My Photography Conundrum – Part 4 (Final)

This is part four (and final part) of a series of posts. To appreciate the entire experience described herein, I would suggest reading the other three parts first.

My Photography Conundrum – Part 1

My Photography Conundrum – Part 2

My Photography Conundrum – Part 3


Having made the decision to purchase the Nikon D3300 instead of trying to rent a version of the Fuji X-T1., I made the leap and ordered the gear from one of the large, professional retailers in NYC. I have used them before and I have been satisfied with their customer support, pricing and shipping.

This is the package that arrived inside a well-packed cardboard outer box.


The first thing that pops out of the package is the warranty card.


Bubble wrap encased the camera body and lens.


A closer look


Of course there are the extra “essentials” such as battery charger, manual on CD, cords, neck strap, etc.


The very next thing I ordered was an extra Nikon battery. No third party batteries for this camera as I have heard horror stories and I did not want to become an example. Full disclosure – I have used Watson batteries in the past and they have performed as well as, if not better than, the name brand batteries that came with other gear such as my Canon SXHS50. I just don’t want to press my luck!


Finally…the camera and lens!



The retailer was offering some additional “extras” to sweeten the pot as this camera is coming to the end of its marketing cycle although it does remain rather popular for people like me and those who want to make their first foray into the DSLR world without shelling out a bundle of cash for decent gear.


Above is a:

  • Wireless mobile adapter – not yet used
  • What is referred to as a bayonet Lens Hood (appears to be similar to one of those tulip-type lens hoods seen routinely)
  • Remote Controller – not yet used
  • Toshiba 16GB SDHC (rather slow) Memory Card – planned to be used with one of my other cameras.

BTW – The entire package came in at less than $500 which was close to the cost of renting the gear I originally wanted for my trip

The second thing I ordered, along with the additional Nikon battery were two 32GB, Sandisk Extreme SDHC , 90 MB/s, Class 10 Memory Cards which were selling on Amazon for $17+/-

As eager as I was to load the battery into the camera and go outside to take my first shots, I knew better than that and I exercised some patience and charged the battery.

While the battery was being charged, I put on the neck strap, mounted the lens and put on the lens hood and waited.

Once the battery was charged, I made arrangements to do a photo walk at nearby area in Cave Creek, AZ to take some pictures. Below is a sampling of those first photographs. Keep in mind that these are not meant to be “artistic” pictures. I am not an expert post-processor or photographer. The pictures were shot in RAW format and I lightly edited them in Lightroom as I usually would. After all, I wanted to see if the camera would suit my style and work flow. Naturally, the resolution has been reduced to the standard Internet protocol format of 72 pixels per inch.

With the above in mind, here are the photos:

A Datura Flower, native desert plant
“A Datura Flower, native desert plant”

Colorful abstract painting on a stucco wall
“Colorful abstract painting on a stucco wall”

Colorful abstract painting on a stucco wall
“Sand sculpture of owl and owlets”

A Gila Monster children's slide at the Sundial playground
“A Gila Monster children’s slide at the Sundial playground”

Corn cob bird feeder outside one of the shops
“Corn cob bird feeder outside one of the shops”

A decorative wall relief at one of the restaurants
“A decorative wall relief at one of the restaurants”

There was a car show this day!
“There was a car show this day!”

Overall, I am generally satisfied with the camera and the the kit lens that was used. I took it with me to Yosemite National Park and Bishop, CA for nearly two weeks of hiking, exploring and of course, photographing.

I believe, considering my situation, i.e. the conundrum, this was a good move for me. Needless to say, “your mileage might vary.” originally published this post

See previous Photography posts HERE

My Photography Conundrum – Part 3

This is part three of a series of posts. To appreciate the entire experience described herein, I would suggest reading the other two parts first.

My Photography Conundrum – Part 1

My Photography Conundrum – Part 2


At this point my plans seemed to be stymied. I didn’t want to make a significant investment in new gear because I am waiting for the Fuji. I thought long and hard about this and then I had a bit of a brain storm. OK, perhaps just a drizzle.

I know that some older cameras are heavily discounted even if they were rated as “good to very good” when they were introduced. I wondered if I could score one of those for a price near the range I would have paid to rent the gear.

I began my search. I didn’t want a point-and-shoot since I already have one of those. I wanted something approaching a DSLR. I would consider almost any format, APSC, Mirrorless, etc. if I could be assured the Image Quality (IQ) was good!

I began reading reviews for cameras under five hundred dollars and there were many dead ends, BUT one camera began to appear over and over again as a “best buy” for the money. It was the Nikon D3300. It was rated, according to DP Review, higher than any of the cameras I currently own and it had some significant advantages.

Now remember, I am just using this to “hold me over” until I can buy the camera I am waiting for. If it wasn’t for my planned trip of a lifetime to Yosemite, I wouldn’t even be taking this route. Click the following link for the summary page for the Nikon D3300 from DP Review. Also see the chart below:

Graphic Depicting Strong/Weak Points of the Nikon D3300
From DP Review's Website
“Graphic Depicting Strong/Weak Points of the Nikon D3300
From DP Review’s Website”

For the price (Currently around $400 +/-) I am impressed with these specs. I shoot in RAW mode and as you can see (red oval) it does quite well. Even the jpegs are respectable. Understand, of course, I am not a professional. I am an enthusiastic hobbyist and I want consistently reliable, good quality photographs. I am not interested in many of the advanced features in the most current cameras. I want an easy way to change aperture, shutter speed and ISO and this camera has it all.

Imaging Resource also had similar things to say about the camera. This is a quote from the review.

“All in all, though, the image quality achievable out of this “entry-level” camera is top-notch for this class of camera. Image sharpness and detail resolution are both very good, as is high ISO performance and dynamic range, which matches our experience with Nikon’s other recent 24MP APS-C cameras as well. Not only do digital images look excellent, but print quality is also impressive with large prints sizes at a wide range of ISOs.”

Next I took a tour of the shopping sites to see what owners of this camera had to say and they were generally very positive about their purchase. I checked the following sites as I am writing this and this is what I discovered.

[ Note: Links may stop working when this camera is no longer available ]

Amazon Out of 816 Reviews – 95% 4 and 5 stars

Adorama (A resource for professional photographers, large mail order company) – Nearly all the reviews are 4-5 stars

B & H Photo (A resource for professional photographers, large mail order company) – Nearly all the reviews are 4-5 stars

Lastly, but far from least was Ken Rockwell’s review for the Nikon D3300. If you don’t know Ken and you are interested in photography and you might be thinking about purchasing some gear, I strongly suggest you visit his site. He has very comprehensive reviews and he is very knowledgeable.

In addition to writing a review, Ken Rockwell includes a series of resources which, in many respects, are better than the manual:

Nikon D3300 User’s Guide (How he uses it and why he selects these settings)

How to Set and Use the D3300’s Autofocus System

If you want to buy any photography gear, I suggest you use Ken’s links as this helps support his wonderful research that he puts out there for all of us at no charge ! Look for the purchasing links on his web pages!

If you want to learn even more, he includes sections abot…

For a video tour of the Nikon D3300 to see how it operates and functions, you can watch this YouTube video which gives a hands-on, front row seat view of the D3300

Nikon D3300 Users Guide

After reading the above and doing due diligence, I ordered the Nikon D3300. The next part of the series will show the unboxing, some sample photos and some follow up comments. If there is anything else you would like to know, ask questions via the comment section below!

Read the fourth and final post in My Photography Conundrum series:

My Photography Conundrum – Part 4 originally published this post

See previous Photography posts HERE

My Photography Conundrum – Part 2

If you missed My Photography Conundrum – Part 1, I invite you to read that first part as this post is a continuation.


…And then came a trip we planned to Yosemite National Park. My wife and I are trying to hike as many of the National Parks as we can while our knees are s till in relatively good shape and everything else seems to be functioning properly – more or less!

We had planned this trip more than a year in advance because, through prior experience, we found that accommodations get snapped up pretty fast during most of the good hiking months. In my opinion this may be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and I wanted a camera that had a better lens and rendered more detail than any of the cameras that I currently owned.

So which camera had my attention? Drum roll please…I am now focusing (no pun) my efforts on acquiring a Fuji mirrorless camera. I was hoping to get a Fuji X-T2 but unfortunately that doesn’t exist yet. I was anticipating that Fuji would have delivered an update to that model ahead of the X-Pro2, but that was not to be.

Why a Fuji? I am glad you asked. I have been studying the following resources for a very long time.

I have learned as much as I could from these resources before deciding to invest in the Fuji ecosystem.

Almost everyone I “follow” who is using Fuji gear has praised the company’s attention to detail and their willingness to “listen” to their users and to make improvements in their products. More than any other company, Fuji seems to provide more camera upgrades via new software (firmware) releases.

Users also remark about the great Image Quality (IQ) and filter options Fuji offers. Another factor in my decision is the strong user-base and sense of community that has developed along the Fuji line such as Fujiholics and Fujilove: All Things Fuji.

One last consideration is what I like to refer to as the cost-benefit ratio. It seems to me that Fuji offers users “more for the money” when all things are considered. I am not going to be a professional photographer. My goal is to be an accomplished hobbyist/enthusiast and I think Fuji will give me the best opportunity at achieving that goal for the investments in time and money that I want to make. Of course, your opinion might be quite different for a great variety of reasons.

With that decision made, my conundrum became evident. The Fuji I wanted, the X-T2, was nothing but a dream at this point. The one current model, X-Pro2, wasn’t of interest to me. What should I do?

“Fuji X-Pro2” Via

It suddenly appeared that fortune was smiling in my direction as an announcement was made that a particular company was hoping to become the Netflix of Camera Gear and the program was going to offer…

I am paraphrasing my understanding as follows:

Rent the gear you need for a flat fee of $150 a month for as long as desired and the first month for every customer would be only $99.

This sounded like a great opportunity for me to use the Fuji X-T1 and become familiar with the Fuji system before the new model comes out. I could then have my cake and eat it too; in a manner of speaking.

My plan was to rent the gear for two months, i.e. $249 plus additional fee for insurance. This would give me a couple of weeks prior to my trip to become familiar with the gear. This is what I asked to reserve:

A Fuji X-T1 w/ the Fuji 16-55mm f/2.8 XF R LM WR lens and a compatible lens hood.

Fuji X-T1
“Fuji X-T1 Image Via

Other companies that rent camera gear wanted way more than $249 +/- for the same rental so I was feeling very smug about this!

Fortune then turned her smile in another direction and my hopes were just as quickly shattered. I found out that the company would not be open for general business until after my target date. Obviously I needed the camera for a couple of weeks prior to the excursions so I could learn the system, but that was not going to happen!

Now I was back to square one. I still had my two Canon PowerShot cameras and my iPhone, but I was hoping for a step up from the quality I would most likely derive from these alternatives and I still wanted to await the Fuji X-T2. What was I to do?

Read additional posts in My Photography Conundrum series

My Photography Conundrum – Part 3

My Photography Conundrum – Part 4 originally published this post

See previous Photography posts HERE