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Author Topic: Advice, please, about a learner's Nikon DSLR  (Read 8477 times)
ehackett
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« on: June 12, 2013, 11:42:13 PM »
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Our daughter, a college senior, will be spending a semester studying abroad in Townsville, Australia.  She's a scientist and has a good eye and steady hand for photography, and will be taking her first formal college photography course.  Which Nikon DSLR camera (with interchangeable lens) should I send her with?  Thirty years ago the answer was pretty simple--the FE or FE2.  I have a D300 and am considering sending that with her, but the new 3200s etc. look quite capable and probably have better sensors and hipper abilities (movies, say) than the stodgy, solid, well-sealed D300.

Anyone have a personal recommendation based on experience choosing or using a Nikon to learn photography?

Thanks and best wishes,

Ed
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2013, 03:42:16 AM »
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I am no Nikon expert, however, looking at your daughter's credentials and the course she is taking I would suggest that any Nikon that has depth of field preview would be appropriate.
Unfortunately nearly all entry-level cameras these days do not have depth of field preview, which, in my opinion anyway is both essential functionality and also a wonderful learning tool.

BTW your daughter will have an absolute blast in Townsville and the photographic opportunities there are absolutely legion.
Hopefully she will come back with lots of wonderful stories - and the pics to back them up!

Tony Jay
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2013, 10:14:00 AM »
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Send her with the D300.  Compatible with accessories, takes both abuse and good pictures.  I had two of them.
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ehackett
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« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2013, 03:52:03 PM »
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Thanks for the advice.  After seeing the RRS bracket on the bottom of my D300 I started leaning toward buying her a 3200 (it's newer, lighter, big sensor, movies, and would be bnib), but you guys make two good points:  I had just assumed there'd be a DOF preview (b/c every SLR I've owned over 30+ years has had one) and I had not fully considered durability and weather seals.  Mull, mull...

Anyone out there learning on a Nikon DSLR with advice to offer?

Thanks and best wishes,

Ed
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Rayson
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« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2013, 01:01:37 PM »
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Anyone out there learning on a Nikon DSLR with advice to offer?

Thanks and best wishes,

Ed

I own the D5100 and I really like it. In terms of image quality, as the D5100 has the same image sensor as the D7000, the IQ is excellent. The tilt and swivel screen can be useful from time to time (I've only used the LCD liveview mode for a few times), *yet* the important thing is that you can take pictures while the LCD screen is closed, thus you can use the D5100 as if it is a film camera (ie. no image review - BTW, you can disable image preview in other cameras too).

Rayson

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wolfnowl
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« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2013, 02:22:13 PM »
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Send her with the FE and one fixed-focal length lens and see what she learns to do with it!  Okay, I also echo Tony's comment about DOF preview on a digital camera.  My point is that learning photography should be about learning what the various aspects of a photograph - DOF, focus, lighting/ overexposure/ underexposure, composition and on and on are all about, not learning what the camera can do automatically for you.  Those things have their place, and someone who has mastered a manual camera can incorporate automatic settings much better than the reverse.  Learning how to drive a car with a stickshift will also teach you how to drive a car with an automatic transmission, although your left foot will keep searching for the clutch pedal.  So, a camera that at least as an M setting for lighting, a lens that can switch from manual to autofocus, DOF preview, things like that make you stretch your creative wings.  You'll also want to send her out with a camera that fits HER hand, one that has controls/menus in places that are intuitive to HER way of thinking, not just one you think she'd like.

Mike.
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PeterAit
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« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2013, 03:12:31 PM »
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I can't recommend a specific model, but I think a DX-sensor camera with a decent kit zoom lens would be good. Let her be free of the worry of changing lenses, and encourage her to learn the art of photography and not get bogged down in pixel counts, sensor size, and all the other technical balderdash (which has its place, but not when first learning). I gave my daughter, just out of college, my Nikon D70 with the original kit lens when I moved to a full-format camera, and she has had a blast with it. I am pleased to see her developing a "good eye," and it was refreshing to hear her response when I encouraged her to take RAWs and use the Nikon software to work with them. "Why would I bother with that, sounds boring. My photos look fine."
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Peter
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ehackett
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« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2013, 06:18:33 AM »
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Thanks to all for the great advice about this decision.  I finally decided to send her with the D300, the modestly priced zoom (55-200), and a 50mm (not sure yet if the 1.8 or 1.4).  This will give her some flexibility and some good glass.  I may also send an old Sigma 28mm, though at an effective 42mm it would probably add little.

My reasoning was that the less expensive DSLRs did not have the simplicity of, say, my old FE (nor do the new ones offer the DOF preview of the FE).

Best wishes,

Ed
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