NEED HELP: want to upgrade to my 1st d-slr

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by song2006, Oct 16, 2006.

  1. song2006

    song2006 TPF Noob!

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    i am currently using a KODAK DX7590 ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA which is ok but i feel i would get more of what i want with a d-slr. it is a hobby for me but i hope to advance in my skill as its something i really enjoy doing. so im looking for a starter setup and any feedback on the items im looking at or if you have something else to suggest within my budget is appreciated.

    i am seem to be most interested in the Nikon D80 Digital Camera (Single-lens reflex) http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond80/

    and im not sure which lense i should go for, getting the most for my money that i will be able to utilize in good quality pictures for portraits, in action of dogs, scerney, landscape, macros of flowers, butterflies, etc... mostly outside shots but indoors as well for portaits and parties. and something that will let me get shots of fireworks and cityscapes day and night.

    heres what i am looking at:

    Nikon 18-135 mm F/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S Nikkor Lens http://www.ritzcamera.com/product/541536009.htm?bct=t13024003%3Bcidigital-cameras-and-accessories%3Bcilenses-for-digital-cameras%3Bcislr-lens%3Bcilenses-for-nikon

    Nikon 70-300 mm F4-5.6G VR ED AFS Lens http://www.ritzcamera.com/product/541536017.htm?bct=t13024003%3Bcidigital-cameras-and-accessories%3Bcilenses-for-digital-cameras%3Bcislr-lens%3Bcilenses-for-nikon

    Nikon 18-200 mm F/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF DX VR Lens http://www.ritzcamera.com/product/541530721.htm?bct=t13024003%3Bcidigital-cameras-and-accessories%3Bcilenses-for-digital-cameras%3Bcislr-lens%3Bcilenses-for-nikon

    but i dont know which one will be best. as you can tell i like the vr because i would prefer not to use a tripod all the time and hoping this give me a bit more freedom, but the prices are a bit higher and not sure if i should invest that much for my needs. the first lense is discounted $200 if i purchase it with the nikon body so it is a good value but will i be happy with it? and will it offer me the variety im looking for with only this one lense?

    i was also looking at filters.

    Quantaray +3 Close-Up Filter
    http://www.ritzcamera.com/product/241661503msk.htm?bct=t13024003%3Bcidigital-cameras-and-accessories%3Bcifilters%3Bcifilters-round

    Quantaray Pro-Digital Circular Polarizer Filter
    http://www.ritzcamera.com/product/241668334msk.htm?bct=t13024003%3Bcidigital-cameras-and-accessories%3Bcifilters%3Bcifilters-round

    Quantaray Neutral Density +4 Filter
    http://www.ritzcamera.com/product/241664820msk.htm?bct=t13024003%3Bcidigital-cameras-and-accessories%3Bcifilters%3Bcifilters-round


    are these good to start with. based on what i have read [never used filters before] i think they will do.

    and a tripod, that will allow me to have my camera vertical and horizontal. with a quick release and level.

    any thought on this one?

    Vanguard Tracker Series All-Aluminum Alloy Tripod with 3-Way Panhead
    http://www.ritzcamera.com/product/EP5496997.htm?bct=t13024003%3Bcidigital-cameras-and-accessories%3Bcitripods-supports%3Bcitripods-complete

    you are welcome to provide links to any items you may suggest so i can view it.

    thank you for the help.

    **if you would like to get a feel for what i take pictures of please visit my link "photo albums" in my signature.
     
  2. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'll give you my opinion but it isn't likely what you want to hear. The lenses you have listed are all slow lenses with wide zoom ranges. My preference would be for a D50 with the 17-55mm f2.8. That is a true statement because I chose that combination personally.

    The lenses with wide zoom ranges have too many negative issues for me personally so I tend to prefer the better performance and faster maximum apertures of the narrow zoom range lenses. The digital sensors are good enough these days that you can easily see the better performance of better lenses in the final image.

    Also, I view digital camera bodies as expendable in the sense that they become obselete quickly. As an example, my $500 D50 makes significantly better images than the $3000 Fuji S1 I bought at the turn of the millenium. The Fuji S1 is now worth less than the D50 - and rightfully so. The D50 is easily a better camera in every respect. In the film days you could buy a camera body and use it for decades so spending serious money on one made more sense. I'm not sure it makes sense today until a camera system becomes available with upgradeable sensors and firmware. I would buy a D2X tomorrow if I could upgrade sensor and firmware into the future. Maybe you can. I don't know. If you can I'll go get one. I would view that as the single best feature any digital SLR could have.

    There's my point of view for what it's worth.

    I don't have any experience with the tripod you chose but it looks sturdy enough. There is no specification for how tall it is with the legs extended and I would want to know that personally. An inexpensive tripod I can vouch for personally is http://www.calumetphoto.com/item/CK7316.html. It weighs about 5 lbs. and is taller than I am. It is obviously made by Manfrotto for Calumet. My favorite small tripod is a Bogen (Manfrotto) I bought years ago with a ball head that operates with a single grip lever. Squeeze to unlock the head and let go to lock. It is very fast to use. Squeeze, compose, release. I put it in the car every time I go shoot. It may still be available. I don't know.

    I don't have any experience with the filters but I would assume they are OK. I always recommend buying filters with brass mounting rings so that you will have less likelihood of stuck filters. Those are usually the most expensive ones, unfortunately.
     
  3. song2006

    song2006 TPF Noob!

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    fmw, thanks for your feedback.

    from what im getting you dont feel i should spend that kind of money on a new camera and model, but i do think it will go a long way with me into the future as it seems to offer what i need. you do however make alot of sense that if these d-slr cameras were upgradable it would be better for our pocket in the long run. and are you saying im better off going with maybe two lenses like the 17-55mm f2.8 and ?? [what other lense] for my purpose. should i go with a higher aperture [maybe f3.5] on a second lense? :scratch:

    here are the tripod specs:

    Manufacturer: Vanguard(USA), Inc
    Manufacturer Part Number: TRACKER-3
    Product Type: Floor Standing
    Product Model: Tracker-3
    Maximum Tripod Height: 68.5"
    Folded Tripod Length: 30.125"
    Leg Sections: 3
    Tripod Features:
    Self-adjusting conical bearing locking system allows 360 rotation on vertical/horizontal plane
    Quick shoe and large easy-grip ratchet handle
    Weight: 7.27 lb

    im still kinda new to this so im hoping all you folks experience can help me avoid making costly mistakes. and i dont want to be bullied by the local camera store sales guy, so your help is very appreciated.

    any others want to help me out? please..
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I agree with fmw about the lenses. You seem to be looking at 'all in one' type of lenses with a very broad range of focal lengths. These lenses may be convenient but to design/make these lenses...a lot of compromises have to be made. In most cases, they have have traded image quality and a wide aperture for the convenience of large zooming ability.

    You can get much better quality and value by investing in quality lenses. Prime lenses (non zooming) make no compromises for zoom, so they are usually of very good optical quality and don't cost all that much. They usually have a bigger maximum aperture as well.

    When looking for lenses...the maximum aperture is a very important thing too look at...almost as important as the focal length. What everyone wants is a lens with a bigger maximum aperture (low F number). For a zoom lens F2.8 is nice and big. For a prime lens F1.8 or F1.4 is nice to have.

    Lenses with bigger apertures will be larger and usually heavier than lenses with smaller max apertures. They cost a lot more too. Lenses however, are mostly a very good investment. Digital camera bodies get upgraded every few years at most...their value declines quickly after that. A good lens today, will most likely fit a newer camera tomorrow...so it's usefulness and value does not drop much at all.
     
  5. song2006

    song2006 TPF Noob!

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    thanks mike.

    i want to be sure im understanding you correctly, a f2.8 is better than a f3.5 for a zoom lense. and what is a good size focal length that would be within my price range? i dont need any mega-zoom, im just looking for something to bring in the subject a bit

    for a prime lense [no zoom] around f1.8 would be best. but what focal length would be best for me? 28mm or 50mm, or 60mm?

    what lense would be best for action shots?

    oh, what does the "g" or "d" mean after the aperture numbers?

    sorry for all the questions, but from what you and fmw are saying i got it completely wrong when it comes to lenses, as i would be scarificing quality for convenience. but now i still need help.

    thank you for the needed advice.
     
  6. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think for others to help you you need to define price range. What is your limit? a great combination would be the D80, the 17-55 2.8 and on top of that the 70-200 2.8 but of course that is an extremely expensive combination but you did list 3 lenses in your original post so a little clarification would be in order. I would also tell you that if you buy a D50, especially if you originally planned to buy a D80 you wil be disapointed with the D50 that camera is a couple of years old and only 6mp the only drawback to the D80 would be the use of SD cards. If you plan on getting into a better body later most high-end bodies use compact flash. I will agree that good glass is as important as a good body now but equally as importantis the resolution of your body.
     
  7. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Aperture and F numbers can be confusing. Smaller F numbers are bigger apertures. Higher F numbers are smaller apertures.

    So F2.8 is a large aperture...that's good. F5.6 is a smaller aperture...that's not so good. Most/all lenses will stop down to F22 or F29...but that's not what we are concerned about...what we want to know is...the maximum aperture (and that will be in the description of the lens).

    Lenses with a bigger maximum aperture are often called 'fast' lenses. This is probably because they let you use faster shutter speeds.

    What focal length is best for you? That depends...50 to 100 is good for portraits because if you go much wider...the lens distortion can make people look funny. But if you go too long...it will be hard to get a whole person or group into a shot without backing up really far.

    I like 50mm (on a 35mm SLR) so that is about 28mm on a D80.

    For actions shots...a big aperture is key. You will want something with a max aperture of F2.8 at least.

    d & g....that's Nikon speak...I don't know

    Happy to help.
     
  8. song2006

    song2006 TPF Noob!

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    jip thanks for your feedback.

    i really dont want to spend more than $1000 on lenses in total. i was looking at the above lenses in my first post for 1 to purchase of the 3 but i thought from my readings/research that two different lenses may be better and why i had started this thread and asked about them. i was going on value as i usually do but have been reading that is not the best way to go with lenses. and confirmed by fmw and mike. having the 10mp is a great draw to the d80, the kodak i have now has 5mp and not too bad [fixed inner lense.. i hope im saying that right] but i know the 10 would be a very good improvement. i also like alot of the features the d80 has.

    sorry i wasnt more clear on my first post.

    what is wrong with sd cards? i use that now with my kodak and i like it.


    questions from my other post, i still need help with:

    what lense would be best for action shots?

    oh, what does the "g" or "d" mean after the aperture numbers?

    sorry for all the questions, but from what you and fmw are saying i got it completely wrong when it comes to lenses, as i would be scarificing quality for convenience. but now i still need help.

    thank you for the needed advice.
     
  9. song2006

    song2006 TPF Noob!

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    mike so maybe a happy medium for me would be what jip is suggesting. providing i can swing the prices of both. thanks for the explainations, it makes a bit more sense to me when i can understand what f-stops and local lengths do what to the shot. the down side of my camera now is its not teaching me all this. and this lense stuff is tricky.
     
  10. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I might go with something like 17-55 F2.8. The 50mm F1.8 is inexpensive, so I might just get that anyway.

    Why not just get one lens...and then use it for a while. From there, you should be able to tell what would be best to get next.

    As for action shots...are we talking kids running around or sports, where you can't get close?

    On another note: A D80 will be so, so much better than your Kodak...and not because of the mega-pixel count. A D50 with only 6MP would still be way, way better than your Kodak. The reason is the size of the sensor. Digital SLR cameras have much bigger sensors than 99% of the 'digi-cams'. This gives you better image quality and much less noise at higher ISO. Then there are other benefits like a much faster shutter response. Most digi-cams I have tried...will wait a half second before taking the image...that makes action shots very hard.
     
  11. Illah

    Illah TPF Noob!

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    Here's what I've built over the past few months, should be about what you are looking for. We seem to be in a similar boat in many ways:

    - Nikon D50
    - Tamron 17-50 f2.8 zoom ($450-500 compared to the $1200+ Nikon 17-55 f2.8, but reviews to be nearly or just as good as the Nikon in most aspects)
    - Nikon 70-300 f4-5.6 'G' telephoto. Not super high end but good for the cost, only about $150. I rarely use telephoto though, if that's important to you prepare to spend a ton of money! For what I've used it for I have no complaints.
    - SB-600 flash w/ diffuser (I shoot alot of night/low light)
    - Hoya SMC UV filter for lens protection (I sometimes shoot in clubs or events full of sweaty drunk people holding drinks)
    - Cheap tripod from Best Buy

    I plan to add a polarizer one day but other than that I'm pretty much set with my gear. Like fmw says, the body is not that critical and will be obsolete in a year or two anyway. The D50 hasn't held me back at all, and I have no desire to upgrade it even after playing with my uncle's D200.

    I hardly use the tripod so that's why it's cheap (and I bought it long before I got a DSLR, with my old camera it was perfect). It's fine for landscapes if I keep an eye on it but for a portrait it would probably tip over from the camera weight :)

    --Illah
     
  12. song2006

    song2006 TPF Noob!

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    very good idea about trying one out for a while. that would help me learn more about lenses before investing in a second lens. i guess im just trying to set my camera bag up with the basic needs because i probably wont buy anything else once i get my camera for a long while.

    for my action shots i take mostly my dog on the beach and the yard running. but even when he is sitting or laying down he is still moving, listening and watching everything that is going on around him. and to add to that he pants after running or playing. taking pictures of a happy dog is a fun challenge. i have a thread of some pics here in the general section you are welcome to view and comment on. http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=61753

    i wasnt aware of the sensor thing, thats great and i can relate to the delay on my current digital. i have missed alot of shots. but i think i got alittle better with it over time.

    thanks again for all your help. :)
     

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