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Posted: 4/18/2013 4:25:51 PM EDT
First off, I had no idea that ARFcom had a photography forum. This is fantastic

I've been using a Nikon D80 DSLR for a few years now and am very happy with it. I am purely a novice/hobby photographer, and will never be anything more.

My question is this: I have a line on a factory refurb Nikon D90 camera body and am wondering if it's worth the upgrade. My current lenses, speedlight, battery grip, remote etc would all be compatible with the new body-so I wouldn't have to start from scratch. Here are the key differences I see:

12.3 versus 10.2 megapixels
4.5 versus 3fps
HD video capability

The video capability doesn't interest me, and I barely scratch the surface of the D80's capability. For that reason, I think my desire for the D90 is more along the lines of wanting something shiny and new versus real objective need. For those of you who are familiar with lower end Nikon camera bodies, would you upgrade?

If I'm not giving you enough information please let me know, and thank you in advance for your help

Oh, not sure if this makes a difference but here is a list of my current gear:
-Nikon D80 body
-ND80P dual battery grip
-Nikon SB700 speedlight
-Nikon 55-200 1:4-5.6 VR lens
-Nikon 18-135 1:3.5-5.6 kit lens
-Nikon 50mm 1:1.8 lens
-IR remote
-4 Nikon EN-EL3e battery
-Assorted filters
Link Posted: 4/18/2013 4:33:20 PM EDT
I just bought the D3200 and also have a D60 and they both are great.
In your case is there a newer body to go with your lenses?
Link Posted: 4/18/2013 4:55:10 PM EDT
Originally Posted By CJan_NH:
First off, I had no idea that ARFcom had a photography forum. This is fantastic

I've been using a Nikon D80 DSLR for a few years now and am very happy with it. I am purely a novice/hobby photographer, and will never be anything more.

My question is this: I have a line on a factory refurb Nikon D90 camera body and am wondering if it's worth the upgrade. My current lenses, speedlight, battery grip, remote etc would all be compatible with the new body-so I wouldn't have to start from scratch. Here are the key differences I see:

12.3 versus 10.2 megapixels
4.5 versus 3fps
HD video capability

The video capability doesn't interest me, and I barely scratch the surface of the D80's capability. For that reason, I think my desire for the D90 is more along the lines of wanting something shiny and new versus real objective need. For those of you who are familiar with lower end Nikon camera bodies, would you upgrade?

If I'm not giving you enough information please let me know, and thank you in advance for your help

Oh, not sure if this makes a difference but here is a list of my current gear:
-Nikon D80 body
-ND80P dual battery grip
-Nikon SB700 speedlight
-Nikon 55-200 1:4-5.6 VR lens
-Nikon 18-135 1:3.5-5.6 kit lens
-Nikon 50mm 1:1.8 lens
-IR remote
-4 Nikon EN-EL3e battery
-Assorted filters


Typically it doesn't make sense to upgrade to the immediate successor of a particular device.

Based on your usage, I think you will be better off using the D80 for 1-2 more years before upgrading to the newest body in that line.
Link Posted: 4/18/2013 6:46:03 PM EDT
The d90 will get you somewhat better high ISO performance and moderately better autofocus. That's really about it. The extra pixels won't make any difference that you can see. To be honest I'd take the 'upgrade' money and put it towards an upgrade of your glass. That's a change that will be visible and very functional. An upgrade to a faster, good quality lens is going to really let you see how good that body still is.
Link Posted: 4/18/2013 7:40:22 PM EDT
Thanks guys

Hobbit, the lens I use most often by far is the 18-135 non-VR kit lens. Do you have a suggestion for a better short zoom based on my current usage? It is the most versatile of the three basic lenses I currently own.

Thank you in advance for your expertise.

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 4/18/2013 7:56:33 PM EDT
What's the price on the refurb?  

I ask, because if you are looking at uprgrading, I'd suggest a D7000.  You can find them for about $800 these days, and they're probably the best Nikon prosumer model going right now. (D7100, notwithstanding.)

Originally Posted By CJan_NH:

Oh, not sure if this makes a difference but here is a list of my current gear:
-Nikon D80 body
-ND80P dual battery grip
-Nikon SB700 speedlight
-Nikon 55-200 1:4-5.6 VR lens
-Nikon 18-135 1:3.5-5.6 kit lens
-Nikon 50mm 1:1.8 lens
-IR remote

-4 Nikon EN-EL3e battery
-Assorted filters


Everything I put in red will work on any Nikon DSLR.
Link Posted: 4/18/2013 9:02:36 PM EDT
Thanks for your help MotorMouth

The D90 refurb I was looking at is $500-body only, no lenses or batteries.
Link Posted: 4/18/2013 9:25:14 PM EDT
D80 is an awesome camera. Upgrade disease got me and I sold mine for a D200. Mistake. Bought a brand new D300 when they came out and have never wanted more. It is a very nice upgrade from a D80. You could probably find one for right around what the D90 was going to cost you and you would have a full pro level body with magnesium and all that. Plus its 6FPS upgradable with battery grip to 8.



Just remember that bodies lose money. Glass earns money. I sold off a lot of good glass to get my D300 and while I love that body I sure do miss my 35 F2.0, and 80-200 2.8 AFS that I sold to get it.
Link Posted: 4/19/2013 4:20:55 AM EDT
It really depends on your budget. I have both the Nikon 17-55 f2.8 and the tamron 28-75 f2.8. Both are excellent optically with the Tamron being much cheaper. I've heard very very nice things about the newer 17-50's as well but haven't used them. They don't have the zoom range of your 18-135 and I don't know if the shorter range would handicap you. What they WOULD give you is faster glass. Typically this helps in both lower light and for active shooting. A benefit also is that usually you get sharper images from the better optics. Obviously it also gives you the option to better isolate your subject if that's important to you.

The 17-55 is nikons Pro Dx format wide zoom and is a heavy solid beast, though not cheap :(. The Tamron performs way better than its price suggests. I've done head to head comparisons with it against my 70-200 vr1 at 70mm and even pixel peeping, I can't see a difference!

Fwiw I think of bodies like computers. They come and go as technology changes. Good glass however, will span several generations of bodies.
I do totally 'get' the lust for a new body.
Good luck in your search.
Link Posted: 4/19/2013 6:29:17 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/19/2013 6:30:56 AM EDT by CJan_NH]
That is extremely helpful, thank you Hobbit

While I have heard of Tamron lenses I have never owned one-I will certainly check them out. I don't think a shorter zoom would hamstring me that much.

Thanks again.

ETA: Matt, thank you as well for loaning me your expertise.

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 4/19/2013 7:55:42 AM EDT
I lucked into the Tamron and got a killer deal when a guy got tired of it. My research has since shown that its well regarded as a real gem. It focuses a little slow for quick sports shots but its darn nice. I don't use it much since I got the 17-55 but it'll hold it's own with the best I've got.
Link Posted: 4/19/2013 10:11:28 AM EDT
Originally Posted By hsvhobbit:
I lucked into the Tamron and got a killer deal when a guy got tired of it. My research has since shown that its well regarded as a real gem. It focuses a little slow for quick sports shots but its darn nice. I don't use it much since I got the 17-55 but it'll hold it's own with the best I've got.

From the cursory research I've done since you suggested the brand they seem to be a LOT more affordable than Nikon brand lenses. Since I've never actually priced higher-end lenses before asking this question, I was stunned at how expensive some of them can be. Holy smokes...

I've never been shy about spending money on quality gear, but given these price points I will certainly need to do my homework before pulling the trigger.


Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 4/19/2013 12:12:01 PM EDT
When you start pricing high grade lens' it's enough to make your eyeball spin in opposite directions. What makes it really bad is that more money usually DOES get you better performance if you actually push your gear. I occasionally shoot teen sports for money and speed/accuracy of focus is crucial right along with sharpness wide open. A buddy went cheap on his 70-200 f2.8 and bought a Sxxxx. To get equal sharpness to my Nikon  he had to shoot at f3.2-3.5 vs my f2.8. Not a huge difference but when your clawing for every bit of light in a dark gym, it really bites.
Link Posted: 4/19/2013 7:24:17 PM EDT
Originally Posted By CJan_NH:
Originally Posted By hsvhobbit:
I lucked into the Tamron and got a killer deal when a guy got tired of it. My research has since shown that its well regarded as a real gem. It focuses a little slow for quick sports shots but its darn nice. I don't use it much since I got the 17-55 but it'll hold it's own with the best I've got.

From the cursory research I've done since you suggested the brand they seem to be a LOT more affordable than Nikon brand lenses. Since I've never actually priced higher-end lenses before asking this question, I was stunned at how expensive some of them can be. Holy smokes...

I've never been shy about spending money on quality gear, but given these price points I will certainly need to do my homework before pulling the trigger.


Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile


Third party lenses can be hit or miss.  Some of them are as highly regarded, or more regarded than the same lens from Nikon.  When you decide on a type of lens and are thinking about a third party offering, it pays to do a little research on the net.  Amazon and B&H customer product reviews as well as professional reviews.

Even though the third party lenses cost less than the same offering from Nikon, they're still a pretty decent chunk of change.
Link Posted: 4/20/2013 1:21:13 PM EDT
Check out the Nikon 16-85 Lens that my next one.
Link Posted: 4/21/2013 5:27:13 AM EDT
Originally Posted By mamasboy:
Check out the Nikon 16-85 Lens that my next one.


+1
The 16-85VR is my favorite "walk around" lens. Feels a little heavy but very solid and very sharp.
Link Posted: 4/21/2013 7:39:23 PM EDT
Originally Posted By mamasboy:
Check out the Nikon 16-85 Lens that my next one.


For the money you'd spend, why not get the 18-200?  Performance is nearly identical, but with more range.
Link Posted: 4/21/2013 10:37:13 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/21/2013 10:39:02 PM EDT by JosephK]
Originally Posted By MotorMouth:
Originally Posted By mamasboy:
Check out the Nikon 16-85 Lens that my next one.


For the money you'd spend, why not get the 18-200?  Performance is nearly identical, but with more range.


According to the labs, the 16-85mm is a noticeably better lens for sharpness, distortion, and CA*.  Pair it with the 70-300mm VR, and you have a great 2-lens travel kit.

* Whether you notice the difference in the real world will depend on your subjects and shooting style.
Link Posted: 4/22/2013 4:03:08 AM EDT
Originally Posted By JosephK:
Originally Posted By MotorMouth:
Originally Posted By mamasboy:
Check out the Nikon 16-85 Lens that my next one.


For the money you'd spend, why not get the 18-200?  Performance is nearly identical, but with more range.


According to the labs, the 16-85mm is a noticeably better lens for sharpness, distortion, and CA*.  Pair it with the 70-300mm VR, and you have a great 2-lens travel kit.

* Whether you notice the difference in the real world will depend on your subjects and shooting style.


What He said.
Link Posted: 4/22/2013 4:51:12 AM EDT
Don't spend the money on upgrade to D90.  The D90's are "better" but you are never going to notice the benefits unless you are a pro sports photographer.

Almost every Nikkor / Nikon lens is going to be better than the (cheaper) other brands.  If you are shooting in full manual exposure modes (which you should be for almost everything, and if you are not, you should practice and learn how to) a lens that does not have the aperture change when you zoom in and out is really valuable.  Before digital, this was pretty critical; but with digital its not so much anymore.  You should always shoot in RAW, and you can easily fix one stop exposure mistakes on computer.

A fast 2.8 lens is really nice to have, but in fact, what I have found with the Digital cameras is that because of the smaller sensor (compared to film plane) if you are shooting pictures wide open (at 2.8) the DOF (depth of field) is so narrow that you are rarely going to need or want such a fast lens, particularly in long lenses (200mm +).  One good thing, tho, about fast lenses is that in lower light you can see the subject better because when looking through the viewfinder it is letting in max light, regardless of aperture setting.

So... current gear looks pretty good as is.

If you take lots of pics inside house (family pics, get together's, etc) ... and you want to really have some fun, get yourself a SECOND flash, with a little stand and flash trigger device - so you can setup the second flash in the room to backlight, rear fill, or "hair light" subjects.  Once you get the hang of it.. it can be really easy to do and produce much, much, better photos.  Remember, in photography, LIGHT IS EVERYTHING!!!
Link Posted: 4/22/2013 6:31:07 AM EDT
In order to help spend your money as lavishly as possible would you tell us what you mostly like shooting? I mean if your primary subject is close/macro shots then these recommendations are way offbase, likewise if you mostly shoot birds at a distance. ;)
Link Posted: 4/22/2013 8:52:20 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/22/2013 8:52:45 AM EDT by JAFFE]
Body upgrade - is there anything the D80 is not doing for you?  Or any specific camera feature/ functionality where you want better performance?  If not, I'd keep the body.  If so, I'd buy the best body available right now - you'd be able to keep and use that body for many years considering current capabilities.  Also -do you want to stay with APS-C?  Or maybe move to full-frame?
Lens upgrade - what do you shoot?  Is there anything new you want to shoot?  Let those two questions be your guide, unless you just want to buy gear.  Which is OK as well.    Don't be afraid to look at older glass, and don't be afraid of buying used - especially from shops with a high degree of customer satisfaction and customer service.  Some older glass is still wonderful glass, even though it lacks the latest and greatest AF or VR or magic pixie dust (nano-coatings).



IMHO and YMMV





 
 

 
Link Posted: 4/23/2013 9:25:23 AM EDT
The D7000 would be the logical "affordable" upgrade since the 7100 is now out. I think you mentioned video on the D90, it's not that great (had a D90 for years). I believe the D7000's video capabilities are much better than the D90.

A newish D300 would be cool too, nice features.

Whatever you do, I highly recommend better glass. I don't know what you shoot, but a zoom with a focal range between 16 and 70 is extremely useful and versatile, and several manufacturers make nice models.
Link Posted: 4/24/2013 5:02:06 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/24/2013 5:04:20 AM EDT by toothlesrooster]
I'd have to agree with the consensus here.  I had a D90 for years and it is a fantastic camera, but it's not THAT much better than the D80.  My first inclination was to say go for the D90, but not knowing what you like to shoot is hard.  The video isn't that great, I almost never used it.  The higher ISO may make it worth your while, but used D300's are not much more than a used D90 and the external controls, magnesium body, speed and ruggedness of the camera are all better on the D300 vs the D90.  I love my D300.  It uses the same sensor as the D90 and I can, if I watch my exposure and focus, shoot at IS0 2000.  If  you can afford a D7000/D7001 you will get even better high ISO performance which can obviously help reduce the gap between slower and faster glass for less money.  

But more than that, better quality glass is where it's at.  It will follow you unless you change platforms (like switching to full frame or another brand like Canon).  Though a lot of lenses will be just fine on crop or FF, it's just that your focal lengths will change or you might get some vignetting.  

I'm fast becoming a fan of Tamron and Sigma's newer high end lenses.  Though some of the Sigmas are BIG $$$.  I'd love to pick up Sigma's 35 f/1.8 , 50mm f/1.4 and 85 f/1.8.  I think if I could afford those three lenses, I might get rid of everything else besides my 80-200 f/2.8.  I could do 80% of what I like to do with two bodies, one with the 35 and one with the 50/80mm.


Originally Posted By PirateNinja:
The D7000 would be the logical "affordable" upgrade since the 7100 is now out. I think you mentioned video on the D90, it's not that great (had a D90 for years). I believe the D7000's video capabilities are much better than the D90.

A newish D300 would be cool too, nice features.

Whatever you do, I highly recommend better glass. I don't know what you shoot, but a zoom with a focal range between 16 and 70 is extremely useful and versatile, and several manufacturers make nice models.


Link Posted: 4/24/2013 12:45:16 PM EDT
I like the new D5200.
Link Posted: 4/25/2013 1:34:27 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/25/2013 8:17:24 PM EDT by TheWhiteHorse]
I started with a D80 then purchased a D90 about a year later. I hardly ever used the D80 except when I needed a second body. After another year I picked up another D90 and shelved the D80 for good.  The image quality is noticeably better. The LCD screens are not even comparable... made a huge difference for me when shooting in just about every situation. I enjoyed the faster frame rate, better controls and menu. I didn't use it a lot, but the video option is very nice to have... especially live view. Increased ISO performance is quite noticeable.  As someone who has owned both, I would not hesitate for a second to upgrade.  I still have both of my D90's but neither function at 100% as I have about 80K on each body. I have since moved to a D800 and D3s.

If you end up getting the D90 I will sell you one of my grips and a few batteries dirt cheap as I have no use for them.  I'll sell you either one of my D90's but they will require some Nikon servicing and I'm not sure what it would cost you. I also have an 18-200 VR that was cleaned and serviced a year ago I'd let go. PM me if interested.
Link Posted: 4/25/2013 1:42:19 PM EDT
Originally Posted By hsvhobbit:
The d90 will get you somewhat better high ISO performance and moderately better autofocus. That's really about it. The extra pixels won't make any difference that you can see. To be honest I'd take the 'upgrade' money and put it towards an upgrade of your glass. That's a change that will be visible and very functional. An upgrade to a faster, good quality lens is going to really let you see how good that body still is.


That is simply not true.
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