I was out shooting this morning with an old camera and an even older lens. I think they are pretty nice...

I spent most of yesterday cooped up in my office responding to requests for stuff. I didn't want to get trapped today so I made coffee, read the brief news and then headed downtown for a brisk was and to spend time playing with a camera I was about to replace. The camera was the Nikon D2XS, outfitted with an ancient (almost primordial) 55mm f3.5 ais, manual focusing macro lens from the 1970's. I shot it mostly with a circular polarizing filter on the front of the lens and with the ISO locked to 100. I stayed with apertures between f4.0 and f5.6 for most of the walk.

I went straight from the walk to the noon swim practice and felt really mellow as I finally sat down to get to work around 1:30 in the afternoon. 

I like the D2XS a lot but I returned if for a refund this afternoon. My sales person from the camera shop let me know that they had taken in a very nice condition Nikon D800, with very few shutter actuations and looking mostly pristine. He felt like it would be a better camera for me in a work/play dynamic. I was able to get a full refund for a couple of my recently purchased old cameras (NO! Not the D700 !!!!!) and he offered me a price of less than $1k for the D800. I could not resist. 

Now I have a working set of a Nikon D800 and a D800e, along with the D700, for those times when I want the effect of a full frame sensor combined with a fast, short telephoto portrait lens. It's also a great trio for high ISO work; if that ever becomes necessary. 

So, we're back to two systems; the Panasonic for all things video and a fairly complete Nikon full frame system for those times when clients need to go really big or need depth of field that's really shallow. That's two m4:3 cameras and three FF cameras. I'm even good for lenses across both systems right now. 

The rest of the images here are just a poem to the D2XS when used right in the center of its "wheelhouse." 


David Maxwell said...

Kirk, I am very curious as to what you do with all of these photographs that you take on your walks about town. Do you save all of them full size? Or shrink them? I bet you have tens of thousands and I'm sure they really show how the city has changed over the years.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Hi David, For the most part once they are up on my blog they are being stored at 2199 pixels long as Jpegs. Unless there is a compelling historical or nostalgic reason to keep them i toss the original files and wipe them from my hard drives. If I think something is really good and worth keeping I'll put it in a folder and wait until I have about 4.5 gigs of images and then burn a couple of DVDs.

Family and client stuff, as well as work I might consider "art" gets a different archiving treatment.

I have uploaded about 40,000 images in the last nine years and used far fewer. I have about 350,000 images on Smugmug which are mostly work projects, charity projects and additional backup for personal work. It's too much to keep track of, but I just don't want to stop shooting.

Sometimes I'll walk and shoot for an afternoon, look through the "take" and decide they are all crap and format the card while I'm walking back to the car. Sometimes the process is more important to me than the results....

Craig Yuill said...

So, you got rid of the D300S, huh? Well, it makes some sense to go from m43 right to FX format. I imagine that there is a more-noticeable difference in characteristics between those two formats than between m43 and DX. Have fun with your new acquisitions.

Nigel said...

Regarding the appeal of older digital cameras, there was also this, from nearly a decade back, which suggests that finer pixel pitches have some impact of the fraction of transmitted light which actually hits the sensor, particularly at wide apertures:

We have a measurement for lenses - the T-stop; maybe there should be something similar for sensors... ?

mikepeters said...


I've been shooting with a nice collection of 30-40 year old Canon FD glass for a few years on my Panasonic m4/3 cameras. I've compared them to newer lenses and feel far less compelled to spend big bucks on the latest and supposedly greatest glass because the old stuff holds up extraordinarily well.

However I have no nostalgia for old digital cameras, especially those with OVFs. But, I'm glad you do and are willing to give them a whirl and write about it for us.

Thanks for all you do.


Fred said...

This was a timely post since I have been thinking about your D2Xs. The size and number of pixels is interesting, the size of the camera is not interesting...to me. I have been fascinated by the concept of reasonable sized sensors with relatively few but large pixels for a while so I find myself living vicariously through some of your recent camera purchases (not the various D800s so much.) The next step may be to get a real printer and since I don't have a good camera store near me move into Precision Camera's parking lot so I can get my hands on some old cameras. :-)

MikeR said...

Q: Can we anticipate, going forward, that you, having cycled through several manufacturers' systems at least once, if not twice, over these last several years, and now having landed at what appears to be your sweet spot with two different systems for two different focuses, will have reached a point of acknowledging the sufficiency of your current gear, and stay with it for a good long while, while re-focusing your attention on both the art and the craft of both fun and business photography?

A: Naah! Not a chance.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Well played Mike. Well played.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kirk:
why D800 and D800e and D700? I still use the D700 (which I used since 2009) and now also D750 (last year buy). Regarding D800s why not the D810 or D850. Both of these newer D8xx have features improved from D800. Or was it that the D800 and D800e are features that are enough for all your needs today. When file size is a consideration, (keeping files manageable from events) I use the D700 more than the D750, also the body is better built than D750 body.
What were your reasons moving to the Nikons you currently have as enough for your needs? vs. D810/D850 (D850 great as it is, has big files bigger than D810/D800).
(PS. enjoy reading your blog, as very informative.)
from Adrian Van L. in Toronto