November 25, 2017

New Camera -- a Nikon 1 J5!

Droid Turbo 2I'd really been hitting the limits of what my Droid Turbo 2 camera phone could handle, with its lack of physical zoom and limited setting adjustments. It certainly had served me well, and it's great that it's always in my pocket, but I've been selling more and more pictures on Getty Images, and it was time to jump up to the next level camera.

Of course I'd been researching digital cameras casually for months, even years, but my parents agreed to subsidize a camera with me for my birthday this year, and really diving into the churning depths of the different options for digital cameras got me caught in a maelstrom of a learning vortex indeed.

There are so many different kinds of digital cameras. The big, hardcore, professional DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) cameras are enticing, but extremely expensive, and too big for my needs. I wanted something I could take with me everywhere, particularly walking the dog, without resenting its weight or bulk. Preferably under $450.

So then there are point-and-shoot cameras, also known as standard compact cameras, zoom compact cameras, adventure cameras, and mirrorless system cameras. I knew I wanted to aim higher than point-and-shoot, which isn't much different than a smartphone's camera, and I don't need the rugged and/or waterproof body of an adventure camera.

The super-zoom compact cameras were interesting, though. Some offer up to 60x optical zoom, with automatic lenses that retract completely, giving the cameras a very slim and portable profile. Those were a possibility.

I learned about the current limits of resolution, and how the size of the sensor chip in the digital camera makes a big difference in image quality, and the relative merits of interchangeable lenses vs. fixed lenses, and a little bit about aperture f-stops and exposure ISO and flashes and hot shoes and manual and semi-manual and automatic modes and RAW vs. JPG file types and shutter speeds and types of zooms and viewfinders and mirrors and shutters and white balance and bokeh and all the other terms I needed to know before making this decision.
 Fujifilm X100F
First I fell in love with the Fujifilm X100F. It has gorgeous retro styling, and amazing reviews, and the sample pictures I saw online are just fantastic.

However, it has a fixed lens, no optical zoom, and most damning, it's difficult to find new online for less than $1,000, although refurbished ones exist in the $700-$800 range. That was too rich for my blood, so I had to move on.

PANASONIC LUMIX DC-ZS70SThen I zeroed in on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50S. It's a super-zoom compact point-and-shoot, but it has terrific features, 30x optical zoom, and a very slim profile, perfect for a pocket. The styling is nicely retro, too, not unlike the Fujifilm X100F. It has a digital viewfinder, which is pretty cool. It's also very affordable, often listed for around $350.

However, I kept thinking that I might want to get a camera with interchangeable lenses, so it could grow with me as I learned more about photography, scaling with my skills and experience.

 Nikon 1 J5So when I found the Nikon 1 J5, it seemed to push all my buttons. It has the lovely retro styling I love, the option to exchange lenses (it comes with a 10-30 mm lens standard, with 3.5 - 5.6 aperture f-stop settings, equivalent to a 3x optical zoom, with medium aperture settings, which are a little too basic for distance or bokeh special effects or portraiture, but decent for normal street, home, and nature photos), a good mirrorless sensor chip size, and a relatively slim profile. It's actually a tiny little camera, but the lenses bulk it up considerably. It also has the flash, movie settings, wi-fi, and most of the professional settings of the big DSLR cameras. The reviews were superb across the board. And it listed for less than $350 on many sites.

For a couple of weeks, I bounced back and forth between the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 and the Nikon 1 J5. Panasonic's 30x optical zoom and the fact that it would fit in my pocket were huge pluses. Nikon seemed like a more serious step up into photography and would grow with me. Nikon's sensor was supposedly a bit better. Panasonic had a touch LCD screen and a viewfinder, while Nikon had no viewfinder, although its touch LCD screen flipped up for selfies and angled shots. They both had 20-ish megapixels.

I guess eventually the slightly cheaper price, the slightly better styling, and the interchangeable lenses tipped me in favor of the Nikon. The Nikon name didn't hurt either.

 Citysqwirl Instagram
While I'm still very much a beginner with this Nikon, I love it so far. It takes lovely crisp pictures, and even the 3x zoom gets me in much closer. Next I want their chunky 30-110 mm lens for much greater optical zoom, and the little 18.5mm f/1.8 lens to allow more creative focus techniques. The controls are nice and responsive, it's very light, although I hated the neck strap and got a wrist strap instead. I'm really looking forward to learning all it can do!

If you want to check out some of my images on Getty, my portfolio is here, although now it's a mixture of pictures I took with the Nikon and those I took with my Droid Turbo 2.

You can also follow me on Twitter or Instagram to see my daily pictures.

Happy photography to you all!

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