D80 Upgrade

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mark_haydon, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. I have started to research an uprade for my D80 which I have been using for sometime. I have the kit 18-135mm lens plus a Nikon 50mm prime lens - a Tokina Macro lens - and a Sigma 120-400mm (bought as I went to Yellowstone this week!).
    If I upgrade the Body I will go to a D90 - which gets nothing but rave reviews. Having said that I don't think I need live view or video.... So last night I thought about upgrading my lens. I might not do it all in one hit - but if I don't get the D90 body, I would be looking at getting the Nikon 18-200mm VRII as a replacement to the 18-135mm - and at some point I want to add the Nikon 12-24 (or 10-24) or the Tokona 11-17.... Wide angle would have been great in Yellowstone too!!
    If anyone has observations or comments I would be very glad to listen. I am an amateur and at the moment I think I am leaning towards improving the my lenses ....
    Thanks to all who help.
  2. Sigh. It's late. I'm tired, so I won't even TRY to figure out why people who ask 'upgrade' questions seldom (if ever) tell us what they shoot. I also wonder why they never have images posted anywhere. In the immortal words of the Great Detective, "It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts." Please help us with a few facts about your photography tastes and goals, and maybe we can say something useful.
  3. Well - maybe 'newbies' are not aware of what's needed for other (more experienced) photographers to make suggestions. In many respects I thought that the fact that I am not worried about Live View or Video might be enough. However - to help others help me - I'd say I like to take Landscape and Wildlife - I love macros and I could shoot flowers all day.
    At the moment - as a father of a soon to be 2 year old daughter - I don't get to shoot as much as I would want and there are a lot of portraits and shots of my daughter dominating my usage. This week I have been in Yellowstone and for the first time experienced the importance of fast lenses in low light during the pre-dawn expiditions.
    If more information is needed let me know. Thanks.
  4. mtk


    Hi Mark, I went from a D80 to D90 and love it. I shoot sports, wildlife, and landscapes. Like Les said without more information it is always difficult to make some kind of recommendation including budget. This is my opinion: Although the 18 -200 is a highly regarded lens and is very convenient..I would spend the money on fast glass first. The D80 is a great camera, the metering and highlights can get dicey on rare occasions but to me not enough to be a deal breaker. If you think you "need to do something" look into the Tamron 17-50 2.8 image stabilized lens. If you want a real bargain, try to find the non stabilized version. This lens will make a greater impact on your photography than replacing the body. I purchased the D80 with the 90 primarily for its higher iso quality and somewhat faster framing rate. I shoot alot of indoor and low light stuff. There are better choices, but that is what fit my budget at the time. I have used the video once in awhile, but I really could have cared less if it was on the camera or not. That lens is listed as a macro as well. I have to assume that your prime lens is the 50/1.8...Fabulous lens at a bargain price! The 17-50 will give you convenience and speed. In true low light situations you will be disappointed in the 18-200 IMHO. My basic lens kit with my D90 is the 17-50 2.8 Tamron, the 70-200 2.8 Sigma and an elcheapo 70-300 Sigma APO 3.5/5.6. The 17-50 is on it 80% of the time.
    Good luck on your choice....
  5. Many thanks Mark. I'll look into the Tamron lens ... 2.8 is attractive! Will let you know what I work out.
  6. Superzooms like the 18-200 VR are controversial. Some, including me, love them. Others complain that they are soft especially at the long end. My experience, and test results I've seen, show that while they are not as sharp as good shorter ratio zooms, they are still sharp enough to produce very good to excellent 8x10 and good to very good 11x14's. If however you insist on very good to excellent prints larger than 11x14, you may not be satisfied with any superzoom. Then again you have the 120-400 for when you need a long lens.
    I like to carry a minimum of gear so I often go out with just my D90 or D3100 and my Tamron 18-270 VC PZD. Usually I'll also take my Sigma 10-20 and Nikon FF Fisheye for shooting around the city (NYC).
    I suggest that you go for the 18-200 VR or for an ultrwide zoom. The D80 is still a good camera. I think the 18-200 VR would be a more useful upgrade than the D90. An ultrawide zoom, like a Sigma 10-20 or Tamron 10-24 (I think that the Nikons are overpriced for most amateurs) would be a good addition, especially for landscapes.
    So my recommendation is to get the ultrawide zoom. The D80 and the lenses that you have now are still good. Get something that you don't now have, and that's the ultrawide zoom. My second choice would be the 18-200 VR not only because it's longer than your 18-135, but more importantly, the VR lets you shoot stationary or slow moving subjects in much lower light.
  7. you always have to ask what's the reason for upgrading? IMO the d80 takes better pics at base ISO than the d90 and d300. it's that CCD look. my first "real" lens purchase when i had that camera was a tokina 12-24, that's a great landscape combo @f/8 and ISO 100, super-saturated and contrasty.
    personally, i dont think an 18-200 would do as much as an UWA. it only gives you 70mm more than the kit lens and is soft at the long end anyway. a 70-300 VR or tamron version would be better IMO.
    if you like macro and landscape, tho', live view is a good feature to have. but that in and of itself wouldnt do as much for your photography as a better lens.
  8. Thanks Eric - The plan would be to replace the kit lens with the 18-200 if I go that route... But I am getting good pics with the kit lens so I need to be practical rather than be too wishful!
    I keep saying Tokina 11-17 ... its actually 11-16 and gets great reviews, but may be too wide.
    I'm still researching!
  9. The Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 is excellent (I have it,) but if you don't need f2.8 the Sigma 8-16mm might be more interesting. More important than lenses, what tripod & head do you have?
    Kent in SD
  10. I my opinion going from 18-135 to 18-200 it is not a real upgrade. When I think in spending some money usually I make a purchase that makes a true impact in my gear.
    Considering this I would go for high quality zooms like the nikon 12-24/4, 10-24/3.5-4.5, 17-55/2.8 or 80-200/2.8.
  11. If you don't like changing lenses, the 18-200mm is an excellent upgrade of your current kit lens. Having the ability to instantly go from 18mm to 200mm gives you a lot of shooting flexibility and convenience. You will rarely take it off your camera.
  12. The 18-200 is worth buying if you are going to be doing the kind of travel where you really need to have just one lens or you know that you are going to be rapidly switching from wide to tele very often. I LOVED mine, but no longer have it. I replaced it with an 18-70 (which is no better in that range than the 18-200 was, but no worse, and very small and light, too) and a 70-300 VR (which I really like a lot). That said, it's softness at the long end means that anything above 8 x 10, imho, is problematic, from 135 on (exactly the range you're "adding"). Having to shoot at f8 or f11 on the long end can be problematic, and very few of my favorite shots from that lens are at that long end, actually.
    Seeing what you have, I'd get rid of the 18-135 and replace it with a 16-85 VR instead, though. Crop in at the wide end when you need to, or scrimp and save for a tele zoom of some sort if you really need long, because if you really need "good" long lengths and shoot there a lot, then the 18-200 isn't the best solution at all, and if you don't need the long stuff much, 85 is plenty long.
  13. This week I have been in Yellowstone and for the first time experienced the importance of fast lenses in low light during the pre-dawn expiditions.​
    One other thing... you don't need fast glass in these times as much as a good solid tripod.
  14. I'd second the 16-85VR. The 2mm extra wide end makes quite some impact (and may make you postpone getting a 'real' wide angle), and it's a very good landscape lens.
  15. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    To the OP, is there something wrong with your D80 such that you need an upgrade? I don't mean that your D80 is now broken, but rather its capabilities are insufficient to get the job done?
    The D90 uses essentially the same outside camera body as the D80 with minor additional to accomodate live view and video. Inside, the electronics are newer such as the 12MP CMOS sensor that has better low-light results. However, the AF system remains to be the same.
    If the D80 can still get the job done, I'd say stay with it; otherwise, the D7000 would be a bigger improvement.
    The 18-200 is not an improvement from the 18-135 although the lens mount is not plastic. The 18-200 is weak on its long end that you should avoid using, so practically it is not all that different from the 18-135. If you want better quality, I would avoid getting such an extreme zoom.
  16. I second what Eric said about that CCD-look. I still like that look n feel over and above what my D300 produces (borderline plasticy images). I say keep the D80 and go for a decent lens
  17. Suggest going to Flickr and doing a tag search on Nikon 18-200 before you buy. You may be urprised how good it actually is. This image should provide a nice introduction :)
  18. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Les, how does a small JPEG image such as the one you linked to demonstrate the quality of a lens?
  19. Suggest going to Flickr and doing a tag search on Nikon 18-200 before you buy. You may be urprised how good it actually is.This image should provide a nice introduction :)
    However, ANY lens can make an image that looks good "on screen" on the interwebz. But if you have to blow up, it's another story. In fact, sharpness is far from the most important thing in many photographs, and for those it will do nicely.
    I thin the 18-200 is a great lens, especially on the 6MP cameras that were the amateur standard when it came out (like the D50 I used with it). Go beyond 10MP and crop or blow up a bit, and it really loses something (although for "snapshots" it's still pretty perfect).
    I compared it at 200 to the 70-300 at 200 and 300 and saw what I was missing and promptly sold it with few regrets. But if I had to have a "one lens solution", I'd consider it... but I'd probably get a 16-85 and just crop at the long end.
  20. I shoot digital with a D80 & Tamron 17-50 & Nikon 85 f/1.8. This is my travel, family, every day rig. For landscape I shoot film with a Pentax 67. A Gitzo CF tripod is used always with the Pentax, and often with the D80. I have come to appreciate the abilities of the D80 for shooting landscapes on a tripod at base ISO 100.
    If you want to invest more in the DX format, I would suggest keeping the D80 and buying another lens or two. Use a tripod for landscapes, and the high ISO / low-light discussion is unnecessary. Shooting hand-held, I am satisfied with my D80 up to ISO 400, and occasionally ISO 800. If a new camera body is still in the budget, I agree with Shun that the D7000 would be a better choice for a significant upgrade.
    In addition to an investment in lenses and a tripod for landscape, you may want to investigate graduated neutral density filters, particularly when the sky is in the frame.
    I use the Lee system, and the lens adapters allow the system to mount swiftly on any slr or dslr. There are also filter systems which are smaller than the Lee system, and less expensive. You can shoot multiple digital exposures and combine them in Photoshop, or choose to use filters to balance the light at the time of capture.
    Lee Filters has published a book on the subject of using filters:
  21. les, that's a great shot but i have to agree with shun: the 18-135 is capable of doing exactly the same thing. while you may like your 18-200, it's poor advice for the OP to recommend he spend money on something which is offers only a marginal increase in focal range and no increase in IQ--in fact it might be slightly worse. it's not really an "upgrade" from a kit lens, just a more expensive lens with VR and kit lens image quality. the only thing it gives you is the convenience of not switching lenses, but honestly, you'd get more out of a 70-300 if you need more reach, and much more out of an UWA, 2.8 zoom, or fast prime.
    If the OP is looking to expand his photographic capabilities, an ultrawide and/or fast aperture lens are the easiest ways to get there. the 18-200 is overpriced, soft at the long end, distorted at the wide end, and has the same slow vari-aperture as the 18-135. OTOH, with an ultrawide you can literally widen your perspective, and with a fast aperture lens you can isolate the subject. either or both of those things will make more of an impact, visually-speaking, than an extra 70mm on the long end.
    I second what Eric said about that CCD-look. I still like that look n feel over and above what my D300 produces (borderline plasticy images). I say keep the D80 and go for a decent lens.​
    the advantage of CMOS is sensitivity to light, which translates into better high-ISO performance. but for landscape photography, where you're typically shooting at base ISO, that advantage is negated. OTOH, CCD produces better technical image quality. the d80's imaging sensor was tweaked by Nikon to be a little more vivid--its reds especially--and when paired with a nice 'n' contrasty lens, can really make stunning pics. so for a macro and landscape shooter, the only reason to update would be live view, which i personally almost never use.
    in any event, updating the body will not improve IQ, except above ISO 800.
  22. Les, how does a small JPEG image such as the one you linked to demonstrate the quality of a lens?​
    If you click on 'View All Sizes', you have access to the original, which is approx 2800x4000 pixels. Unfortunately, you cannot link to that size, AFAICT.
  23. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Les, can you confirm that you are talking about this image?http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotosmontt/3309697498/sizes/o/in/photostream/
    That entire image looks soft to me. Moreover, the EXIF data show that it was captured with a D300 at ISO 1250. Even though you started with an excellent lens, the D300 @ ISO 1250 is going to negate much of the quality anyway; as a result that picture is fairly noisy. And that is a portrait where all corners are out of focus, which hides a lot of issues. The focal length used was 105mm, which is not in the weak part of the 18-200. The 18-200 is worst on the 200mm end.
    I would suggest that you take a look at my post on Feb 19, 2010 at11:30am on the following thread: http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00VnWP

    And the tests I did: http://static.photo.net/attachments/bboard/00V/00VoIT-221989584.jpg
    Take a look at the patterns on the wall; it is all just a blur in the image captured by the 18-200 @ 200mm, even closed down to f8. At the time I only had the first version of the 70-200mm/f2.8 AF-S VR. The new VR II is even better.
  24. Shun: It is a bit soft. I suspect it was handheld, and at maximum aperture (according to the EXIF). Still, it cleans up pretty well. The attached screen grab represents a 14x21 inch print (on most current monitors) after de-noise and sharpening. My point was for the OP to have a look and decide for himself if the quality is sufficient. Consider that a monopod would probably have let this shot be taken at IS) 320, which would make a substantial difference.
    Note: I am aware that posting the attached constitutes a technical violation of PN's TOU. Moraly, however, I feel no guilt. :)
  25. Hi Mark:
    I have both a D80 and D90. Both are great bodies.
    I bought the D80 with the 18-200VR (1st gen). I could never get that 'tack sharp' look.
    My rationale for purchasing the D90 was less noise in low light (this was 2 years ago) and bigger rear display. It was not a quantum leap moving from the D80 to the D90. I was a bit surprised because the D80 uses a CCD and the D90 a CMOS sensor. Getting different lenses was. Now I use both the D80 and D90 about the same amount.
    My favorite lenses are a 70-300 VR (great sharp lens for outdoors and very reasonably priced), a Tokina 12-24 f/4, and a Sigma 50mm f/1.4. I'm a ripe amateur too. I mostly shoot gardens, landscapes and my dogs. I like having 2 bodies so I have 2 cameras set to go with different lenses. I also have a Sigma 85mm f/1.4 and a Nikon 35mm f/1.8.
    I seldom use the 18-200VR. I don't get the images I want out of it.
    If I was in your shoes, I'd seriously consider a Nikon 70-300VR. The extra reach is great. One has to remember that it is not a low-light lens. As for the rear display, a Hoodman loupe will fix the size issue pretty fast. Fast lenses help with the noise issues by not requiring as high ISO.
    I think the focus system of the D7000 and the lower noise would make me consider it above a D90, which is pretty long in the tooth. Still, a like-new D90 is a great economical way to get a second body that shares the same batteries.
    Hope this helps.
    Regards, John
  26. Just got back from my trip to Yellowstone and havuing a cuppa before downloading the images.
    THANKS TO EVERYONE! I really truly appreciate the advice and suggestions. I'm certainI am keeping the D80 and going to add to my glass collection! :) What I add - I need to determine yet. As good as the 18-200 VRII is - I dont think it will be that. I will re-examine the photos that I am getting from my kit lens - as long as I am happy with them - there is no reason to swap it out for a 'better' but pretty much similar range lens.
    Quick hits:
    Not sure who it was that analized the D80 vs D90 from a technical perspective - but that was hugely helpful and put the nail in the coffin for a new body.
    I'll check out the other lenses - the 16-85 seems to come HIGHLY recommended. But again - if I am keeping the 18-135mm kit lens then it seems like a lot of overlap. So I am going to research the Ultra-wide options. Both zoom and prime. I don't mind switching out lenses .... the bigger deal is carrying the equipment.
    *** Tripod - yes I have one!! NO - I never use it because I went cheap and hate it!! Everything on this trip was hand held!!! *** If someone wants to recommend a really user friendly Tripod / mount - I'd be real grateful!! Will touch base after more research.
    Again - Thanks!
  27. John - we must have been typing away at the same time... thanks for your feedback thats really great information.
    I know the Sigma 120-400 is enormous ... and I love the sound of a tack sharp lens, but wouldn't the 70-300mm be significant overlap? I guess with the 16-85mm and the 70-300mm I am covered and have 2 very portable lenses !
    I would make the 18-135mm redundant so I need to see if thats the way I want to go. In a lot of respects it makes sense.
    LOL. What seemed simple seems to be much more complicated than I thought!
  28. The one thing I'd advise most about a tripod is that the head is the single most important part. I strongly suggest getting one that is compatible with Acra Swiss style QR plates, such as the AcraTech, Markins, RRS, etc.
    Kent in SD

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