Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My New Toy

I've been wanting to get into digital photography for a while now. It's one of those things that has always been at the back of my mind, but I never acted on it... until now. I just bought a Nikon D90 digital SLR camera, with the 18--105mm kit lens!

Before I bought it, I mentioned to a friend that I was contemplating buying a new camera. He said, "Nice, has a 10 megapixel camera for $89." I'm sure that was an okay camera, but I was looking at digital SLR cameras, which have a number of advantages over the point-and-shoot variety that "normal" people buy. Do a web search for "slr vs point and shoot" to see the differences. Here are a few links that discuss the differences. The short version is that digital SLR cameras offer more control, potentially better image quality, more features, changeable lenses, and faster operation. All this comes at a price, as digital SLRs are typically bigger and heavier than the ultra-compact cameras that easily fit in your purse or pocket. Digital SLRs are overkill for folks who just want to capture memories of good times.

I believe my wife and I now have the perfect balance of photography equipment: she has a small "deck of cards" sized point and shoot that she takes virtually everywhere. And it takes pretty good pictures! But for those opportunities where we need more horsepower---and lugging around the bigger camera isn't a problem---we now have it in the form of my D90. Not to mention, I now have a new technical toy to play with, and an enormous subject matter (photography and digital imaging) about which there is no limit to how much can be learned.

I went ahead and started the obligatory Flikr stream. As of this writing, it only contains a handful of my "best" pictures from the first two days of using the camera around our apartment. I showed the pictures to a friend whose unflattering commentary was, "Those don't look any better than what can be taken with an ordinary camera." True, those aren't great works by any stretch of the imagination, and probably could be captured just as well (if not better) with, e.g., my wife's little point-and-shoot.

But! My response is this: imagine two musical instruments: one, a clunky old beater, that was crummy from the start; two, a new, top-of-the-line, professional grade instrument. The music created from a beginning musician won't sound radically different when played on either instrument. However, in the hands of a skilled virtuoso, the music coming from the better instrument will generally sound better. I am the beginner musician, playing my music on an instrument designed for someone who's been at the art a lot longer than me. But I intend to practice!

Anyway, my first "real" shooting with the camera will be this weekend, when we go to Shedd Aquarium with the in-laws.