Nikon recommendations for beginner with upgrade potential

violakat03

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I have been reading and reading and reading on every site you could probably imagine before making a decision on what DSLR to purchase. I'm on a limited budget and planning to buy used, and while every site and every thread has lots of recommendations, I'm just feeling it's better to go ahead and ask for my specific situation and see what people think.

I'm planning to go with Nikon because it's what I know and am used to - my ex has a D100 that I did all of my learning on up until this point. I no longer have access to this camera, so I'm looking to get my own. I've played with some Canons and just found them odd to work with, probably because I'm used to Nikon.

My intention is to purchase a low-cost used camera, either as a body + a lower cost basic lens, or as a kit. I'd like to get something that I could "upgrade" in the future when I have more money and this first camera could become a reasonable backup camera.

I am intending to get in to portrait photography - seniors, family, (eventually) wedding, etc. I want to spend some time learning on a less expensive camera, but I'd really like to be able to take it to the next step (aka bringing in income) on my first camera as well.

What I've been looking at and my thoughts so far:
Nikon D50 - inexpensive used, but lower resolution. Lots of compatible lenses because of internal focus motor.
Nikon D40 - also inexpensive used and lower resolution. Seems to be about the same cost as D50, but less lens compatibility.
Nikon D5100 - more expensive as it's a newer camera, but higher resolution and many neat features. Less lens compatibility, and not sure if the 'nifty' features are really necessary, such as live view LCD.

Any thoughts to those cameras, or maybe other recommendations? My budget is $600 and under, obviously the less the better. $400 and under I could purchase now, $600 will require two more weeks and I've sort of got ants in my pants over this. :)

Also, I feel I should point something out: This is the first board I've been comfortable posting on because the attitude here is very accepting, so I appreciate that. Many boards I've browsed seem very anti-newbie and just laugh at anyone who thinks they can start a photography business. I have been taking P&S photos for as long as I've owned a camera and have always been interested in learning everything I could soak up. I think I'm at the point in my life where it's time to take a step up and finally follow my dream.
 
If you're looking to buy new another option is the D3100....it's doesn't have quite as many features as the D5100 but it is about $200 less. I've have it and love it but I also see it's limitations. You can get one with a kit lens for < $600 Nikon D3100 Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm NIKKOR VR 25472 B&H. The kit lens is not great but it is a good range for starting. The lack of an internal motor doesn't bother me...I bought two manual focus sigma lenses on ebay and love them.
 
I was originally planning to go with the D3100 but for the extra $$ (used they're only about $100 more) I'd rather go with the D5100, if I decide to go that route. I am also considering the D5000.
 
I think you would pick up a second hand d90 cheaper than a new d5100. It has better compatability with older cheaper nikon lenses and is a fine camera
 
Used D90 is about $300 more than a used D5100. Not a whole lot in the scheme of things but considering my price range, that puts it out of my reach.

I found a D40 for sale with two lenses locally for $325 on craiglist. http://dayton.craigslist.org/pho/2873681325.html
Also found a D50 on ebay with kit lens. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-D50-6...069539?pt=Digital_Cameras&hash=item20c2f94523

Any opinions on either of these? I definitely value more experienced individuals' input on whether something's a good buy before dropping a chunk of cash. :D
 
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The D50 has an auto focus screw-drive system in it that would allow you to use the older AF lenses.

The D40 doesn't have that same auto focus screw-drive system, but most of the lenses you will be able to afford will be the AF-S type that doesn't need the screw-drive focusing system anyway.

But, those older AF lenses are one generation back prosumer or pro grade lenses that are a lot less expensive than the current prosumer and pro grade lenses. That may be a future consideration if you're hoping to generate income by doing photography

However, the D40 can sync flash at much higher shutter speeds than the D50 can.

The D50 and the D40 are both entry-level cameras that have 50,000 actuation rated shutters. Shutter replacement is running $250 - $300 these days. Both cameras are old enough designs that the shutter actuation count may not be written to a JPEG's EXIF data. I can't recall and some d50 and D40 ownes would have to chime in.

I would rate the D50 and the D40 overall as pretty much equal.

I would also recommend the D90 over either the D40 or the D50. The D90 has a 100,000 actuation rated shutter, 2 command wheels, CLS commander mode, an 11 point auto focus module, and significantly improved image sensor and other internal electronics.
 
The d90 would be the top buy out of all of these but if its too much $$$ than its too much money.

Don't worry about lens compatibility if you don't already have lenses. If you have lenses check to see if they are AFS or G lenses, pretty much all of these will autofocus on d40,d5100, d3100 and so on. Nikon has pretty much updated all AF lenses to AFS, the ones that will matter anyways.
If you are starting on a new system, just go for the camera body that is most convenient for you. Out of the 3 that you have listed i would go for a d40 but i wouldn't pay over $200 for it, spend an other $200 on a 35 1.8 and you've got a very nice starting setup.

For $600 my ideal setup would be a used d5000 with a 35 1.8, your looking at about $550 If you look at keh, the d3100 is about $400 and a 35 1.8 is about $200 together thats about your budget. I would opt for the d3100+35 1.8 over a d5100 + kit lens.
My ideal would be the d5000 and 35 1.8 at that price point however.

D40 and d50 are pretty old tech now, i would pick one up as a backup but not as a main camera. The only way i could suggest this is if you pay $200 for the body and put the rest towards some lenses. $600 can buy you a set of 18-55+55-200 and the 35 1.8. That sounds pretty kickass, but ultimately the d5000+ 35 1.8 win for me at that price point.
 
KmH said:
The D50 has an auto focus screw-drive system in it that would allow you to use the older AF lenses.

The D40 doesn't have that same auto focus screw-drive system, but most of the lenses you will be able to afford will be the AF-S type that doesn't need the screw-drive focusing system anyway.

But, those older AF lenses are one generation back prosumer or pro grade lenses that are a lot less expensive than the current prosumer and pro grade lenses. That may be a future consideration if you're hoping to generate income by doing photography

However, the D40 can sync flash at much higher shutter speeds than the D50 can.

The D50 and the D40 are both entry-level cameras that have 50,000 actuation rated shutters. Shutter replacement is running $250 - $300 these days. Both cameras are old enough designs that the shutter actuation count may not be written to a JPEG's EXIF data. I can't recall and some d50 and D40 ownes would have to chime in.

I would rate the D50 and the D40 overall as pretty much equal.

I would also recommend the D90 over either the D40 or the D50. The D90 has a 100,000 actuation rated shutter, 2 command wheels, CLS commander mode, an 11 point auto focus module, and significantly improved image sensor and other internal electronics.

The d50 syncs as high as the d40. It's the d60 that doesn't.
 
Where does a used D90 fall in there? or a used D200?
 
The D40 has a MUCH better LCD screen than the D50, and synchs to the top hutter speed. It also has newer "features" than the D50. The D40 has a much better view through the finder than the D50 does....the D50's finder is what I call "squinty".

To me, if you have to wait two weeks to be able to spend another $200, then wait two weeks, and get rid of the ants in the pants!!!!

Don't worry about the lens issues...KmH has posted a list....there are as I recall, 162 Nikon, Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina lenses in current manufacture, which fit the D40-D60-D3000-3100, D5000-5100 bodies. Surely 162 lenses will be enough to choose from.
 
Agreed with Derrel. You can get a lot more if you wait the two weeks. You can shop around. I picked up a refurbished d90 with only 400 clicks for a good price with warranty.
 
Well, there are certainly lots of options, but I think I've decided what I'm going to do.

I'm going to go ahead and purchased a D40 with two lenses. I've got two options on this right now that have the same lenses and are within $20 of each other - one is local and one is online. I'm going to see if the local seller will come down in return for cash in hand tonight, if not I will buy from the seller on TPF. This will net me two lenses: 18-55 and 55-200. The lenses alone sell on Amazon for what the whole package is listed for.

I'm going to save up my pennies for a little while and keep an eye out for a nice D90 body - since I won't have to get lenses with it, it might be easier to find one I like for a good price. This will give me two bodies to play with and more options later down the road. I should have the ability to buy a D90 (or maybe even nicer) in a month or two.

I really appreciate all the feedback from this thread. It has been incredibly helpful in making a decision and I know will also help in future purchases.
 
Well, there are certainly lots of options, but I think I've decided what I'm going to do.

I'm going to go ahead and purchased a D40 with two lenses. I've got two options on this right now that have the same lenses and are within $20 of each other - one is local and one is online. I'm going to see if the local seller will come down in return for cash in hand tonight, if not I will buy from the seller on TPF. This will net me two lenses: 18-55 and 55-200. The lenses alone sell on Amazon for what the whole package is listed for.

I'm going to save up my pennies for a little while and keep an eye out for a nice D90 body - since I won't have to get lenses with it, it might be easier to find one I like for a good price. This will give me two bodies to play with and more options later down the road. I should have the ability to buy a D90 (or maybe even nicer) in a month or two.

I really appreciate all the feedback from this thread. It has been incredibly helpful in making a decision and I know will also help in future purchases.

Both of those lenses are awesome, but i would suggest u forgo one of them for a 35 1.8, its a great lens for dx. The d40's low light isn't as great as what is available today so a 35 1.8 will go further than 18-55 as a standard, you'll miss the wide end a bit however.
 

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