Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Nikon D200 is my master now

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.

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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?

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And a great feature is the ability to see a lot of info in the view finder - ISO, exposure, meter mode - so I can check it or change it without wasting time looking up and fiddling.

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:

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And portraits:

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When I want to get really close, I'll use the micro (macro) lens:

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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.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post, Pam. Very informative. Are these shots straight from the camera, or are you Photoshopping them? Your kids are lovely! I was somewhat taken aback at the part about "blowing out the red" (whatever that means), because I misread it as "blowing off the red swimming trunks", and I thought "None of my cameras have ever been able to do that!" LOL. Doug has a very nice dive, BTW.

A Novel Woman said...

You're welcome, Jo.

Most of the shots have minor, if any, adjustments made in Picasa. I haven't used my Photoshop yet, and in fact, I ended up with a Mac (and the Photoshop is for a PC.)

Red is a difficult colour to shoot. It ends up looking fuzzy and unreal. Nikon is very good at getting the red right.

And these are two of my three kids. I didn't want to post my other daughter's photo without permission so she's not represented. However, Olivia, my sister's cat, IS.

And yes, Doug used to be on the swim team. He's very good a those dives and uses them regularly to retrieve my sunglasses or golf balls from the bottom of the lake.

jeanie said...

I have a D100 which is great, but I do have issues with the reds (see my rose post the other day?). I am a Nikon woman through and through... have had many brands of camera try to tempt me their way, but I'm devoted. They are so familiar to me.

And as you know, I adore my 28-200 which I bought almost exactly the same time as you!!!

Can I say again how handsome those boys are? I'm a safe distance away!!! (And I already have my toy boy!).
(posting under her sister's alias, just to confuse you!)

Lottery Girl said...

Thanks for this post! Very helpful. And all the photos you posted are wonderful, as always!

That is an awesome feature to be able to take multiple pics in a few seconds. It sucketh to have to wait, believe me. And you are so right about how wonderful it is to be able to take as many digital photos as you like with no cost and simply keep the ones you like.

You have a gorgeous family, but then, you're such a hottie it sorta goes with the territory.

A Novel Woman said...

BB, you did confuse me. I thought, who is this Jeanie who seems so familiar and yet.... :)

Yup, reds are never easy. I tend to avoid them and my favourites to shoot are white flowers, of any kind.

And they are handsome young men, aren't they? And they're both smart, and polite and kind. We're lucky.

Lottery Gal Pal, methinks you've been sniffing craft glue. Hottie? HAHAHAHAHAHAAA! (wiping tears)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful shots, Pam. We're a Nikon family too. We heart our Nikons. :) I used the 18-200 all over Scotland - didn't once change lenses. And my husband is having a passionate affair with his D3. (Yes, I'm okay with that. *g*)

But apparently I was wrong about the Bigma, which is actually the 50-500, not the 150-500. My mistake, sorry!

Anonymous said...

Dear Pam: You're a Mac user! I am a PC user and thinking of making the switch to a MacBook or MacBook Pro. Are you happy with your Mac? What model do you have?
Also, what is the latest animal count up to? Boris vs. squirrels, Pam vs. squirrels, etc. I think I know what the Buddy vs. skunk score is! How are you doing with the aroma issues?

Anonymous said...

Ohhhh, my Olivia! What a nice surprise....

Anonymous said...

Oh, the kids are cute too.....

A Novel Woman said...

Jo, I got a MacBook Pro and I love it. There is a new model coming out at the end of October, but I refuse to think about it.

And the skunk smell in the house has finally disappeared for the most part, although Buddy's muzzle still stinks if you get close. No news on the squirrel front.

Yutha, I had to use Olivia as she's very photogenic.

laughingwolf said...

nice kids/cat...

good things to know, pam...

i have tons of film cam experience, little with digital stills, though i have mucked about with video :)

Monica said...

Thanks for all the information. I was just speaking with a neighbor regarding a new camera. The current one I am using is awful for action shots.

He is a Nikon rep and is getting me the camera D80 at cost! I have no idea if I could afford the D200.

A Novel Woman said...

mdx3mom, that's fantastic! I didn't think I'd get the D200 either, but the salesman offered it to me at the same price as the D80 so I took it.

In terms of picture quality, they're identical according to comparison studies. You won't be disappointed in the D80, I promise. Go Nikon!

Donna Boucher said...

Beautiful pictures!!!!

Love reading your photography blog :o)