I’ve had my trusty Nikon D50 for a number of years now. I had been trying to avoid “Upgrade Fever,” so, I hung onto it for a long time, while many of my photographer friends had long since upgraded their systems. It’s 6.1 megapixel sensor had long been surpassed, and even my phone now has more megapixels. But it still takes great photos.
When I bought it, the D50 was the cheapest DSLR I could get, just so that I would have a body that would accept all the lenses that I had inherited from Laura’s father’s camera collection. As such, it had a few shortcomings – narrow ISO range, some mechanical sluggishness, and a tendency for dirt to build up on the image sensor. Over the past year it’s been showing some signs of aging. On one trip the mirror locked in the up position, and I couldn’t get it down for a few panicky minutes. Lately the autofocus motor has sounded like it’s grinding rather than actually focusing. It was time to start thinking about a replacement.
I started using my “Take Five” method for saving money, putting back a $5 bill as often as I could. Add to that money from a couple of singing gigs, and it accumulated to the point where I felt comfortable with the purchase price of the new camera.
I had made a list of all the features I wanted in a new camera. These included, but were not limited to the following…
- Ability to use high capacity memory cards (my D50 was limited to 2GB cards)
- Built-in image sensor cleaning
- Ability to use ALL Nikon lenses, and not just the latest AF lenses. That ruled out the D3100 and D5100.
- Wide ISO range with little noise at the high end
- Video – not as important to me, but might as well have it.
- Metal body rather than plastic.
…plus, all of the things I liked about my old D50.
At first I was looking at the Nikon D300s like Houston has. It’s a fantastic camera and meets all those requirements. However, I learned that the Nikon D7000 had all of the features that I wanted. Since I already had lenses, I just wanted the body only, and not a kit. That would bring the cost down even more.
I could have bought the camera online, but I wanted to give local merchants a change first. Plus, I’d have it in my grubby little hands immediately, rather than having to wait for delivery. I had waited patiently while saving money, and that patience had run out. I first called Cameras Unlimited…
Me: Do you have the Nikon D7000, body only?
Salesman: I’m sorry, we don’t carry that.
Me: Then shouldn’t you change your name to “Cameras Limited”?
So much for the only locally owned camera shop in town. Time to turn to the corporate outlets. At least they employed locally. I’d looked at the D7000 in Wolf Camera, so I drove over there. Unfortunately, they had sold their last body only, and only had the camera kits. The sales woman called several other branches, but the closest available was in Charlotte. I checked with Best Buy, and they only carried the kits. I really didn’t want to spend $400 more for a lens I didn’t need.
Finally, Spartan Photo Center had what I needed. Friday afternoon I drove over to buy the last body they had. I felt better karma buying from a locally-owned shop, and I got it for the same price as I would have online.
One of the the things I loved about my D50 was that it was rock-solid. It had a metal body, rather than the plastic of the newer entry-level models. The D7000 is even more massive. It’s larger, and the magnesium alloy body makes it much heavier. That will make it steadier, but I’m glad I’ve got some lighter weight options.
So now my image-sensing arsenal is complete. I’ve got my D7000, with the D50 relegated to back-up until it finally falls apart. I have the Panasonic LX-5 as a small camera, My Fujifilm WP33 waterproof, which can double as a pocket camera, and I’ll always have my phone with me. I think I’m good to go.