Old School Street Photography at SXSW and the Surrounding Area. No modern amenities exploited.

I thought I was going to go out and shoot today with my newest acquisition, the Nikon D700, but when the time came to exit the palatial Visual Science Lab headquarters I waffled a bit. I just didn't think I'd spent enough time yet getting to know my previous breathless acquisition, the Nikon D2XS. I figured I didn't really need or want to be discreet and low key in the middle of SXSW because there would be hundreds of people with cameras wandering around shooting with reckless abandon.

I checked the battery in the D2XS, put on an ancient Nikon 35-70mm f3.5, entered the information for this non-CPU lens and headed out. I spent the better part of the afternoon with the camera set to raw, aperture priority and ISO 100. With my new nano-coated, ultra acutance bifocal sunglasses focusing the hoary old manual focus lens was as easy as eating angel food cake. I did no intervention with the camera's exposure settings. If it wanted to use 1/650th I was just there for the ride. 

I am very happy with the results. No
image stabilization. No AF. Single shot setting (almost always) and no shenanigans. And yet the images seem well exposed and sharp. Who could have known that photography could be done without the bling we've been blessed with in the ensuing eleven years gone by since this camera was introduced. Who would have guessed that a lens from 1987 might still produce acceptable images 31 years later. Price for the entire rig? Camera+lens... (bought used) $325. 

Toying now with the idea of spending a month shooting everything with this ancient camera and the tiny collection of equally (or more) ancient manual focus Nikons I've saved over the years in the bottom drawer of the equipment cabinet.

The images displayed in this blog have been converted from big, 14 bit raw files down to half-sized Jpeg files in order to fit them to my blog format. Click on any photo to see it at 2198 pixels on the long side. But don't presume that running out of resolution at a smaller screen size is indicative of the performance of the rig. I'll load a 100 % detail of the photo just below at the very end. Check the detail in the woman's hair.....

About to buy up the entire U.S. supply of D2XS and D700 cameras just so I can always have one that works to play with. There were two more D700's at Precision Camera this week; one with 371,000 actuations on the shutter and the other with over 400,000 actuations. That's just too scary for me....

Got nothing to sell on the blog today. You get to read it free and unencumbered by commerce.
How rare is that?

100% crop:


  1. I like seeing where you chose to focus. Portraiture is embedded in your muscle memory, that's for sure.

  2. Looks like SXSW is a bit more populated on the weekend.

  3. If they are still available (not end of life product) I had the shutter assembly on my D700 replaced at 150,000 actuations (couldn't risk failure in the middle of an event) for $250 +/-. This was from Nikon Service. Cheap insurance.

  4. Great stuff. I love it. It looks like you had fun. You've hooked me, I want to see how this turns out. Will Kirk keep the Nikon gear and love it or will Kirk lose interest get bored and trade? I'm waiting to see how you love the D700.
    What I love about it is one camera 1-3 lenses a flash and off you go. My new bag is, my Donke bag with rips and patches, F2AS, D700 D200 (CCD sensor with AA filter removed) 24 f2.8 50 f1.4 85 f2 (my $10 lens that's what I was offered at one time) Total price $635.

    Thank you for the memories


  5. I'm "old enough" in internet time to remember a Kirk Tuck comment about the D700 having "no soul". Glad to see you've come around :D

  6. The national news indicates that things are getting weird in Austin in a bad way. I hope you and everybody you love are all safe and secure. You don't need to publish this, just know that somebody you've never met cares about you and your wonderful city and hopes things will be back to normal weird soon.

  7. Thanks Ray. We're all being extra careful. It's sobering to think things like this can happen anywhere now. It gives me renewed empathy for people all over the world who've had to live with random violence. Stay safe!


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