Going Digital: Single-Lens Reflex

In 1999 I bought my first real digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix 950. Five years later it was time for the next upgrade. This time I entered the world of the digital SLR (or Single-Lens Reflex) camera. After having saved up enough money I decided on the Nikon D70 with an 18-70 mm kit lens and a Sigma 70-300 mm lens (27-105 mm and 105-450 mm compared to full frame or film).

This was a 6 megapixel camera (3 times as many as the old camera), didn’t take a long time to start up and reacted instantly when pressing the shutter all the way down. The Coolpix was fast for its time, but it was not suitable for fast action photography.

It also came with an option to shoot in RAW. This meant that it could store the data as it came from the sensor in full 12-bit (per colour). In these files a lot more data is retained and gives the option to see more detail in the shadows and recover some of the highlights without introducing too much noise.

A disadvantage of shooting RAW is that the files look quite flat and boring and maybe even a bit blurry without any processing, but with some practise the photos look a lot better that the Jpegs produced straight out of the camera.

The extra data obviously comes at a cost. Where with the Coolpix, a 64MB compact flash card was enough to hold 100 photos, the same card in the D70 would hold just over 10 images (RAW files lossless compressed were about 6MB each). A 512 MB compact flash card solved the problem at first, but it soon became apparent that an extra 4 GB card was very useful.

The camera accompanied me on my first trip to India in 2005, but still a 20GB battery powered hard disk was needed to keep on taking pictures throughout the journey.

 

In 2008 I took the camera with me to Africa, where the Sigma tele lens was very useful. This time I took a laptop with me to offload the 200+ photos per day.

 

The Nikon D70 was finally replaced as my main camera in 2010.

 

 

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