For the last few posts (and over the last month) I've been raving about the Sony A200 digital SLR. And with good reason. It's a cracker of a camera, and I've thoroughly enjoyed using it. So why the heck, you might ask, am I selling it!
Very good question... and one answer might be "Because that's what I do". I buy and sell cameras. Mostly.
Another answer might be "Because I really needed to qualify what I used, and why I used it." And the logical conclusion to this technological naval-gazing, ultimately, was that I'm a Nikon shooter (love my D300), so the Sony A200 - as much fun as it was - had to go.
And really, that's my answer, and I'm sticking to it.
Winter is always a time for me to take stock of my gear (quite literally), and look back over the last wedding season to decide what worked, what didn't, and what I can improve on. Perhaps because I purchased the Sony, I've also been looking very seriously at my whole system - what I'm using, what I'm not using - and maybe even more importantly, what I'd like to be using. Quite frankly, the answers surprised me.
I've decided that 1.) I am a Nikon shooter. So the Sony has to go. If I want a second body it will be a Nikon - and in the meantime I will continue to take my wife's D70 with me on shoots as backup. It's been working fine like this, and I see no reason to change it for the next wedding season. Together with this decision is the fact that I am still very happy with the D300, and see no reason to 'upgrade' the camera at all. I don't feel the need to go 'full frame', and have always been more than happy with the quality (and file sizes) I get with the APS-C sized sensor - so that's another decision in the D300's favor. Nor do I yearn for HD video capabilities in my SLR's - so that gives me another few years grace from upgrading. I'm sure that the next camera I get will have HD video capability, but not because I want it - simply because all cameras will have it as standard whether we want it or not :-(
I've also decided that 2.) Most of my lenses are redundant! I've finally realised (after 25 years) that there is a huge difference between lenses I want to own, and lenses I'll actually use. If I'm being brutally honest (and I am), there are currently only two lenses that I use (regularly) when I go to a wedding - my Nikkor 18-70mm standard zoom, and my Nikkor 50mm f1.8 prime. If I use any other lens, I make myself get it out and use it. So what am I carrying the rest of them around for?
My 24mm f2.8D is a gorgeous lens - but it isn't wide enough for landscape work on a DX body like the D300, so I don't use it. Likewise, my 85mm f1.8 is a beautiful lens, but again I find the focal length (135mm) on the D300 less than practical for my style of shooting. I much prefer the 50mm (75mm) view and so find myself using that instead. On traditional 35mm film cameras, the 24mm and 85mm prime lenses are 'classic' lenses to own and use - so I own them. But I'm finding that, on a DX digital body, I'm not using them.
Do I keep them for when I go 'full frame' with a Nikon D700? Well, no, because I've already decided that I have no intention of changing to a full-frame camera anytime soon (never say never), so I need to look at what I might actually use on the camera I have.
So the final decision is that 3.) I need to buy an ultra-wide lens for my landscape photography. As mentioned I can, and do, shoot weddings with just two lenses - and I am more than happy with the results. But when I go out to take my own landscape images, I am constantly wishing I could go wider. My current lens collection is lacking an ultra-wide for my landscapes.
After a week or so of internet trolling and review reading, I've decided to sell my 24mm, 85mm and 70-300mm f4/5.6 ED - and get a Tokina 12-24mm f4 ultra-wide angle lens. Why this particular lens? Well, for a start, with the money I get from selling the other lenses, the Tokina will be in my price range (the Nikkor 12-24mm won't be) - and of all the third party lens manufacturers, I like Tokina's quality the best (Tokina was started by ex Nikon lens engineers who wanted to make their own range). I'm not an ultra-wide junky, so the 12-24mm (18-36mm 35mm equivalent) focal range is a good compromise (as opposed to the 10-20mm Sigma which was the other lens I was interested in).
If, between now and then, a used Nikkor 12-24mm comes on-line in my price range, then I'll probably grab that instead. But if I buy brand-new, then it will be the Tokina.
So my Nikon kit will go down from a 6 lens kit to a three lens kit - but it will be three lenses that I will actually use. The other good news? A much lighter camera bag :-)