In defense of cell phone cameras

This past weekend, I took Isaac downtown Chicago to see the St Patrick’s Day parade. I knew that there was going to be a ton of people, so I packed light — his changing bag with a spare pull-up, some snacks, and water. I decided against bringing my camera simply for convenience sake. Well, as luck would have it, the sun was absolutely perfect at the Bean in Millennium Park and I so badly wanted my camera. So, I did what so many people do: I whipped out my cell phone camera. In the past, I’ve always complained that cell phone cameras were worthless wastes of space in a high-tech gadget — why put a crappy digital camera in a cell phone when all I really want is a cell phone? Anyway, I was able to take some moderately decent photos and I’m glad that I had at least some mechanism for capturing the moment. Now if I could only get those pictures off the phone and onto my computer…

Nikon failures

I’ve been a Nikon user for quite a few years now and I do not have any complaints about the quality of their equipment. Lately though, I’ve had more than one complaint about their service. It all started late last year when the D200 was announced. At first, I was exceptionally excited because I had been looking to upgrade my D100 and wasn’t really liking my options (less expensive D70, or more expensive D2x) — this was perfect timing for me. After nearly 3 years of service from my D100, I was going to be able to upgrade to the D200. Unfortunately, Nikon has done a fine job of squasing my excitement.

Nikon’s first mistake: Announce a highly anticipated new product, but not have enough quantity on hand. The initial ship date that I heard was that the D200 would be available early December 2005. So I waited and waited. When Christmas rolled around and I had heard of only a handful of D200 shipping, I got a little disappointed. When I finally got my D200 in April of 2006, I was totally shocked that they could take that long (5 months), and there is still a shortage of D200s.

Nikon’s second mistake: Have a limited stock of accessories for a product which is already difficult to get a hold of. Ok, great, I have my D200, but I can’t buy a second battery for it because they are backordered too. Even though the D100 had superb battery capacity, I always like to have a backup just in case and this is even more important because Nikon also dropped the ball in terms of battery consumption (see mistake #3 below).

Nikon’s third mistake: Take two steps forward and one giant stumble backwards. I am excited about nearly every new feature that the D200 has. It’s faster, smarter, and more customizable than my D100. But what the hell happened to the battery consumption? I can go weeks without having to charge my batteries in the D100, but I can’t even make it through an entire day with my one EN-EL3E battery (remember, I can’t get another one because nobody has them in stock — Mistake #2). Nikon claims that you can capture up to 1800 images on one battery charge with the D200, but during my first wedding with the D200, I got less than 700 — and I wasn’t even using the built-in flash!

So what do I do? I’ve got 4 Nikon lenses, a couple of Flashes, etc. Do I just suck it up and accept that Nikon can pull my strings like this? For now I’m going to have to because I just can’t afford the switch to Canon. But I can tell you this much, Nikon has bitten me once and I will be very shy about investing more money into their products unless they can prove that this won’t happen again. I love my Nikon equipment, but I’m not willing to put up with BS to use it.

The new Nikon D200

Nikon recently announced (on November 1st, 2005) a new camera, the D200 DSLR. It’s a vast improvement over the old D100 and the more recent D70/D70s and D50. I’ve been using the D100 for a couple of years now and have been very pleased with its durability and picture quality, so I can only assume that the D200 will provide more of the same and a whole lot more.

I’ve been asking for a D200 ever since Nikon released the D70. While the D70 is faster than the D100, it’s not a D100 replacement. For one, you can’t get a vertical grip for the D70, which I use all the time with my D100. For a while, I had lost hope that Nikon was going to fill the gap between the D70 and the uber-expensive D2h/D2x cameras and was actually contemplating forking out the money for a D2x. Thank goodness for the D200 because it has everything I was hoping for but with about half the price tag.

Supposedly, the new D200 will ship in December, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s true or not. I’ve been using Nikons for some time now, and they seem to be behind when shipping new products like this.

How not to lose 60GB of photos

When I decided to go digital with my photography, I knew that I would need to have some good way of archiving and backing up my data so that I would be assured of not losing any data if something bad were to happen to my computer. Well, the other day, I got a first-hand glimpse at what it’s like to have to completely rely on my backup system.

I went to boot up my computer, and instead of being greeted by my friendly welcome screen, I was greated with a blank gray screen. I’m technically savvy enough, so I tried a couple of things, but to no avail. After a chat with tech support, it was clear that I needed to wipe my hard drive and reinstall Mac OS X.

A happy ending
Luckily, I do have a backup system in place and luckily, I run it regularly. It took some time, and I learned a few lessons, but after a few hours, I was back up and running with my data restored.

Lessons learned
I found that my backup system was not as perfect as I had thought. It took a lot more manual file copying than I would have liked. Now that I have my system back up and running, I’m going to add a little fire drill to my backup routine that will further assure me that no data will be lost in case this happens again.

My system
I use Retrospect to back up my hard drive to an external firewire hard drive. I also archive all events to DVD twice: once right after I download the images to my computer from my camera, and again after I’ve sorted and organized all of the event’s images.

New lens

Well, I just got a new lens for my camera. It’s a Nikon 24-85 f/2.8-4. Hopefully this will replace my 35-105 as my all around general purpose lens. Because I’m all digital now, I needed that extra bit of wide angle to be able to cover the standard zoom range. If I need to go wider I can always grab my 17-35, but I think I’ll be using this new lens for about 80% of what I do. Another great thing about this lens is that it has macro and the ole 35-105 didn’t, so I’ll be able to add close-ups to my image making now.