While I was finishing the new book, I knew I would have no time to play with a new camera (plus, it was freezing out and I hate cold weather), but I wanted a Nikon D90 and so I got impatient and ordered it anyway. Other than taking out the manual and reading it (always read your manual!), it mostly sat in the corner of my office taunting me. Or maybe it was just reminding me that there was a reward at the end of a hellish winter of writing.
Last weekend I got my reward. I took the D90 out into the field for the first time to get to know it better. In the coming weeks and months I'll probably talk a lot about the camera because it takes time to get to know a new body and this one seems to have a ton of really fun features. So far my favorite feature is the three-inch LCD. It's huge and the most fun LCD I've ever looked at. For the first day though I was dismayed that it seemed way too bright--I could hardly see detail in the highlights. So I went back to the manual and, duh, I found the menu item that lets you adjust the brightness of the LCD (up to three steps darker or three steps lighter) and dimmed it down by two settings. Now it looks pretty normal, but it's still tough getting used to seeing such a huge image looking back at you.
The first shots I took with the camera were of some kite sailors on Long Island Sound (a few miles from where I live) at sunset. It was a tough subject to throw at a camera the first time out--bright sunset, dark clouds, an action subject, contrasty water, etc. And I think the camera did pretty well. I only made some minor adjustments to this image and those were for color, not exposure. I am seeing more noise than I'd like to see (at ISO 200 where it should be noise free) but it might just be that I was shooting in a very dim setting. We'll see. All the reviews I've read say that noise is just not an issue with this camera. So hopefully this week as it warms up, I'll go shooting in "normal" daylight and see how the camera handles.
I'm pretty psyched to have a new toy to play with and hope this camera lives up to its expectations and to the great reviews I've read. I will say that using the camera is a dream--the menus are totally simple to follow and they are beautifully designed. Also, the camera has "Live View" a feature that lets you compose on the LCD--something a lot of DSLR cameras can't do. I'll write more about that feature soon.
So, my advice to you if you're getting a new camera this summer is don't wait until you're going to shoot something important like a graduation or a vacation: get the camera out of the box, read the manual and do some heavy-duty test shooting. Hey, it's all free. I shot 100 photos in the first two days.
Translating John Sargent
7 hours ago