Many folks ask me what gear I shoot with. I’m packing two Nikon D80s, one with Nikkor 18-200mm and the other with a 70-300mm lenses.
Sometimes while traveling, I'll slip a point-and-shoot into my pocket. A recent addition to the gear pile is a Canon PowerShot SD960 IS.
15 Jan 2012 Update.
Some time ago, I picked up a Nikon D5100 with a 18-55mm kit lens. I dropped my 18-200 and the repair bill was $450. I couldn't justify dropping that much money to repair mediocre lens, so I spent the extra $50 to get the 18-55 kit lens with the D5100.
Do I like the D5100? Well, it’s “okay”. It does some things that my D80s don’t do. It has a great display on the back that shoots live. It has better resolution, shoots cleaner and has faster recover so I can rapid-fire in RAW mode.
On the flip side, it does not have ISO and Metering Mode buttons. It doesn’t have a Release Mode button. The Release Mode button is the one that you use to select single, multiple, remote or timed shutter release. These functions are all handled through menus on the display. This is a bit of a drawback because as a wildlife photographer, I do not always have the luxury of time to scroll through several menus to adjust my camera’s metering and ISO. So the lack of these buttons is a bit of an ass-ache.
A cool feature that the D5100 has is an interval timer. I can set up time lapse photo shoot and walk away. That is cool.
90% of the time I use my 70-300mm lens on the D5100 leaving my 18-55 and 18-200mm lenses on my two D80 bodies. Yeah, I can still shoot with the dropped 18-200, it’s sticky and grindy at long focal lengths, but when it comes time to shoot in crappy weather, I’ve got a lens and a body I don’t have to stress over.
30 May 2012 Update
I just picked up a Nikon 300mm f/4 ED-IF AF-S Nikkor Lens with Built-in Hood & Detachable Tripod Mount. I did this because I was constantly throwing the 70-300 zoom out to 300mm and as with all kit zoom lenses, the image quality falls off. So I took the plunge and I’m quite happy with the initial results.
7 Jan 2013 Update
I sold one of my D80s. So now I’ve got a D80 that I keep a kit 18-55mm Nikkor on, the D5100 is used with the 300mm F/4. When I travel, I’m inclined to take the 70-300mm on the D5100.
The real reason for this update is that I’ve just purchased the Nikon D600 + 24-85mm full frame kit. I’m just loving it. Since I got a darned good price on the kit, I took the plunge. The 24-85mm is not a bad lens and we are good friends. In 2013, I hope to pick up some primes for the D600.
If you want to see some of the initial results, check out Circumflatulating. I did this photoshoot to put the Expeed 3 image processing system to the test. You’ll see why if you check out the post.
The D5100? It’s taking some pretty good photos, but I’m still fettered by the lack of buttons. The D600 has a lot of buttons and features that are helping me take control. Since the D600 is a full frame camera, a 300mm lens is a 300mm lens, so keeping the D5100 for now is the thing to do. But if Nikon comes out with a D7100 with that Expeed 3 image processing system, I’ll be all over that camera like a goose on a June bug.