Deciding on my "Kitt"

Kitt - isn't that the name of the car in Night Rider? Anyway, now you know that I have a Nikon D60. Like most of you who are thinking of getting into photography, I did a lot of online research and asked around for a lot of tips before settling for the D60. At first I was considering either the Nikon D60 or Canon's EOS 450D. I have to say that I always favored having a Nikon. Probably because I know many people who use Nikon and also because I've seen many photojournalists using Nikons on TV. For me, it felt like Nikon was always the first choice for SLRs and photography in general. However, I have colleague who's a Canonite (in case you don't know what I'm talking about, read "Canon fan"). He told me that Canon is by far a much bigger camera manufacturer. They have much higher volumes and this is translated to better costs. In his opinion, Canon offered excellent value for money and I have to agree that he is right. On a feature level, you would probably get more from a Canon than an equivalently priced Nikon. However, I think that we would all agree that photography is not about features. It's art, not science.

Another question I asked myself was, "Which brand would I prefer to stick to all my life?" A great thing about having a digital SLR is that you can usually reuse lenses, flashes and other accessories when you upgrade the camera body as long as you stick to the same manufacturer. This greatly encourages people to stick to one manufacturer for life. In this respect, I was in favor of Nikon.

Anyway, I looked for lots of photography tips on the two and probably read every major review about them before deciding in favor of the Nikon D60. Digital Photography Review is probably one of the best online resources for such reviews and product-specific photography tips. I have to say that I was a little pissed off that almost every D-SLR by Canon or Nikon gets a "Highly Recommended" rating. While this doesn't help the decision process, I think that it truly reflects the state of digital photography these days. It is now a mature industry and manufacturers have improved their offerings so much that as a beginner, you can't really go wrong with any of them (as long as you stick to well-known, reputable makes like Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony and so forth) . Anyway, back to my decision. I think that it should be noted that the Canon EOS 450D is more expensive than the D60 and definitely has a great set of features that I would have loved to see on my D60 as well. Nonetheless, between the two, I decided on the D60.

However, I soon started comparing the D60 against its bigger brother, the D90. I started looking for reviews and photography tips on the D90. The D90 has all the major features the EOS 450D has to offer and more, it has excellent reviews, it has a built-in motor that would allow the use of a wider range or lenses (some lenses supported by the D90 and not on the D60 are cheaper and in the long run the total cost of ownership may be less with the D90 - or so I argued) and additionally, it was brand new.

I had a chat with my colleague about this new alternative. He didn't recommend one over the other but he gave me some tips and said something that really stuck with me. He told me that in photography, it's very important to invest into the whole kit and not just the camera body. In fact, he added that it's much better to have a good lens on an entry-level body than the other way around. He also encouraged me to immediately invest in a reasonably good flash and tripod. I would rank this as one of the top photography tips I've ever received. I started looking at my investment from a more holistic perspective and realized that if I went for the D90, I would have to cut back on the other things. So, I decided to invest in a good entry level "kit" instead to kick-off my photography.

I bought my D60 together with the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105MM F/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens (kit lens for the D90), a Nikon SB-600 flash, a Tamrac bag and a Hoya UV filter. Recently, I added a Slik Pro 400DX tripod to my kit. I'm really glad that I decided on this kit and saw things holistically and beyond just the camera body. I have taken many nice pictures that I could never have had if I had decided to invest in a higher-end body and miss out on a good flash and tripod. Indoor pictures taken at night look best when you can fire a flash off a white ceiling and outdoor landscapes taken during sunrise or sunset look best when you can use a very small aperture (you will need to use a slow shutter speed and to mount the camera on a tripod).

photography tipsThere you have it - that's how I decided on my kit. I hope I offered you some practical advice and tips you don't typically get from reviews.


darlin said...

Thanks for the tips, I've bookmarked this page for future reference... hope you don't mind. I'm such a novice when it comes to taking my pictures, but I'm learning slowly but surly.