Monday, August 11, 2014

I Replaced my Old Nikon D70 with a Used Nikon D3100

But, Why?

I had two Nikon D70 cameras which, over the past couple of years, became increasingly unusable. Both had been purchased second-hand on ebay in 2005 or 2006 at reasonable prices. One came with a 18-70mm and the other a 28-80mm and a 70-300mm. I prefer the 18mm, despite the distortion, for the wider angles it provides on my DX sensor, so rarely used the 28mm zoom. 2 years ago, I was given a 50mm 1.8 and LOVE it!

First Camera

I shot the transit of venus in late 2012 with a 70-300mm and not enough filters and, seemingly, damaged my shutter. The camera stopped working properly shortly after, so that is my best guess. It still shoots up to 1/60th of a second shutter speed, but nothing higher (just black images) and has trouble syncing with the flash (related)...etc, so very limited in use (only high aperture shooting up to 1/60th frames per second -- fine for tripod landscape shooting, I guess).

Second Camera

The other has no excuse other than the wear and tear I exposed it to for the past 8 years. I use my cameras to get shots, which means on the beach, in the ocean, whilst raining, etc. Sometimes my kids run around and use them as bludgeoning devices. All the cameras get in return is a lens/sensor cleaning occasionally and maybe a UV filter on the lenses to offer some type of safeguard (well, I use lens caps when I can). One day, half-way through shooting my son at the park, it made a chunking noise (much slower and louder than the usual mirror flip/shutter release speed) and seemed to fail mid mirror flip. Since then it flashes 'Err' on the display and won't successfully shoot at all.

Hello New Old D3100

I bought a D3100 just in time for vacation. Literally, it arrived the day before we left. I really like it. I kinda want a 18-55 VR lens that usually comes with them, but may get it separately later. I have almost all positive things to say. There is a slight learning curve which reading reviews and the guide will help alleviate, but I was able to do most everything I wanted immediately and with one less rotating dial than I was used to (for aperture/f-stop adjustments, you use the rear dial when on aperture priority or hold a button and rotate the rear dial when on other modes that allow aperture adjustments -- the D70 has a rear for the shutter and front for the aperture). The ISO can easily be adjusted during shooting, too. My only complaints are as follows:
  • *No IR receiver -- doesn't work with my cheap remote
  • Internal flash doesn't work as commander for my SB600 -- I don't use this feature often, but like being able to play around with it occasionally
  • *Doesn't auto-focus with my 50mm/1.8 or 70-300mm -- pretty much only lenses with a m/ma selector ON THE LENS can be auto-focused by this camera. This was an oversight on my part, and was clearly documented.
  • The video doesn't seem to auto-focus. It is supposed to be less than impressive auto-focusing, anyway. I'll revisit this, but it is worth a mention.
  • One other thing? I think so.
I was looking for a replacement, but enjoy these new features:
  • Video. It isn't great, but (like smart-phone video) nice to have in a crunch!
  • Higher ISO. I used to hate shooting over 400, but this isn't bad up to 1600 and the higher modes are way better than unusable pictures, even if they aren't ideal. I was able to get no-flash shots of my dad and brother gigging which were, at least, fun for later review that I never would have been able to get with my D70.
  • Distortion Control -- I've read that it works well, but haven't verified.
  • ADR (Automatic Dynamic Range?) -- also reportedly good, but I'll write if I disagree.
*I didn't know about these differences when I purchased, though they were clearly documented had I looked a little harder.

Good Change

I'm thinking of getting a new old D90 or another, higher end, replacement for my second failed camera that will address my complaints above. I only need two cameras for the rare occasion when my wife and I shoot simultaneously, so won't miss the features at that point. My only complaint, then, will be juggling two types of batteries. I think both will use SD cards for storage rather than the old CF cards my D70 bodies used.

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