Upgrade from D90

Started Jan 16, 2014 | Discussions thread
eddyshoots Senior Member • Posts: 2,176
lenses lenses lenses!


awolf24 wrote:

Hi all. First time poster. As just a little background, I am an amateur photographer who has stuck mostly to travel, landscape and general photography. I have been using a D90 since it came out in 2008 and my only lens is a Nikon 18-200 VRII.

Your D90 is a pretty good camera as you know. I have a D300 with essentially the same sensor...capable of taking terrific images up to about ISO800 and in a pinch I'll shoot up to 1600 or even 2000. At 2000 I'm just living with the noise.

The 18-200 is a super zoom where you have to live with a lot of optical and aperture compromises. I've got an older 18-135...decent lens for Disney world or a business trip but it doesn't really get any other use.

I am now looking to get more serious about photography and image quality and wanted to get some advice on how to proceed. Furthermore, I have my first child coming in a few months and will likely be taking a lot of low-light portraits and baby pics.

Congratulations. I'm on my way out the door so my son can take his driver's test. Time flies my friend...time flies. You are thinking baby pics right now but it quickly turns into chasing a toddler around the park, then testing for their yellow belt in karate, then hitting a home run in baseball...etc. Keep this in mind when making your choices. Taking a picture of a newborn isn't any harder than taking a picture of a roast beef. After that, it can get crazy.

At this point, my current camera and telephoto lens are not really cutting it in these scenarios. After doing some research, it seems like my best and most cost-effective approach would be to simply add a new portrait lens, perhaps a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8g.

The 50mm and or 35mm are certainly your best budget choices. On DX, some find the 50mm a little long for up close baby work.

My question to the forum is: In addition is a new lens, would it be worth upgrading from a D90?

The answer is maybe. Like I suggest above, the D90 is a fine camera that is fully capable of taking great images at every stage of your child's life...certainly for the first few years. There are a few options that will give you a little extra high ISO flexibility that might be worth while. Really to sum up here, you don't need a new camera...but if you really want something new there are plenty of options.

And if so, to what? I have always been loyal to Nikon

No reason for Nikon loyalty. They are a corporation, just like all the others. If essentially starting from scratch you should look at all manufacturers. Pick the one that fits this next few stages of your life and your photography.

but I am also intrigued by some of the newer cameras such as the Sony a7.

Yeah, the A7 looks intriguing. However, I'd personally be reluctant to be a first mover into this new kind of camera. The A7 could end up being the next Beta.

I am not necessarily looking to spend too much money to upgrade, but would be willing to spend in the range of $2k if it was worth it.

Hey, two grand for an upgrade path can be a lot if done properly (or a drop in the bucket if done wrong). $2000 could get you an A7 with lens, but really, with another slow aperture lens your not very far ahead.

$2k could get you one of the D7xxx bodies with a nice lens or two or three. The D7000 is the direct successor to the D90, not much extra performance, but depending on lens choices you could be a fair but ahead of what you have now. The D7100 is another incremental improvement but you'll lose a little bit of budget for lenses. Like keeping the D90 and getting just lenses, you are not going too far off track by adding one of the D7xxx cameras to your bag.

What would I do if in your shoes? I'd sell the D90 and the 18-200 (yuck) which should yield $500 or $600 ish. You express some interest in full frame above, might be a way to go. Based on today's local craigslist I can get a used D700 for about $1200-$1400. Pick up a used 28-70 2.8 for $500 and an 80-200 push pull for $400 or $500. Throw in a used 50mm for $80 or $90. With the sale of the DX stuff you are fully outfitted for less than $2k outlay. Maybe $2300 total for the FX stuff (with some good shopping) minus the sale of the DX gear...$1700 out of pocket. Perhaps you could source a SB600 to round out the kit.

Another similar option that looks pretty appealing right now is to use the same sort of technique on a used Canon 5D mkII. The are similarly priced to the D700 and like Nikon there are plenty of lens options and a healthy used market. And Canon has some interesting used F4 lenses that can be found for a little less than the 2.8 variants. I'm not a Canon guy, so I'll leave any further research on this matter to you.

I'm a big fan of Zack Arias and his corresponding mind-set when it comes to gear. Here's an excerpt from his Creative Live studio workshop that pretty much sums up my thinking with the two suggestions above. (Keep in mind the video is a couple of years old and the 5D mkII has been eclipsed by the mkIII).

The beauty of these two plans is that both bodies are low light monsters. With a large aperture lens on the 5D mkII or D700 you've got razor thin depth of field at your disposal. Heck, put the 5D mkII on a tripod or dolly and you've got a camera that can damn near film a Hollywood movie. The big strike against the Canon here is that the AF isn't nearly as good as Nikon's.

Of course, it all depends on how what you mean by "more seriously" and how much you actually want to spend. You've got good options that run the gambit from spending just $90 (50 1.8 AFD used) to spending your whole $2000 for a full blown pro kit. You could obviously pick and choose parts of what I suggest...maybe a new D7100 and a used Tamron 17-50 2.8 and a used 80-200.

Wish you luck on your upgrade...however you decide to go.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

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