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D50 Upgrade Choices.. Appreciate the advice


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tnjbrown Registered since 29th Mar 2012
Fri 30-Mar-12 04:26 PM

Hi all,

It's been a while since I've been here, but glad now that the kids are older, to have some time to get back into photography a little, and I need some advice.

I started shooting with an F80 back in the film days and acquired a few decent sets of glass, a Nikon 28-105D, 70-300D-ED, and a 50mm 1.8, all of which fit my needs farily well for average vacation and family photos, and all nice enough to tote around pretty easy.

I find myself now as the kids are older, shooting more of their sporting events, mainly gymnastics and dance competitions without flash, indoors, and finding it darn hard, and at times near impossible to get good shots with the current setup.. so think it's time for an addition, or a change, or both.

I'm positive I need a faster zoom.. and will be purchasing a 70-200mm 2.8, likely a refurbished Sigma HSM II for $599 direct from Sigma. I don't sell or publish photos, it's for personal use, so I'm willing to sacrifice the slight lack of sharpness I hear about with the Sigma in order to save a couple hundred bucks on getting a used 80-200 Nikon 2.8.

Since my main struggles are getting good action shots in low light, I'm not convinced the fast 2.8f lens will be enough.. the D50 only goes to 1600ISO and they tend to get a little grainy up there, so I'm also considering a new body as well.. but there are so many options.

I'm usually high up in the stands shooting too, I need to crop often as well, even when i'm out to 300mm, so the 6mp sometimes makes the already grainy 1600 ISO even worse. The slow 2.5fps of the D50 isn't helping either..

I typically find myself shootign in Aperature or Shutter priority mode to either get a shutterspeed to stop action, or get a wide aperature for good depth of field shots. I rarely if ever use manual mode, but the wife goes full auto if she even musters up enough courage to use the SLR.

I don't really have any great desire to shoot video with my SLR, but it's kind of a nice bonus, but not somthing that would put me over the edge on any model. My SLR gear is for photos.

Based on my needs above, any advice on any of these options, or thoughts on any other possibilities woudl be greatly apprecaited!!

Option 1
- Keep the D50
- Just get a Sigma 70-200 2.8 or Nikon 80-200 2.8
- Pros - cheapest option
- Cons - concerns that I may still have issues in low light gyms being limited to ISO 1600 and 6mp on the D50.
- Net cost ~ $600-800

Option 2
- Get a D5100 Kit with 18-55mm VR and 55-200VR ($899 at Sam's right now)
- Pick up a Sigma 70-200 2.8 refurb $599
- Sell off old non AFS lenses and D50 body
- Pros - 4fps, Excellent IQ at super high ISOs, upgraded to VR for daily shooting lenses, kinda like the flip out LCD and HDR mode, better/more AF points than D50
- Cons - my biggest concern is if losing the ability to quickly change settings by using the menu system on the D5100
- Net Cost - ~ $1000

Option 3
- Get a used D90 for around $600-700
- Keep current lenses
- Pick up a Sigma 70-200 or even a Nikon 80-200 208 since the D90 has a focus motor
- Pros - beter low light performance than the D50, but maybe not as good as the D5100, 4.5fps, similar to the D50s dials so maybe quicker to change settings, but I really don't use more than A or S mode, better AF than D50
- Cons - Most expensive option, limited to ISO6400 unlike the D5100, stick with older FX lenses with no VR
- net cost ~ $1100-1300

Right now I'm leaning toward option 2 as the best bang for my buck if I can be confident that the menu system to change settings won't annoy the heck out of me if I'm in a hurry to switch any settings like ISO, aperature in A mode, or Shutter speed in S mode, or from Continuous AF to other settings, or continuous shooting to single shot mode... It also gives the bonus of soeme newer VR daily shooting lenses, HDR, nice swivel screen for holding the camara above the tall guy in front of me to take a quick shot, and a 1080p video bonus that will likely not see much use anyway..

I just can't seem to pull the trigger as I keep thinking about option 3.. but maybe option 1 is still viable as well?

Looking for any opinions from the group on what you think is the best bang for the buck given the shooting conditions and my shooting style that lacks the need for full tweakability..

Thanks in advance, and sorry for the long read!!


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