Why I think Nikon is better.

12 06 2011

Nikon Fe2. Bought for $50. Used it for year. Sold it for $150!

I bought the N90s right about the time digital cameras were beginning to find their place on the shelves of my local camera shop. They seemed mostly a novelty then.  Serious photographers were still shooting film and Nikon’s F4 was the choice for professional photographers, but you could begin to see that digital was soon going to change the way photographs were made, forever.  In the 1970s, 35mm SLRs were evolving at a fever pitch.  Seemed every issue of Modern Photography or Popular Photography contained a review for the latest new camera.  Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Olympus, Pentax and a few others were trying to out do each other with faster shutter speeds and intricate metering systems.  Just about the time you thought you had bought the latest camera, the factory announced a new model with more bells and whistles.  It’s still true today. New camera models are coming out all the time and the latest camera seems to make the one before it obsolete. Over time though, I have learned a few simple things:

1.  The latest, most expensive camera will still make crappy pictures if you don’t know what you are doing.

2.  The camera body isn’t all that important.  A good lens is.

3.  A good photographer can make a good photograph with most any camera, even a cheap point and shoot.

I bought the N90s for one foolish reason and one good reason.  The foolish reason was that I always wanted one and when I finally could afford one, I indulged myself.  The good reason was that I was lucky enough to buy that camera at a real old fashioned camera shop where the guys behind the counter were photographers and knew what they were talking about. What I didn’t realize until I bought the N90s was that Nikon lenses, in addition to being wonderful pieces of glass, were, for the most part, never going to become obsolete.  No matter which Nikon lens you bought, it would work on most every new Nikon camera body that came out.  That means if you are lucky enough to own the latest new Nikon DSLR, you can pick up a 40 year old Nikon manual focus lens at a flea market, slap it on your DSLR and start snapping photos! There are some exceptions of course.  The 50mm manual lens you bought on eBay won’t autofocus on Nikon DLSR, but it’ll still work if you are willing to focus manually.  And if you pick up an old Nikon Fe2 for a hundred bucks or so and slap the latest Nikon AF lens on it, it’ll work just fine.

My point is this.  Cameras are expensive, but the bodies are disposable. It’s much more important, I think, to invest in good lenses. Camera bodies can become technically obsolete almost overnight, but lenses can be relevant for decades. A fast Nikon manual focus 50mm lens from decades ago will still work on the latest new Nikon DSLR and make great pictures.  And if you’re shooting photos with an old Nikon F2 and want to slap your friend’s 24-120mm Nikon AF lens on it, it’ll work!

If you’re like me and don’t have an endless supply of money to spend on photography, Nikon is a good investment.  Their lenses never become obsolete.  You can pick up older Nikon manual focus lenses on eBay or at flea market, use them for a few years and then sell them for what you paid or even for a few bucks more!  And Nikon has made very few bad lenses.

And if you are willing to buy used cameras rather than new ones, a used Nikon film camera, like an old F3 or F4 are incredible values right now!  A camera that sold new for thousands of dollars can be had on eBay for just a few hundred dollars.  Buy one, use it for a few years, then sell it for what you paid for it.  Kind of like having a free camera!  Even the earlier generation Nikon digital cameras are great buys.  And no matter what camera body you have, know that your Nikon lenses will work on it!

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