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Buying Advice Needed - for Wife's B-Day

Discussion in 'Nikon DX DSLR Forum' started by RickC, Sep 30, 2008.

  1. Hi All,

    I'm looking to buy my wife her first digital camera and would appreciate any advice on the decision I'm about to make.

    A little background - my wife is not a photo hobbyist, she likes to take photos of our teenage kids and our dog....not too much else. When she had her 35mm film camera she took plenty of shots, but isn't into f-stops, depth of field, etc...She shoots mainly in "P" mode and is happy doping that.

    With that said, I have narrowed my selection down to two cameras:

    Nikon D40x w/ an 18-135 lens: cost = $799


    Nikon D80 w/ an 18-135 lens: cost = $798.95

    Any suggestions between these two cameras as to which would be a better buy for my wife's photo needs are greatly appreciated.

    Also, I do not want to spend more than $800 AND if there are any other camera/lens suggestions that would serve her better at a lower price, that would be great as well!

    Thanks in advance!!
  2. Good question... with the prices like they are, the decision is not obvious.

    I would have said that the D40 is sufficient if you know that the user will not likely take advantage of, or grow into, the improved controllability of the D80. Plus, the D40 is smaller/lighter.

    But, since you can get the D80 for the same money with the same lens, why not get it. The only disadvantage is that the D80 is modestly larger/heavier than the D40. If you don't think that's an issue, then get the D80.
  3. Having not checked lately, I was very surprised to see that the two you mentioned are the same price.

    I would recommend saving a bit of money and getting a plain old D40. Your wife sounds very much like mine in terms of technical interest and purpose in photography. I bought my wife a D40 with the 18-55 kit lens in May '07 as a Mother's Day gift. She really likes this camera and has NO desire for anything larger or fancier. We did replace the 18-55 with an 18-200VR because she appreciates the extra zoom range.

    If you look at our web page you'll find many pictures that she took with her camera. She often gets some really nice ones.
  4. From experience with a wife with the same attitude and needs I got her a D40 (pre-D40x) and lent her my 18-200 lens.
    She's happy as can be and has never missed the extra MP the X version has.

  5. tjk60


    Dec 4, 2007
    troy, mi
    for the same price I would get the d80, no need to worry about AF-s lenses only
  6. I tried to choose between a 40 and an 80 for my wife. I was leaning toward the 40 due to the size difference as either would make excellent photos for her. I gave up trying to make the choice myself and took her to the shop to play with both cameras - she actually preferred the D80 size (and she's like 5'2" with small hands).

    If size and price are not factors, then the 80 is the choice - my bride loves hers.
  7. rgordin


    Jun 3, 2008
    Washington, DC
    Why the D40X? The D40 unless she wants non-AFS lenses. although the D40 may have fewer pixels, it may do better at higher ISO - something that may be to her liking if she is shooting using the "P" mode instead of the automatic setting (the latter of which will fire the flash in low light situations automatically). To me, one big advantage of the D80 - in addition to the lenses - is the ready access to so many controls. But from what you said, she likely will not use these.
  8. Just another datapoint....when I was buying a camera for my wife and another for my daughter.....I had the same thoughts you did. I mentioned it to them and they were 100% against it. They both said if it doesn't fit in a small purse, we don't want it. So I ended up getting them Canon SDxxx (the small compact camera). They both have enjoyed them....and use them.

    So my only advice is to solicit your wife's input prior to purchase if possible.
  9. Thanks to everyone who responded! A lot of good opinions and things for me to ponder. At this point, I'm leaning towards the D40 with a 18-135 lens. That should probably fit the bill....and at a lower price compared to the two cameras I listed in my opening post.

    I'd really like to get her a 18-200 - I have one and it's great for a "walk-around" - although that would probably put me above my budget.

    Thanks again.
  10. Wolfie


    Jun 16, 2008
    Hazel Green, AL
    I agree.

    I'd honestly go with the D40 because it's the cheapest one on the market. Save the money from not going with the D40x and use it on a good lens or flash.

    D40 is smaller, lighter and just more enjoyable for for someone going up from just a P&S.
    Just my two cents.
  11. mapimages


    Oct 1, 2008
    just wanted to throw my 2 cents in...

    If she is not going to bother with features and deep of field kind of stuff, get a trusty ol D40


    $440 with a kit lens is not bad at all

    I would honestly try to pick up the new 18-105 VR instead of the clunky creep 18-200. I ditched my 18-200 for the creep and couldn't be more happier with the 18-105 (the D90's kit lens). I got mine from Cameta Camera and there ebay online store for under $300! I ordered on a Fri and got in on a Mon, I was shocked.

    so a D40 and a 18-105 will be under your $800 price point

    my 2 cents...
  12. I would get her the D80 AND then encourage her to get out with you and go shoot something - no matter what she likes, get involved together. Before ya know it, you'll be sharing lenses and you'll both be having some quality time together! That's how I got mxmark into it! Now, just wish we had more time!
  13. 73Z1


    Sep 15, 2008
    In general I agree with the other posters who say get the D40. Especially in regards to paying more for a D40x.

    The few reasons I might consider the D80 over the D40 is the slightly better viewfinder, the ability to use non AF-S lenses, and the pop-up flash can be used in Commander mode with other speedlights. Only the viewfinder issue may matter to your wife however.

    While the 18-200VR is notorious for creep (mine does it), it is my understanding that most of the latest samples don't creep. It is a fantastic lens if you get a good sample. On the other hand, you might consider a new 18-105 from SF Craigslist. I've seen several people posting that they bought a new D90 with that lens and have not used it, since they already had other glass.
  14. Lurker


    Jul 21, 2007
    Stupid question maybe - does she want a DSLR or is it something you are projecting?

    My wife was very happy with her camera. But she doesn't take it everwhere with her "since it takes up so much space in my pocketbook" - and that's a Canon Powershot (A5-something-something - A520IS I think).

    I'm not saying you shouldn't get her one. But if it is a complete surprise, don't be shocked she doesn't use it as often as you'd want to see her using it.
  15. mapimages


    Oct 1, 2008
    Totally right about this. I have seen the same on Craigslist here in NY.

    I got mine off ebay from Cameta Camera's webstore. I got mine for $275 plus a free 67mm UV filter, lens cleaning kit, a 1 year subscription to PCMag, and 50 free 4 x 6 prints. I only wanted the lens but can't beat the free items!

    Back to topic though, I still think getting the D40 for her will be best for her AND your budget.

    But you REALLY can get a D80 body and a 18-105 for only $100 more (if your budget is $800). So think about that as well.
  16. rmi1


    Jan 14, 2008
    Western Hemisphere
    I suggest asking what she would like - my wife wanted a point and shoot as she had "small guys" to corral and an SLR was too bulky.
  17. Again, thanks to everyone for your responses! The idea of "asking her what she wants" is one I haven't thought about, although it makes a lot of sense!

    Last year I bought her a new digital video camera to replace an older tape model. I haven't seen her use the "new" video camera yet!?!

    I'm going to ask her....I don't want to see another $800 item gathering dust!

    Thanks again, Rick
  18. rgordin


    Jun 3, 2008
    Washington, DC
    That's pretty funny. I am always suggesting to my wife that she wants something that I want. In return, she just gives me this look and we both understand that I - err, I mean she - is not getting that item.

    OTOH, maybe your wife really does want what you want. Maybe you want a diamond bracelet, huh :biggrin:
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