Time to get a new camera?

06 Oct

As some of you already knew, I broke my D5000 DSLR a few months ago. That, combined with other changes in life, put me into a sad mood that I haven’t been able to update my blog for a long while.

It was on just the second day into the northern France trip, outside of the Notre Dame in Bayeux – maybe I somehow offended God and it was my immediate punishment, the camera fell on the concrete ground up side down. Luckily the lens hood was on so the Sigma lens was intact. But I couldn’t take any more pictures with the body. It kept saying Autoexposure Error. I was very upset.

Later that evening, I knew the autoexposure sensor must be sitting right underneath the hot shoe and it got damaged when the camera landed on the hot shoe. There were two big cracks between the hot shoe and view finder. I could still take pictures but there’s a catch – in full manual mode only. All other modes – aperture priority, shutter priority, program and other scene modes – all more or less rely on the autoexposure function to work. That also means choosing different metering modes (Matrix, Center-weighted, Spot) has no effects at all. Auto White Balance is out of the question as well – have to choose the closer one for the scene before shooting. Even though I shoot RAW almost 100%, I am missing Auto WB as in the past it had been pretty accurate or close to what I liked. But I haven’t told you my biggest grief yet.

I’m also into flash photography and bought a SB-700 Speedlight. TTL flash is great and most of the time accurate for lighting up the subject or scene for fast shooting. However, without autoexposure function, TTL doesn’t work. Have to switch to manual flash and try a few times before even getting close. Not only waste time, but also waste battery.

So it’s like going way back to the past, say a few decades ago, when there was only one mode, the M mode, on cameras. Sometimes I use sunny 16 rule, sometimes I just guess the best I could. After spending the rest of France trip, the Muskoka two day vacation and two days at Algonquin Park recently, I think I’m getting more and more comfortable with the full Manual mode. It actually got me out of the comfort zone. Now it’s me who decides what the image should look like and fine tune further to my taste, instead of relying on what the camera “thinks” the “correct” exposure should be. But being forced to use the manual flash still causes me pain.

Back to the question I asked at the beginning, is it time to get a new camera now?

When the D7000 came out, it looked pretty good to me. Tons of feature that D5000 doesn’t have, better sensor, more pixels, higher ISO, remote flash and so on. My D5000 was still in good condition and I only had it for a year at that time. I said to myself to skip the generation and maybe get the D7000’s replacement (in 2013). Now the situation has changed and the price for D7000 has gone down $200. Tempting.

Then the D600 came out last month, has better quality than D7000 at “somewhat affordable” price as an entry level full frame camera. I might be exaggerating the “somewhat affordable” a bit. The street price is $2100. If used with DX lens, it would only produce 10MP image, instead of 24MP. Adding a Nikon 24-70mm lens costs $1899. That’s a really high price tag. But the D600 is indeed a very nice one. According to DXOmark, its image quality is very close to mid pro level D800. I could made good use of a full frame sensor at low light and high dynamic range. (Even at 10MP, I will be able to print at 29 by 19.5 inches with good quality, that is, before re-sampling.)

Should I a) get the D7000 to take advantage of the discount; b) wait for the D7000 replacement till next year; or c) bite the bullet, go full frame to get the D600 with/without a great lens? I guess it’s a classic need vs. want question.

Copyright © 2012 Jenson Yu. All rights reserved.

Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Photography Techniques


Tags: , ,

2 responses to “Time to get a new camera?

  1. Judi Pressman

    October 7, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Jenson, go with what your gut is telling you. Get out of your head and go with your heart. Whatever choice you make will be the right choice. Miss you. Happy Thanksgiving. Love J.

    • Jenson Yu

      October 7, 2012 at 11:25 am

      Thanks always for the inspiration.


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