This spring I proclaimed to my family that I did not want any gifts this year. Nothing for Mother's Day, my birthday, or Christmas - instead, I want cash because I am saving my pennies for a new baby. No, definitely not the human kind. The kind with a lens on the front.
Two and a half years ago, Brian gifted me a camera for our 6th wedding anniversary. It was a Nikon D3000 and I was smitten with it. Since then it has followed me around, documenting my boys' lives. I went from using Auto, to using the little picture settings, to using the various priority settings, and finally landed in a place where I most often shoot in Manual.
After a year of learning the camera with the kit lenses, I upgraded to a Nikkor 50mm 1.8 prime lens, followed shortly thereafter by a 35mm 1.8 as a gift from my hubby because he wanted something a tad wider for indoor shots. I have collected and been gifted various accessories - a tripod, remote, speedlight, softbox, etc. This Christmas my MIL gifted me a Tamron 18-200mm, which I have had a love/hate relationship with until I forced myself to leave it on the camera for 3 weeks until I finally got the hang of it.
All this time, I have gotten to know my D3000 intimately. It's the most basic of the Nikon DSLRs, and has since been replaced my multiple newer models. It was a fantastic camera to learn with, but now I feel like I have outgrown it. It just can't do some of the things that I want it to do, even when I nail my exposure triangle for certain situations.
It's performance in low light is so sad. I have read countless articles that urge readers to "Crank up the ISO! Don't fear the noise! If you nail your shutter speed, you'll be fine!" But my poor D3000 just does not cut the mustard, no matter how perfectly I nail my exposure triangle. The max ISO is 3200, and when it's cranked that high it's insanely grainy, even with a perfectly placed aperture and shutter speed. This is by far the biggest reason I want an upgrade.
It's pretty, but it's noisy.
There are, of course, other things that would be nice to have: a clearer LCD resolution and faster shutter speed/continuous shooting. In order to continue to learn and adjust my camera settings as I go, I'd love to have an LCD that is a little more clear. My 3000 isn't bad, but it could definitely be better. As far as a faster shutter speed, I haven't necessarily had any problems, but I can foresee some. I love taking photos of my boys playing sports, and at 5 years old and 3 years old, I haven't had many problems with my camera keeping up with them. Buuuuut, they're only going to get older and faster.
While researching which camera I would like to be my next, I had to keep price in mind. We certainly aren't swimming in money, and I'm an amateur hobby photographer, far from professional. While I would love to have a full sensor, I just can't justify spending $2000 on a new camera. So that limits me to the Nikon D5000 series or the 7000 series. The Nikon D5300 is the latest in the 5000 series, and has many of the upgrades that I'm after. It runs around $650, so it's very reasonable, especially since I plan to sell my 3000 and it's 2 kit lenses to help with cost a bit. But it just doesn't seem like enough of an upgrade. I'm kinda feelin' like if were to upgrade to this camera, I would just end up wanting something bigger and better in another year or two.
The latest in the 7000 series is the D7200. This guy runs between $1100 and $1200. Quite a bit more expensive than the 5300, but it has quite a few more of the upgrades that I'm after: the ISO maxes out at 102,400 (holy crap), the LCD resolution is 400% better than my camera, the shutter speed tops out at 1/8000 (vs mine at 1/4000), and continuous shooting is twice as fast as my camera's. A few other things the 7200 offers that would be nice to have are a longer battery life, environmental sealing, and video!
I can still capture him, but he's only going to get faster!
Another option is to go with the older, but still great D7100. It offers many of the same great options as the 7200, but one major difference I've seen is low light performance and max ISO. The 7100 only has a max ISO of 25,600 vs the 7200's whopping 102,400 ISO. Holy bananas. Comparison reviews of the 2 cameras generally state that the 7200 has a much better low light performance. Battery life, color depth, and dynamic range of the 7200 are all also better. With a price difference of $300, I'm leaning toward the 7200. I think that I'll be happier in the long term if I wait and save the extra money for the 7200 instead of jumping the gun for the 7100. And of course in the meantime I'll be watching for good sales. I think it'll be Christmas by the time I have enough saved, so hopefully that will mean good prices!
In the meantime, I'll keep practicing and learning my 3000 even better. Patience will most certainly be key in this journey!