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Bestill My Heart!

>> Sunday, February 7, 2010

I have been hankering after a new lens for my camera for a little while now.

The camera itself is a Nikon D70 that I picked up used from the Best Camera Store in the World, a.k.a. Johnson Camera in East Syracuse.  I'm in love with the camera, and in fact have been known to refer to it affectionately as "my baby," for which my husband picks on me ruthlessly.  I mean, I really love the camera.  I'm still learning how to use all its features, and may never master all the things this camera is capable of.  Every time we go into Johnson Camera we wind up getting lessons on how to use different features or adjust things to take care of particular problems we're having, and we're making good progress.

By the way, that's one of the things I love most about Johnson Camera.  Not only do they really know what they're talking about, but they give wonderful free instructions on how to use the equipment they sell.

The trouble is that we have reached a plateau on picture quality for a lot of our shots because the lens can't quite keep up.  We're having trouble focusing.  The lens we're using now is a Nikon AF Nikkor 28-80 that we took off a nice 35mm camera that was a gift from my sister and brother in law.  We still use the 35mm on occasion, but for blogging, digital is just so darn much easier.  

The Nikkor lens was never the top of the line - it was just pretty good - and it's getting a little long in the tooth now.  When we were talking with Lydia (at Johnson Camera, of course), she referred to its inner workings as "the equivalent of a Kitchen-Aid mixer".  By way of illustration, she plunked a used Tamron 28-300 lens on my camera and I pressed the button.  It was a lovely, immediate, quiet "snick" into focus.  She then put the Nikkor lens back on, and it sounded like it was painfully grinding into focus.  

I see her point.  It's definitely time to move on.

The question is, how much can we spend on a new lens?  We use the camera every weekend, and honestly, nearly every day.  I'm willing to invest so long as the investment gives tangible results.  We presently are considering three options:

1) A new Tamron AF 18-200mm lens
2) A new Tamron AF 18-270mm lens with built in image stabilizer, or
3) Wait for a used AF lens to come in that has at least 18-200mm range and an image stabilizer, that might cost us less.

I'll just put it out there that I'm not a terribly patient person, so have doubts about that third option.  I looked at options 1 and 2 and my heart skipped a beat.  They're so lovely!  But the price difference between options 1 and 2 is (eh hem) significant.

We're seriously considering the image stabilizer feature because frankly my husband and I are both kinda shaky, and often what we're trying to photograph is moving.  We make adjustments with the ISO and shutter speed to try to compensate for shakiness by having the shutter open a shorter period of time, but it's still not solving the problem.  We use the tripod when we can, but wildlife doesn't wait for tripods.  I run out of patience for repeatedly setting up the tripod, too, when my fingers start getting cold.

Is the image stabilizer thing really worth it?  Anyone out there have it?  Love it?  Or hate it?  Or see no difference?  Oh faithful readers, please share your camera lens insights!


Ellen Rathbone February 8, 2010 at 12:41 PM  

Good luck! I was so thrilled to get my new camera this summer and have found it to be a lot less user-friendly than I had anticipated. The thing that bothers me the most is that color just doesnt' come out right. Pale grees (lichens) turn out white, purples (monkshood) look too blue, and reds (roses) are too orange. My camera shop guy isn't much help. Hm...maybe I have a visit to Syracuse in my future...

reneĆ© February 8, 2010 at 8:05 PM  

we have a canon dslr and have three lenses for it; none of which are IS. the extra cost always gets me. the only lens i regret not getting IS for is the zoom because it makes the camera so front heavy.
a resource i often use to help me narrow down my choices is B&H Photo Video ( their online store is really extensive and there are usually many, many user reviews of each lens choice.

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