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Thread: Looking for advice regarding my wife's D-80

  1. #1
    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Default Looking for advice regarding my wife's D-80

    I recently bought my wife a Nikon D-80 after reading some very good ratings on the camera on c-net. Along with the camera I bought my wife a few digital photography books to go with it. The camera came as a package with a smaller lens and a larger one. Now....I'm about to get her a tripod. Anyone have a suggestion as to what tripod would be an all around choice? Any further advice regarding future lenses or gear purchases or other specific advice related to the camera? So far....the camera has taken amazing pictures. I'm just trying to support her new hobby as best I can.....

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    Member Sierra Hotel's Avatar
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    From another "Maina in Alaska". . . .I started out with the D80, and it was a great camera to begin learning on (I hope I'll still be learning for a long time!). I'm assuming that the kit came with the 18-55 and 55-200 zooms, which are good lenses for the money. I shoot a D300 now, mostly for the improved high ISO performance.

    My first suggestion is to not buy any additional lenses until she's mastered the camera and the lenses she has. It's really easy to become afflicted with NAS - "Nikon Acquisition Syndrome - the irrational desire to acquire photography equipment that's not really needed". Seriously, learn how to use the existing tools she has and that will help her to decide what type of photography she wants to puruse - which will drive future equipment purchase decisions.

    A good camera bag to carry stuff is a good place to start. I started out with a Quantaray, and handed it down to my son it as I acquired more stuff (see NAS above ). Now I use a Think Tank Airport Antidote bag when I'm not out in the boonies. It's compact and takes everything I put in it, and protects it well. It also fits in aircraft overhead bins, and under the seats if I don't overstuff it too bad. For times when I'm traveling off the beaten path, I use a Lowepro Dryzone 200. It's large, it's well padded, and it's waterproof. The downside, it's large.

    As far as tripods go - do NOT buy one of the cheap ones found in the department stores like Best Buy or Freddies . . .you'll just buy another one when you find out that the tripod won't hold anything steady. I use a Manfrotto 3021N, which is a good, basic aluminum tripod, but fairly heavy. It runs less than $150 at Stewarts on 4th Ave. in Anchorage. Add a decent head and you're in for about $200. You can also watch Craig's List, they show up there often enough. A good lightweight carbon-fiber-legged tripod will start at $300 and quickly goes up to more than $700 if money is not an object

    Most of all, have fun learning. It's a fun hobby, and once in a while she'll amaze her friends and family with a quality shot that she enjoys.

    Cheers,

    SH

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    The Manfrotto tripods that Sierra Hotel mentioned are always a good option for cost and steadiness, and as he says, carbon fiber is great but expensive. Always remember that steadiness (the reason we buy tripods) comes with good design, good materials, and weight. So when picking a lightweight tripod that doesn't cost too much, realize that it will not be as steady as better or heavier tripods.

    However, if you think your wife would strongly prefer a smaller tripod that still doesn't break the bank, or she just refuses to pack a heavy one, there are some other *reasonably* good choices.

    Sunpak and Manfrotto both make some "digital" tripods. There is nothing digital about them, they are just a compromise in weight, features and price, but they are still quite usable if you're using lightweight gear, like the D80 and a 200-300mm lens, and the wind isn't howling. These can be found for around $100.

    Moving lighter and smaller, Velbon makes several in their Maxi series that are very convenient and fairly durable. They will just barely hold the camera and medium sized lens steady, as long as the wind isn't blowing. I have one that I use for traveling, and find it serviceable for most situations. Most of these are in the $100 neighborhood.

    Everything about tripods are a compromise of one thing for another. You can have low weight, steadiness, and/or low cost; pick any two. You just can't have all three.

    The other issue is what type of head you want on it. Standard three way heads are usually less expensive than ball heads, but ball heads are more convenient and quicker to use. Better tripods and heads are bought separately, so you can pick what you want for each. Lower end units usually come prepackaged together. In fact some of those "digital" tripods lack the ability to swap heads at all. Not a good thing in my book.

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    Member Sierra Hotel's Avatar
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    To add a note to Jim's comment, almost all of the less expensive tripods use a head system with a removable insert on the head that can stay attached to the camera, much like the more expensive locking plates on better tripods. However, they're made of plastic, and usually have a metal tab that locks it into the tripod, but is not stable at all. It will work OK on the D80 with that 55-200 lens, but if you strap anything bigger on, it's going to wobble like me on hockey skates, which is not at all conducive to capturing a good picture (not to mention the mental picture of me on skates - oh the humanity . . ).

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    Being a D80 owner - I figure I can chime in on this with my two cents. Photography for me is just a hobby - but I do suffer from the NAS as described earlier. The camera came with a kit 18-135 lens and I purchased the 70-300 VR with it too. The kit lense didn't quite cut it as I wanted a good all around lens. I researched and found the 18-200 with VR very appealing - but I didn't want to drop the coin for it. I opted for the sigma equivalent. Big mistake. To make a long story short - it was sent back and I ponied up the extra 200 for the Nikon lens and it made a world of difference. I love it because it is a nice super zoom and I don't have to lug around the telephoto if I don't need it - as it has good range. Optics - like any Nikon - are good - but they aren't as sharp as the pro series lenses...but only a few eyes could ever tell that. To give an idea of what the camera/lens does... here are a few shots from last week that I took on a road trip from Anchorage to Juneau:






    But I do agree with everyone to learn the camera before you go crazy. The biggest thing that can drive me crazy is seeing people with the fancy cameras and fancy lenses using the auto function... it is like having a massive and clunky point and shoot. The more you learn the camera - the more you can understand and really show what you mean in the images and not just capture that moment ... but put some emotion into it.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Tripods..

    First of all, good of you to support your wife's hobby. Smart man. For tripods, I have a Bogen/Manfrotto that I like very much. Great all around tripod and a good value. Link below to the exact model I have.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...gs_Black_.html




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    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for the info regarding tripods and other useful tidbits of good advice. I now feel that I have an adequate knowledge base to make a smart purchase on a good tripod that will not fail or be of inferior design.

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