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Old Sep 28, 2009, 8:40 AM   #1
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Default New DSLR D40 D3000

New guy here. Been lurking for a while now and decided to finally ask the all important question thats been on my mind.

I am going to get a DSLR. Narrowed it down to D40 or D3000. And thats as far as I can get. Maybe some of you guys and gals can assist.

I have a newborn. 8 months old. That will be the primary subject. I also will be taking lots and lots of nature shots. Just out walking trails and visiting state parks and wildlife centers. Also, not as important, i have some close family members in high school and on the basketball team and would like to be able to take a few action shots. I know by reading this form and others, that the low light will be a problem for the action shots, but thats last on my list.

I really like the 1/500 flash sync of the D40, but also like the 11 point AF on the D3000. I think the wife would like the guide mode. Might make her feel more comfortable changing settings later on down the road. We have a few friends that have the D40 and LOVE it. But i know its an old dog and is getting retired soon if not already. Plus the D3000 has 10mp instead of 6. But much slower flash sync. And for low light, I think this would hurt me.

Right now i have a Panasonic FZ-8 point and shoot. It does pretty good, but I need that little bit of extra "get up and go" that I think a DSLR would give me.

ANY advice ANYONE would care to share would be GREATLY appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
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Old Sep 28, 2009, 9:37 AM   #2
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Of the two, the D3000 has better AF, larger LCD and inherits features from the D60. The d40 is a bit long in the tooth.

The D40 has a better flash but I wouldn't put much stock in that. In fact, with a new baby I would strongly recommend you get an external flash - you'll greatly benefit from it.

One of the challenges though if you go with one of the entry level Nikons is they don't have a focus motor in them. Which means non af-s lenses won't autofocus. Now, there are a ton of zoom lenses to meet your needs, but the problem area is in short prime lenses. I believe only the new Nikon 50mm 1.4 has AF-S. No other short primes do so they won't autofocus on your camera. It's not a simple thing to add AF-S to a lens either - they have to redesign it. And no one knows how quickly Nikon will move to redesign short primes to incorporate AF-S.

What short primes are good for with regards to your shooting needs are:
1) Shallow depth-of-field (DOF) shots - great for portraits of your little one:

b) available light photos - when you want to take photos indoors and prefer using ambient light vs. flash. The aperture value of a lens determines how much light gets in. That in turn, along with ISO determines how fast your shutter speed can be. Zoom lenses in Nikon have a max aperture of f2.8. Short primes can be 1.4,1.8,2.0 - a 2.0 lens lets in twice as much light as 2.8. That extra light is very important when shooting available light. While anti-shake technology will help stabilize the camera shaking in your hands it won't stop slight movement from your subject. So, those wide apertures are important for good available light photos:
This shot has some motion blur in the hand which is fine, but half the shutter speed could have shown motion blur in the head:

3) finally for basketball. Good basketball shots will either require an f2.8 lens and ISO 3200-6400 (lots of noise and you need to use noise reduction software - some people are OK with results and others are not) or you use ISO 1600 and an f2.0 lens - which means prime. Also worth mentioning the working range for a 50mm lens is about 10-15 feet for shooting basketball. So you would need to be on the baseline under the basket to get good shots even if you bought the 50mm 1.4

Now, you could buy a third-party f2.8 zoom lens (Nikon's are a bit pricey) but you'd spend a few hundred on them and you'd still have a number of limitations for available light and basketball photos as mentioned above. I have both f2.8 lenses and 1.8 lenses - not even a question that the 1.8 lenses are the first grab for available light shots. And before i had a pro DSLR body no question that 1.8 was preferable to 2.8 for basketball.

You would have to move up to the D90 to get AF capability in-body. Now, lots of people are happy without those short primes. And, if you can live with the limitations of only 50mm and the price tag that it has then the 50mm 1.4 could help you with your available light, shallow DOF and sports photos. And in time I'm sure Nikon will upgrade their other primes - but no one knows how long that will be.

But, in any event you will absolutely want an external flash for your family stuff. SO much better than a built-in on ANY camera.
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Old Sep 28, 2009, 9:37 AM   #3
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As you are looking favorably at the 1/500th synch speed on the D-40, let's begin there. The D-40's built-in flash unit could not provide enough light for a flash photo, if that were allowed, so that would mean that you would be dependent on an external flash such as the SB-600, SB-800, or the newer SB-900 flash to capture your photo. Is an external flash in your budget?

JohnG is our sport shot expert, and I am sure he will be able to give you more specific advise about lenses best suited for basket ball shooting. However, at the outset, I would appear that you are going to need more than just the kit lens (Nikkor 18-55mm) than comes with either camera. Has that been calculated into your budget?

Many users like the D-40 a whole lot, and consider it to still be a first line camera for themselves. The D-3000 is the replacement camera with additional focusing points, 10mp, and other improvements.

In making your camera decision, consider what you will be shooting, your budget, and where you want to go with your photography. Your budget will be the driving force in your decision on a new camera

Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Sep 28, 2009, 10:31 AM   #4
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Thanks for the advice.

My budget right now is around 600-650. RIGHT NOW...I plan on getting better lenses around the first of the year.

So i could go with either camera plus an external flash probably for the time being.

I was leaning toward the D40 because i read somewhere your shutter speed shouldn't be any higher than the flash rating of your camera if you want to use the flash. And i thought "faster shutter speed = better motion shots" So if i wanted flash in those shots, i better get a faster sync speed.

Is that still the case even with an external flash? Or does sync speed meant ONLY for the onboard flash?

I was looking at the 55-200 VR lens from nikon as a second choice. Maybe i should come down the 105 and get the 200 later on. Havent decided on that yet. Havent even thought about Prime yet.

So if the sync speed is the only thing holding me back from the D3000, I should get the D3000 right?

And John, I will have lots of questions im sure about basketball shots come december. Hopefully I'll be able to pick your brain a bit then.

thanks again.
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Old Sep 28, 2009, 10:53 AM   #5
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Flash sync speed applies to both internal and external flash. But there's a bit more to it than that. First difference is that external flashes allow you the capability of using something called high-speed sync. Without going into too much technical detail, this mode allows you to use whatever shutter speed you wish. However, because the way the camera and flash work is different in HSS, you lose a LOT of flash power. So, while at first glance you might think HSS is good for allowing you to freeze action, because of that power loss it really isn't a good solution. What HSS is really useful for is when you are outdoors and because of sunlight need fast shutter speeds but you want to use flash as 'fill' to remove shadows from your subject.

Freezing motion with flash is, IMO, best accomplished by having a large difference between the exposure used in your camera and the exposure your camera needs if it weren't using flash. In modern flashes, the camera & flash communicate. The flash knows what the camera's exposure settings are and fires a pre-flash so it can determine how much power it needs to make up the difference between the existing light at the camera's settings and what is needed to expose the subject properly. It then puts out that much flash power and in a perfect world your subject is exposed properly. Lower the exposure on your camera for the same shot and the flash puts out more power up until it's maximum power output.

Here's where we can take advantage of that concept. If you set the camera's exposure to 2 stops below what is needed without flash and take a picture the picture will be almost black - you'll see very little detail in it because there isn't enough light getting through for a long enough time to record an image on the sensor. Now, do the same thing but add a flash burst. A flash exists for somewhere between 1/1000 and 1/4000 of a second. So, while the shutter may be open for say 1/60 of a second, there's really only enough light to record an image for 1/1000-1/4000 of a second. So even though your subject moves a lot during that 1/60, you only record an image during the 1/1000-1/4000 the flash is going off.

In reality, 2-stops is hardly a rule. It's a loose guideline. The closer your camera's exposure settings are to the values needed to capture an image without flash the more you'll see ghosting. Ghosting is like motion blur - you'll see bright 'leading' or 'trailing' image of the motion. The further below ambient your camera's exposure is set the less ghosting you'll see. But the more power you'll need from the flash. This is how pro basketball shooters get such nice shots in the NBA - they're using shutter speeds no more than 1/250 - way to slow to freeze the action. But they're using powerful strobes to accomplish what I just talked about.

Here's a shot that shows the ghosting - behind the football and along my son's arm:

Now, here's a shot from an interactive stage show. This woman is running and her dress and ribbons are flying. This shot was taken with shutter speed of 1/60 and there's no blur or ghosting.
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Old Sep 28, 2009, 11:14 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
Now, there are a ton of zoom lenses to meet your needs, but the problem area is in short prime lenses. I believe only the new Nikon 50mm 1.4 has AF-S.
Not really where this discussion is going, but Nikon has the 35f1.8 AF-S, and Sigma has both a 30 and 50f1.4 with HSM... if you want to roll the dice on Sigma.
D90, D40x, D40, 18-55VR, 18-70, 18-105VR, 35f/1.8G, 50f/1.4G, 60 AF-S Micro, 70-300VR, Tamron 10-24, SB600
F100, N50, 24f/2.8D, 85f/1.8D, 135f/2 DC D, 28-105D, 35-80D, 70-210D,
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Old Oct 29, 2009, 9:03 PM   #7
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Found a heck of a deal on a d40 with the kit lens non VR. Probably gonna get it tomorrow morning. VR...Is it that much of a helping hand?

Would it be a waste of money to get the kit lens and then get a 18-200 VR? I would probably never use the kit lens again would I?
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Old Oct 30, 2009, 12:49 PM   #8
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Casual shooters should always go "VR" when possible.

While the 18-200 is a great lens it's also larger and heavier than the kit lens. Often I find that the smaller ones are handy when weight and size are to be considered for long walks or in crowded quarters.

You can't have to many lens.
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Old Oct 30, 2009, 1:07 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by kris77 View Post
Found a heck of a deal on a d40 with the kit lens non VR. Probably gonna get it tomorrow morning. VR...Is it that much of a helping hand?
Kris - my honest answer is that I think IS/VR is one of the most over-rated features (right behind number of megapixels). The truth is, it CAN be useful, but it's rare - especially at shorter focal lengths. Typically I see two types of shots when people try to say how useful the feature is at short (<100mm) focal lengths:
1) a shot of books or something silly you would never really take a photo of - taken at 1/6 or so. Sure the shot is decent, but not very useful. In other words, said person has no real life shots that show how great the feature is

2) A shot that is still soft, or has motion blur or terrible white balance or a number of other issues - because the photographer relied on anti-shakek when they needed a different tool for the job - flash, faster lens, tripod, etc.

In the right hands, IS can be a VERY beneficial thing - in the hands of 80% of photographers, using short focal length lenses it's either not needed or simply misused.

Now, my walk-around lens has anti-shake in it. My walk-around before that did as well. In the last 6 years of DSLR shooting I'd say less than 1% of the shots I've taken with my walk-around lenses have benefited from anti-shake. Now, I have a 400mm lens with anti-shake and many of those shots benefit from it.

Now, I'll add this caveat - I have pretty good technique. That takes practice. The worse your technique for holding your camera/lens the more anti-shake will benefit you. In the end though, good technique will benefit you infinitely more than relying on anti-shake to save you. Just like in the end, learning PHOTOGRAPHY will make your shots much better than relying on scene modes in the camera.
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Old Nov 5, 2009, 1:33 PM   #10
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What did you end up getting and where is the deal? I am in the same boat... D40 or D3000... What is VR?
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