I scrimped. I saved. I went without.
But on Friday, I was able to finally realize my goal.
From 2005 to the present, I worked with a Nikon D70 camera. I actually purchased this camera to replace my Nikon Coolpix 800, which I had owned since maybe 1999. At the time, the Albany Patroons were coming back to the CBA, and the camera I had just wouldn't work with action photography. So I bought a D70 from my local Ritz Camera and went from there.
Since then, I've used the D70 for four CBA seasons and two Premier Basketball League seasons, and have captured maybe 30,000 photos over that span of time. I also used it for various nature and outdoors photography.
But over time, I saw that my D70 wasn't as powerful a camera as I originally thought. I couldn't get the ISO above 800 without lots of grain. The kit lens that came with the D70 was barely adequate for my needs. In other words - I could go up to bat and hit a single, maybe a double, but the other batters were hitting home runs.
I had fantasized about acquiring Nikon's top-of-the-line D3 camera, but where the hell was I going to come up with $5,000?
Last year, however, out came Nikon's successor camera - the D700. It had the huge FX sensor like the D3, I could crank the ISO up to above 6400 (and maybe higher), and all my lenses would be completely compatible, meaning I didn't need to invest thousands in lens replacement.
The D700 retails for $3,000. Still way out of my price range.
But then came a Nikon rebate. That dropped the price to $2,700.
Then B&H Photo in New York City offered a D700 for $2,000 - factory reconditioned.
After a couple of calls to B&H to guarantee that the camera would be there, I hopped a Greyhound bus and rode down to New York City. I had to hurry - not only was it 4th of July weekend and I wanted to photograph the fireworks at the Empire State Plaza, I had to get to B&H before the place closed at 2pm. For those not aware of this, B&H is predominantly operated by Satmar Hasidim, and that means no work on Shabbat. So the place closes at 2pm and doesn't open back up until Sunday morning.
Got down there. Traded in my F/1.4 lens that I never use. Handed over whatever cash I had squirreled away. And all that, plus some wiggle room on one of my credit cards, and the salesperson opened up a cabinet, pulled out a box that said RECONDITIONED NIKON D700 and put it in a basket. "The only thing you won't like about this camera," he said to me, "is you won't want to stop using it."
Well if that's the only caveat...
Rode back home on the Greyhound. Poured through the operations manual like I was cramming for a midterm final.
On Saturday morning, I tested four of my five lenses on the D700. My F/1.8 action lens worked great. So did my E-series F/1.8, my Kiev wide-angle and my Kiev Fisheye. Even though the latter three weren't computer-based lenses with CPU connections, the D700 has a special command that allows the user to input data about those lenses so that the camera can meter properly. Wow...
Saturday evening. 9:15 pm, I'm on the roof of the Eagle Street parking garage, armed with my new D700, the Kiev fisheye lens, and the cheap-ass Quantaray tripod that I always fear is going to topple over in a stiff breeze.
So did my new camera pass the test?
You tell me....