Nikon D50 Review - Introduction
If photographers needed a reminder of how quickly the digital SLR market is changing, the Nikon D50 sends a powerful message. Getting to the punch line, the Nikon D50 offers a hard to beat combination of excellent image quality, fine handling, and solid construction.
It’s especially attractive for photographers moving up from digital point and shoot cameras who want the added flexibility of an SLR, but aren’t quite ready for the higher prices of Nikon’s more expensive DSLRs. In addition to aspiring new photographers, the Nikon D50 should also be desirable for more experience photographers wanting an inexpensive, fun to use DSLR. We’ll talk more about that later.
With the D50, Nikon has a comprehensive line-up of DSLRs. Their Nikon D70 is a huge market success, offering a winning combination of image quality and performance. In addition, the price was very low compared to similar DSLRs. Its success sent a shockwave through the photographic community and not only encouraged a new group of photographers to go digital, it also caused some scrambles among other manufacturers.
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|This particular class of camera, the entry level DSLR, is an important one for many reasons. First, manufacturers see photographers purchasing cameras in this range as their future. Photographers rarely jump from a point and shoot to a Nikon D2X or an Nikon F6. They usually start with something less expensive, determine if they really enjoy the level of control a SLR or DSLR provides, gradually add accessories, and then sometimes migrate to the higher-end bodies. Switching from one system to another midway through the process happens, but not without pain and financial loss. Second, cultivating a large size group of new photographers helps subsidize R&D expenses for some of the higher end cameras and lenses.|
It’s important that manufacturers also provide inspirational cameras at the top end for new photographers to dream about. The Nikon D2X and Nikon D2HS certainly fill that role well, and the Nikon D50 is one of the ways Nikon will be able to continue to fund development of the next generation bodies. Given all that, it’s not surprising there is a strong focus on this segment of the market.
This review is written with two primary groups in mind. The first are those who are potential purchasers of this camera and might have limited backgrounds in DSLRs. The second are experienced digital photographers who might be asked for advice from friends or might consider purchasing an inexpensive DSLR. Nikonians are known as great sources of photographic info to many of their friends, so this article should help with questions they are likely to be asked.
First, let me talk a little about my (Rick’s) background as well as my son. I’ve been using Nikon cameras since I was fourteen, which was close to thirty years ago. I started with a Nikkormat FT2 and have migrated through a series of cameras and lenses since then (Am I Nikon’s ideal consumer?). I’m currently using a Nikon D2X for digital images, along with an F6 for film. I mainly like photographing nature and travel subjects, but also take many photographs of friends and family. You can see some of my images on my website.
Eric is sixteen years old and has been using Nikon SLRs (N8008s and N90s) since he was eight years old (he started very early!). He made a 100% shift to digital a little more than a year ago when the Nikon D70 arrived on the market. Since then, he has shot thousands of images with that camera in a wide variety of situations. More recently, he’s working as a photographic intern at our local newspaper and shooting events with that camera. Because of his knowledge of the Nikon D70, plus the fact that he’s a very fine photographer, I asked him to help with this review. The images you see in this review, with the exception of the shot of the equipment, were all made by Eric with the Nikon D50.
Also, we’d like to give special thanks to Brad Berger of Berger Brothers Camera, for providing us with the D50 for testing. Thanks, Brad!