over again on the high end equipment.
  38. Flashes - Ted Thayer - "Quantum or Lumadyne". Apologies for straying off the subject a little - I was looking at the Nikon SB-900 flash unit and noted that the Nikon CLS ("Creative Lighting System") wireless capability began at their D90 level body and I didn't want to purchase any Nikon camera body that didn't have wireless capability after watching the instructional DVD released by Nikon featuring Joe McNally. I am only an amatuer and this DVD blew me many possibilities with wireless flash control in the Nikon proprietary system (CLS). So could you kindly explain why Quantum or other non-OM flash would be better? Appreciate the time and effort other have put into this - thank you.
  39. Short answer: Since you've mentioned several times that money is a critical issue, buy a D90 now, and after you learn more about the digital workflow - believe me, it's going to take some time and effort - if you want the improvements that an FX body can offer buy a D700 (or whatever model Nikon is offering at the time). You can either sell your D90 or keep it as a spare body. You'll need a backup for weddings and professional assignments, anyway.
    Regardless, don't waste your money on an SB-400.
    More detailed answer: I have never used a D90 or a D300(s), so I can't vouch for their quality directly. However, before I bought my D700, I used a D200 for about two years. When I compare my D200 photos to my D700 photos, first I want to cry. Then I want to knock myself silly for NOT buying the D700 SOONER. The D700's image quality is SO much better!
    Again, I haven't used the latest DX cameras, so I can't make a direct comparison, but even if they're halfway between D200 IQ and D700 IQ, I *still* think that the D700 is the way to go if you really, really, really care about image quality. As you said, it's not that much more than a D300. IMHO, those couple-hundred pounds are going to pay for themselves over and over and over again. Big sensors RULE!
  40. The SB-400 is a great choice if all you want is a little more power than the pop-up flash for your snapshots. If you want a flash to do more than that, the SB-400 isn't the one to get. The SB-600 has bounce capability, and the D90 can remote fire it since D90 does have commander mode. The SB-600 is the lowest cost flash Nikon currently offers that has enough power to be used with an umbrella too. LIght is important, since that's the stuff photos are made of. The difference between a snapshot and a pro portrait is the light. Your CS2 will be adequate.
    I really really care about image quality. I compared output from both D700 & D300 very closely, and just didn't see a big enough difference to justify the cost, especially factoring in an additional $3,000 (net) for new lenses. (Remember, I came to DSLR after using 4x5 large format cameras as my main camera system.)
    Kent in SD
  41. Sea Ram,
    I'm looking at the 19 September issue of the Amateur Photographer magazine right now and at an advertisement from Cameraworld for Nikon Reburbs with the note that this stock is Boxed Complete AS NEW. Some selected prices include:
    • D700: £1499.99
    • D90 ~ Body only: £569.99
    • D90 & AF-S DX 18-105 mm VR: £699.99
    Check out the Refurbished items on their site : CameraWorld .

    Happy Hunting and Good Luck!
  42. Sam;
    On choosing Glass, I too had to learn the hard way and through making a number of Expensive Mistakes. In retrospect, I wish someone would have advised me to go for the 24-70 f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8.
    I Know these seem to be expensive, but think of all the 200s and 300s of dollars you will be spending on cheeper glass on the way to see the perfection of pro grade glass.
    You may want to have a prime for walking around, and another for serious portraits, there are the 50mm f/1.4 and the 85mm f/1.8.
    And yes, buy lenses that work with FX bodies, since DX lenses will not get you much if you try to sell them later.
    As for the body, go for a D90, as its got the same sensor as a D300, although the D300, is a much more solid and versatile camera. Try to minimize your investment on the body for now, so try to buy a ReFurb or Used body, as the rumors out there that Nikon is coming up with the D700?? or even the D800 soon.
    Overall, the advice here is to invest in Excellent Glass, bodies will always be changing.
    Good Luck
  43. rjf


    D300 minimum, D700 if you can afford it...most of all get good, fast glass!
  44. Dan--
    I really really care about image quality. I compared output from both D700 & D300 very closely, and just didn't see a big enough difference to justify the cost, especially factoring in an additional $3,000 (net) for new lenses. (Remember, I came to DSLR after using 4x5 large format cameras as my main camera system.)​
    Great, and I'm glad that the D300 works so well for you! By all accounts it's a great camera, and if I shot sports or wildlife I would consider using one. How would you compare its IQ to a D200 or a D80? When you say that you "compared output" with the D700, under what conditions? Long exposures? Low ISO? High ISO?
    As I stated, I've never used a D300 or D90, so I can't rate their image quality directly. I don't know how much better the D300's IQ is as compared to the D200. Maybe the D300 is a big step forward, and that's great news for DX shooters. What I **CAN** say from years of first-hand experience is that the D700 makes the D200 look like a toy. Looking back on it, I wish that I had jumped up to a D3 a year earlier instead of spending a second year with the D200 as my primary digital camera.
    FYI - I use 4x5's, also (color, not B&W), but I don't like to compare film cameras and digital cameras. Film and digital images have an altogether different look, IMO. Not better, not worse, just different, like oil paints versus watercolors.
  45. Regarding flashes - if you're shooting weddings you're most likely going to have a flash with a diffuser on a bracket above your camera. You're also going to be shooting almost continually. Table to table, shot after shot for hours. That's were a separate power pack and flash can work.
    There was a thread around here regarding SB-900s heating up when put under those conditions. If you're doing creative set-ups, rather than pop-pop-pop goes the flash, then the Nikon's have wonderful features. Wedding and corporate events, however, typically require a whole lot of that old pop-pop-pop. Why studios use AC power supplies, power and recycling and fans for cooling.
  46. I am not here to answer. I bought D40 a year back. I ve been getting quality photo without using control buttons. Now after following the discussions in the forum, I found that I am not using full potentials of the body as well as the kit I m possessing(AF-S 18-55mm1:3.5-5.6GII & 55-200f/4-5.6G IF-ED VR lens; Speedlight SB-600) to gather experiences to move forward to pro level.
    How I m to go about !
  47. I am not here to answer. I bought D40 a year back. I ve been getting quality photo through autofocus set up without using control buttons. Now after following the discussions in the forum, I feel that I am not using full potentials of the body as well as the kit I m possessing(AF-S 18-55mm1:3.5-5.6GII & 55-200f/4-5.6G IF-ED VR lens; Speedlight SB-600) to gather experiences to move forward to pro level.
    How I m to go about !
  48. I also think the D5000 is a great starter camera. It beats the D40 in high iso performance. The D40 tops out at ISO 1600 and its Hi-1 (3200) setting introduces way too much noise into the picture.While the D5000 has amazing high ISO 6400 performance.
    I would get a D5000 body only and a nikkor 35mm f/1.8 lens to start out.
  49. I would forget about the was my starter DSLR and I quickly realised that some of the lenses I wanted the 50mm 1.8 I would have to focus manually. That's not something I wanted to do. Only AFS lenses focus automatically on a D40 unfortunately.
    I now have the D90 and I love it...although I am about to upgrade to a D700!!
  50. Two words: Buy Used!
  51. used what though?
    I have two problems with buying used
    1) the average prices Ive seen dont seem that low when compared with the most competitive retail prices so buying it new is a no brainer
    2) despite promises made and claims of being 'mint' with only 2000 actuations etc how do we know if the camera has been dropped, banged or has any minor technical issues until well into usage by which time its probably too late, unlucky!
    So, unless its from a VERY trusted source, I would always prefer to get the lowest price, new.

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