It's Arrived: The Joy of Bringing Home a New Camera

It's Arrived: The Joy of Bringing Home a New Camera

After many long months of waiting, my new D850 has finally arrived! If you read my previous article about the joy/trauma of being on backorder, you’ll probably have some inkling of how excited I am at the moment. But as this is not my first new arrival and most, if not all of you, have experienced the same situation, I thought I’d take a moment to try and describe our universal moment.

I’ve never been a father. I’ve never gone through the trauma of sitting in the waiting room, surrounded by all the other expectant soon-to-be papas, waiting with baited breath for word that my child has arrived safely in the world. But, as an analogy, I think it may be a good, if unusual, place to start.

First making the decision to take the plunge on a new piece of equipment can also be a life altering experience, especially if your finances are on the tight end. Immediately you start to wonder whether or not you’re making the right call. Even if have taken your time and done your research, even if you have objectively thought through your purchase and made sure you are making the right decision for your business, when you actually go to hand over your credit card to cover an invoice with a few too many extra zeros on the end... Well, even the most careful shopper may experience a case of the alligator arms. Like the moment you are told you will be a father, a bunch of questions rush through your head. Am I even ready for this? And, if your camera was on backorder like mine, you my have a long wait to find out the answer.

Eventually your new bundle of joy arrives. It’s even more beautiful than you imagined. Even if it isn’t your first new arrival, you are still overcome with a powerful sense of possibility. You wonder what their life will hold in store. You imagine all the things your new offspring will achieve. How many happy times lie ahead? Like a new pair of white Nikes you're afraid to scuff, you think of how you will try with all your heart to keep them safe.

Obviously, introducing a new person into the world is decidedly more significant than any material purchase can ever be. But whenever I am blessed to be able to open up a new camera box, I often find myself filled with the same sense of optimism.

As I first held my D850, I went through the usual paces. We all know them. Picking up the newborn gently at first. Afraid the simple act of lifting it off the table will lead our inner klutz to somehow break it before we ever even get a chance to use it. We look it over closely, taking notice of all the ways it is both identical and dramatically different than the cameras we’ve held before.  

Our fingers wrap firmly around the grip. We make the mind muscle connection that will allow this new mechanical body part to function as an extension of our own hand. Gently caress the shutter button, not yet ready to pull the trigger.

No, there are still a few items on the checklist to address before we get to actually fire off any frames. We have to charge the batteries. We have to set up the menu. We have to figure out how to reconfigure our camera case to make sure everything fits nicely with the new cameras dimensions. We have to attach the camera strap, a process that I surmise is intended to take five minutes, but, as I am clinically inept at virtually any form of assembly, the process of figuring out how to maneuver the strap into the little metallic triangle always seems to take me a full swear-word filled half an hour. Yes, you may openly laugh at me now.

And since you’re already laughing, it may be the right time to admit my tendency since I was a child to give human qualities to inanimate objects. So, since they will now be sharing a camera case, I also take a second to introduce the new camera to its predecessor who will be relinquishing its role as starter and assuming a new backup role to the flashy rookie.

Once all the preliminaries have been completed, it’s time for the main event. The first shot. Maybe for you, it's a picture of your couch. Your backyard. An accidental closeup selfie of yourself as you stare at the front of the camera wondering “what does that button do?”

For me, there’s only one subject worthy of being the initial model for a new camera. And, while he may not move quite as quickly as he did the first time he was forced to parade himself in front of my lens, and his countenance may contain a few more strands of gray than his previous portrait, fourteen years of experience have well prepared him to strike a pose.

It’s tempting to look at that first frame and think that the wonder of this new machine is its ability to add even more megapixels to your masterpieces. But as I snapped that photograph it dawned on me that the real reason the arrival of a new camera is so exhilarating to me has nothing to do with technical specs on a spreadsheet. Instead, adding a new camera to the family represents something far bigger. Possibility. 

When I bought my very first Nikon D200, it was purely an impulse buy. I had no intention whatsoever of building a career in photography. It was just a fun diversion from the doldrums of my day-to-day life. But that impulse buy changed my life. Within the lifespan of that camera, I quickly migrated from screenwriter with a day job to photographer published in some of the biggest magazines in the world. While still a hobby at that point, those years opened up a sense of possibility and introduced me to new interests and activities that I never knew existed.

When I moved to the D700 a few years later, I was taking my first tentative steps towards moving from a snap shooter to an artist. Like most of life’s transitions, I had no idea it was happening at the time. But when I opened that camera box, I was an advanced amateur just fascinated by full frame. By the time I sold it to make way for the D800, I was an award-winning photographer and had lived out my dream of seeing my work in exhibitions.

The D800 was a necessary technical upgrade. My D700 files put me on the radar of a few companies, the 36 megapixel image sensor in the D800 would allow me the tech specs to fulfill their jobs. In the five years since I’ve had the D800, my photography career has transitioned once again. Leaving the day job and the word “hobby” far behind, my new camera would now officially lay claim to the title of “workhorse.” It was now responsible not only for creating beautiful art, but for also for providing the food on my table. My humble dreams had come true. The D800 was my partner in discovering new ones.

So, when I opened up the new camera box to my new D850, I was overcome by a far more significant emotion than admiration for it’s higher pixel count or articulating LCD. I was instead overcome by a sense of wonder. Wondering what this next chapter in the journey will entail. Wondering what moments I’ll be able to capture while looking through this particular viewfinder.  Like staring into the eyes of a new born child, excited for the dreams to come.

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24 Comments

But did they give you a slice of pizza to go with it for keeping you waiting?

Jeff Richardson's picture

Great Read! I recently had an overwhelming upgrade moment. After shooting Nikon for 20 years i made a rash decision to go to Sony. But I came back after a few day and upgraded to the D850's. Its an absolutely beautiful camera! Here's my drama story: https://www.facebook.com/RichardsonStudio/posts/10155031621672687

Jeff Richardson's picture

haha yes, couldn't do the EVF and the Menu, and underestimated the power of nostalgia, felt like I had cheated. LOL

Spy Black's picture

...however there's nothing nice to say about the Sony menu system. It's utterly dysfunctional. I have an RX100 III and every time I had to access the menu it's utterly annoying. Even Nikon's brain-dead J4 menu system is better and more functional. My Panasonic GM5 menu system is better as well, as are my Nikon DSLR cameras. My only camera that can "compete" with Sony's "dysfunctional-ness" is my Canon GX9 Mk II, and even that's not that bad.

I like your photos Jeff but reading your facebook post made me feel like I was falling screaming "oh god... no no no no no..."

I've switched gear many times over the years and both tried and adopted many weird things. Rule number one in all that is always buy one thing first and use it for a while while maintaining your tried and true equipment.

For example:
I switched to pack and heads from B1 monolights.

I bought one pack and one head and got used to it. I discovered that I could actually do a lot of things easier and some things that I couldn't do in a practical way with my monolights like adjust overhead lighting quickly(air does not count...), light up an entire room at low ISO, or leave my modeling light on without consequence. On the other hand I found that I had to work differently and I had to be careful with some things because I could now blow breakers and trip over cables. I found that I needed to use ND gels for super low power applications and I couldn't freeze water with the 7a.

Anyway long story short I found I love pack systems and I don't use monolights anymore but If I had jumped directly to pack and head systems it would have been a disaster almost exactly like you're describing. My whole workflow would just be messed up and I wouldn't be able to fall back to something tried and true while I worked out whatever the issue was or worst case dropped the system.

Aaron Lyfe's picture

Your articles are awesome and a pleasure to read. Thank you for taking the time to actually write something merit that also isn't a paragraph for a YouTube video!!!

Wasim Ahmad's picture

As a parent, I can say that there's a flaw in your analogy - You forgot to mention the part where the camera poops on you. (like my D600 did, repeatedly, all over the sensor all the time) ;)

That said - I'm curious about the technical reasons for the D800 upgrade. I'm shooting freelance with the D700 to this day all the time and I've had photos from my D2H (4 megapixels if I remember correctly) plastered on the side of a bus and still look pretty good. What kind of clients of yours are demanding larger files or are there other reasons I should think about for an upgrade?

Thanks for the humor here - it made my day!

Spy Black's picture

I guess you really just have to go there. Consider renting some modern gear from a place like LensRentals.com or of the like.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

Well I have a D750 as my main camera that's moved my D700 to my second body. I appreciate the more resolution for cropping in my sports photography, but other than that, not much more to add for my purposes! Maybe the D700 was just that good.

Spy Black's picture

I don't doubt the D700 was a good camera, but besides resolution, the noise and dynamic range of modern cameras like the D600/D750 etc offers so many more photographic options. The AF system of cameras like the D750 on up are way ahead of the older cameras as well.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

I know that, on paper everything you are saying is correct, but for some reason, as I shoot a D750/D700 combo for tons of sports for the last couple of years, I still find myself leaning on the D700 (and it's not just for the 8 fps burst rate with the grip). The autofocus seems better to me even though all indications are that it shouldn't be, and I seem to get a lot more keepers. Maybe it's just a matter of I've used it for so many years and I'm just used to it. Noise control and DR is excellent on the D700, though obviously at half the resolution.

It's one of those weird, unexplainable things. I just can't quit my D700.

Inexplicably, on the Canon side my old 6D is the camera I hang on to and use most often there, even though I have had the 5D3 and 1DX in the stable at one point. Sold them both.

Christopher Malcolm's picture

When I went from the 700 to the 800, it was a requirement for Getty Images. They had a certain megapixel count as a minimum for submission at the time. But it wasn't because the D700 didn't produce absolutely beautiful files. Loved that camera.

I'll come over and split a pizza with you to celebrate. One slice for you...the rest for me! :-)

jonas y's picture

Still waiting, will sing a song when I got it.

jonas y's picture

I got my D850, oh yeah!

Christopher Malcolm's picture

Yay!!!! :-)

jonas y's picture

The AF is so great! The cable clip is extremely useful! Thank you for your article.

Han Seoul-Oh's picture

now this was a fun read. thank you.

just one thing: it's "bated breath," not "baited." hopefully you didn't mean your breath smelled of bait, rather than a shortened breath. haha.

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

TL;DR: Complaining on the internet pays off most of the time :) Sorry I had to do it, congrats man have fun with your new toy!

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

Too Long Didn't Read

Heratch Ekmekjian's picture

Nice story! Thank you. I understand the excitement of the new, better, sweeter camera and the dreams it may represent. Can't wait to hear your thoughts upon the birth of your child.

Studio 403's picture

Well, my envy and jealousy button just got launched, thanks for bringing my life to an end. But happy for you, someday over the rainbow, I will have a D850. I tried to break into my local camera store, but they keep locking the door after closing. Go figure

Pete Tapang's picture

i picked up my A7Riii the other day and got all excited... but ended up running a fever and haven't got to play with it yet =(

Jon Miller's picture

This is a good read, liked the humour and it's obvious you have not been a father as we no longer wait in a waiting room (not since 1995 for me) we wait in the same room with our wife and work with her to get through the delivery, I still enjoyed your take on it though.
I've been thinking seriously about switching from the Canon system to the Nikon system which I used to use in the film days and loved their lens. What makes the decision hard is having to repurchase a lot of Canon based equipment such as the Remote TTL from Profoto for Canon and some of the other "Canon only" items and on top of that I have 13 lens that I would probably need to replace 50% of them. The main reason is that the 850 is one major workhorse as compared to the Canon system of the same level. I looked at upgrading my Canon to the DX models and to do so means a lot of my lens will be too old for excellent images so I'm told.
Please do a follow up on how you found using this workhorse. I look forward to a follow up.