Enter the Nikon D3000 – Upgrading from JPG to RAW
Increasingly, however, my old Fujifilm SL260 had started to become a little unreliable. After a trip to a Temple in Taipei during a hot summer day, the camera allowed moisture to enter its inner workings from the misters that the Temple was using to keep everyone refreshed. Now it still works, but I lost the ability to use the electronic viewfinder. It would still display on the back panel just fine, but that eats batteries like Ms. Pacman.
New or Gently Used?
So I started perusing the camera shops here in Taipei. I wasn’t quite sold on buying a new camera even at Camera King in Shihlin, but buying a gently used one seemed to offer a nice on-ramp to the world of multi-lenses. Finally, I saw a listing from Angie (I’d already met her on a photowalk) on a FB photogroup that said she was selling hers along with several lenses. Initially, I ignored the ad because I hadn’t reached my weight goal (and I still haven’t!). Frustrated by my SL260’s foibles, I finally relented and called Angie Shih to ask it was still available.
We arranged a meetup where Angie introduced her camera… and I could see she’d really taken a lot of steps to keep her camera carefully. It was lovingly wrapped up in a bag, each lens was wrapped up, too. She’d added a dry-bag (essential in Taipei because of the humidity), an anti-scratch screen, and several tools to keep things nice and clean. It seemed to be her pride and joy! I didn’t hesitate. I was so delighted to find a motivated seller who really cared about her camera, and she spent quite a bit of time helping me do basic things.
The great thing about buying 2nd hand from a photographer is that you get a decent camera like I did, the money you hand over is cycled into new equipment for her, and you build connections in the photo community. Nice! Of course, for me, I got two decent lenses, a bunch of useful advice, and some tools that I can take with me when I eventually upgrade. You can check out the D3000 link @ Amazon for its specs. Suffice to say, it’s more than adequate to learn photography, offers a lens system so I have an upgrade route for the body, and it’s relatively uncomplicated compared to the one I want to buy next year (shhhhh! Don’t tell the wife!) – the D7200 or D7500.
Upgrades & Additional Purchases
After getting it home, I subjected it a much closer inspection, I found that I had to make a few changes. The first thing I replaced was the eye-cup which had fallen off, and I also ordered an extra battery. The D3000 has a pretty good battery life, even with the original old battery; but purchasing an extra one made sense.
Lenses that came with the deal included a zoom 55mm~200mm f3.5; and a fixed lens 40mm f2.8. Originally, Angie was going to sell an additional 18mm~55mm kit lens, but it had been dropped by someone she lent it to. I ended up adding that to my shopping list. I also removed the plastic protector on the viewer panel… scratching the back display is unlikely. I do take care of my things, but I’m also more than a little ‘accident-in-waiting’.
Since I already had a tripod, that was okay. Subsequently I did a little extra shopping to round out the kit…
- New battery
- Lens Brush
- New Dry Box and Bags
- Remote Clicker
- Large Camera Bag
- 18mm~55mm Kit Lens
- Replacement ND Filter
- SD Card Reader for Android
- Extra Lens Bag & Cap Holder
I already had a shorter tripod. Though I purchased a 2nd hand camera, I felt that I didn’t want to skimp on additional equipment to make the most of the device. It wasn’t without problems; my Toshiba FlashAir Card isn’t compatible with the D3000 so I’m not able to use it with this camera, though it should work with other later models; and the SD Card Reader turned out to be a little ropey, (the device works well, but the connector isn’t solid).
Strengths & Limitations
The D3000 Nikon is a pretty decent camera for me. It’s not complicated by video, it just doesn’t do video. It outputs high-quality JPEGs and RAW. I also like the dual export of RAW/small JPEG, too. I’ve mastered most of the camera options, and finally got it set up with how I understand things. It’s also taught me a lot about Aperture/Exposure. I’ve not got things quite buttoned down even now. I can still shoot wildly out of range pictures… but the success rate is increasing.
I have noticed an odd feature that is missing: bracketing. I’m not able to automatically bracket … it’s not really an issue for me right now, but it limits my ability to do HDRs in Lightroom. I do find the high ISOs noisy, too. In fact, I don’t really like to shoot higher than 400ISO, despite it’s ability to shoot right upto 3200.
Most of the pictures taken from April this year have been shot on the Nikon D3000. It’s just such an easy camera to use, even with my light use, I’ve taken nearly 7000 shots already in just 9 months. I can’t tell you how many are good… but even with its foibles, it’s just easier to use than the hobbled SL260 Zoom.
Staring in late April, I finally set the camera to shoot dual RAW+JPEG format, before finally shooting only RAW after my trip to Japan. It’s a little more work than before. In camera results are often harder to gauge, but once you have the files in LR, it becomes much easier to manipulate the files. I think results are better doing it manually… in fact, that’s something I’ve noticed even taking photographs with the different modes provided by the camera: Manual results can be drastically off, but when they’re good, they’re much better than automated settings.
So Angie has been a real mentor for me, even chiding me for only bringing one lens on photowalks! Thank you, Angie! So now, I’ve made several major transitions in my photography: from POS to Nikon, from JPEG to RAW, from Picasa to LR… Where next? …