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In the world of professional photography there is a fine line between form versus function, as an amateur photographer I don’t  carry a dream team of expensive lenses or multiple camera back ups.  For my uses I need one flagship camera that will cover everything from stills to video all for publication.  I’m not a professional and don’t ever want to be.  Even if I had the ability for post-editing which I don’t, I’m not an editor, I’m a photographer.  I strive for perfect exposure the first time so I can simply email my images to my editors without wasting my valuable time in post- editing.  In over twenty years of doing this I have never had any complaints from an editor. If they want to color correct my images, more power to them. I have long since moved onto the next project.  Because I am not a pro they are more often than not impressed with my amateur images as opposed to being let down by lacking professional images.

Lummi Island

I have long since hung up my pro camera bag but continue to sell and publish images worldwide; these days it’s for fun, and profit.  My $20.00 craigslist Canon A520 takes incredible images but its shutter lag and lack of instant control leaves much to be desired.  I’m on the water five days a week and so is my camera gear, even when I’m not on the water I live in one of the wettest places in the country.  When I started doing my research for a new camera I had to keep in mind that given my current lifestyle I would be putting my new camera gear through a real-world torture test.  I learned the hard way that there is no such thing as a bullet proof camera.  Back in the ’90s as a budding young sports photographer I lost my brand new Nikon F3 one hour into my first shoot with it.  It had literally been ripped off my neck and thrown overboard when I got a little too close to the action on a racing sailboat.  That camera had taken me 18 months of scrimping and saving and I never got to see a single image taken with it.

Lummi Island Ferry

My next few cameras were Canons but after a few failures in the field I switched back to Nikon and have been incredibly impressed with their durability ever since.  I put my Nikon N90s through every sort of hell imaginable and it never once let me down.  For the last 15 years I have been using both Canon and Nikon and love them both, but for me Nikon seems to be a more comfortable fit.  Because I am so far out of the realm of the digital revolution I decided to purchase one of Nikon’s lowest-end cameras.  Rather than purchase a camera with all the bells and whistles, most of which I will never use, I have decided to get a basic body and let it tell me what I can and can’t live without.

nikon d5100

The subject for my torture test is the Nikon D5100.  The question for me was could I set it up as a professional point and shooter.  All I ask out of this camera is that it give me great stills shot in program auto, perfect video, and survive the ravages of daily use on land and at sea in the Pacific Northwest.  At $599.00 this camera isn’t exactly extravagant; on the other hand it wiped out my food allowance for the next six months so this baby better start earning her keep.  I have spent the last week setting up the camera in what I hope will result in me shooting 99 percent of the time in full auto.  I love auto white balance, auto ISO  and auto exposure, with the quick flip of my thumb I can adjust the shutter speed, and exposure compensation.

Mt Baker

I shoot in the neutral setting for people but have bumped up the saturation and sharpening a bit.  For everything else I shoot in the vivid mode and again have bumped up saturation and sharpening and shifted the white balance a bit warmer.  I’m still working on the color but it’s getting there.  I like shiny warm images with lots of saturation. All the above images are un-edited in program auto.

“The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.”
~Elliot Erwitt

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