I shoot sports shots, flowers, and family. Which Nikon & 2 or 3 lenses should I buy on a $1000 budget?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by ken_wayne|1, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. I'm trying to help a friend. She's around 68 years old. Very spry young lady. She has shot a Nikon Film camera for years. I don't think she's done a lot of manual shooting. Can't remember which model she shoots at the moment. She now wants to move into Nikon Digital and I am a Canon guy so I'm hoping you guys can help her.
    She has about $1000 to throw at a nice kit. She explained to me that she shoots mostly hand held so being older I would think she would want a more lighter weight kit. She told me she likes being able to move around and shoot whatever is in sight. She also photographs her grandkids in soccer, football, etc. She'll need auto and I'm sure an in camera flash would be wanted though she might buy an external flash later on once she learns more.
    I just never have shot Nikon so could you guys suggest a body and two or three lenses which would benefit her? She was looking at a red Nikon D3200 Digital SLR Camera & 18-55mm G VR DX AF-S Zoom Lens + 55-200mm VR Lens + 16GB Card + Case + Filters + Tripod + Telephoto & Wide-Angle Lens Kit at Amazon for $799.
    But she told me she's fine with buying used or refurbished and I thought she could get a better camera by buying one of the pro grade Nikons. I'd like to move her towards higher end used gear or refurbished gear vs. consumer grade plasticky models.
    So what would you guys suggest?
    Thanks in advance for any help.
  2. Nikon's consumer grade plasticky models do not feel 'cheap' or plasticky in any way. They are all quality products that will last for years and deliver exceptional IQ. The kit you came up would be a perfect choice.
    Since used gear is a consideration, perhaps a better choice within your $1000 budget would be to get a used D7000 ($750 or less), a used 18-55mm (about $80) and a 55-300mm (about $240).
  3. Hi Ken. $1000 is one of those tricky sums - it can get you a good body with cheaper lenses or a cheaper body with slightly better lenses. Allowing for not getting an external flash in the $1000, I 'll have a go at some suggestions. The usual caveat that "the poor person pays twice" applies, so it seems to make sense to have at least some components which will survive the inevitable desire to upgrade in the future.
    As she's shot Nikon film cameras, I'm assuming she has some lenses.

    SPORTS: Decent AF performance is important here and might be a little tricky on the budget. I'd suggest a used D300, but its heavy. Also, with the slowish zooms that fall within budget, she'll be pushing higher ISO to freeze action and the D300 now lags a bit in this area compared with say the D7000 or D5100.
    WALKABOUT: Yes, lighter weight is desirable, as probably is a decent 'standard zoom' possibly with VR (IS) for hand holding.
    D300 (used): Great focusing, exposure accuracy, weather sealed, relatively weaker high ISO, heavy
    D90 (used or new): Same IQ as D300, decent focusing screen, will AF with older AF lenses, will meter with manual focus lenses, flash can act as commander for external speedlight (recommend used SB600 or new SB700), sensible weight; descended from N80 via D70 & D80
    D7000 (new): Good higher ISO IQ, other advantages as D90, may be out of budget, heavier than D90
    D5100 (end of line - cheap deals): Same IQ as D7000, light, fold out screen for discreet people shots / macro work; cannot AF with lenses without motor, flash cannot command external speedlight, darker & smaller focusing screen, I keep knocking the focusing point on mine & there's no lock
    D3100 (end of line): Same disadvantages as D5100 but light, no fold out screen
    D3200: Same advantages / disadvantages as D3100 with 24mp to play with - more demanding on lenses, higher ISO may be weaker than D5100 / D7000

    LENSES: Used 18-70mm f3.5-4.5 - cheap, good IQ, decent range, no IS; 18-55 - limited range but VR, plastic lens mount, slowish; 18-105mm - plastic mount, VR, decent range & IQ; 18-135mm (used), distortions, no VR; 18-200mm (used version 1 better value) - good range, best at shorter FL, weak at longer end, VR effective; 55-200mm VR - excellent value, plastic mount, light; 55-300 VR - same IQ as 55-200, slightly longer reach, metal mount and reasonable build; 70-300mm - benefits as 55-300mm, heavier & more expensive but faster AF.
    My suggestion! Lightly used D90; used 18-70mm for walkabout (depending on lenses already owned) or 18-105mm VR; 55-300mm VR for sports (but AF not the quickest - although My D300 + 55-300 did a passable job of capturing birds in flight). If budget could be stretched, then the D7000 becomes a contender. My own view is that the cheaper bodies have too many compromises in terms of handling and the ability to use a wider range of lenses etc. but they are lighter. I own a D5100 & D300 and have a bad back so am acutely aware of this! A D90 gives you flexibility plus lighter weight, the trade-off being fewer megapixels etc.
    Hope this helps.
  4. I think an 18-55/55-200 combo would be great for most amateur shooters, myself, although I like Simon's idea of a used D90/18-70 combo, which is what I have, with a 70-300 VR lens.
    Also, a cheap tripod is always a complete waste of money.
  5. Sports? What sports? Golf, Formula 1 and hockey all have different dynamics. Can you be a bit more specific?
    Not to self: soccer, football. Next time, read first, react later.
    Based on your into, I expect weight to be an issue to keep in mind. Pro grade bodies and lenses are heavy. Why not look for a nice kit with one or two zoom lenses. Soccer is not that fast a game to shoot, so high end AF capabilities are not strictly necessary.
  6. Given we are in the holiday season, she may be able to find a new kit of a D3200/18-55 VR/55-200 VR (or 55-300 VR) for well under $1000. The D3200 can be interchanged with a D3100 or a D5100 to get the price down further. With the balance, she can pick up a nice SB-700 flash or a 35mm f/1.8 for low-light photos. If she went used across the board on the kit and those additional items, she may be able to get everything for under $1000.
  7. For sports shots, that almost immediately narrows her choices down. If she's shooting in daylight and she wants enough range for soccer, the Tamron 70-300mm VC lens is probably the one that she wants. If she is shooting night sports, then she should get the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 OS, although that will eat up her whole budget. The weight of that lens isn't an issue, as it has a tripod collar. I almost exclusively shot my 70-200mm lens off of a monopod. It made it much easier to track focus, as the monopod held the lens, so my right hand controlled the camera, while my left pointed the lens and operated the zoom mechanism. I have a 55-200mm VR, and the reason that I don't recommend that lens, or the 55-300mm which is the same build quality, is because although the optics are great, the autofocus is rather slow. They are rather similar lenses to your Canon world's 55-250mm, while the Tamron 70-300mm VC is like your 70-300mm IS. I recommend the Tamron over the Nikon 70-300mm VR version because it's cheaper, and it performs better. For the rest of the time, the 18-55mm and 35mm f/1.8G will be enough for her general shots.
    As for bodies, the D3200 is about what the Canon T4i is, maybe a little less. The D5100 is somewhere between the T4i and 60D, so it would probably be good for her, with one caveat: it has a smaller viewfinder, which an older shooter may find limiting. Cameras are tied enough to semiconductor/processor advancement that for most people, getting a newer, lower-end camera is better than an older, higher-end camera in most situations. Again, going back to your Canon world, would you really recommend a 20D to anyone over even a T4i? For a flash, I recommend getting an SB400, even if the camera has built-in flash. The SB400 most importantly doesn't drain the smaller batteries of Nikon's lower-end cameras, and it's also more powerful, bounces, and recycles very quickly. If she had a bigger budget, I'd recommend something that bounces AND swivels, like a used SB600. If she shoots in automatic modes like you say, then she might as well put her budget towards lenses, which means she doesn't need the D7000. The D90 is worthwhile if you find a used one in good condition for $400-$450, and are up for the tradeoffs between it and the D5100.
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Please keep in mind that the total budget here is $1000 for a DSLR body plus 2, 3 lenses. That means we are talking about spending at most $200 to $300 per lens. That is a very limited, consumer budget. Therefore, there will have to be some compromises. In other words, any one of those 70-200mm/f2.8 lenses is out of the question. Even getting a 70-300mm/f4.5-5.6 from Tamron or Sigma will be tight.
  9. Broadly speaking, I agree with Ariel on the D5100 vs D90 and this would allow more spend on lenses. However, as a Nikon film user, your friend may have some legacy lenses which could be used given the right body. If a Tamron 70-300 can be had on budget, so much the better.
  10. It would help us if you could find out all the equipment she has now. Even pretty old Nikon lenses will work on new camera bodies, not like Canon where so many lenses will not work on many bodies.
  11. Here's the thing, if she doesn't know what mode she is shooting in, then virtually any camera is going to be just fine. A D300 for shooting sports in great, provided you understand and use the 51-focus points a D300 offers. Otherwise, it isn't going to make a difference. For most users who want to control their focus point (and most NEVER take the camera out of auto-auto-focus), then the center focus point is usually enough. So, IMHO, the proposed kit is just fine. It's far enough under budget that I would recommend picking up the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 for any indoor shooting.
  12. Hello Ken!

    It is very nice of you to help your friend with these decisions.

    You have come to the right place since these contributors here know what they are talking about.

    Before the considerations concerning what to purchase I would like to comment and note the process of these decisions.

    Who will be taking the decisions? You or your friend? Will there be a back and forth discussion and you will be acting like an advisor or
    sounding board? Some people are very particular ( and sensitive) about these issues.

    It seems that the contributors will be you, her, contributors here and perhaps others.

    Here are issues that I would consider important:

    From whom? Vendor reputation would be first on my list.

    Timing of purchases. How soon, purchase all at once or separate time frames.

    More information: What equipment does she have now? What does she like/dislike about her current kit? What are the ergonomics of that
    kit? Will lenses be used or useful on the digital camera?

    What decisions have already been taken? You mention that she would like a digital camera and then talk about DSLRs. Presumably
    other camera types are not to be considered.

    Which problem are we to solve? The best kit for her? Or the best kit for her that you like and approve? For example you would like to
    move her towards more "professional" equipment. I think you would like her to maximize the value but the best solution may not be the
    best equipment.

    The Amazon kit seems to me to be 99 per cent of the solution. I find the greatest help is to explain the alternatives and WHY these may
    be suitable for her current situation.

    Perhaps it is worth mentioning that a DSLR purchase is an expansive world where one does not get stuck like a point and shoot. It is a
    system. I would not try to get everything in one decision. For example - flowers. The current budget may not allow a macro lens but in the
    future- who knows?

    What would I recommend? Keep the current decision as simple as possible. Buy from a reputable vendor. I would buy from bhphoto the
    exact camera and the exact kit lens but not the telephoto. This cost is $600. I would defer the flash, tripod etc. I would then concentrate
    on the zoom telephoto lens. Here is where I would try to consider bang for the buck used. What to buy is best left to others because I
    don't know enough about these lenses and sport shooting.

    Good luck to both of you.

    Brad Anderson

    P.S. The camera should be red in color. This is no joke, just ask my wife.
  13. I'm going to approach this a little different. I don't see any mention of the output of her current camera. She's used to film so she's probably used to getting prints and maybe a CD after getting her film processed. Once she gets this nice digital camera, what is she going to do with the digital files? Does she have a computer? How is she going to process her digital files? What is she going to want out of the digicam? Upload to Facebook? 4" x 6" prints? The occasional 8" x 10"?
  14. I'd get the refurb'd D5100, $429 -- see B&H, they have free shipping, then turn to eBay, be a little patient, and pick up a used Tamron 70-300 SP ($350-400) (a great lens, some superior to the Nikon; I have one and like it a lot) and the 18-55 VR ~$100). If she were able to go a couple hundred higher I'd turn the 18-55 into a 16-85mm. I have that lens and love it. I got it used for $400. The other long option is the 55-300mm but it doesn't focus as fast, I don't think. IQ is for these purposes probably about the same (?).
  15. Thank you guys so very much for all of your help and suggestions. Quickly, I just found someone locally to me who is selling the following:

    Nikon D60 DSLR with a AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55 f/3.5-5.6G VR lens and AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED with camera bag. Includes all the parts, lens caps, charger, battery, USB cord, manuals, etc. He's asking $325 for it.

    Is this something to grab quickly or let go for some reason?
  16. Opinions vary. It isn't a bad price, but I am not overly thrilled with the D60. Old sensor & terrible (compared to anything more recent) high ISO performance.
  17. That price for the D60 kit is not bad. It's all a matter of what she wants to accomplish. Even though the D60 is old, it may just suit her needs (with $675 to keep in her pocket or use on other equipment that could help her in other ways).
    My first run into photography with a dSLR was with this very same kit. I took it on two vacations and have some spectacular shots with it. I sold mine after five months because I got the photography bug and wanted to expand my capabilities a little...ended up going with the D90 for two years.
  18. I just wanted to come back to this thread again and thank all of you guys more thoroughly. I really - really appreciate all the insights and help. And for free! How wonderfully gracious and neighborly of you all. This is why the photo.net website is so successful.

    I've been in some other discussion forums as of late where the participants aren't always so kind.

    Ok, I went and bought the D60 kit. It was completely "not" what I thought it was going to be when I arrived to pick it up. ( for me.....a lesson in haste )

    It's a very small camera and exactly what I suggested to her "not" to buy......ha! But I didn't want to waste the sellers time and the price was still fair enough so I bought it in the dark of night looking it over as best I could.

    Cut to the fun part. When I got it out of the bag later in the night I began tinkering with it and was going to change lenses but before I did I looked through the viewfinder and noticed something black showing in the view. Odd. I removed the lens to take a gander and, behold, there was a piece of black plastic inside the camera sitting on the mirror. It turned out to be one of the black edges of the rear plastic part of the mount of the 18-55mm lens. It appears to have simply chipped right off of the back of the lens and landed on the mirror. Uggh.
    This is what I was trying to avoid by buying the better grade gear and not this plasticky stuff.
    Oh well.
    Thanks again for all of the wonderful input from you guys.
    I snapped these two shots of the broken lens with my i-phone to show you guys:
  19. I had a 28-200mm where a similar thing happened - the perils of plastic mounts. The D90 might be a sensible upgrade in the future, with not too much lost on the body. I'd still recommend hunting out a decent used 18-70mm - I would guess not much more than $100.
  20. Ken, I have been looking at this same kit at Costco for $779. It's much smaller lighter in the hand and more portable than
    my d3s or d800e. The lens reviews that I have seen show the two lenses to be very decent and the sensor has pretty
    good specs. Actually the sensor is really good. I think it's a great deal but remind her she will need a modern lap top with
    lots of RAM to handle the huge images if she shoots raw. That can be a problem if she has a fixed income but the cost of
    film and processing are gone. I would buy new from a big box store. It will be easier to return if she doesn't like it. I don't
    consider 68 to be old and plan to be gainfully employed and buying new camera gear well past that age ;). Good hunting.
  21. Too bad on the broken lens. Did you decline to buy it? I think you should get out of that purchase. If you can't, you can get the mount piece replaced, it's not that expensive to do so.
    If you're still looking, the D3200 plus 2 lenses seems the way to go - just make sure it's actually coming from an authorized dealer. There would be extra budget available for a 35mm f/1.8 lens if she wants something like that. It's a good lens for lower light / indoors.
  22. Replace the 18-55 with a used 18-70mm. Use it and save for a body with better AF, viewfinder and ISO performance. Hopefully soccer and football are daytime activities.
  23. Andy L, I didn't decline but I did ask for a $25 refund offset the devaluation of the lens and he agreed and will mail it back to me. I could have asked for all of my money back but I was going to have to drive another 120 miles round trip to get the refund so I can sell everything and should be able to get my $300 and gas back easily enough. Again, it just confirmed my initially reasoning to encourage her to shy away from those cheaper plastic lenses and cameras. Aren't the lenses with the D3200 going to be the same type? I've not checked. I'd rather see her put her money into a professional grade body then buy two lenses that have the metal mounts therefore making a safer investment.

    Carl, thanks for the advice. I'll look into it.
  24. Breaking the lens mount on those is actually a fairly rare occurrence. The guy had one of a relatively small number of broken ones and wanted to offload it. I wouldn't stay away from them in general.
    Anyway, the plastic lenses are so cheap you have to do a cost/benefit. Suppose a plastic mount lens is $100 and the equivalent metal mount lens is $200, and let's assume that a broken lens will require replacement. Suppose the probability that you'll break it is 10%. (It's actually much lower, but let's be generous.) The expected cost due to breakage is $100*10% = $10. The cost of the lens plus the expected cost of breakage is $110, so buying the plastic lens saved you #90.

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