I currently use a minolta slr with a 70-200 zoom and a 50 mm fixed lens.
I am very much an amateur, although I understand the basics of photography. I own a Sony digital pas and experiment a bit with photoshop elements.
I like the D50, but I am afraid the 18-55 mm kit lens will be limiting for all around use (mostly family photos, I am afraid I will want more telephoto to fill the frame).
The 55-200 zoom would fill the void, but switching lens seems like something you dont' want to do often with dslr's because of dust (is that true?)
The 18-70 Nikon zoom seems like a much better all around lens choice- why isn't that offered in a D50 package?
I would appreciate any reccomendations - buy the D50 body and 18-70 lens separately, buy the D70 package with the 18-70 lens?, buy the D50 package with the 18-55 lens and the 55-200 (switching leneses isn't that big a deal?) other?
I appreciate any experiences/ insight you can offer.
I have the D50 and love it. I badly wanted the D70 when it came out, but I'm delighted with my D50.
That said, there certainly are differences between the 2. You can check out reviews of it at dpreview.com, dcresource.com, popphoto.com, and here. ALL of them loved both cameras, and the reviews detail differences between the D50 & D70.
Before I get into that, to answer your question--I actually find my 18-55mm lens to work great. Even so, if you have the funds, the 18-70 is better--go for it. It is true that D-SLRs have "dust" as an issue but that shouldn't preclude you from changing lenses; just do so carefully and refrain from doing so in dusty and/or windy environments.
Now, here are some of the differences:
(1) D50 uses Secure Digital (SD), the D70 uses Compact Flash. I prefer Compact Flash personally, but new P/Sers upgrading probably prefer SD. (Then again if you have a Sony you probably have Memory Stick.)
(2) D50 has slightly better low-noise performance at higher ISOs. That said, both smoke non D-SLRs regardless.
(3) D50 requires an extra SB-800 to work as a trigger mechanism if you want to use a wireless i-TTL flash setup. The D70 can use the built-in popup as a trigger mechanism for wireless i-TTL flash
(4) D70 has two command dials, making it easier (primarily) to use in full manual mode. D50 has just 1 (not an issue much if you primarily shoot in A, P, or S).
(5) D50 does not have a light for the control panel LCD
(6) D70s (not D70, but D70s) can use a wired remote or the wireless, D50 (and D70 without the s) only do wireless
(7) D50's LCD is slightly larger vs the D70, 2" vs 1.8" (the D70s is also 2")
(8) The D50 aims for "punchier" images "out-of-box" vs the D70, thus its default color mode is IIIa vs the Ia (you can simply change modes with either camera if you prefer one look vs the other)
(9) Particularly outdoors, the D50 tends to "run hot" a bit, that is, expose brighter. Many find it useful to apply -0.3 or -0.5 exposure compensation in that situation
(10)D50 loses the "quick" buttons for auto-bracketing & meter-mode. You now have to use the menus for both. (Doesn't bother me--I almost always use the "matrix" metering mode and if I want to bracket I do so "on the fly" using exposure compensation)
(11)1/4000 top shutter-speed for D50 vs 1/8000 for D70. No big deal to me.
(12)D50 has an "AF-A" mode for allowing the camera to shoot in "single" autofocusing by default but to switch to "continuous" if it detects subject movement. A lot like Canon's "AI" focusing mode, and I like it. (With Canon: One Shot is like AF-S, Servo is like AF-C.)
(13)D50 does not have grid-lines in viewfinder as an option like D70 does. Wish it did.
That's about it, I am sure I left out something, but the reviews can tell you more.
I do love my D50, I do not feel "crippled" with it vs the D70 I wanted originally.
I agree, a very good answer. It only leaves out the DOF preview which the D50 hasn't got, I tried a D70 but the DOF preview wasn't any good for me, perhaps I need my old eyesight back? I would only have gone up to the D70 for the extra flash capabilities but that's something I'll never use
I did get the D50 body and 18-70 lens seperately, I'm glad I did for the extra length it has, that really makes a difference.