I’ve got a body

Since I am getting inquires on what equipment I use for my photography and for producing this site, I decided to blog it. I am not sure if it’s of any help or even interest to anybody, but at least I don’t have to answer same questions over and over again. For the start I list my cameras and my lens right here. Sometime later I will probably review my other gadgets and may even cover particular items in more depth. Provided there is an interest.
For mainstream photography I stick with Nikon 35 mm SLR cameras.

I say mainstream to contrast it to casual, party, friends type photography. About 10 years ago I got my first Nikon body, it was Nikon-601 as it known in Japan or Nikon 6006, as it known in the United States. The camera is extremely easy to operate and reliable. After 8 years of heavy use it’s still going strong. It has built-in flash, which immediately bumps it out of the pro range, but the camera produces good photos. The only real issue with it is slow autofocus, but what do you want from one of the earliest autofocus cameras?! It used to be my workhorse for couple of years and I took hundreds and hundreds rolls of film with it, e.g. all out 40 images of Japan seria and most of photos in the imagebank. It’s production has been discontinued, but one can get really cheap deals in second-hand market.
I had no much luck with old manual Nikon bodies. I like 1978 Nikon FE body for it’s compactness and autoexposure, but several bodies I had tried broke up after not so long. It should be some flaw in the shutter mechanism. Then I played a bit with F3 body, which is extremely solid professional camera but never got about buying it. Around 1998 I purchased Nikon FE-10 that is the descendant to FE lineup of manual cameras. For while I had used it as a back up for my Nikon-601. It’s quite handy to have at least two bodies especially when you travel, since you can use one for low speed and another for high-speed film. With its plastic body the FE-10 is very lightweight. It’s not for hard-core professional use obviously, but makes it nice entry-level SLR for those who studies photography. And don’t forget it’s compatible with all Nikon lenses!
Couple of years ago I decided to make incursion into Nikon pro range and purchased F90X body which stands somewhere in between high-end amateur and low-end pro SLRs. Although heavier then my other cameras, it’s much lighter then anything in true pro range. It proved to be somehow optimal for me by combination of factors. It got all features I need and it doesn’t have exotic features of high-end SLRs, but I don’t need them anyway. When I travel I carry all equipment on my back and the weight is the main reason why I had never even considered buying F4 or F5 bodies. At some point I even tried switching to Canon line purely because their cameras and lenses are so much lighter! The attempt failed, but that’s whole different story.
I was happily using F90X for most of my photography, until the digital bell rang. First digital SLR I tried was FujiFilm FinePix S1 Pro. I tested it on my trip to Taiwan and found exceptionally easy to use and producing decent Internet-grade photos. Since the body is replica of Nikon F60 (or N60) I had no troubles adapting to look and feel.

At this moment I own Nikon 6M pixels D100 body which I got on Yahoo actions for about 200.000 yen. It’s cheaper then in most of camera stores here in Japan but one can still find better deals on kakaku.com the famous comparative shopping operator. Not to mention that both sites require some Japanese. There is pretty extensive review of D100 on dpreviews.com. This camera competes with FujiFilm FinePix S2 Pro 6M body which is the descendant to S1 Pro and compatible with Nikon mount. The FinePix is superior by some of criteria; in particular I would mention the hexagonal Super CCD that effectively doubles the resolution (and improves image quality). However the D100 body is smaller and I found controls more logical. But this is my subjective opinion. The choice between the two was hard I would attribute me buying D100 mostly to my customer loyalty 🙂
Few final words about my lenses. I do own both M manual and AF autofocus lenses, all of them Nikon’s. Yes, there are good inexpensive Sigma’s and Tamron’s around, but at the end of day isn’t Nikon famous for it’s lenses? Since my latest cameras are all autofocus I practically don’t use manual lenses anymore. If I need manual operation, I would just switch camera into manual mode. Here is the list of AF lenses I own:

  • 16/F2.8 AF fisheye
  • 20/F2.8 AF wide-angle
  • 35-105/F3.5-4.5 AF normal zoom
  • 70-300/F4-5.6 AF telephoto zoom
  • AF 105/F2.8 macro

When I am constrained by weight and have to pick just two lenses for a trip, I would take AF 35-105 and 20/2.8 AF lens. The next most frequently used lens is AF 16 fisheye and then comes 70-300 AF zoom.
The fisheye lens is especially handy with D100, since as you know the D100 multiplies focal length of a lens by factor of x1.5 which turns 20mm into 35mm lens.
As you see I don’t shoot for Nikon fixed-aperture super-bright zoom lens (likes of AFS80-200/F2.8), they are not only out of my budget, but also too heavy and need more caution then I can usually provide. When I can afford two assistants to carry my equipment around I would probably go for it. Not in this life span.
Just recently I’ve got new AF 105/2.8 macro lens and started learning and enjoying macro photography. This is whole new exciting world for me.
That’s basically it for bodies and lenses. Sometime I will cover my accessories.

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