A Nikon Journey – Film to Mirrorless

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I want to say that my very first film camera was a Nikon but, that honor belongs to a Yashica Palmatic 110 pocket camera in the early 1970s. Not even my second camera was a Nikon; it was a Canon Canonet rangefinder-style camera in the mid-1970s. The Canonet was the first camera that gave me some manual control of exposure. The first Nikon camera I received was an FG SLR as a gift at college graduation in 1982. This was my first true SLR and gave me full manual control of my exposures, and it came with the standard 50mm f1.8 lens – the nifty-fifty as it was known. It was a great learning camera, autofocus was not around yet, but auto-exposure was. I eventually purchased the Nikorr 75 – 150mm F3.5 series E zoom lens to complement my nifty-fifty. Nikon Series E lenses were offered as a low-cost option for their compact SLR cameras. Today’s high resolutions scans of those slides reveal my photographic techniques’ shortcomings and the limits of the Series E lenses. I still own the FG and nifty-fifty to this day. I have no idea what happened to the 75 -1500mm.

Pomfret, VT. 1992 Nikon FG

The FG camera was my go-to camera straight through to the 1980s and into the 1990s. In the early 1990s, I decided to upgrade to a more modern film camera. I added the N6006 camera to my collection. The N6006, also known as the F-601, was a performance upgrade in every sense. It was my first autofocus camera with multiple metering modes and all other sorts of bells and whistles. If the FG was an Oldsmobile, the N6006 was a Tesla. I am not a big believer that new equipment makes you a better photographer, but new equipment can give you a renewed passion for doing better. The N6006 did that for me. By the mid-1990s, I wanted to add another camera to my lineup and landed on the new F90. The F90 was an upgrade over the N6006 and was the first camera I ever owned that a professional photographer would regularly use. The F90 was the last film camera I ever owned and used right up to my introduction to digital photography in 2001.

Nantucket, MA – 1998 Nikon F90

My journey into digital photography began earnestly in 2003 with the new Nikon D100 DSLR purchase. I actually had owned several digital cameras before the D100, but they were all Nikon Coolpix point-n-shoot pocket cameras. My very first digital camera was actually a Sony MVC – FD91. Purchased in late 1998, it required a 3.5″ floppy disk inserted into the camera to record the 0.8 MP picture files. The disk could hold about a dozen photos. The camera, which had a 14x optical zoom lens, looked like something Playschool make for a children’s toy. It worked well and cost a whopping $900. This camera was purchased when my son was born and used for that purpose. I will spare you the baby pictures.

As I mentioned, my serious foray into digital cameras started with my D100 purchase in 2003. That purchase was followed by a D200 (2006), D300 (2007), then the D5000 and D7000. Each of these cameras was an advancement over its predecessor and sported an APC size sensor. In early 2009 I stepped up to my first Full-frame sensor camera with a D700, soon to be followed by a purchase of D800 in late 2012. Then a D750 in 2016. My last and current full-frame camera purchase was in 2018, and it was the D850 camera (actually, it was a holiday present). The D850 is my favorite camera and still gets plenty of use to this day. I sold prior cameras in the used market to make way for the new camera purchases. As a general rule, I would always have two camera bodies at any one time.

Throughout this timeline, I would gain an ever-widening collection of Nikon and third-party lenses. Most of which I still own and use. Glass remains useful for a much longer time than some camera bodies. Additional Nikon purchases were used to create Infrared cameras and family cameras. Then in 2018, Nikon announced their mirrorless cameras.

I like mirrorless cameras, they are smaller and lighter, and the image quality is good. Since 2014 I have been using Fujifilm X Series cameras as my mirrorless camera choice. In 2018, Nikon announced their new line of Z series mirrorless cameras, which made me happy. Nikon ventured into mirrorless years earlier with the Nikon One system, but photographers did not take that line seriously. The Z series (mainly the Z6 & Z7) were of interest to me. The critics and YouTube reviewers had some issues with these cameras, but most of the issues raised were not important for my type of photography. In late 2019 I sold my D750 and some lenses and purchased the Nikon Z6 camera body with the FTZ adapter that allowed me to use my current Nikon F mount lenses on the new Z mount cameras. I have since purchased some new Z mount lenses, and I am impressed with the camera’s image output and video capabilities. So much so that I have placed an order for the newly updated Z7 II. This is the 45 MP Z camera (Z6 & Z6 II are 24 MP), and it’s been two months and counting waiting for delivery.

I know that all this sounds like a bad GAS case (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), and that’s partially true – I like cameras. However, remember this is a 40-year continuing journey owning a Nikon camera, and I hope that I can continue owning and using these cameras for another 40 years.

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