apologies first for the umpteenth newbie "which camera should I get?" thread. this one has some slight variation, and I hope will elicit a few responses. In the end, only I can answer the questions, but it helps to think out loud and maybe get a few good probing questions thrown at me that I hadn't thought of. so here's my story:
my dad worked for sears, so my first slr was the surprisingly good rebadged ricoh with pentax mount for which I had a crummy telephoto but a pretty decent 50mm/f1,4. it had auto exposure, aperture priority & manual and the ability to step up or down a couple of stops. still have it but haven't shot much with it in ages. since my wife is a p & s type and grew tired of me doing manual focus and choosing shutter speeds, I "upgraded" to an N65 when it was clear things were going digital but I thought the premium was still too high. I chose the Nikon for a number of reasons, not least being the rebate on the 24-85 af-s lens that has since garnered some praise and been discontinued. I missed my 50mm prime and picked up the el-cheapo nikkor 1,8. That was many years ago, and I have to confess that I haven't shot more than a roll or two of film a year lately, and get by on a decent (for the day) Canon 5 mp A95. which of course blows when I want a decent shot indoors, usually causing me to grumble about not just bringing the old Sears and its fast 1.4. So the time has come to enter the 21st century and get a more capable digital camera, and I'm debating a number of things:
nikon dx vs the usual candidates: canon, pentax, or a micro 4/3 (or some other smaller form factor). I love the slr for general shooting but know also that there are many times when I will leave it at home and grab the p/s to throw in a bag. still need to decide whether having a decent camera in those moments is worth the compromises of the smaller cameras. any stand out small cameras out there I should know about? (ideally, of course I would buy 2, right? a better mft and a dslr)
if I stick with Nikon, I'm pretty sure I'd go with the 5100. could prob. live with the 3100 but unless there's some blowout sale on it, the extra cash for the 5100 seems worth it. my only hesitations with the 5100 are: I hate menu diving, hate it. even the n65 bugged me compared to my venerable old ricoh dials. 2: I only have the cheap 50mm in non AF-S, but a body-based focus motor opens up some possibilities.
if I go with the 5100, what lens. I've got the 24-85, which is pretty close to the kit, though not as wide and not VR. but it will do FX of course if I end up down that road in a few years. I could just get a body, but may as well take advantage of the lens rebates. in fact, I had the 5100 & 70-300 in my shopping cart when they knocked the price back up $100, so I balked; otherwise, you would have been spared this thread. but I also was hesitating about dropping $1000 when I could get a capable p/s or mft that I'd carry all the time for half that. and not sure how often I would be using the zoom anyway. but at $300 (now 390) after rebate, the 70-300 seemed like the obvious hole in my focal length to cover for the soccer games, etc. And since I'm buying a body during rebate season, seemed obvious to pick up sth.
I guess video would be an x factor too. not of primary importance, but why not have the cabability.
sorry for the william faulkner internal monologue that leaves your head swimming. I'm not good at commitment and a victim of analysis paralysis. here's the summary question(s) that you can entertain or ignore:
dslr vs other formats? for someone with little invested in dslr glass in 2011 when some exciting alternatives are out there for capable, always at hand cameras. and I do still have my pentax mount 50mm/1,4 for repurposing
d5100? the 3100 is cheaper and smaller for the "toss it in the bag". the d90 or d7000 or used d80, etc. will be more to grow into, allow the older lenses, and limit menu diving
how about that 24-85? a good enough reason to stay with nikon? any better than the VR kit lens (including the better one that comes with d7000, though at a cost?). any standout lens (under $600) in the current rebates I should consider to supplement the mid zoom?
a detail I almost forgot: what do I shoot? currently not much of anything, which is why I miss my old film cameras. I'm hoping that my inner shutterbug will be reborn when I get my hands on sth. decent. I know what depth of field and ISO are, but have never messed with white balance and all that jazz (RAW, etc). I understand technical stuff pretty easily , though, so have no intimidation and in fact am more frustrated by idiot settings/menu diving than overcoming a learning curve, if that helps.
thanks immensely for your patience if you've read this far. I promise to disappear into the woodwork once my plastic is swiped