I first took an interest in photography back in the early 70’s. While in the US Army, we had a photo lab and I was able to process my own work, black & white prints and color slides. In the early years I shot 35mm using Yashica rangefinder, SLR and Minolta SLR cameras. I also did some larger format print with a Yashica Mat 124G
Life work and other things took over and my photography hobby took a back burner. Over the years I took a lot of snaps with the modern digital point and shoots.
The Digital Age
In 2012 I got the itch to get back into photography in a more serious manner. I would be retiring in a couple years and this would be something I could do after retirement. I did a lot of research about what to buy and it was down to Canon or Nikon. I settled on Nikon based on some of the reviews that reflected it better for stills and Canon had the video edge.
My first purchase was in Sept 2012 with a Nikon D5100 Kit that included 2 lenses, an 18-55 and a 55-200 and that began my quest into the world of Photography. It was a mid range consumer camera and I chose this model as I was unsure how involved I would get.
I have since been developing my Photography Hobby with my DSLR equipment. This kit would serve me well for a while as I learned to use my gear. I soon added the 50mm and 35mm f/1.8 prime lenses. These are high quality with low cost and I used for low light and more detailed close ups. My next purchase was a longer zoom. As I was taking wildlife down at Horseshoe Pond in Merrimack NH, I was finding the 200 mm just was not enough. In November I added a 55-300 telephoto zoom which helped with those wildlife shots.
Next, looking for a longer everyday range, I picked up an 18-105 zoom. This replaced my 18-55 and since I already had a 55-300, and was no longer using the 55-200 so these two lenses were sold to pay for the new 18-105.
As I continued learning, I added peripheral equipment for lighting effects. I started with a Yongnuo 560II Speedlight and later added two Nikon lights, a refurbished and a used Nikon SB700 speedlights (flash units). To enhance these, and continue my education on lighting, I added inexpensive light stands, remote triggers, umbrellas and a background stand.
At this point, it was clear I was active and as I learned more and became more skillful, I began to yearn for a higher end camera. I had no desire for a full frame “pro” model partially based on price and also because the DX models were more than I would ever need. I took an interest in the higher end consumer unit, the D7000 as I could get it at a more reasonable price than the brand new Top Rated D7100. I tend to be too frugal to a fault.
My wife decided I should have the newer model if I was upgrading and purchased my D7100 camera body for Fathers Day 2013 (and my birthday etc..). 🙂
The resale value of my D5100 was not that great as they had had already come out with a D5200 so I decided to hang on to it for a backup and also for when I wanted to have a certain lens mounted at home (like the 300 mm).
Completion of Lens Set
My kit was in good shape, I was enjoying it and the learning. There were 3 holes that would eventually be filled, two of them in the summer/fall of 2013.
Next up… I added a couple specialty lens that I needed. These were both bargains, I added a Ultra Wide Angle and a Macro Lens. The wide angle I purchased new off Ebay (via a tip from my friend Ted) and it would be ideal for those wide landscapes and city architecture. The other item was a Macro lens, which allows extreme close ups such as flowers, insect etc.
Tokina 12-24 WA Sigma 105 mm Macro
Completing my kit was a LONG Zoom! I had not purchased anything new since the fall of 2013. We moved to GA in July of 2014 and I found myself doing a lot of wildlife photography and while getting some decent shots, I was missing many as I the 300 mm just did not have enough reach. Tamron had come out with a 150-600 mm that was considered economical (by 600 mm standards) and was getting excellent reviews. Several of my friend on Nikonites Forum were showcasing some excellent photo’s with the lens. They were next to impossible to get as they sold out immediately.
My friend Jeff, in MS, had one and recently was getting a 2nd for a friend. He emailed me a source in Houston along with the salesman’s name. A quick phone call, $50 deposit and my lens came in in two weeks!! Thank you Jeff!
My current Equipment List consists of:
Nikon D5100 DSLR Body w/Grip
Nikon D7100 DSLR Body w/Grip
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens
SIGMA 105mm F 2.8 D EX MACRO
Nikon AF-S DX Zoom 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED
Nikon AF-S DX Zoom 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED
Tokina AT-X PRO 124 12-24 mm F/4.0 AF DX
Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC
Nikon SB-700 Speedlight (2)
Youngnuo 560II Speedlight
Sony NEX 3 with 18-55 Zoom (Mirrorless – My Motorcycle camera)
With digital photography, some software is mandatory. Most point & shoot cameras output in JPG format and the camera does 98% of the work. My gear allows JPG but also what is known as RAW which is just that, raw image data. It allows you to adjust & enhance the photo to get the most out of the image. Photoshop is the premier package but was was very pricey and had a large learning curve.
I settled on Adobe Lightroom which is designed for photographers. I later enhanced that with the NIK collection by Google and Photoshop Elements. This has served me well over the last couple years.
Adobe has since gone to a subscription based program where you pay a small monthly fee and have the latest LR and PS. I own Lightroom and have paid a couple times for upgrades. In April 2015, Lightroom 6 came it and I decided the changes were worth getting and also decided it was time to take the plunge and get the Creative Cloud subscription for photographers. In addition to the new LR, I get Photoshop, LR Mobile and can share Lightroom over 2 devices using the Cloud.
Time to learn more! 🙂