Strong opinions, weakly held

Nikon D50 afield

Last weekend I took my first real trip with the Nikon D50 in tow, a few impressions follow.

First of all, the pictures it takes are wonderful. I find myself to be lacking as a photographer, but I certainly can’t blame the tool. The pictures are sharp, the colors are great, and the indoor photos came out very well. (I never worry about outdoor photos, pretty much any camera will take good pictures on a sunny day.)

For whatever reason, I forgot to use any of the camera’s features. The D50 has all of the features you’d expect from an SLR in terms of allowing you to control your exposure, and it has some idiot modes that you can set to take pictures of various types of scenes. I didn’t use any of them. (In fact, I forgot that I could use them and I think I took all of my photos in “close up” mode.) Next time I’ll do better.

Ken Rockwell has an excellent supplemental manual for the D50 that he’s published online. I read that when I got back from my trip, and I think I’m equipped to take better photos next time. I’ll probably review it again immediately before using the camera next time, just so I don’t forget everything I’m supposed to know.

One thing I really missed was having a telephoto lens. Ordinarily a normal lens is fine for what I use a camera for, but there were a number of opportunities to take some interesting photos with a telephoto lens, and I didn’t have one. I also missed having a wide angle lens, just because I enjoy taking wide angle photos. I had all of those lenses for my film SLR but I sold them with the camera, mainly because the wide angle lens for a 35mm camera would have been a normal lens on my D50. New lenses are expensive, though, and there’s no good reason to invest in them when I’m still using my D50 the way most people use disposable cameras from the drug store.

Update: Looks like I’m not the only person who doesn’t know how to get the most out of their expensive toy.


  1. So where is your photo blog? 8)

    I’d like to see some of your shots.

  2. Hi Rafe:

    I’m a computer guy too, and track your blog because you talk about stuff that’s interesting to other computer people.

    I’m also a photo guy, and recently upgraded from a Nikon Coolpix 4500 (a good point-n-shoot camera that is also very controllable AND has a great macro close-up capability) to a D70s. My camera came with a pretty nice wide-to-tele zoom lens. So I’m confused – didn’t you have to get a lens with your D70 body? Doesn’t it zoon?

    I know what you’re saying, tho, I always wind up wishing I had a little more zoom or wide or close-up. You might try getting a doubler to get more tele action on your zoom lens – it’s a cheap way to get a little more action from the original equipment.

    Are there any D70s user guides out there? You can’t ever have too much help learning a new and complicated toy!

    Thanks for the thoughtful blog!

    JR in WV

  3. I got the kit with the 18-55mm lens. Nikon makes a lens that zooms out to 200mm that I’ve been envying.

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