Interesting Predicament - Cheap D3 or DX?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by steven_s|4, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. I got an awesome deal on a D3 package that I need to part out... It was a bit more than my $1000 budget I have at the moment for camera gear. The package is as follows: ($2250)
    - Like new D3 with 9,000 actuation's, 3 batteries, charger and manual
    - AF-S DX 17-55mm f/2.8 Nikkor
    - AF 70-300mm G Nikkor
    - SB-800
    Now I have three options that I can't choose between:
    1. DX Option: Sell the D3 and 70-300, and keep the 17-55 and SB-800 for ~$150 my cost, leaving $850 for new gear (at the moment, I add to the fund monthly)
    2. Old FX Option: Sell the two lenses, and keep the D3 and SB-800 flash for ~$1000 my cost (flash typically goes for $300 used, so $700 D3!)
    3. Open Option: Sell all but the SB-800 flash and put $900 profit + $1000 budget (=$1900) towards new gear.
    I am an amateur photographer in my limited spare time outside of work, and have been holding out for "the" camera since I got into photography. I started looking at DSLRs in late 2007, and couldn't settle on a camera I could afford until 2009 when I purchased a used D70s for $325 as a tie-me-over camera until I can afford something better, like a D300. I really took the wise suggestion, "spend more money on gear than a body," seriously and ended up spending $1000 on (old) FX lenses, strobes and other gear over the first year or two. I got into photography cheap, and have been pretty happy with the results. By 2011, I learned to hate my inferior D70s - the microscopic view finder, low DR, noise 800ISO and above, crappy LCD, lack of weather sealing, and my 5 AF points. Yes, by this time I was surrounded by friends with "modern" cameras (ie D7000 and other recent cameras). The desire to use my camera died, and I lacked the funds to purchase anything better. I also felt like there wasn't a great upgrade path at the time - the D7000 was VERY uncomfortable in my hands. I selected Nikon because of the way the Prosumer and Professional bodies fit my large hands and I like the way the controls were laid out. The tiny D7000 grip cramps up my hand within minutes of holding it. I decided to hold out for the D300s replacement, because I could wait another year...
    Here we are 2 years later, and still no D300s replacement. I was really hoping for one by this fall. :( I was eying the D800 and D600 when they were announced, but neither look perfect to me. The D800 is out of my $1900 budget (Option #3) and the images are just too massive, otherwise a great option. The D600 was promising for a minute, but the tiny AF area among other shortcomings make it a $2200 compromise. So really, a D700/D3 looks like the best option at the moment, especially if the D3 only cost me $700.
    My problem with the D3 is it's age - it lacks live view/live tethering, video, sensor dust cleaner, decent ISO performance (D7000 and D600 outperform it), and it is a little heavy and bulky. 12MP is my minimum requirement, but that is enough for me. AF performance is amazing, and would miss it (although don't need it) in a different camera. I feel like this D3 would be a (awesome) tie-me-over for the next couple years. Now I have just recently purcahsed this D3, but I have been using a D700 at work for several months, so I have a good idea how the D3 performs in IQ. To do video, I would have to pickup a used D7000 or something (option #2 +$800 = $1800 tie-me-over). I think a small body would be fine for video - I wouldn't be holding it by the grip. The big bummer there is that I would need a DX wide angle in addition to a FX wide angle... $$ I would not be all that happy with a 5.1MP DX crop on the D3. Maybe I would find a way to make that tiny D7000 grip work... And if I do that, then why do I need a D3? You can probably see how easy it is to talk myself into circles - that is why I am here asking you.
    Now just about anything will outperform my D70s (except for flash sync speed), but I have been patiently waiting for the right camera release to upgrade to and have something with the latest technology and be happy with it for years to come. I have always planned to eventually jump to FX, but I think a nice D300s replacement would suit me best until Nikon releases the next round of FX cameras. If I choose option 1 or 3, I could patiently wait another 6 months in hope for a professional DX.

    What would you do in my situation?
  2. Without having gone through all your considerations carefully, here are some remarks from me.

    The D3 is a lovely camera, obviously, although for image quality you might as well get the D700 (obviously). It is nice to have the 'pro' feel, but I assume you will not need it for practical reasons. The offered package has that price for a reason. The D3 is still very useable, but people that 'need' a pro camera will probably look for the next model(s). I think the D3 will not be easy to re-sell nowadays, or it will not make you rich.

    So: either you indulge in getting the pro camera for yourself, get the package (and over-spend) and try to get some money back from maybe selling the long zoom. Or you let this go and find a more affordable combination (a used D300 with a nice zoom comes to mind).
  3. I can tell you about (my) real life usage. The only issue with ghe D3 is that is too big and bulky. All the other "drawbacks" you mention seem "theoretical" or "marginal" to me.
    A D3 in like new condition for $1000? If that 9000 actuations are real, I`d think is a very good chance (again, the size and weight could be my only issue). The drawback is that you`ll have to sell all that lenses. The flash is quite useful too. If you need a wide angle, just buy a cheap 24/2.8AFD.
    I assume the D3 has Live View, like the D700. ¿Do you really need video on a DSLR? I think I have used the sensor cleaner a couple times in my life, the ISO performance is more than enough... same as the 12Mp... do you really need bigger images?
    I`m really surprised reading that a D3 could not be enough... I`m curently shooting a D700, have used other cameras (D800 included), and believe me, a D3/D700 sensor is waaaaaay more than enough for... most people? Most needs? Well, there will be always photographers who look for the biggest image with the lowest noise, with the best AF system, latest features... it certainly has a price.
    The only problem "with age" could be in your mind... if you don`t have a clear idea of what you want/need, you can find yourself looking for another more modern camera in a couple weeks, despite of the D3`s overall quality. If you think the D3 is outdated for you, I`d advice you not to complicate your life and to skip it.
  4. I'd sell everything in order to buy a D600 which is an exceptional camera for value and will not need replacement for many tears.
  5. That package for 2250? That looks like a scam, man.
    You already have it? Or you think you know where someone is selling it?
    Honestly, that price is just a little more than the value of the lenses and flash without the D3. Something is not right.
  6. What do you photo? Match the gear to what you photo. It's the lenses that make the biggest difference in what you can photo, most of the time. As for DX/FX, I would settle on just one and not try to maintain two systems. If you need the reach, DX is obvious. Otherwise, it shouldn't make much difference to you. I'll add that you seem to be concentrating on camera bodies way too much here. Cameras come & go.
    Kent in SD
  7. If you need a soid camera to grip) (...large hands) -- keep the D3 and use it. You can shoot in 4x5; FX; or DX mode.
  8. That "package" does not make any sense. Neither of those lenses would be used with a D3. And the price is whacky too. That price is below the KEH "buy" price.
    Proceed with caution.
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The package is as follows: ($2250)
    - Like new D3 with 9,000 actuation's, 3 batteries, charger and manual
    - AF-S DX 17-55mm f/2.8 Nikkor
    - AF 70-300mm G Nikkor
    - SB-800​
    As Peter and a few others pointed out, the price for that package makes no sense. A used 17-55mm/f2.8 DX AF-S should be close to $1000 used by itself. The SB-800 is also in demand in the used market since it is smaller and is compatible with film TTL, D-TTL, and the current i-TTL.
    Since it is not specified to be AF-S, the AF 70-300mm G could potentially be the cheap plastic mount version. That version is about $140 new, but it can cover the entire FX frame.
    That essentially implies that a used D3 is below $1000. All of this is too good to be true.
  10. Only if you buy it face to face in a safe and public place. . . .
    Otherwise, heck, yes, it's a good deal! Too good to be true, as others have said. . . .
  11. The D3 isnt' the latest Nikon but it's still a top of the line professional camera and thousands of professionals shoot with them every day. The 17-55 will work on it, although in the DX mode. And the SB-800, again not the newest Nikon flash but still a professional grade unit. I would keep all of those and sell the second-rate 70-300.
  12. i would keep the d3 and sb-800, and sell the 17-55 and 70-300. if you just need a camera that does video, you can buy a refurb d5100, which has the same sensor as the d7000, for $400+ with lens right now at adorama.
  13. I was hesitant to put the price for the package on there, but I wanted to put emphasis on what I great deal I have and how little everything cost me. I am very tempted to go with option #2 and keep the D3 - I will have to wait a few years before I could buy it for the same price again. Yes I did proceed with caution, but it was a legitimate deal. As many pointed out, that package does not make much sense, and which is why I split the gear into the options I did. Haven't we all met or seen an amateur with a D3 or equivalent high end professional camera who didn't really know what they were doing? I distinctly remember seeing two over the years at camera shops. I only carried a conversation with one of them, and she was given a D3 from her parents and had a DX 55-200 VR on it. She said that a big camera like that makes her look like a "Pro" and could sell more and charge more for her work. She would just go to kids sports and sell images to the parents. I distinctly remember her and how jealous I was that I could barely afford a 4 year-old used D70s at the time and she got a free D3, and didn't use it to it's potential. Going back to this particular package, I took caution and had her send me unedited jpgs of her gear and looked at the EXIF data on PhotoME. It was a genuine D3, AF-S DX 17-55 2.8, had just under 9,000 shutter count, and did an extensive serial number search online to try to see if it was stolen. Everything checked out. She was local and I was able to handle the gear before purchasing. Trust me, I thought it was a scam.
    Anyways, yes, the D3 is essentially $700-1000 depending on how much I actually get from selling the rest of the gear. Now would you sell it for the going price of $2k-2.2k and put the money towards something else? If a D300s replacement existed, I would be very inclined to go that direction. I want a pro body, and the size and weight are just the result of that - I don't want it because of the size and weight. I want a solid camera with a large grip, button for everything, weather sealing, and a vertical grip. If I had a D300/D600/D700/D800, I would have a vertical grip on it 50-80% of the time. It will be a quite the difference going from a super light D70s to any pro/prosumer body, especially the D3.
    I don't mean to pick apart a D3 with marginal details and say it isn't good enough by any means - it is an amazing camera that professional photographers use today, though I think the D3s is more common these days with better noise handling at higher ISO. I have never considered getting one for myself due to the prohibitive cost, and therefore don't actually know much about it. For some reason I thought it did not have live view - that is great news to me (I really want a camera I can tether and view live view in Lightroom). It is more than I need in the professional sense, but not the newest and greatest IQ the latest cameras have, but cameras like the D600 are inferior in ways that are important to me, which is why I can't quite decide on anything. I typically print 8x10's when I print, and have made larger prints and they have been really soft. The 6MP D70s images can be printed up to 8x10 when you start printing lower than 300DPI, assuming there wasn't much cropping. I think 12MP is good and 16 would be great. 18-24MP is getting to be a lot, and 36 is just way too much (for me).
    The real winners in this package are the D3, 17-55, and the SB-800. I am keeping the SB-800 for sure, but I can't afford to hold onto both the D3 and the 17-55 - one of them has to go, and it is almost a good thing they don't really work together, or it would be a harder decision. (yes, the D3 has a 5.1MP DX crop mode, but that is not acceptable to me) I am entertaining the idea of the 17-55 and sticking with DX because I am not sold on the new FX line - D600 is lacking features I want, the D800 is expensive and files are too big, and the D3s and D4 are just way out of my reach.
    The only things holding me back on the D3 are marginal, and I feel that I have almost answered my own question and should keep the D3. I think I would be crazy to get rid of a $700-1000 D3. I could keep the D3 and wait to see what Nikon does with the D7000/D300s in then coming months to a year, and the resale value will not drop much from where it is now. The only bummer is that I would still be on the DX and FX fence and I have been wanting to get a wide lens for a while now. (tokina 11-16mm for DX, or Nikkor 16-35 for FX) Video is something I want to get into, and does not have to be my main camera body. The biggest downside of getting a D7000 or refurb D5100 or similar is having to maintain DX and FX lenses, in particular, ultra-wide angle.
  14. Now would you sell it for the going price of $2k-2.2k and put the money towards something else?​

    no. not with only 9k shutter actuations. i have a D3s, which is essentially a D3 with a few more bells and whistles, but the same body and AF module. it's a joy to use, even though it's "only" 12 MP. the d600, which is probably what you'd get for that price, has the same AF as the d7000 and much worse ergonomics than a d3. you got a great deal, so pinch yourself and let it sink in.
    The biggest downside of getting a D7000 or refurb D5100 or similar is having to maintain DX and FX lenses, in particular, ultra-wide angle.​
    not necessarily. you could just get a 5100 with the kit lens at the black friday price and just use that for video, or for a more compact kit for casual shooting. i would suggest getting an FX UWA for the d3.
  15. I'd keep the D3 and sell everything you
    already have covered. The 17-55 is a
    great lens but a compromise on the FX
    body. The zoom I'd let go, keep the
    flash if you can and start using it all.
    Say what you want but every pro level
    Nikon film or digital body seems to
    work better for me. F2,3,4,5, D1,2 or 3
    have all been easier to use than the
    next level.

    Rick H.
  16. Well assuming its a clean deal and you know your uses for it and what you need. I would sell the lenses and keep the flash. But the big question is would you be better off turning this deal, keep the flash and get a newer camera. I know what some will say, newer tech etc etc. But its a tough choice. That's a very good camera for an incredibly low price if true.
  17. Unless I were exclusively landscape or studio etc., I'd keep the D3 without any hesitation and get a used top-grade lens like a Nikon 17-35. Given appropriate handling at the right place and right time, the images will be amazing and the experience of being there to capture the moment will be unforgettable. Worth far more than $700.
  18. This is too confusing. What lenses do you have now? Assuming you have none then selling the zoom just puts you in the market for another (I would assume cheaper) FX lens.
    I would keep the D3. As others have said, it is a lovely camera. You are too hard on it by the way. The D3/D700 are not obsolete. I sell pictures from them all the time. 12 MP is very generous and if you are going to process Raw from the D600 or D800 you had better have a good computer with a ton of storage.
    You mention video. If you want to do video on the same camera you are stuck.
    That is why this is so confusing. Here is the deal. Assuming you keep the SB-800 you have about $3000 worth of stuff if you sell it on Ebay. So the question you should ask yourself is not what Nikon is going to do next month or next year but what you can buy and love for taking pictures now. Even if Nikon comes out with a D400 that will shoot in the dark and do your laundry you may not be able to get one for months. So if I read you right you need to repay someone $1000.00 of your $3000.00 and you get to keep the rest. $2000.00. Right?
    If you are going to stick to having to have video then you only have one good choice. That is the D7000. You will have about $1200 to buy lenses and though not generous will get you a used Nikon 80-200 F2.8 and a Tamron or Sigma F2.8 18 to something zoom. (Don't rule out some of the DX zooms. Unless you are a pixel peeper you can do fine work with lenses like the 16-85 or even the 18-105. Go for the later and you can also have a 50 f/1.8 which is a little charmer.
    If you are not going to stick to the video then we need to know what lenses you already have to offer advice any further.
    If you can keep all the stuff you have then sell the DX zoom and the 70-300 and buy the use 80-200 f/2.8 for about $700.00 and decent couple of DX primes or a Tamron/Sigma/Tokina zoom and you will have a setup that will keep you shooting anything you like for a few years into the future.
    You said you shoot a D700 "at work". What do you do that you are using so capable a camera?
  19. Thank you everyone for your helpful responses. A few have been asked about the gear I have, so here is the current list of gear I own:
    Nikon D3
    Nikon D70s
    Nikkor AF-D 50mm f/1.8
    Nikkor AF 70-210 f/4
    Nikkor AF 70-300 f/4-5.6 G ((selling for $85))
    Nikkor AF-S 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 DX VR
    Nikkor AF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 DX VR ((selling for $795))
    Nikon SB-800
    Nikon SB-600
    Studio Strobes:
    x2 Morris Photo AC Slave Specialist 150Ws Monolight - super old, but does the job. Umbrella only - large and has 4 bulbs per head, so no shadow play. :/
    x2 Morris Photo AC Slave II Flash Strobe Light Bulb - used for hair lights and/or background lights
    Tamrac Expedition x6 Backpack (came with D3 package)
    SE720 Seahorse Waterproof Hardcase (came with D3 package)
    Lowepro Nova 190 AW
    Lowepro Nova 3 AW (came with D3 package - might sell)
    Lowepro Edit 160 (came with D3 package - might sell)
    -Nikkor AF-S 16-35mm f/4 VR ($1000 used) or Nikkor AF-D 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 ($200-300), most likely the cheaper one for now
    -Nikkor AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR ($300 used) - If I sell the cheap 70-300 and the 70-210 f/4. I like the fast f/4 lens, but there is a little bit of purple color fringing around subjects on the D3, and an lot on the D70s.
    -Micro-Nikkor AF-D 200mm f/4
    -Nikkor 80-200 of 70-200 f/2.8 in the future, don't do too much on the tele end, but enough to put it on the wishlist
    -Nikon SU-800 Commander ($250 new, $200 used)
    -Nice Ball Head - haven't picked one out yet ($250-500 new)
    -RRS L-Bracket for D3 ($188 new)
    -A sturdy tripod that I can submerge the legs in water (ie pond/creek) and mud.
    I know I will want another lens in the 35-70mm range for the D3, but not sure what yet. Haven't had the D3 long enough to see what I am really missing. The Nikkor AF-D 35-70mm f/2.8 for $375 used doesn't look too bad.
    So there you have it. Seems like it's quite a bit of stuff now that I listed it all out. I will be keeping the D70s and 18-105mm for now - I like the flash sync speed of the D70s and the 18-105mm is a pretty decent zoom that I used for most of my photography (if I recall correctly, everything on my portfolio was shot with the D70s and 18-105). If I purchased the 18-35 for the D3, I still might be hard-pressed to part with the 18-105, but I do realize that selling the 18-105 would cover most, if not all, of the cost for the 18-35mm. Hmm, tempting. I missed the amazing sunrise this morning across the lake behind my house because I don't have anything wide enough. Keeping the 18-105 also allows my girlfriend to have a camera & lens to shoot and learn, and not interfere with "my" lenses for the D3.
    I did over-spend on the D3 package, and need to pay my frugal self back about $1000. So I am parting with the 17-55 f/2.8 and the 70-300mm.
    I have used the D3 a little bit (about 100 various photos) and love the ergonomics (minus the weight), the huge viewfinder, AF, and the IQ improvement. ISO 1600 is still something I would try to avoid, but it is no longer off limits! The D3 is a little overkill, but I like it. The D600 and D800 are out of the picture, and there really isn't anything else to compete with performance and price. If/when the Pro DX comes out, I think the IQ and video would be tempting, but I will probably be stuck to FX by then.
    Video does complicate things. I do want to film with a DSLR, and I do need some wide angles for some scenes. if I go the D5100 route, 18mm on a DX might cut it, but 16mm would be better, and a shallow depth of field isn't going to be an option with my (cheap) FX collection. I have been writing out and thinking about a short parody and short film for a couple years now, and just haven't had the gear, or the time. I may consider renting a D600/D800 for films ($100/$150 per day or per weekend) if I can get everything to go smoothly and only rent it for a single weekend. The amount of time it would take me to produce two films could very well be 2+ years... :p
    Regarding my photography, I am all over the place. I have done a wide variety of projects, but my favorite has been portraiture/acting photography. (some samples in my portfolio) I always bring my camera with me when I travel or visit the zoo or aquarium, and I also go out with photographer friends and walk downtown or cool places we found on Google maps and snap away at architecture, landscapes, still life, portraiture, etc. It also doubles as location scouting for my planned shoots. It's all for fun, and seldom paid or trade for prints.
  20. I agree with Rick...this all is very confusing. If you got all of this for this price and now have all of this equipment, I would step away from everything and map out the best gear you think you need based on what you shoot. My thoughts: I would keep the D3 if the large body works for you and build lenses around that FX body. If the larger body doesn't work for you all of the time, then you can sell it and get a used D700 with a grip for about $1800 total, which is less that what you could get for the D3 on the used market. Take the difference (if you sell the D3), sell all of the DX lenses (17-55, 18-105), and get the 16-35. At that point, you will have the wide angle covered on FX, the 50 prime, and either the 70-210 or the 70-300 for the long end. You can sell which ever 70-xxx you don't use and that can go towards the 16-35 as well. To shoot video (if you really need it), the advice of others of getting a used or refurb'd D5100 works well.
    Or you can just wait for a D300s follow-on...many believe this will happen soon, but I wouldn't hold my breath. You could always get a used D300s, which are under $800 at this point. A new one is not worth $1600 given the other options out there.
    My problem with the D3 is it's age - it lacks live view/live tethering, video, sensor dust cleaner, decent ISO performance (D7000 and D600 outperform it), and it is a little heavy and bulky.​
    By the way, a D7000 (which I rented two years ago) does NOT outperform a D3 (or a D700, which I have now used extensively as my D800 backup) under any circumstance with respect to ISO performance. As a matter of fact, the only advantages in my eyes the D7000 has over the D700 are the dual card slots and the video. You may want to use both and check everything out again with ISO. The D700 is solidly a stop better than a D7000.
  21. I think the 100% viewfinder on the D3 would be, to me, a serious plus. I wish my D700 had it.
  22. Hello everyone, I just wanted to thank you for all of your suggestions and keeping me in line. I'm keeping the D3. I was pretty hard on the D3 - I tried to find as much "wrong" with it as possible, which was difficult and helped me realize that it is a awesome camera all around. I have been playing with the D3 quite a bit lately and I am very happy with it. I sold the two lenses and my total "cost" of the D3 and SB-800 is $1500.
    My next challenge is picking the glass. I am torn between fast primes, fast zooms, and zooms I can afford. I have a 50mm f/1.8 and a 70-210mm f/4, and need some more options in the ultra wide to normal range. The typical usage in this ultra-wide to normal range will be portraiture in tight spaces. I have seen and want to make some fantastic photographs using ultra wide lenses in portraiture, but I feel like a zoom would be better than just the 20mm prime - more control of distortion. Here is what I am looking at:
    - AF 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D - $275 used - flexible ultrawide zoom to wide/normal, but slow. Might need an AF 35mm f/2D to go with it.
    - AF 35mm f/2D - $200 used - good fast & wide fixed normal lens
    - AF 20mm f/2.8D - $375 used - fast, lots of light falloff, more limited use in portraiture - 20mm can be too wide, but also sometimes just right. 20mm is just right or not quite enough for everything else wide.
    - AF 24mm f/2.8D -$250 used - good fast and wide fixed lens
    - AF 20-35mm f/2.8D - $600 used - fast, flexible zoom range, sharp and less light fall off at 20mm, gives me a 20mm, 24mm, and 35mm focal lengths at f/2.8.
    - AF 35-70mm f/2.8D - $350 used - fast, covers normal range, and gives me a 35mm and 70mm at f/2.8.
    I did not list the 16-35 f/4 or 17-35 f/2.8 because they are out of reach ($$$$), and the 16-35 might not be the best for portraiture, though I'm sure the built-in distortion correction profile in Lightroom would help quite a bit.

    I think the 20-35mm is the way to go, but it will take me a while to save up for it. To be able to shoot anything in this range in the very near future, I am stuck with the 18-35mm or a prime under $300. Most of the work I do has a deep DOF, but it is still very common that I need shallow DOF or need to shoot in low light hand-held. I am undecided whether working with primes is the way to go for me. I often find myself moving around a lot and zooming wide-tele and tele-wide constantly, all around the same subject. Switching primes back and forth is time consuming and I could loose the shot. I almost feel like the best setup would be to have a second body with a wide lens, and my 50mm f/1.8 or 70-210 f/4 on my D3. Perhaps I get a $300 10-20mm DX Sigma lens for my D70s? I'd rather shoot with the D3 though.
    I am more tempted than ever to sell the D70s and 18-105. I am starting to see that I like it even less now, and the only reason to hold onto it is for the electronic shutter (1/500s sync speed, and you can trick it to sync up to 1/8000s). I think investing in ND filters would help me achieve the same results with a max flash sync speed of 1/250s for the D3. If that is a good decision and I hold out on the ND's for a while, I might be able to afford a 20-35. Is there a good reason to keep my D70s? It's like my first car - it wasn't great, but it was hard to part with. As you can see, I am still pretty torn and undecided about things.
    What lens(es) would you recommend I get? (either on a $300 or $600 budget) Did I leave any out? I would like to hear what you guys have to say about primes vs zooms in this range. In tight spaces and wanting control over the amount of distortion, I think zooms win here. And the zooms and primes in this range are all VERY comparable in optical quality.
  23. $300-600 for lenses, for FX, and what you currently have is a tele zoom and a 50mm, and it sounds like your needs are "a bit of everything." You're going to have some sort of compromise to make here, but it seems to me that what would best fill your gap would be a regular wide-to-somewhat-tele zoom - unless you're really interested in ultrawide shooting. (To me, for the use pattern you described earlier, I'm not sure ultrawide makes as much sense for a first priority.) Often you can find an older sample of a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 in good condition for under $300, and that has my vote for best value in that range. I still use one that I got for $250 on a D800. There's the 28-105 AF-D Nikkor, which has the advantage of doubling as a 1:2 macro lens. If you have $600 there's the new Nikon 24-85mm VR.
  24. It's funny how quickly I rule out off-brand lenses/equipment. The only off brand lens that I have considered in the past was the Tokina 11-16mm, from both the unanimous praising and hands on playing with the lens. I have noticed a few Tamron and Sigma FX wides for sale locally and dismissed them because I don't really know much about the quality of Tamron or Sigma. I have spent hours pouring over the Tamron, Sigma and Tokina reviews, forum postings, images, etc and found that both the Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 and Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 are praised quite a bit, and go for a bargain. (patient eBay shopping may get me both for $400) The price point, supposed sharpness, and fast aperture make these two Tamron's very tempting.
    I think the only other lenses I have on my 'good candidate' radar at the moment are the 18-35 Af-D, 20mm Af-D, 24-85 non-vr, and the 28-300VR (sell the 70-210 w/ this lens), all of which are nothing special in aperture (the prime is the exception), but all very sharp.
    One of the concerning things for me with older lenses now is the CA/lateral fringing. I've read the D3 corrects CA automatically, but apparently that is only for in-camera jpgs and not RAW. I am noticing quite a bit with my 70-210, and it robs quite a bit of edge sharpness, and is always purple fringing. I've also heard it can be corrected in post-processesing, but I don't know if that is possible in Lightroom - I live in Lightroom, and rarely use photoshop cs5. If I understand correctly, the ED means something in Nikkor glass and actually helps/eliminates CA? It seems that the new lenses don't really show it... (ie 28-300vr and 24-85vr)
    I would appreciate any recommendations for what's above, and/or any other suggestions you may have.
    Thank you.

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