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September 15, 2005

The Shiny New Toy


As promised, here's the shiny toy I bought myself the other day: a Nikon D70s, along with a bunch of various ridiculous trappings (lenses, filters, tripods, etc) which I may or may not ever end up using, but I decided that if I was actually going to get a camera like this, I might as well dive into the deep end. Also, since I don't actually expect to buy another camera after this one, like, ever, I might as well get the bells and whistles.

I initally had my eye on the D50, which is a slightly less expensive version of this camera designed for people graduating from point-and-click cameras to SLRs, but I decided -- per the "never buying another camera ever again" bit -- that in all it was best to get something I was less apt to outgrow. The reason I wanted a new camera at all is that I was bumping up against limitations on my otherwise perfectly excellent Kodak EasyShare (which I still recommend for people who just want snapshots). A camera that gives more options than I will probably ever use makes rather more likely I won't have an expensive upgrade twitch a couple of years from now.

Two things make this purchase especially sweet. One, I bought it with a royalty check I wasn't expecting, so it was "free money" (i.e., money not in the budget), and therefore it's psychologically like getting this bitchin' camera for free. Two, because I do a photography thing for "By the Way" every week -- and I get paid for writing "By the Way" -- this is quite legitimately a tax-deductible business expense. Sometimes the life of a writer rocks, I tell you.

The one fly in the ointment: The camera package I was sent was missing a lens, the 18-70mm jobbie that one would actually use on a daily basis (the lens here is the 70-300mm lens, perfect for seeing into the next county). I called and they're shipping the lens to me even as I type this. And when I get it, oooh boy. Picture time down at the Scalzi's.

Posted by john at September 15, 2005 12:21 PM

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Randy | September 15, 2005 01:01 PM

Must be kinda weird to take a picture of the new camera with the old camera. I'm surprised the Easyshare didn't refuse to participate out of jeaoulsy.

Kevin Q | September 15, 2005 01:41 PM

Nicely done. I'm more of a Canon man myself, but that Nikon looks like it'll give you years of good pictures. Have fun. (And congrats again on finishing TGB).


Tor | September 15, 2005 02:21 PM

I have the Rebel XT, but looked closely at the D70 before getting it. The D70 is a great choice - not much difference between the two, except for esthetics. And they both take sweet pictures...

justfred | September 15, 2005 02:58 PM

Yay. I have the exact same camera/package and I love it. One thing: it's big. I almost want to get another tiny little camera (Nikon Coolpix S4, when it becomes available?) to always have with me. And: I like Nikon's interface, seems to be techie-centric, where Canon seems to be a little more consumer-centric; neither seem to be severely marketing-driven but I'm all about the interface. Finally, one of the reasons Nikon appeals to be is it has a long history of being "thrashable" - the kind of camera you can keep forever - but methinks that the digital/electronic won't live up to this; I've already had the 18-70 in the shop because the motor got grindy, but that may have been my fault (speaking of which, still trying to get a little bit of spilled beer out of a Powerbook, wonder if that's covered by Applecare...) Finally, additional lenses, like a macro and/or wide angle, are outrageously expensive, like over $500 each. But it does take really really lovely pictures, and I'll be interested to see if you have any hints.

Burns! | September 15, 2005 03:38 PM

Niiice! I kind of had a feeling the shiny thing might be something like that. I've been wanting one of those D70s for a while now. Let me know how you like it.

Anonymous | September 15, 2005 03:45 PM

Cool. I love my D70 and couldn't stop taking pictures with it. I've taken it to Europe and Asia, and although it's big, it's proven to be very reliable and robust. I've accidentally dropped it and it's been fine. Hope you enjoy it!

Maureen McCarty | September 15, 2005 04:28 PM

Ohhhhh....drool. I have that on my Amazon Wish List in the off chance some wealthy patron of the arts sees my photos and thinks "that girl needs a digital SLR!" I'm an oldskool film girl, with the Pentax K1000 I've had forever, but I've been researching digital and the D70 looks like it could be a life partner. Congratulations on the check and the shiny new toy!

mythago | September 15, 2005 05:46 PM

That's quite a lens you have there, Mr. Scalzi.

Dean | September 15, 2005 06:22 PM

Oh great. As if I didn't have enough reasons to be envious...

uhura | September 15, 2005 06:37 PM

Wow - camera buffs! Ever since my high school publications advisor shoved her 35-90mm camera in my Newspaper Editor hands because our photographers went on strike, I've been interested in developing it into an actual hobby complete with rational and irrational spending.

Any advice for a newbie (the only camera I own is the one on my phone...) who wants to get started? I like taking pictures of people,landscapes and nature (mountains, moving water) because I live in what I defend as one of the most beautiful places on earth. Insects and plants hold a curiosity for me as well...

Please email me or post here, and thanks in advance! tell her this at gmail dot com - no spaces!

cisko | September 15, 2005 07:16 PM

Photo.net was my place for gathering a lot of online info about photography. It's gone commercial -- I'm not quite as enamored of it -- but still worthwhile.

They have some great starter info about nature photography. Bob Atkins, who wrote most of this, gave the real money quote:

"Be warned that photography can become a large bottomless pit you shovel money into if you reach this terminal stage."

| September 15, 2005 08:44 PM

So are you planning on taking any shots of Canada before the new lens arrives, or do you think you could manage Mexico?

I love the whole process of buying new toys, from the feature comparing to the waiting on delivery. I often wonder if those Women that like shopping so much do so because they get that same buzz from shoes.

Nicholas Corwin | September 15, 2005 11:36 PM

Hey John. Nice camera, but my God, you are now setting the threshold for baby-boomer-style self-absorption at ever higher levels. And you are not even a baby-boomer. Happy snapping. NC

Derryl Murphy | September 16, 2005 12:57 AM

Uhura, head to www.dpreview.com. Lots of good info, reviews, and a glossary.

John, good camera. The Nikon has a much better flash system than the Canon, especially when using the external flashes. It's a knockout for fill flash with portraits.

Just remember to make some prints now and again.


alex | September 16, 2005 03:54 PM

Actually, you can pick up the 60mm Nikkor macro lens for about $350 (less used) and I would recommend it highly. Nikon autofocus prime lenses are much, much cheaper than the zooms. The 14mm is still a pretty penny, but pretty darn funky.

The lens I'm currently lusting after is the 85mm f1.4--huge and expensive, but the depth of field with the lens wide open is about a quarter of an inch. It's amazing for portraits.

Don't forget that a pro shop (if you live near a large enough city) will be happy to rent you Nikon lenses.

Chris Byrne | September 16, 2005 05:02 PM

Is it reasonable to have camera envy?

I sold all my 35mm a few months back, in anticipation of picking up a new DSLR from a different manufacturer.

I then had a financial reverse, which prevented said DSLR purchase.

Sooo, I've been stuck with an HP photosmart for almsot a year, and while it's a prefectly fine point and shoot, I WANT A REAL DAMN CAMERA...

I've been looking at the D70, and the others in that same market range for a while. If you feel like posting a full review after a few uses, I know I'd be interested.

John H | September 17, 2005 02:44 PM

Cool camera! I bought the Rebel XT a few months ago and it's awesome.

One suggestion, though. If you haven't done so already, attach a polarizing filter and leave it on - it will protect the more expensive lens from scratches and dust, and can be removed if you don't want it for a particular photo. Kind of like a transparent lens cap...

Sebastian | September 20, 2005 12:24 PM

Congrats - D70's a great camera. I have to disagree with John H on two points, though. First, I don't think you want a polarizer for the vast majority of shots - and having to screw it on and off doesn't help reaction time. Typically the "clear lens cap" role is filled by a skylight or a light haze filter.

Second, unless you go out of your way to spend the money on multi-coated filters, you're going to get artifacts in bright light from having the filter on, and light loss too. I find a lens hood is just as, if not more effective, than a haze filter at keeping fingerprints and impacts off the end of the lens.

Glenn | September 24, 2005 12:44 PM

You will really like that 18-70 lens when you get it. It has internal motor driven focus that is fast and quiet. I expect that it will become your walkaround lens.

Good luck and have fun taking pictures.

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