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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 8:58 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2007 10:48 am
Posts: 2
Location: Germany
Hello everyone !

In my search for a new camera, I read a lot of reviews, guides, forum threads including nearly all of Gordon Laing who does a great job.
But I have still some questions left, where to spend my money in my situation.

So I kindly like to ask you for advice and want to beg your pardon for the length of the upcoming text.

Current situation:
I am using a film SLR for many years (Minolta 505si super with standard lenses of 28-80mm and 75-300mm). Most time I used program mode, sometimes manual settings.
But after two shooting disappointments in Scotland (shots of wildlife dolphins are covered with black besides the sky) and Oslo (half shots are underexposed) I've decided to go for my first digital SLR not only to have more control at the time of shooting.

What will I mainly shoot / where to use the camera?
I am likely to shoot wildlife, landscape, historic sites, also cities and buildings and sometimes people but no portraits.
My next photo stop is likely to be in Guatemala and Mexico on a roundtrip (Tikal, Palenque, …).
In the future I plan on travelling to Peru (Macchu Picchu, …), Egypt (historical sites) and Africa (wildlife) to name some of them.

How much am I willing to spend for the new equipment and when to buy?
I have set myself a budget of around 2,500 to 2,600 Euro (3,400-3,500 $) for the camera, lenses and flash but without any other gear (memory cards, another strap, extry battery).
I "have" to buy the equipment by September since next travel will be in November and I want to spend at least one month with the new camera before.

What cameras do I shortlist?
After reading lots of reviews I decided to check the feel/handling of several cameras (Canon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus…) at local vendors and it came down to two of them, both Nikon – the D80 and the D200. Both have a nice grip and they are the only cameras I can hold in one hand without fearing to drop them by mistake.
But at this point my decision stucks and I do not know which one to choose (despite the extra money for the D200).
Should I go with the D200 due to its sealed body thinking of jungle in Central America and desert in Egypt/Africa or due to some better/extra functions useful for what I want to shoot?

What lenses do I consider?
According to my film SLR (28-300mm) I want to cover the range from 18 to 200 mm with the DSLR.
There is no need to cover 50 to 80 mm (I think), I cannot remember that I used the equivalent range of 80 to 120 mm with my film SLR.
At the moment I am considering the following lenses ("a)" means preferred one):
1. wide-angle:
... a) Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 (with option of optimization by Tamron with "my" body in about 2 weeks)
... b) Nikon AF-S DX 18-70 mm f/3,5-4,5G IF-ED
2. telephoto zoom:
... a) Nikon AF-S VR 70-300 mm f/4,5-5,6G
... b) Nikon AF-S VR DX 55-200 mm f/4-5,6G IF-ED
There is also the Nikon VR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 and I know that Gordon likes it very much, but I am not scared about changing lenses and after reading a bunch of opinions I for myself would rate at least the Tamron higher.
The Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 is no choice due to its price.
But I am still really undecided and maybe there are other (better) options to go with (?).
I have an old polarizing filter from B&W, does it make sense to use it also on the new equipment or to buy a new one (or none)?

Other gear:
A flash seems to be a must-have and I am likely to choose the Nikon SB-600. Anything wrong with it?
Any book recommendation (german preferred)?
And is there other nice-to-have gear?


Now I am at the end and I would thank all of you who got through it.
Any help or suggestion will be appreciated.

Best regards,
Mats


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 9:17 am 
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Hi Mats, welcome to the Cameralabs forum!

Well they're both great cameras, so you won't be disappointed with either. That is an interesting point about sealing and environmental protection though - the D200 is certainly a much tougher camera, so if you think this is going to be an issue, that would be my recommendation. It also has 5fps continuous shooting, which is nice!

Gordon


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 10:47 am 
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On a point about the sealed camera; I've heard that it's little use if the lenses you plan on using aren't weather sealed either. Perhaps Gordon, you could clarify this?

I personally have a D80 with the 18-200mm and I love it to bits. My sister-in-law has a D200 and I've only played around with it a little bit and it's also superb. I think Gordon's reviews cover them both very well.

The quality of each is excellent but the D200 offers certain additions that might interest you like 5fps shooting and dedicated function buttons for ISO, WB, Quality etc, whereas the D80 has these buttons shared between functions and playback options. Personally I don't find this an issue with the D80 as I just half-click the shutter get round this.

The D200 also lets you see the ISO value in the view finder whereas with the D80 you need to set the multi-function button on the front of the camera to "ISO" and then press it to show this info in the view finder. This last point is particularly important if you plan on leaving your camera set to Auto ISO so you can see what it's doing. If you like to set it manually all the time then you probably already know what you've set the ISO to and might not be particularly bothered about this.

Regarding your old B&W polariser; What type is it? If it's a circular polariser then it should be fine. I believe the linear ones cause problems with the TTL metering system...?

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 6:44 pm 
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Hi Mats!

You Know what comes next (hint: look at my signature!):
I wholeheartedly advise you to buy the 18-200VR+D80+SB800 for around 1800EUR and spend the remaining 700EUR on the trip :wink:
The extra-functions on the D200 I nevermissed and the additional sealing is for nought, when you change lenses and/or don't have sealed lenses.

But seriously, if you're big into landscape photography consider the Nikon 12-24mm which is a hefty 1000EUR but simply the best quality extra-wide-angle-zoom. I'm currently consider buying this lens for myself.
Then you can complement this with the 24-120mm VR and buy the the 70-300mm VR for the other ranges. That's about 1000+600+500+800+250 (SB-600)=3150, so a bit steep, but you can pass the 70-300VR and buy the updated 80-400VR at a later point in time...

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Last edited by Thomas on Wed Aug 01, 2007 8:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 7:41 pm 
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Location: San Diego, CA, USA
The D200 will be replaced sometime soon so be on the lookout for that.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2007 1:09 am 
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It's true that you'd also need a sealed lens to match the protection on offer by the body, but if a spash or a knock came to the side or back of the camera, a D200 would take the blow better. It all depends on how rough you think you'll be - and of course how much you value the other features like 5fps shooting...

rv65 is right too, the D200 is coming up to 2 years old, and while Nikon has generally gone for longer lifespans on its previous DSLRs, the market is now very competitive, so a D300 could come sooner than we think; the D200 is also one of the 'oldest' DSLRs in Nikon's current range.

Nikon will probably announce some new cameras by the end of this month, but I've no idea what they'd be...

Gordon


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2007 9:46 pm 
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I don't like the D200, because it's too big and heavy.
The D80 is just as good and smaller.
For Africa take the 70-300VR and not the 55-200.
You'll like the extra tele especially when taking pictures of birds.

Hans


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2007 10:23 pm 
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I have a D80 and love it dearly. So, on that basis, and given the budget (I wish) I'd have a D200. Not because it's necessarily any stronger (see various threads on Nikonians posted by owners of smashed D200's), but because it's even more ergonomic. It's more D80, and that can't be bad.

Tell you mate, if your luck's anything like mine you'll have a camera that's safe in up to 3 inches of water but you know how deep that water will be eh? The one puddle you drop it in? Very deep indeed.

As far as lenses are concerned that's not really my department, I only have two and one of those is the 18-135mm kit lens. That lens is pretty good optically but it's not very confidence-inspiring in the build department. I'm not too keen on the superzoom idea though. Like keeping all your eggs in one basket, or something like that.

Hope that's cleared up any confusion. 8)

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 7:33 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2007 10:48 am
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Location: Germany
First I want to thank you for your suggestions.

Concerning the polarizer filter it is a B+W 62E circular pol multicoated that worked greatly with my film camera while I was in New Zealand (greatest vacation ever I had).
But while the Nikon 70-300mm lense hat a filter/attachment size of 67mm can I use it with a reduction ring or should I buy a new polarizer filter?

On the Nikon USA page I saw an instant saving program for the D200 so that may be an indication that you are right with an upcoming successor in the next months. It's a pity but I was on the verge of buying the D200 and now will think about it again.
Another question for D80 vs. D200: As a beginner is it easier to go with the D80 than with the D200?

Best regards,
Mats


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 8:53 pm 
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I don't know the D200, but you'll have no prob with the D80. Just set everything on automatic, and off you go with excellent pics!

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 8:58 pm 
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I'm probably stating the obvious but the D200 won't become a poor choice just because a successor appears. It's still an excellent camera. I'd go so far as to say that with the D200 if you can't take good pictures then it's not the camera but the user who's lacking.

Actually, I could probably say that about the D80 too, come to think about it. That would save a further 300squid. Party! :lol:

Zorro. 8)

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:53 am 
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Also if the make a d200s they will pull a d70s and just make a new firmware for existing owners. That way you can get most if not all the d200s features in the d200. Just like the d70s. Could be even more but I have a feeling that they will release a new firmware for it.

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