I started this photography journey with my trusty Sony DSC-H20, 10.2MP, 10x zoom point & shoot camera. It had accompanied me on many a family vacation and trips to Disney World. I spent nine months learning everything I could about exposure, composition and processing with this camera but I eventually wanted more capabilities/control.
In March of 2012 I finally jumped in to the DSLR world and purchased a Nikon D5100 camera and a couple of lenses. I debated with myself for close to a month about which camera to purchase, changing my mind more than once. I had considered at one time or another the Canon T2i/T3i, Sony Alpha A55, and Sony NEX-5N. I eventually picked the Nikon after pouring over stacks of reviews and comparisons on the web. It allowed for great lens selection over the Sony cameras and would perform a little better in low light settings over the Canons.
As with the camera, I also labored over what lenses to purchase. I knew I would be getting two to start this new phase of my journey, but which two? Again I turned to the internet. I learned with my Sony I really enjoyed photography landscapes, macros and flowers. One of the lenses would have to allow for some close-up photography and I would like one to go fairly wide. I purchased the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM lens which satisfied quite a few of my requirements. It is fairly wide, has a nice zoom, is a macro lens and has a pretty large aperture.
My second lens was chosen originally due to my frequent trips to Disney World and the need to ‘reach out’ for the picture. I wanted a zoom lens but since I spent a little more on the Sigma lens I had to find a relatively inexpensive, first zoom that would allow me to get those distant pictures. I found quite a few sites that gave the Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED-IF AF-S DX VR lens a good to recommended review. There was at the time of my purchase a $100 credit when bundling this lens with the camera. Definitely a win for me!
I have been journeying with my camera for over two years now and I can see that I have grown as a photographer. My equipment list has definitely grown as well. Although I have updated the list I have not spent the time to update the story.
I was having a great time with the initial system that I purchased but as I used my lenses I wanted to try different styles of photography as well as get better hand-held low-light performance. My next purchase was a general purpose prime lens (Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Prime Lens). Although a relatively inexpensive lens it performs beautifully. I think I don’t utilize this lightweight little gems as often as I could.
After one of my trips to Disney and then seeing wonderful images some of the photographers were posting using a fish-eye lens I decided I just had to get me one of those. Luckily I found a great deal on the Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 HD Fisheye Lens. I have to admit this Rokinon lens, although only manual, is absolutely wonderful. You can almost set the focal length to 3m and forget about it. Everything is sharp and in focus. I have fun trying out different compositions to utilize the curvature effect created by this lens. Sadly, another lens that does not make it out of the bag as much as it should.
Hhhmmm? I’m seeing a pattern here I need to correct… :)
Around the same time I purchased the fish-eye lens I was getting interested in exploring the micro four-thirds style of cameras. I had fallen in love with the Olympus OM-D EM-5 but was not ready to invest that much into another system. I found an Olympus PEN EP-3 on eBay for a good deal and jumped on that boat. I’m still getting use to the camera but really enjoy the smaller, lighter package and generally take that camera with me in the car on my way to work. Gives me a chance to go for walks during lunch and explore.
The latest two purchases were partly planned and partly an emergency purchase. I had been looking into acquiring anther lens but then 4 days before my last trip to Disney (6/6/14) my trusty Sigma lens was acting up. The stabilization mechanism was shaking the elements around inside the lens. I quickly decided to get the Tokina 12-28mm f/4 AT-X Pro DX Lens lens but as I was getting ready to checkout at Adorama the Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED AF-S VR popped up for a steal. What is a photo nut to do. I bought both and it was the right decision. Each is a great lens and now I have a complete system (still thinking of a longer macro lens, lol) that will keep me exploring for quite a while now.
Next up? A camera upgrade… anybody have any thoughts?
Another Update (11/29/15)
Well, this year has been a wild ride. At the beginning I did upgrade my Nikon camera to the D7100 model. I was able to pick up a refurbished camera for quite the steal. Definitely a great camera that fit right in with what I wanted to do as a photographer. I took this camera and my plethora of lenses to Walt Disney World in May for a wonderful vacation but discovered that carrying around all that equipment in the parks was a bit of a nuisance. I spent some days only carrying the camera and one lens into the parks.
Around the middle of the year I decided to to invest more in the Olympus mirrorless system that I started with the PEN E-P3 camera. I found a great deal on the Olympus OM-D E-M10 camera with the 25mm f/1.8 lens. It was like starting over again with photography! I had such a fun time exploring the new camera. It was small and powerful. I was back to taking the camera everywhere I went. I was capturing more images!
I had always wanted a macro lens so before my October trip to Walt Disney World I purchased the 60mm f/2.8 macro lens and now combined with the 14-42mm lens from the E-P3 I had a nice light system that fit in a small messenger bag. Although I brought all my Nikon gear it was the Olympus system that I used close to 75% of the time on my latest trip. I was still using my Nikon for night photography but during the day I nimbly navigated the parks with my Olympus system grabbing my images.
After my trip I knew it was time to switch systems. I was barely using the Nikon and being the crazy photo nut that I am, I jumped in fully. I sold all my Nikon stuff and purchased the Olympus flagship camera, the OM-D E-M1. I even went for the professional 12-40mm f/2.8 lens. It was a long internal debate and it was on the last day of the sale that I eventually jumped but it has been worth it.
I’m back to enjoying my camera and being it is such a small system I take everything everywhere!
Resources for Equipment Decisions or Purchases
Resources for Learning