I have the D50, but is the D90 a real upgrade?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Ian Rance, Mar 31, 2010.

  1. In the next week or so I will be given first refusal on a D90 that the present owner is selling to get a D700. I think that for them that is a mistake, but anyway, the very low mileage/mint D90 will be offered to me at a well below normal price. I thought I would ask here as I am out of my depth concerning these cameras. Will using the D90 give me anything in the printed photo or viewed on screen that will look better than my D50?
    Sorry to sound so vague, but I really am not sure how to put my question other than 'should I upgrade from a D50 to a D90' or will it be a waste of funds?
    Thanks, Ian
     
  2. If your judgement criteria is purely based on printed photo or viewing on screen, my answer is a reserved 'no', unless you shoot in high ISO (e.g. above ISO800) a lot. The D90 is easily 1 stop or so above the D50 in high ISO cleanliness. Otherwise you are not getting much. 6MP vs. 12MP, well if you don't print big frequently, 6MP is enough for good 8x10" prints. Of course there are the bigger LCD screen, video, and improved AF, but I wouldn't call these essential.
     
  3. I have a D50 (my first DSLR, now a backup camera) and a D90. The D90 is a huge upgrade, with many features which will help you make good images if you use them. Having a color histogram, two control dials, a far better viewfinder, an LED screen which lets you check out what you've shot, are all big improvements. Twice as many pixels signifies a 50% improvement in image resolution. Do you ever have to shoot a large group? If you need all the faces sharp, the extra pixels make a huge difference. Do you ever have to crop? You have much more to work with. Shooting in low light is another improvement with the D90, not as big as one might expect, because the D50 is pretty good in low light. But the D90 is better.
     
  4. D90 have many features.
    upgrade to D300 or D300s. why dont you rather upgrade to FX format like D700. It might cost a more but wont have to upgrade again n again
     
  5. Thanks. So it sound like it would not be a waste then. I do shoot groups (I use my film cameras for that at the moment) and the viewfinder is always a plus. I don't think it meters with my manual lenses though - can't have everything I suppose.
    Umesh, I am only asking as I am being offered the D90 - sadly no offer of D300 or D700.
     
  6. Having once owned the D50, you will see a noticeable improvement. Better rendering of detail and the extra pixels can come in handy for cropping.
    The only thing missing is that darned aperture ring.
     
  7. wireless flash, fps, active D-lighting, ISO noise (probably at normal ISO levels as well), 3 inch AWESOME LCD and more are reasons to get the D90.
    I would say that YES it is quite an upgrade with all the technological changes in the past 5(!!!) years.
    I own the D90 and have used D50, D60, D70s, D80 and D300 (though all somewhat briefly, a judgement can easily be made.
     
  8. pge

    pge

    Ian, we know something about your lens collection from previous posts, I even recall a discussion from the past where you told us how many 50mm MF lenses you had, wasn't it 6 or 7. The reason I bring this up is that it impacts on body choice. I also have several MF lenses, although far less than you. To get full value from these great older lenses I believe one needs a camera body that will fully function with them. If you want to stay within a tight budget at the moment I would suggest a move to a d200 which can be had at a bargain price these days. Once you are at that level of camera which fully meters with your lenses I believe you will never look back. I know MF lenses work to some degree on the d50 and d90 but they are the unwanted stepchildren, on a d200 and up they work like they belong.
     
  9. Phil, I have thinned out my 50's (only got 4 now) but I agree, the lack of Ai support on the D90 is the main issue for me. I get around it on the D50, but on that I don't mind as it was so cheap as to be untrue. I will be paying more for the D90 so it is a concern. If the rest of the camera makes up for this by being much better than my D50 I may be able to forgive it. I am only being offered the D90, so any other model would just be a straight purchace.
     
  10. Ian, having owned a D50 and upgraded to the D80 (and D300) - for me the viewfinder alone was more than reason enough to upgrade to the D80 at the time. The ergonomic extras like more buttons and an extra wheel are great extras. But to have a big clear viewfinder compared to the D50s tunnel was an immediate and continious joy on that D80.
    Comparing my D50 photos to current photos (D300 being nearly equal to D90), it's not only the better ISO performance. The noise that does occur is nicer on the more recent bodies, it's less coloured noise and more uniform. On top of that, the dynamic range of these newer bodies is also better, so less clipping, especially in highlights. Dark shadows also seem to have just a bit more play in them. Depending on the type of photography you do, this can be very much worth it.
    Normally, one could also throw in the AF being better, but since you seem to like MF lenses.... does seem a bit an useless point ;-)
    So, yes, I'd rate it a solid upgrade, but whether it makes up for not being D200/D300 with Ai metering, that's something none of us can answer for you, I fear.
     
  11. Certainly an upgrade - for all the reasons already mentioned. Also, one more step on the slippery slope towards digital photography and away from scanning film. Next will come selling of the first film camera to finance yet another DSLR.
     
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    It is a major step forward from the D50 to the D90; start using live view to focus your landscape and macro images. You can also experiment with video.
    Also, one more step on the slippery slope towards digital photography and away from scanning film. Next will come selling of the first film camera to finance yet another DSLR.​
    I sold all of my film SLRs that I didn't want to keep back in 2001/2002. Today, unless you are selling an F6 or FM3a, you won't get much. The D90 is likely to be a stepping stone for Ian to move onto the higher-end DSLRs, though.
     
  13. it's a huge upgrade, ian. go for it. you'll have fun with the features it will give you
    not found in the D50. but don't sell the D50, (yet). it's a very good second/backup body.
     
  14. I upgraded from the D80 and thought it was a big improvement. I don't think you cango wrong going with the D90. (P.S. I'd love to be able to afford a D300 too but we have to settle with what we can).
     
  15. On A4 sized prints and up the D90 will give better detail rendition. Color rendition should also be a bit better.
     
  16. pge

    pge

    Ian, I respectfully disagree when you say "If the rest of the camera makes up for this by being much better than my D50 I may be able to forgive it." You are of course talking about metering, a rather important camera feature. Yes you can get by without metering, light meter or histogram, but your beautiful MF lenses will always have to take a back seat to your more modern chipped AF lenses. If I were you I would put the money aside until a proper camera for my MF collection presented itself. Of course the d700 is as close as nikon comes to the pre-dig cameras with a very nice full size viewfinder (and the bonus of no awkward video). I put a split screen into mine and shoot on full manual quite a lot. I am not suggesting it as the price is staggering and it is not twice as good as a d300, but Shun keeps saying that the d700 is late in its production cycle and a replacement may be on it way. That might mean quite a few reasonably priced d700's on the used market soon.
     
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The D90 was introduced about two months after the D700 (late August 2008 vs. July 1, 2008). Both should be kind of late in their production cycles. Ian is still buying pre-AI lenses. He shouldn't have any concerns about production cycles. :)
     
  18. I have a D50 and a D300 and I actually use the D50 more because it's lighter and I take it places where I wouldn't want to take a chance on the D300 getting damaged. The D300's big advantage is ability to meter with MF AI lenses (and somewhat better Image quality at higher ISOs. But the D50 isn't a slouch in that area either. If I had a D50 I wouldn't upgrade unless it was to a D300 or D300s. Going to the D90 is a marginal move at best unless you want the video. Of course if you want video--here's a thought--buy a video camera and keep shooting stills with the D50. D700 FF would be nice but that's a sizable jump cost wise.
     
  19. I have a D50 and a D90. For me the D90 was very much worth the upgrade. Primarily for wireless flash with Nikon speedlights. If you haven't done this yet, once you try you may be hooked, it's great. Same benefits that others have stated I agree with. I kept my D50 and like to use it with a kit lens when I want to go light or be less concerned about carrying a more valuable camera and lens combo. That being said I use my D90 90% of the time.
     
  20. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    It would be silly to suggest that it is not a major upgrade from the D50 to the D90, but for someone who has a lot of no-CPU AI/AI-S lenses such as Ian, a move to the D300/D300S or above would make a lot more sense.
     
  21. Thanks for the thoughts - all appreciated and taken on board.
    Because of the problem of most new Nikon cameras not metering with the MF lenses I am no longer byuing them - just using what I have. All my pre-Ai lenses have been converted or sold(bar the ancient 50mm f/2). It is really a shame that the D90 does not meter with the old lenses because it would be perfect for me if it did. At the moment I have no DX lenses at all, but my 70-200mm VR, 60mm AF-S Micro and 35mm f/2 AF-D work so well on my D50 that I don't miss not owning one. I would like a 16-85mm DX though as that is nice. The D90 has live view? That would be a nice feature for my wide aperture macro work.
    I will find out the price he and go from there I think. I will let you know of course.
     
  22. Huge upgrade; we have a D90, Fuji S5Pro (D200 body), D70s, D700.
    I use the 700 and girlfriend loves her 90; I have yet to remember the last time we picked up the D70s, which is there as backup only. So huge the difference is... Even the Fuji, spectacular as it is, stays home practically always.
    Pluses for the D90:
    • Higher DR (less burned highlights, more shadow room = better looking images, less posterization... less digital look compared to older bodies). D70s shows its age here: in challenging conditions, it quits a lot earlier than the other bodies.
    • Better hi iso: if you need it... but then, you'll discover that you need it. Having it available means that you'll start using it and rely on it. I shoot often 6400 on the D700; it's "clean", available, and makes new shots possible, so there it goes!
    • Better viewfinder: sorry, this is priceless... It's comparable to the one of D200 series cam. The D50, if it looks like D70, is like looking through a peephole! :)
    • Better LCD: once there, no going back
    • More controls: not a "serious" nikon, but the D90 has all the controls you need at hand. Really helpful.
    • Small: it's very, very small compared to a D200/D700. Sure, larger than D40 sized bodies, but it's really a wonderful compromise...
    As to manual focus lenses... true that it doesn't meter with older ones.
    But which ones would you want? I am able to manual focus with the large D700 viewfinder, and not 100% of the cases; on the S5 or D90, I'd never try that. Too strain on the eye. My opinion though ;)
    So go for it, no remorses. When you use it you'll love it. Then, by opening the raw files, you'll be astonished. You can even "push" a iso 3200 image on D90, and still print it! And at low iso, DR is superb.
    Happy shooting :)
    Lory
     
  23. I agree with Umesh in one way - D50 to D90 is an upgrade but a little while later you'll be wondering whether to upgrade again. I would save up for a D200 used or D300/s and skip past the D90 stage.
    HOWEVER I have yet to be convinced of the need to go from DX to FX as he suggests, and I doubt VERY much that whatever you do will be your final upgrade!!
     
  24. Keep both the D50 and get the D90 too... I did and I'm very happy. The D90 is not just a fancy D50, it produces a different kind of image (I'm not going to get into the particulars). Each camera has it's strength and both are great cameras.
     
  25. Personally I owed a D40 and a D50 and also a D300. The first two were stolen and I now have only the D300. I think constantly about selling the D300 to get one of my old cameras back. They have a very good flash sync speed, and for me this is a very big advantage. You might not care.
    I don't see much difference in image quality. IMO you get 12MP but ISO is the same. Larger screens are definitely nice, and also the newer cameras are much faster to navigate and zoom, which is also nice.
     
  26. oh yes, live view that most people look as a degrading factor in being a pro (when it first came out, but still some do today). i use live view for overhead shots on weddings --- both for the main ceremony and receptions. yes, i use two of them where i get paid. and yes again, live view is a nice feature for for macro.
     
  27. Short version -- Had a D50 for years -- loved it, took a lot of wonderful pix with it. Upgraded last year to a D90 and have absolutely no regrets -- after the D50, the big LCD and the second control dial were worth it. Live view, video, wireless flash control, hi-ISO, etc. all just seal the deal. Kept the D50, and my 12 year old son is making good use of it. Good luck!
     
  28. Mmmhhh...
    Do not get the D200. Sorry, as beautiful as that machine is, image quality is subpar. You will get amazing shots out of it, but it'll take a lot more effort than with other cameras. D200 and D80 have a similar sensor, and I never liked them at all. I sold the D80 very quickly and kept the D70, as its IQ was not to my tastes. Used a D200 too, and while it was fast (now not so much anymore), above iso400 you started to be in trouble; you wouldn't want to reach iso1600, and anything over that was even worse. D70 produce a very crisp image up to iso400, slight noise, but grainy at 800, and lots of grain, but still, a "nice" one, at 1600. D50 should be a little bit better.
    But again: once you use a better camera, no matter size or "love", the old one will stay home.
    I loved my Fuji in a crazy way; its huge DR, subtle tonalities, incredibly pastel like rendition, and a semipro body (D200); even though in pure DR and tonalities the D700 is worse, I haven't used the Fuji in 1 month. Exactly the time I bought the D700. So nice to have a "better" overall camera is.
    Keep the D50 as backup (you really never know! and it'd be a pity to sell it for peanuts), buy the D90, and be happy :)
    Lory
    p.s.
    yes, live view is invaluable when you want to make landscapes or macro...
     
  29. Thank you all again - your input is invaluable as usual.
    I will speak to him (the seller) over Easter and chat about it. I think the D90 will be fun and with luck we can reach a price we are both happy with.
     

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