Top positive review
294 people found this helpful
Just beginning to learn how to use it, but I love it
on June 24, 2008
I've been using Canon PowerShot point-and-shoot digital cameras for the past 6 years, and because they're so small, portable, and unobtrusive, I've ended up taking a lot more photos that I ever did, because I had my camera with me. The good thing is that I've taken a lot more pictures, and most of them have been very good (the camera gets much of the credit here). But the bad thing is that I started to reach the limits of what a point-and-shoot camera can do.
The biggest problems I had with my compact point-and-shoot camera was the lag between shots and the generally poor performance in low-light settings. For most shots, these weren't big problems, but when they were a problem, they were a huge problem, and there's not much you can to solve it without moving to a better camera. I don't think I'm the first person to reach a brick wall when using compact digital cameras, which is why there are now some excellent options that don't cost a fortune.
After reading a lot of reviews for digital SLR cameras online, I narrowed it down to two choices: the Sony A300 or the Nikon D60. I love my compact Canon, but I wasn't all that impressed with the Canon dSLR's that I looked at, either in terms of price or features.
The Sony is priced very competitively and offers some great features, such as auto-focus and image stabilization built into the camera itself, not relying on the lens. The A300 also has live preview on the LCD screen, which the D60 doesn't offer (live preview is what you get on a compact camera: you see what you are shooting as you take the picture). Finally, the A300 has more focus points than the Nikon. I spent a long time in several stores doing side-by-side comparisons of these two cameras. After many test shots, I finally chose the D60 for the following reasons: it felt more compact and less heavy than the Sony, I liked the way the lens felt when I was zooming, its LCD menu system was much clearer and more intuitive, and the Nikkor family of lenses is unbeatable. With a dSLR, it really gets down to which line you want to commit to for future lens purchases. I wasn't sure I wanted to go with Sony, when Nikon is well-known for quality optics.
I ordered the D60 from Amazon and I'm glad I did, since they have a 30-day price match policy. If the price of the camera decreases within 30 days of your purchase, all you have to do is email Amazon, and they'll credit you with the difference. The price of the D60 went down three times after my purchase (it's even lower now, but I've passed my 30 days), and Amazon was fast to process the refund for each decrease. Please note that it's your responsibility to check on the current price. Amazon will not notify you that the price has gone down, and why should they? So if you do buy this from Amazon, be sure to check every couple of days to see what the current price is.
As for the camera and the lens, I couldn't be happier. I love how it feels and how easy it is to use, at least for basic shots. Of course it won't fit in my pocket the way my point-and-shoot did, but it's not nearly as huge or heavy as I'd expected. The kit lens has VR (vibration reduction) which is a good thing to have, and it's well balanced with the compact body of this camera. In other words, the camera doesn't point down under the weight of the lens. Everyone who has tried out my new camera has commented on how compact and ergonomic it feels.
The camera works extremely well in low-light settings, with or without flash (you can defeat the flash if you want, and I find that in many situations, I get better results that way). The flash is a lot more powerful than what you get on a compact camera, and the coverage is more even.
So far, I've mainly used the "auto" mode, but I've taken some pictures in macro mode. It's graat to be able to take pictures in rapid succession, without having to wait the way you do with a point-and-shoot. Most important of all, the image quality is outstanding. The difference is noticeable and consistently better than what I was getting with my point-and-shoot.
The LCD menu is intuitive and visually appealing. That was one of the reasons I went with the Nikon in the first place, and I haven't been disappointed. By pressing the right button as you move the mode dial, you can see a description of what each mode does, which is very helpful. It's sort of like having a "help" system built into the camera, without having to carry around the instructions. Having said that, the instruction manual is really quite good. It won't teach you everything you need to know about digital SLRs, but it does a good job of explaining the camera's features. Nevertheless, I recommend buying a more extensive guide book which is specific to the Nikon D60 (there is one by David Busch which is currently available, and several more are scheduled to appear within the next couple of months).
So, I love this camera, especially at the very reasonable price point. However, there are some things that you should consider before making a final decision. First, the D60 will only provide auto-focus with Nikkor AF-S lenses. That means that most Nikon "prime" lenses will require manual focusing. That wasn't a big deal for me, but it is a limitation. Second, the D60's 3 focus points put it at the low end for this feature. Third, the D60 uses SD cards, while the Sony uses Compact Flash cards, as do many higher-end dSLRS. This isn't really a plus or minus, since SD cards are generally less expensive than Compact Flash, but some users say that Compact Flash cards may be more durable in the long run (they're larger and thicker). Finally, unlike the Sony, the D60 does not provide live preview. In other words, you don't see the image on the LCD until after you have taken it.
With all of that, I'm very pleased with my decision and I am having a lot of fun with my Nikon D60. If you're ready to move up from your point-and-shoot to a dSLR, you cannot go wrong with the D60.