Two years ago, my wife and I were on a trip in Salzburg, Austria. After taking some photos in the Cathedral, we viewed them on a computer and found them totally unacceptable, all dark and blurry. The FujiFilm FinePix A330 was not up for the job. In daylight, it seemed fine. But it’s pretty much useless in dimmed places such as churches. So we decided to get a new one to replace the 5-year-old A330 which we got for free with Air Miles points.
I happened to mention it to our friend Pietro S. and he persuaded, or seduced, me to get a DSLR instead of a point-and-shoot one. The price was a bit too high than our budget. So I’d been doing some researches, going to sites such as DPreview.com, trying to justify my mentality, and decided on the Nikon D5000. (To this date, I still think at entry level, Nikon DSLRs beats Canon by a notch.) There was a sales promotion for buying the D5000 with 18-55mm kit lens plus 55-200mm VR. I’ve been using them to this date. However, I do feel very inconvenient to change lens all the time when taking vacation photos. Nikon does have a 18-200mm lens. But it’s filter attachment size is 72mm which makes the 52mm filters (more of this in a moment) I also bought unusable.
My friend Xiaowei (BTW, you can read her blog here) said in an email, “Be careful with DSLR. It is good but it’s a bottomless money drain, you always want to buy a better body, faster lens, filters, image stabilizer …… the list goes on and on.J”
She is right. I’ve been tempted to get the D7000 when it came out last year. It took a few month after announcement to finally see them on the shelves. Actually, someone made a hilarious video (be warned of the coarse language, though) borrowing a clip from the movie Downfall (2004). I like the D7000 not only because of the better sensor and hence better image quality, but also many settings (White Balance, ISO, Release mode, metering mode, bracketing, AF-mode, focus-mode) are conveniently accessible on the body. No more digging into the menu to change settings.
I’ve also been struggling whether or not to get the Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 OS lens. This lens is much lighter than Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 and much cheaper as well. The Nikon is 8 years old and I wonder why they haven’t made a new one to replace it. It’s heavy yet doesn’t have VR (vibration reduce). The most compelling reason to get either one is the fixed aperture f2.8 across the whole focal length. It’s faster and performs better in low light situation and should have better image quality/sharpness than the kit lens. But the problem is I still have to change lens a lot on vacation trips. On another note, even my wife, who barely knows about camera/lens gears, notices the Nikon 55-200mm lens takes better portrait pictures than the 18-55mm lens.
So I didn’t get a new body or a new lens due to our limited budgets. I did purchase some extra stuff: a Nikon 52mm circular polarizer (CP), B&W 3-stop neutral density (ND), Singh-Ray 3-soft-step Graduate ND and Benro TRA069 tripod with ballhead. I use the CP a lot to make the blue sky bluer and cut down reflection on windows and water. The 3-stop ND is for making flowing water more of a silky look. Besides the general knowledge of compressing dynamic range, I found the Graduate ND also increase the overall vibrancy a little bit.
BTW, I still don’t get it why we have to pay more in Canada than USA, especially when Canadian dollars worth more than American dollars now. D7000 with kit lens at Best Buy Canada is CAD$1,599, while Best Buy in US has it at US$1,499. After adding the shipping and custom tax, it’s still cheaper than the Canadian store. [Sigh]
Since I’ve got the DSLR and have been learning photography day by day, I have no regret at all and will never go back to point-and-shoot cameras. We went back to Salzburg Cathedral on another trip to take the photo below. It’s never post-processed, straight from the D5000. Settings were f4 @ 1/10 @ ISO 1600 @ 18mm. Click to enlarge.
Copyright © 2011. Jenson Yu. All rights reserved.