Nikon Camera Upgrade

I’ve been the happy owner of a Nikon D3200 since 2012. On the whole, it does what I need, is easy to adjust, and I’ve taken some splendid photos with it.

A few years ago, I bought a used D7000 from a friend (who was upgrading to a D500). Until then, I’d never had 2 SLR bodies, both in good working order. The D7000 is more of a professional-level camera with more focus points and settings available in the menus. Honestly, I didn’t use it much and never got truly comfortable with how to adjust the settings quickly and easily. I use the D3200 regularly in my classes and it’s usually the one I grab when I go out to shoot.

I took both cameras to Hawaii in 2016 and challenged myself to use the D7000 more than the D3200 during the photo workshops I attended. That helped me become more familiar with it. But when it froze during a session on Maui, I was very happy to have the D3200 nearby.

I didn’t give much thought as to WHY it froze at the time. Back at the condo for the evening, I was able to set it right just by pushing the shutter button. It never froze again during that trip. However, the same thing happened in Utah in May, 2019. I unlocked it with the push of the shutter button a minute or so later.

Back at home, I started to research why the camera was freezing. It turns out, I was quickly filling the buffer while shooting RAW in burst mode. The camera couldn’t handle the data fast enough. If I shot in JPG, this wouldn’t be an issue. Or if I shot RAW while not in burst. Maybe it was time for an upgrade.

I asked my friend about his D500 and he suggested I borrow it. We met at a local park about a week later. I brought a lens and attached it to his D500 while he shot with a D850 (full frame sensor). Off we went.

One of the first things I tested was burst and RAW. The subject didn’t matter. I quickly got 10+ photos of a robin in the grass. No seizing issues and the sound of that fast shutter click instantly made me giddy. I love that shutter noise in burst. And when there’s a whole group of photographers shooting at once — heaven to my ears!

It didn’t take long to convince me that I needed this camera. By the end of the week I asked my local camera store to order one for me (they don’t carry pro equipment). And a week later, it had arrived.

Let me be clear that this level of camera equipment really isn’t needed by all photographers. If I shot strictly landscape and never used burst mode, I would never have encountered a problem. I admit that going from 13 focus points on the D3200 to 153 with the D500 is a welcome change, too.

These are a few photos I took at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, near the Philadelphia International Airport. I was playing around with a Nikon 200-500mm lens. (Click the images to enlarge.)

I’m still learning how to use the camera and will likely notice other differences between my two cameras as I experiment.

Happy shooting!

Have You Tried Moo?

I love moo.com; I won’t use anyone else for my business cards. Why? They use something they call “printfinity” that allows up to 50 different designs on one side of their products. That means one side of my business cards is all the same: with my name, phone number, email address, and website. But the other side has one of my images and they’re not all the same. While I don’t generally choose 50 different images, I’ll probably choose 12-15. It’s great for anyone who has a portfolio of some kind to share, whether it’s art, design, quotes, whatever…

Self-adhesive magnets, order from AmazonAnd business cards make great magnets. They make excellent gifts and are an inexpensive way to bring some art into your life. I purchase business card-sized self-adhesive magnets, peel off the paper, and attach the business card. Voila! A simple photo gift.

Postcards have a variety of uses, too. I use 5×7 postcards in sets of 10 greeting cards. Each set has a theme: flowers, trees, winter trees, waterfalls, etc. One side of the postcard is about me and the other side shows the images included in the set.

Moo postcards

There are round stickers and square stickers (with rounded edges). I use the square ones on the back of my magnets that say “Photo by Nicki Toizer” but they have different background colors. I’ll use the round stickers soon – I just haven’t decided how yet.

You can design your own and upload it or use one of their templates, or design them online.

I haven’t ordered flyers or letterhead from Moo, but I’m sure they are just as wonderful as everything else.

So give them a try, and save 20% off your first order.

Lulu.com for Self-Publishing

I have used Lulu.com for several self-publishing projects over the past several years. I consistently use them for a yearly calendar that I produce as gifts and for sale. Since I tend to order 20 or less, the price is reasonable and they often run a sale in early fall to bring the price down further. They have several themes available to use, each with a few layout options. I choose the simplest one, with captions. You can include the most common holidays and add your own (such as birthdays and anniversaries).

Lulu calendar themes  More Lulu calendar templates

However, if you’re interested in printing a book, Lulu does that, too, with options for hardback or paperback. There are a variety of sizes, too. While you can choose to print and distribute the book through places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, I don’t generally recommend them for the distribution part. Their website doesn’t prepare you for pricing until it’s too late. You’ll need to set a price and create a barcode before you get to the page that calculates your income from selling your book through Amazon and other sites. [Other companies have a calculator you can use to experiment with different amounts before you need to commit to a final price.]

Lulu book options   More Lulu book options

I think Lulu is perfect for creating  a travel journal, a story written by your child, or a compendium of family stories. When you need a few copies to share amongst friends/family and you don’t need to distribute to the entire world through Amazon or any other bookstore, Lulu prints a very nice quality book at a reasonable price.

For people who are comfortable using programs such as InDesign(R) and PhotoShop(R), it’s relatively easy to set up your file with their recommendations for page size and margins. If you’re including any images, remember that print uses a different color space than your digital camera: you’ll need to convert everything to CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) from your original RGB (red, green, blue) images. Lulu has a cover generator program or you can create your own. You’ll need to know how many pages the book is so that Lulu can provide the correct dimensions, including where the spine begins and ends.

Lulu accepts pdf files – one for the interior and another for the cover, if you created your own. You can save some money by getting your ISBN for free from Lulu. They will be listed as the publisher and you won’t be able to publish the same book with another company later unless you get another ISBN (either provided by the other company, or purchased through Bowker in the US). When you’re ready to get your book printed, you’ll upload the files, provide some information like keywords, a short description of the book, set the price, and order a proof copy to make sure it all looks good. If you want/need to make any changes, update the file and re-upload to Lulu. I recommend ordering another proof, just to be sure everything looks great before ordering multiple copies to give away or sell.

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