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Please help me get off this infernal roundabout

WhippetWoman Avatar
8 Apr 2020 9:31PM
Hi everyone,

I think I want to upgrade - but do I though...

I am an amateur - there's sadly no doubt about that even though I've been bumbling around with cameras for a decade. The problem is I love taking pictures - I love the activity of going out and finding things to take pictures of. What I don't love so much is what comes after that, so I tend to commit less to producing finished pictures than I do to taking them. I am too self-critical and find it really hard to work with that part of myself to go from what's in the camera to producing finished images that I am happy with - even when there is no processing to do...

I am also conflicted in that I love kit (toys) but I am not very interested in the technical specs, nor am I interested in how things work necessarily. I fanny about with lightroom and photoshop but I neither know nor care very much how it all works. However because I struggle to get on with learning the technicalities, it does of course limit my skills. So I have been trying lately to watch a few more tutorials and would like to step up my skills and I wonder if now is also the time to consider a kit upgrade. I do actually also really need a new camera though. I have an old D90 which I still use and sometimes like and I have a very tired D5200 which is becoming glitchy. I am interested to know what tech improvements have happened in the last ten years or so and whether something newer might help me to produce better images.

I've been putting off upgrading because I have become stuck - FOR YEARS - regarding the whole DX/Full frame issue.

I get that my images may look better with a full-frame but would they though?? Will my lack of technical skill just hold me back so I wont really notice a difference anyway?

I have tried thinking about this from many angles.
-Use of current lenses (I have a decent collection of DX lenses)
-Weight - I have small hands and occasional carpal tunnel so would struggle with a really heavy camera.
-Subjects - What do I want to photograph more of and would that affect my choice? For example I enjoy nighttime photography so need good low light capability and I have lots of issues with noise with my current cameras, especially with star scapes and telescope work. I love taking portraits but I have severe social phobia so I don't get to do that much. I would like to try more detailed nature macro and would like to be able to take photos of wildlife (although this is less do-able as I don't think I can afford decent enough lenses to get the results I would want)

I have several telescopes for different uses and I think eventually I will likely have different cameras for different uses, but for now I can't afford to spend more than about £1000, so one will have to do.

I wish I had been able to narrow it down some but I just can't decide... I've been around the houses from a newer DX to an older FX, swapping from Nikon to Sony or not etc etc... Sometimes I think I want small and portable so I am choosing between a Nikon Z50 so I can use my DX lenses but should I rather get a Sony A7 (or A7ii??) & collect lenses when I can.... Or if I'm going to stick with DX - would it be better overall to get a D7500?

If I really would benefit from going full frame I'm still feeling attached to Nikon so do I get a D750? I would be struggling to afford lenses but at least I can buy manual ones for now. But the D750 is heavier than my D90 so is it too heavy and would I be better to go with an older Sony A7?!


I think mainly I want two things, one I know may just need to learn how to do and the camera may, I accept, make little difference:

1: Really good quality images - great sharpness with a good lens, great colours and as little noise as possible. I rarely shoot beyond ISO3200 at the moment, mainly because I don't know much about how to process noise whilst retaining detail. I want good colour detail and I love the Nikon for the ability to reclaim detail in underexposed areas - something I'm told Canon is not so good at? How do Sony do in comparison to the Nikon? Will I notice this is better in a Sony A7 vs my Nikon DX because of the bigger sensor?

2: Manageable size kit that I can carry around easily, maybe weatherproofed so I can risk taking it out more that I currently do. Something I can do more handheld stuff with and I do shoot low light a lot so image stabilisation would be useful. I note that the D750 does not have this in camera but the Sony A7ii & onwards do. What are the pros and cons of this and do I need it? I use mostly VR lenses at the moment but I expect the tech has moved on in the last 10 years? Also I may need to buy cheap older FX lenses that wont have VR.

I am getting fed up with all the choices. Telescopes were easy - I just bought lots of different types but cameras are too expensive for that!! Any and all opinions are very welcome.

Thanks for your help everyone Smile

Tianshi_angie Avatar
8 Apr 2020 10:08PM
Posting some of your images may help folk to see the 'evidence' as it were. Your own assessment of 'where you are' may be spot on or way out. If you wish you can add photos to this thread bu clicking on the camera icon in the tool bar at the top of the comment box but better would be to post them to your gallery with a tick in the critique box.
Dave_Canon Avatar
Dave_Canon 17 2.2k United Kingdom
8 Apr 2020 10:20PM
Why not decide what you want to achieve with your photography which needs to be expressed in terms of outcome not technical specifications or skill levels. Once you are clear on what you want to achieve, you may then set yourself some targets and work to meet them. I am sure some targets may require more knowledge or kit but most may not.

For example, you may wish to produce images for family, social media, a book, exhibitions, competitions, to hang on the wall, to sell, to support another hobby such as nature or sport etc.

altitude50 Avatar
altitude50 19 23.9k United Kingdom
8 Apr 2020 10:24PM
Having read, carefully, I would think that 1) I have a Sony A7, wonderful camera but good lenses are expensive (and heavier than you might think!)
2) As you have Nikon lenses stick with the lenses you have and possibly go for a modern lighter body such as the d3500, for general use take loads of photos (difficult at the moment) then decide about the journey from there.
This is probably a good time to buy a camera.
As far as the astro work, too specialised a subject for me and difficult to give any advice especially considering the budget stated.
Tried to be brief. No doubt others will have a different slant on it.
WhippetWoman Avatar
9 Apr 2020 8:01AM
Thanks for the replies. Working out what I want to achieve is I think what I have been striving for - maybe what I need rather than a new camera is more therapy!

I wish part of me wasn't so bloody picky about details when actually what I enjoy the most are photos with the most 'imperfections'

Will keep at it for now & hopefully an answer will eventually reveal itself...

I am unlikely to post photos here as I struggle enough with my internal critic - maybe when I feel happy with my own work I will feel ready for critique.

I may replace my D5200 with a used D5600 for now, I've got used to the features & don't want to drop down to the 3000 series now. I was wondering about the A7 lens weights so thanks for that info.

Stay safe everyone

Jestertheclown Avatar
Jestertheclown 14 8.8k 255 England
9 Apr 2020 9:01AM
I still use a D90 as my walkabout and despite its age and working within its limitatioms, it still turns in excellent results.
My "proper camera" is a D7200 which is obviously far more capable.
A really good used one would fall well within your budget.
It'ss worth bearing in mind that the D7*** series allow you to use AF lenses as well as the later AF-S ones.
You can't do that with the D5***.
WhippetWoman Avatar
9 Apr 2020 10:34AM
Yes I do still use my D90 and get good results sometimes - I actually really miss the first camera I had which was a D40 - it used to take really nice pics of certain subjects and I stupidly gave it away when I bought the D90 - which is very unlike me normally I can't part with anything!

I had been looking at the D7500 as an alternative to going FX. Would that be a better buy than the Z50 do you think?
Snapper Avatar
Snapper 18 4.5k 3 United States Outlying Islands
9 Apr 2020 12:09PM
My starting point would be your lens collection, and whether they cover all focal lengths you would need. Next thing would be whether they are top spec Nikon lenses, or maybe the next level down, which can still be pretty good, but unlikely to have wide apertures. Next would be to cost replacements for these lenses on either FX or another brand, since you will eventually replace the camera, but can keep the lenses for years.

I went full frame with the Canon 5D several years ago, but got fed up with the weight and changed to Fuji mirrorless with absolutely no regrets. I had convinced myself that I had to have the Canon 17-40 lens as the 24-105 wasn't really wide enough, but checking my favourite shots with the 17-40 revealed they were all taken at 24mm or slightly more, so pretty much a waste of money and something else to lug about with me. I still have fullframe lenses for use with my Nikon film cameras, but again I've restricted them to the 2 or 3 I would actually use, rather than buying them because i "needed" them. Wink.
WhippetWoman Avatar
9 Apr 2020 5:15PM
Oh I'll never be able to afford the lenses I really want! Aside of the two kit lenses (18-55 & 18-105 both f3.5-4.5) I have a Nikon 35mm f1.8 which I really like & use as much as possible, a Tokina 11-16 f2.8 (meh) & had to go cheap for my longer length Nikon 55-300 f4.5 (double meh...)

I do shoot at 18mm but not often less, I love the sharpness of the 35mm but would prob prefer something a touch either side of this, maybe a 24/8 plus a 50.

I would love a prime long lens of f2.8 or more but...

I was thinking if I switch to FX I'll make do with a short wide angle zoom with maybe a prime portrait/macro lens & stick with my DX for the rest?

I'll add used gear as & when I can afford...
WhippetWoman Avatar
9 Apr 2020 5:23PM
Oh and of course I do shoot prime focus through telescopes. I note the Z50 has no intervalometer input - eek. I shoot light - with autoguider & without laptop so this might be a problem with that camera. I don't do much of that these days but still...
lemmy Avatar
lemmy 16 2.9k United Kingdom
9 Apr 2020 8:45PM
Yours is a very common dilemma and one that faffing around changing equipment, learning Photoshop etc is not going to solve. If you cannot get good results from your D90, you won't from anything else. A picture is a picture. The most interesting pictures now seem to be on mobile phones. That's because the people using them are only looking for pictures that please them, not some technical tour de force on the latest gazillion pixel monster . It's picture making for your own pleasure and (hopefully) that of other people by people who don't care about technical matters. Take a look at what David Hockney can do with Polaroids - some of the simplest cameras there are (were) yet he makes wonderful pictures.

I'd suggest really studying every newspaper, magazine and book that you can. Just keep looking at pictures. Keep looking at them. Search your mind to find why you like or don't like a picture. Keep taking pictures of anything and everything you can. It's inspiration you need, not cameras. Don't worry about sharpness and pixel counts, it's a blind alley. If anyone remarks on the sharpness of one of your pictures all it tells you is that your picture is boring Smile

Steely Dan used to remark that there were people who worked instruments and then there were people who played them. It took me years to realise what that really meant. I was hankering after a new, fancy guitar. My guitar teacher got really annoyed with me and pointed out that what I needed was more practise and to listen to more players, not a new guitar. Then I might start to play rather than agonise over the instrument itself. It's just as applicable to photographers! Cameras are such an entertaining blind alley, though Wink
dcash29 Avatar
dcash29 18 2.4k England
9 Apr 2020 10:37PM
Sounds to me if your current camera wasn't broken, you wouldn't be seeking a replacement.
So forget the DX/FX debate, the endless merchandising and forums hype.
Purchase the D7500 and get back to taking pictures.
WhippetWoman Avatar
9 Apr 2020 11:37PM
Thanks, yep I did say that my favourite shots are usually not the ones most technically accomplished but I do have that part of me that is more fussy about dètails. I guess I'd like to try to please that part aswell as the part that just finds joy in the process.

I also play instruments so know exactly what you mean. The best instrument is the one you find yourself always wanting to pick up and play. It took me a while to learn that one too...

And yes I have not bought new kit for years but now too many glitches are making it more of a necessity.

Thanks again.
LenShepherd Avatar
LenShepherd 15 4.7k United Kingdom
21 May 2020 8:19PM
While your D90 is old technology if you cannot get the occasional very good shot with your current equipment - the most common reason is lack of good photo technique - perhaps comparable to a novice trying to get a good tune out of a good piano.

Posting some sample images would give an idea of your current skill level.

The Z50 two lens kit is very good value - if it fits your needs.
It takes your DX lenses but does not have IBIS - which the Z6 and Z7 do.

Some idea of your budget would help - if it is £1200 it will get you the Z50 2 lens kit - but not much by way of an FX body and some FX lenses.
peterjones Avatar
peterjones 21 5.2k 1 United Kingdom
23 May 2020 7:33AM
I wouldn’t feel at all disadvantaged with your existing D90 + 18-105 + 35mm f/1.8 in terms of image quantity one little bit however “old” the technology is; it is a perfect go anywhere lightweight combination.

Good luck with navigating your way around the bewildering myriad of choice.


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