I’ve been wanting to take the plunge in the world of digital SLR photography for a while. It’s an expensive realm, for sure, but I’ve learned that I really love photography – it makes me happy. And I’ve been consciously running into the barriers around point-and-shoot. Realizing “wow, if only I had a DSLR, I could have made this shot a whole lot better”. I’ve been using my Canon SD700 IS camera as my main/only camera for a couple of years, and it’s a terrific little camera. I’m still amazed by it’s low light performance, afforded by the Image Stabilization feature on the lens (that’s what the IS stands for – don’t buy a pocket camera without it!). But it was time for me to graduate, so naturally I started shopping around.
The whole Canon vs Nikon thing is interesting. Those are the two “main” players in the DSLR space (Fuji, Kodak, Olympus, Pentax, and Sony all have their hat in the ring, but face it – when you think of the big, bad black DSLR, you think of a Canon or a Nikon). When you buy an SLR camera, you’re really buying into a family of lenses, accessories, etc., of which the camera body is only a small part. So its kind of a momentous choice.
I’m a big Canon fan. Like I said, I LOVE my SD 700 IS, and I’ve had other Canon point and shoot cameras before, and loved them. And for work, I absolutely adore my Canon XH A1 HDV high def video camera. So I was leaning toward the Canon camp. My boss, Bill, is a Canon fan, too (and a big SLR nut with lots of lenses and experience), and made sure I at least gave them fair consideration. He recommended the Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D). I also looked at the Canon Rebel XTi 400D, and the Nikon D40x.
In the end, though, it was the amazing little Nikon D40 that helped me make the decision. Nikon made a bold move with the D40 – they offered a DLSR that wasn’t really crippled in any way for a LOT less than their other cameras, and less than the competition. How much less? Remember that we’re talking in the realm of cameras that can cost thousands of dollars, WITHOUT a lens (body only). My “dream” camera, if cost weren’t an option, would be the new Nikon D300, which is $1800 without a lens. And nice lenses start at a few hundred dollars, and go up from there.
Anyway, back to the Nikon D40. It comes with a decent 18-55mm lens, and can do most of what it’s bigger, more expensive brothers can do. It uses cheap (and abundant, in my house) SD memory cards instead of Compact Flash. It’s the smallest and lightest DLSR out there (I think), and gets rave reviews from everyone from Guy Kawasaki to my friends on Twitter to Ken Rockwell (an internet camera nut). And all of that for an MSRP of $599. I got mine from Amazon for $492. That’s actually LESS than what I paid for my Canon SD 700 IS when it came out! (Yes, I was a sucker and paid full MSRP to get it right away).
I ordered the D40 kit on Monday, with a few accessories (a Nikon SB-400 Speedlight (flash), 4GB Kingston SD card, extra battery, bag, etc.). There were some great bundle deals on accessories from Amazon – stuff like “$20 off an SD card”, “free Lowepro Transporter strap“, and “$10 off a Lowepro Topload Zoom bag“. So I pretty much stocked up. 😉
The camera and extra stuff arrived today, and I’ve only had a little while to play with it, but already, I’m in love. I love how solid it feels in my hand. I love the sounds it makes – intoxicating! I’ve done a TON of reading and studying to get ready for this camera, everything from every word about it on Ken Rockwell’s site to every review I can get my hands on to buying and reading “The Digital Photography Book” by Scott Kelby (highly recommended – funny, concise, and useful). I feel prepared. Now, I just need to get out and shoot shoot shoot!
I’ll be taking the camera to Ignite Portland tomorrow night, and we’re leaving on a trip to Utah to see family next week, so I’m sure I’ll be doing lots of shots there, too. Keep an eye on my Flickr stream to see the best of them. Here are a couple that I shot tonight:
Leaves on the tree in my front yard. That “bokeh” effect – blurred background, sharp foregound – is something I LOVE, and one of the main reasons I wanted an SLR.
Here’s a shot of Gabe in our (messy) living room, using the SB400 flash aimed upwards, so the flash is bouncing off of the ceiling. I LOVE how good it looks compared to the same photos I used to get with a point and shoot.
Anyway, I feel like I’ve found a whole new world of stuff to learn about, play with, and be a geek about. I love it!
All product links in this post are Amazon affiliate links, so if you click on them and end up buying something, I get a percentage cut from Amazon. Which is good, because I made a promise to myself and to Rachel that this camera would be the last big gadget purchase I make until we’re completely out of consumer debt, something we’ve been working on. More on that later, but suffice it to say that affiliate credits from Amazon may be the only way I have of acquiring new gear for a little while. 😉