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May 5, 2007 3:52 PM   Subscribe

D80Filter - Could I do better with this Nikon dSLR setup?

Based on AskMe posts and DPReview, I'm about to buy a Nikon D80 as my first dSLR.

Subjects and environments are general-purpose, though I will attend several wedding this year and would like to be prepared to cover these as an attendee.

I want to start learning this camera with a prime lens. I'll get more lenses in the next 9-12 months.

I've mapped out the following for my initial purchase and am generally happy with the ~$1750 budget. So - any omissions or misguided decisions?

Nikon D80 body only
50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor lens
Tiffen 52mm UV Protector Glass Filter
Nikon SB-800 AF Speedlight Flash
MB-D80 Battery Grip
EN-EL3e extra batteries (3x)
SanDisk 2GB Ultra II SD Card (2x)
ML-L3 Remote Control Transmitter
MH-18a extra battery charger

I already own a bag, card reader, and a tripod.

Should I consider additional filters, including a polarizer? I am a flash rookie - what about additional bounce or diffusion? Do I need a flash cable for remote work?

Also, I shoot time-lapse. Does the D80 have a built-in intervalometer?

Last, any thoughts on saving $100 by buying a used body through B&H?
posted by asuprenant to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I've had a D80 since last November and I've taken it all over the country for various length trips. I used to bring everything with me. I've stopped bringing the charger. The battery life on this thing is just amazing. I have two batteries and even for a photo heavy shooting trip I've yet to run out of power, even over a four day spree. Granted, I don't shoot a lot of flash, so that may be different than you, but if you're looking to shave about $100 you might want to start there - 3 extras seem a bit of overkill to me based on your "general purpose" and wedding attendance needs.

You may also want to get the SB-600 flash. I decided to go with that as my flash unit based on numerous sources advising that it would be 80% of the 800 and the chances of me needing that other 20% look slim.

I don't know where you'd planning on buying, but I know that Amazon has been having amazing prices on SD cards lately. I just picked up a couple of Ultra II's for $32 each. Looks like they jumped up since last week, but it's worth keeping an eye on.
posted by FlamingBore at 4:10 PM on May 5, 2007

Best answer: Stay with the SB800. You can use it to slave other SB's.

You'll want to get a diffuser (the one that comes with the SB800 is pretty mediocre). The Gary Fong lightsphere is ludicrous-looking, but extraordinarily effective. Don't bother with flash filters right now. Learn the basics first. (Plus, the SB800 comes with some gels).

You don't need a cable for remote work. You can use the onboard flash to trigger the SB800. You'll need to mount it to something, of course. That's part of the reason why the SB series is so awesome. If you plan on shooting more than, like, 50 shots at full-power, you'll need to get an external flash battery like the Quantum 2x2.

I'd get a circular polarizing filter if I were you. Make sure it's quality glass. Your skies will be bluer and your oceans clearer.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:28 PM on May 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've had a D80 since last november.. I love the camera. The only thing about your choices that caught my eye was the single 50mm lens. I picked up the package with the Nikkor 18-135 zoom, it has been a great all purpose lens for me. Most of my photography is outside, both nature, landscape, and some macro stuff the 18 to 135 range has worked well.

Although you didn't ask about problems, a little warning...The only problem I've had was an auto focus failure after shooting outside during the winter for a couple of hours in sub 0 temps. I had to send the lens in for repair.
posted by HuronBob at 4:37 PM on May 5, 2007

Seconding HuronBob on the lens choice. Note that on a Nikon dSLR a 50 mm lens is somewhat telephoto, because of the smaller sensor. If you're using it for general purposes, you're going to find yourself walking backwards to get a group of people or an overall scene. It's good for individual portraits, but I'd say too limiting for a general purpose/walk about lens. You'll soon want something with a wider angle. I have the lens and love it, but I'm grateful that I can switch to my 17-55mm when necessary. And yeah, you don't need that many batteries.
posted by teg at 4:54 PM on May 5, 2007

2nd the SB 600. Put the extra towards other glass. The 50 is really an 90, so if you want a 'normal' prime lens look at 35mm.
posted by Gungho at 5:00 PM on May 5, 2007

Best answer: 4 x Batteries might be overkill, unless you're tent camping for a week.

Also, you're learning on a very fast lens, which means you can take pictures using ambient light. Without the flash, you'll learn more about the limitations of your gear and (hopefully) gain a steady hand pushing your exposures longer. Might want to consider dumping all the flash gear and buying a wide angle prime and a simple flash diffuser for the pop-up flash. (I personally hate flash with a vengeance).

For exposures longer than 30 s, you may need to get the corded remote. At least on the Canon side of things, that's the only way to be able to lock the shutter open and walk away.

Summary: less supplementary crap, more lenses.
posted by cowbellemoo at 5:14 PM on May 5, 2007

Best answer: I don't think you need an expensive UV protector for the 50 1.8. The thinking seems to go two ways on protecting lens. 1) why put a cheap filter in front of your expensive glass. 2) I'm protecting my expensive glass at all costs. Neither of these arguments matter with the 1.8. the filter is half the price of the lens! So save the money that way. Once you drop 1000 on a lens it'll make more sense to get a UV protector for it.

I like the 50 1.8, but its pretty tight in close quarters, and it may be not long enough for weddings. Think about either getting the 35/2, or even getting a cheap kit lens (Nikon's kit lenses arn't that bad, and finding out what lens length you like to shoot at before picking up some primes.) Actually wait until May 10. There are rumors about new prime lens releases.

I don't think you need 3 batteries either. Especially if you're getting the battery grip. (those take AA's right?). One EL-3 should give you more than 500 shots..

Perhaps countering Civil_Disobedient : If the D80 can command 600's and 800's why would you want to pay more money for the 800 to slave to other flashes? However One reason to get the 800 is for the extra power to bounce off high ceilings..

You may also want to save $100 to get Capture NX, or a little bit more for Adobe Lightroom for post-processing. Both have trials you can try.
posted by stratastar at 7:20 PM on May 5, 2007

stratastar - the filter is only like $10 at Amazon. Why on earth would someone not spend $10 to spare a $100 lens?
posted by FlamingBore at 7:36 PM on May 5, 2007

I would look into used equipment. Used digital cameras, especially if they are a little dated in technology, go pretty cheaply, even from a camera store. Quality Nikon equipement will be reliable, even used.
posted by caddis at 7:51 PM on May 5, 2007

Best answer: Ok sorry, the reason is this a $10 non multi-coated filter will reduce image quality considerably by introducing ghosting and other artifacts, especially if you're gonna be using alot of flash. The glass in the 50 1.8 is very recessed so you're really not going to get fingerprints on it, and you really don't need to protect it unless you're gonna be on a windy beach. It's fine if you want the peace of mind go ahead and spend $50 on better filter, but still I think it's a waste at this point in time.

Also to answer one of your questions, you don't need a wire for remote flash with the d80 and the sb600 or sb800. It has a built in wireless command mode.

Thinking about it a little more, you should get the D80, the sb600, the 50 1.8, and once you start shooting with it you'll quickly get an idea of what sort of range you're gonna want.

You'll either want to get a more wide normal prime (35/f2 or Sigma's 30/1.4), a cheaper kit lens, or a zoom. You could pick up a 18-55 for under 150, and get the new 55-200VR for $250.
posted by stratastar at 7:52 PM on May 5, 2007

Best answer: 4 EN-EL3s are wild over kill for this kit, two is all you need. Nikon rates two in the MB-D80 for something like 3000 exposures (1/5th with pop-up flash). And because the MB-D80 lets you power the camera with 6-AAs (Ni-MH which you are carrying anyways for the speedlight) you essentially don't need to worry about battery life. Every gas station and most convinence stores in the US and Canada have AAs available for purchase.

Plus with only two batteries you can drop the second charger and buy NiMHs (at least 10) + chargers for your speedlight. Personally I'd buy 4 sets of 4 + three chargers. That gives you three sets of batteries (use the 5th option) and the ability to charge them all at once.

I'd also add the 18-55 kit lense. It is a fairly good lense for the price and the 50 (though far and away the best bang for the buck available from Nikon) is much to long for wedding work. I love to mount it as my grab and go combination on the D70s, it'll be even better with the greater crop obtainable on the D80.

Add the wired remote as well as the wireless. It's cheap and it has two advantages over the wireless: you can operate it from anywhere (within 1m) rather than just from in front and it has a shutter lock.

The SB-800 has a higher gain number with the same recycle time as the 600. Plus it automatically adjusts for a wider lense than the 600. And it can be fired in Auto mode for Studio work with studio lights. It's well worth the extra money.
posted by Mitheral at 8:26 PM on May 5, 2007

I looked it up, Nikon rates the MB-D80 for 5,000 shots with two EN-EL3. Thats like 50 minutes of continuous shooting at the D80s 2.5 frames a second.
posted by Mitheral at 9:03 PM on May 5, 2007

N-thing the reconsideration of the 50 as your only lens.
posted by docgonzo at 10:03 PM on May 5, 2007

I put together my D80 rig yesterday.. This will be my first DSLR.

Here's what I got:

D80 body refurbished w/warranty (ebay $780)
50mm f/1.8 Nikkor Prime Lens (B&H ~$100)
SanDisk 4 GB Extreme III SDHC Card w/Reader (Amazon $116)

I know, I should have probably gotten the 2GB card for $30, but I'm a sucker for new.

Am I missing something?

Next on the list is the 18-200mm VR..
posted by mrunderhill at 2:08 AM on May 6, 2007

I have a D70 and a Nikon 50mm/1.8 prime (along with the kit lens). I love it. Start with just 1 or 2 batteries - you will probably find that these are enough. A single Nikon battery is good for 300+ shots. I use my camera heavily and I only have a single battery.

As others have said, the 50mm on a dSLR will give you the equivalent of an 80mm on a regular 35mm camera. This means the 50mm is a portrait lens - you will have a *very* hard time taking pictures of two people in a frame at ordinary indoor distances (like, in the room of a house) because you'll have to back up pretty far to compensate for the narrow field of view.

If you want a good indoor prime and aren't taking conference or concert photos, go with a 35mm instead.
posted by zippy at 5:28 AM on May 6, 2007

I picked up a high speed 2GB card at Best Buy for $35 a couple of weeks ago. Bargains can be had. Of course, they sold me some other stuff as well so the ploy worked as planned.
posted by caddis at 7:56 AM on May 6, 2007

Response by poster: Wow, thanks for all of the input. This is great.

I hadn't realized that the battery grip accommodated AAs, but knowing this lets me easily jettison my intended backup set of two extra EN-EL3e.

I think the idea of a wider-angle prime based on the sensor area is also sage. I'm sure I'll eventually get a zoom, but I've been shooting film with 35mm/3.5 and like how that limitation opens things up creatively for me.

Very interesting to hear about the 10 May announcement - I'll keep an ear open for that. In the meantime, I originally started exploring the Nikon as it has some Zeiss lenses available. Zeiss lenses - all that they're cracked up to be?
posted by asuprenant at 2:41 PM on May 6, 2007

This by the way is what I'm buying in the next couple of weeks:
Nikon EN-EL3 Rechargeable Battery
Nikon MC-DC1 Remote Cord D70S
Nikon D80 Digital SLR with 18-135 Lens Kit
Nikon ML-L3 Remote Control
Nikon MB-D80 Battery Grip
Nikon SB-800 Speedlight

I've got a pair of 50 AF-S, a 75-300 and 35 f2 (oh and a 500mm reflex) already. And I'm planning to get either the 85 or 105 Macro and the Tokina 12-24.
posted by Mitheral at 12:08 PM on May 7, 2007

Response by poster: OK! I've had the camera for about a month now, and I love it. I will explore wider lenses sometime, but, for the moment, the 50mm 1.8 is fantastic and only requires some wrangling of group shots.

My favorite so far is here. I've also taken a bunch more that I haven't uploaded yet, but I should have them on by ~11 June.
posted by asuprenant at 3:49 PM on June 4, 2007

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