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, 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.


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


Liberty Bell replica

Liberty Bell replica
Olympus XA
Kodak T-Max 400

I shoot this bell a lot; it’s easy to reach from home. It’s a versatile subject. Do you have any subjects you shoot a lot?


Broad Ripple Kroger

Broad Ripple Village Kroger
Olympus XA
Kodak T-Max 400

I love that Kroger has left this tiny store open in Broad Ripple, Indianapolis. Ten aisles, maybe – an anachronism. But it serves the surrounding neighborhood well, and helps keep it walkable.


Vacation camera audition: Olympus XA

I’ve decided to take the Nikon N2000 to Ireland. The results were just too, too good. You all swayed me heavily in your comments on that audition post, by the way. But when I made that decision I hadn’t finished the audition roll in my Olympus XA yet, so I kept shooting. Not that this was a hardship; the XA is delightful.

Olympus XAThis little camera seemed like it would be the perfect vacation companion. Indeed, Moni Smith got great shots from hers in Italy and Ireland this year.

And did it ever handle beautifully for me! It really was everything I thought I wanted in a camera for this trip: small, light, capable.

But shooting an SLR just feels right to me, righter than even the most delightful tiny rangefinder camera. And when the images from the XA came back from the processor, it sealed the deal. I wasn’t quite as happy with them as I was with those from my N2000. I’ll point out why as I share photos from this roll of Kodak T-Max 400.

Margaret and I walked the Old Northside and adjacent Herron-Morton here in Indianapolis one hot August evening while I had the XA along.


It resolved detail well, and returned the fine tones I’ve come to expect from T-Max. I bought five rolls of the stuff for my trip, by the way.

Old Northside

But some of the shots on the roll suffered from a serious lack of shadow detail. I don’t get why; the light wasn’t especially challenging. Could it have been the processing? Different soup, different results? I sent the T-Max I shot in the N2000 to Old School Photo Lab; I sent this roll of T-Max to Dwayne’s.

Old church, Old Northside

Fiddling with these photos in Photoshop I kept seeing blobs of blue in the dark areas. That means those areas resolve to full black. No amount of sliding sliders or curving curves could fix it, meaning the detail just wasn’t there. That was never a problem on the roll of T-Max I shot in the N2000.

Apartment House Entrance

There were also the usual challenges with the viewfinder not exactly lining up with what the lens sees, which is a pet peeve. When I framed this shot, the “Foundry” logo on the right was completely in frame.

The Foundry

The XA and Margaret and I went on a walk through the cemetery near my house. This Liberty Bell replica is a favorite subject.

Liberty Bell replica

I stepped way back for this landscape shot of the bell within its housing.

Washington Park North Cemetery

I finished the roll with a few la de da shots at home. Am I one of the last men alive who irons his own shirts? Who wears ironed shirts at all? I wait for the unironed shirts to pile up and then polish them all off in marathon sessions in my bedroom while I watch shows on Netflix. You can sort of make out, there near the top of the photo up and left of the iron, some plastic boxes under the dark area that is my dresser. Those boxes contain the old cameras I haven’t shot yet.


Really, I could do just fine with the XA in Ireland. If some of you hadn’t so strongly suggested taking an SLR, which led me to try the N2000, I would be taking the XA to Ireland!


Hankering to shoot in black and white

Several cameras I bought last fall and winter have piled up here. I’ve been busy shooting with them, including a Kodak Monitor, a Kodak Retina IIa, and a Minolta SR-T-101. Writeups are on the way! An Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 8o, a Polaroid One Step 600, and a Polaroid Pronto are waiting their turns.

Pentax MEBut one recent afternoon when I unexpectedly had some free time, I found myself hankering to try the 55 mm f/1.8 lens that came with my Pentax KM on my easier-to-handle Pentax ME. I’ve also been itching to shoot black and white lately. I credit the influence of Mike Connealy, a fellow collector whose black-and-white work I really enjoy. You can see his cameras and his photos here. So I bought some Kodak T-Max 400, dropped it into my ME, attached the aforementioned lens, and had some fun. My other cameras can wait.

The Pentax ME was just as much a pleasure in my hands this time as last. But my shots tended to come out a little overexposed. I was able to rescue many of the shots, including this one, in Photoshop Elements.


I planted some daylilies last year and their ongoing blooms really make me happy.


My dog Gracie was still fluffy after a bath the day before. I love how her fur has silvery tones, especially across her face. In color, she’s orange.

Shiny dog

I visited Broad Ripple, a frequent destination when I have film in a camera. This faux graffiti advertises a restaurant in the building onto which it is painted.


This old railroad bridge is becoming a frequent subject.

Monon bridge 1

Finally, my youngest son made this pencil cup for me when he was in preschool, which was nine years ago now. His older brother made the flower pen when he was in Kindergarten. I took this on my desk at work using the good light streaming through the window.

Pencil cup

This was fun. I think I’ll shoot black and white more often.

I added these and several other shots from this roll to my Pentax ME gallery.

The last time I shot black and white film, I got this photo.
It remains one of my favorites.