My current camera is a Nikon D5000, given to me by my husband two-and-a-half years ago. He told me to think of it as a "starter" camera. It wasn't of course - my starter camera was the box Brownie I was given in 1960, to be followed a few years later by a Pentax model, and a series of film-shooting Nikons.
But this far into my partnership with the D5000, I am aware that I'd like something a bit . . . more? That despite the fact that I am still learning all of its capabilities and potential. And I know it has interesting features, such as in-camera photo manipulation, that I have not exercised. But it also has some key shortcomings.
It is a crop-frame camera, a concept I didn't understand very well at the time I received it. It shoots a painfully slow burst four-frames-per-second, which makes it tough to get the calibre of dog agility photos I'd like to capture. It does not have a built-in command mode for external flash. And while there's an attachment I could get to pick up that feature, it feels more like a workaround when a true solution is available.
So in February, I decided to step up and order, not just a better camera, but a camera I felt would meet all my needs for years to come. That would be Nikon's new D800, priced at about $3,000 - without any lenses. Costly, but I decided that it would make sense to look at it, not as an extravagance but an investment.
Evidently, I am not the only one who holds that view, because six months later I am still waiting for my new camera. The demand has far outstripped anything Nikon anticipated.
So I continue to work with the D5000, and to recognize that the reality is, its capabilities do meet all reasonable needs, even on a professional level.
A few weeks back I was visiting the website of outstanding Sacramento photographer Anne Williams. Under one of her images, someone had commented, "If I had your equipment, I could take pictures like these too!"
If only it were so. But it isn't. Terrific photographers have something more going for them than mere fantastic equipment. The wonderful photographer David H. Wells shoots with a pair of small Olympics that he carries about in a canvas tote, the better to be as unobtrusive as possible on his photo expeditions. And we all know that many wonderful images are being created today through the rapidly emerging and evolving art of iPhotography.
In fact, the photo below was taken with my iPhone, and enhanced in Instagram. It is a personal favorite. Why did I choose to shoot such an iconic scene with my iPhone? The answer is obvious - that's the camera I had with me at the time.
Like so many photographers, I'm a huge fan of Ken Rockwell. I love to read everything he has to say about photography, and he is my equipment guru. But there is truth in ancient wisdom, and it is absolutely true that the best camera for any shot is the camera that you actually have with you at that moment.
Yes, I am eager to own a D800. I scan my e-mail every day for updates from B&H. But in the meantime, I really have no reason to complain. The camera I do have is quite a good one. If there is any inadequacy in my photography, the problem is not with my equipment.