December 29, 2017
Sometime this winter, as the temperatures dropped and the couch beckoned, I started cruising Craigslist on a daily basis looking for deals. While reclining the idea of actually buying a Nikon D700 started to take shape – I’d considered it many times before, and I’d been looking at them for years, but I’d never felt a serious urge to plop down the cash.
I was just another armchair photo buff putting in countless hours researching specs, comparing pros and cons, and dreaming of making the upgrade to full frame. My favorite DX body was my trusty D7000 that I picked up used in fairly good condition from the amazing crew at Englewood Camera. I bought it about two and a half years ago as an upgrade to my D3100 which was an upgrade to my D70s which started the whole Nikon adventure more than a decade ago. I had been happy with the D7000, but shooting indoor sports started to expose one of the camera’s weaknesses, poor low light performance. I was ready for a change. Then Black Friday came and it seemed like a boat-load of people must have taken advantage of Nikon’s sales prices because a plethora of D700s started to show up on CL.
Like many photographers, I was enamored by full frame cameras and the promise of improved low light performance and image quality. Even more, I hoped that a full frame would give me a photographic experience similar to what I felt when I shot film. I wanted to make digital images that were more “luscious” and that felt less “compressed.” I wanted the convenience of digital with the organic qualities of film. Basically, I was dreaming about making digital photos that looked more like the black and whites I was developing and printing at home.
As so often happens with a Craigslist purchase, this buy came together quickly. The price was right as the camera was in well used condition. Some of the rubber grips were peeling (as a photog friend pointed out, the issue was purely cosmetic). I fretted quite a bit over the shutter count, which was about 30,000 shots over the shutter’s 150,000 rating. I felt like I was taking a risk, but I felt like the seller was trustworthy and not looking to dump a lemon. We met in a parking lot after work. It was too cold to really check the camera out fully, but it also seemed like the photography stars were aligned, so I bought the D700. As soon as I got home I was shooting my first full frame shots with my cat as my model, of course.
Photo taken with my new/used Nikon D700. Post-processed in Lightroom using Eric Kim’s black and white presets.
The first images out of the D700 brought me a sense of satisfaction and relief. The images I’m getting now have that film-like quality I was looking for. They’re luscious, grainy, and rich. The shutter hasn’t blown up yet, and the strange upside of owning an older camera is that I treat each image like I would when I’m shooting film. I feel like I can’t waste any shots. Also, at 12 megapixels, a card filled with shots doesn’t bog down my old Mac Mini when I’m post processing in Lightroom.
Needless to say, I’m happy with my purchase.