Nikon D40: Which kit?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Suzumushi, Jun 16, 2008.

  1. Suzumushi

    Suzumushi TPF Noob!

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    I know there are many posts about which camera or lens to buy, and I've been reading them for the past few days, but I thought I would ask for some more direct advice based on my specific interests.

    I'm in Japan for the summer and looking to buy my first DSLR. I've pretty much decided on the Nikon D40, but there are lens kits to choose from. For about 462$ I can get the camera with the 18-55mm lens that seems to be highly rated from what I've been reading. For about 645$ I can get a kit that has the former lens and an additional 55-200mm lens with vibration reduction which also seems to be well recommended. Basically for 183$ I would get the extra lens with VR. This seems to be about the same price if I were to just buy the lens separately, so the question is whether the extra lens offers enough to justify getting both, or if I should just get the single lens. Or whether there is a different lens at about the same cost that would be a better choice.

    I'm a grad student so I don't have a whole lot of money to spend, but both kits are within my price range. I'm not very steady, so the VR sounds especially appealing, but I don't know if that single feature justifies getting the other lens since things like faster shutter speed should similarly compensate for unsteady hands. I'm planning on taking a lot of pictures of Japan, including temples, shrines, gardens, city streets, forest, etc. I imagine the 18-55 should be good for these if the lack of VR isn't a big issue. I also want to take very close up shots of plants, flowers, and insects though. I think a higher focal length is better for these kind of pictures(?) and unsteadiness may show up more strongly at such close range(?), so the 55-200 VR seems like it would be especially effective for these shots. But maybe the 18-55 is effective enough for that too?
     
  2. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    Since you're not sure you'll even want the 55-200 and it's not any cheaper to buy it as part of the kit, just skip it. You might find that you'd rather get an ultra-wide angle lens anyways, in which case you could put the money you'd have spend on the 55-200 towards something else. If you find you're always at the 55mm end of the 18-55 though, then go buy the 55-200VR.

    For macro shots, the 18-55 will actually get you closer with a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:3.2. The 55-200 will only get down to 1:4.3 which isn't as close. You'll have almost no working distance with the 18-55 lens, but it'll still get you closer.
     
  3. Suzumushi

    Suzumushi TPF Noob!

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    Ok thanks. I will just play with the one lens until I learn enough to know what else I might need.
     
  4. Suzumushi

    Suzumushi TPF Noob!

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    I talked to a Japanese friend whose hobby is photography and he recommended the Canon XSi or the soon-to-be-released, more affordable Canon XS (1000D). A comparison is here: http://www.dpreview.com/previews/canon_1000d/page2.asp

    I'm considering the XS now because the 18-55mm kit lens has Image Stabilization, which I really feel is something I want after reading http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/image-stabilization.htm and being frustrated with blurriness in my old P&S. I also found out that my dad has an older Canon SLR that he doesn't really use, so I could probably use his lenses as well after I return to the US, although I don't know yet which ones he has. The XS is released here in 10 days and I could get the kit from Amazon.co.jp for about 740$. I guess it probably comes down to personal preference and how much money I want to spend, but are there any significant advantages of the XS over the D40 or vice versa? I'm not yet able to read through all the specs and see which ones are important and which are not.
     
  5. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    Find out what lenses your dad has. If they're EF lenses and worth anything, you might very well want to go with Canon instead. If they're old FD mount lenses then they wouldn't be compatible. I know Nikon offers different kits in Japan, but if you liked the D40 you might be able to get it body only and just buy the 18-55VR separately. Due to the much larger sensors of DSLRs, even a DSLR without stabilization is still going to give you better results than a P&S with stabilization in a lot of cases. Check out my Ilan at Night and Taichung at night albums. All of those photos are with my D80 and mostly the 18-135 lens which doesn't have stabilization. It's always nicer to have VR/IS than not have it just so that it's there when you need it, but I've always managed to get by just fine without it too.


    The most demanding shot out of all of those was this one from Ilan.

    18-135 @ 18mm, f/3.5, iso1600, 1/3s handheld with some extra noise reduction done in post-processing
    [​IMG]

    I can't get sharp photos with my P&S even with stabilization at that slow of a speed because I can't smash the thing against my face to help stabilize it like I can a DSLR. :lol: And then on top of that, a DSLR gives you about 3-4 stops worth of added sensitivity vs your typical P&S because the sensors are so much bigger. It took about 3 or 4 shots to get this. The other few were blurred, but this one was serviceably sharp.

    BTW, Nikon's Auto Contrast algorithms will smoke any Canon for a lot of those night shots in terms of off the camera JPEG quality. Overall scene contrast can vary greatly, and going through the photos seeing what Auto contrast was doing, it was all over the place but kept giving perfect JPEGs everytime because it's smart enough to know how to process them. Canons still don't do this and you've pretty much have to shoot RAW and sort it all out later. If you're going to do that anyways then it's no big deal, but something to consider nonetheless.
     
  6. Suzumushi

    Suzumushi TPF Noob!

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    Apparently my dad only has the kit lens (which he still uses so I can't take it) and a telephoto EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 (not sure if it's the one with IS or not). As far as I can tell the telephoto is not very popular or expensive, so I really wouldn't save money by going with Canon; I could buy the D40 kit and a better telephoto or some other lens and still spend less overall. I'll probably just get the D40 one lens kit and pocket the difference for now, but I think I'll go hold one of each this weekend and see which feels better. Thanks for your help :)
     
  7. petey

    petey TPF Noob!

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    D40 with 18-200 VR is all you need.
     

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