Nikon Camera Body Advice

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by nathan_whitworth, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. Good Morning!

    I am a photography enthusiast looking to make the switch from Olympus to Nikon. Through my Nikon research I have become stumped on a question that keeps eating at me... Is it better to purchase one of Nikon's current consumer DSLR (like the D3000 or D5000) or is it better to grab what looks like a higher end discontinued model (like the D80 or D200)?
    Camera frills like the rotating LCD screen doesn't interest me as much as the ability to take quality photographs... and I do like the ability to use older lens with the D80, but without any Nikon gear yet I am not sure if that's really important or not.
    Any advice from photographers with experience on these cameras is very appreciated!!!
  2. In the world of digital photography, the D200 and D80 are ancient technology. Their life cycles are so long past I would personally not consider them as options for a purchase today--and mind you, I have a D80 and once loved it. The ISO performance on the old models cannot compare to the newer ones, and many features and performance are improved on the newer models and the sensors are uniformly better. Simply put: buy the current camera body that meets your needs/budget.
  3. Nathan,
    There are trade-offs on either end of the decision:
    - The D3100 and D5100 have much improved sensors and newer intellegence on board; as a result, their high ISO images are noticeable better, their resolution is higher. This is certainly the advantage of the latest cameras.
    - The D3100 and 5100 are fairly small, light and do not have as many external controls as the higher end bodies tend to have. Whether that's an advantage or disadavantage is only up to you: it's a question of handling, feel, grip in your hands. A personal preference.
    - The D80 and D200 can drive the autofocus of AF, AF-D and AF-S lenses, the D3100 and D5100 only AF-S. This is an advantage to the D80 and D200, IF you have these older lenses or are looking to use them. Most normal lenses are now available in some sort of AF-S version, and when you start from scratch getting new lenses, it does not matter too much, I think.
    - The D200 can also meter with even older manual focus (Ai/Ai-S) lenses. Again, only interesting IF you intend to use those. There are gems in between those that go for little money these days, but many will find the lack of AF a dealbreaker.
    - The D80 and D200 have more extensive options with Nikon flash (though not sure about the D5100, with regards to CLS support).
    So, it really boils down to what is important to you. If you're likely to get some of the more "standard" zoomlenses to start with, the lack of the AF motor in the D3100 or D5100 does not need to be that big, and then the D5100 sure is a more tempting camera since it has the best sensor of them all. If you prefer bigger, sturdier bodies, then a D200 makes a lot of sense. And so on.
  4. The biggest things the more recent models will have will be high-ISO improvements and possibly HD Video and Live View.
    At lower ISO (<= 800, 1600 usable if image isn't underexposed) the older models are still very serviceable and in exchange you get other niceties like pentaprism viewfinder, better handling with dual e-dials & a size that fills adult hands, compatibility with screwdrive AF lenses (AF, AF-D, etc.). Don't doubt that older models still take great photos--I still see plenty of nice images coming out of D70's, etc.-- but with these the 6mp output may be an obstacle for certain more professional applications like stock agencies.
    Another factor of course is your appetite for owning a DSLR without a warranty for a body in unknown condition--the older body will likely have some miles on it, and you won't really know how well it had been treated. A repair in the first year will probably wipe out any money you saved by buying used.
    The good news is if you buy used, you could use it for a few months and possibly resell for not much less than you paid if you decided you wanted something else. A new purchase will depreciate further in that period.
  5. One other thing I thought I'd mention is that with each generation the in-camera JPEG engines are improved in terms of quality and tweakability. If you're shooting RAW this is unimportant but if you expect to rely on in-camera JPEGs you might find the ones produced by an older camera like D80 not quite as nice as the ones from the latest cameras.
  6. As has already been mentioned, the D80 and D200 are two generations old and there have been many improvements since their introductions.
    If you want a motor to drive the older AF lenses, I'd suggest a used D90 ($700) or D300($1200) over the D80 or D200.
    However, the D5100 ($849 with 18-55mm Kit), has better technology than the D90, D80, and D200. It's a close call with a D300, but subject matter and ergonomics would be the determining factor for me.
    I suggest going to a local shop and handling your options to find out which you prefer.

  7. What is bothering you about your Olympus system? This will help us to determine what your actual needs are.
  8. I would skip the older pre-digital lenses since you don't have any. Probably the best Nikon body for the money is the D5100. It has a great sensor. Another thought is a used/refurb D90. Save your money for good lenses.
    Kent in SD
  9. If you want a real Nikon body, you might check the F4s :)
    (sorry, couldn't resist)
  10. How will you use your photos?
    What don't you like about the Oly stuff?
    What is your budget?
    Need to know those things to really advise.
  11. what's crazy is the d3100 has the same sensor as the d7000. so if you are coming from 4/3 DSLR-ville, you will have much improved high-ISO ability. in fact, the d3100 is much better in that regard than a d80/d200 (which both have the same sensor). the lack of AF on some lenses isn't a big issue if you dont have those lenses. nikon and 3rd party-makers now have tons of motorized choices, so the situation isn't like what it was back in 2006-2007.
    personally, i would skip both the d3000 and d5000--which are no longer 'current' btw--and go for one of the latest-gen Nikon bodies. if budget is a bigger concern, then maybe you are better off getting a Sony A33 or an entry-level Pentax. but make sure you carefully research lens options before you buy.
  12. The D3100 has a different sensor - it's the D5100 that has the same sensor.
  13. oh my bad. i meant d5100. you should get that.
  14. Eric's right. Unless you have an 18-wheeler of existing non-AFS lenses, you should buy a newer body. The newer sensors are absolutely incredible in their image quality, resolution, and low-light performance. Go get a D5100. Presumably you have to start out with the kit lens. As much as everybody maligns the 18-55 and 18-105 kit lense, they are quite fine. Eventually you will want a faster lens and be willing to spend more dough. A D5100 with a 18-55 or a 18-105 will be a GREAT combo.
  15. Guys, I cant tell you how much I appreciate the advice. This really helps to push me in the right direction.
    I'm going to head to a camera shop today to hold and test out the latest Nikons. I decided to switch from Olympus foremost because the small viewfinder is killing me. It might sound kinda silly, but when I looked through my friend's Nikon D90 I felt like I wasn't looking through a straw anymore! It makes a big difference in my opinion. I found that the few times I took that Nikon out I didn't grow as tired because of straining to see and compose the shot.
    That, along with a desire for a better low light performance camera is really what's pushing me to switch. I do think there are advantages to the 4/3rds system, but none that I really take advantage of. I don't really have a huge investment in Olympus glass either, which makes it easier to switch over.
    Thanks again everyone!
  16. It might sound kinda silly, but when I looked through my friend's Nikon D90 I felt like I wasn't looking through a straw anymore! It makes a big difference in my opinion.​
    Great experience! Now you should do yourself a big favor and look through a viewfinder of a F4s or D3x - chances are high that you'll tell us the 5xxx or 7xxx finders look like pinholes...
  17. Then try the D5100 finder before you buy, because it's not as good as the D90!
  18. You better be careful to not look through a D700....

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