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Old Oct 8, 2008, 11:24 AM   #1
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Hello all. I am pretty new to digital photography and I have been wanting to get to a more advanced level and be able to do it on the side (at first) for extra income with the hopes of doing it on a full time basis (studio).

I am definitely in learning mode and this has been a great place for information. Thanks to all the experienced people here who have helped us n00bs! My grandfather who is an avid photographer, recommended this place a long time ago. Unfortunately he passed before I really got serious about photography. This is why I have gotten interested in it.

I currently have a Nikon D80, Nikon AF Nikkor 24-85mm f/2.8-4D IF, and the SB-800 AF Speedlight. I currently only have this one lens that my grandfather recommended as a good "starter general lens". I am wanting to do outdoor portraits and after some skills are honed do weddings. The ultimate goal is to do studio portraits. I am still struggling to find a good combination of lenses to use in these situations and I am still researching these but why I am posting now is to ask about bodies.

I am considering the D3 and I have looked at the specs over the D80 and I understand the differences of the sensors (FX vs DX) and I understand the speed differences of the two. However a lot of specs are still somewhat Greek and I am slowly learning.

In your opinion, are there substantial differences in the two to justify the cost of a D3 over the D80 for what I am wanting to do? Or would it be better to just get the quality lenses I need and continue to use the D80?

Sorry for the rambling but I didn't want to post a vague question.
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Old Oct 8, 2008, 12:32 PM   #2
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What do you find limiting with your current system? A new body will not always improve your results.

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Old Oct 8, 2008, 12:34 PM   #3
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The D3 is a huge jump from the D80. If "a lot of the specs are Greek to me" is true, the D3 is way more than you need. Yes IQ will be better, yes you'll have better high Iso performance in addition to more speed and bells and whistles. But it will also be a heavy beast to carry around, and at over $4000, unless you absolutely need the speed and durability the D3 is overkill. You could get many of the same features, and certainly the same IQ in a smaller, cheaper package by looking at the D700, or give up a bit in IQ with many of the same features for around $1600 by getting the D300. Lenses are where the rubber really meets the road, and you're better off investing more in lenses than in bodies.
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Old Oct 8, 2008, 1:34 PM   #4
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Thank you for the quick responses.

I do fear that the D3 will be overkill for a while but that is what I was looking for is the biggest differences other than just comparing numbers. I think you (rjseeney) explained it well. I have briefly looked at the D700 and after some more reading that may be a better choice for my situation/goal.

JimC, as far as your question. I have a philosophy in many aspects that I use. "I would rather be limited by my ability rather than being limited by my equipment." While that can be an expensive philosophy I still like it. No i don't have a disposable income and budget matters. I suppose I should have worded it as investing in the right body rather than buying the right body. I currently am limited by the lack of lenses which I know is key. However I find the speed to be a limitation. I did not mention "action" photography in my initial post as it is not the goal. Although I enjoy shooting sports and wildlife form a hobby aspect and would like the ability to shoot those situations but as far as generating extra income speed is not an issue.

I guess my question was really trying to figure out what limitations I will run into in the future that I am not realizing. Like I said before I am still learning.
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Old Oct 8, 2008, 5:09 PM   #5
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Actually, I might also suggest you re-evaluate your roadmap. Outdoor portraits to weddings to studio portraits. I would not consider wedding work to be a pre-cursor to studio portraiture. There are similarities but the two fields are quite a bit different with regards to the approach and equipment used. While the outdoor portrait work is a good pre-cursor to both wedding and studio work I would suggest selecting one or the other as the second step. That will allow you to consentrate your learning and equipment purchases into success in one of those two endevors. Both take years of practice and have steep learning curves.

As an example - studio work is much more about artificial light sources, light & shadow, backdrops, props. And more often than not you're shooting wide to mid telephoto at narrow apertures. And, of course, you need a studio to work in.

In any event - I will agree with others - you'll get more bang-for-the-buck with upgrades to your lenses, working on using multiple light sources, reflectors etc than you will with a new camera body. Photography isn't about having the best camera - it's about having the right tools for the job and knowing how to use them. For the type of work you're talking about there are other areas which will give you greater improvement. I might suggest 70-200 2.8 VR, 50mm 1.4, a wider lens (Sorry not sure what nikon has in a 16-35mm lens). Also getting a second sb800 flash and a tripod for it AND the one you have on your camera so you get both off the camera. Get a reflector. Even consider getting a light/umbrella/softbox. If you do decide to go into weddings, a good flash bracket. A d80 with those types of accessories will better serve you than a D3 and your current lens and flash alone.
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Old Oct 8, 2008, 7:11 PM   #6
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I agree with all of the above. Would emphasize that getting things like better/more flash, a good tripod, other lights, lenses, ... make more sense than thinking about another body. The price of dSLRs seems to be holding with the quality improving fairly rapidly. Waiting is to your advantage.

Though you didn't mention it, you should also spend some time learning how to use a good photo editor. If you are going to go for PhotoShop, a course at a local school would not be a bad idea and often can get you a good discount on the price.

I esp agree with JohnG that you should back off thinking about weddings. That is a good way to jump into a really nasty situation if you are not careful or are unlucky. Wedding photography is something you have to get right in the one and only time you have at it. If you mess up a portrait you can always apologize, cut the price a bit, and reshoot. No reshoot option with a wedding.
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Old Oct 8, 2008, 8:32 PM   #7
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You are getting very good advice. The only thing I would add is re: you comment about investing in a body. Digital cameras depreciate rapidly. High end FF bodies perhaps less so, but there is no increase in value (one thing one looks for in an investment). Fully learning to use what you have creates knowledge, which is an investment. If you outgrow your current equipment, you have lost nothing in the interim.

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Old Oct 8, 2008, 10:21 PM   #8
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Thank you all for taking some time out of your day to help. It is really going to help me move forward with better decisions. That is why I asked.

I am currently been learning and using PS for quite some time. I have a few friends that help me that are very talented in photo editing. I have also got some resources from lynda.com

I have been very weary about weddings just for the fact of only getting one chance but I haven't ruled it out. However I know I am a LONG way from feeling confident enough to try such a venture.

I think now I will start with a couple of lenses, and most importantly, practice practice practice.

I know JohnG mentioned the 70-200 2.8 VR which was one on my list of lenses to get. However one of the things I have been trying to decide on is I know I need a 50mm lens but is the 1.4G worht waiting on over the 1.4D? So far what I have read doesn't show a huge difference other than the apeture ring. My wide lens I have in mind is the14-24mm 2.8 any better suggestions on the wide lens?

Thank you again and sorry for all the questions. I have looked around about lenses and the opinions are so different it is hard to get a clear idea as to what will work best for me.
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