New year, new Nikon. SLR as well. Blimey. Time for that traditional onionbagblog Larkhall Park camera road test…
Having felt that I’ve pretty much exhausted the possibilities of the F717, I thought it was time for a camera upgrade. The F717 has been an extremely reliable and durable model. It has let me down only once in six years of heavy duty action.
Given that the one moment of failure was a paid for photography job (always work with the mantra of a back up model,) I thought now would be a good time to look for some new lens love.
Some professional snapper work in the run up to Christmas gave me the budget for the upgrade, and so I set about the task of pricing and sourcing a suitable SLR model.
I’m new to SLR photography, and see the coming months of something of a creative challenge. It has been all too easy to simply point and shoot at subject matter. Fatigue has started to creep into my love of photography, and so now would seem like a good time to make the SLR leap.
All thoughts turned towards Nikon. Different sources concluded that Canons can often struggle with colour. My enjoyment of photography comes from the creativity in the shoot itself, not the endless hours spent in the office using Photoshop.
And so I was reduced down to three models: the entry level D3000, the old (ish) D60 or the blow the budget (and next month’s mortgage) of the D80. Live within your means, and so the D3000 it was. Plus what I saved on the camera body, I could then put towards an extra lens as well.
The D3000 retails for £400 at John Lewis. JL is the level playing field on which all purchases should be compared. If you can cut a better deal than the department store, then you have picked up a bargain.
I spent a hellish post-Christmas afternoon fighting against the tide of middle-aged ladies caked up in make up taking over the escalators at John Lewis. When I finally reached the top floor of the photography department, the disappointment of finding out that Oxford Street was out of D3000’s made for an eventful escalator journey back down.
I headed for Tottenham Court Road, hopeful of some bartering with the many camera shops that have now replaced the porn emporiums. Photography is the new sex in the West End – even better if you can combine the two.
I pitched up at Sunrise Digital. A D3000 in the shop window tempted me in.
“What are you selling the D3000 for?” I enquired.
“£500,” came the reply from the proprietor.
“Ah, but John Lewis is selling the same model for £400 down the road.”
Expecting a retort of “well, they are never knowingly undersold, so sling yer hook,” I was surprised to find the man behind the counter matching the offer.
Here’s where I fell into the cheeky chancer mode.
“I don’t suppose you could give me discount on a Nikon bag and 4gig card as well, my fine man?”
Job was a good un, and so for £450 all in, I managed to blag the D3000, a 17-55mm VR lens, the Nikon bag and the memory card. Bartering is the way to. I was on a roll, and couldn’t but help think that it’s a shame all of the sex shops have now moved out of Tottenham Court Road.
And so what of the camera itself? The run of bad weather has rather limited my road testing opportunities. There are only so many indoor portraits of the fragrant mrs onionbagblogger that a man can take, before heading for the great outdoors.
I soon realised though that I needed some extras lens action. A 55-200mm VR lens was sourced for the bargain price of £130 online. A break in the weather (of sorts,) and Larkhall Park and my new lens were mine for the taking.
Early thoughts are positive, if slightly confusing. I certainly need to re-think the way in which I approach my photography. The D3000 has a nasty trick of defaulting to the Auto Area in AF mode. This I do not like. I’ve tried to change the setting to revert to Single Area each time, but the default is for Auto. A minor gripe.
The lens motor is seamless. Even under the tranquil, crisp conditions of an icy Larkhall Park, I couldn’t hear the inner mechanism, even with the Nikon body pressed up close to my face.
The shutter benefits from very little lag action. This was perfect for composing pictures, and then capturing the exact same image that I wanted through the viewfinder.
I do miss the swivel body action of the F717. This is obviously a highly personal trait of the model itself, and would look rather rubbish on an SLR. New Nikon, new way of working.
And so hopefully the D3000 will keep me occupied over the coming months, and provide me with the necessary inspiration to keep on trying to achieve and enjoy my photo shoots. Larkhall Park remains as lovely as ever.
Effective pixels 10.2 million
Image sensor CCD sensor, 23.6 x 15.8 mm; total pixels: 10.75 million; Nikon DX-format
Image size (pixels) 3,872 x 2,592 [L]; 2,896 x 1,944 [M]; 1,936 x 1,296 [S]
Sensitivity ISO 100 to 1600 in steps of 1 EV. Can also be set to approx. 1 EV above ISO 1600 (ISO 3200 equivalent), ISO sensitivity auto control available
Storage media SD memory cards, SDHC compliant
Monitor 3.0-in., approx. 230k-dot TFT LCD, and brightness adjustment
Exposure metering 3D Color Matrix Metering II, Center-weighted, and Spot Metering
Exposure modes Auto modes (auto, auto [flash off]), scene modes (Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Close up, Night portrait), programmed auto with flexible program (P), shutter-priority auto (S), aperture-priority auto (A), manual (M)
Interface Hi-Speed USB
Power source One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL9a
Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 126 x 97 x 65 mm (5.0 x 3.8 x 2.6 in.)
Weight Approx. 485 g (1 lb. 1 oz.) without battery, memory card, or body cap