In October, all of my camera gear was stolen. Including my Nikon D3. Now I am in an extremely weird predicament. I need to decide which organ to be.
Let me explain.
Last March I bought my own Nikon D3. A $5,000 camera which made me help images that I love. Images I would not have been able to make with any other camera.
At this time, I had been interning at The South Bend Tribune for about 2 months. This was my second internship and I was tired. Graduation from University of Illinois was 10 months prior and I felt no closer to having a job. I had made the odd choice of accepting an internship in a town that suffers from lake-effect snow despite having grown up in California. I was not very happy with how things were going, but I had a paycheck and I was doing what I liked, so I tried not to complain.
To make things worse, the cameras I had been given were the infamously terrible Nikon D2H. This wasn’t the paper’s fault. They recognized Nikon’s mistake and were in the process of switching to Canon. I was given the “best” of what was left of the Nikon gear, the rest of the staff having switched over already.
D3: in the back of a cab in Chicago, Ill.
Simply put, the D2H sensor is disgusting in low light. In my previous job at The Naperville Sun, I had been issued two Nikon D3s for the last month of my seven month internship (the cameras were bought in December 2007). The immediate downgrade to the D2Hs made them seem even worse. My frustration strengthen.
D3: on a road trip with my uncle Lee in Wyoming.
Never since owning my first car (a 1987 Alfa Romeo Milano) had a material object made me so happy. I used the camera for every assignment in South Bend. To show my love for my new images, I started this blog. That’s right, this blog is here because of the Nikon D3. I wanted to show everyone what I was now capable of doing.
The love affair continued in Europe this past Summer. Twice a week, I posted on this blog images from the various places my two high school buddies and I travel through. Budapest, Prague, Munich, Paris, Brussels, Brudges, Dublin, Castlebar- my D3 and 35mm f2 went everywhere with me. The camera was heavy as hell, and I often second guessed my need to care it to every restaurant or museum. At times the trip felt like work, shooting and writing daily in my journal. I then had to find an internet cafe and transcribe the journal and edit images on a public computer with Microsoft’s Picture and Fax Viewer (uuugh). Once while I was shooting in a bar in Dublin, my friend Dwayne said to a girl, “it’s great, we don’t even have to pay him to do this.”
D3: Dwayne in Prague, Czech Rep.
D3: The Notre Dame in Paris, France.
D3: Ian hopping an electric fence outside Castlebar, Ireland.
After Europe my addiction persisted. The D3 went with me on every assignment on my internship at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Although the gear issued to me was better than at The South Bend Tribune, it still wasn’t Nikon D3s, thus it wasn’t good enough.
D3: Apple picking with Emily and co-workers in St. Louis, Mo.
But my persistence with bringing the D3 everywhere is what made it all come crashing down. One weekend in St. Louis, I went bike riding with a few friends and parked my car in a public lot. I had all the gear I owned in the trunk of my car. I didn’t bring the D3 on the bike trip, worrying that I could drop it. But I still had it in the car, “just in case.”
Three hours later I got back to my car and it was all gone. Everything. My D3, lenses, bags even my audio recorder. Along with four other cars in the lot, my car had been hit by what a St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer called “professionals.”
D3: Momma Diefenbach at home in San Francisco, Calif.
I felt powerless and empty. I had no camera. I was worthless in a profession that functions on your ability to produce. Until now, I was not sure if insurance would cover anything, but last week I found out they will.
Now I am in an extremely weird predicament.
What do I do with a check for the value of all the gear I used to own. I am not a freelancer who needs to own their own gear. I am no longer an intern who is given the left overs of a newspaper’s photo department. I am a full-time staffer and I am issued some very good cameras, two Canon 1D Mark 3s (the Canon opposite of the Nikon D3). Although not as good as the D3, they seem adequate for now.
D3: Ian trying to find a bus after a Giants game in San Francisco, Calif.
Many friends of mine have asked weather or not I will get a new D3 to replace the stolen one. Lots has changed in the world of DSLRs since the D3 was announced in August 2007. Nikon came out with a cheaper D700, but with the same D3 sensor. Then the video capable Nikon D90 and Canon 5D Mark 2’s shook the ground. Like many photogs, I have been wanting a multimedia camera. The D3 is not a multimedia camera.
So far the assignments at my current job have been only still photography. But I would be surprised if that doesn’t change very soon. I would be concerned if it didn’t. I also have to consider my freelance necessity. I do not consider myself a freelance photog, but in the coming years, I will probably need to find an alternative source of income. If I learned anything from having all my gear stolen, it is my need to diversify. I can’t have everything I own in the trunk of a car and I can’t have all my income come from one employer.
D3: Aunt Patty and Uncle Dale at Drakesbad in Lassen Volcanic National Park, Calif.
When I look at the cameras being made right now, and I look at what I need, the Canon 5D Mark 2 looks really nice. When it first came out, I down played its prominence. The 5D lacks a lot of control that I would really want out of a professional video camera. But then you look at what made the Nikon D3 so great (the sensor) and you see how the 5D is changing everything, just like the D3 did. The Canon 5D Mark 2 puts out some amazing video and incredible stills. And very importantly, the 5D costs about half as much as the Nikon D3.
Some of you may be wondering, why not just get it? What is the big deal? The problem with switching camera systems (Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, ect…) is the incompatibility of lenses between makers. I don’t make enough money to own more than own system. There are adapters out there that allow Nikon lenses to fit Canon bodies, but the lenses typically don’t function 100% (autofocus may not work, etc…).
D3: Marie in Chicago, Ill.
So switching camera systems is a really big deal, because not only do you have to buy new lenses, the old ones you own don’t work on that brand new body you just ordered. I pledged myself to Nikon with my previous cameras, the D70, D200 and the D3.
But how do you define yourself as a Nikon photographer when you do not own any Nikon gear?
I am stem cell waiting to pick an organ to replicate.
D3: Victoria in the hills of Mt. Tamalpais, Calif,
Despite the enticing Canon 5D Mark 2, I am going to give Nikon some time to fire back. Currently, I do not need a third body, nor do I need video capability. I will probably wait until summer to make a decision. Hopefully by then I will have some freelance gigs to shoot and I will be forced to buy some gear of my own.
So until then, Nikon better be on their best behavior, because you never know when I may need to decide to be a heart, or a brain cell.
None of the images in this post came from work. These are all personal, taken when out on my own. I always had my camera with me. Loosing images like these is what I feared most after my camera was stolen.