A few people have asked me what kind of camera I use, and why. I have to say upfront I know nothing about other brands, like Canons, for example. Doug uses a Canon every day in his office, and he loves it, but other than using a Canon Sureshot for things like emergency moose sightings while driving to the cottage (and I still missed the shot) I haven't used anything but the Nikon. So I can't comment on the Canon EOS, for example, which friends use and swear by and I'm sure is quite nice, but I'm a Nikon gal.
Through and through.
Forever and ever.
Please bear in mind that I am still a neophyte, so I'm still learning about this camera in particular and photography in general. Basically I just go out and play with it and then just what happens. Ah, the joy of an DSLR. I know for sure I wouldn't have done this if I had to "waste" film on my learning curve. There's tremendous freedom in just taking hundreds of shots and just tossing them out if they don't work.
Ultimately though, it's the photographer behind the camera not the camera itself that decides if a shot is any good.
I have a NIKON D200 (10.2 mega pixels for those of you counting) although some might argue it has me. I actually intended to buy a D80, figuring it was enough camera for me, but when I was offered a D200 demo model for the same price and I held it in my arms and rocked it gently, well, I knew I had to have it.
The basic difference is the D200 has a solid metal body that feels really good; there's a real heft to it, and instead of a slippery plastic casing, it has a rubbery coating so I have a more solid grip. It can also better withstand the elements - rain, dust, etc. This was important to me, since I'm frequently outside cavorting with nature.
The image quality and Nikon's colour interpretation is awesome, even when shooting in shade. I shoot a lot of colour, and with the D200, the colour is almost always exactly what I see. Like this shot, taken mid-morning in full shade on the north side of a house. I was surprised it was so vibrant considering the dark corner where I shot it:
Reds are also difficult colours to photograph and the D200 doesn't seem to blow out the reds.
It's fast (five shots per second) which I like for things like shooting Les Boys tubing or skiing. Here is an action sequence with Doug diving off our dock. Like the hibiscus, his red swimming trunks are not blown out either, which is something we're all grateful for. Hands up if anyone else says "swimming trunks" in normal conversation?
Almost (some would argue more) important than the camera are the lenses you choose to use. I have three - a Nikor 18-200mm, a Nikor Micro 105mm, and a Sigma zoom 150-500mm (nicknamed The Bigma by a friend's husband.) My favourite, everyday lens is the 18-200mm. I can get some great closeups with it:
When I want to get really close, I'll use the micro (macro) lens:
But as I said, my absolute favourite is the 18-200mm. If you can only afford one lens, that's the one. It can handle close-ups, portraits, landscapes - it's everything you'd want in a lens. I haven't mastered the "Bigma" yet. Truthfully, it kind of scares me. It's almost too big for me to handle. We have to get used to each other first, and then, when I feel more comfortable with it, we'll go on a few dates and see how it goes. I'll let you know.