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Old Aug 23, 2008, 4:50 PM   #1
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Hi, I am new to the DSLR Camers and about to upgrade from the Sony R1 to a new SLR.

I wanna buy a great camera once and for all. I'm not looking for an entry level SLR. I want to spend the money on a great proffessional SLR and i'm seriously considering the NIkon D300.

Is this a wise choice. I'll get some books to learn the basics of Digital SLR and therefore I wanna buy a really good camers and never look back. I don't want to climb the stairs from basic entry level SLR (D40,D60,D80). I only want to spend the money once.

Is it a stupid move to start with the Nikon D300 as a first timer.
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Old Aug 23, 2008, 5:27 PM   #2
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Only once, huh? There is some merit to that thinking.

But, there will always be a newer and faster camera model coming out with more features. So, I'd consider the lenses you want to use to be a more important aspect of any upgrade path you choose. Cameras are more like computers anymore (they are evolving rapidly as time passes).

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Old Aug 23, 2008, 5:33 PM   #3
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First, the Nikon D300 is a great camera.

Second, the Nikon D300 is a professional camera.

Third, the Nikon D300 doesn't come with training wheels.

It doesn't have the different pre-programmed exposure modes that you may be familiar with. It has Programmed, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and Manual, plus 48 custom settings and configurable menues.

It will be awfully difficult to hit the ground running with a D300.

The most important thing about a camera is the lens anyway. Perhaps you should get some really good lenses for the type(s) of photography you want to do, and get a camera you can grow into, and replace it later with a D300 (or whatever.)

Your collection of lenses is likely to end up costing more than the camera body anyway, so get your feet wet with some good lenses.

What do you want to shoot?
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Old Aug 23, 2008, 6:12 PM   #4
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The nature of electronics is that they are going to be surpassed by something new soon. the less than 3 year old and still very capable d200 costs about half of what it originally did.

The only things you can really buy "once and for all" are lens. Good glass never becomes obsolete. Buying a 2000 dollar camera and putting cheap glass in front of it is a waste of money and defeats the purpose of buying a good camera.

In addition, there is the point TCav made about learning how to use a Dslr on a pro body.

The key thing to keep in mind is that a camera is a tool, not a gadget. We are often used to gadgets where price translates directly to performance. We can immediately see a difference in performance between a $1000 dollar cell phone and a $100 one.

With cameras, its different. A better camera only increases the potential quality of a picture, not the actual quality. A pro with a point and shoot will take great pictures, pushing its capacities to the limit, and a beginner with the greatest camera ever will take beginner-like pictures. Its like a tool: a 12volt and a 36 volt drill will work the same if you are using it on drywall, you will only feel the difference once you start using it under conditions that puch the 12volt to its limits. Or, as people often say: its the photographer, not the camera.

If I were you, Id invest my money in a really good lens and an entry level body. As a beginner, it will be a while before you start reaching the limits of what entry level cameras can do. This way, you invest your money in something that will last (the lens) and can grow into your camera, only moving to a professional body when you are ready to make full use of it, and by then the price on the d300 will likely have come down quite a bit.

Now, if you mean that you are a beginner on Digital SLRs, but have used film SLRs in the past and know quite a bit about photography itseld, then disregard what I said.
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Old Aug 23, 2008, 7:05 PM   #5
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If you have the money and the time to learn the camera, go for it! You will have to also learn post processing to get the most out of the D300 as well. It is a fine tool that you will probably never outgrow.

Buying once and for all was valid in film SLR days but any digital camera should be considered as a disposable camera since the technology is changing so quickly. I paid about the same for my D300 body this spring as I paid for the Nikon Coolpix 5700 in spring 2003!

As noted in previous posts, don't get cheap lenses either.

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Old Aug 24, 2008, 4:00 AM   #6
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Overbuying today does not make much sense.

Ever hear of Moore's Law? Yep, Moore's Law applies to cameras.

BTW,camera advancements are not as fast as computers as we are dealing with laws of physics as well as electronics, even so, today's high end camera is tomorrow's entry level camera.
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Old Aug 24, 2008, 4:42 AM   #7
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Digital cameras are computers. If you are lucky it might last you 5 years. Lenses should last you 10-15 years if you buy good ones.

My normal advice is "buy when you are ready for a camera", but there are two exceptions - just before PMA (Jan/Feb) and just before Photokina (Sept). The camera companies tend to cluster announcements around these periods.

Photokina is imminent, and announcements are expected from all the major manufacturers. In particular the Nikon D90 is expected, and that to me is likely to hit a sweet-spot for the serious first-time buyer who wants a really good camera. Wait a couple of weeks - announcements are expected RSN.
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Old Aug 24, 2008, 6:35 AM   #8
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A camera is, in most cases, only as good as the lens you have on it. To that end, a Nikon d80 with Nikor 24-70 2.8 and Nikor 70-200 2.8 will outperform the D300 with 18-200 (assuming the same knowledgable, competant photographer using both).

Good glass improves 100% of your photos. If you can afford top-notch glass and the D300 - then by all means get them. If you can't. If, say, you're only planning on spending $2000 or so - then I would re-think your plan. Yes it would be very "cool" to have the D300. But if your goal is to be able to produce the best photos you can - buying a top grade camera and consumer grade lenses isn't the way to go.

So, it isn't so much about the D300 being too much camera as it is about the best allocation of limited financial resources. While it might not feel as "cool" to own a "lesser" camera and great glass - it will provide better results.

And as mentioned - pro caliber lenses can have a good 15 year lifespan vs. approx 5 year span for the body
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Old Aug 24, 2008, 7:23 AM   #9
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All the advice you've been given is right on target. The D300 is a great camera and it's features have helped me immensely since I upraged earlier this year. However, it is extremely complicated. Sure you can use it in P mode, but that would be a huge waste of money. The ability to customize the camera and its speed are its biggest benefits. However, these are also huge drawbacks, as the number of choices are almost overwhelming. And the AF system, although excellent, is very difficult to understand, and takes a lot of learning to get the very best out of it. In truth, IQ is not all that much better than my D80's, although the lens correction feature is excellent and a big step forward.

In terms of lenses, the 18-200 is a great lens, and probably one everyone should own. It's great to travel with, or when you want to go light. But, you can do better at every focal range it covers, and if you're going to use it as you're only lens, I wouldn't get the D300. You've much better off with the new D90 (when it comes out) or even the D60. Truthfully, you're not going to spend the money just once. At some point in time, even the D300 will be replaced with something faster, better, etc. Technology marches forward, and you will eventually have to replace the D300.

The entry level/consumer cameras are perfectly capable, especially when paired with great glass. Unless you need the extra speed and durability, and if you're only shooting a few times a month (as opposed to every day), the D300 probably is overkill.
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Old Aug 24, 2008, 1:08 PM   #10
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I fully appreciate all the advice. Its priceless.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Apparently all the input focused on the lens importance and life span. So its the lens that matter most rather than a too complicated body like the D300 for a beginner.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"I have admit that I have only used point and shoot cameras as well as the great Sony R1.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"I will definetly get the Nikon 18-200 lens as well as 17-55 lens afterrwards. So I sense thatall your advice guys is to avoid the D300 coz I have no knowledge of the SLR photography and it would be difficult to start as an amatuer with the D300. Therefore should I wait for the D90 or should I go for a canon brand entry level cam.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"
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