Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nikon DSLR Recommendations (on the cheap)

In this article we will be exploring the wonderful world of Nikon DSLRs. I will be giving recommendations for those of you who are struggling to decide which camera is right for you. What features do you need to make great images?

This is why it's a good idea to leave you kit lens in your bag! 18mm

I started shooting with disposables, then film SLRs, then into the wonderful world of digital with my Canon A570is and now to my current camera a Nikon D3100. I also use a D5000 at work(product photography) for the swiveling screen.

I know what you are thinking... a D3100 isn't that a dumbed down camera? Yes. Yes it is. But you save your hard earned dough by buying Nikon's "dumbed down" camera. Money better spent on glass(lenses). Camera bodies come and go but your lenses will stay with you, as long as you buy some decent glass.

One of the major pros of the D3100 is weight, it weighs 1.1 lb w/battery. Compare that with a D300S at 2.2 lb and you are at half the weight. Pair it with a lightweight prime lens and you're made in the shade for portability. Another pro is the LOW COST! Not only on your wallet but you can also be... lets say "less gentle" to it than you would a more expensive camera. For me, I'm more likely to leave it in my car(concealed of course) so I can shoot if an opportunity presents itself. Sites like DP Review in my opinion get to technical and obsessed with image quality. Considering where the the majority of pics are used, like Facebook, Flickr, and 8X10 prints I think it's a bunch of hogwash. I would feel quite comfortable shooting for a billboard with my D3100.

There is some stuff you may miss if you do go the D3100 route. One thing I wish I had is bracketing(the camera takes multiple exposures) for use with HDR. I can still do the same thing it would just take a little longer. I would also like an in camera focusing motor, which would allow the usage of more lenses AF capability.

The setup I find myself using most is the Nikon D3100 with the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 (with the kit 18-55 in my bag in case I need it). I use the 35mm as my everyday carry around lens. The 35mm lens on a cropped sensor(DX) camera is equivalent to the standby 50mm from the film days. And with the 1.8 aperture you can get an amazingly shallow depth of field and it performs admirably in low light(indoors) situations.

If you are shooting sports(mostly your own child's, not talking pro here) I would go for the 55-300 f/4-5.6. It is a cheap zoom lens that should fit the bill quite nicely. Unless... you are doing indoor sports photography. Then, the cheapest way, is to incorporate a flash as well. I use a Nissin Di866. But now you can get a Nikon SB-700 for about the same price(on Amazon looks like some people are having problems with their Nissins, mine is 100%).

Well that's all folks. If you have a setup in mind feel free to ask before you buy or just share your setup with us.

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