I would like to buy a second body, I currently have Nikon D40, which sadly doesn't have servo motor for lenses, so I can only use AF-S lenses. It also cannot do metering on non-AF lenses.

I'm a hobbyist and my fiancee is too, but we'd like to have a second body so each of us can take one body if we want to go to separate places. I'd like to have an older body

I don't have a lot of money in my photo budget (about 300 EUR = $400), so I was browsing ebay and local ads, and found these options (compared to D40):

  • D80 - has servo, 10 MP, more solid plastic body, more focus points, 0.66 kg weight, same generation as D40
  • D100 - metal body, has servo, meters with a lot of lenses, but
  • D1X - huge metal body, 1.1 kg weight, supports and meters any lenses from AI up. Better viewfinder, and full-size sensor.

With D100 and D1 I could get bunch of old manual lenses. I actually have some old manual lenses, but they are very hard to work with on D40 (as it can't meter with old lenses)

I know that D1 is a boat anchor, but I've held it in my hands and it fits. It was kind of my dream camera since I learned about it.

I'm not going pro or anything, I have a job in entirely different profession. I only take pictures for the joy of it. I mostly don't need to shoot fast-moving stuff like sports, so using older, lower tech camera would be OK with me.

What would you recommend?

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  • Since Axarydax got a good answer, I'm voting to close this question. I find it highly unlikely that someone in the future will a) come across these particular three old models in local classified ads and b) narrow down the choice to one of these. And even then, the answers will change, because even newer models will change how these older models might be recommended. – Please Read My Profile Jan 5 '12 at 4:43

Firstly the D1X doesn't have a full size (35mm) sensor it's a 1.5 crop like the others. It's also getting pretty old now so unless you really need what it specifically offers (i.e. build quality) I would look elsewhere. Cameras have come on a long way in the last ten years, image quality wise I would expect it to be blown out of the water by the current entry level models. By image quality I mean resolution, sharpness, colour reproduction and noise.

Same applies to the D100 to an extent. You'd be surprised by what basic features are missing from even pro level bodies that are a certain age. I'm not a Nikon shooter so hopefully someone else can give you some other alternatives with regard to lens compatibility, but my advice would be to look for something released in the last four years.

I know you're only doing this as a hobby and so maybe image quality doesn't matter, however I speak from experience when I recommend you get the newest body you can. I recently upgraded from a 1D mkII to a mkIV, a gap of about 5 years in terms of camera developments. Instantly I found the new body is just so much nicer to use, the controls are laid out better and more logically, there are loads of useful settings that were missing before. The screen is so much better I don't know how I coped with the tiny low res screen on the mkII. Battery life is also better, partially because of newer technology and partially because the original battery is worn out.

At the end of the day a body that is pleasant and fun to use is the important thing. If the new body is a pain to use compared to your D40, you wont look forward to using it and wont get good pictures.

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  • thanks to the concise answer. I already have a 4 year old body and I can't afford anything newer, that's why I was looking into something older. If I had the money, I'd buy a D3X without thinking about it. In reality, there are things with higher priority like family, house, car, motorcycle, so the camera is low in the priority list. That's why I thought I could get an older pro level body and older lenses - in the end, it's about the excitement for the money spent. – Axarydax Jan 2 '11 at 15:29
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    As a Nikon shooter, I agree with this assessment. The D100 is not worth it compared to the D80, but if you really can wait, save for a used D200. That is a pro level body, with weather sealing, similar IQ to the D80 but with metering on older lenses (if that's what you require). If you don't have the older lenses, just go for the d80. – mmr Jan 2 '11 at 17:14
  • Completely agree with mmr. I have had a D100, D200, and D300. Don't waste your money on the D100, it is noisy above ISO 400! A used D200 will work great up to ISO 1000. And it is a tank, I took one all over the world many times as a first, then backup body... – Bryce Alan Flurie Jan 3 '11 at 21:25

I upgraded from a D40 to a D200 (it didn't make me a better photographer, but that's another story...). I really enjoy using the D200, it's a very solid camera and had good image quality.

From what I can see here in Sweden a used D200 will go for around €400 now. So saving up for some more time can really help!

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  • The nikon d40 is a down_grade from the d200 ....... the d40 has no focusing motor which requires you to buy AF-S lenses. the d200 on the other hand is too advanced, the in_between body would have been the nikon d80. It handles better than the d40 and lighter than the d200, it has the same sensor as the d200 has, shoots 10.2mp images in 2 channel and has 7 pre-set shooting modes so you can learn how to use the camera a little better. – user7953 Jan 5 '12 at 3:41

D100 is the best for battery life - I got SIX batteries and grip and 2 Gig card plus a fab comfy springy rubberised black strap, in great condition in the local camera shop - all for 150 Euro. Lovely to handle, Image Quality is as good as it gets up to 800 though I stay at 400 or below, buffer for Raw disappointing but dooesn't matter for landscapes and macro or street photography, and as I handle a DSLR like a film SLR hardly using the LCD screen that doesn't matter much either. But it has features that even the newer cams like the D3200 haven't got - like bracketting for HDR, using older AF lenses, the grip which is great, and the magnesium alloy body. The D100 viewfinder also has the highpoint viewfinder - great when you wear specs and have a big nose like me. and it has the choice of three colour spaces. Although not technically waterproof you can use it as I do in light rain and this gets even better with the waterproof/dustproof Nikkor 18-70. Of course I'd swap it all for a new D3200, or even a 5100, in a split second, but there would be no point in upgrading unless to a D7000 or similar.

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