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Old Mar 8, 2009, 3:17 PM   #1
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Ok...So after having issues with my 2 year old D80, I got so frustrated with it, Isold it and my lens on Ebay and decided to switch. Went out and got a Sony A300...After a month or so with that, I realized what a mistake I had made (slow focus, grainy images, bad low light focusing, no AF assist light, cheap feeling/build quality, too small for my hands). So now I am coming back to Nikon with my tail between my legs (and really regretting selling off my 18-70mm Nikkor lens!!!) and need some advice.

I am looking into what to get now and REALLY want a D90 (great image quality, CMOS sensor, Larger screen, Live View and Movie Mode (probably wouldn't use it but it'd be nice to have)), but I'm afraid it's just not in the budget (about $800). Before I list my options, I should mention that my kids are my primary subjects and I rely on the fast responsiveness of my camera to catch their expressions, frequently in lower light.

Here are my options, since I am trying to find the best compromise in terms of image quality, body, and lens. As you can see from the list below, I am considering going with a lesser body to get better glass:

1. Get a new D80 with 18-135mm kit lens. I know I like the D80 but I'm afraid that I will be dissapointed with the quality of the 18-135mm lens vs my old 18-70mm Nikkor. I also have a hard time spending so much on such an older camera. I considered a Pentax K20d but really like the Nikon focus assist light (the pulsing light on the Sony always made my kids close their eyes). But, in spite of its age the D80 is still a great camera, just really not sure about the lens.

2. Get a new D80 body (around $650) and a 18-55mm VR or a 50mm F1.8. Not a lot of flexibility but a good place to build for the future.

3. Get a used D80 body (around $500) and have more money in the budget for better glass like theTamron 17-50mm F2.8, Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 or...Any suggestions? But I worry about buying used and inheriting someone else's problems.

4. Get a new D60 (same image sensor as D80 and with a few ergomic and convenience compromises, limited lens selection) with 18-55mm VR kit lens ($550)and invest in a prime, new Nikkor 35mm F1.8? Any ideas. I worry about going with a D60 due to its smaller size, doesn't fit in the hand as nicely as the D80. Another sidebar to this option is to get a D80 body and a better 'walkaround' zoom.

5. Wait for the next thing from Nikon...Would probably replace the D60 and have the same awesome sensor as the D90.

Would love to hear any opinions as I keep wrestling with this decision. Thanks.
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Old Mar 15, 2009, 7:58 AM   #2
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I would go with a D80 and the Nikon 18-55mm. Get a new body and a good lens. Used bodies are a bit of a gamble to me and the peace of mind that you have a new body with warranty is better than a used one that has nothing. Getting a cheaper lens with more focal length flexibility will be nice at first but you will soon find that lens has some drawbacks to image quality.

Take your time with lens acquisition and keep on the lookout for deals that come by now and again. I did with a Nikon 28mm 2.8 for $70 which out does the Tamron 28-75mm 2.8 that I have. I have the Nikon 50mm 1.8 and got it for $60. All said and done if I had waited before getting the Tamron I would have saved $245.

Now that you know what you want in a camera system. Don't make lens purchases just for the sake of having a lenses to cover all focal lengths. Be patient and get the best glass at the best price.

Oh by the way, I think the 18-55mm VR is a bit of an overkill on a lens. For me VR at that focal length is not truly a necessity. You will find that 18-55mm (non VR)is quite an acceptable lens but not a low light performer like the 50mm 1.8. The 50mm 1.8 is not a great lens for cramped quarters indoors though.

I have the Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 and like it very much. One third the cost of the Nikon equivalent.

Decisions, decisions.

If I were to start over like you I would go with a new D80 body and look at Abes of Maine for that.

The lens is a bit of a stretch based on what you primarily shoot so the 50mm 1.8 for your kids indoors would most likely not be a good choice.

I would go back to the Nikon 18-70mm or get the Tamron 17-50mm 2.8

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Old Mar 15, 2009, 8:44 PM   #3
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What was the problem with your old D80?
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Old Mar 17, 2009, 5:48 AM   #4
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2sides wrote:
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Ok...So after having issues with my 2 year old D80, I got so frustrated with it, Isold it and my lens on Ebay and decided to switch. Went out and got a Sony A300...After a month or so with that, I realized what a mistake I had made (slow focus, grainy images, bad low light focusing, no AF assist light, cheap feeling/build quality, too small for my hands). So now I am coming back to Nikon with my tail between my legs (and really regretting selling off my 18-70mm Nikkor lens!!!) and need some advice.
IMO the A300 is a more 'modern' camera than the D80, and you're only going backward by switching back...

I can't address the ergonomic issues because that's just individual taste; However the other problems you are describing (slow focus, grainy images, bad low light focusing, no AF assist light) are typical of all cameras:
With option #4 the focusing will be even worst, whereas with the other options you'll be revisiting the same issues you were having with your "2 year old D80"!

The slow focus, grainy images, bad low light focusing, and no AF assist light can all be resolved by an external flash - An external flash (Sony or Nikon) will provide an IR focusing beam in the dark which will then speed up the focus and its accuracy as well. Better lighting will also solve the grainy problem as most noise issues are the results of underexepose images...

Photography is all about lighting and not cameras or lens - You may think a faster lens like a 50mm f/1.8 may solve your problem, but it does come with other issues: for example, it's too long for most indoor shoot and the razor thin DOF may not work at all for your kids... VR may work but not when the kids are moving (you probably know this already since the Sony has this feature built-in)
-> A much more expensive camera like a D700 may solve your problem, but I would bet that along with better lighting an image will come out with more saturation and contrast (sharpness) than without!
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Old Mar 17, 2009, 8:27 AM   #5
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The problem with the old D80...It sustained a small drop (from a low chair to a carpeted floor). I held my breath and it seemed to work just fine. Only a few months later it started to act quirky. It would lock focus (single shot focus, beep would sound, dot in the viewfinder illuminates) but would not allow the shutter to fire. It was really annoying and very quirky, wouldn't happen all the time. Also, we scrutinized the pictures from that 'era' and a lot of our pictures were actually out of focus. The drop may have affected the lens but it was all really quirky and not at all predictable.
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Old Mar 17, 2009, 8:34 AM   #6
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After a lot of research, we have narrowed down our options somewhat, still based on the $800 budget:

1. Get a D60 with the 35mm f1.8 and SB-400 flash

2. Get a D60 with a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 or Tamron 28-70mm f2.8, SB-400 flash (may get over our budget, any thoughts on refurbished?)

3. Get a D80 with 18-55mm and SB-400 flash

Bottom line, we determined that an external flash was going to be a necessity in our 'next step' to get better pictures. We are wrestling with whether or not we could live with the D60 limitations (smaller size, lens restrictions, etc.). We also saw a deal on a reburbished 40d with the 28-135mm IS lens for $800 that we are finding hard to resist. That is a lot of camera for the money. I know this is the Nikon board, but any thoughts?
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Old Mar 18, 2009, 5:08 AM   #7
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2sides wrote:
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... We also saw a deal on a reburbished 40d with the 28-135mm IS lens for $800 that we are finding hard to resist. That is a lot of camera for the money. I know this is the Nikon board, but any thoughts?
The 40D is in different league than the D60/D80 - This camera is an advance amateur model which features more in kind to the D200/D300 from Nikon than their entry level D60, so yes it's a lot of camera for the money... In some way it's even more preferable than the 50D which replaced it!

However you may still 'be coming back to Nikon with my tail between my legs' because like the Sony, 'the pulsing light on the Canon always made my kids close their eyes'
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Old Mar 18, 2009, 6:49 AM   #8
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Agreed, the 40d is a big step up from the D80 and HUGE step up from the D60 and I wouldn't be considering it if the price weren't so tempting. On the pulsing light/flash for AF assist, its a given that an external flash with an infrared assist beam would be required (which of course adds quite a bit to the price).
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Old Mar 18, 2009, 8:31 AM   #9
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The 40D is the way to go then...

Kind of funny to push a Canon on a Nikon thread while at the same time helping a Nikonite on the Canon thread! :lol: :-) :-)
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Old Mar 25, 2009, 3:37 AM   #10
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I'm selling my Canon 40D to get a Nikon D90. The reason is that the Nikon feels better. I think that comparable lenses from Nikon are faster at focussing an have better IQ. The focus assist light in the Nikon is better than the strobe flash with the Canon, and the mettering from Nikon is better.......

So maybe you'll call me a fool to sell my Canon 40D, and if you can talk me out of it, now is the time since i've only sold my two main lenses.....



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