Angela wanted me to get something nice for my birthday and after having hung out with Kevin O’Mara a couple of weekend’s previous, in addition to looking at his photographs over the past few months, she decided a digital SLR camera would make a great gift. She would leave it up to me to pick which one, since Kevin’s Canon XT was really the only one she was familiar with.
The Saturday after my birthday, I went over to the Ritz Camera just down the street (seriously, it’s like five blocks from here) to see what they had and talk to a photographer about cameras1. I had been in the same shop a couple of years ago and thought the guy was kind of a prick for just brushing me off as someone who had no business owning a dSLR. Of course, he was more-or-less right, but it still kind of bothered me. Well, I suppose maybe I’d learned a thing or two since, because he seemed to think that I was at the perfect level to consider getting into more advanced equipment.
My first question was that I was equally impressed with the entry level Canons and Nikons and wanted to know what benefits each had. My take on his response: they are both really impressive cameras for the money and will produce great shots in the hands of someone who is willing to learn how to use them. However, the Nikon is much easier to learn for beginners, plus it is a couple of Benjamins less than the Canon. Okay, so if the D50 is the way to go, why does it take better photos than a high-end point & shoot? Well, it’s not so simple as that, but any dSLR is going to have much more versatility than any P&S… all right, you’re getting bored and this went on for over an hour. The short of it is; I got a Nikon D50 kit and every since have been trying to figure out how to use it.
Right out of the box and on full-auto mode, it takes some really impressive pictures (at least compared to many of my other just-messing-around-the-house photos). I’ve started to get more comfortable with using the viewfinder for every photo (I used it a lot anyway) as well as rotating the lens barrel for zooming. I’ve also begun to make use of the sort-of semi-manual modes, which allow for user controlled shutter speed or aperture, but the camera controls most of the rest of the variables.
I’m a long way from really being able to create anything impressive with this camera, but I’ve got a 2GB SD card for it (which was on sale for $30 at Amazon) and one month to figure it out. Angela and I are going to Alaska in the middle of October and we want to be able to really get some great photographs of Anchorage, Fairbanks, Denali, and everything in between. I’m not making any promises, but I won’t be using the camera as my excuse for sure.
- …as opposed to a person in a blue or red polo at a big box store, who may or may not even own a digital camera, let alone a dSLR. If you’ve got questions, it’s a really good idea to talk to someone who actually knows how to use the product you’re interested in and worth the small premium in price you might have to pay (in this case, about 5%). [↩]