When I was going to high school I took a photography class. It actually was really fun and it was actually an old school camera that we got to use with film, none of this fancy smanchy digital stuff we got today. There was a dark room where we learned to develop the film. It was a lot of fun… though I was only one of a small handful of students who took the class seriously. Most just goofed off, but I digress. I enjoyed the class because it gave me an opportunity to explore my creative side and my artistic side. I remember one night going out to an overpass on the freeway and playing with the shutter speed to try and do one of those pictures where the car lights streaked in the image while everything else was still. Wish I had some of those photos still.

Nikon D5200 camera guarded by dragons

(click-ity click to enlarge)

What does that little story have to do with today’s blog post? Simple really. I “recently” bought a camera to take pictures for my blog, but also for fun and creativity. (You are correct in interpreting that as being it has been several months since I bought it so “recent” is a relative term.) So let’s get the goodie portion of it out of the way. What did I get? This little beauty – a Nikon D5200 in RED! I love the color and knew I had to get the red one over the black or brown version once I decided on this model. When I unpacked everything, she got really excited and told me she wanted to pose with the dragons like a damsel in distress – so I kindly obliged. Don’t judge me for having a conversation with a beauty like her.

UPDATE: Some have asked me if I gave her a name. I am ashamed I didn’t pick a name at first, but after some time thinking about it I settled on Sakura, which means cherry blossom in Japanese.

So a little background. I knew from the get go I wanted a DSLR camera and not a point and shoot. I wanted to be able to replace the lens to take different types of pictures and play around with focal points. A friend from work is into macro photography and I love her pictures so I wanted to explore doing those types of pictures with some guidance from her. I knew I wanted to also get a camera that could take videos as I am planning on doing videos for this blog. I also love high resolution images where you can see the small details of things. I wasn’t going to fork over a ton of money as this was for a hobby of mine, so I would go for the entry level to intermediate level at a maximum.

I did some research and I was narrowing it down to a Nikon or a Canon camera. What helped push me into the direction of a Nikon is that I read a review/post by a photography instructor (can’t find it to reference – sorry) where he described how he explained the differences to his students who asked him which is better. The jist of it came down to you really couldn’t go wrong with either. But in it he did point out a difference between the two, which made sense to me and kind of jived with other things I was reading and hearing from others and helped me start looking more at Nikon cameras. Paraphrasing here (probably badly, but hopefully I can capture the spirit of what he was trying to convey): Canon has a user interface (UI) that tries to do more for the end user by trying to let the user just take a picture with fewer options to select to set everything up. Nikon has a UI that exposes the options more to the end user, which may require a bit more set up for the user but makes sure the user selects all the options they want before taking the picture. He used the comparison of a Canon was like a Mac and a Nikon was more like a Windows PC. This sounded like it would suite my style more since I enjoy playing with options and settings to get things the way I want them. I also figured that this would make sure I truly learn what goes into taking a good shot – camera-wise at least since a lot more goes into photography like composition, lighting, etc. (Not to say I couldn’t learn with a Canon, but for my learning style a Nikon seemed like a better choice for me).

After all was said and done I felt the D5200 had a good set of features, 24MP resolution which would allow for high quality images, 1080p video recording ability, and it was pretty. It was often referred to be in between the entry level and the intermediate level. I found a package deal on Amazon that included the camera body, a standard 18-50mm lens, tripod, camera bag, cleaning kit, and more for a decent price so I jumped on it. I have not been disappointed.

In coming posts I will share some of the things I have learned (and started to remember from my high school class) and talk about my first photo shoot. So stay tuned…