I have thought long and hard about upgrading. My Nikon D50 has served me quite well since I purchased it in the fall of 2006. Unfortunately, she isn't going to cut it for some of the images I want to take. I'm not one to push the megapixel count but 6 MP is holding me back from doing some of the things I want to do. I went to The Camera Store today to reserve rental equipment for the wedding I am doing in May and I thought "Why not?". I wanted to have time to get used to the new body before the wedding and before spring comes because I love to go out take pictures at that time of year.
I got home and charged the battery that came with the camera plus the extra one I purchased. Unfortunately the D90 takes a battery that is almost identical to the one in the D50 but not quite. They do however both use the exact same charger which is kinda handy. After the short charging period (alright it was only short because I had a nap while it was charging) I gave it a try. First impression? Not bad. I haven't uploaded any pictures yet but I like what I see so far. I thought Live View would be a gimmick that I wouldn't use but I can definitely see some practical applications for it. Video mode? hmmm...the jury is still out on that. I'll have to play with it some more. The ISO range is from 200-3200 and a "HI" mode. I take this to mean that you get usable images up to 3200 whereas HI you are taking your chances. The D50 went to 1600 and a lot of time those images weren't usable.
It also supports my IR remote that I used on the D50. I'd be pretty disappointed if I didn't have a means of doing long exposures (i.e. like several minutes long).
The weight and feel are nice. A little heavier than the D50 but not a brick like some of the higher end models.
The controls are going to take some getting used to. The D50 has only got one command dial. The D90 has a command dial and sub-command dial on the front. I am used to adjusting everything with the one dial so having two will be a little weird for now. The one control I do like is the depth of field preview button. I have it on my film SLR but the D50 was lacking it.
So why the D90? Well I thought about holding out for a D700 or its replacement thats been rumored to be around the corner. The problem is the D700 is triple what I paid for the D90 and that would be body only. The 18-55 kit lens I have would only work in cropped mode which would put the pixel count around what I have on the D50 which somewhat defeats the purpose of upgrading. The D300 and D300s were also options I looked at however everything I read indicated that the image quality of the D90 is comparable to the D300 and D300s. True, it doesn't have the metal body or the fast shooting rate (4.5 fps for the D90 vs 7 for the D300) but I couldn't justify that additional cost. My goal is also to go full-frame so I decided to get a smaller upgrade and start saving for and a full frame body a good lens to go with it.
When I purchased my D50 I read a lot of reviews and went for the most bang for the buck. I spent about the same amount for my D90 as I did for my D50. (Sadly, a quick look on Ebay shows I could get about 130 bucks for it now). Once again, I think I'm going for the best bang for the buck. Is this upgrade going to make a better photographer? No. Certainly not. Its a tool to allow me to create my images. It is however going to create new opportunities.
So thank you so much Nikon D50 for really teaching me how to shoot. I've shot over 70,000 images with you. I've been to San Francisco, Banff, Jasper, and Hawaii to name a few places I've been with you. It was a sad day when I put you on the shelf.