Tag Archives: Nikon D70

Retro Photography

A not-so-fluffy fluffy

A couple weeks ago I got the urge to return to my digital SLR roots. So I picked up my old Nikon D70, my first dSLR, slapped on my old Nikon 28-200mm lens (slow but versatile), and went on a nature walk in my community.

The Nikon D70’s LCD is tiny!

Of course, first I had to get reacquainted with the D70, which I hadn’t used for three or four years. Man, its LCD (one and one-half inches wide) is minuscule in comparison to the D700’s (almost three inches wide)! Plus I’m able to set the D700’s LCD so that I can zoom in close to make sure eyes are open and what needs to be in focus actually is. No such luck on the D70. With my aging eyes, I can barely see what I’ve taken a photo of on its LCD. Almost like being back in the film days!

An upright row of fluffies

Still, the D70 was a wonderful workhorse back in the day and a faithful photographic friend. I took thousands of photos with it, and it rarely let me down.

A barkless tree

My walk down memory (card) lane proved that an old dSLR still has the right stuff to take great photos.

A squirrel isn’t eager to pose.

And it was nice to carry a camera that doesn’t feel like it weighs a ton after a half-hour or so of shooting.

A red dragonfly taunts me.

Still, when I saw a beautiful red dragonfly stop and pose for me on the sidewalk, oh how I wished I was carrying that heavy D700 and my wonderful Nikon 105mm macro lens! It’s nice to visit the past every now and then, but give me today’s technology any day.

Especially when it comes to capturing crisp pix of my favorite flying insect.

Turning a Friend On to New Experiences

Toni and her new friend, Buc-cee

Toni and her new friend, Buc-ee

My friend Toni clearly has been frustrated with her digital SLR sports photography experience. She has an older dSLR, the Nikon D70s, and uses a Sigma 70-300mm lens for her action shots. Her image quality has been spotty, and she turned to me for help.

Sidebar: The Nikon D70 was my first dSLR five years ago. I absolutely loved it for a year and a half. Then I absolutely loved the Nikon D200 for two years. Now I absolutely adore my Nikon D300. I may be fickle, but at least I keep it in the same family!

No one will see you eating camo popcorn!

No one will see you eating camo popcorn!

One other thing about poor, innocent Toni: She’d never been to Buc-ee’s, the most-amazing roadside stop in Texas. Sure, it’s a gas station at its core, but it’s so much more! I waxed romantically about Buc-ee’s here. Let’s just say they have the most incredible bathrooms ever! Hand sanitizer dispensers in the huge stalls. Wonderful decor. And the store?!? Any place that sells Beaver Nuggets (aka crack in a bag) is heaven on earth!

It just so happened that our gutsy, neighborhood 11-year-old Little League all-stars that I wrote about here are playing their district games in a small south Texas town with something brand new, something so compelling that it makes the 40-minute drive there worth every second: A new, huge Buc-ee’s has just opened! Toni’s son Michael is on the team, and our friend Sue was itching to drive to see the new store. Oh, and watch some Little League baseball, of course!

So yesterday we made it a road trip and got to indoctrinate Toni into the wonderful ways of Buc-ee’s. Now she understands the temptation of Beaver Nuggets (not only can you not eat just one, you have to be careful not to eat the entire bag at one sitting) and the allure of the great bathrooms. I don’t think this will be Toni’s last trip to Buc-ee’s.

Toni gets behind the big gun.

Toni gets behind the big gun.

That was Toni’s first new experience. Her second? Getting to shoot baseball with my big lens! We put my beloved Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, complete with a Nikon 1.4x teleconverter to give her more reach, on her D70s and let her snap away. The combination of the lens and teleconverter is heavy, so the whole kit and kaboodle was placed on my monopod. I wanted Toni to see that equipment can make a big difference in image quality. There’s a reason why the 70-200 is about $1,500 more than the Sigma. It’s one of Nikon’s gold lenses, a favorite of sports and portrait photographers.

Matt is safe at home.

Matt is safe at home.

Meanwhile, that left me with the Nikon 105mm macro lens slapped on my Nikon D300. Too much reach for some shots, not enough for others, it’s not my first lens of choice when I shoot baseball. But it is a great lens, and it forced me to rethink the way I shoot a sport that’s enclosed by fences.

Harry hits

Harry hits.

I decided to shoot on both sides of the plate where I had enough access to put my lens hood on the chain-link fence and shoot in one of the gaps without blocking the fans’ view. It made for a tight squeeze, as I tried to time it so I was shooting the bat and the ball. Very challenging!

Cole gets the bat on the ball.

Cole gets the bat on the ball.

Normally, I don’t like taking many photos from behind the players. Faces tell the story better than backs. But I do like shooting from different angles, and it makes for a more-satisfying photo experience to try something new.

Mohawked catcher Cole

Mohawked catcher Cole

This was one of my favorite photos of the night. I like how it shows off Cole’s mohawk (a style all the boys are wearing), as well as his grip on the baseball as he prepares to throw it back to the pitcher. Compelling!

Gotta love that homerun trot!

Gotta love that home run trot!

Probably the best photo for the team was this one of B, who hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to clinch a 10-0 victory for our 11s. Love that smile!

#3986-(john-toni)

So did Toni like using the 70-200mm? Here she is telling her husband John, one of the team’s coaches, about it. Sometimes those new experiences can be relatively cheap, like those addictive Beaver Nuggets. But others like expensive photo equipment that lets you stand out from the crowd and capture great memories? Ka-ching, ka-ching!

Photo Friday: The “Perfect” Camera for Gift-Giving

 

Nikon D40

Nikon D40

My friend Kim asked me for advice: What kind of camera should she buy for her teenager’s birthday present? With Mother’s Day Sunday and graduation and Father’s Day around the corner, let’s ponder a key question: Is there a “perfect” camera for moms, dads, grads, and anyone having a birthday?

Of course, the answer is no. There’s no perfect camera for everyone, but there are excellent solutions. First, let’s talk category: Point and shoot, fixed zoom, and digital SLR (interchangeable lenses).

Nikon Coolpix S230 point and shoot

Nikon Coolpix S230 point and shoot

Point and shoots: There are lots of good ones, and they’re very-capable cameras if you’re not shooting action. Definitely the handiest of all the camera categories due to their size but also limited in their capabilities for the same reason. You can’t go wrong with just about any manufacturer’s P&S.

Canon Powershot G10

Canon Powershot G10

Nikon Coolpix P90

Nikon Coolpix P90

 

Fixed zoom: These compact digicams, which Digital Photography Review likes to call “enthusiast cameras,” are a big step up from the lower-end point and shoots. This category includes the Canon Powershot G10 and the Nikon Coolpix P90. They’re more expensive than a conventional P&S ($400-$500), and they can do almost as much as a dSLR. Almost. With their multiple settings (auto, manual, etc.), plenty of megapixels (at least 10), and a good zoom, they’re a great choice for an amateur photographer who wants to do more than just point and shoot. Plus they’re a natural progression for anyone who wants to eventually move up to a dSLR and lessen that more-complicated camera’s learning curve.

Canon Rebel XS

Canon Rebel XS

Digital SLR: Finally, there are the big kahunas, the top of the digital camera food chain: the digital SLRs. Every dSLR, from the least-expensive consumer model to the too-expensive-for-the-likes-of-us pro version, gives photographers great versality and potentially great results. The ability to change lenses from, say, a 50mm prime to a 70-200mm zoom enables you to get the most out of your photography and capture that terrific photo. And the consumer dSLRs, like the Nikon D40 and the Canon Rebel XS, cost just a little more than the fixed zoom digicams at $500-$600, which includes the low-end 18-55mm lens. They can be used on automatic or program while the confidence is building to get more hands-on.

You’ll notice that I’ve only mentioned Canon and Nikon for two of the three categories. That’s because I think they make the best fixed zoom cameras and dSLRs. Which one is better? That’s like the ubiquitous Mac vs. PC debate! The one that’s better is the one that you’ll use a lot! I started with a Nikon D70, because my buddy Deanna had bought one and let me use it. I fell in love with its ease of use (it helps that I have a film SLR background), bought one immediately, and have followed a Nikon upgrade path ever since (moving on to the Nikon D200 and then to my current D300). I have plenty of friends who have been happy with their Canon dSLRs, too. The best advice is to go to a store where you can hold both cameras; one may feel better in your hands than the other.

I’m told all the time that I’m a good photographer because my camera equipment is so good. Nice of people to discount almost 40 years of SLR experience! It’s almost a conundrum: Yes, the photographer needs to have good skills, but it’s almost impossible to take great photos with substandard or the wrong equipment. Tonight I’m going to be shooting an indoor dance show at the #1 son’s high school; I’d hate to try to tell its story with a point and shoot instead of my D300 and my Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens. Good photography truly takes good skills and the right equipment.

What’s most important in buying a camera is getting one that you’ll use. The more you use it, the more proficient you’ll become. Experience is so important in getting top-notch photos. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel every time you pick up your camera.

My answer to Kim is to have her daughter kick in some birthday money and buy a digital SLR. It will give her maximum flexibility and growth, putting her on the road to a rewarding, lifetime photography experience. As for which dSLR, Canon or Nikon, beginner or mid-range? Go to the store and check ’em out—one might just feel perfect!

Speaking of Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms; hope you have a wonderful Sunday that includes either taking pictures or having your picture taken, no matter what camera is used!