Saturday, 24 March 2012

The return of the D300

Margate, across the beach to Turner Contemporary. 8 image stitch.
 As I have blogged previously, my Nikon D300 developed a fault towards the end of last year where the mirror locks up. Around Christmas time, it became unusable and I decided to buy a Nikon D700 to replace it. Since then, the D300 has sat neglected, only occasionally coming out for one or two single shot pictures. But it gnawed at me. It is such a good camera, and has been such a good friend to me for 115,000 exposures that I could not just let it sit.

I had had a rough estimate from Fixation last year for replacement of the sequencer unit that stops the lens down after the mirror flips up: it was that that seemed to have gone. They also recommended replacing the shutter since it got to the point where they see failures, and replacing it at the same time as the sequencer would save on labour costs and the price of a set of rubber seals (these need to be replaced every time the camera is opened).

So last week, I bit the bullet and sent into Fixation. It returned only two days later - a fast turnaround I appreciate greatly. With an almost tangible sense of relief, I opened the box that it came back in to find that it was in fine working order.

Now that I have both cameras working, I can't help comparing the two. The D700 is definitely my go-to camera for whenever I would want to work on a tripod, or if I want to use full frame lenses (like my 105 mm f2 AF-D DC) to get the look they are intended for, or if I want to shoot at essentially unlimited high ISO.

At first sight, they do not look that much different, but I can feel the difference in weight and bulk when simply walking around with them. There's something about the size and weight of the D700 that is just too bulky and heavy for comfortable carrying over extended periods.

There is also something about the controls on the D300 that I find easier: moving a focus spot around is much quicker and more instinctive for me on D300 than the D700. Not too surprising, I suppose: after 115,000 exposures, you would think I would be used to the way the D300 is set up.

Last Sunday, I went with the family to visit the new Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate (which Martin and Phil have blogged about previously) to see the Turner exhibition: the D300 came with me, with just the 18-70mm lens.

We decided to go by train for a change, not least because it's no quicker to drive (an hour or so in the car), and from where we live it was only £5.50 per person on the train for a saver ticket. Walking from the station, I could not resist shooting a panorama, shown above, across the harbour to the gallery.

The gallery was busy but not heaving, so I was able to enjoy the exhibition greatly. Rodin's Kiss was on exhibit on the ground floor too: a major centre of attention.

Grabbing a Kiss
So now I feel like I really have the best of both worlds with the two cameras, one crop frame and one full frame. Definitely very happy with the feeling of an old friend returning.

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