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Old Jun 20, 2008, 10:23 PM   #1
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Looking for starter dslr. I like to take wedding photos for friends wedding; pics of my 8 month old grandson as he learns and explores the world. family events photos.
Ritz told me the nikon d40 (costco with 2nd lens and VR for $600) but the a300 and a350 seem to have more features. the d40 does not have live view. as an old dog with astigmatism (sp?) It's hard to see through the view finder. Also the d40 seems to have fewer focusing points than might be preferred.
Is the d40 on its last legs?
Folks, I'd love to hear your recommendations. Nikon has great reputation, and I am open to others.
At 56 I plan this to be my last camera purchase, I know I need a big lens and a flash. Budget is an issue. Am I better off with a Nikon D40 w/18-55 AF lens and a 55-200 AF VR lens?
I'd appreciate any of your perspectives.
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Old Jun 20, 2008, 10:53 PM   #2
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The Nikon D40 is being replaced by newer models, especially with ones that have higher mp. However, I personally really like the 6 mp sensor that's in the D40 (I have the Pentax K100 which is supposed to use the same Sony sensor) - the quality of pictures from it are excellent. I chose to keep the 6 mp camera over a Pentax K10 (10 mp camera) when I upgraded to the new Pentax K20.

I'm not a big fan of live view - the K20 has it and I've used it a couple of times. The one time it came in handy was when I was off-roading and wanted to take a quick shot. I rested the camera on the side mirrorbut discovered that the LCD was hard to see clearly in bright sunlight (I have the same trouble with my cell phone and my GPS, so it wasn't surprising). I could see it enough for framing, but had to trust the camera to focus correctly.

The other reason I'm not that crazy abouthaving to depend on live view formost picture-takingis that a dSLR camera is much heavier than a small point and shoot camera, and there's no way I could hold one steady at arm's length. By using the viewfinder, I can use my body for extra stabilization. Live view would be most useful with a tripod, or when shooting macros with the camera sitting on the ground.

Getting a viewfinder that's easy for you to see is important and is part of various camera's ergonomics. Check out the viewfinders in Canon's new xsi, the Pentax K200 as well as the Sony A200. The A200 doesn't have live view, but a bigger viewfinder - you might find it easier to use.

Some people will miss the extra focus points but others won't. Are you one who's comfortable with usingthe centerpoint and then reframing to get the picture you want (like I used to do with my manual focus SLR camera with the split screen focusing)? If so, having 3 focus points would be 2 more than you'd probably use most of the time. Others who use focus points on the third lines all the time would hate having to reframe for every shot.

I'm probably not helping all that much, but the d40 is a nice camera, it sounds like you wouldn't be affected by the major drawback it has (the inability to AF with lenses without a built-in focus motor) and could be a good choice if you like the feel of it.
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Old Jun 21, 2008, 8:59 AM   #3
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The D40 is still in production and the two lens combo kit is the way to go for being budget minded. It covers pretty much from wide angle to zoom and the quality of those lenses are quite good. The D40 is made for users like yourself and those who just want to get started and/or a backup alternative to the bigger cameras being used as their primary camera.

I like the features packed in this camera and the ease of use. Most bang for your buck set-up if that is all you are looking for.


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Old Jun 21, 2008, 9:22 AM   #4
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Yes, the D40 is getting long in the tooth, and it's replacement is already available. It's the only 6MP dSLR still available; all other current models (from Nikon as well as others) are at least 10MP. But the D40 does have a lot of fans.

If you can do what you want with the D40, then it's a good choice. But I suspect that's not true. The inferior autofocus system in the D40 ( and the D40X and D60) doesn't do well in sports (like T-Ball. See these shots of my grandson's first T-Ball game at http://forums.steves-digicams.com/fo...mp;forum_id=82) and the 55-200 wouldn't be long enough either. Also, the autofocus is slow in low light which also affects the use of flash.
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Old Jun 25, 2008, 2:04 AM   #5
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Thanks for the input.
my main use for the camera will be as an extra at weddings (not formal photographer). My grandson at 8 months tomorrow and niece at 7 years are the two primary sports targets. Family photos (indoors 75%) will be the bulk.
So will Nikon d40 work ok with a flash?
I've read a lot of blogs about flash vs auto settings. Clearly I would depend on auto 90% of the time. i am just not good enough yet.
As I see it, I need this camera to carry me to the grave. I see a costco package that has D60 with two lenses both VR (18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR Zoom NIKKOR Lens, and 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED AF-S DX VR Zoom NIKKOR) this bundle is on costco for $824 which seems good.
The d40 at $600 has a 18-55 no VR and the same 55-200 lens as above).

the VR seems the biggest advantage; or am i better off spending $$ on a flash.
So the flashes work with the AF feature and auto settings?
I appreciate allt he responses. My feelings is I wont run into trouble for a few years; so a few dollars extra now--sep for a flash would be well spent.
My old 35mm slr effectively died when my daughters dropped and bent the mount.
My eyesight is not terrific looking through the view finder; so any input would be appreciated.
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Old Jun 25, 2008, 7:43 AM   #6
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Sports and candids require a fast autofocus system, and the Nikon D40, D40X and D60 do not qualify.

If you're on a budget and want 'Live View', that narrows your choice considerably.
  • Canon XSi (12MP, image stabilized kit lens)[/*]
  • Olympus E-410/E-420 (10MP)[/*]
  • Olympus E-510/E-520 (10MP, image stabilized body)[/*]
  • Pentax K20D (14MP, image stabilized body)[/*]
  • Sony A300 (10MP, image stabilized body)[/*]
  • Sony A350 (14MP, image stabilized body)
The Olympus dSLRs are among the smallest, lightest dSLRs available, but don't have very fast autofocus systems either, thought hey are better than the entry level Nikons. The others would all suit your needs well, and well into the future.

For candids ("weddings", "family events") the kit lens will work well. The kit lenseszoom out wide enough for medium sized groups and zoom in tight enough for more intimate shots.

For casual outdoor sports shooting (soccer, little league), you'll need something longer (~70-300mm for Canon, Pentax & Sony, a little shorter for Olympus). Each manufacturer makes a lens that will be adequate for that purpose, as do third parties, and they are not very expensive.

For casual indoor sports shooting(gymnastics, volleyball, basketball) you'll need somethinga lot faster than the kit lens (f/2.0 or better) and maybe a little longer. each manufacturer makes lenses that will be adequate for that purpose, but they can get expensive.

Image stabilization is something I think you should consider. It reduces (if not eliminates) motion blur due to camera shake. Canon and Nikon use optical image stabilization in some of their lenses (the Canon XSi kit lens has it) which makes them bigger, heavier, and more expensive. Pentax, Sony and the Olympus E-510/E-520 use sensor shift image stabilization in the camera body, so it's available for any lens.

Canon has the best selection of OEM, third party, and usedlenses, but few of them are stabilized. Sony is in second place though the OEM lenses are expensive and they are not as well supported by third parties, becasue of the vast selection of used Minolta Maxxum lenses that will work with Sony bodies. Third place goes to Pentax for its OEM and third party selection, but a once thriving used market has dwindled recently. In last place is Olympus, because of it's small expensive OEM selection, poor third party support, and no used lenses.

Nikon would fall into third place if it had an entry level dSLR with 'Live View' and a good autofocus system, but, like Canon, few lenses would be stabilized.

A big consideration, especially for candids and sports, should be how the camera feels to you. If it's uncomfortable to hold, if you can'f find the controls and commands when you need them, you'll miss some 'once in a lifetime' shots. I think you should go to a camera store that has a good selection of 'Live View' dSLRs, and try them out.
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