The Picto Box Side Quest

March 21, 2008

As you might see below, I now take pictures of stuff. I’m going on a trip in a few weeks, so I decided that now is as good a time as any to gear up and buy a decent camera and after I did a little research, got what has proven to be extremely good advice from Kev, I found a good camera store in my area and picked a moment they were having a decent sale. Cameras, like a lot of things now, are at a point where the stuff that’s a generation back and very reasonably sale-priced can still be pretty shockingly awesome. As a result I’m very happily set up right now, as follows:

  • One Nikon D40 camera body,
  • The standard 18-55mm autofocus-and-kind-of-zoomy lens. The documentation, for reasons I am not privy to, doesn’t describe it as standard-issue autofocus-and-kind-of-zoomy, but documentation has always been a weak spot for the technically inclined.
  • An extremely entertaining 1.8f 50mm fixed lens, and
  • One Nikon P5100.

The D40 is a fantastic camera. Especially at night; everything comes out looking like HDR photos even though I’ve barely figured out how to turn off the flash. Light just seems to fall into the lens. The only problem I’m having is that my hands aren’t steady enough to take decent night shots so I usually end up propping the camera on whatever’s around for long exposures; a tripod might be the next order of business.
The 50mm lens is a bit tricky, but much less so than I thought it would be – it’s manual focus, but the camera’s smart enough to know when the images is in focus even if it can’t control it and tells you with a little indicator. This is the lens that gives you that very short depth-of-field that has one thing in focus and softy-blurred backgrounds, very artistic. Hard to work with if you’ll be shooting anything that moves, but since once you’ve got the gear photography is basically free now, the cost of screwing up a few hundred pictures figuring things out is pretty much exactly zero. Add to that the fact that a two-gig SD card is within a couple of dollars of also being free and happily holds more than six hundred pictures, and all I really need to worry about is making sure that the good ones are filtered out every couple of days.
The p5100 has excelled in its role as being as small camera to take pictures fast, and it hangs off the side of whatever bag I’m carrying now. It’s got great rubberized grips and a very solid feel, and like its big brother seems to pull in light that´s only barely there. doing a terrific job as a quick-draw, point-and-shoot workhorse. Not small enough to be pocketable, but totally serviceable nonetheless. It feels very nice in my fat hands, and like its big brother the automatic modes are way smarter than I am, smart enough that almost everything comes out looking at least competent.
Sadly, this little shopping spree has pretty much blown the doors off my widget-parity agreement with my wife, so no more toys for me for the foreseeable future. If these did not make me so happy, that would definitely make me sad.


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