Second Guessing Myself

In usual fashion after I have made a major purchase (a rare and usually long-contemplated crisis in our household), it seems that a combination of curiosity and angst makes me go looking to see what kind of damage I’ve done. (the “you coulda had a V8 reflex, I suppose.)

And, as I imagined, the reviews of the telephoto lens I’ve purchased are all over the map. I think the consensus among those people that are not absolute purists on the Nikon Forums is that the 18-200mm lens will do exactly what I expect it will do, provided my expectations are realistic for a consumer grade lens with an 11 factor zoom.

I have, however, decided for the time being to keep the D70 body and the lenses I have, as the three lenses and two camera bodies will be interchangeable. It would be a luxury, granted, to have a backup camera (as opposed to selling it and making a little bit to replace the cash outlay about which I feel some small degree of guilt) but I have in the past done without a camera for more than a month while my mine went back to Nikon for repair, and I never want to do that again. Funny: it was the $1200-1500 I expected to make in the sales of my present equiptment that tipped me toward this purchase, and now I’m waffling on that. Oh fickle man that I am.

However, says the devil on my left shoulder, remember that since you have gone to digital as-needed printing for Slow Road Home, there won’t be the big outlay for a thousand books like there was last year. This year, you can move your focus (no pun intended he assures me) to photography, and this camera is a lifetime investment that may in turn bring you income! (I like the way that Rascal Rationalizer thinks!)

Frankly, part of my decision was ergonomic: especially the 80-200 lens is heavy and difficult for my hands to hold, and I’m not able to very quickly (or comfortably) change lenses when the need arises suddenly. Having a single lens that will in most cases cover from wide-angle to telephoto will be a real joy, while the quality may not be 100% of what it would be with a professional lens. I am, after all, more interested in getting the shot than in a shot being perfect; it is more about making a memory money.

Heck, nothing I have written is perfect by a longshot, and yet it has often been satisfying to have said it. I have similarly-realistic expectations for the photography, and perhaps both imperfect expressions taken together will come close to saying what it is that I want to say. I think that’s an obtainable objective for any future marriage between images in words and pixels.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Nice rationalization on keeping the old camera…

    In a similar vein, I also inadvertently backed into a way to justify a good decision. I my case I wanted a high quality espresso machine (trust me – it has paid xx fold given the reduction in Starbucks visits!). What I really wanted was the Rancilio “Rocky” but it cost more than the boss would allow. So I bought the Gaggio at a hundred fifty less – and unlike Rocky with its polished stainless steel and built-to-last-past-mankind looks – the gag-eo, although decently rated, was a plastic, el cheapo looking thing (even at $350). Well the boss saw the Gaggio sitting on the kitchen counter after it arrived and said “this thing looks cheap!” I could not believe the opportunity I had been handed! I said “Well, the really good one is only $150 more…” Tada! I was now presenting her with ‘only’ a $150 purchase. It worked! 2 years later and I have no regrets. Rocky is still a top rated machine on “” I love my Rocky (patting it as I write this…)

    Whatever it takes…. to get to the right decision!

  2. Hi Fred – How I have wanted to invest in a Nikon D200………alas my 35mm lenses are not Nikon Compatable……I have 3 Nikons & I still use all 3…….My first was a Nikon 3.2MP which is small enough to keep in my pocket when I am out & about with my grand-daughter as she never sees me taking pics. I love my Nikon 5700 (a 5MP) for macro in my garden during the summer photographing the butterflies. I also have a Nikon 8800 which is an 8MP & I love it for everything else, especially landscapes – the pics from the 8800 are absolutely gorgeous with the colors when I print them out……My Dad sent me some $$ for Christmas & I am thinking about buying a speedlight to use with my 8800 – I have had several requests from friends to take pics of their families/graduation pics, etc. & I think an external flash may be what I need to take their photos…….
    What do you think??? I have been advised to trade in all cameras towards a new D200 but am hesitant since I love all 3 cameras…….Ahh- such decisions!

  3. Take it from someone who still has just about every camera he has owned since 1963, including a Speed Graphic and an original Nikon F: Cameras and lenses are like tools; you can never have too many.

    Seriously, there are valid reasons for having two bodies. Most importantly, digital imagers in today’s SLRs are magnets for dust. Changing lenses often just increasing the chances of a dirty imager and unwanted spots on your images.

    With that said, I’ve looked at my camera inventory and wonder if I should cull the herd. At present, my camera locker has three Canon DSLRs (in addition to Amy’s Rebel XT), four videocams, two dozen lenses, four flashes, three sets of lights, five tripods and God knows what else.

    On the film side, I still have just about every pro-model Nikon film SLR from the Nikon F (purchased in 1964) through the F5. Never got around to an F6. Too enmeshed in digital by then.

    You and Don Johnson have most of my prime Nikon lenses now but there are still about 20 lenses in storage, including many manual focus models from a 24mm to a 500mm mirror.

    Maybe I need to have a sale.