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Is it worth it?
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Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Is it worth it? on 01/02/2013 18:36:10 MST Print View

Ok, I think its time I get a real DSLR. I've been using a Nikon N70 for 15 years and the cost and availability to develop firm is killing me.

I need a camera for-
Taking pictures for my business- I'm a building/remodeling contractor and need to supply my website and portfolio with "high quality" photos of before and after shots
Family photo's- candid and otherwise.

I have been putting off getting a DLSR for years because of cost and compatibility with my existing lenses, I hate to waste stuff, I try and get all the life out of a product. The N70 has used its useful life, but what about my lenses, are they worth purchasing a new camera body around?

Here is what I have:
Nikon AF Nikkor 24-120mm 1:3.5-5.6 D
Nikon AF Nikkor 70-210mm 1:4-5.6 D
Nikon Speedlight SB-28

So, a couple of questions/issues:

1. Do I get a whole new system (assuming what I have isn't worth trying to re-use)

2. Do I find a compatible Nikon body for my existing lenses (assuming what I have is good quality and worth working around)

3. If you agree with number 2 above what body do you suggest- new or used under $800

4. If the lenses aren't worth make a system work around them, what system would you suggest? Is there a lightweight camera system that will do what I need?

5. If a new system is suggested, what would you suggest? I'm not stuck on Nikon, I had a Canon set up that was stolen so I bought the Nikon stuff to replace it (just to try it out- 15 years ago)

Any other information to help move this forward would be appreciated,
Tad

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Nikon, Is it worth it? on 01/02/2013 19:54:45 MST Print View

A new Nikon D90 would be a great entry camera that meets your minimal criteria and is compatible with you current lenses. It's raw IQ is still better or as good as any of the smaller top-of-line "mirror-less" cameras that are all rage.

A new Nikon D7000 is better still but you would pay ~$100 more. Nikon is due to upgrade it soon so perhaps you can get it even cheaper in the months ahead.

FWIW, I have a ~3yr old D90 w/grip I purchased as a second body with less than 500 shutter releases I could make you a deal on but not sure how competive it could be when I include shipping from Japan.

I should add that if you made alot of 24mm focal length shots, and you might shooting landscapes and buildings, you will need a new wide angle lens like the Tokina 11-16 f2.8 since the angle of view of all SLR lenses narrows by a factor of ~1.5 with most dslr bodies.

Edited by rmjapan on 01/02/2013 20:04:04 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Is it worth it? on 01/02/2013 20:17:32 MST Print View

If you are simply shooting snapshots, then a DSLR is probably overkill. Plus, if you had it around a job site, there could be a security problem.

The big advantage of a DSLR is that you can do some real photography. On either of those two Nikon models, you have enough manual controls and buttons reachable by thumbs on the rear panel, so you can control your image creation a lot more than if you had a simple compact camera where you have to go through the menu for almost everything (there isn't much room for buttons and controls).

I am not a Nikon shooter, so I can't claim anything about certain models of Nikon. I am a Canon shooter, and every camera that I've had for the last 15 years has been a Canon. To a certain extent, plan first what you need for lenses, and then get the right body to go with them. Good lenses will last for 15 years or more without becoming obsolete. We can't say the same thing about camera bodies.

--B.G.--

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Is it worth it? on 01/02/2013 20:25:38 MST Print View

As long as you stay away from the lowest end Nikon bodies (D3200, D5200, etc) your current lenses will work just as they did on your N70 but the FOV will be different. I've got a D300 that's pretty fantastic but damn heavy for hiking. The weatherproofing, 6 FPS, and 100% viewfinder are pretty nice though. A D90 would probably work great for you and leave you some extra money for a wide angle lens, which you'll probably want.

If you're happy with the lenses you have I don't see much reason to switch systems. I could be biased as a Nikon user though :)

Adam

Jeremy and Angela
(requiem) - F - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: Is it worth it? on 01/02/2013 20:59:03 MST Print View

Agree with the D90/D7000 comments; both are right around your price target and include the mechanical focusing drive. (I've been eyeing both as an eventual replacement for my D40.)

For the family/candids: consider a faster 35 or 50mm lens (the f/1.8s are fairly inexpensive compared to the f/1.4s).

For work your existing lenses should work, but you many want something wider. The Tokina mentioned is good, but very wide. Consider also the lighting; a radio trigger for the SB-28 will let you place it in other rooms, behind furniture, etc.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Is it worth it? on 01/02/2013 23:45:25 MST Print View

Tad
In case you are not familiar with the "crop" factor, using a Nikon APS C body will turn your 24-120 in to a 36-180mm and the 70-210 into a 105-315mm
The only way you can keep the same angle of view you have is to get an FF (full frame) body (D600/700/800)

BTW, Focal length multiplier
Canon APS C 1.6x
Nikon APS C 1.5x

Edited by Franco on 01/04/2013 18:34:42 MST.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Is it worth it? on 01/04/2013 16:50:34 MST Print View

Thanks everyone for your info, I guess I now should decide if I go with a D90 or try and find a D7000 for a killer deal. I don't think I can do a D600- I need new tires for my truck also

Franco- I get the crop thing, I guess the bonus is you get more on the top end so maybe its a wash unless you need a wider field of view.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Is it worth it? on 01/04/2013 17:36:40 MST Print View

If you are a landscape shooter, then the APS-C crop factor is a negative. You have to get lenses that are x1.6 wider just to keep up. If you are a wildlife shooter, then the APS-C crop factor is a plus. Your lenses give you the appearance of being x1.6 longer. Unfortunately, you can't have it both ways unless you carry two camera bodies. One friend of mine carries a full frame DSLR for landscape work and a crop factor body for wildlife work. At least if you stay within certain limits, your lenses should be interchangeable within those two bodies.

--B.G.--

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Re: Re: Is it worth it? on 01/04/2013 17:56:29 MST Print View

Bob, a Nikon D800 user currently has the best of both formats in one camera.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it worth it? on 01/04/2013 21:52:03 MST Print View

Bob, I have one word- Duh! If I had an extra $2900 laying around I know my wife wouldn't allow my to use it on a camera. More like using to buy an extra car for one of the kids.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it worth it? on 01/04/2013 22:14:42 MST Print View

"If I had an extra $2900 laying around I know my wife wouldn't allow my to use it on a camera."

I don't think that it was me advocating you dropping $2900 on a camera.

Besides, explain to your wife that it is not all about what it costs. Just think what it would be worth.

I dropped about $6K on one lens. For that, I had to hold my breath.

--B.G.--

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it worth it? on 01/04/2013 22:24:37 MST Print View

Dig around and find a deal on the D7000. They can be picked up on Amazon for less than the D90, so there isn't a reason to go that route IMO.

I loved the autofocus on the D7000, never once had issue acquiring sharp focus in any situation (*usually mounted a 35/f1.8). 1080p video at 24fps is nice if you plan on doing any video work with it. I never intended to do video when I purchased the D7000 but took to it quickly after seeing the quality.

I regret selling mine, but oh well.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
An Argument Against SLR's on 01/10/2013 09:43:14 MST Print View

Ok, I'll be the guy to go against the flow.

This is the worst time in history to buy an SLR. Well, it really depends on your needs. That's how any response to your question should begin, in my opinion. I'll come back to that in a second.

If you go back 5 or 6 years and look at the state of digital SLR's and do the same vs. other mirrorless cameras, the disparity in output quality was pretty enormous. Look at this today and it's not so. How did that shift come about? From an industry perspective...

1. More interest in putting SLR sized sensors into compact camera bodies.

2. More interest in development of new series of lenses for digital-only bodies with smaller sensors (APS-C, 4/3, and smaller formats)

3. More interest in improving small sensor capability.


If SLR's still rule one thing, it's autofocus. Mostly, mid and high end bodies, but even some entry level bodies will be faster and more accurate to lock focus than other compact cameras. At the upper end there are all kinds of advanced focus tracking features. If you're shooting sports, birds, or weddings professionally then you probably do need an SLR. For example, an honest report from a non-pro who has shot several weddings.

One other aspect of the SLR is their optical view finder. Many of the compact bodies now offer electronic view finders, which are not quite the same experience, but still provide a familiar way of shooting. I prefer the far-left placement of the viewfinder on Sony and Fuji cameras to Olympus, but the OM-D is more true to an SLR design.

I think one perceived benefit of an SLR is access to a wide selection of lenses, especially with a full frame SLR. For some people this might actually be true, but for most of us, how many lenses do we actually own? As a full frame SLR shooter for many years I subscribed to this, even though I purchased almost every lens I ever needed within the first year or two.

Still, it's nice to know, when buying into a system the options to expand will be there. Most of the compact interchangeable lens cameras now have good lens lineups (all of which are continually growing). If we get out of the mindset "but there are only 12 lenses, and X offers 50 lenses" then we can start to scrutinize whether a system meets our actual needs or not.

As a full frame SLR user for many years, it's taken me that long to wrap my head around a new way of thinking. Only just recently did I decide to sell my SLR and use only my NEX 5N exclusively. I arrived at this after considering a few key points:

1. FF offers better high ISO (color accuracy and noise) performance - Modern APS-C is good enough, it's amazing how far sensor tech has come. I will "cope"!

2. FF offers more lens selection - Doesn't matter. I will be using a 10-18 zoom, 24/1.8 as my primary lenses, an occasionally a couple of older small and light manual focus lenses.

3. FF offers thinner depth of field when all else is equal - I can get plenty of subject isolation on a crop sensor with a fast lens. I actually prefer the slightly deeper DOF most of the time.

4. My SLR viewfinder - I've learned how to frame and compose shots on the LCD of my NEX. I equate this to learning UL techniques to lighten up backpacking gear, it's a new skill for a different experience.

5. My SLR has an ergonomic body - Not sure why I chanted the mantra "it's easy to hold" so insistently. It's big, it's heavy, it's not something I want to backpack with, and it's not something I tend to take with me whenever I head out the door. The latter is important, I've been much more likely to have my NEX with me, and thus I've taken a lot more photos with it than I ever expected. Some I would not have captured otherwise. This was the initial eye-opener for me.


I'd put the image quality of my little 5N up against the Canon 5D mark II, and where the mark II is ahead, it's not leaps ahead. For me the upside is worth the tradeoff. There are a handful of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras in this class now. Lots of really exciting things going on in the world outside of SLR's... too many to discount.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: An Argument Against SLR's on 01/10/2013 09:44:31 MST Print View

Wow, that was a really long post... well I've been sort of boycotting the forum changes by not posting lately, so I guess I just made up for it with excess use of bandwidth :)

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: An Argument Against SLR's on 01/10/2013 14:30:28 MST Print View

OK Jacob, I'll take the bait. Or maybe you can see why I have waited so long to upgrade (first it was DSLR's were not as good as film, then the next generation was going to be better but what something else better is going to come out, so on and so on).

There does have to come a point that I have to bite the bullet and get something because what I have isn't working. I just don't want to be caught buying a "Beta-Max" if you get my drift (and Sony made that one too).

Anyone else want to way in on this?

The cost of a NEX 5n is cheaper then a D7000. And with the purchase of a few lenses (I only really use a couple, ever)I could hopefully get the whole package for under 1k?

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Re: An Argument Against SLR's on 01/10/2013 19:17:43 MST Print View

I appreciate the sense of economic gear efficiency that BPL encourages, but for me the mirroless cameras still lack some capabilites I need in my outdoor photography, especially if picture taking is the primary reason I am out there and not just a way to document my adventures. I am not yet readly to run off the cliff and have kit dslr sell-off just yet.

That said, it scary cool how small the RX1 is. Truely palm-sized. Much smaller than the Fuji X series when I had them side-by-side yesterday. If it was weathersealed and made to the Oly Tough series digicam specs, I would be helpless to resist.

Edited by rmjapan on 01/10/2013 23:54:55 MST.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Re: An Argument Against SLR's on 01/10/2013 23:43:41 MST Print View

Tad, I'm not trying to sway you towards a 5N, or any specific camera. I'm just saying, SLR is nothing more than a form factor which happens to be larger than mirrorless cameras, even with the same size sensor (talking about APS-C here, very few non-SLR full frames are out there).

The 5N and D7000 happen to share a very similar sensor (both being made by Sony). If they're both outfitted with similar quality lenses and put into the hands of a capable photographer then I would expect the output to be equal for all practical purposes.
Again, it's just an example using those two cameras for my convenience.

Mirrorless is here to stay, its future is so bright it hurts to look at it. If you can get comfortable with the form factor and don't have a specific reason to use an SLR, then why buy into SLR? That's the point I was aiming at in my longer post above.

Edited by JacobD on 01/10/2013 23:44:30 MST.

Erik Basil
(EBasil)

Locale: Atzlan
DSLR is still the top of the heap on 01/16/2013 07:09:18 MST Print View

I've been shooting SLR since film and through a series of Nikons starting at the DH1. My business partner and I shoot sports with them and upgrade the camera bodies periodically. Currently, I'm still using a D90 and he's on the D7000. We find the "prosumer" level of camera bodies meet our needs and allow more budget for glass -- lenses.

I see a comment above that the 7000 can be found for less than a 90? If so, GET IT. I haven't seen that deal, but I have seen 90's come way down. Anyway, both are excellent cameras, relatively light and very functional. Both are plastic-bodied and as I can confirm from dropping the 90 onto rainy asphalt in Caguas, Puerto Rico... plastic bounces. I've also backpacked with the 90, using a light 50mm lens and a gallon ziploc for storage/rain security. --I prefer a pocket camera for backpacking, but still.

One of the great things about the Nikon system is that, if you're using a camera in the prosumer or better series, you can use any lens Nikon has made. I use a 1965 50mm 1.2 on the 90 from time to time, for example, and boy are there some gems to be found hiding in the "obsolete old lens listings".

For architectural and outdoor work, the metering, shutter and aperture controls, fast focus and hand-fit with a DSLR will be great. Both the 90 and 7000 have onboard radio triggers for flash units and I suggest that (if you get one) you upgrade your flash from the SB 28 DX. The 28 is a great flash (used 'em for years) but newer units interface with the DSLR's much better (the 28 doesn't do TTL on a DSLR) and do have the "free" onboard remote flash capability. This feature is easy to use and will surprise you with its utility. You might also snag yourself a monopod with a QR head. That, a new flash and the camera body will have you dialed-in for years.