Yet another D3100 vs. D90 dilemma

Started Dec 22, 2010 | Discussions thread
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Steven Averett
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Yet another D3100 vs. D90 dilemma
Dec 22, 2010

I know, I know. Yet another clueless newbie looking to make the long overdue switch to a DSLR. Go easy on me! Almost 10 years ago I worked briefly in a chain camera shop that shall go nameless (rhymes with Shitz) and though it was a largely demoralizing experience, it did plant the SLR bug in my brain. Now I’m finally in the market.

For some reason I have always favored Nikons, though I couldn’t tell you exactly why. I’ve had my eye on the D90 for a couple years, but when the D3100 came out, it seemed like it might be a better fit for my wife and I. Here’s what tipped me in that direction:

1) While the D90 has scads of great features over the D3100, the D3100 has a bigger, better sensor and other updated technology. As nice as the D90 is, it's almost three years old now, and it seems like DSLR technology has come a long way in that time. So it seems somewhat counterintuitive to pay more for a D90 with the intention of growing into it when by the time I’m really able to take advantage of its features, its innards will be even more out of date.

2) I have SOME SLR knowledge, but very little practical experience, and my wife has none (although she is an engineer, and thus more than capable of picking it up). So we both need a camera that is going to be tolerant of our inexperience. The guide mode on the D3100 seems ideal for learning the shooting basics.

3) Similarly, while I'm comfortable with the heft of the D90, my wife would probably prefer something lighter. It's a catch 22 for me because while I'd actually favor a heavier camera for shooting (holding both in the store, I favored the D90), I'd certainly prefer lugging the lighter D3100 around the other 95% of the time. Thus, erring on the side of portability seems wise.

If we go with the 3100, I have no doubt I will want to upgrade the body within three years or so (Finance Committee does not like it when I talk like that). But by that time, I'll actually have enough skill under my belt to warrant something like the D7000 (or its successor). And yet it’s still hard for me to rule out the D90...

Whichever way we go, I’m not sure if we should go ahead and invest in a second lens or not. I know the rule of thumb is to just start shooting with the kit lens and then your second lens choice will reveal itself. But with Amazon offering $200 - $300 off a second lens with a camera purchase, it would seem prudent to not leave that money on the table. A speedlight (SB700?) might also be a more prudent purchase.

Recreationally, I like to shoot landscapes, nature, and architecture. But this camera will also be used to photograph family (and the baby that is hopefully coming in the next year or so), pets, etc., and presumably much of that will be indoors.

Heading to Disney World right after the New Year, and need to have something in hand by then. Any advice you guys can provide would be VERY much appreciated!

Making my way through "Understanding Exposure" as we speak.

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