On Photos, Cameras and Editing

This weekend, I said goodbye to a dear friend, Emma, as she left from a lovely visit to meet Mr. Jameson for the first time. I also said goodbye to my first DSLR camera, the Nikon D40, which I purchased in 2007. I sold it to her, plus the extra battery, and I am currently camera-less.

Of course, we’re not literally camera-less; I am not sure that’s possible anymore, because we still have Brian’s sophisticated point and shoot, plus our camera phones, and our camcorder which can take stills too. So by no means am I really camera-less, but I still feel the loss of the ability to shoot in RAW format. Like forgetting to put on my wedding rings: even though I have my lovely rose ring which goes on my index finger, my ring finger still feels naked and awkward.

Friends tell me I take great photos. I myself think I have a long way to go to be professional, but I can see the growth in my skills since Jameson was born. Like I told Emma, I think that you lose some things (like freedom haha) when you have kids, but you gain in others. Particularly, my Lightroom skills.

I never read the manual, so here I am learning on the fly. I started with the Library screen, the basic adjustments to my photos (Auto-whitebalancing, sorting and rating) and moved to where I am now primarily working in Design mode, I am syncing adjustments across all similar photos to save time (though Brian would say I still spend obscene amounts of time editing photos), and even starting to play around with free presets which can tweak photos in fun ways I may not have thought of.

So last week, I re-processed some of my favorite photos and posted to Flickr last night. Here are a few:

Remember when I talked about how much better the color looked in my recent monthly photos?

Here’s an example of a preset I used which made the photo look aged. I tweaked it to bring out the blues again because the hat is such an important part of the photo.

And there are examples of my improvement with eyes and softening skin to remove Jameson’s dry baby skin. Because baby skin is not always silky soft.

I’m excited continue to enhance my skills with a next level camera. My new friend will arrive on Tuesday from Amazon (of course). It will come with 16 megapixels versus the D40’s 6 for more cropping and blow up fun. It has 11 focus points and faster continuous shooting plus a vibration reduction kit lens for quicker more accurate focusing (especially for the sneaky fast baby Jameson is becoming). It comes with a view screen that flips and rotates for great positional shots in awkward places and self portraits! We’re going to have fun, my new friend the D5100 and I.

Are you curious as to how I chose this particularly camera? Then read on.

I started out with 3 options, which were Nikons because I already have a Nikon prime lens. I selected only within my price range, because you can’t look at things you can’t afford without being disappointed. And then I put the pros and cons of each based on what I didn’t like about my D40 and what I really wanted to take pictures of. And last, I have to hold a camera before buying.

I particularly didn’t like only 3 focus points and the low megapixel count on the D40. I want to take pictures of Jameson, so being fast, good in low light, and focusing quick is important to me. Here was my pro/con list:


  • All seem to have a slightly different battery than the D40, which means we’ll have to buy a new extra battery no matter which one we buy.
  • My nice prime lens is an AF-S lens which will autofocus on all of these no matter which we buy so that’s good.
  • All have GPS
  • All have movie
  • All have significantly more pixels than my current and more focus points (some better than others)
  • All will take more pictures per second than my current camera
  • All but one are lighter than mine, though we’d need to go hold it to really get a feel for them
  • All have a sensor cleaning function

D3100; Nikon site: $699.96


  • It’s a good, cheap upgrade
  • Super super light at 16 oz body
  • 3 fps


  • It’s the new “entry level”, so while it would be a step up from the current camera since that is about 4 years old, it would still be trading a entry level for entry level

D5100; Nikon site: $899.95


  • The D5100 and D7000 both have 16.2 megapixels, better than the 3100’s 14.2
  • Some additional focusing modes
  • 4 fps
  • Much much better ISO sensitivity


  • Brand new, on Amazon right now it’s on pre-order [Note: It is actually available now]; pricing will be higher for what you’re getting
  • 11 focus points, same as the 3100 so no different between cameras there.
  • This has the swivel screen, will it be more likely to break with extra moving parts?

D7000: Nikon site: $1,199.95


  • Can take more different types of lens and autofocus or have metering with them
  • Very customizable
  • Huge number of focus points, up to 39!
  • Significant number of pictures can be taken per second (fps) 6!
  • Will hold 2 SD cards


  • Expensive and valuable. Will I want to take it around with me?
  • Same ISO sensitivity as the 5100, so for low-light shooting I wouldn’t be getting any advantage by getting this camera over the 5100 except in the focus points.

After this process, I felt like the D5100 was the perfect fit for my current and immediate future skill level, plus I just couldn’t commit to the extra $300 dollars for the level up. But I had to hold it. I went to Best Buy (since they were the only ones open Saturday evening!) and held that camera. I knew it was meant to be. I can’t wait for it to arrive tomorrow.

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