I'm planning on getting the D40x as my first D-SLR when funds allow, and noticed that Nikon offers the camera in 4 different ways. They offer it with either a 18-55mm kit lens at $626, an 18-55mm and a 55-200mm at $700, an 18-135mm at $832, or body only at $560. All the kit lenses are f/3.5-5.6. all prices were from amazon. My question is, which kit is the best? And if it is worth it to go with the body and a separate lens, what lens should i look at? I'd like to keep it under $850.
If Nikon hasn't changed their lens mounting system, I could potentially by a D80 and use the Nikon 50mm f/1.8-22 lens currently residing on my FE1. It's well maintained, works beautify, unscratched, no dust, prefect condition. The front reads "Nikon Lens Series E 50mm 1:1.8"
I'm pretty set on Nikon, I've used a range of Canon D-SLRs and wasn't a fan of the interface. However, if Canon is much better for the price, I am open to suggestions. My budget is quite fixed, as I'm a teenager without a job, so my income is limited to chores and gifts.
You don't say what type of pictures you will primarily be taking but:
Given what you've stated I would go with the D40x and the 18-135mm lens system.
It should give you a very good "one lens" setup for a variety of different shot styles.
I recently purchased a D80 with the 18-200VR lens but it cost CONSIDERABLY more than your budget, but it is an excellent one lens camera system.
I would not get the D80 and put the E series on it. The E series lens is non-cpu and would only work withe the D80 in full manual mode - aperture would have to be adjusted manually, the auto focus, metering, analog exposure display, and TTL flash control cannot be used.
This would make for a very dissatisfying D80 experience.
The kit lens supplied with the D40x (ie. DX lenses) should already compensated for the 1.5 crop factor.
The Nikon 18-55mm kit lens is very good and lightweight.
The 18-135mm Nikon lens is ok, but big for the D40x and there is no VR, so I would skip it altogether because you can eventually get the similarly sized and much better Nikon 18-200mm VR lens when you can afford it. Forget about the 55-200mm lens, IMO.
Stick with the cheapest package, and buy a SB-400 flash. It allows bouncing and fill flash, and is very small as external flashes go. The pop-up flash is of limited use.
This will give you the best starting kit you can have, for the least money. Other lenses will follow later no doubt, so for the time being learn to make great pictures.
Right now I mainly shoot landscape and portrait. I am planning on shooting sports for the school newspaper if given the opportunity next year, and once I get a tripod I'm looking forward to lowlight and night shooting. I have been meaning to get a macro lens for the FE1, but that has been put off in favor of getting a D-SLR.
If I do decide to get the 18-55mm lens, why would I also want a 18-200mm lens? Wouldn't it make more sense to get something like a 100-350mm, or even get a light, high quality prime lens?
I got the D40x earlier this year. I love the camera and it takes amazing pictures. I have a wonderful shot of Niagra printed out in 24x36 in my living room. I got the the 18-55 kit lens and it is a very nice light weight lens and takes wonderful landscape shots, my primary interest. I purchased afterwards the 55-200 VR and I LOVE that lens. I have been able to get some really nice wildlife shots with it.
Now, all of that being said the D40x is very limited in lens selection right now. The older lenses simply will not work in anything but manual mode in my experience. Now that is fine on a tripod shooting a static scene, but rather annoying for trying to capture any animals etc.
As always, YMMV this has just been my experience with this particular camera.
I have the D40x and love it.
No legacy collection of lenses to worry about, just a hobby for me though, no aspirations to be a pro or anything.
ETA: My avatar was taken with the D40x and the 55-200mm VR lens. I have the big pic sans stamp treatment posted somewhere here.
My sister-in-law is a pro, makes good money at it, uses Canon.
Because the 18-55 is a freebie, basically anyway. It is the smallest lightest kit lens available for the best price, and the quality is good to boot. I am not aware that the D40x is available in body only. The 18-55 covers the medium wide shots to the short portrait shots and everything in between.
The 18-200mm VR is far more versatile and you will love it for all it does well, it's only drawbacks are it's weight, especially compared to the camera body, and it's relatively slow aperture. The 18-200mm VR excels at shooting almost anything from landscapes to portraits, except in low light. It also does well shooting sports provided you have a nice sunny or mostly sunny day. I have one, and I love it for a good "do it all" solution. Perfect 2nd lens.
It is light and nice, and it comes as part of the cheapest package. If you ever are out on a trek, you may not want to carry the heavy 18-200 with you, and the little 18-55 would be perfect. Unless you need telephoto or VR, the 18-55 would be a good selection.
Light high quality prime? There are a few to choose from, the least expensive being the 50mm f/1.8. That is the lens I started with a dozen years ago, and I still like it today even with the crop cameras. The 50mm f/1.8 is $110. I eventually traded mine for a $270 Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens. The f/1.4 lens is more substantial, and gives you an additional stop. Neither lens shoots great wide open, but both shoot great stopped down 1 stop. Both lenses are great for low light, with the edge given to the more expensive 1.4. There are other wider primes, like the 35mm f/2 which is about $350, or the cheapest of the wider primes, the 28mm f/2.8D, which is $230 or so.
The longer primes, such as the 85mm f/1.8 start at $400 or so and go up from there.
Since you mention shooting for sports, I would recommend looking at the 80-200mm f/2.8 lens. It is a non VR lens, but is very good. Cost is about a grand. Adding VR drives the cost up another $700.
Why not start with the 18-55mm right now if money is tight, and then save for your next lens? I honestly think that the 18-135mm is going to be wasted anyway since it doesn't do anything that the 18-55 and, say, the 80-200mm would do.
The only one solution lens is the 18-200mm VR, IMO, and even that lens has weaknesses due to it's consumerishly small aperture.
ETA: Damnit! I posted this before remembering that we are talking about the D40x which must use AF-S lenses. That wipes out a bunch of the ones I mentioned. Specifically, most all of the fast primes, and the 80-200mm f/2.8. The only prime that you can easily use with the D40x is the 10.5mm fisheye, since MF is not an issue. You want fast primes, you'll have to get a D80.
The 70-200mm VR is available to you for sports, and for faster lenses, any zoom with a fixed f/2.8 aperture is going to be expensive.
I suspect that in the end, this wasn't much help. Sorry.
Oh, I love the D40x. It takes amazing pictures. It is just a hobby for me as well, but it would be nice to be able to get some cheaper older lenses. No big deal really, just a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things.
The only thing you loose with older lenses is the auto focus right? Thats not too big of an issue for me. I'm comming from an FE1, where the only auto thing is the shutter. And I haven't even tried that.
What about getting a used camera, to drop the price enough to get a d80? Is there anyhting I should look at if I do by used? How well do cameras hold up over time?
The view finder isn't very conducive to manual focusing on most of those digital cameras. The D40 viewfinder is pretty small as it is, and the lack of a split prism or other simple MF tools makes it hard to see well enough to focus manually.
Most super old Nikon lenses produced though the late 70's-80's, would fit the mount, but they won't meter automatically. The exposure must be set manually. This is a major drawback. Some of the Nikon models allow you to "program" the lens data so that they can meter correctly with these old lenses, but I don't think the D40 is one of them.
If I was going to point someone at an inexpensive DSLR, maybe used, that still works great, I would first have them find a NIB or mint condition D50 or D70 series on e-bay. The Body only D80 is going to cost $900 and you can get a D50 and a damn nice lens for that kind of money.
Check out this auction: Link
Dozens of similar autions are listed here
The D70s is a better camera and may be a little more, but I would recommend them over the D50 if you are willing to pay a little more.
Both cameras are better than the D40x, with regard to lens compatibility.