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Old 08-24-2005, 09:04 PM   #1
Molly Sherrick Phifer Molly Sherrick Phifer is offline
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Joined: Sep 2004
Location: West Grove, PA
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Nikon D50 Camera

I recently purchased my first digital SLR after months of research, hand wringing and pouring over the wonderfully exhaustive reviews at dpreview . It's been quite a process and I finally came down to the Nikon D50.

My top contenders were the Minolta Maxxum 7D, the Canon Digital Rebel XT, the Nikon D70 and the Nikon D50. I have an older Minolta Maxxum SLR camera and could use the lenses I already have, plus my older digital camera is a Minolta Dimage and I loved the very easy menu system. So, I went into the search with a distinct prejudice for Minolta.

The most remarkable thing I learned is that the digital SLRs are so much better than even the highest megapixel point and shoot cameras that you really have to see the results to believe it! If you are toying with purchasing a digital SLR, I recommend that you go into a camera shop (or electronics store) and try them out. If you have a memory card or can bring in a laptop PC, do it. You won't be sorry that you did and you'll really be able to appreciate the quality of these cameras. Too often folks look at only the megapixels in judging how good the resolution will be from a camera. This is a trap! The DSLRs have a huge advantage over their less pricey counterparts. They can accommodate the best in lens technology and it makes all the difference in the world.

When I made my decision it came down to just a few things. The photo quality was best in the Canon and Nikon cameras. The Minolta just didn't quite measure up, apparently due to the technology they use for vibration reduction. The image stabilizer, built into the camera body, is great for low light photo shoots when you want to avoid a tripod, but comes with a trade off where resolution is concerned. The photos aren't quite as crisp as the Canon or Nikon. So, I had to choose between the Canon and Nikon cameras, and since I had become addicted to my spot metering setting on my prior Minolta, I went with the Nikon. The Canon doesn't have a traditional spot metering setting, but comes close with a center weighted metering option. I just couldn't judge how that might impact my photos, and all things being roughly equal otherwise, I went with the Nikon. For those who don't know about the spot metering, it is a setting that allows you to let the camera decide how much exposure you'll need for a picture based on a very small spot in the center of the viewfinder. This can be really important if you like to take a lot of photos of backlit subjects. I do!

So, what is the Nikon D50 like? It is very similar in many respects to its older brother, the D70. The review claims that in some respects it outperforms the D70, and in some it doesn't quite measure up. I can attest to the fact that for clarity, true color, flexibility and overall ease of use, it is a top notch portrait camera. As well as I liked my older digital, the photos with the D50 are like night and day in comparison. I don't get the delay time in shooting when I press the shutter release, and the camera powers on instantly. Also, the rechargeable battery lasts a very long time, a huge plus.

When I bought my D50, I chose to get the camera, body only and purchase my own lenses. I didn't really have much use for the kit lens, which is an 18-55 mm DX zoom lens. Deleting the lens saves you about $100-$150 and of course you can then turn around and buy the lens you want! I chose a Nikkor 24-120 mm zoom lens with Vibration Reduction technology. I love to do without my tripod if possible when photographing children. I feel that I get a more spontaneous look and feel when I can move around. The VR technology allows me to get crisper shots in lower light than I could get without it, by about 3 stops (so they say). The 24-120 mm digital range translates into 36-180 mm in a traditional SLR. That is perfect for me in terms of the ranges I would normally want to shoot portraits in. This is a high end lens, with extremely low distortion, and so can be used for many purposes.

In my next post, I am attaching a couple of photos I've taken with the D50. I'd be happy to answer any questions or make specific photo tests, if anyone is interested.
- Molly
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