Wannabe Shutterbug

Confession: I am fed up with my camera. My Nikon Coolpix L18 point-and-shoot just isn’t cutting it. The time it takes to auto-focus is way too sluggish, and the number of frames it takes per second (more like minute) is laughable. Granted, I know I’m talking about a point-and-shoot camera. I shouldn’t really expect much from this rinky dink device. But now that my camera use has matured past the days of college sorority events and random party pics, I feel like I’m in need of a grown-up camera.

My dad has been listening to my camera complaints for a few months now. He’s a great outlet to vent to because he’s quite the shutterbug himself. In fact, photography has been a family hobby of ours for three generations now. My dad inherited one of the Nikon cameras that my grandfather used to shoot with, and Dad now has quite a collection of film and digital cameras under his belt too. So asking him to accompany me to the camera store as my wingman was a given.

And so today, we ventured to Schiller’s, a local St. Louis camera store, that sells a full range of cameras and equipment. Since my family’s loyalties lie with Nikon, I asked the sales guy to give me his pitch for the Nikon entry-level digital SLRs. And he didn’t have to say much to sell me on… (drumroll, please)…

The Nikon D3100

For those of you not familiar with Nikon’s line of cameras, this is light years away from my L18. And so is the price tag. We’re talking $600 for the body and lens. And that’s the sale price. It’s originally $700. Nikon also has a promotion going where if you buy the D3100, you can get an additional 55-200mm lens for $150 (regularly priced at $250). So together, I’m looking to spend $750. Which is a really good deal, but yikes! Do you know how many pairs of shoes that could buy?

I didn’t want to make any rash decisions, so I left Schiller’s empty-handed but with a lot on my mind. Buying a camera of this magnitude isn’t like buying a car with the intention of it getting you from point A to point B. Buying a camera like this buys you into a hobby that requires more than just the camera itself. You need to think about a carrying case. (Hmm… wonder if Coach makes camera bags.) You need to think about printing. (Do I need a decent photo printer?) You need to think about editing software. (Too bad my old college computer that houses Adobe Creative Suite is now property of my parents’ basement.) Moral of the story is, photography is an expensive hobby!

On the flip side, there are a lot of hobbies I currently have that already justify the investment — 1) blogging, 2) scrapbooking (yes, I’m a bit of a fanatic), 3) traveling, and last but certainly not least, 4) The Bear and all his crazy antics! I need a good camera to capture shots like this.

So I’ll be contemplating the camera buy a lot over these next few days. All signs are pointing to yes, but unlike the impulse shopper I usually I am, I’m going to sleep on this one.

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3 Comments

Filed under Hobbies

3 responses to “Wannabe Shutterbug

  1. Papa Razzi

    Actually, I bought my initial Nikon camera outfit from Papa. Since it was a business transaction, it gave me the freedom to sell it if I decided to change brands without being encumbered by sentimentalism. (At least not much.) I stuck with Nikon because of its vast array of lenses. And that has remained the crux of my purchasing strategy. That is, invest in good glass because they should outlast many a camera body. But if that strategy isn’t possible (due to budget constraints, comfort or commitment level, etc.), then a corollary to that strategy is to buy a camera system, not just a camera. For example, does (will) the camera you buy have the components in its product line to meet your needs in the future as your skills, interests, and budget grow? And examine the relationship you plan to have with your intended camera. If you plan to just “date” your camera, then accept that fact, live in the moment, and get whatever you can out of it. But if you think this photography thing is the real deal, then think long-term about how each acquisition is going to fit (or not) into your overall camera family composition.

    As far as incidental expenses go, IMHO, you don’t need a great printer. For images you really want to see in quality print, take them to a kiosk, such as those at Walgreen’s, Target, Creve Coeur Camera, or Schiller’s, or use an online print service. Otherwise, most lay people (the people you’ll be sharing your pictures with) will be happy viewing prints produced with simple, three-color inkjet printers. I share my photos via CD/DVD media, e-mail, or the Internet (Facebook or photo-sharing website) and have yet to make a print. Not that I haven’t wanted to. I just haven’t decided on the right photo-quality printer. And I would have to get a color calibrator to match my monitor display with the printer output–another expense.

    Image editing software? You don’t need Adobe Creative Suite (or Photoshop for that matter) if you’re an entry-level photographer. It’s better to match tools with skill levels. Besides, if you shelled out the big bucks now for CS or PS, you’ll lock yourself into the ruthless constant-upgrade cycle before your photography skills can even take advantage of the software capabilities. My suggestion? Look at free products such as Google’s Picasa or Microsoft PictureIt! Express (Apple may have equivalent). Your camera may also come bundled with image editing software (e.g., Nikon PictureProject). If you can afford to step up a notch or need RAW processing capabilities, Adobe Photoshop Elements is a less robust but more than adequate version of PS and retails for $100. Corel’s Paint Shop Pro is purportedly even more capable than PS Elements but is $20 or so cheaper. And there are other software packages in that price range.

    As to Coach camera bags…well, sorry. There’s a gap in my research.

  2. Pingback: Big Girl Camera Buy | Everything Glitters

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