Old 12-07-2009, 05:04 PM   #1
Train-a-Mania
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Default Nikon D90 - A worthy upgrade?

Hello RP.Net-ers,

I've been photographing trains for a while, using the relatively cheap Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ4. For Christmas, I decided it was time to get serious.

After careful research, I found (what I think) I'm looking for - the Nikon D90. I know that some here use it, but for those who don't, here are some statistics:

http://www.crunchgear.com/2008/08/25...om-all-angles/

I've found a kit on Amazon that includes an 18-105mm VR lens:

http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-D90-Digi.../ref=de_a_smtd

The questions I have are:

1. Does the price seem reasonable for the camera and what's included with it (note: The body alone costs $800)? I'd prefer not to buy a used or refurbished camera.

2. For those who have this camera, what do you think of it for railroad photography (and general photography, for that matter)?

Thanks,

Nick
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Old 12-07-2009, 05:19 PM   #2
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First, be a more careful shopper. The Amazon link is to a kit sold by Cameta with some added stuff which might be unnecessary. Here is a link from Amazon itself for $1035 instead of $1190 - you can decide if the "bonus kit" is worth $155 to you.

http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-D90-Digi...0209467&sr=1-1

Second, in this day and age, I think that any DSLR made is fine for RR and general photography. Whether or not you need the features that the D90 provides over, say, the D3000 ($470 with an 18-55 lens), is up to you.

http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-D3000-Di...0209799&sr=1-1
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Old 12-07-2009, 06:42 PM   #3
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I'm not certain if you're into night photography, but if so, I would recommend checking out this thread.

Nikon D90 Glare Issues

Chase
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Old 12-07-2009, 07:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chase55671 View Post
I'm not certain if you're into night photography, but if so, I would recommend checking out this thread.

Nikon D90 Glare Issues

Chase
Doesn't that thread end up pointing at the lens and not the camera, and a different lens than being considered here? Bodies don't generate flare, lenses do.
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Old 12-07-2009, 07:17 PM   #5
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Folks,

I purchased a D90 a year ago to replace a D40x and am generally quite happy with it. My reasons for the upgrade were as follows:
  • Better autofocus array (11 pts vs 3)
  • Ability to autofocus with non-AFS lenses
  • Separate thumbwheel for aperture control
  • Autobracketing feature
  • CMOS sensor with better high-ISO performance
  • Higher resolution (12 MP vs 10 MP)
  • Larger LCD display
  • LiveView feature
  • Heavier weight and better balance with heavy zoom lenses

I cannot comment extensively on the 18-105mm VR kit lens as I have only casual experience playing with one. I did not purchase this lens and am using the 18-200mm VR as my everyday lens. I will say that my observation is that the build quality, focus speed and distortion level of the 18-105mm VR appears to be on a par with my lens.

A price of $800 for the body is about the best you'll do from a reputable internet vendor. I believe B&H will sell it for this price, and that's about $50 less than it was last Christmas....reflecting the fact that this model is now about 1.5 yrs old.

I haven't played with the D3000 and D5000 cameras, which I believe replaced the D40 and D60 series. If any of the features that I listed above are important to you, you should check to see if the newer low-end cameras have them. If not, you may want to go VFR direct to a D90 and save yourself the mistake of buying a starter camera that you may rapidly outgrow.



Edit: Just saw J's post and totally agree. The lens FLARE issue is related to the lens and how it is used, not the camera body.
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:30 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC View Post
Doesn't that thread end up pointing at the lens and not the camera, and a different lens than being considered here? Bodies don't generate flare, lenses do.
Janusz,

True, but it is the default lens that comes with the camera, and I would imagine if this is a first time SLR user, he'll most likely purchase the kit lens that goes with the D90. That's what I did with my XSi.

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Old 12-07-2009, 07:26 PM   #7
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If it were me, id probably buy the D90 and the 18-200mm Image Stabilized lens. That is a great all around lens and im sure it would get a lot of use when shooting trains. Im personally a Canon fan, but the Nikons are great also.
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Old 12-07-2009, 07:47 PM   #8
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Agreed, Walter. J.E. Landrum has had some very appealing results with his Nikon 18-200mm VR lens.
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Old 12-08-2009, 12:03 AM   #9
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The D90 is not only a very capable camera, but also a great one to 'grow into' if its your first SLR (which it sounds like it will be). At 12.3MP, there is enough horsepower behind it to produce high quality images if you find yourself getting serious into the hobby. If you had the right combination of lenses, the D90 could meet your needs for years to come. In fact, if you strip away all the bells and whistles its effectively the same camera as the wildly popular D300 - which many consider to be the best sub-pro body on the market today.

And like has already been pointed out, lens flare in not an issue with camera body but rather the lens (hence why its referred to as 'lens' flare).
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:31 AM   #10
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Smile Give priority to the glass

If you are on a budget, one trade-off you might consider is getting a better lens and a cheaper camera. A lot of people, including myself, have gotten very good results with the 18-200 VR lens, but it is not cheap. Its range allows it to be close to a "one does everything well" lens, and you don't loose photo ops while changing lenses. Like Kevin, I bought a D90 to replace a D40. And the D90 is a fine camera. But if the difference in price between a D90 and a D3000 (the replacement for the D40) would allow you to get an 18-200 VR lens versus the 18-105, I'd buy the cheaper camera and get the better lens. The D40 (and presumably the D3000) is a very capable camera and a heck of a good value for the dollar. Just my opinion, FWIW.
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:48 AM   #11
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One plus of the 18-200mm VR lens is that you won't need to change lenses very much. You won't miss shots fumbling with a lens change, AND you won't be getting as much dust on your camera's sensor as you would doing field changes. While most of the newer Nikons do have the ultrasonic shaker, I find that avoiding lens changes in the field makes the biggest difference of all in avoiding the dust issue.
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:21 AM   #12
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How does this sound:

I buy the body and the 18-105mm lens to start with. If I'm happy with how that's going, and I want to upgrade later, I sell the 18-105 lens and buy an 18-200.

Does that make sense? I just feel more comfortable buying the D90 body and a less-than-best lens and upgrading later as opposed to having to upgrade the body later. Besides, don't lenses sell better at used prices than bodies?
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:47 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Train-a-Mania View Post
How does this sound:

I buy the body and the 18-105mm lens to start with. If I'm happy with how that's going, and I want to upgrade later, I sell the 18-105 lens and buy an 18-200.

Does that make sense? I just feel more comfortable buying the D90 body and a less-than-best lens and upgrading later as opposed to having to upgrade the body later. Besides, don't lenses sell better at used prices than bodies?
Your logic should be other way around. Cheap body good lens, not good body cheap lens. If I had to give back either my camera or my lens, I would give back the D300 no questions asked. Any serious photographer would agree.
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:12 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdirelan87 View Post
Any serious photographer would agree.
The cheapest body with good glass is 100% better then the best body and ok glass. You may not see at 1024 wide but there is a world of difference in contrast and sharpness with good glass.
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:56 AM   #15
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I recently purchased a D90 as an upgrade from my D40, and I will offer my input here.

Many of the other posters have already commented about researching other camera models and buying the one that you think is best for you, so I won't comment any more about it, except to say that it is important to know for what you want to use the camera and look for cameras that can handle your needs.

Compared to my D40, which was a delightful little camera, the D90 offers:

1. better control of noise at high ISOs (but still pretty noisy for my tastes when you get up above ISO 500), and a more diverse range of ISO than just 200, 400, 800 like the D40 had

2. a larger viewfinder so you don't have to squint so much when you're taking shots (I didn't think this was that important before I bought the camera, but I love it now)

3. two dials, one each for aperture and shutter speed, so you can adjust both dials one handed (if you're of the manual persuassion)

4. a more accurate light meter than the D40 (which tended to overexpose... although I always shoot in manual, I still monitor my light display in the viewfinder)

5. better white balance settings and the ability to customize them

6. the number one reason (for me) to buy any SLR over a point-and-shoot is that SLRs are much much faster in terms of shutter response and continuous mode shooting - very important for photographing moving objects!

The D90 feels like a very solid, well-built camera too, though I wouldn't go beating it around. All in all I'm very satisfied with it and feel it was worth the money.

As far as lenses, 95% of the time I keep one lens on my D90... Nikon's new 35mm f/1.8 DX lens. This little jewel of a lens is only $200 (because it only works on smaller DX sensors, not full frame like the D700) and has superior sharpness to any of my zoom lenses. Plus the ability to open the aperture up so far (most standard Nikon zoom lenses only stop down to 3.5-5.6 depending on focal length) means I can capture images in low light at faster shutter speeds and lower ISOs... this lens has saved me on many a cloudy and rainy day. The only catches are that it has fairly pronounced barrel distortion (which you won't notice 75% of the time, and even when you do, it isn't image-condemning, in my opinion) and it is a fixed lens... it can't zoom. You get one focal length and you just have to work with it. But honestly I'll sacrifice the ability to change focal length for superior sharpness and the ability to get optimal exposures in low light. I've always liked the standard, normal angle view focal lengths myself anyway (35mm on DX = approx. 50mm on film, full frame digital) Plus, I usually keep my D40 as a standby with a zoom lens on it, just in case. Just throwing the idea out there, you might want to look into prime lenses like the 35mm f/1.8, I feel they are more than worth it, and this lens with my D90 has been a pretty satisfying combination.

Last edited by Flowing; 12-08-2009 at 04:00 AM.
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Old 12-09-2009, 04:31 AM   #16
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Exposure correction is easily fixed when shooting in RAW. I suppose it is rather easy to adjust exposure when using JPEG as well, but I prefer the exposure control on Camrea Raw 5.0 on CS4.

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Old 12-10-2009, 01:36 AM   #17
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BBB is hard to assess, reseller ratings is a bit easier

http://www.resellerratings.com/store/CametaCamera
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Old 12-10-2009, 02:52 AM   #18
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At this point, it looks like I'll be getting the two-lens deal from Cameta:

http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-Digital-...364931&sr=1-12

Before I do, though, any last suggestions from anyone else out there?
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:45 AM   #19
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Good choice. My final thought would be to get a good DX prime lens to go along with it. (If you buy a non-DX lens, you won't get AF on the D5000.)

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Old 12-11-2009, 02:08 AM   #20
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Keep in mind that a DX lense is designed to be used with a crop sensor type camera. They don't work too well with full frame sensor or 35mm camera. That was my mistake on a couple of lenses when I upgraded to a full frame sensor body. So If you're planning to upgrade in the future, you may want to keep that in consideration. Just a thought.

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Old 12-11-2009, 02:15 AM   #21
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Something else to consider, is some camera bodies have an internal motor drive to run the auto focus on the lense if the the lense is not motorized.

I suspect the D90 has a motor while the D5000 does not. Thus, the D90 will run any Nikon lense, while the D5000 will have to be focused manually if the the lense is not motorized.

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Old 12-11-2009, 04:57 PM   #22
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D3000 just reviewed by dpreview

http://www.dpreview.com/news/0912/09...3000review.asp

Not following Nikon, I didn't even realize there are separate D3000 and D5000 cameras. The D3000 looks like a nice non-video entry level camera, two-lens kit (both VR) at Amazon (Beach) for $650. Something to think about, people have asked me for recommendations for the holidays.
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Old 12-12-2009, 01:09 AM   #23
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J,

The D3000 does look like a very decent introductory camera for someone can live w/o live view and movies. It's pretty much a D60 with a couple of things tacked on and/or improved:

Quote:
Nikon D3000 vs D60: Key Differences
The D3000 marks a fairly subtle upgrade to the aging but successful D60. Here are the stand-out specification differences:

Guide mode
11 AF points (MultiCAM 1000 autofocus system)
3D AF tracking
3.0 inch LCD (vs 2.7inch LCD in D60 - both 230,000 dots)
For someone who would want live view (and wouldn't mind a rather small viewfinder/grip) the Sony A330 looks like a decent alternative; while it does have some flaws the live view system is in a total different league and IS is built in. I'm not sure of a reason to buy the A230 over the D3000, on the other hand.

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Old 12-15-2009, 02:17 AM   #24
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I'd like to thank everyone for their feedback. I've purchased the D5000 with two lenses. Hopefully, it should be arriving soon.
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Old 12-15-2009, 11:57 PM   #25
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Let us know what you think when it arrives and you can try it out!
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