If you were me, what would you buy next?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by ruth_grant, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. Hi all,
    Thank you in advance for reading my question. I know questions like this are asked all the time, but I appreciate any advice you could give.
    I am not a professional photographer and I'm not sure I ever will be one, but I do love taking photographs and I know that good equipment goes a long way. I also don't buy new equipment very often so when I do upgrade, I don't mind paying a bit more because I plan to keep whatever it is for a long time.
    I also know that the best way to improve the quality of your photos is to read, learn and practice and I'm working on that. I feel that my equipment is holding me back somewhat though and that it should be a two-pronged approach: upgrade some equipment and then practice even more!
    I like taking pictures of everything and everything. When I'm at home in South Africa it's a lot of scenery and wildlife photography, where I live in Singapore it's a lot of street and "random" (for lack of a better word) stuff. My biggest challenge in Singapore is the F1 night race - after 2 consecutive years of not very good photos, I'm hoping for something spectacular this year.
    (BTW "random" = dogs, flowers, sunsets, clouds, people, etc)
    My budget - about $3000 for a new camera body and a new lens or lenses (but the longer I wait, the more I save and the bigger the budget!).
    This is what I have at the moment:
    • Nikon D50
    • SB-600
    • Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 ED (old push-pull version)
    • Nikon 85mm f1.8
    • Nikon 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 ED (kit lens that came with the D50)
    • Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6
    • Phoenix 19-35mm f3.5-4.5
    I am prepared to wait a few months to upgrade the camera body. I am currently torn between the D90 and the D300s, but I am also eagerly waiting to see what Nikon brings out in 2010. I did think about the D700 for a while, but I'm not sure - to me it seems too big and scary - I'm afraid it might be too much camera for me.
    The D50 is a lovely camera, and I have had some awesome times with it during the past 5 years but I do want something with faster AF and better low-light performance. And, whatever I buy, has to last for about the next 5 years or so.
    I adore the 80-200mm f2.8, even though it's heavy it's a fantastic lens. The 85mm is a very challenging lens - it really makes me think about how to get the shot I want and makes me get up and move around which I like.
    The kit lens is OK. Just OK. It's the one on the camera most of the time and it's the one that's frustrating me most I think. It's the one I primarily want to replace.
    So, I've been looking and came across the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8. I like the idea of a very well made, well thought of and fast lens. Would I be wasting my money buying it for a DX body? Or, would I be sort of wasting my money buying it for a DX body now and using it on a FF body in a few years time?
    Other options are maybe the 28-70mm or a Sigma or Tokina.
    I also want a very wide angle, but that's not a priority. Oh, and a fisheye, just for the fun of it, but that's a lot of money for something to use just for fun.
    So, if you were me, what would you do? Would you go for a D300s (or D300 as I don't need video) or a D90 right now? Would you buy the 24-70 f2.8?
    I suppose it all comes down to the fact that I've finally saved the money, it's sitting in the bank account calling me to go and use it and I really feel like just going and buying something!
    Anyway, thank you again for reading, I would appreciate any ideas!
  2. Sounds like fun! Anything to distract me from my own photography has got to be a good thing. :p
    IMHO you want the best value body with good low-light performance. I think the D300/s fits this bill. Perhaps if the D90 equals it, and has a decent AF system and frame rate, get that (or wait a bit for its replacement; it isn't as if you have a deadline). D700 is great - don't be intimidated by any camera. Remember, the camera works for you. But the DX bodies probably suit your subject matter more.
    The lens issue is actually trickier. That 24-70/2.8 sounds like a good replacement for the kit lens. So why not? Maybe an inexpensive micro lens as well? You have the 55 and the 60 and even the 105 to choose from.
  3. I'd say for your budget, get the D300, maybe a young 2nd hand and a 17-55 2.8.
    you can slightly enlarge your budget by selling the kit lens and the sigma 70-300 and try to make something of your D50, but that won't be much.
    but I am also eagerly waiting to see what Nikon brings out in 2010​
    That kind of thinking won't get you anything in my opinion. There is always something better around the corner.
    I think for an amateur that the 24-70 2.8 is a bit too expensive but sigma has one that is not that much worse and considerably cheaper An other option could be the older 28-70 2.8 af-s second hand .
    just my 2 cents
  4. Hi Ruth,
    You cann't go wrong with any of these bodies!
    1. D90 is a lovely camera, good for travel and street, good performance for its cost, very appreciate by its users.
    2. D300s represents the latest technology in crop cameras from Nikon, includes lots of bells and whistles that I'd love to have, has a weatherproof body and definitely has a better AF module than D90 which can be important especially when shooting action and wildlife.
    3. D700 is the way to go if you shoot more in low light / night... It's great high ISO performance is truly a big advantage in such as situation. It is almost the same size/weight like D300s so this does not have to scarry you. As well the controls and menus are very close between the two bodies.
    If you decide to go DX, I'd suggest to add a Tamron 17-50mm/f2.8 VC lens. It is a steal for the money, I use it now for my street photography and is a great piece of glass. At least on Singapore streets will be your "go" lens.
    A possible setup that covers quite well everything you do is:
    Tamron 17-50/2.8 VC
    Nikon 80-200/2.8
    Nikon 85/1.8
    Nikon 300mm/f4 + 1.4x TC for wildlife
  5. I'm also a long-time D50 user, I just ordered a refurb D90 for a great price from Adorama, but you should really stretch for the 300, and you'll get state-of-the-art autofocus, which you could really use.
  6. Hi Ruth, I actually started off with the D300s after a long break and contemplating on which body to start back again. A later while, I
    jumped on and got the 24-70 f2.8, although most would say that it defeats the purpose financially and performance. Well, I must say that I
    am enjoying every shot. Images are super sharp, good control of distortion (especially at 24mm) and it a breeze to use. 900g is a little
    intimidating at first, but I bet you will grow into it... Why not the DX equivalent?? 17-55 f2.8? Well, I have plans to go FX someday, maybe
    the successor of D700 or Even the D3/s. That is a little stretch for me at the moment but would definately go FX one day to yield the best
    out of my 24-70 f2.8.

    Well, hope that has helped you in making your decision or plans forward. Just note, glass last forever. Bodies come and go...:)
  7. Have you read The Ultimate Upgrade Guide by Thom Hogan? It's well worth a read, by one of the industry greats. Another bythom short article worth a read is Where to Spend US$2000 (search within the page for the title as there isn't a direct link to it.)
    On the 24-70mm note, have you considered looking over your photo collection to see what shots you have where you're at 18-24? This will give you an idea of the shots that you would have to shoot differently. On the longer end, looking at the shots at 55mm will show you where you might have gained a bit of extra zoom. On the aperture side, looking for shots that are at your minimum aperture will help (e.g. 3.5-5.6). Looking at all of those factors in combination should lead you to being able to make a decision on the 24-70mm vs the 17-55mm or 17-50mm (depending on how much you wish to spend on lenses and how crucial you find having nikkor equipment vs tamron / ...)
    It sounds like the Singapore F1 is your drop dead date (late September). With 5 months to wait for the not yet announced possibility of a D90 replacement you have to weigh up whether upgrading to a D90/D300(s) is going to net you a gain over what you have now more than the potential for something ultra current (and hence more expensive).
    Maybe a cheap way to test the waters and address your low light problems would be with primes such as the Sigma 30mm 1.4, Nikkor 35mm 1.8, Nikkor 50mm 1.8 or 1.4 (either model). These come in significantly cheaper than the 24-70mm and will allow you to see the benefits of faster lenses at useful distances. Again, use your existing collection of images to judge your favourite (or most used) focal lengths.
  8. I started with a D70 then D200 and now a D700. For me a D300 makes a lot of sense, look for a lightly used one. Better AF as well as some other nice features, one being able to meter AIS lenses. It is much larger and heavier than a D90 though. Go to a local camera store and check them out or rent a D300s to get a feel for it. IMHO a 24-70 is a bit long for DX and large and heavy but it depends on your needs and kit as to how well it works for you. Lots of folks here use the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8. I like very much the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 with my D700, the range and speed is similiar to the DX combo above. That would leave 1.5k or so for a wide zoom fitting your needs and something else. If you need a 300mm the Nikkor AF-S f4 reads good accept the tripod mount. Do you have a good tripod setup?
  9. Ruth, I know that it is tempting to upgrade and get some nice new camera in the hope of a better outcome. But in the digital world, there is ALWAYS something just around the corner, and the more time you spend on the net looking at reviews and reading forums, the more you will be convinced that you need to upgrade. After all, people find it very easy to spend other people's money. However, the camera that you have is not very old, and is capable of making beautiful prints. Where you will see a big boost in image quality, is by upgrading your lenses, specifically fast prime lenses.
    Zoom lenses are only moderate speed, and that's for the expensive one. Prime lenses are usually cheaper, faster, and usually have better optics. They are also lighter, and with the ridiculous size of the new zooms coming out now, often two or three prime lenses still have a weight and size advantage.
    Digital cameras have made very little progress in regards to image quality in the last four years, and so manufacturers (who need to turnover new cameras to make money) have concentrated on one area where improvements can be made, ISO. But how many people actually need to shoot high ISO? I always want the best image quality, so I tend to shoot at the lowest possible ISO, no matter the camera. But where you can really improve your shots in low light, is a fast prime lense. A 1.4/50mm lens for expample, is FOUR times faster than a super dooper zoom lens! That's two stops that you don't have to crank up on your D50 to take the same image on a D300 with a zoom lens.
  10. Since you mentioned the weight of the 80-200mm f/2.8, keep in mind that the D90 isn't much heavier than your current camera. The D300 and D300s are a significant increment, and there is another increment with the D700. You have to decide if the better AF modules, and possibly a larger sensor with better low-light capability, are worth the additional weight.
  11. My two cents: With the advent of the D3x/s there have been quite a few second-hand D700s hitting the market at stupidly attractive prices - that's what I would try to go for! It's a superb camera and will last you a long, long time regardless of how you use it (or even how it's been used!) - don't be afraid of it, not at all! Once you take your first few shots you'll be so hooked that you won't even remember how other cameras ever felt like! I think it's not really worth it going for an APS-C camera at this stage in the game...
    As for glass, I adore the 24-70 f/2.8, but it is expensive (and despite its amazing sharpness, it does suffer a tiny bit from slight distortion around 28mm - barely noticeable but there nevertheless). Check out the Tokina 28-70 f/2.8 or the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 - both excellent lenses and significantly cheaper (especially second-hand) - despite being slightly softer than the Nikkor... I second the motion of selling the kit lens and the 70-300 - I don't think you need them - in any way, anything to boost your budget for better glass!
  12. Can you list which lenses you use now in order of how much you use them? In other words, what is your most used lens now? Your second most? Your third most? Which one do you almost never use?
    Kent in SD
  13. Uh, Ruth? You have no portfolio. Without seeing what you are shooting, I can't very well offer advice. I doubt, however, that 'upgrading' the camera body would make a single iota of difference in your images. If you are shooting wildlife, a longer lens would help, but a rock-solid tripod would help even more. Again, I can't tell because I can't see any images. You say that your kit lens 'frustrates' you. Too slow? Unsharp (not). Not a wide enough range? You are asking what is essentially a gearhead question, and getting gearhead answers. All this does is put you on an endless treadmill of 'upgrades' that don't make a meaningful difference.
  14. Get a D90 and 16-85 VR. Then I'd upgrade the 70-300 to the Nikon VR. Sell everything except the 85/1.8.
  15. All this does is put you on an endless treadmill of 'upgrades' that
    don't make a meaningful difference.​
    yep, the Digital Gravy Train
  16. Ruth,
    To get good shots at a race, you really need to find GOOD spots to shoot at. Most often, we amateurs are stuck with rather poor ones and the Pros can get all over the track. Given Singapore is a street race with lots of concrete barriers and fencing, finding a clear shot, where there not just going in a straight ling is really hard. I know. I used to try to shoot at the Long Beach GP. ( Not F1, but CART ).
    With that being said, the trick to shooting fast stuff is NOT to rely only on a super fast auto focus camera, but to PRE focus on the spot you want to take the shot, make sure your aperture is set to give you enough depth of field and pan with the car and press the shutter when they hit the spot you focused for.
    Of course the CLOSER you can get to the track, the easier it is. A LONG lens is harder to pan with or hold very steady, than a medium length lens. I get more keepers with a 200mm or shorter lens, when panning. If I have an angle where I don't need to pan, I try to use a support, like a tripod or monopod with my 300mm.
    The one thing you would certainly gain, by upgrading your camera is low light capability. Yes, the F1 race is at night, but the track is pretty well lit. I think a D90 would probably be fine for high ISO use.
  17. yep, the Digital Gravy Train​
    They did it in the film days, too, trust me...
  18. dlw


    Ruth, like Mr. Becker, Mr. Berkley, and Mr. Williamson wisely suggested, get a good tripod. I would also add a cable release appropriate for your camera. Those two things alone will greatly improve your photos. I know, sometimes the pace is fast and tripods can get in the way, and for those times, leave the tripod behind. But for the other times, when you're shooting landscapes, architecture, and other things where quick mobility is not an issue, a tripod and release are the ticket. They allow you to compose the scene better and with the camera mounted on a solid tripod, the images will be sharper. A good tripod can also be used after you upgrade your cameras or change systems or formats. Cheers!
  19. step 1: upgrade the body. go for the d300. they are currently below $1400 for the s version new. yes it's heavier than the d50, but will balance the 80-200 better. i'd also add the grip.
    step 2: new glass. in your situation, i think the 24-70 makes sense, although for that price, you could get 3-4 other lenses. your most obvious hole is at the wide to mid range, so getting something fast and sharp there should be a top priority. since you already have the 85/1.8, you might want to look into the tamron 17-50 VC. the 17-24 range is pretty important IMO on DX, and the stabilization will help with low-light work. if you forgo the 24-70, you could also add the tokina 11-16/2.8 for wide interiors and outdoor landscapes (see below).
    step 3: tripod/cable release. this will tremendously improve your landscape photography.
    step 4. sell the 19-35 and the 70-300. you wont get much for them, but they are just taking up space. if you are serious about wildlife you're gonna want a longer lens like the 300/4 eventually. for daytime outdoorsy stuff and travel, the 70-300 VR could also be a great addition.
  20. What you have right now certainly seems to be more than adequate. Rather than buying more equipment, which will most likely not make you a better photographer, I would suggest you spend your money on some photography classes. If you are not satisfied, or feeling "held back", than inexperience or lack of practical knowledge could very well be the root cause of it. Getting more equipment is rarely ever the answer. Work on your skills first.
  21. If you're shooting night races, a D700 and your 85 1.8 will amaze you (with money left over from your $3,000). Don't be afraid of the D700 if this is what you enjoy, it's a brilliant camera with incredible low-light capabilities (IMHO).
    Sure, they'll come out with a replacement, but aside from video and a few more MPs, I don't see how it can improve drastically, especially for the money.
    Of course, I think the best camera purchases are plane tickets ;)
  22. If you feel you need weather sealing get the D300s if not a D90 will more than suffice. Everyone here is usually a pro or semi pro amateur and if they were in your shoes most all of us would pick up a D700. Now why should you not do that? Well doesnt sound like your making money or using your photography as a business. Therefore a D700 is OVERKILL. You can get stunning results from a D90. My little D80 continues to produce amazing photos that I and my clients are happy with. I would lean towards D300s that will last you a while gives you faster AF, tough body, way better low light than a D50. So camera body D300s. Check.
    Lenses. Hmm well first I would have to agree to ditch the 70-300mm, 18-55mm, and the Phoenix. Because you have or will have after you spend some money those focal lengths covered and there is no use having duplicates. Which in turn gives you extra cash. Maybe keep the 70-300mm as a lighter alternative to the 80-200mm. Now if there is even a hint of you buying a FF camera in the future. Buy the 24-70mm. If not get the 17-55mm its a fantastic lens I own it and it stays on the camera the majority of the time. Although everyone says great things about the tamron 17-50mm as a cheaper alternative.
    Eventually you can save up again for more lenses such as the fish eye. Hope this helps.
  23. I agree with the spirit of what Scott is saying: practice. But I recommend against classes as there isn't much point. Going out and shooting is far better. Find people who like doing the same. That's your 'class'. Photographers learn from each other better in a dynamic situation (i.e. actually doing photography).
  24. Karim,
    I find your statement that classes have no point to be rather short sighted. Surely you'd recognise that different people learn best through different methods. Structured classes are just one way of learning the field. Is your lack of enthusiasm about taking classes based on experience with them?
  25. Hi again all,
    WOW - thank you so much for all of your responses. I have lots to think about!
    I agree with the classes - I am going to attend some as soon as my work schedule quietens down. Also, practice, practice, practice! I know I need to upgrade my skills, but I also know I have a 5 year old camera and an opportunity now to upgrade.
    No, I don't have a portfolio on this site. For one thing, I'm not sure even my best pictures are good enough - for me it would take a lot of courage and confidence to put some of them up here. On the other hand, a lot of my pictures are quite personal - as much as I (and my mom) enjoy pictures of the dogs playing in the garden, the latest orchid I bought that I'm hoping won't die, or what I made for dinner, I'm not sure you all would appreciate them as much! haha
    Thank you so much for the link to Thom Hogan. It does make you (me) think!
    For the F1, we were lucky enough this year to have advance notice of the ticket sales opening so I think we got very good seats. (For those that care - Marina Bay Grandstand, just above where the cars turn under the grandstand. Last year we were in the same area but much higher up so couldn't get very good shots. We know the cars slow and go wide to take the turn though, so I'm really hopeful I can get some good shots!)
    Agree about the plane tickets! Hope this upgrade purchase will push my airmiles high enough to buy a ticket back home to SA for a visit and a trip to a game reserve - that would be heaven, 2 birds with one stone!
    So, I think: D90 and then either the Nikon 17-55 or the Tamron 17-50. I'm going to go down to a store and try out the feel of them together.
    Then, definitely a monopod or tripod for the F1 and a release.
    Then, STOP! haha I think I don't want to spend everything I've saved. I think I'd rather then take the excess, keep saving some more and by the end of the year invest in a really good telephoto for wildlife.
    I'm going to sleep on it anyway, but at least now I know what I'm dreaming about!
    Thank you again for your time and effort in replying!

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