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Upgrading to a New DSLR... Thoughts?

Hey gang,

I'm in a bit of a camera conundrum at the moment. Let me explain...

I'm a photography student, currently working on my B.A. degree at the Art Institute of Colorado, as well as a part time professional photographer, and recently I've realized that if I want to be competitive in the industry, I've got to keep up with the technology, and the time is drawing near for me to upgrade from my trusty but technologically outdated Nikon D200 to a better camera. I've consulted my professors, and they told me that in the photography industry, either you keep up or you get left behind, and there's no in between. It's still a great camera, and it works perfectly fine, but now I just need something better.
But what to upgrade to? There is where my problem lies...:confused:

I've shot with Nikon cameras since 2005 - my first DSLR was a 6.1 megapixel D70s, which I recieved as a 16th birthday present in December of 2005. I shot with that camera for a year and a half, and was planning on using it longer, but I got a once in a lifetime deal on my 10.2 megapixel D200 from an ex-professional photographer who was a friend of mine, so I upgraded to that D200 in May of 2007 and relegated the D70s to backup camera status.

I've been extremely pleased overall with my Nikons, and when the thought first crossed my mind, my original thought that since I have so much invested in Nikon lenses and equipment already, that I would just step up to the full frame, 12.1 megapixel D700 body.
But then the $3k pricetag hit me full force, and I choked.
I'll have $60k in student loans by the time I finish my B.A. degree, so the prospect of getting even deeper into debt is not exactly appealing to me.

I went into my local Mike's Camera the other day, and explained my dilemma to the store manager, who has over three decades of photographics experience, and he strongly suggested that I consider the Olympus E-3, and gave me a half hour informative lecture (not a sales pitch, which was refreshing) about the camera and it's various technical aspects and features which make it superior in many regards to similar Nikon and Canon DSLR cameras.

I'd never really considered Olympus cameras before, so I went home and did some research, and I discovered that the E-3 is a truly remarkable camera. It has gotten rave reviews from the photography community, and has picked up a number of awards of excellence in the professional DSLR category from respected magazines such as Popular Photography and PC Magazine.

It has some extremely distinguishing features, namely a completely sealed body, so it is totally weather and dust proof; built in vibration reduction, which eliminates the need for costly VR lenses, as with Nikon and Canon; and a 2.5 LiveView LCD, which besides the LiveView capability being an extremely handy feature in and of itself, the LCD can be rotated to face inwards when not in use, thus protecting the LCD from scratches or accidental breakage. Also, Olympus's Zuiko line of lenses are among the most highly rated in the industry for lens quality, and because of Olympus's unique 4/3 sensor, they are much smaller and lighter than any other manufacturer's lenses, especially their large prime lenses. The difference in size and heft between an Olympus Zuiko 300 mm prime and a comparable Nikkor or Canon 300 mm prime is like night and day!
While the E-3 only has a 10.1 megapixel sensor (the same as my D200) the store manager at Mike's showed me two 16 by 20 inch prints, one made with the E-3 and the other made with the D700. To be perfectly honest, I couldn't really tell the difference - I was amazed at how the Olympus matched the Nikon for sharpness and clarity, even though the Nikon is packing two more megapixels and a full frame sensor!:eek:

Through my research, I can get the E-3 body for around $1300, and paired with the 12-60 mm and 50-200 mm Zuiko lenses, plus some necessary accessories (batteries, etc) I'd be looking at right around $2400 for the whole shebang. Which considering the level of technology packed into the camera body and the quality of the lenses, is quite a bargain.

While I've had very postive experiences with my Nikons', I'm not diehard loyal to the brand, and I am willing to experiment, especially with a camera with as much good press and as many great features as the Olympus E-3.

The Art Institute of Colorado uses Olympus cameras as their primary student kit cameras, and they have a couple of E-3's in their equipment storeroom for student checkout, so I'm going to check one out sometime in the next couple of weeks and take it on a test drive, er, shoot, to see if it lives up to the hype.

So here's my options:
Option A - I sell off my D70s body and kit lens, a couple of my reduntant lenses and my D200 body, which would net me about $1500 all together,for the D700 body, and take out a loan for the remaining $1500.

Option B: I can sell off my D70s body and kit lens, then bundle my D200, my other five Nikon lenses, my Nikon Speedlight flash and my assortment of Nikon accessories together and sell it as a complete package, all of which would net me about $2500 and then purchase the E-3 kit outright and maybe even have some pocket change to spare.

I'm not looking to make the upgrade this instant, but I've tentatively set a goal of upgrading within the next two to four months. I'm hoping to take advantage of what are certain to be extremely wallet friendly holiday specials this year. Economists are predicting record low holiday sales season thanks to the current economic crisis, so retailers are going to be slashing prices on everything in order to keep from going in the red, especially 'luxury' items like TV's, high end camera's, etc., so there will be some absolutely killer deals to be had come Black Friday, as well as the remainder of the holiday season... and I fully intend on taking advantage of them.

So if anyone has any suggestions in regards to my dilemma, or, even better, if anyone has any real world experience with the E-3 or Olympus DSLRs in general, I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Thanks in advance for any and all input!:)
 
Out of 31 responses to my Raw Converter survey, so far, we did have two Olympus shooters, so hopefully they will weigh in.

I understand the "keep up" argument, but I haven't seen you articulate what exactly is "keeping up" in the upgrade you are planning (or conversely, in what area you think you are falling so far behind with your D200). I'd also like to know what Nikon lenses you currently have. It strikes me as a little odd that you "almost choke" on the $2800 price tag of the D700 body, but then are very willing to consider the E-3 which is a $1400 body that will almost certainly require you to invest in lenses to equal what you have now. Not sure how many of your D200 lenses would work on the FF D700, but to compare apples to apples you have to figure out the total investment of camera and lenses when you switch systems. Your math in selling off everything you've got isn't really going to leave you with change left over if you also figure in a new flash & add'l lenses you need to match your current capabilities (is it?).

I don't see how moving to a newer camera with smaller sensor (and thus limited noise/ISO capabilities) is moving you up a lot. Yeah, it's newer. The smaller sensor allows the lenses to be smaller/lighter. But if your argument about "keeping up" was what was really motivating you, I'd think you'd want to be keeping up in better ISO capabilities, lower-noise capabilities, and (perhaps least important) more megapixels. I just don't see you gaining that much in the direction you are considering. (Keep in mind that the 4/3 sensor means you have a 2x focal length multiplier (not a 1.6x like Canikon). The E-3 is supposed to be the pinnacle of the 4/3 design (translation: taking it about as far as it can go).

"Test Driving" is your best option and you are lucky to have that opportunity. Make the most of it.

Final thought: Photokina is this coming week. I'd see what gets announced there (and when the announced cameras might be available) before jumping in with both feet, especially in a new direction.
 
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Q: Are your Nikon lenses 'top drawer'; are they Nikon's best?
Would you have major difficulties re-tooling (incurring further economic hardship) the rest of your gear when making the switch to Olympus? Memory, flash attachments, filters, etc, etc,,,?
I often wonder what my XTi will be worth this year - now that the XSi has come out...
In other words - how fast are cameras becoming obsolete by the new products they push?

They have to sell new models every year to stay in business...
If you presently have the best glass for your Nikon that is available - maybe you might consider going to Nikon's better/best camera body that is supported by your lenses and save big $$ there?
The grass is always greener - but is it really so good that it throws away what you have already pieced together concerning the rest of your Nikon-only gear?
I obviously don't know how to answer your dilemma; as I am certainly no pro. I do understand consumer goods and their values that only can depreciate no matter what they are.
If you are convinced that the Olympus move will be good for four/five years from now; then you may have already made your decision...

What do you plan to do with this degree?
Do you have any offers lined up from the press or media corporations for work at this point - that could help pay for your new gear?
 
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<OK, I'll bite ... at the risk of permanently cementing my 'grumpy old fart' reputation..... :D >


Mark, let's see your portfolio. Now, explain exactly how using a newer camera would have improved any of these images. (Megapixels, something you seem fond of, don't count!)

-Moo!
 
<OK, I'll bite ... at the risk of permanently cementing my 'grumpy old fart' reputation..... :D >


Mark, let's see your portfolio. Now, explain exactly how using a newer camera would have improved any of these images. (Megapixels, something you seem fond of, don't count!)

-Moo!

Yeah, I don't think we've ever seen your shots... would be nice to know how you use the camera so we know where to point you.
 
I'm assuming Tony is being sarcastic. :) Mark's sig contains a link to his SmugMug gallery and he has some very nice stuff there. I've always enjoyed the stuff he's posted in threads, too.

This is not a bash against Olympus, by any means, but I don't see how moving from a Nikon APS-C sized sensor to an Olympus 4/3 sized sensor is seen as a move up (in any way, shape or form).
 
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Hey Mark!
I was just wondering a bit...

Like I said previously, I'm no pro.
I did look up the Zuiko 12-60mm lens and noticed that it isn't even the highest grade available for that camera.
Do you believe that you are getting the maximum from the E-3 if you don't use the finest glass that you could have?

Have you borrowed any top glass for your Nikon from a friend - and gave it a test spin?
What about selling of the D70 and some of your not-so-great glass and keep your best glass?
That could give you at least a grand more to buy more great and needed glass for the D200.
Doesn't Zeiss have lenses that mount to Nikons?

You didn't say what Nikon/Nikkor lenses that you have presently.
Could you fill in the blanks a bit?
Mike Umschied is a Nikon guy and has some of the best pro shots I have seen from this site.
What about getting some really great used glass?
No matter what camera you get or have - I know that using the best glass available has always been the best means to maximize your composition and exposure.

Just Curious....
 
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I guess my main question is in line with others.... Why? What is the motivation? I just can't think or a good reason to dump a D200 or even a D70s for a complete change... The only reason I see to make large moves right now if to jump to the FX sensors. You'r not doing that with the E-3, the sensor is actually even smaller on the E-3 than on the D200 or D70s. The move to FX would require some new lenses anyways as you'll need to dump the DX lens gear.

So yeah, I guess I don't see the compelling part of moving...
 
I would stay far away from olympus. They are extremely slow in processing. Also their resale value goes down really fast. Also accesories are not very plentiful. Your d200 is a great camera. The only reason to upgrade would be to go with a D300, the only advantage to the d300 is you can shoot at higher iso's with less noise. I know very fine photographers taking incredible photos with the D200. If you have a D200 you are up to date with the photo industry. Camera companies have new models out every 3-6 months, you would go bankrupt trying to buy a new model every few months at about $1500.00 a pop. Its not tpe of car you have that makes you a good driver. Its not the type of saw you own that makes you good builder. Its not the tpe of shoes you wear that makes you a great runner. I sell images on the side to publishers. My most recent one that has been selling good was shot with a Nikon D50. I have images that sell regular which were shot on a pentax Zx-5 film camera and a tamron 28-200mm lens. The three most imortant things to remember to get sharp pictures, is 1. Shutter Seed 2. Shutter Speed 3. Shutter Speed
 
Thanks for all your input, everyone. I really appreciate the excellent feedback. :)

After doing some further and deeper research, I have decided to not switch to the Olympus E-3, for various reasons, many of which were mentioned throughout this thread. The thing that really sealed the decision was when I realized it makes absolutely no sense to step down to a smaller sensor than what I have now.

As far as my lenses go, this is the glass I have at the moment:

18-55 mm AFS DX
24-120 mm AF Nikkor
70-300 mm Non-VR AF Nikkor
50 mm AF Nikkor

I actually want to sell the glass I have now due to the considerable overlap that I have in my lenses, and consolidate from four lenses to two.

The first lens I plan on purchasing is a Tokina 10-17 mm Fisheye wide angle - a wide angle is critical for storm photography, and I love the creative perspectives of fisheye lenses. It's $559.95 at B&H, so it's a very practical buy, considering that if you bought a fisheye and wide angle lens seperately, it would come out to well over $1200, so you get the best of both worlds for half the price. It's gotten rave reviews, and I have a friend who is a professional architecture photographer and he swears by it.

I'm undecided on exactly what I'll be purchasing as far as the second lens, but I'm looking closely at the $499 Sigma 18-200 OS, to give me a good all around, multi-purpose lens with optical stabilization for low light shooting .

With just those two lenses, I'd have coverage from 10 mm to 250 mm, which would be more than adequate for my needs. If I need to use any large telephotos, I can check those out for free from the Art Institute equipment room :D.

Now, as far as a new camera body goes, I am now thinking that an upgrade to the D300 is the most affordable proposition and will also give me the most return for my investment.
The D200 is a great camera, don't get me wrong, I've shot many fantastic photos with it - but the D300 blows it, and pretty much every other DSLR in it's price and megapixel range out of the water in pretty much every regard. It was Popular Photography's 2007 Camera of the Year for a very good reason.
I also have several friends who shoot with the D300, and they have nothing but great things to say about it.
It's advanced 51 point AF system and EXPEED image processor (which Nikon borrowed from the breathtakingly awesome and expensive D3) gives it superior image quality.
I've compared RAW images taken with a D200 versus a D300, and the D300 image had richer, more vibrant colors and the overall image was distinctly sharper when compared to the image taken with the D200. Perhaps the most dramatic difference was the noise levels at higher ISO's - the D300 absolutely destroys the D200 in terms of noise at 1600 and 3200 ISO, and even when the D300 is pushed to it's 6400 ISO limit, the noise levels are still more than acceptable.

While I would love to get my paws on a D3, I simply don't have the funds to purchase the D3 body and the pricey glass to fully take advantage of it's full frame sensor. That's going to have to wait until after college.

So I'm going to make the upgrade to the D300 and replace my three overlapping lenses with the two lenses I mentioned earlier in the post.

Much as I would love to keep my D200 body as a backup, I need to sell it along with my four overlapping lenses and my old D70s body/kit lens to raise the approximately $2500 necessary to acquire the D300 and the two lenses I want.

I'm not planning on making the upgrade until December, and I'm currently in the process of getting hired full time at Best Buy, so by then, I'll have some extra cash on hand to cover the remainder of the cost that the sales of my equipment doesn't cover.:cool:
 
Interesting plan, Mark...

I couldn't help but compare the D300 to the lower-priced Canon XSi.
Similar Crop factor (1.6 FOVCF) and both are 12.1~3 Mpxl.
The Canon XSI has LiveView like the Nikon, and both support 14-bit RAW files.
Do you know what are the distinguishing factors that make the D300 better than the XSi?

The Canon can be had for $650 (body only) and the D300 is more than twice that.
Since you are dumping all of your lenses and bodies - you have become a free-agent once again - in a sense.
I almost went with Nikon when I started out six months ago; but the XTi kit ($600 @ Staples) was a much better deal at the time.
The Canon 50D is supposed to be available in Oct - that body MSRP is $1400 - and has some great ISO potentials (from 100 ISO up to 3200 ISO), 15 Mpxl.
Check it out:

http://www.dpreview.com/news/0808/08082605canoneos50d.asp
 
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DOW down 700+ points today....recession, depression....disaster is at hand as banks fail, currencies crash and the world comes to an end.

Hummmm, might this mean some big rebates for camera equipment coming? If I were looking to buy ....keeping your powder dry for a possible big sale might be prudent. Canon especially tends to have rebate sales when things slow down.

Hey, just trying to find the bright side.
 
Hey gang,

I

I've shot with Nikon cameras since 2005 - my first DSLR was a 6.1 megapixel D70s, which I recieved as a 16th birthday present in December of 2005.



Thanks in advance for any and all input!:)

I am probably the oldest Nikon freak on this board, both age-wise and camera-wise; since 1936 age-wise and 1956 Nikon-wise.

I purchased my first Nikon, a S2, in Japan and have had various Nikon's ever since. I still have the S2 and it is gaining in value as a collectors item.

After I retired from IBM I turned professional for awhile, primarily weddings, and acquired a bunch of stuff, both Nikon and Hasselblad. I put off getting into digital until fairly recently. I currently have two high end Kodaks (good car cameras now.) and a Nikon D80 with the 18-135 'kit' lens and SB-800 flash.

I recently returned from a trip where I captured over 1500 photographs at a national meeting and a stop at Niagara Falls. After they finish their trip through Lightroom 2 there will be a lot fewer. When I shot weddings, I thought fifty cents, fifty cents, fifty cents every time I touched the shutter release, now I say free, free, free with a big grin.

The camera and lens combination is not top of the line but still produces photographs good enough for our national magazine (United States Power Squadrons). I shoot JPG fine since I don't care to play with the RAW files.

I believe that once you have a decent camera and lens, it is not whats in front of the camera that counts but rather what is behind the camera. If you can make decent photographs with a point n' shoot then the high dollar cameras bring you a wider range of shutter speeds, faster start-up, decreased lag and less noise. The pixel count is now high enough to make posters far in excess of my ability to buy the ink for them.

The top end cameras bring a lot of features that will seldom be used and will be available in the next generation of mid-line cameras. They might have a more rugged construction but if you drop one of the cheaper models you have an excuse to upgrade to the latest model. (I dumped a camera bag with two Nikon F's and several lens into the Texas' Colorado River while stepping between two dew covered boats. They were insured and my insurance agent was on the trip.)

All that being said, I am frothing at the mouth for the new Nikon D90, just announced but not yet available through B&H. I will probably add the larger VR xx-200 lens. Check the specs and 'movies' at nikonusa.com. It has limited video capabilities which is keeping with my capability in that area.

edit:
Opened my email and had a newsletter from B&H that had a hands-on report of the D90. go to:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/find/newsLetter/NikonD90-Review.jsp
 
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