Moving on from a D80

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by simon_hickie|1, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. A while back, I posted this question:

    My current setup is now: D80 & D50 bodies (D50 for backup, and some low light stuff - surprisingly good at ISO
    1600); Tamron 17-50mm f2.8; Nikon 18-70mm, 28-105mm f3.5-4.5 & 18-200VR lenses for backup; Nikon 50mm f1.8;
    70-210mm f4-5.6 (slow & slow focusing but sharp); SB600 & SB800 + flash bracket & sync cord. I could usefully add
    the Nikon 85mm f1.8 as well for portraits.

    My real issue is with the operation of the D80 & matrix metering in particular. As an ex slide shooter, I stick
    with the philosophy of retaining highlight detail & let the shadows take care of themselves (making sure of
    course to get the lighting as right as possible with fill & bounce flash where possible). Therefore, I am
    considering two options. (1) lightly used D200 & then migrate to the D90 a few months after it comes out & prices
    stabilise (provided that it 'fixes' the D80's matrix metering characteristics). (2) spring for the D300 at the
    expense of selling my Pentax 645.

    The rationale for option 1 is better metering - meaning I can concentrate on composition and image creation & not
    worry so much about whether the image is going to be overexposed (yes I've tried CW, spot metering, manual
    exposure etc. but in fast moving wedding situations you need the camera to do as much of the hard work as
    possible while you concentrate on 'capturing the moment'. Option 2 would seem to get me better focusing, better
    low noise capability, better battery life and generally better IQ.

    If I go down the D200 route, my main concern is noise at higher ISO settings. I'm OK with using the D80 at ISO
    1600 if needed, but have seen suggestions that the D200 is not as good in this regard. At the wedding venue, I'll
    be able to shoot at around f4 1/125th at ISO 1600 without flash. I can also use flash if I wish, even during the
    ceremony itself - opening up f4 & 1/60th or f5.6 @ 1/30th ISO 800 plus a burst of bounced TTL-BL from the SB800
    to help freeze motion blur.

    Currently, my heart says D300, but head and wallet (and attachment to my Pentax 645 & the hopes that I might
    eventually use it some more) says used D200 followed by D90 (if it turns out as big a leap forward over the D80
    as the D300 is over the D200). Some more advice & guidance would be welcome, especially from wedding / events

    Thanks as always.
  2. I'm hanging in there for a "D90." September is just around the corner. If you aren't using your Pentax gear, might as well sell it and buy something like a Nikon 70-200mm f2.8.

    Kent in SD
  3. hi Simon...
    prices will continue to drop.. I say wait .. the D300 sounds perfect for you .. the D90 will probably be all you
    wait a little and it will be within your budget..
    the pentax will outlast your d300 so keep that...
  4. The top "amateur" model film camera the F70/N70 could meter with MF lenses but the F80 replaced it and with that
    camera you need CPU lenses to meter.

    The least expensive DSLR the D50 could autofocus with non-AFS lenses but with the replacement D40 you can't and
    you can't with the intermediate model D60.

    I just wonder if the upcoming top "amateur" DSLR the D90 will offer autofocus with non-AFS lenses or if history
    will repeat itself?
  5. I would expect any "bigger body" camera like the D70/D50/D80 to have an autofocus motor in the body. It's what
    differentiates them from the D40/D40x/D60 line.
  6. I would wait a little while longer. The prices on the D300 are dropping since the introduction of the D700. I moved up from a D50 to a D80 then a D300 myself and am really happy with the decision.
  7. If you can still get one, then the Fuji S5 Pro seems something you should look at. I had a D80 and went up to the S5 Pro - and am very pleased with the result.

    It was a no -brainer buy for £405 - the price will have gone back to £499 but since you take weddings it seems the obvious choice
  8. Thanks for responses so far. I need to get something in place for mid September, together with time to practice, so I think the D90 or whatever it's called is not an option at the moment. I seriously have considered the S5 Pro, but note slow RAW processing conversions & buffer issues. However, dynamic range and high ISO capabilities are tempting!
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Just keep in mind that this so called "D90" is all hyperthetical. It is likely that some D80 upgrade will be announced
    around September, but we have seen similar false alarms before.

    Can you keep using the D80 for the time being until some concrete develops? If not, used D200's are failry
    inexpensive for the time being and obviously there is the D300 option.
  10. simon, let's think about this rationally. does it really make sense to get a used camera with older technology, albeit
    better metering but slightly worse noise, as a stopgap in the hopes of a hypothetical (for now) newer model being
    released? right now the difference between a D200 and D300 is, what, $600? yet if you get a d200 and then a d90 if
    and when that appears, you'll ultimately be paying $2000 or thereabouts, or $400-$500 more than a new D300.

    i say get the D300 and dont look back. with the d700's release, lightly used ones are now going for $1500. the d300
    makes sense for you since you need a) better metering and b) good low-light/high ISO performance. a d200 wont do
    both and we dont know if a d90 will, whenever that appears. 1600 ISO is very clean on a D300, with 3200 being
    usable. an added bonus is the Expeed processor which removes CA automatically, the better AF system, and the
    higher fps. as a d80>d300 upgrader myself, i seriously doubt you will regret this, and if you're doing paid gigs like
    weddings, the camera will pay for itself soon enough.
  11. ps simon, those are US prices, not sure how it is in the UK.
  12. Personally, Id get the used D200. Check with Cameta Camera on eBay, they have great stuff and warrantee even
    used cameras. They have a rating system they use for all used gear.

    It has been my policy since about 1940 to never buy a new camera when they first come out. The prices are highest
    then. Then, they drop over time, until they reach the lowest rate. Like I bought my D200 just before the D300
    was released from Cameta, and got a really good price on a new one. The D200 is a big jump over the D80, and
    well worth the choice. There probably will be several opportunities to get a used one, as those who have to have
    the latest, will buy a D300. I will wait until the D300 has been out and the prices drop to what I paid for the
    D200 new.

    Some talk of noise in the D200, but I have never seen any. It may be that as the production progressed, the
    latest D200's made have had changes internally which resolved the problem. Ive had prints made up to 22x30 that
    were excellent, exposed at ISO 800 and 1200 as RAW.... (At 78 must use higher speeds with zoom lenses than I did
    decades ago.)

    Like you, I always expose for detail in whites. Using RAW, I still have a LOT of detail in the shadows. In
    Lightroom, you can make virtual copies, set one for all detail in whites, all detail in blacks, copy to
    Photoshop, and combine them. It is amazing how much detail there is in the blacks, when exposed for whites in a
    RAW file. Many times even more detail than I actually want.

    Knowing how to do what you want, is more important than having the latest camera.
    Knowing how to use Photoshop just as well, is also important, it is our modern darkroom, where anything I could
    do in the darkroom, and more can be done.. If you actually worked years in a darkroom, you can work in Photoshop
    much easier. Things that used to take a lot of time and testing, can be done in minutes.

    Back in my early days of photography 1935-37, using pinhole cameras got better photos than many we see today with
    very expensive cameras. Use a camera _everyday_ for three months take 20-40 pictures of one subject, looking for
    the angle, lighting, etc and features you have never used much and you can be surprised what you can learn, even
    about your D80. Ed Weston spent years doing that on Point Lobos in CA, check out some of his and Ansel Adams
    landscapes. With enough experience, and Photoshop which is our darkroom, you could do similar quality work in
    the UK... We have cameras which far surpass what they used, but they knew how to use theirs, much better than
    the average person.

    Even old dogs can learn new tricks, if they were around today, they would be using them. Both Adams and Weston
    were innovators, creating brand new methods and teaching them to others.....
  13. Hi Shun. I find the D80 worthy in many ways, & when I have time to spot meter and use manual exposure, or fiddle with exposure compensation it's fine. However, in a wedding or event situation when one is working quickly in changeable lighting and conditions, accurate metering is a must-have - there simply isn't time to keep looking at the histogram and hope you nailed the exposure correctly. Similarly, although I use RAW and convert in Capture NX, there is only so much room for recovering highlights without undesirable colour shifts. My old F70 is very predictable when using matrix metering & for as long as I can remember, accurate metering was at the top of my camera wish list.

    Eric, your analysis is sound of course!! The D300 retails here at around 950 pounds including VAT (c. $1900) and 2 year Nikon UK warranty. Price difference between this and a lightly used D200 is around 450 to 500 pounds ($900 to $1000). 'A' grade Nikon refurbished stock with a 1 year Nikon UK guarantee runs out at around 820 to 850 pounds, so the difference is a little less. I guess another desirable feature of the D200 / 300 is the ability to meter with MF lenses - I wouldn't mind betting that the D80's replacement will not.

    Hmm, I think my head is starting to think D300 again.....
  14. Hi Simon. As you know, I moved up from the D80 to the D300 about 8+ months ago. The difference is really
    dramatic. You easily pick up a couple stops and recovering detail from shadows in NX is wonderful.

    Some of the D300 features haven't been that important to me, like active lighting and live view, but the overall options
    choices for settings are fantastic. To me, the best feature is the newer AF with the cross points. My keepers are
    way up thanks to it.

    Of course, both the D200 and D300 are larger/heavier than the D80 but you won't even notice it if you use your
    monopod, much less with a tripod. On balance, I would take the D300 over the D200 for the extra features but it
    really did take some time to learn about the many settings.

    If you go with the D300, consider looking at Thom Hogan's D300 book. I don't do everything he suggests but many
    of his ideas proved to be winners. Once I read the book and got my settings down, the quality of output really took
    off. Any tweaking I do now is all in My Menu so no searching for options to change. Even with the D700 out there, I
    would still pick up a D300.
  15. Hi Bruce. Thanks for the input. Yes, the weight might be an issue, but I also use an op-tech strap which helps a lot. Better AF is appealing - I'm forever using the central sensor and recomposing (especially in portrait mode) which is a real time loser in fast moving situations.

    On the NX front, I showed a fellow camera club member who is also a photo competition judge on the local circuit how well shadow recovery detail worked on NX compared with Highlight Shadow control on CS2. He was impressed, despite the increase in noise!

    Incidentally, I calculated that my costs per click with the D300 would be about 2/3 that of the D80 or its replacement if I ran each into the ground (I shoot around 1000 images a month in amateur mode & about that in a day when I do a wedding!).
  16. robert,
    i appreciate your wisdom and knowledge, and you are right on the money as far as focusing on skill, technique and
    composition rather than expecting technology to be a digital panacea all the time. your advice is sound if people have
    the time to shoot the same scene 20-40 times in the hopes of getting one perfect exposure.

    yet while that makes perfect sense for landscapists like Adams, it really wouldn't apply to wedding photographers,
    event photographers, or sports photographers, who may only have one chance to get that "money" shot. Adams
    waited one year for perfect light in some cases before taking a shot, but you obviously cant tell a bride and groom to
    pospone their nuptials.

    if you look at simon's original post, he was specifically concerned about "better focusing, better low noise capability,
    better battery life and generally better IQ." the d200 and d80 use the same exact sensor and are OK at ISO 800.
    beyond there it starts to get a bit noisy. more so with a D200.

    i've found that compared to a d80, the d300 has the ability to get the shot right the first time much more often which
    means less time spent post-processing. and it gains at least a stop of ISO over a D200. for someone shooting 1,000
    pics at an event, who's often shooting in low-light with no-flash, it makes more sense to invest in the better overall
    camera and get everything you want, then to spend 2/3rds of that cost (or thereabouts) getting only some of what
    you want.

    i'm not saying the d300 makes sense for everybody, and there's little doubt a d200 is a better camera than a d80. but
    nikon really addressed the flaws of the d200 with the d300, and if those added features work for someone's style of
    shooting, or -- as in simon's case, reduce their stress levels at paid gigs--it's just logical that their upgrade path
    would follow that. luckily, the cost isnt so exorbitant as to be unattainable.
  17. Thanks Robert & Eric for your inputs. You are actually both right - from different perspectives! I shot my last wedding with a D50 - great high ISO capability, but the smaller & darker finder & lack of gridlines meant that composition was off at times, although exposure was pretty well spot on. The D80 has less reliable metering, but addressed the other D50 weaknesses.

    If I was just going to shoot landscapes & architecture, I'd probably stick with the D80 & buy more lenses. However, speed & accuracy of operation is critical in wedding and event photography, as is the need to get things right in camera in order to reduce the post-processing time. I think the arguments for the D300 are swinging it right now and would seem to address all the weaknesses inherent in D80 / D200 technology. Of course, this is not to say that I might not end up with a D200 as back-up as well!

Share This Page