Upgrade to D90? Or just better lenses?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by JuiceyJuice, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. JuiceyJuice macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2010
    Philadelphia, PA
    I've told my story here a few times for different reasons, but here goes again. I recently got into photography last year, when I purchased a D3000 with 18-55mm kit lens, along with 55-200mm nikon lens. I also just recently purchased the 35mm 1.8. And sooner than later I will be getting a Tokina 12-24mm. I do wish I had more time for photography, but I do love the time I have to indulge in it.

    What I need to know is, would it be worth it to upgrade to a D90 (I know it is a superior machine) seeing as I only started about 7-8 months ago. Or would it be better to just use that money and add more lenses to the collection. Which would be better for the money in order to increase the quality of the photos so that they are print-worthy?

  2. Nordichund macrumors 6502

    Aug 21, 2007
    Oslo, Norway
    Remember it's the photographer who takes the pictures and not the camera.

    I own the D90 and I love it. However rumor has it that it will be upgraded in a few months. If I were in your situation I would wait to see what happens. If a new camera comes out then the price for the D90 will fall dramatically. I remember when the D90 first came out, prices for the D80 literally halved.
    There are a lot of bells and whistles on the D90, but most are features I rarely use. Though there are some which when used properly really help to take a good photograph.

    Saying that I know that buying better glass for my camera has helped me improve my photography. Speaking for myself I know that investing in quality glass is wise move. If used properly as many have said on here, it will last far longer than many modern camera houses.

    Good luck in whatever decision you decide upon.
  3. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    I'm not a big believer in upgrading camera bodies past the capabilities you need. Do you need more AF points? Do you need to use AF-D lenses? Those would both be good reasons to upgrade a body, *but* a DSLR body generally has a 3-5 year lifespan. A lens generally has a 10-15 year lifespan, so in pure value terms, a body needs to cost 1/3 to 1/5 the cost of a lens to be "worth" it- and it needs to not make the lenses you have look worse (a good caveat with the D2x, D300 and D3x.)

    Another option is lighting. Photography is about light, if you control the light you control the image- therefore you may want to look more at lights- http://strobist.blogspot.com is a great site for looking at what you can do with a portable lighting kit, a few modifiers, and triggers.

    Finally, a lot depends on what you want to shoot- a new lens in a focal length that doesn't work for you won't do you much good-- are you missing a macro? Something long?

  4. schataut macrumors member

    Jan 13, 2010
    Definitely get a better glass. I am still using my D70s and recently got a Nikon 24-70/2.8 - glass make a huge difference. I also bought the Tokina 12-24 and absolutely love it.

    Agree with Paul - Photography is alll about lights. To prove this theory check out this photo shoot using iPhone 3GS: http://fstoppers.com/iphone/
  5. Eaton Photos macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2010

    You have received some great pointers', from the fellow members here.

    The images you capture, are based upon your skill & what your eye sees. Cameras' are just an extension of your eye, and capture that moment in time.

    Regarding the Buying/ Upgrading path, my 2¢, is to go the used route, if your upgrading. You'll save some $$$, and be buying gear from photographers, that keep climbing the gear ladder. Almost all my gear is used, but not abused, and it captures some great images for me.

    A Used D80, will run you about $350. A Used D90 will run about $600 +/- some $$$. Glass is where the money is at though. Good Glass will last you a long long time. And has been pointed out, Lighting is important too.

    Check out the FM B&S Board: http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/board/10

    The link is filtered to all Nikon. You can change the parameters to whatever your looking for.

    Good Luck.
  6. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    IIRC the D3000 shares the same sensor as the D80- therefore if you're not getting print-worthy pictures with the D3000, you're not going to get them with the D80. Its improvements only lie in usability features (i.e. more hardware buttons, etc) and some better lens compatibility. The same can be said of the D90 excepting its better low light capability. The extra 2MP of resolution is not going to be the difference between unprintable and printable images, and frankly nor is the ~1.5 stop improvement in ISO noise.

    Trying to sound curteous but honest the OP, judging from how your post "reads", upgrading to a D90 is not going to help. New glass probably won't help either IMHO. You did not state any specific reasons why a D90 would better your photography, nor did you state any specific reasons why your D3000 is holding you back. If you can't identify or list that kind of reasoning, you very likely shouldn't upgrade anything until you can.

  7. Wacky Jackson macrumors member

    Wacky Jackson

    Feb 6, 2010
    I can't find a site that is selling it for that cheap. The lowest I can find is $678. I am in the market for one and if the price is right, it might be worth it over waiting for the D90 replacement in a couple of months.
  8. epicwelshman macrumors 6502a


    Apr 6, 2006
    Nassau, Bahamas
    I can't resist playing Devil's advocate, briefly.

    While glass is essential, a body can help in certain situations.

    I specialise in wedding photography. For a little while I was using just my D40x (for some early weddings) with some pro-level glass.

    When I got my D90, the ability to add a vertical grip and the top-LCD display allowed me to save time worrying about my camera settings and more time shooting.

    This may not be applicable unless you're in high-stress, fast-paced situations, but if you are, a decent body may make a bit of difference, which shouldn't necessarily be discounted.
  9. thebrain74 macrumors regular

    Feb 25, 2006
    The best I could do was $585 on the forums on a camera site. The usual cost used is say about ~$650. (+/- $25 for general condition/shutter count). they may get cheaper when the replacement probably comes out aug/sept/nov or they may run out of stock (stock seems to be getting low a.k.a a big pretty big price hike on the d90 has occurred recently)

    They can also be had refurbed from either J&R or Adorama for $689 IIRC + you can use bing and get another $20-30 off.

    i was in a similar position to yourself, I have a D90 (+18-55, sigma 50mm Macro, and Sigma 10-29mm). I stepped up the D90 for several reasons (I don't know if any of these reasons are the same as yours, so you can judge). I wanted a bigger body (better grip) and dual control dials, but I didn't want the wait (or expense) of the d300/s. I have an AF-D lens that I would like to autofocus. I also wanted the bigger viewfinder and the extra high ISO capability.

    How many of those things will actually affect my images. Strictly speaking only 1. The higher ISO/low noise capability will help. Sure I may compose better with the bigger viewfinder (assuming I can compose well in the first place) and have more photos in focus with my AF-D, but those are a stretch.

    To get better quality from a lens, you would probably need to step up to (people can feel free to disagree with me here) the 16-85mm and the 70-300. Both of theses are going to run you about $500 ea.

    You need to decide what you think is lacking in your current photo gear. Then look at a D90 and see if it will fix any or all of that.
  10. thebrain74 macrumors regular

    Feb 25, 2006

    that 70-200 f/2.8 must have looked ridiculous on the poor little D40
  11. Amasashi macrumors member

    May 17, 2010
    If you're serious about photography, I think some point along the line you'll want a prosumer camera like the D90.

    That said, be careful not to fall into the all too common trap of gear-lust that beginning photographers are prone too. It's the photographer that makes the pictures, not the camera or lens. A lot of the times we would rather blame lackluster images on the equipment than on our own skill.

    So my advice is to wait until the D90's successor comes in Q3/Q4 of this year and then make the upgrade. Lens wise, it looks like you have a good general coverage of the focal length spectrum along with a fast normal prime. That's all you'll need like 95% of the time, unless you have special needs, like fisheye or a fast zoom.

    If you REALLY need to upgrade something, might I suggest swapping the two zooms for a 18-105 or 18-200? Those two lenses are extremely versatile and useful. Pop one on and it'll probably only come off for the 35 f/1.8.

    Also, don't get the Tokina 12-24 as it overlaps with your other lenses. Do you really need the 6 mm range of 12-18? Just go straight to fisheye instead :)
  12. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

    Oct 6, 2008
    The FOV variance 6mm between 12-18 is significantly greater than the 6mm between 94-100, and a zoom would offer greater flexibility than one extreme FL. Lenses can often be weakest at their extremes - maybe the OP really loves 18mm.
  13. epicwelshman macrumors 6502a


    Apr 6, 2006
    Nassau, Bahamas
    It really did, and the balance was wayyy off. It was usable, but not entirely comfortable.

    The pro lenses are much more ergonomically friendly when used on the larger body. I hadn't really anticipated it, but it was a nice surprise!
  14. pna macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2005
    I generally fall in the 'spend money on lenses not bodies' camp as well. That being said, I was somewhat 'forced' into upgrading my D40 to a used D80 a few years ago to be able to use the 50/1.8 that my mom was kind enough to get me for christmas, and that I hadn't done the research to notice wouldn't autofocus on the D40.

    I was actually pretty surprised at how much I appreciated all of the extras on the D80 vs. the D40. In particular, all of the dedicated buttons made it much easier to experiment quickly and on the fly. The use of the 50mm prime made the biggest difference in my pictures, unquestionably, but not having to hunt around in menus to try different settings shortened the feedback loop in terms of my own learning how to achieve different effects I was trying to get to. I have big hands, so the grip was a lot more comfortable as well, and I enjoyed shooting with it a little more.

    The D40, like the D3000 is an extremely capable camera, and I would say is going to give you pretty much the same results as the D80/D90 with the same lenses. Having learned as much as I have by using a D80 for quite some time now, I actually think it would be easier for me to get the same results out of the smaller bodied cameras, as all I'd need to learn is where the settings reside in the menu to get the effect I'm used to using dedicated buttons for. But it was much easier to learn with all of that right at my fingertips.

    The only thing that bothers me about the D3000 is the rather long delay between taking a shot and it appearing on the view screen. That would drive me crazy if it couldn't be mitigated.

    I just bit the bullet and upgraded to a used D90 being sold locally here on craigslist. $570 with a 4Gb card and the remote shutter release. I'm hoping to sell my D80 for around $375. For me, the question came down to, 'would I pay $200 to make my D80 have a bigger, nicer LCD, more consistent matrix metering, and better low light performance? Those are all things that actually felt like they'd help me get shots that I'd missed, or make my photography tangibly better. They were my only complaints with the D80. It's hard to imagine them building in more features to the new release that I think could actually help my photography in the same manner as the D80->D90 upgrade, and certainly not in terms of bang for the buck. So I can imagine staying with the D90 for a very long time and only spending money on lenses if anything. It's a mature platform, in my estimation.

    What's to take from all of this rambling? Probably not much, except to say that I think the D90 is a pretty sweet spot both from a learning and using perspective, and if you were to keep your eye out locally to pick one up used on the cheap, it would be a solid upgrade for you that would last you for a long time. I wouldn't feel badly in this case spending a few hundred dollars in this case to upgrade to a used D90 body vs. spending the money on lenses.
  15. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    There's no doubt it's versatile, but the 18-200 is not actually any better optically than the kit combo 18-55 and 55-200. In fact some think its worse overall (factor in things like distortion). It would not really be an "upgrade" in the sense that the lens would give better results, it would merely be more convenient to use. I think the OP is looking for better image quality and on those grounds I would not recommend "upgrading" from the stuff he has now to an 18-200. I say this as an owner and user of the 18-200 btw.

  16. Amasashi macrumors member

    May 17, 2010
    I agree.

    I already mentioned that the OP's current gear has a good coverage of the general focal length spectrum and that I advise against spending money on more gear.

    But, if he really wants to upgrade, I would wait for the D90's successor.

    And if he can't wait that long and is itching to buy something NOW (we've all been there), then I could combine the two lens and get the 18-200 for the convenience.

    Ruahrc, as a current owner of the 18-200, how do you feel it holds up to the 18-105 and 16-85?
  17. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    I can't really say because I have never shot either of those two lenses. From what I hear the 16-85 is superior optically at pretty much all focal lengths though. Don't know anything about the 18-105.
  18. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Monterey CA
    There is something to be said about convenient. I have the 18-55 and the 55-200, cheaper and supposedly better than the 18-200. I got this when the big zoom was scarce and expensive, but doing it now...I would go for the all-in-one.

    I personally hate to change lenses, or carry extra ones around. I wonder if anyone could really see the difference between these lenses. Perhaps it is better to fill the frame with a non-perfect lens than to have to crop the photo taken on a better one.
  19. mdatwood macrumors 6502a

    Mar 14, 2010
    Denver, CO
    I'm going to agree with everyone else and say unless you can point to specific features you need in a new body then don't buy one.

    I have been shooting my D60 for about a year. I bought it with the understanding that it would be the only camera I would use until I could explain why it wasn't enough. Since I mostly shoot static landscape type stuff the auto-focus is way down my list on things I want (I have that great inexpensive 50mm mentioned above). More focus points would be nice, but still not enough to make me buy a new body. What I really miss after shooting for awhile is AEB. AEB will probably end up being the feature that eventually pushes me up to a new body. Before any of that though a nice tripod is only my list :)

    Also, don't forget the pluses of having the least inexpensive body to get the job done. I do a lot of hiking and I never worry about the body getting damaged (I baby the lenses, but since I'm hiking and weight is an issue I usually only bring one and it's a cheaper one). When traveling to other countries I never stress over having my camera stolen. Of course it would suck, but it's not like having a D3 or something lifted (not even sure I could fit a big body camera in the tiny safes at the places I tend to stay hehe). Finally is weight. My friend has a D3 and it's an amazing piece of machinery, but I could not imagine carrying that thing around. He went a bought a D40 as his everyday camera and only uses the D3 when he's studio shooting now.

    The grass isn't always greener on the other side. Be careful not to fall into the equipment trap when what you should be doing is getting out and creating.

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