Why two cameras?

It wasn’t my original plan. I was looking at the D50 and the D70s, and I was almost decided for the D70s when Nikon reduced the price of the D50. After using it for a while, I learned that it was capable of outstanding pictures. But it was also limited in a few specific ways that were important to me:

  1. No backlight for the top display panel – this is important if you want to be able to check settings at night
  2. No depth-of-field preview – this is important especially for landscapes (and for macro photography and other specialized things) and I missed it
  3. Finally, the D70s (and the D200 and other Nikon cameras) can show a grid in the viewfinder that divides by thirds. The main value I find in this is to keep the horizon horizontal! This is still the most common mistake I make now that I’m getting exposures closer.

The D200 is a much more capable camera, and gives a great deal more control. I’ll say more about that in later posts. But the real benefit of two bodies is that you can be ready for pretty much anything. Having just come back from a couple of weeks in Africa, being able to photograph over a range from 12-300mm without exposing the sensor to dust proved to be a great thing.

Another great thing about the D50 is that the battery goes on and on – it lasts much longer than the D200’s battery in my experience. And that translates into less time in the evenings charging up.

My cameras

I use a couple of Nikon digital SLR cameras: the D50 and the D200. I started with the D50 as an entry point into DSLR photography having used less sophisticated cameras from Sony and Canon. I first learned about SLRs when studying architecture in New Zealand, and I think the digital SLR is now at a point where any enthusiast would do well to acquire one.

I bought Nikon because I was used to them, having owned a range of Nikon film cameras culminating in the 8008s, and because I reasoned I could re-use my lenses and flash.

This turned out to be false, as the smaller sensor of the DSLR changes the effective focal length of the lens by 50%, and in any case the D50 seemed unable to drive the autofocus of my old Tokina zoom lens. And then it turned out that the flash capability of the DSLRs (called iTTL) is different and my old flash wouldn’t work properly.

So I ended up with new lenses and a new flash…