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Help with birthday present (1 Viewer)

Jacinto

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Hello, fine photography forum friends! I'm looking to get my wife a DSLR for her birthday next month, and wanted to get some opinions from you, as my experience is limited. She has no DSLR experience, but is quite familiar with traditional film cameras from many courses back in high school and college, mainly on Nikons. As such, I have been looking primarily at the Nikon D3100 and D5000, and I might be able to stretch as far as the D90's price point. What are the real world pros and cons of these different cameras? I can read spec sheets and see some of the differences, but how do the technical differences translate into real world benefits? Thank you all very much for your time.
 

Sam Posten

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I'd skip right over the D3000 series and go for the 5000. The 3000 feel REALLY cheap to me, specs being ignored. The one thing I really miss on my 5000 is having dual dials for aperture and shutter speed, both the D90 and D7000 have those if you can afford to go to a higher priced model.


A DSLR is a huge commitment compared to a pocket camera. If you are going to make that commitment don't cheap out on it and don't forget that it takes a lot more learning and practice to get the most out of it. I have a long post on that here:


http://www.navesink.net/2009/12/my-advice-to-people-who-ask-me-about.html
 

Jacinto

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Sam,


Thanks for all of the info! I will eliminate the 3100 from my short list. If I can secure a couple more jobs in the next week or so, I will step up to D90 -- if not, I'll go with the 5000. As for the computer end of it, I'm professional designer and illustrator with a loaded Mac Pro and fully calibrated monitor in my study, so I'm sure I'll end up teaching her the basics of color correction, etc.


I know my wife is looking forward to learning a DSLR; years ago, she just got tired of wasting film trying to get great shots of our busy life with kids, so we just switched to a point and shoot for the convenience of digital. In the last year or so, she's gotten frustrated with the picture quality, so I know she's yearning to take good photos again.


Does anybody else have input or recommendations for me? Are there other cameras in the price range of these I should be considering?


Thanks again.
 

Sam Posten

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Not to throw a huge monkey wrench in your plans but the mirrorless cameras might be worth thinking about too. Specifically the Panasonic GH1 and the Sony Nex5 or similar. Personally I am hooked on DSLRs but for most folks thirsting for better than a pocket cam these can provide a nice compromise.

And don't forget the software. Lightroom or similar.
 

Cees Alons

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If your wife is accustomed to a film camera, the D5000 might be the functionally closest quality DSLR. It's a nice little, relatively light camera, with excellent resolution and light-sensitivity.

It has an AUTO position making it function as a P&S camera, and normal P, S, A and M modes to make it mature if the user chooses so.


The D5000 doesn't have many "hard-wired" buttons and switches to set all sort of different functions (you need to go to the menue to do that and then it's not very difficult, although you need to remember the place where to find the different functions), but to some that may be an advantage even. On other cameras, having to remember the different buttons and their effects may be a bit bothersome to some too.


More experienced photographers may prefer to use quick "direct" changes more and more often and will probably prefer a camera like the D90 therefore. However, if you don't need that (or don't want to be distracted by technology that much), the D5000 is an excellent choice. It has a complete video-mode, but that's not its strongest feature.


Very special: the swiveling vari-angle monitor. Can be extremely handy in certain situations!


IMO you should seriously consider this for her. (A few weeks ago, I went "the other way" by adding a D5000 as a backup of sorts to my FX-camera and although I still didn't use it long enough to give you a definite verdict here, I'm already very impressed with this little gem. I'm currently using it mainly with my 50mm 1:1.4G, which is an FX lens and serves as a portrait / 75mm equivalent on this DX camera.)



Cees
 

Cees Alons

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There's word that Nikon will be discontinuing the production of the D5000 soon (or has already ? ). New ones might get rare the coming month. Given the price and the special qualities, you may not want to wait too long if this happens to be your choice for her.



Cees
 

Patrick Sun

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Your wife's hands might have a better fit with the D5000 over the larger D90. But it'd be best if she could actually hold each camera and see which one fits her hands the best, could mean an in-store visit just to check out different models. Amazon still has the D5000 in-stock. I know a few people with the D90, and they like shooting with it as well, though it is a larger camera than they were used to in the past.
 

Bob Graz

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I ordered the Nikon D3100 with the 18-55mm AF VR kit lens and 55-200mm AF VR lens for $759.90 from B&H Photo (deal ends tomorrow and they keep running out of D3100 stock). I wanted a small light weight DSLR for everyday use. The price for the camera and both lens is so low that if I decided down the road that I wanted or needed more camera it's a don't care and I'd still have a carry around camera. Thanks B&H Photo!
 

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