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Old 08-24-2005, 09:04 PM   #1
Molly Sherrick Phifer Molly Sherrick Phifer is offline
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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.
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Old 08-24-2005, 09:15 PM   #2
Molly Sherrick Phifer Molly Sherrick Phifer is offline
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Some D50 portrait photos

Attached are some of the photos I've take with the D50. I have also posted one closeup so you can see the resolution I'm getting.
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Old 08-24-2005, 09:32 PM   #3
Garth Herrick Garth Herrick is offline
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Congratulations!

Hi Molly,

That is an impressive new camera. It is interesting to see how Nikon has evolved in the last three years since I got my D-100. I suppose mine is the grandparent to your D-50, and is now out of production. I have been more than satisfied with it, accumulating about 90,000 shots with it so far! Probably, the image quality is even better on your D-50. I understand there is a better method of highlight rendering than what my old Nikon produces. That alone is wonderful!

Nice shots by the way! I gather you are using the mode III sRGB color space setting, which I hear is the new default setting. I have an older version of this setting too, but typically have been using the mode II Adobe RGB (1998) setting, for its wider color gamut range.

So when can I drive over to behold your new D-50 marvel?

Garth
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Old 08-24-2005, 11:21 PM   #4
Brenda Ellis Brenda Ellis is offline
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Molly, these must be your children (or you've found a family with remarkably similar features to your own.) Just wanted to say, handsome family!
Thank you for the info on the camera. You've saved me a lot of shopping and hand-wringing of my own when I'm ready to make that SLR leap!
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Old 08-25-2005, 12:38 AM   #5
Lisa Ober Lisa Ober is offline
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Beatuiful, Molly! Great post. Let me also thank you for your input into my recent camera purchase. I ended up with the Canon version which I am thrilled with but it sure was close. Very tough choice that I agonized over for weeks. It came down to a few more megapixels and the fact I could use my older 35mm lenses (from my old Canon) with the new one-teh real kicker for me since lenses are not cheap. You are so right about your comparisons above. You know your stuff. I don't think one can go wrong with either the Nikon or the Canon. Both of these cameras produce better results than a 35mm. Digital has come a long way.
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Old 08-25-2005, 08:08 AM   #6
Molly Sherrick Phifer Molly Sherrick Phifer is offline
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Hi Garth!

You're sure welcome to come out to the country for a visit anytime, but since there isn't much to see way out here other than the camera (I haven't produced enough work of note to interest anyone , then how about if I come visit your studio and bring the camera along?

Brenda,

Thanks for the complements on the kids! These are only three of five, and the others are just as good looking (if I do say so myself). I wish I looked more like them. I have this somewhat cursed attribute of looking far better in photos than I do in real life.

Lisa,

I am so glad you got your new camera and are happy with it. These Digital SLRs are truly amazing, and if anyone hasn't inspected the results of one yet, they're in for a huge treat. It isn't all about resolution, either. The color and values are much more lifelike (though I wouldn't rely solely on these photos anyway) and the software for manipulating the depth of shadows is fantastic and easy to use. Viewed on a good computer monitor, the photo images are almost like working from life. A great thing when painting wiggly, giggly kids (my personal favorite).
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Old 08-26-2005, 07:51 AM   #7
Alexandra Tyng Alexandra Tyng is offline
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Hi Molly,

Thanks so much for your very informative post! I am just in the process of looking at digital cameras and the information you laid out so clearly will really help. I have two Canons, a very old 35mm and a newer non-digital Rebel. The thing that interested me the most was your point about the light meter reading. I've held onto my totally manual camera for so long because I am able to set the light meter myself. As far as I am concerned, my Rebel is too automatic in a mindless sort of way, though it is easy and convenient.

I would also like to see your new camera, which reminds me that we were talking about getting together. Let's do it soon. Maybe when our kids are back in school?

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Old 08-27-2005, 02:47 PM   #8
Leslie Ficcaglia Leslie Ficcaglia is offline
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I've had the Nikon D70 for a few months now and am awed by its capabilities. It has so many features that I will probably never use them all, but I'm considering buying a second body so I'll have one in reserve if this one ever needs repair. I have four standard Nikons - a 5005 which needs work, two N60's and an N75 - so I already had the lenses although I did buy a telephoto - 70 to 300 - for the D70. However, I get frustrated because each of those standard SLRs has a slightly different way of operating, and when you're going for those grab shots of active kids you need to be on automatic mode in your own head to take full advantage of what's happening in front of you. That's hard if you're readjusting to another camera.

What are the differences between the D50 and D70? The photos you posted were just gorgeous, so I can see that the optics are superb. Looks like you have some perfect home-grown models, too.

One thing I found when I was trying to photograph candid shots of circus performers practicing in a dark big top was that putting the camera on Auto ISO allowed it to adjust so I didn't have to second-guess exposure. I'm wondering if that was the best way to go but it seemed to work under those circumstances.

I'm less than an hour from Philadelphia myself. Maybe we should all get together for a camera session...
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Old 08-27-2005, 03:46 PM   #9
Molly Sherrick Phifer Molly Sherrick Phifer is offline
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Hi Alex!

I'd be happy to talk more with you about the digital SLRs and let you try mine out! I am really looking forward to having the kids back in school. They start September 6th.

Hi Leslie,

There are lots of small differences between the D50 and D70. There's also the new D70S. The review here is pretty exhaustive and talks about the changes. There is also a comparison with the Cannon Rebel XT and a Pentax camera, I think, toward the end of the article.

I think the biggest obvious differences between the D70s and the D50 are the D50 has only one control "wheel" in the back, whereas the D70 has a couple. Also the D50 has different automatic scene modes, for instance it has a "child" setting. I love that one. The fastest shutter speed on the D50 is double the D70 at 1/4000th of a second, but since I am more likely to work in low light, I didn't care. The D50 has an improved highlights rendition over both the D70s. Probably the biggest functional difference is that they use different storage cards. The D50 uses an SD card, while the D70 uses a compact flash card.

The best way to find out the things that matter to you would be to check out the link I made for the review. Right up front they put in a really nice chart of the feature comparisons.

If I were you, I might be tempted to have one of each camera, but then you'd have to carry both storage types, etc. Oh, to have such terrible choices to make . . .
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Old 08-27-2005, 04:00 PM   #10
Molly Sherrick Phifer Molly Sherrick Phifer is offline
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Where to buy onine

Just thought I'd mention that I purchased my D50 through B and H photo and video online. I have bought from them multiple times and have never had an issue. If you click on the review link in my last post, the DP Review site is supported through the use of their vendors. B and H is one of them, but you have to click the link at the bottom to show all their vendors.
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