My Very First Sunset

Picture: Red sky at sunset over hills in Briones Regional Park, Contra Costa County, California

Photo: Red sky at sunset over hills in Briones Regional Park, Contra Costa County, California

Click the photo to see it larger at 900 pixels.

Ok, I’ll admit it; technically this isn’t really *my* first sunset, but it was the first sunset to be seen by my new Nikon D7000 camera.

I’m not a latest & greatest gadget guy. I’ve only owned three cameras over a 20-year photographic career. The first two were Nikon Film cameras that I used through the 1990’s; the first being the n8008s. In the latter half of the decade and for the first half of this decade, I used the Nikon n90s. In 2005 I bought my first digital camera, the totally great, huge, and built-like-a-tank NIkon D2x.

Late last week UPS delivered my 4th Camera; the spanky-new D7000. The first thing I said I was going to do was read the instructions. I didn’t. The family was deep into family stuff, so everything just sat idle.

Earlier this week I charged the battery, threw on a lens, and headed out for a hike. Not far from where I parked my truck, I whipped out the camera to take my first photo. I turned the camera on, and…. nothing. I could see the frame count, but nothing else worked. I figured it was a battery issue. Major bummer though, as I carried this dead (new) camera on a 5-mile hike filed with hawks, falcons, cattle, and a herd of goats walking on a dusty trail at sunset. Needless to say, there are no photos from that hike.

The problem it turned out wasn’t the battery at all, but rather a lens compatibility issue. The lens, a Sigma 24-70 2.8 EXDG lens was giving my camera a complete lobotomy. According to Sigma, it’s a chip issue, and there is no ETA on a fix from Sigma Japan. Word is they’re still trying to isolate all the possible issues. All of my other lenses work, including an older ‘retired’ Sigma and a Tamaron. Just my bad luck that was the lens I grabbed that first time.

Yesterday, I decided to try again. I hit the trails with less than an hour before sunset, bringing along some of my other lenses. I climbed up and over the second highest hill in the park, and was rewarded just in time with this scene. The only real problem: not having read the instructions, I was fumbling to get the feel and find some controls.

One thing I did notice, and would give a heads up for: The D7000 has an ‘old-style’ exterior program control knob, rather than controlling the shooting internally by pressing a button and turning the command dial. It’s a ‘quaint’ throwback, but I haven’t checked to see if the knob is ‘lockable’. Unfortunately several times when I pulled the camera out, or handling to change lenses, the knob would switch over from my preferred “A”perture priority mode, instead winding up on either “M”anual, or “S”hutter priority. I’d only notice after shooting a few frames and seeing a radical shift in the shutter speeds.

The only other thing I’ll say at this point, and this is merely a personal thing; “It’s so small.” Compared to my D2x that is a solid Pro camera, using a smaller prosumer camera may take some getting used to. At least it will keep me going, and give me a chance to learn and play with the video features while I wait for the D4x.

PS – The image above is a single frame, using a Nikon 17-35mm lens and a 3-stop Singh-Ray GND Filter, processed using Lightroom 3.3RC (release candidate), which is the only version of LR that supports the D7000 NEF RAW files. CS5 Bridge doesn’t yet have the ability to see the RAW Files.

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3 Comments on “My Very First Sunset”

  1. Richard Wong Says:

    Hope you enjoy the new camera, Gary. I too was fumbling with my 5D MKII while at the Canon Repair Center two weeks ago. Despite owning it for more than a year, I was surprised by how unfamiliar I was with the menu controls on that camera. Perhaps I should read the manual…

  2. Chris Marks Says:

    Playing with new gear is always the best.

    Very nice first image by the way.

  3. latoga Says:

    I love the fact that you have had 3 cameras over 20 years…gear != photographer.

    Not that it will necessarily make you feel better, but i have the same “lack of dial lock” issue with canon. I still am not trained to always check mode dial before pressing the shutter button. such a basic thing should be standard on all DSLRs by now…

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