Nikon Camera Recommendations - Holiday 2011

Normally, I don't use this blog to make recommendations around camera gear, but one of my friends asked me for a suggestion, and I emailed my responses to him. I thought there might be others who would benefit from the information I shared with my friend, especially with the Holiday season upon us.

Note - my recommendations are just that - recommendations, and my sole opinions - there are many, many other sites that provide similar advice and I'll link to those sources at the end of my post.

My friend wants to upgrade the family camera from a point and shoot to a DSLR. He has an old film Rebel and two lenses. Their kids participate in a lot of sports and are very active.

So the initial questions I always consider when choosing a camera:
   Who will use the camera and
   What will they be capturing?

In my friend's case, I gathered that
  He and his wife will be using the camera (casual / beginner camera user)
  They want to capture their children in sports and other activities (action shots).

Another very important question to consider is that of budget -
  How much money do you want to spend?

I wasn't given that information from my friend, so I suggested a range of cameras and lenses for him to consider.

For DSLR's I always recommend either Canon or Nikon systems, as they hold the highest market share for DSLRs. I personally use a Nikon DSLR system and know more about the Nikon DSLRs and lenses. I am less in tune with the Canon line up but know that for any given Nikon camera or lens, there is some Canon equivalent.

My friend already has some Canon gear. Because of this, I recommended he look at Canon instead of Nikon.

But I couldn't just leave things open ended like that, so I gave him the following recommendations for a Nikon system, with the following criteria in mind -
   They will need casual / beginner camera user
    They need to capture fast action

Option 1: Nikon D7000 body, $1200

Source -

Option 2: Nikon D5100 body, $750
Source -

I like the D7000 over the D5100 due to its Auto focus capabilities - features like 3D tracking, 39 focus points and 7fps (frames / second) can really give you more "keepers" when it comes to shooting sports. The D5100 in comparison has 11 focus points, shoots 4 fps and doesn't have the 3D tracking feature.

However, I could almost sense the air sucking into my friend's lungs due to sticker shock. I personally have no problem plunking down four figures for a camera body, but for first time DSLR buyers, it's probably a bit of a shock. Hence, my alternate recommendation of the D5100.

Once you have a camera body, you need at least one lens.
Again, the lens depends upon the requirements of the user. In my friends' case, their kids play baseball, softball, soccer and basketball - a zoom lens of at least 200mm is best. There are several options, but the most versatile in Nikon's line up right now is the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S lens. It is $900.

A less expensive option - the Nikkor 55-200 f4-5.6G ED AF-S VR DX which is only $150 right now as it is on sale. This could be paired with another lens to cover the wide angle, the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lens, which is $200:
Source: BH Photo Video

As you can tell by the links I've used, I like purchasing my camera gear from B and H Photo Video and Amazon. If given the choice, I purchase from B&H - their customer service is top notch.

Note, I don't participate in any affiliate programs, so I don't benefit in any way from the links I've posted.

An excellent resource to research cameras:

So my friend is considering the Canon equivalent of the D5100. Another one of my bloggy friends, Puna, just let me know that she received an early Christmas present - a D7000, which replaces her old D40! What camera gear are you hoping to receive this Holiday Season? I hope you get what you wish for.....

Becky  – (December 1, 2011 at 9:28 PM)  

I agree. Love my Nikon D7000. I got mine at Costco with a Nikon 18-200mm lens, plus camera bag for around $1800.

puna  – (December 2, 2011 at 2:58 PM)  

Great minds must think a like! I am so excited to start using my D7000. I got the body only (about $1200 with shipping) and bought a 50 mm 1.8 lens (about $115 with shipping). I'm looking forward to getting other lenses but for now, I am ecstatic!

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