New Camera or New Lens?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by NathanCH, Mar 13, 2010.

  1. NathanCH macrumors 65816

    NathanCH

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2007
    Location:
    Stockholm, Sweden
    #1
    Hey,

    I've had a Nikon D40 for about two and half years. I have two lenses, the kit lens (18 - 55mm F3.5 AF-S) and a telephoto lens (55 - 200mm F4 AF-S). I really want to upgrade! Thankfully, I just did my taxes and I get some money back from income taxes. So I have two roads to go down:

    - Upgrade the D40 to a D90.
    - Keep the D40 and invest in some good lenses.

    I see upsides and downsides to both options. Ideally, I would get both (and I will upgrade both eventually) but I don't think I want to do that at the same time.

    D90 ($899):
    + Better Light Sensitivity.
    + 12 MP rather than 6 MP.
    + Better auto focus (the D40 is unbearably terrible!)
    - I still have bad kit lenses.

    New Lens ($500~):
    + Sharper Images
    + Possibly Better Low-light shots (with better Fstop)
    - I still have a D40

    The lens I've been looking at most is the Nikkor 50mm F1.4G ($569) but I'm open to any suggestions under $700 (I'm open to any Lens by any manufacturer, not just Nikkor). Any tips would be useful. Thanks in advanced! :)
     
  2. Gold89 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #2
    The usual rule is glass before camera.

    What do you want to shoot? What limitations are you finding with your lenses? Low light? Wider? Longer? Etc.

    Many people find a 50mm prime is a great lens to improve your photography. :)
     
  3. 88888888 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 28, 2008
    #3
    I say wait on the d90. Don't upgrade now. New one should be upgraded soon.

    I say forget the 50 f/1.4. Get the 50 f/1.8 when you upgrade to newer body.
    Depends.
    what you like to shoot.

    I say get the nikon 35mm af-s f/1.8 for 200. and tamron 17-50mm vc for around 600.
    Sell your 18-55mm af-s kit for like 50.
     
  4. macbrooke macrumors regular

    macbrooke

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario!
    #4
    I own and primarily use a 50mm 1.4 I used to have the 1.8.

    The 1.4 is a better lens.. I would get it if you can afford it..
    I sold my 1.8 once I got the 1.4 I routinely use the extra stop.

    I don't know enough about your camera to say really.. You have to buy the lenses that have the built in focus motor correct?

    I also want to add, I have the 35mm 1.8 and it's an ok lens.. I was dismayed at the all plastic construction however, I don't use it much as I worry about its durability.. (maybe stupid but compared to my all metal 85mm 1.8 from 94 it feels so fragile, heck even my 50mm 1.4 has a metal mount)
     
  5. Gold89 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #5
    Thinking about it this makes sense although it's probably worth just keeping the kit lens as a backup :)
     
  6. Rondue macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2008
    Location:
    PA
    #6
    I had my heart set up on a 50mm 1.4 for the longest, along with a D90 but in the end I went D300s and 35mm 1.8G and I love it use it daily.

    I would say get a decent lens and hold out on a camera body for now. D90x is due out within the next year id imagine
     
  7. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    #7
    +1

    I looked at your flickr page and you have some nice captures. Maybe you should review your work and ask yourself "if only I had an ____ lens or ____ camera I could have really nailed this capture."

    I remember how I really wanted a D300 when they came out, but when I realized that I don't shoot anything that requires a 51 point AF system so why spend the money? Been happy with my (refurb) D90 ever since.

    I think after you figure out what your deficiencies are, this decision will be ten times easier. If it ends up as a new lens - think about what focal lengths you shoot at the most (then at least you'll know which of your lenses you should sell). If it's a camera, what features do you need that the D40 doesn't have (chances are quite a few).

    Just my two loonie-cents.
     
  8. NathanCH thread starter macrumors 65816

    NathanCH

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2007
    Location:
    Stockholm, Sweden
    #8
    At this point, I don't shoot anything specific. I'd like a general, multipurpose lens. I don't find too many limitations with my current lenses except they don't perform well in low (or even average) light situations. But I suspect it's a combination of the lens and the camera.

    I've read that about the 50mm too. It's not only a good all around lens, but forces you to be creative with photography rather than relying on zoom! :)

    I'm glad you mentioned that about the D90. I haven't heard anything, but I've noticed Nikon has been updating their line up. Also it's been almost 2 years since the D90 was updated.

    I'd personally like to save the money and just go for the F1.8, but I'd only be able to use manual focus until I get a new body. It's not a big deal though.

    Thanks for your suggestion on the 35mm and the Tamron 17-50mm. I'll check them out.

    Yeah that's correct. :(

    Did you find the difference between the 1.4 and 1.8 significant enough to spend the extra few hundred?

    I hope you're right about the D90x. If I go with a 50mm 1.8 or 1.4D or 35mm 1.8 I would be without auto focus until I get the D90.

    As soon as the new D90 is announced I'll pick it up on day one. The main reason I've been holding off on the D90 is this reason alone.

    Thanks for your reply!

    I feel my limitations are equally the camera and the lenses I'm using. They're certainly not significant enough for me that I can't take photos though. I love my D40, it has got my a far and I've had a lot of fun with it.

    Mainly I find that shooting indoors is someone difficult without using my flash or a really slow shutter speed. Sure, I can put it on ISO 800 but we all know how that looks on the D40 :p

    Next I'd say its the autofocus. I certainly don't need 51 point AF like the D300, but the D40's is just not working for me. If I have time, I just put it on manual focus because I can't handle the frustration.

    Other additional benefits I see in the D90 would be more Megapixels (I'm not a huge megapixel junkie or anything, but I'd like the extra pixels for cropping.), exposure bracketing, and built-in sensor cleaning. Live view and video would be nice, although I don't think I'd use them much.
     
  9. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #9
    Going from f/1.4 to f/1.8 is not a full stop, it's 2/3rds of a stop. That's a 33% difference in the amount of light from a full stop. To get a full stop, you'd need to be at f/1.2.
     
  10. macbrooke macrumors regular

    macbrooke

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario!
    #10
    Fine, point taken.. I can assure you there is a difference regardless.


    Your correct that getting used to using a 50mm makes you stop and think a lot more. I personally prefer the Bokeh I get from the 1.4.. your mileage may vary, as another poster here pointed out its not that huge of a difference.. I'm not a technical person per say.. I just know what I see with my eyes, and yes there is a definite difference. The 35mm 1.8 has a focus motor built in, it will work with your camera, but the construction of the lens is all plastic!
     
  11. smiddlehurst macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2007
    #11
    I've been in exactly this situation very recently - D40 with the kit lens and the basic 55-200 VR lens - and managed to find the funds to upgrade to a D90. That said I'd think VERY carefully about what you use the camera for before investing in a new body. Gotta say, I love my D40 and it'll be sticking around as my back-up camera, hopefully for a long time to come, but the D90 offered three things I really wanted:

    1) Beter image quality, especially in shots with deep shadows and bright skies. My D40 never seemed to get the exposure right and I was constantly having to fiddle.

    2) Better auto-focus. While I could happily live with the D40 the step up to the D90 was a big jump.

    3) Far, far better handling.

    It's the last one that got me to shift. Having two dials - one on the front of the grip, one at the back - is a massive benefit to me as I'm still very much learning some of the basics (only been using D-SLR's for 2 years) and it lets me adjust shutter speed and f-stop on my very old, very cheap and very works-only-in-manual-mode 50mm without having to take my eye from the viewfinder. Oh there's a lot more small benefits too (the faster burst speed in particular, and the wider range of fully-compatible lenses being chief amongst them) but those were the ones that I really wanted. If you're happy with your current lenses then feel free to make the switch IF there's something on the D90 that you genuinely feel will let you get shots you can't with the D40 or at the very least make your life considerably easier.

    As for the D90x.... yes, it's certainly due but I'd be a little bit cautious about waiting. I've got nothing to back this up but I personally feel Nikon will bump the price up. The gap at the momet between the D90 and D300 is a LOT of money and while there are obvious benefits (the improved construction and auto-focus being obvious candidates) it doesn't feel like enough to justify that gap. Looking the other way the gap between the D5000 and D90 is pretty substantal and seems like too much for the extra £150 or so. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the D90x ended up somwhere around the £700 - £800 pound mark instead of the £600 to £650 of the D90. Or I could be totally wrong and the D90x will sweep all before it at the same price as the D90 :D
     
  12. SOLLERBOY macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    I have a D40 but upgraded it to the D90 after I really knew what I was doing. I bought the 50 1.4g before going to New York and shot exclusively with that. You will not be disappointed by the quality of the lens and the creative freedom it will give you. The d40, 50 combo will produce smooth pastel tones.
     
  13. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #14
    Another thing to consider is what you do with your photos. Do you ever print? If so, what size(s)? If you don't print a lot, and only post up Flickr galleries, what good is more MP in your camera.

    P.S. the 35mm f1.8 might be a good alternative. You might find that the 50mm is a bit long on the DX body for general use, and really only better suited for portraits instead. And IIRC the build quality between the 35 and 50 AFS are very similar. The 50 is made of plastic too. Note that this is not necessarily a bad thing- plastic is substantially lighter than metal.

    Ruahrc
     
  14. NathanCH thread starter macrumors 65816

    NathanCH

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2007
    Location:
    Stockholm, Sweden
    #15
    Okay guys, thanks for all your input and suggestions on lenses. I've decided I will not buy the D90 this year. You guys made that choice very simple! I will most likely wait until a new D90 is released, or a camera in the price range.

    I took all your suggestions on lenses and read reviews on DPreview and various other sites for:

    • Nikkor 50mm F1.4D ($369)
    • Nikkor 50mm F1.4G ($569)
    • Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM ($619)
    • Nikkor 35mm F1.8 ($149)
    • Tamron 17-50mm ($???)

    I started with the Tamrom because I haven't read much about it in the past. It seems like a good lens but it wasn't available at Broadway Camera here in Vancouver. So I decided I'll look into it for a future purchase.

    Next I eliminated the Nikkor F1.4D ($369) because the auto focus will not work on my D40. Is auto focus worth an extra $200? It's hard to say because I've never tried to live without it for a significant period of time. Perhaps I'll try next time I go out.

    I decided not to go with the 35mm because of the build quality and based on the reviews I read, it's fairly soft. Although, at just $150 it's hard to toss up.

    I'm really torn between the Nikkor and Sigma 50mm F1.4. The Sigma is $50 more than the Nikkor, and the reviews say it's a better lens and performs slightly better in most categories tested on DPreview. Would those slight advantages be worth $50?
     
  15. Nostromo macrumors 65816

    Nostromo

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Location:
    Deep Space
    #16
    The most important thing to post for such questions is: what do you shoot?

    Without this information I can't give you any advice.

    Of course it's important not to sink too much money into a body.

    Equally important it is to have a good body, and you could probably get along with less, but good lenses.

    So: what are your needs? Does the Nikon D40 deliver the quality you need?

    Another point would be: do you have all the software you need? Do you own Photoshop? What RAW processor are you using?
     
  16. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #17
    IMO it will be difficult to get by using an AFD lens on the D40, especially a wide aperture one with narrow DOF. The viewfinder on the D40 is pretty substandard, and you will be hard pressed to get accurate focusing results shooting wide open.

    Have you ever held the 35mm? The build quality is not bad, and I'm guessing on par with the 50mm f1.4G. There are IMO some legitimate concerns about the image quality but for the price it is regarded as an excellent lens. Shot wide open it is probably no softer than the 50mm 1.4G is. My concerns regarding its IQ were more along the lines of distortion and CA. I was able to play with it at my local Best Buy, maybe if there is one nearby you can see it for yourself. BTW, where are you seeing it for $150? The standard price (here in the US, at least) is $200 and I have never seen it offered at anything different. Are the prices in Canada really that much less?

    Nostromo has it right though. What do you shoot? 50mm is pretty long on a DX body, particularly for a general use prime lens. People can talk about "zooming with your feet" and whatnot all they want but in reality 50mm is borderline telephoto on DX, and works better as a portrait lens than a general walkaround. My cousin bought the 50mm 1.8 for his DX body and ended up not using it because of its length. He picked up the 35mm later on. Are many of your best/favorite photos taken at 50mm? Next time you go out and shoot, try taping your 18-55 at 55 and shooting just that focal length- see how you fare.
     
  17. NathanCH thread starter macrumors 65816

    NathanCH

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2007
    Location:
    Stockholm, Sweden
    #18
    I'm tending to agree with what you are saying. And yes, I made a big mistake about the price. When I was writing that I was thinking of the 50mm 1.8D. Prices are hideously more expensive in Canada. The correct price for the 35mm 1.8 in Canada is $389. My bad :)

    I'm going to take you up on the offer. I'll stick my focal length (albeit, without the tape) at 50 and consciously note the difference.

    Looking through my photos I find that I'm all over the place. I have lots of shots at 18mm, lots at 55mm and a lot in-between. I've been looking at the 50mm not so much because I have taken lots of portraits, but because I want to start taking more.

    I had my credit card out to get the 50mm, but now you've got me thinking. :p
     
  18. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    #19
    I hate to sound snarky, but it's kind of ironic that after deciding to go for glass over a new body, you're still more limited in your lens choices since you don't have a screw-drive body.
     
  19. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #20
    A lens lasts 10-15 years- look at the images from both and ask yourself if it's worth $5/year for the difference.

    Paul
     
  20. blockburner28 macrumors 6502

    blockburner28

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2009
    Location:
    New Orleans
    #21
    I was about to get a D40 @ one point from walmart clearance for around $450, but overall I say go with the D90 :D
     
  21. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #22
    Wow $389! Although from a quick 2 minute google search it does come up at substantially lower prices at some online canadian retailers ($279).

    I do think you're making the right choice though in picking a new lens vs. a new body. I'm kind of in the same boat where my D80 is almost 2 generations behind now but it is okay for now and I really need to invest in some better glass before a body upgrade (which I will take to FF) is practical.

    Ruahrc
     
  22. NathanCH thread starter macrumors 65816

    NathanCH

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2007
    Location:
    Stockholm, Sweden
    #23
    I guess that's ironic somewhat. But I don't have much choice! I can't really afford both right now. :(

    I've done some more research and it doesn't really seem worth it, even at $5 a year. Apparently the Bokeh is better, but it's also heavier and the apparent better sharpness is not visible.

    Yeah

    I found it for $269 on PhotoPrice.ca which VitrualRain recommended to me for importing into Canada. Much better price than from the store I usually shop at.

    Let me tell you, you've certainly put a stick in my spokes because I cannot decide which lens to buy now! :p I've spent the last 4 hours reading everything about the two lenses. I've read reviews, peoples opinions, viewed samples etc etc. It's clear than neither is better, and it really depends on the situation I'm shooting in.

    Over the next few days I'm going to be very aware how both 50mm and 35mm would look for the situations I'm in.:rolleyes:

    And thanks again for your replies everyone. It's been immensely useful.
     
  23. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #24
    I'd always pick better Bokeh- you can't PS that in later with good results.

    Furthermore, to me heavier is better- it negates mirror slap and camera movement. Unless you're particularly slight, the difference between two lenses of the same aperture/FL isn't going to make or break a trip.

    Paul
     
  24. macbrooke macrumors regular

    macbrooke

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario!
    #25
    Hi! I see your in Vancouver, but here in Montreal I am able to buy the 35mm 1.8 for 259.00 at Royal Photo, I want to clarify.. yes the body of the lens is plastic much like the 50mm 1.4 but the mount on the 35mm is indeed plastic.. the mount on my 1.4 is metal!

    Fwiw I use the 50mm as an all purpose lens because I really enjoy the Bokeh. I have the 35 and just do not use it that much... it really does come down to preference

    Is this really so Paul? so if I find a great deal on an older lens (say 1994 ) it's past its time and not worth buying? I was not aware that lenses had an "expiry" of sorts.
     

Share This Page