Photography

Experience report: The Nikon N2000 on vacation

With your help and advice, I elected to take my Nikon N2000 along to Ireland. And it worked out fine.

Nikon N2000It would have been very nice, even preferable in some ways, to take a film camera I could slip into my pocket. But several of you convinced me that I would appreciate the precise control that an SLR would give me. And you were right.

However, and unsurprisingly, its size and weight sometimes made carrying it a drag. We hiked for miles at the Giant’s Causeway, and the farther we went, the more the N2000 weighed me down. By the end, I was more than ready to strip it off my shoulder. I would have been less fatigued if I had just left it in the car. Which I did on subsequent hikes, and thereby missed a few photographs that cried out to be shot on black-and-white film.

The ease and control of shooting a 35mm SLR made up for it though. And the N2000 handled flawlessly the whole trip.

I chose the N2000 instead of one of my greater SLRs, such as my Nikon F3, in part because I would not cry if the N2000 were lost, stolen, or damaged. Sure enough, it ended up damaged. We explored the North Atlantic Ocean beach at Rosses Point, which is near Sligo in northeastern Ireland. As we moved off the sand into a rocky area, I suddenly fell hard. There wasn’t even a moment of trying to catch my balance — bam! I was down. I’m lucky I didn’t smack my head. But the N2000 and my digital Canon S95 both crashed into the rock. Both cameras were dented, but thankfully still fully functional. The dents are a souvenir of the trip.

Rosses Point Beach

Rosses Point Beach, County Sligo

The N2000, along with the 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens and the T-Max 400 film, were great choices to photograph city and town scenes. I got good contrast and detail in every shot.

Ballinrobe

Ballinrobe, County Mayo

The 35mm lens was a smashing choice. It gave me a wide enough view to take everything in.

Ardara, Ireland

Ardara, County Donegal

But it wasn’t so wide that I couldn’t credibly move in close when I wanted to.

Guinness

Pints o’ Guinness at St. James Gate, Dublin

I relied doggedly on the N2000’s meter, even at times when I should have metered more thoughtfully and adjusted exposure manually. I don’t own any camera that can successfully meter a scene of sharp contrast as the one below. I knew Photoshop would help me bring out detail. I would have liked to dim the highlights further on this shot, but this was as far as I could go without it looking unnatural.

Sligo Abbey

Sligo Abbey, County Sligo

Perhaps if I had shot forgiving Tri-X instead I might not have lost so much highlight detail. T-Max 400 has a reputation for blown-out highlights in uneven lighting situations. I wavered until nearly the last minute on which of these two films to shoot on this trip. But I experienced even lighting most of the time, and in it the T-Max’s faint grain let fine details shine through.

Glengesh Pass

Glengesh Pass, County Donegal

Over and over, I got photographs from this camera, film, and lens that had such depth and detail that I wanted to touch them on the screen, expecting to feel textures it as though they were in bas-relief.

At Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey, County Galway

While I didn’t focus on street photography in Ireland, from time to time I did make use of random people to add interest to my work. They were always moving, which made me glad for fast film.

St. Stephen's Green

In St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin

It wasn’t always enough to freeze them, however. And in the case below, the fellow in the foreground ended up in front of the in-focus patch. Yet he make the photo so much more interesting.

Dublin street scene

On the street, Dublin

Every camera, lens, and film represents a set of compromises. In the end, this set of compromises served me very well.

At Kylemore Abbey

Walking away from Kylemore Abbey, County Galway

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30 thoughts on “Experience report: The Nikon N2000 on vacation

    • This camera, lens, and film worked out great. Any camera would have represented some compromises, and I think the ones I ended up with here were the best ones for me.

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  1. What kind of strap do you use? A good strap will go a long way to fighting camera fatigue. I personally opt for black rapid straps with slr’s. I carried my Nikon F2 around New Orleans last week with one and i had no complaints. Awesome shots though, the dents are character. It’s signs of use!

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      • I’ve used wide cloth straps like that before. They are ok for a an hour or two here and there. I would recommend that you look into something similar to a Black Rapid Metro. The padding is top notch right at the pressure point of your shoulder where the weight is carried. Additionally the camera is positioned differently, upside down by the tripod lug so when properly adjusted is second nature to reach down and pull it to your eye. I’ve used them to shoot weddings for hours at a time and here recently in new orleans we were walking 5-10 miles a day and i can honestly say i barely noticed the camera. With the quick release hoops that thread into the tripod lugs it was cake to switch between my F2 and EM1 at the hotel before we went out again.

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        • It appears they have changed their lineup names. I have the previous versions of the hybrid, street, and curve. The street is great for rangefinders and mirrorless, but the curve would be the one i would choose if i could only have one.

          Roberts has them all on display if you ever want to try them out.

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        • Now this is an intriguing option. I like to sling my strao across my left shoulder and let the camera rest at my right hip. Looks like these would let me do that. And connecting the strap via the tripod socket will put a permanent end to my constant search for lug rings, because many of my old cameras lack them.

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        • Exactly! If i could find one complaint it’s that the lugs don’t allow the camera to sit on the baseplate. I tend to lay them on their backs or sides if and when i keep the lug attached.

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  2. Tiffani says:

    I have been enjoying your photos and words for years now. I love these photos of your trip. Kylemore Abbey and On the street Dublin, lovely shots.

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  3. Hi Jim, wow, some really superb shots in this set!! Great review. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know, I have one of these! Never got around to using it, but I have that 50mm E lens and I love it. Marvelous and inspiring post!

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  4. Nice stuff! I think the truth is that any camera would have gotten you nice photos. I like my Fuji x100T for it’s 35mm equivalent fixed lens. It shoots everything I need digitally just fine. I usually carry a few Holgas and then some other cameras too. On the trip I just came back from I had the Fuji, two Holgas, a Leica M5 and a Wide and Slim. If I had to cut it down to one camera, it’d probably be a Holga with B&W film in it.

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      • I keep saying I want to travel light and then… LOL

        Actually, I dumped my full on Canon setup with 5DMkII and a ton of lenses after a photo trip with a 26 pound backpack to go to the mirrorless cameras… I’m too old for that nonsense!

        My excuse for all the stuff is that it was for my semi-annual photo trip to the Mississippi Delta with friends. I did end up using pretty much all the cameras. I did go on a trip to Germany with friends and had a similar kit, but ended up shooting with the Fuji as they weren’t fellow photographers and lacked the patience and interest in photography as fun. I just shot the Fuji for that trip (I could have left all the film cameras home) and was quite happy with the results.

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