As the proud new owner (of less than 90 hours) of Nikon D90, I have a little advice. None of it is in regards to which camera you need because I know next to nothing. But this is what I discovered in researching, asking around to folks who I know do photography I’m envious of, etc.

1. Buy canon or nikon. In DSLR, they own the market. They own the technology. Nothing else compares. Ditto for their lenses.

2. Don’t buy a camera with a kit lens that isn’t exactly what you want; you’ll hate it while you are using it, wonder if something is better and then break down and buy the lens you wanted and the kit lens will take up space in some box in your house.

3. There is no real difference, from what I could tell, between the Canon faction and the Nikon faction.

I did hear more than once that Nikon’s are supposedly better for landscapes, nature, and action photos (i think because of the lenses that they offer). And supposedly Canon’s are better for portraits. Supposedly Nikon has kicked Canon’s can in the development arena with DSLRs for the past two or three years.

I don’t have any idea if that is true but it did seem to me that Nikon had more entry points for DSLrs than Canon. What I mean by that is that with a nikon, you could go d40 (bare bones, no auto focus with many lenses, no Vibration reduction tech in its kit lense, no live view and on and on), or D60 (+ auto focus on all lenses that offer that, VR in the kit lens) or D80 (don’t buy that, tech is 2 + years old and the D90 is just better all around if you are going higher end entry) or the d90 (almost will wash your dishes and is a dumbed down version of the drool-worthy D300). Compare all of that to Canon’s entry DSLRs which are teh Rebel XTI (technologically less than the D 40), the Rebel XS (comparable to the D40-D60) and the Rebel XSI (technologically more than a D40-60 but decidedly less than a D80/90). And I found all of that frustrating because you could get into a decent dslr (nikon d40) with two lenses for about $600 (18-55mm + VR, and 55-200 + VR) Which is a tremendous deal and then all you would ever need is a 50mm fixed 1.8 or 1.4. The d90 is at $1300-1700 depending on which lenses you get.

I really waffled for awhile, but ultimately after going into our local photog shop and playing with them repeatedly, I really couldn’t deny that I had ergonomic and menu design love for the Nikon’s over the canon’s. The D90 fits really well in my hand and has a lot of the stuff I will use the most right at hand. The canon’s never felt as comfortable.

I was all set to do the reasonable thing and get the D40 until I realized the kit lens (that you can’t buy it without or upgrade from when you purchase) doesn’t have vibration reduction–this makes it so that your need to work on a tripod is significantly diminished. That spoke to the lazy realist in me. And currently the D40 cannot autofocus with lenses like the 50 mm 1.8. Which is a problem since that is the only other lens that I plan on buying (excellent for portrait types of photos, great for blurring the background/foreground). Evidently Nikon is retooling their lenses to work, but 1) i don’t want to wait for ever and 2) who knows how much that will add to the cost and 3) will they work seamlessly with the camera? I also found out that D40s & D60s are priced to sell right now because Nikon is going to announce a new entry level early next year to replace those models. I don’t believe in being the first to buy new tech just because but I also don’t believe in buying old tech just to save a few bucks, especially when I know I’m going to have to compensate in ways I wouldn’t have to with new tech.

I jumped from the d40 to the d 90 after going through a bunch of stuff talking with the spouse and reading a fairly sound review on He’s kind of a blow hard with some stuff, but I thought that his review of d40 versus d60 and his lens reviews were worth really considering.

I was worried if I bought the d90 there would be far too much stuff for me to understand, it would be too complicated and I wouldn’t use it. But the way it’s designed will let me float on the outskirts of the full capabilities of the camera for the first year or so while I learn what I”m doing. Then as I realize that I want more, it’s already in there waiting for me to use it.

I liked buying at a local photog store (even a chain like Ritz) because their staff will be helpful and like photo buffs, you can touch and play, and hopefully they offer classes on the cameras (beware of the shops that tout classes but relly only teach photoshop). I get 18 free classes on digital photography, my camera in particular, composition, white balance, and so forth for the next two years. Oh, and mine price matched Costco.