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Seeking camera advice

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

I am not a camera expert at all.... more of a camera novice although I have been shooting pics for a long time. I am not good on the techical aspect and all the terminology. I HOPE to learn more in the next few years since my youngest is a senior in high school and I might actually have some free time to dedicate to hobbies next year as she heads off to college with her brother.

I have a D200 which my husband purchased me almost 5 yrs ago. I usually shoot sporting events using a Nikon 2.8 80-200 lens which is almost 10 yrs old. Last year it became apparent that ALL my photos which had been sharp and crisp were blurry..... I tried every possible setting and still no luck. I finally sent the camera and lens off to Nikon last March. They did work on both and assured me they were being returned to "like new" factory the tune of 500+ dollars. Once football season started up again, it was clear the camera (or lens) was still not functioning properly. I am at a total loss as to what to do. Obviously, that 500+ bucks was wasted, now I don't know whether to just replace the lens (which I can't afford to do currently) or replace the camera as well, or change brands altogether and convert to Canon.

Anyone have any suggestions? I like to play around with shooting sports, but since my boys are out of school now, and my daughter is graduating, I am not sure I will have the need for the big zoom lens like I have in the past. But I also like to do some portrait work - mainly outside photography, and i like the speed of my big lens - of course, I could obtain a smaller version for less money!

I have considered rolling to Canon because the color seems to be so much nicer................ but I have another lens for the nikon which I am not fond of because it is slow, and the flash, etc. so not sure I want to start over. I would appreciate opinions, suggestions, etc as to what you would suggest.

Thanks for any and all suggestions!

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Did you contact Nikon about the continued problems after they fixed both camera and lens? Seems like they would've tested them for sharpness and accuracy before sending them back to you.

Have you used a tripod since you had them worked on? If that doesn't work then obviously something is still seriously wrong. If it does work then you can proceed from there - check your shutter speed, VR if you have it on your lens, etc.

Linthicum Heights, MD(Zone 7a)

If I were you before I did anything I would want to find out what the problem is with your existing camera/lens. Spending $500 should not go to waste. Nikon should be able to tell you "exactly" what they did to the camera, and to the lenses. And, if it doesn't work, I would be sending it back ... to Nikon. To narrow it down, you said you have another lens. Does that one work okay ? Do you have a camera store within reasonable from where you live. If so, I would take the camera and lens there and see if they can help you. You need to try a similar type lens on the camera and see if you get the same problems. I assume that the camera is set for auto focus vs. manual focus. It has to be an issue with the camera ... or the lens, but not both. And, it can be the photographer. Are all pictures blurry or just some ? As hcmcdole mentioned, what is the shutter speed of the blurry photos ? These problems can happen to the best of us but in most cases the problem is with a camera setting. That is, me, the photographer, forgot to change the settings to deal with the changing conditions. Do you have any other friends, relatives, etc that own Nikon equipment ? It should be easy to narrow down whether the problem is the camera, or the lens. Nikon is not known for stellar customer service. Personally, I would only send something back to them if it was still under warranty. I have a personal problem and that is, "I don't fully trust these places". Anytime, I am faced with a costly repair, I seriously consider putting those repair costs toward a new product. For example, you can buy a Nikon D200 on Ebay for less than $500.00, some even with a warranty. Anyway, as they say, "you can't cry over spilled milk" ! You just move on.

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

No, it is not the settings..........I have tried all types of variations on the settings. All pictures are slightly fuzzy. Some will look 'fine' on the screen, but fuzzy once you look at them on the computer....

I was hestitant about spending that much money for repairs as opposed to putting it into new equipment too..... but they assured me they would be back to factory specs so I thought it would be well worth it..... 200+ for the camera that was 4 yrs old to be back to factory specs and 300 for the lens that would cost 2500 to replace. I thought it was a good deal, but I knew I was probably in trouble when it arrived back home and had this disclaimer on the lens that "because it was an older model it might not perform as well as expected" with the newer technology camera!!

I had the opportunity to BRIEFLY try an 80-200 lens that belonged to someone else ( a local photographer from the newspaper) but I only got to take about 4 shots with it - but they appeared to be much sharper and more like normal. I really think my biggest problem is the old lens. It has been a good one, but probably time to replace it or purchase another fast lens since I probably won't be needing the zoom for a few years.

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

I'm still surprised they would send it back claiming it would be back to working order.

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Anyone use Canon? Happy with action shots on them? if so, what type of lenses do you own??

Just considering converting because the color I have seen on the canons seems so much richer.........

Talihina, OK

Where is Camden ? Just asking because Bedford Camera is very well respected in MW Arkansas And if you are close they would likely rent you another lens.. course if you ever stray over into SE Oklahoma then I got a box full on Nikor lenses..

Ottawa, KS(Zone 5b)

Hi Gen,

I'm waiting to see what Nikon's replacement for the D300s (probably to be called the D400) will look like (and cost). You can compare results from all different makes and models of cameras at photoSIG;jsessionid=alMHKqHhbq34XHU6kF;jsessionid=alMHKqHhbq34XHU6kF

I think it is a vast oversimplification to say that the color on the Canons is "richer". I think you have to compare specific camera models. I'm not even sure that "richer" is a good thing -- I think that color accuracy would be a better goal. You can always make the color "richer" in post processing by cranking up the Saturation setting.


This message was edited Mar 14, 2012 11:39 AM

Rochester, MN

Quote from linthicum :
... To narrow it down, you said you have another lens. Does that one work okay?...

How do the pictures turn out with the other lens?

Is there a Nikon authorized repair shop near you that you could take your camera to, so you could deal face to face with someone?

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Camden is located in South Arkansas..... a couple of hours south of Little Rock, but I will need to swing by Bedford's there and take my camera in to see what they think.

Thanks for the help!

Willis, TX(Zone 8b)

Can you post a few photos that we could look at?

One thing that can happen to lenses is that they get out of calibration and will either front focus or back focus which means that they are either focusing in front of where you have your focus set or behind it. Sometimes it can be way off.

There is a quick and dirty (not terribly scientific) test you can do by placing a yardstick at an angle and setting your camera up on a tripod. Focus exactly on 18 inches and take several shots at different apertures. Look at the photos and see where the camera/lens actually focused. I'll go out and set up what I'm talking about and take a photo so you can see.

This isn't too likely if Nikon said they returned it to factory conditions, but that disclaimer makes me wonder. Maybe the lens couldn't be restored to fc?

As far as jumping to Canon: I use Canon and love it, but I drool over some of the Nikon lenses, especially the wide angle landscape type lenses. Play around with a Canon before you jump. I think Nikon has a better menu system and from what I've seen, I think Nikon does a great job with color. But, if you do want to jump, now would be a good time since you don't seem to have a large inventory of Nikon lenses that you would have to sell.

Off to set up that test ...

Good luck with the camera shop! They might be able to set up a quick test for you there.


This message was edited Mar 15, 2012 11:53 AM

Willis, TX(Zone 8b)

Here are a few photos of a quick test setup.

Put the yardstick at an angle similar to this one. Camera on a tripod and easiest way to see the results is to shoot wide open (smallest f-stop number/largest aperture) which would be f2.8 on your lens. But, try a few other apertures while you have it set up.

Second shot is one of my test shots.

Third one is a crop of that test shot. I have an arrow pointing at where I set my focus point, the H in Burch. My lens is focusing pretty close to where it should be. I can do a calibration on my camera to get this lens perfectly matched to my camera. I don't know if your camera will do that or not.

Oh, and as you can also see from these photos, I need to get out there and work in my backyard instead of playing with my camera. ^_^ Oh well ...

Thumbnail by P_Edens Thumbnail by P_Edens Thumbnail by P_Edens
Portage, WI(Zone 5a)

I'm sorry to say but Nikon vs Canon is a Ford vs Chevy argument = nonsense. There is no overall winner. It alwasy boils down to a model by model comparison based on what you are looking for/need.

Talihina, OK

Patti Love your tripod what Kind?

Northeast, LA(Zone 8a)

I agree about the comparisons. I shoot Canon but since I like to shoot wildlife in situations that I cannot set up a tripod I prefer the T21 because I can get nearly twice distance out of my lens and still hand hold. All of my lenses are the pro L series lens.There are trade offs with cameras with the APS-C size sensor. I would like to try the 7d again since I believe the one I had purchased was defective. I had to send it back. We no longer have a camera shop without driving 2hr. I would love to try a Nikon but the longer lens that I need are cost prohibitive compared to the Canon lens of same speed and length. So I think it is all relative to what you can afford and the specific job you need the camera and lens to accomplish. Well I guess I said a lot just to say the same answers you already had received.

Thank you Patti for the illustrations. I think I may just try that with my lenses just for the heck of it. I just sent my camera and my 100-400 off to my warranty company to have the sensor cleaned and check calibration of my lens and was very pleased the service..

Camden, AR(Zone 8a)

Thank you Patti for taking the time to set that up and show me. I will try to find time this weekend to replicate that.

Kenner, LA

The Nikon Vs. Canon arguments can take nasty turns, so beware. I am a Nikon user and so my bias should be very apparent in my postings.

My suggestion will be to take your camera and lens to a nearby brick and mortar photography equipment store and sweet talk one of the experts over there to make sure they are within Nikon specs. Don't just let any salesperson take a look, but try to get a knowledgeable person there. Ask around and you probably will find some recommendations on which store and which salesperson to talk to. These people are invaluable and they are the reason why one must support their local stores.

If they camera and lens are within Nikon specs, then you know that it is user error. I don't know how old you are, but with age, our steadiness reduces. So, typically you need to bump up the shutter speeds and the ISO values to compensate for that. Another suggestion is for you to know your camera's functions inside out. Again, the local stores have classes and you may think about attending one. The D200 is an older model, so probably the classes won't be for it, but you can always ask the instructor there to point out some nuances of that model.

Truthfully, 9 out of 10 times when I have thought or heard about images not being sharp, user error was the culprit.

Good luck.

Rochester, MN

Canon had a lot of issues with it's 50mm f/1.2L USM lens and back focusing, that couldn't simply be said to be user error. I'm sure Nikon has had it's share of similar problems. All companies do.

Sometimes problems like this come up and a person is lucky enough to
A. find someone that can think outside the box (specs) and get the problem solved.
B. send the equipment back several times and get it fixed before they give up.

If the OP can get good pictures with the second lens she has then she did not get the lens tuned to what it needs to be to match her camera. Maybe in spec, but not enough to satisfy her camera.

Willis, TX(Zone 8b)

Sorry, I thought I answered your question about the tripod, but I guess I didn't hit send...sigh.
It's an old Bogen/Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod. I put some pipe insulation around the legs so it was easier on my shoulder when I carry it. The ballhead is a Swiss Arca. It certainly solved a lot of my out of focus issues. I use it most of the time, but I must admit there are times when I don't want to mess with it and I shoot handheld.

Perth, United Kingdom(Zone 7b)

Just a thought - have you tried manually focussing to see if this makes any difference? If so then it would indicate the autofocus is faulty.

Talihina, OK

thanks Patti well it looks like my nephew and I are set to accompany his boss on a desert expedition to the Black Rock /Smoke Creek deserts ..My nephew will be the driver and I am the guide which sounds like a super trip as my exspences are going be covered..Hmmm wonder if I will have to buy my own beer..HEH HEH

Talihina, OK

If you want to find out just how shaky you are put on your longest lens and try for a nice tight flower shot LOL last evening I must have did 10 shots of a Clematis before I got one that was halfway decent..just old age LOL

Willis, TX(Zone 8b)

DMersh, Yes, excellent idea. I should have mentioned that in the little quick test with the ruler, you should also take a few shots by manually focusing the lens as well as a few on autofocus.

Grits, I know what you mean. Sometimes I put an extension tube on with my 400mm lens and shoot close-ups handheld. It's hit or miss with mostly miss. Have fun on that trip! Sounds like a good one.


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