This post has no images. So, those of you who (rightly) expect images can find a nicer photo-blog post than this one. This is a completely gear centric post, designed to help me avoid ordering a camera right now. I will spend my time making this post instead.
I haven't talked much about why I choose certain cameras. Mostly, because I think its silly, but hey, maybe someone out there will find it interesting. I already know I will be benefit from this post.
Okay, first and foremost, the single most important thing to me about an SLR camera is : It must have a Nikon F-mount. If it doesn't, chances are good I will not be able to get my lenses to work on it. Thems the breaks. I'm sure there are other camera companies out there besides Nikon, Kodak, and Fuji. I imagine they probably make pretty decent cameras (and maybe even copiers and TVs too!) , but it doesn't matter Their camera bodies are useless for me! Its also helpful if the camera supports autofocus with Nikon's non-AFS lenses. I desire metering with non-CPU lenses, although that is not critical.
The camera must have a standard ISO hotshoe.
ISO, shutter speed, and aperture should be easily manipulated-- ideally shutter speed and aperture should have separate controls. I really hate when there is only a single dial, and you have to push and hold a button to switch between the two controls.
Even in this digital world, I use a depth of field preview button pretty regularly. For some reason I haven't quite got the knack of grabbing a shot, and blowing it up on the LCD.
I always set my cameras up to use the back-of-the-camera autofocus button. I remove autofocus completely from the shutter release. Therefore it is critical that a camera allow this.
I prefer my camera to be rugged. Mostly because I do dumb things like let my camera bump into trees, or sit on my car floor, or leave it out where my three year old can reach it.
I prefer CF cards over SD cards, but it really doesn't matter. The only reason I prefer them is because of their physical size. I find it much harder to misplace a CF card.
You may have noticed I left off things like resolution, ISO performance, frame-rate, etc. This is mostly because I find all current cameras meet or exceed my needs in any of these areas. I am interested in printing only up to 11x14 most of the time. I still find my D200 does amazing things up to ISO 800. This maybe because I come from film, and maybe because I usually don't find noise that big deal if the picture "works". If it "works" it "works", even if there is golf-ball sized film-grain (or digital noise). Sometimes, the noise maybe the only reason it DOES work.
Unfortunately, two of my wants on the list knock the mid-line Nikon cameras out of consideration. However, I can't complain too much as I still have 4 current cameras to choose from when the time comes to partner my D200- D300, D700, D3, and the D3x. I am heavily leaning towards the D700.
I realize what I want in a camera doesn't fit everyone. I don't expect it too. Afterall, we are making different photos, and we use our stuff in different ways. I also don't feel cameras that do not meet all of my criteria are junk. Almost anything out there now will help capture good images. The items I listed simply allow the camera to get the heck out of my way faster.
Awesome, I have wasted enough time, that I can't wander off to Amazon...