Upon the introduction of children into my life, I found that my manual focus system had serious shortcomings. In the right hands, of course, a manual focus camera with moving targets is not a problem. For my hands, I decided that I needed to switch to autofocus. In mid-2000, I purchased a Nikon F100 and started purchasing autofocus lenses. I also started into digital photography with the acquisition of a film scanner. After much frustration with dust and scratches, I discovered the magic of digital ICE and purchased a Nikon Coolscan III. As I learned more about photography, I realized that I needed to start trying to use slide film.
Scanning print film is tricky; properly exposing slides is trickier. In 2002, I purchased a Nikon Coolscan IV that was a significant step up from the Coolscan III. (The current model is the Coolscan V.) I was getting better, but found myself frustrated with the amount of time it took to properly scan a single frame of film.
In 2001, My wife and I discovered the instant gratification of digital photography with a Kodak 4800 digicam. In early 2003, I purchased my first digital SLR, the Nikon D100. I've never looked back. While the D100 doesn't have the same autofocus performance and build quality as my F100, it takes fantastic photographs. In fact, I have not shot a single frame of film since the purchase of the D100. I still can't bring myself to part with my F100, but I'm getting closer...
Printers are another long story, but I'll make it very brief. After varying experiences with 3 different photo printers, I settled on an Epson 1270. (The current model is the Epson 1280.) It produces incredible prints up to 13x19". My favorite paper is Epson Heavyweight Matte, but I use a lot of Epson Glossy Photo paper because I can buy it on the cheap at Costco.
E-bay is a wonderful thing. It's what has enabled me to try different cameras, lenses, scanners, printers, and, in a couple of cases, software. If you buy equipment on E-bay, you can usually sell it for close to the same amount. Yes, there is fraud and you have to be careful, but so far I've been fortunate to avoid any major problems. If you are buying equipment new, I recommend your local proshop or one of the reputable mail-order houses. I've had good experiences with B&H Photo and Adorama.
Digital photography requires specialized software. The packages I have found most useful are: Qimage (printing), Paint Shop Pro (editing), IMatch (database management), and VueScan (scanning). All of these packages cost less than $100, have downloads for free trials, and have large, vibrant web-based user communities. The authors of Qimage, IMatch, and VueScan participate directly in the web forums! Paint Shop Pro and IMatch both provide a full API for scripting, Python for PSP and Visual Basic for Imatch. This is an incredibly useful feature that I use extensively.
Below are a few of my favorite photographs. I'd like to put more on the web, but (1) I need some time to create a real gallery and (2) I should find a place other than David Dill's Stanford machines to serve the pages from. All photographs are copyright © 1999-2004 Robert B. Jones. Absolutely no reproduction or copying is permitted without prior consent.
Technical Data: Nikon D100, Nikkor 24-85mm f3.5-4.5 G AFS, Gitzo tripod
Sunrise, Spofford Lake, New Hampshire, 2003
Technical Data: Nikon D100, Nikkor 24-85mm f3.5-4.5 G AFS
Banana Frond at Sunset, Sea of Galilee, Israel, 2003
Technical Data: Nikon D100, Nikkor 70-180mm f4.5-5.6 AFD
Moonrise, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, 2003
Technical Data: Nikon D100, Nikkor 12-24mm f4.0 DX G AFS
Sunset, Louvre Museum, Paris, 2001
Technical Data: Nikon F100, Nikkor 20-35mm f2.8 AFD, Kodak Supra 100
Sunset, Arcadia State Beach, Oregon, 2001
Technical Data: Nikon F100, Nikkor 20-35mm f2.8 AFD, Fuji Velvia 50, Gitzo tripod
Leicester Square, London, 1999
Technical Data: Nikon F3HP, Nikkor 50mm f1.4 (?), Fuji Superia 400, clamp tripod on iron fence