Pimp my Nikon D50

Nikon D50I just picked up an early Christmas present for myself. I bought a new camera: the Nikon D50.

I thought long and hard about this decision. I’m no great photographer by any stretch, and I’d like to improve my skills and develop photography into more than the occasional habit that it is right now for me. In my mind a big part of this means learning how to actually control the light that enters the camera. This means moving past the digital point-and-shoots that I’ve relied on for the past few years and buying a true SLR camera.

Khoi Vihn talks about this at some length in a recent post:

Never having had formal training in photography, I dabbled for a long time with point-and-shoot digital cameras. As anyone who’s used one can attest, they allow for instant gratification with little or no requirement for actually understanding the inner workings of photography. In that respect, they’re fantastic introductions to the craft.

But in the four or five years I was shooting with these models, I never really got it straight in my head what an f/stop is, for instance, or how to properly meter a shot — I was too easily insulated from the inner logic of picture taking.

Me too. So I went camera shopping.

As far as I can tell there are two main decisions when buying a digital SLR camera. First off, it’s should I buy Canon or Nikon? Yes, there are many other companies with digital SLRs, but Canon and Nikon seem to be the big boys that everyone talks about.

That decided, it’s then deciding what level of camera to buy. For Canon, it’s a choice between the Canon EOS 350D (aka the “Digital Rebel XT”) or the higher end Canon EOS 20D. On the Nikon side, the rough contemporaries are the Nikon D50 or the step up to the Nikon D70s.

Each company’s products have their fans, and both company’s products have their pros and cons. Read one review and the Canons come on top. Another review pegs the Nikons as the way to go. My decision was ultimately made by the fact that a) I have limited funds, and b) My skill level is such that I probably won’t miss the extra goodies the more expensive cameras have.

Ultimately I decided to go with the Nikon. I know a fair number of excellent photographers that use Canons, but the last film camera I used was a Nikon, so I figured I’d stick with something I already knew. I already have a Canon SD300 point-and-shoot that I use for everyday use, so I decided to try the Nikon D50 out.

So now I have this cracking new camera that I’m going to slowly be learning how to use. One of the things I realize now that this is one of those purchases (like a vehicle or computer) that necessitates a whole raft of purchases afterwards. I need a camera bag, and a tripod, and more memory cards, and maybe a filter here or there, and let’s not forget the seemingly endless possibilities (and prices) of more lenses.

All of this said, I ask you: what would you recommend for camera bags, tripods, and any other essentials or fun stuff that I should get? The bag is the priority right now, and I’m leaning towards picking up a Crumpler 4 Million Dollar Home, but I’m interested in hearing what you might recommend.

Expect more photos to slowly start appearing here and over at Flickr as I experiment and figure out what the hell I’m doing with this thing.

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