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In addition to paying for cruises, I have one other major drag on my finances – cameras. I am, and have been for years, a very keen amateur photographer. Actually, I don’t spend that much on cameras, compared with – ooh, my car, the house, or indeed cruises, but given that the photography is discretionary, it feels like a larger amount than it actually is.

Back in the old days of cameras that took films (!) the principal determinants of photographic excellence were a) the skill of the photographer; b) the lens in use; and c) the film used. The actual camera was a long way down the list – it was just a box to hold the film flat & allow strictly-controlled amounts of light onto it. If you had a good lens and used decent film, there was nothing to stop you from taking the bext picture ever seen, and you could do this with the oldest, simplest camera that your lens would fit onto. True, a better or more sophisticated camera might make it easier to take ‘the greatest picture ever’. For example, if you were a sports photographer then it would be useful to have a camera that shot lots of frames per second, because that would increase your chances of getting the perfect shot of Ronaldo scoring Manchester United’s winning goal. But not having such a camera didn’t stop you from taking that shot – it would simply take more skill & judgement to do so. Then came digital, and everything changed. All other things (principally lens & software) being equal, a camera that offered higher resolution & greater dynamic range would indeed take a better picture than one that offered lower resolution & a restricted dynamic range. It’s as if you were restricted to just one type of film in your camera, and all the time you can see new types of ‘film’ that are better – sharper & offering more natural colours, perhaps – but you can’t use them! So the drive to move to the latest, greatest camera is very strong, because (unlike with film photography) it is an ascertainable fact that your pictures will be better with the latest camera. All other things being equal, of course.

So here I am with a Nikon D80, which is a very very good DSLR, and which I only bought this spring. It had the same technical characteristics as Nikon’s next camera up the chain, the D200: the difference between them being more about robustness and performance than image quality – both use the same sensor, for example. But yesterday Nikon announced a new pair of cameras, the D3 (professional camera and ruinously expensive – even I won’t contemplate that one), and the D300. And that’s the one that’s soooo tempting. 12 Megapixels instead of 10. Better noise control at all ISO ratings, but especially at high ISO. And, probably as a result of that, perhaps two stops of increased dynamic range. And those are two things that are very very likely to make images out of a D300 better than equivalent images from a D80.

Take for example this picture from Santorini this summer:
Windmill at Oia village, Santorini

I’m quite pleased with it, and in many ways it captures the feel of that island that day – hot, bright, and deep shadows. But the shadows shouldn’t be completely black, there should still be some detail, and I think that the D80 simply hasn’t been able to hold that detail; whereas the D300 might. So the temptation is there!

Here are a couple of link to more pictures of Santorini, taken in 2006 and 2007.

One Response to “NAS – 'Nikon Acquisition Syndrome'”

  1. Ooh, why must they keep coming out with better and better cameras! I *love* our D50, but even it as so expensive it’ll be a long long time before we upgrade.

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