Upgrade to 7100 from D90 - but good with 50mm 1.8D and my other lens's?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by elyone, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. I am in a quandary via-a-vis upgrading to the 7100 from my excellent D90. Or go for a lens.
    Here is my thought process:
    1. I am feeling that my D90 is dated. Video stinks. Missing AF more than I used to. However, it still takes fantastic shots.
    2. Ah, but I other than occasional portrait sessions and and small events, I don't really make money.
    3. So then I thought of the "other option" - "forget the camera and get a lens". So then I went crazy deciding between the 50 1.4's (Sigma vs. Nikon discussion etc etc). I discounted the (Sigma) 85mm, because on the DX, they are a bit long and I do have an 80-200 if I need that focal length.
    However, I DO have the good old 50mm 1.8D. As cheap as it is, works great on my camera. So then I decided: forget it, would love the 1.4 but the 1.8 really does give me great shots. And the AF seems to work well with it, so AFS might not improve anything.
    4. OK so back to camera; read Shuns review, and it really would be an upgrade. However, no use getting the 7100, which Shun says, is highly demanding of lens's, if my lens's are not up to par.
    So: I need advice as to whether my lens's are good enough for this camera. If not, I might just forget about getting anything now. Any other ideas for lens are welcome. Maybe I did not think of it. The 30mm I am not interested in. My budget is max $1200.
    Nikkors unless stated otherwise:
    1. 50mm 1.8D (use for portraits)
    2. 17-55 (events)
    3. 80-200 AF-D (2 ring version)
    4. Tokina 12-24
    5. 18-200 (first version to come out. My walkabout.)
  2. For me, the 50/1.8G was enough of an improvement over the 1.8D at around f/2 to make the net $125 or so difference (flipped the D on the bay) well worth it. The availability of 1.8G makes obsessing over the 1.4 versions sort of pointless if $'s matter, IMO.
  3. Missing AF more than I used to.​
    Could you please explain in which way the D90s AF is increasingly not working for you? The D7100 has superior AF system, but depending on what your actual problem is, that may or may not pose any solution. Or you mean AF during video?
    And the AF seems to work well with it, so AFS might not improve anything.​
    AF-S is no by definition an improvement, apart from being silent, and allowing full-time manual override. The advantage of the AF-S 50 f/1.8G is not so much AF-S... it is just a vastly better lens in every way, especially at wider apertures. The old AF-D 50mm f/1.8 is good value for money, but in my view, not a great lens. The new f/1.8G raises the bar significantly.
    Your lenses are good; I would not expect massive problems with those on a D7100 unless you structurally pixel-peep. Except for the 18-200, which probably also shows its limits already on the D90 if you pixel-peep; it simply is a lens that trumps convenience over optical excellence, and you should expect things accordingly.
    But I'd start with one step back first: which problem are you trying to solve? In which ways does your current gear hold you back? Maybe the D7100 fixes it, maybe not. Spending $1200 to still encounter the same issues is not a great way to spend money, after all.
  4. But I'd start with one step back first: which problem are you trying to solve? In which ways does your current gear hold you back? Maybe the D7100 fixes it, maybe not. Spending $1200 to still encounter the same issues is not a great way to spend money, after all.​
    Well that's it, I have no real problem, which is why I am backing off upgrading. In other words, I don't absolutely need a new camera, the D90 works, but there comes a time when it's just time. While it's 90% the photog, it IS 10% the tool...
    I think I might try to wait for the 7200 or whatever is in the pipeline.
    Regarding portrait lens (on the DX), here I do feel I want to go a bit better. That's why I was thinking about all the different 50mm and 85mm versions. I honestly did not consider the 1.8G, simply because I did not see it as an upgrade from the 1.8D. I am rethinking this. Not too expensive, and that's 2 people already recommending it.
    Re the AF on my D90, nothing I can put my finger on, it's just a feeling I have been missing shots recently. I can't say it's the camera. Maybe it's getting tired of me hehe. Re AF on video, I never depend on the live AF anyway, I always frame, focus then go Live and start. Video is for me, one of the main HUGE improvements over the D90. That and dual cards. Love the idea of dual cards.
  5. What about a D7000? Prices are drifting down such that you'd probably have $ to spare towards a new lens, too.
  6. The 85mm f/1.8G seems to have much better bokeh than the AF-D version. I'd have bought it if I'd not already got a Samyang 85mm f/1.4; I deliberately avoided the AF-D because of the bokeh.

    The 50mm f/1.8 AF-D is lovely stopped down, and awful wide open. I lived with mine (never really enjoying 50mm) until I got a D800. Then I wanted to test the left focus point, saw the quality from the AF-D was so poor that I couldn't tell whether I had a problem, and got the AF-S. It's much better, though don't expect miracles wide open - but the DX crop helps. For the money, I'd certainly recommend it. Besides, it comes with a hood and it's got full time override. It is appreciably bigger than the original, and it's still got the annoying recessed front element, though.

    Is suspect if anything's going to be shown up by the D7100, though, it would be your 18-200. Not that there's really a replacement that's much better. Similarly, I used my 28-200 all the time on my D700, but almost never on my D800.
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    As usual, whenever someone is not sure whether they need to upgrade their camera or lenses, it is quite clear that neither upgrade is absolutely necessary at the moment. I would wait until something becomes an obvious limitation to your photography and then spend resources to resolve that limitation.
  8. Avi, while I think the 50 f/1.8G is worth the extra money over a 50 f/1.8D, I still do not like it much as a portrait lens on APS-C. I use my 50mm lenses only on full frame, basically; on DX it remains an oddball useless focal length to me; just too short, not kind enough on facial features. On APS-C I prefered my 85 f/1.8D, a length that suited me better. With the newer AF-S 85mm f/1.8G out, that lens would be my choice (again, the new f/1.8 prime that simply put the old one to shame).
    If 855 is really too long, a nice pair of lenses to consider as well may be the Tamron 60mm f/2 macro or Nikon 60mm f/2.8 Macro - not quite as wide aperture as the 50mm lenses, but both lenses with excellent test reports.
  9. Avi, Personally I have upgraded last year from older 50mm 1.8 AF nikkor lens to Sigma's 50mm 1.4. I like images done with sigma much better. I mostly shoot it between 1.8 and 2.2 but 1.4 comes handy when needed in very low light situations. I think 50mm is a terrific all around lens for people photography on DX cameras.
  10. Thanks Thomas. I do like the 50mm on my Dx. I read up seriously on the Sigma 1.4, and was not sure how much more it would give me than the cheaper Nikon 1.8. But I can put it back on the table.
    Wouter, I would love an 85mm, and have dreamed about the cream machine for oh, a good 15 years now, and seriously thought about it too, but it's just too long. I agree the 50mm is a bit short, but better crop something, then not get it all in. "...not kind enough on facial features" <

    Shen, that is indeed why I am probably not going to upgrade the camera at the end.
    However, no one, ever, really needs to upgrade any camera that up until that point, was giving satisfactory results. And you can't know that what you are getting can be better, until you try it. (Most of us don't get to try better stuff until we buy it.) That said, I am sure you would agree that upgrading from a D70, for example, would be a great idea for anyone, if he can afford it. Even though it still produces satisfactory images. (Most, even with 24MP, don't print bigger than 8x10). I am sure you can still get great shots from a N90 too. And from there, it's a matter of degree, to paraphrase Churchill's rejoinder. It's a matter of what you can do better and easier with a better tool.
    And objectively, I do want better video+stereo, better AF, dual cards etc Higher rez is a bonus. There is no question that I want and can use the 7100 and probably get better results. It's just a matter of how much it will actually improve what I do, relative to the price and my current lens's.
    And that's why I asked I my original question re my lens's. I.e. I wanted another parameter to think about.
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The D7000 is going to give you better AF, especially under low light, and the D7100 is better than the D7000. The difference is 9 AF points with 1 cross type on the D90 vs. 39/9 on the D7000 and 51/15 on the D7100. Dual memory cards is safer and high ISO continues to improve, video also improves .... But as long as the D90 can still get the job done, you might as well wait. I am sure that there will be some "D7200" in a couple of years and everything will be even better then.
    Concerning various 50mm lenses, I wouldn't waste my time trying to split hair.
  12. At the risk of splitting hair anyway... I hate the 50mm Sigma on FX, because the corners at wide apertures are awful. (I care about what the corners of my frame look like, sometimes even at wide apertures; others appear not to.) On a DX camera, it's an extremely good option, and respectably sharp over the whole frame even at wide apertures - effectively I see it as a DX lens with partial coverage out to the FX borders. Stop down and it's fine on either, but so is the f/1.8 AF-S at half the price.

    My feeling has been that if you're going to stop down a lot, the AF-D is fine. If you want good performance between f/2 and f/2.8, the AF-S f/1.8 is pretty competitive, especially for the money. If you want a faster lens, the AF-S f/1.4 has merits on the FX frame (but I don't like the LoCA or bokeh), the Sigma is probably best on DX (but has iffy FX corners), and the AF-D at f/1.4 looks like it the edges of the sensor have been rolled in oil (though some people like the look). I'm not an enormous fan of the 85mm f/1.4 AF-D either, for the same reason - the Samyang is optically better if you want a cheap option and can live with manual focus, but the f/1.8 AF-S is probably sharper and more convenient. (The f/1.8 AF-D is sharp, just with ugly bokeh.)

    Now, if you win the lottery, the new 55mm f/1.4 Zeiss looks extraordinary (as does the 135mm version)...
  13. I am going to break my rule and tell you to go to the D7100. Here is why.
    If I am reading you correct the list of lenses you posted you already have.
    For example. The 50mm F/1.8D is easily a match for the D7100. The AFS is nice but you are not having a problem with that now so what would you fix with AFS? Neither you, nor I nor anyone on this board can see the difference unless they are pixel peeping which is computer science and not photography. And that is a key point. Please pay close attention to what Shun said about lenses. He DID NOT say that you would see a lessening in your image quality because of your lenses. At worst you will want to be careful about your technique and working within the capabilities of the lens. Your 80-200 (I am assuming F2.8) is easily good enough for the D7100. As a matter of fact so is the 18-105 kit lens if it is used for what it is designed. You have to decide whether you want to take beautiful photographs or play "lens tester" on your computer. My guess is that yo like photography and if that is the case you can for the most part forget any minor differences in lenses.
    What do you get with your D7100 over the D90? Tons and Tons.
    You get a larger viewing screen.
    A much better autofocus system
    Over a stop greater dynamic range
    Better color depth
    Vastly improved video including autofocus
    Much better color depth
    DOUBLE the resolution!!!
    Weather Sealing
    In Camera HDR
    Far better low light capability
    30% faster frame rate.
    1/8000 shutter speed
    In other words these two cameras are not in the same league. Not by a long shot.
    You can have the new camera because you want to. That is a good enough reason. Will it let you do more than you can do now? Yes. But you have to set out to use its features. What pushed me to recommend change is that you sometimes do work for money. You tell us your autofocus is kludged up and you have lost complete confidence in your camera. You can't risk it going South during an event in which you would put someone's precious pictures at risk.
    I would be remiss in not asking this question.
    The question is; what flash do you have? If you do not have a professional flash then buy that. First. Period.
    Photonet is a site in which people tend to discuss lens performance in absolute terms. In just about every case it is well to remember that as a practical matter your technique in careful use of whatever equipment you have will make far more difference than some number on an MTF table. That does not mean that you should not use quality lenses. It means that if you take your wonderfully sharp 80-200 F/2.8 and shoot sports at 125th of a second there is no lens in the world that will fix your problem. If you crank the ISO on your D90 to 6400 it doesn't matter what lens you have on your camera. But if you use any quality Nikon lens in the way it was designed to be used, you will not see much of a difference in the final product, if you see any at all.
  14. I know that, for me, my D90 is still perfectly good for a while.
    No need to upgrade... I'll probably upgrade when I WANT to, not when I NEED to...
  15. I'm just going to argue with Rick (for fun!):

    Used stopped down (f/5.6 or smaller), the f/1.8 50mm AF-D is a fine lens, and more than worthy of the D7100.

    Used at wide apertures, you don't have to pixel peep to see that it's atrocious. It's not just soft, it's smeary, and the bokeh - which is very much visible without pixel peeping - is ugly with it. You can see the effect on a crop sensor here, and the corners are even worse on full frame (and at f/2!) here. See the full photozone reviews for details. There's still a bit of LoCA on the AF-S (it's not the Zeiss), but it's much better and the bokeh is less distracting.

    I scarcely bothered with my 50 f/1.8 D because it was so poor at wide apertures that it ruled out its main benefit over a decent zoom. I'm much happier to use the AF-S version. It's not perfect, and it can still mess up an image, but - especially if you're trading your AF-D - it's well worth the price. If you shoot at wide apertures; if you don't, the AF-D is fine. (If you consider the Sigma f/1.4 or an 85mm instead, that may be a good reason not to bother, however!) The difference was pretty visible on my D700, amazingly so on my D800. You'll see it on a D90.

    But if you do decide to upgrade, I still think it's the 18-200 that's going to look bad first!
  16. My copy of the 50mm AFD works just fine on my D7100. Perhaps you have a bad copy. My 50 1.4 is better and the one I usually use.
  17. Rick, agreeing with Andrew... it's not that the 50 f/1.8D would not work great.... it's just that the 50 f/1.8G is loads better at wide apertures, and very visibly so (and I do have both of them). You could argue we talk about lens performance too much in the absolute sense, but you do the same when it comes to camera body performance. I think none of us dismissed the advantages the D7100 can bring, but by his own admission, the OP stated he does not actually need any of those advantages.
    Given a choice between "in camera HDR", having 1/8000th or a slightly larger screen (it's 3.2" versus 3"...) or "completely usable f/2 performance", I have far more use for the second as a step forward - the D7100 won't give me that, the f/1.8G lens will. You may not find that difference important - that's OK - but that does not mean it needs to be dismissed. Just as I shouldn't dismiss the extras the D7100 brings to the table, esp. the AF is a brilliant step up.
  18. I have no dog in the fight Wouter and Peter. I don't disagree with you at all. I have used my 50 F/1.8 with the D7100 and had no problem. BUT. I looked at the 20 or so images I took with it and none of them were at really wide apertures so I will bow to your and Peter's greater knowledge on this. Previously the largest sensor on which I used the 50 f/1.8 was 12 MP. (actually I have used it on the D800 I think but can't remember when. As I said I use the F/1.4 when I want to go widest.
    My comments about lens performance were to be taken as general not specific. Practical rather than scientific. There are lenses that bite and some that bite sometimes. The old 24-120 was a case in point. Major Bite. On the other hand some people complain about the 70-200 F/2.8 VR1. Their complaints even on full frame are trivial. Pixel peeping and it is that which I frequently argue against. What a shame if someone, imagining that they are going to have bad pictures, refused a great deal on that lens and paid more than a thousand more for the VR2 on the notion that they would be getting a vastly improved lens.
    He can buy a 50 f/1.8G if he likes. Indeed if I were shopping now for one I might choose the new one. If I was looking at the money though I think I would lean forward with another $50.00 and get the refurbished 1.4D if I could instead of either one;) But there is no end to bumping the ante.....

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