It's baaaack! My "Big Gun," my "good" camera, my Nikon D300, my best friend, is back!
After two months in surgery, my favorite shooting device is back home and making great images once again!
Just days after returning from the Tour de Lavender (a photographer's paradise), Yellowstone National Park (where I captured my favorite bear shots of all time so far) and shooting The Wedding, my beloved D300 began eating batteries as if preparing for famine. When I first bought the camera in 2008, I could shoot off up to 1,200 frames on one battery charge.
As the years wore on, that dropped off to about 800 frames, depending upon how much I used the flash and auto focus. Eventually, it got down to about 600 frames per charge, which still was a real treat, after owning two Fuji point-and-shoots that didn't know the meaning of the word conserve. One of the Fujis would see a good day if it could get 100 shots on one set of brand new lithium batteries.
Oh, and take the batteries out of a Fuji when you're not using it. It drains batteries even while turned off. A real turn-off!!!
For those who've never had the distinct pleasure of consuming lithium batteries at such a high rate, they are about $18 for four, which is what each Fuji required to operate. One particular Fuji could not function well with rechargeables. I'd be lucky to get 20 shots off rechargeable batteries. The camera didn't last one day past its one-year warranty. Then it didn't last three days past its one-year refurb warranty anniversary. Good riddance.
(I'm teasing about the "good riddance," of course. I've taken excellent shots with every camera I've ever owned, even the ones that didn't last long enough.)
Considering that Fuji cost nearly half of the price of the D300 and refurbishing it a year and a day later cost more than half of that amount, along with battery costs during those two years, I'd have been better off saving my dough and plopping it on the Nikon instead. Look how many years the Big Gun Nikon has lasted! As well as how many awesome shots it has snapped!
About three days after shooting approximately 1,000 wedding shots, the D300 began using up fully charged batteries in hours. Sometimes in three or four shots. Something was definitely wrong.
My smaller Nikon, the P510, had suffered a corrupt battery during the Tour de Lavender vacation. Thank heavens the problem was only the battery, I had a spare, and I was able to get two replacements for the same price as the original when I first bought the camera. The camera didn't have to be turned in for servicing, and I had my backup batteries the week after we got back home from vacation.
This experience prompted me to cross my fingers and replace all three batteries for the D300. All of them were purchased in 2008, so they'd seen a fair amount of use. More than 100,000 shots, in fact. As well as weather extremes on both ends of the thermometer. Please let it be the batteries. Please let it be the batteries. Please let it be the batteries.
My dad found replacement batteries for me on eBay that were more powerful, supposedly longer-lasting, and much less expensive with faster and free shipping to boot than the official Nikon battery replacements, which would have cost something equivalent to a large utility bill or another long road trip. Man, those babies are pricey!
I had the new batteries the very next day! I charged the first one overnight. The next day, the camera ate through the first battery in five shots. A brand new battery! Generic, yes, but brand new!
It took a few hours for the second replacement to charge, and then I tried it, with the same results.
My heart was sinking. Somehow, deep inside, I knew from the beginning this time it was not the batteries or the charger, which I had tested after the new batteries failed. After the new batteries failed in the camera, I charged them again and had all my batteries, new and old, tested. Only one of the old batteries failed the test. One bad battery. And one bad, sad, mad, had camera... egad!
The camera was malfunctioning. I would have to take it in. Minimum six to eight weeks. All positive energy crumpled to the ground in a heap of grief.
Autumn with the Nikon P510
Autumn with the iPhone
Devastation followed. I tried to cheer myself by reveling in the fact my Big Gun did not die on vacation or during the wedding. It waited until the most important stuff was shot. It knew how much I needed it for that wedding. It limped discreetly through unseen inner pain and suffering and delivered shots that made the newlyweds very, very happy. We have vacation photos that will last a lifetime. My "good" camera was a trooper! I owed it a good servicing. Even if it did mean trusting autumn to a point-and-shoot and my iPhone.
A couple of days later, the camera shop called to tell me they couldn't fix the camera. It would have to be sent back to Nikon. I cried like a baby as I scoured the internet for refurbished D300s. My favorite camera has been discontinued now, of course. A perfectly good camera -- retired because there's always something new and improved; most photographers are addicted to "new and improved."
I did fall in love with the new Nikon D750, which conveniently was released the next day. The price tag caused light-headedness, however. I just can't justify that kind of expense right now. It will take me about three years to save up that much, and by then, it won't be the latest and greatest anymore (which is fine by me), which means it wouldn't cost as much then. I'd been saving for a good camera until about 18 months after the D300 was first released. I saved about $1,000 by unintentionally waiting because the price had dropped that much in a year and a half. (And a newer and more improved model had been released by then.)
The three refurbished D300s I found were double what the repairs to my camera were expected to cost. (NOTE TO SELF: Refurbs have at least a 100% markup!!!!!!) I wasn't about to pay the (exhorbitant) price asked for one of three used D300s I found because with my luck, a used one was for sale simply because it didn't work anymore, not because the owner was upgrading to a better model. I've noticed many Nikon owners tend to hold onto their old models as backups when they upgrade.
I did find one used D300 advertised "in new condition" with only a few hundred images shot. (The D300 is supposed to be good for 150,000 shots before needing an overhaul.) I inquired as to why it was being sold, and the reply of, "I just don't use it" made me me super suspicious. It had been for sale for several months. If it had been a good deal, someone else would have already bought it.
On the bright side, my fruitless search means I have a really good camera. Nikon owners aren't looking to unload D300s, even when they are old. I bit my tongue, swallowed my pride, and told Nikon to work whatever magic they can to fix my baby.
When I got the phone call eight weeks later telling me the camera was ready, I nearly jumped out of my seat! The repairs were a full $100 less than estimated, and all I had to do was break free from a very busy day at work to walk two blocks to reclaim my Big Gun!
Just in time for Moab!!!
I think I'm in heaven!!! If not, I certainly will be soon!
The Cobra, which fell while I was on vacation in Washington last August
Delicate Arch and the La Sals Through the Window
Delicate Arch Moonrise
Sunrise, Canyonlands National Park
Autumn in Moab