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Advice re Nikon DSLR please


IOWAndy 10 19 United Kingdom
17 Oct 2013 3:02PM
I've been a Nikon geek for some years now, originally with a Nikon F55 which I upgraded to a D50 (6 mp) some time back. I used the Nikon 300mm AS telephoto fron the Film camera on the D50 guite successfully - the automatic focusing etc worked fine and the local camera shop told me that the D50 turned the 300mm lens into a 450mm which as I take a lot of pictures of birds / wildlife I thought was an advantage.

Coming up to retirement I thought a replacement camera was in order however things have moved along since I first went digital and although I want to remain with Nikon as to replace the camera / lenses and flash would be beyond my means. I've been looking at the D3100 &/or D3200 which the only difference between them as far as I can see is 14 mp vs the 24mp however the lenses now have vibration reduction and I've read somewhere that if I clag the AS lens on I won't have the auto facility anymore and further more reading I think indicates that I losing too much definition using with the 300mm AS lens on digital format.

I've been looking at a bundle of the Nikon D3100 (although they do a D3200 bundle) with a Nikon 18 - 55mm AF VR lens together with a Tamron Tamron 70-300mm F4/5.6 DI LD Macro lens which doesn't have VR.

So is the Tamron lens a good buy or do I shell out for a Nikon 55 - 300mm with VR? and, Given that I am losing some definition with the AS 300mm I'm using at present ... would a proper Digital lens make a lot of difference??? Will the extra mp make up for losing 150mm focal length as I do find that AS 300mm is too short or is that just the lack of definition due to me losing stops?

Grateful for any insight as I do enjoy the hobby.

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Gundog 7 629 Scotland
17 Oct 2013 3:37PM
The loss of AF with the older lens is because the D3000 series (and the D5000 series) do not have autofocus motors in the camera bodies - so you can only get AF when using the more modern Nikkor lenses with motors in the lenses.

Regarding resolution, really only you can judge what meets your needs and expectations. Some older Nikkor lenses are superb - I use an old 600mm f/4 AI-S lens for bird photography with my Nikon dSLR camera. I am happy to put up with the lack of AF in order to get the superb optical quality of that lens (and can't afford the 6000 for a modern version!!)

One lens that would complement the kit lens you are considering is the Nikkor 70-300mm AF-S f/4.5-5.6 VR which is relatively inexpensive and will AF on your camera.
ChrisV 13 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
17 Oct 2013 3:51PM
I'm not sure about the lens specifics in terms of quality. I do know the 3100/3200 lack the focus motor/screw to drive your old lens as you've been advised.

The good news is that you're still looking at a 1.5x focus multiplier on any lens because the sensor format [APSc] is the same as on your D50 and lenses are still quoted for the 35mm format equivalent range [whether their designed for that sensor size or not]. Add to that it you choose the 3200 you're getting four times the resolution [24mp vs 6mp] which in broad terms means you could use that as a digital zoom. That is that if you took a 6mp crop from the centre of the sensor and blew that up to the same size print as your 6mp D50, you've got that much more reach with the lens.

There are of course some down sides to this. Lenses need to be sharper in order to resolve that much detail. So many pixels at long focal lenghths will also magnify any camera shake that may be present, so VR definitely would help.

I don't know anything about the old lens you refer to, but if it's single length prime it's also possible it will perform better than any zoom that goes up to its range. If it has a large maximum aperture and is fairly sharp at that setting, you may find yourself disappointed by a zoom at its maximum range. For that reason you might want to consider going up Nikon's range to the D7000 if budget allows. It is only [only!] 16mp, but it is still a much better camera in terms of build and ergonomics than its lower stablemates and now it's been superceded by the 7100 can be had for as little as 450 body only. Worth thinking about IMO.
steevo46 7 3 Australia
27 Oct 2013 8:47PM
I like ChrisV's idea, if on a tight budget, get the (price reduced) D7000 (or for more money the D7100).
Like many others, it may be the last camera body you'll need to buy. They are that good now.

I don't understand this sentence:
"Given that I am losing some definition with the AS 300mm I'm using at present ... would a proper Digital lens make a lot of difference??? Will the extra mp make up for losing 150mm focal length as I do find that AS 300mm is too short or is that just the lack of definition due to me losing stops?"

With the 'AS' do you mean 'AF'?
How do you lose 150mm?
How do you lose stops? f5.6 is f5.6 on all lenses - unless you use a teleconverter.
300mm prime = 300mm (on the 70-300mm) = 300mm (on the 55-300mm) at 300mm on the same camera body.
What you see in the viewfinder should be the same for all at 300mm.

I don't think Nikon ever made a soft 300mm prime?? Any softness is possibly when used 'wide open' at f2.8 (mine is) or due to camera shake/slow shutter speeds.
The D7000 has the inbuilt motor you need to drive the 300mm lens and the D7000 also has the 'fine tune auto-focus adjustment' feature so that your 300mm prime focuses perfectly. If you are still not happy with the 300 prime! then the Nikkor 70-300mm AF-S f/4.5-5.6 VR as mentioned above is great (the cheaper 55-300mm is soft at 300mm).
LenShepherd 12 4.1k United Kingdom
28 Oct 2013 7:57AM
If you can afford it go for either a Nikon D7000 at around 580 less Nikon 70 cash back (on an official import until the New Year), or the even better Nikon D7100 at around 830 less 100 cash back.
As this may well be your last camera get the best you can afford. A new official import D7000 at around 510 or a D7100 at around 730 after cash back was undreamed of a few weeks ago.
When buying most new camera equipment you can get a good idea of the current market place price at www.camerapricebuster.co.uk
If buying from Amazon make sure you are buying direct from Amazon and not an Amazon reseller to be certain of a UK valid Nikon warranty on a body and a cash back from Nikon UK.
As you imply your lens is an AF version I speculate it is 300 f4 AF which camera shops seem to have correctly pointed out needs cameras more advanced than the 3000 or 5000 series for autofocus. Although the AF-s version is slightly better with faster AF it does not have VR and costs around 1,000 new which may be well outside your budget.
The 70-300 VR zoom has been mentioned which, although very good for the money, is not as good at 300mm as either 300 f4 prime which have the further advantage of being f4 rather than f5.6.

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