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Old Sep 13, 2007, 9:24 AM   #1
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I'm not sure if this is the right place for this question, but I'm not sure where else to put it.

I've been wanting to get into photography and have been weighing whether I should get a decent point-and-shoot or a low-end DSLR. I really have no photography experience, and things like metering, aperture, ISO, f-stops, etc. are fascinating to me, but also completely over my head at the moment. I am kind of a geek about stuff like this and think I would be quite interested in learning how to use and control settings, but I would be starting at the very beginning.

Because I'm a complete novice at this, I set my initial budget at ~$500-$600, thinking if I went the DSLR route I could look at the Rebel or the D40 and come away with a body and kit lens in roughly that price range.

I mentioned this to a friend of mine, and he basically offered to sell me his only-been-used-five-times D200 for $500. :shock:This includes the 18-200 VR lens. I've pointed out this is practically highway robbery andhe could probably sell the lens alone for more than that, but he doesn't want to bother. (He's in the process of moving overseas. He's the type who tends to randomly buy very expensive things he thinks he'll use, and then never touch them. Hence the D200, still with the original Nikon and B&H boxes, warranty, etc.)

I realize the D200 is an incredible camera, and I also realize it has tons of features I'll never use or appreciate, even if I do pursue a photography hobby. And I realize this would be an awesome deal. But I guess my question is will this camera, with all its bells and whistles, be too overwhelming for me to use as my first DSLR. Like I said, I'm going to be learning practically everything from the ground up. I don't want to spend $500 and be completely frustrated and overfaced by the camera, but I would also hate to buy a different camera and discover I really enjoy photography and then want to upgrade.

A few other points. I've held the camera and the size doesn't bother me. In fact I liked the feel more than smaller DSLRs, where I felt like I couldn't grip the body very well without hitting other buttons and dials. (I must have giant hands for a woman!) I'm less thrilled about the weight, but I don't think it's a dealbreaker.


I'm not really sure what type of shooting I would do. Probably a mix of indoor and outdoor stuff. And possibly equestrian sports. (I'm completely in love with macro, but I realize that's a whole different shebang and not for the beginner like me!)

So, any thoughts on whether I should go with the D200, or buy something less likely to overwhelm me?
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Old Sep 13, 2007, 9:34 AM   #2
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As long as that D200 and lens works and is not "warm to the touch" (and it's a model designed for sale in the U.S.), I'd get it and be thankful of a friend that's so generous. Even if it was gray market, I'd consider it (even though Nikon USA will not service a camera not intended for sale in the U.S.). Or, if you're not in the U.S. (your profile doesn't show a location), you'll need to make sure it's designed for sale in the country you live in to get service.

You do realize that this kit would run you over $2000 new, right (when you can find it in stock)? It's also got an Auto position on the mode dial. ;-)

D200 with 18-200mm VR lens at B&H for $2,299.95


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Old Sep 13, 2007, 9:39 AM   #3
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Grab it and run with it :-), pay him $600 if this will make you feel better. You don't have to progress from simple P&S to more advanced to very advanced cameras. You can just start with a great camera and grow with it. If the size and weight of D200don't bother you much - take it and start to enjoy it, you can start using it in Program Mode and go from there.
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Old Sep 13, 2007, 10:01 AM   #4
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sweetfeed-

I totally agree with JimC and Alex-

This sounds like a once in a lifetime deal. Grab it for $(US) 500.00, or even $(US) 600.00 as Alex suggests. If you are a good student, and the physical size of the Nikon D-200 outfit if fine with you, you will have a great learning opportunity to really learn photography.

Just a suggestion: Get some good classroom training in photopraphy. It will speed up your learning curve considerably. Your photos will always be as good as your photographic knowledge.

Thank your lucky stars! This sounds to be a very sweet deal!

Alex-

In as much as the D-200 was puchased from B & H in NYC, I would guess that it is from Nikon USA. So warranty service should be no problem.

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Old Sep 13, 2007, 10:10 AM   #5
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The Nikon D200 is a very good camera, and you are being offered a heck of a good deal.

But the D200 is NOT a good camera for someone to learn on. It doesn't have manyof the features that make other cameras better for novices, like programmed exposure modes. Learning photography on the D200 is like learning to swin by jumping into a pool at the deep end. I love photography, and I love to share it with others. I would be very disappointed if someone got turned off of photography because they started with a camera that was too much for them.

I think you should buy your friend's D200 and stick it in a drawer, and buy a $100 P&S digicamto learn on.
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Old Sep 13, 2007, 10:51 AM   #6
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Thank you all for your replies. And for confirming that I would be crazy to pass this opportunity up! I will definitely try to get my friend to take more than $500, or else I'll feel so guilty I'll never use the darn thing. I am well aware of what these retail for and had to pick my jaw up off the floor when he made the offer. I certainly do appreciate his generosity!

Both lens and camera work perfectly and are for the U.S. market, so no worries there. He purchased this back in the spring and never registered it with Nikon. But I'm assuming I could still do that, correct? The B&H packing slip is also still in the box if I need that.

TCav, that's a good idea about getting a cheap p&s if I end up clueless.I'll probably try playing around with the D200 in it's basic modeand see how I do and ifit's too complex for me I'll considerpicking up somethingthat'scheap and simple. Having the D200 sitting around waiting for me would be good motivation!

Sarah, I definitely plan to take some courses at a local college. There are two coming up that I'm interested in--one's devoted just to DSLR mechanics and settings and the other is general photography and composition. (I may feel silly sitting thereknowing nothing with a semi-pro camera, but oh well.)

Thanks again for the advice. :-)


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Old Sep 13, 2007, 11:02 AM   #7
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Right decision :-)
And if that Nikon feels way too complex after a while, I'm ready to go to a dark side :-) and swap my Canon D350/XT with 4 nice lenses and a battery grip for that D200 and a VR lens + I'll pay the postage over the Atlantic for both cameras as well :-)
Cheers,
Alex
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Old Sep 13, 2007, 11:23 AM   #8
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sweetfeed-

Many thanks for the response post. The courses sound excellent. If you find them too much over your head, gear down a bit to get a good start. I teach both for our local Community College and our State University, and I often have a few students who , after the first few class meetings, know that they are attempting to bite off more than they can chew. So the Community College, refunds their fees and gets them into a more basic course. And that is good headwork.

TCav's idea that it might be a bit easier to ease into the D-200 by using a more simple digicam is a good one.


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Old Sep 13, 2007, 11:34 AM   #9
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TCav wrote:
Quote:
But the D200 is NOT a good camera for someone to learn on. It doesn't have manyof the features that make other cameras better for novices, like programmed exposure modes.
I'm going to disagree here. If someone wants to LEARN, having a pre-set 'portrait' mode doesn't teach them anything.

If the goal is just to take pictures I would agree with you. Some people want the capabilities of a DSLR but don't want to learn.

Many of us learned photography with film on an SLR with manual focus.

I think for someone who wants to learn, having just the 4 basic exposure settings is better - when they want shallow DOF shots they have to think a bit. And, it isn't that tough - for those motivated to learn.

When you just want to take a shot without thinking - that's what program mode is for.

I actually think most digicams make it tougher to really learn photography - most limit you to usable ISO of 200 (some now are pretty good but most aren't). With the deep DOF, you get no understanding of how varying the aperture affects depth-of-field. So I think a student is handicapped. There's a very valid reason why most photography classes (that are about photography not the camera) still require a DSLR or SLR rather than just a digicam with TV, AV, and M mode.

Just a different opinion - not saying you're wrong and I'm right, I just have a different viewpoint
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Old Sep 13, 2007, 12:13 PM   #10
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There's a lot of truth in what JohnG says. I learned more about photography with my old Praktica LTL3 film SLR than I would ever have done with a point and shoot.

Ok so the principles of image composition and so on are going to be the same irrespective of the type of camera used but there's a lot to be said for getting a camera that challenges you - provided of course you're up to the challenge.

I hardly ever use the scene modes on my camera tending to use Aperture priority and vary the ISO value and exposure compensation. Scene modes are someone else's idea of how to take your pictures.

If I was offered a D200 by someone at that price I'd bite their hand off.

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