Digital cameras come of age

My wife bought me a lovely birthday present a few weeks ago, a Nikon D100 digital camera. It’s a 6.2M pixel single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera on which I’ve put a Sigma 70-300 zoom lens. When I bought the lens, I didn’t realize that the digital SLR has a different focal plane so lens lengths are effectively 1.5x the standard film setting (that is, at a 300mm zoom setting, the camera is actually seeing a 450mm zoom equivalent of a film camera). Since I like zoom lenses because I can jump into the action, this has proven quite a boon!

On the other hand, it’s difficult to do any portrait work with a lens that’s already over 100mm on the widest angle setting, so it’s a mixed blessing. But the pictures I’ve gotten are really quite good, even those I’ve taken of my kids running towards me while flying kites on a windy afternoon: the lens focuses in a fraction of a second and unlike most digital cameras, the D100 has almost no delay between pushing the shutter button and the picture being captured.

Indeed, looking at the capabilities of the D100 really shows just how remarkably far digital cameras have come in a short period. This camera can process pictures for different color gamuts, and can automatically use Photoshop color palettes, lets you set any of about ten different ‘white modes’ for trying to side-step oversaturation or tinting of white elements in pictures, and much, much more. So much more that I realized this evening while reading the booklet that I’m over my head with this stuff. 🙂

The good news is that even Nikon realizes that not everyone is a professional, so the default automatic settings are pretty darn good. The only think I’ve changed from the default is the “ISO equivalent setting”, which causes the camera to emulate the light capturing capabilities of different speed film (ranging from ISO 100 up to an amazing ISO 32000). The default is ISO 100, but I’ve jumped it up to ISO 400 to compensate for the relatively slow lens I have.

Previously, I borrowed a Canon digital SLR and spent an afternoon taking pictures of my family innertubing down Boulder Creek, a mountain-fed stream that runs through downtown Boulder, Colorado, just to find that its default ISO 100 was too slow. Every one of my over 100 pictures was blurry and I ended up deleting the whole batch (and getting the Nikon).

In a few days, I’ll post a few pictures from the camera in my yet-to-be-built but coming-soon desktop scenics area. I think you’ll be impressed.

2 comments on “Digital cameras come of age

  1. Dave,
    I’m looking forward to seeing some of those shots… I remember you talking about this camera at Gnomedex and was jealous then… I have a feeling I’ll be really jealous when we some of those shots! 🙂
    -Mike Marusin

  2. I enjoyed working with the Canon D30, which my folks use to shoot digital stills with…I’d love to have one full time. I’ve heard that a lot of the pros using digi’s are tossing their Nikons and going toward Canons for speed…but that’s just through a few sources.
    Can’t wait to see what you come up with!!

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