I finally got my Nikon D50. After being disappointed by Olympus, I decided to focus on attaining images I admired from other camera samples. Also, I knew I wouldn’t get that quality if I didn’t have a decent lens. This meant I would make some compromises, given my fragile budget. For image quality, I like Nikon’s D50/D70/D40, which all share the same Sony sensor. To my eye, these low pixel cameras produced better images than Canon’s CMOS, and even better than Nikon’s D80. The D70S was too expensive, and there were little things like the 1.1 USB transfer that turned me off. The D40 was a good option, but when I saw that the D50 accepted older auto focus lenses (without internal motors), I was hooked.
I lean toward nature photography, so when I read Gordon’s review of Nikon’s 70-300mm VR lens, which would give me an effective 450mm reach, I knew what I wanted. I was able to get a used D50 for $400 and the 70-300 for under $500 from Amazon. The D50 lacks some of the features of newer cameras but it is very solid and enjoyable to use. I have a little dust on the sensor/low pass filter, but it’s not bad enough to worry about now.
The 70-300mm with vibration reduction is wonderful. I found that the Normal anti-vibration setting was more effective than Active for hand held shots. Also, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that 300mm shots are every bit as sharp as 200mm shots, despite what the tests show. Also, there is absolutely no barrel creep (perhaps because it’s brand new), in fact it’s a bit stiff and jerky.
The D50’s view finder is bright enough to let you use manual focus, which can be really helpful peeping through foliage or fences where AF can’t go. The D50 only has a 5 pix burst and takes forever to reset, but the operation is smooth and a pleasure to use. The anti-shake rally works! So far, at 300mm, my tripod shots (with VR off) aren’t any better than hand held with VR on. I am somewhat disappointed in the low light images I’ve gotten, but that’s to be expected.
All in all, this the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I wish I had gone this route instead of the Oly E510 detour, to begin with, but then the allure of big pixel images and mega-options is hard to resist. A little experience has shown me that a good lens comes first. Put it on good sensor in a decent inexpensive camera, and with a little patience, voila, happiness happens.
I haven’t taken any shots in RAW format yet, but the images are small enough that my old computer can handle it, I hope. Most of these JPEGs have been slightly cropped, except for the train which has been tweaked every which way – all hand held, and most at 300mm.
Comments and questions are welcome.