Camera Purchase Question - Nikon dSLR

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Camera Purchase Question - Nikon dSLR

Postby Marc_C » Wed May 15, 2013 11:34 am

Finally, a dSLR purchase is in the cards. It will be an entry-level or upper entry-level model. I don't want or need the complexity or added weight/size of the pro models.

Which would you purchase:
a new (released late 2012) but lower end model
- vs -
a 2-year old model that is a slight step up into prosumer territory, but definitely not pro

Assuming I go with manufacturer refurbished, they are both about the same price.

The key differences (between low/mid) are:
24 M-pixel / 16 M-pixel (yes, I realize this is far more a marketing trick than anything that has real impact)
fixed LCD screen / flip-out articulated LCD
no in camera HDR / HDR
no bracketing / both exposure and white balance bracketing
max ISO 3200 (12.5K with "boost") / max ISO 6400 (25K with boost)
a few other differences..... here's a comparison of the D3100, D3200, D5100, D5200:
http://www.dpreview.com/products/compare/side-by-side?products=nikon_d3100&products=nikon_d3200&products=nikon_d5100&products=nikon_d5200


For those familiar with the models, I've been debating between a Nikon D3200 and the D5100, which is the comparison above. They're ~$480 refurb'd with the standard 18mm-55mm VR kit lens. ($550 and $700 respectively for new cameras) There's also the D5200 to consider, but that's too new to have Nikon refurbished models available yet and I don't want to spend a kilobuck.
-marc
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Re: Camera Purchase Question - Nikon dSLR

Postby EMSC » Fri May 17, 2013 12:54 pm

The only one who can really choose is of course you.

What do you plan to photograph? HDR landscapes? that takes exposure bracketing... Macro shots? you'll want the articulated screen (and a really good tripod)... Action shots... Both about equal, but a bit slow in FPS... etc...

The two biggest things are what do you plan to shoot, and how long you plan to keep it (or really how 'into' learning DSLR features and photography you think you'll be getting). If you plan to be really enthusiastic and delve in a lot you'll likely want more than the 3200 can offer probably too quickly. If it's primarily for basic shots of family & life, but with much better sensors and image quality than a P&S can do, then the 3200 might be fine for your needs.

I assume you've read the full DPR reviews for each camera and you can search their forums for probably a number of threads comparing these exact two models by those who know them well. I'm not going to be too helpful in specifics since I use other DSLR systems than Nikon (though Nikon stuff is just fine).

Lastly, even at an entry level, the glass on the front can make a huge difference... aka plan at some point to put some money into good lenses beyond the kit lens (which is fine for starting out until you know what your needs and desires in photography really are).
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Re: Camera Purchase Question - Nikon dSLR

Postby Geoff » Sun May 19, 2013 10:45 am

I'm a Cannon person (and Olympus micro 4:3). I don't know squat about Nikon but it's probably the same as Cannon. With Cannon, the good lenses are EF and the best lenses are EF L (the naming convention for their best 35mm prime lense would be EF 35 f/1.8L). The "looks like a pro camera but isn't" like a Rebel use cheaper EF-S lenses. Camera bodies are disposable. Lenses are forever. Buy the camera body that takes their best lenses and slowly build up your collection of those lenses.

The entry level 35mm DSLR cameras are just fine and take great pictures but if you're serious about it, the lower quality lenses will eventually get in your way.
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Re: Camera Purchase Question - Nikon dSLR

Postby Marc_C » Sun May 19, 2013 2:46 pm

I've had an SLR for 30+ years and had a small but good collection of Minolta lenses, so not new to photography or SLRs. I just haven't gotten around to buying a dSLR till now for a variety of reasons. As far as what I photograph and what I want to use it for - pretty much a little of everything, with the emphasis being landscape/nature, skiing, climbing, and other outdoor pursuits. I prefer Nikon to Canon due to ergonomic and software usability considerations and I recognize that the glass is everything and either is excellent. Yes, kit lenses are typically not the higher end lenses in either line.

Some other comments:
* the big thing pro bodies offer is exposing many of the adjustments as hardware as opposed to keeping them in a software menu. Some of those settings are more important to me than others (eg: single vs continuous shooting is a royal pita if it's 2-4 menu choices and it's something I use a fair bit). However, I'm not fond of the bulk and weight of a pro body.
* any of the bodies I mentioned in my OP are far better than anything I currently own

So I guess my two biggest concerns are
* quickly outgrowing the D3200
* buying 3+ year old technology (D5100)

Other random thoughts:
* are 11 AF points really that much better than 9 AF points? What about 39?
* articulated LCD screen: gimmick or truly useful? No, I'll likely not be taking huge amounts of ground-level macro shots, but I can't eliminate those completely, either.

There's always the option of buying a D3200 and selling it later on if I find I'm wanting more. I can also just but the D5200 and pay about half of the $800 on Amazon with American Express Rewards points and pretend I only paid $450 for it.
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Re: Camera Purchase Question - Nikon dSLR

Postby Admin » Sun May 19, 2013 4:45 pm

I'm a big fan of the articulating viewfinder but you should already know how much you'd use it from your SX40. I find that I use it more not for ground macro shots, but instead for when I hold the body over my head because I want/need a slightly elevated perspective.

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Re: Camera Purchase Question - Nikon dSLR

Postby EMSC » Sun May 19, 2013 8:56 pm

Marc_C wrote:So I guess my two biggest concerns are
* quickly outgrowing the D3200
* buying 3+ year old technology (D5100)

Other random thoughts:
* are 11 AF points really that much better than 9 AF points? What about 39?
* articulated LCD screen: gimmick or truly useful?


Quite possible to quickly outgrow the 3200 if you have a lot of SLR experience. Also true I've had a number of SLR folks talk about how difficult the transition to digital was, but Admin indicates you have a 'bridge' P&S already anyway so maybe not.

Most folks use the center AF points so 9 vs 11 is probably not a big deal. The 39 points of the 5200 is likely a bit overstated in your mind since probably only a handful of them are 'cross type' AF points which are by far the preferred (may also be true that the extra 2 in the 11 are not cross type).

Admin has a point. The two best places for an articulated screen are close to the ground or held above the head, though there can be other uses.

Finally, I guess I'm surprised you are not looking at the Sony Alpha bodies if you have a decent amount of Minolta glass. Sony took over the Konica Minolta line up a bunch of years ago. Might not be your cup of tea, or your lenses could be too old for the current mount standard, etc... but then again could be worth at least a quick look to see.
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Re: Camera Purchase Question - Nikon dSLR

Postby Marc_C » Mon May 20, 2013 8:31 am

EMSC wrote:Quite possible to quickly outgrow the 3200 if you have a lot of SLR experience. Also true I've had a number of SLR folks talk about how difficult the transition to digital was, but Admin indicates you have a 'bridge' P&S already anyway so maybe not.


Correct. I have a Canon S3 IS. It's more than a P&S, offering many (not all) of the settings of an SLR, but accessed mostly thru software menus. Not an interchangeable lens, but it dose have a viewfinder.

EMSC wrote:Most folks use the center AF points so 9 vs 11 is probably not a big deal. The 39 points of the 5200 is likely a bit overstated in your mind since probably only a handful of them are 'cross type' AF points which are by far the preferred (may also be true that the extra 2 in the 11 are not cross type).


Also correct. There are 11 cross type AF points in the 39 point D3200 system.

EMSC wrote:Admin has a point. The two best places for an articulated screen are close to the ground or held above the head, though there can be other uses.


Yeah. I've actually used it more than I thought I would, hence my lean toward the 5100/5200, but it's not a deal breaker to be without.

EMSC wrote:Finally, I guess I'm surprised you are not looking at the Sony Alpha bodies if you have a decent amount of Minolta glass. Sony took over the Konica Minolta line up a bunch of years ago. Might not be your cup of tea, or your lenses could be too old for the current mount standard, etc... but then again could be worth at least a quick look to see.


It's actually a very modest collection and wasn't so expensive that it would be painful to go to different glass. I believe their mount is unchanged, and unlike Nikon and Canon, image stabilization is in the body, not the lens. Sony makes excellent sensors (many Nikons use Sony produced sensors), but their software usability isn't what it should be and I frankly haven't been impressed with their overall image quality that I've seen in comparative reviews. Nikon really outshines them in low light. Sony's also apparently take a long time (relative) to focus.
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Re: Camera Purchase Question - Nikon dSLR

Postby EMSC » Mon May 20, 2013 9:29 am

As always, still your choice; but from what I'm reading from you the 5100 or 5200 seems to be the right level. There was a very significant bump in DSLR sensor capability back in late 2009 through 2010 time frame (pretty much all brands) and since then it's been far more iterative, with slight improvements in each generation, but not huge improvements. So the 5100 might be your ticket (or 5200 if you can't resist the latest).

One of the fun 'games' of Canon and Nikon is de-featuring models down lower even through software, not just hardware to generate different price points. Things like the missing exposure bracketing in the 3200.

As to Sony, I always find it ironic that other vendors can tweak the firmware to get more out of the sensor than Sony seems capable of doing. I'm not on Sony so I can't directly comment on the AF speed or etc... I'm primarily on Pentax, though also inherited an older Canon DSLR of ~2006 era, which I do use at times and is capable enough in certain situations, so don't be too afraid of a couple year old body if that is where your price point is.
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Re: Camera Purchase Question - Nikon dSLR

Postby Geoff » Mon May 20, 2013 8:43 pm

Admin wrote:I'm a big fan of the articulating viewfinder but you should already know how much you'd use it from your SX40. I find that I use it more not for ground macro shots, but instead for when I hold the body over my head because I want/need a slightly elevated perspective.


I have to wear reading glasses these days. I won't buy a camera that doesn't have a real viewfinder.

I have an Olympus micro 4:3 camera as my walking around camera. It has a removable electronic viewfinder that does a pretty good job of simulating what you'd see looking at a 35mm SLR viewfinder. Unfortunately, my favorite lens for it is a 14mm-150mm (equivalent to a 28mm-300mm on an SLR) and it's kind of bulky. Nothing like the equivalent Canon lens but it's a pretty big chunk of glass. The stock 14-42mm lens collapses down to nothing and is great for snapshots but it simply doesn't have enough zoom.
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Re: Camera Purchase Question - Nikon dSLR

Postby EMSC » Thu Jun 06, 2013 12:53 pm

And, the final choice was......????
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Re: Camera Purchase Question - Nikon dSLR

Postby Marc_C » Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:56 pm

Looks like it'll be a manufacturer refurbed D5100. I'd rather invest the additional $350 the 5200 would cost into additional glass...unless I can find a refurbed 5200 at some point in the near future. Right now it's too new a camera to have an available supply of those.

I'm also needing to replace our 17 year old range/oven, which sorta has priority.....
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Re: Camera Purchase Question - Nikon dSLR

Postby Marc_C » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:38 pm

EMSC wrote:And, the final choice was......????

I was able to find a manufacturer refurbished D5200 kit at Adorama for $670 - it was delivered two days ago. I also bought an Adorama VIP Club membership for an additional $8. One of the benefits is that adds an additional year of warranty on top of the manufacturer's warranty (which in Nikon's case for refurbed items is 90 days); they also send periodic email offers, so I also have 20 gig of cloud storage on Pogoplug for free.
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