Faulty Nikon D80: repair or upgrade with new lens?
March 8, 2012 6:40 AM   Subscribe

I have a faulty Nikon D80 with two superb lenses. What model is its natural successor, and what is the best quality lens I can get bundled with it?

The fault means I have to manually pop-up the flash before I can take any pictures. The camera works, but it's a pain in the arse.

Because the D80 is 6 years old anyway, repairing it might cost me more than it is worth. An upgrade would be sweet, especially since I'd also like a new lens...

My lenses currently are a AF-S 18-200mm 1:3.5-5.6 - amazing for outdoor shots. It can do anything, but it is bulky.

The second lens is a AF 50mm 1:1.4 - extremely portable, amazing in low-light and for portraits, but limited in the breadth of the photos it can take. Beautiful photos though.

I want the best quality lens in between these two. Something pretty portable that takes great close to mid-range shots. Any ideas?

I could then buy a new Nikon (which model is the natural successor to the super D80?) bundled with this lens, and sell off my old body. That's the idea anyway.

What should I do?
posted by 0bvious to Technology (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What's your budget?
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:41 AM on March 8, 2012

Response by poster: My budget probably depends on whether I can sell off my faulty D80 for any cash. I'm not a professional photographer, so the model of camera needs to be at least as good as the D80 (I want two option dials, not the nasty single dial you get on some of the new DSLRs). On top of that I'd be willing to spend a few hundred on the bundled lens.

Does that help? Sorry, not very specific...
posted by 0bvious at 6:46 AM on March 8, 2012

The best natural successor would be the D7000 (which I have and love) or the D5100.

In between lenses you should look at are the Tamron 17-50 and the Sigma 17-50. Both excellent lenses, both come with each company's version of vibration reduction.
posted by zachawry at 6:48 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

The D7000 is the successor to the D90, which was itself the successor to the D80.

The available kit lenses are the 18-105 3.5-5.6 and the 18-55 3.5-5.6. Since you have an 18-200 I'm not sure either is ideal, except inasmuch as they are less bulky.

If your budget for a lens is a few hundred, then you won't do much better than the 18-105 in a zoom. The DX 17-55 f2.8 would be very nice for your purposes, but it's $1539.
posted by jedicus at 6:51 AM on March 8, 2012

Response by poster: It looks like the D5100 is closest to my budget. There is a bundle on ebay with the Tamron lens. I get worried about buying non-nikon though.

This always gets expensive quickly. Is it just worth getting my D80 fixed?
posted by 0bvious at 6:56 AM on March 8, 2012

FWIW, Amazon has some sort of sale right now:


Basically, buy a camera that's on the list (including the D7000 body), and get $100 off one of the lenses.
posted by chengjih at 6:57 AM on March 8, 2012

The D7000 is a great suggestion. You might also be able to pick up a D300 or D300s second hand for cheap.

If you like a fixed-focal length lens, the 35mm 1.8 or the 24mm 2.8 might also be worth looking at.
posted by Magnakai at 6:58 AM on March 8, 2012

Response by poster: @Magnakai I really do like the fixed focal 50mm 1.4. Which of the two you mentioned will give me the widest shot?
posted by 0bvious at 7:05 AM on March 8, 2012

Be warned: the D5100 will be nicer in some ways, but it lacks the dual control wheels, plus it'll have a smaller and dimmer viewfinder than the D80.

You can get a used D90 for the same price as a D5100. I guess you'll have to decide for yourself whether you'd rather have the updated sensor or the more "pro" features. Both cameras are fine, it's just a matter of what you need. Personally, I'd get the D90, but I'm not you.

Also, Tamron makes some great lenses, and they have a 6 year warranty, so I wouldn't worry too much about them. I use the Tamron 28-75 on my Canon 5D and it's never given me a moment of grief.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:06 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: If I do upgrade, I'd want two wheels and HD video at the least. The D90 wins
posted by 0bvious at 7:11 AM on March 8, 2012

I don't think anyone will give you any significant amount of cash for a faulty 6-year old DSLR. Both of those are nice lenses, though; you may consider just getting a body and keeping those lenses (notwithstanding your issues with them), given that your D80 is not going to be worth much.

I'd probably recommend the D7000 kit with the 18-105 if you're set on starting fresh.

But, if you're starting fresh, you may as well consider Canon, too (T3i, 7D etc.).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:14 AM on March 8, 2012

The D90's video is a bit limiting, though. No focus control.
posted by scruss at 7:16 AM on March 8, 2012

Response by poster: I think the D7000 is out of my price-range, to be honest
posted by 0bvious at 7:19 AM on March 8, 2012

Response by poster: If I was going to start completely fresh, i.e. ditching my current lenses etc. I might as well wait for the next round of compact cameras to come out (Olympus Pen/Nikon N1 etc). I'm happy to commit to my DSLR, but it will be Nikon if I do.
posted by 0bvious at 7:24 AM on March 8, 2012

If I were in your shoes, I would also consider the cost of having the D80 repaired vs. buying a new DSLR.
posted by ellF at 7:39 AM on March 8, 2012

i would seriously reconsider the d5100...the second dial can be recreated with a keypress (hold down fn button and use dial)...1080p HD, 25000iso makes night into day, and the fliparound screen is wonderful.

also the 18-55 kit lens was really a surprise...in a good way...awesome lens! and about the size of a moderate prime lens...much smaller than the 18-200...

i recently upgraded from the d200 and love it. did not even notice the smaller/dimmer viewfinder and even when i compared them side by side it wasnt that big a difference...
posted by sexyrobot at 10:30 AM on March 8, 2012

One possibility that may let you kill two birds with one stone is to go to KEH.com and work your way through their Online Quote Wizard. I plugged in a D80 body with no cables or battery at the BGN level and got $137, you may do better by detailing what you still own.

You can then buy a used camera from them. KEH is a very respected company and you can look at prices for the D7000 or D90 (both are the younger siblings of the D80) with the kit lens.

FYI - as people have noted above (and I can attest to), that 18-105mm kit is portable and very well-received by critics.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 10:50 AM on March 8, 2012

I own a D80 and it is wonderful camera. I also have the 200 model flash attachment from Nikon and it is astonishingly better than the built in flash. It does add a little weight but you get much better control over the direction of the light. If you haven't used an augmented flash you may want to try one at a camera store to see if you like it. It is much cheaper than replacing the camera body.
posted by dgran at 2:09 PM on March 8, 2012

0bvious, the 24mm will be significantly wider than the 50mm, though it lets a lot less light in than either that or the 35mm. The 35mm will end up being more like a "normal" view. You can evaluate the focal length using your current zoom lens, or online here. Unfortunately, afaik there aren't any other cheap first-party autofocus primes. I'm not a Nikon man, so I'm open to correction here.
posted by Magnakai at 4:36 PM on March 8, 2012

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