My Nikon D5000 has died.
When I switch it on, the lights in the viewfinder flash on and then there is nothing. My first thought was a faulty battery, but the replacement works no better.
Now, this might be a known problem. The D5000 was offered a free repair by Nikon, but this expired 2 years ago. The problem this was to fix involved not powering up, so an e-mail has been sent to the company to find out if they can suggest anything.
In the meantime, I've been thinking.
Let's assume the camera is dead. Should I replace it?
The more I think about it, the more the answer is no. Quite simply, the photos I take can be taken on a quality compact.
My magazine work is carried out with the Canon G12. With suitable software, it offers variable focusing for stacking. It feels great and although obsolete, good second hand examples can still be found. I have three - two workhorses and a spare I bought NOS. It does everything I need.
For other shots, I have three compacts - Fujifilm AX650, Panasonic DMC-TZ8 and Olympus SZ-17. None is exciting and all are old, but they do the job. Plenty of pixels and the Olympus has a breathtaking zoom. All also do a decent job of video work. With 12-16 megapixels on offer from each, unless I want to shoot for a billboard, they are fine. And they fit in my pocket.
On that basis, the case for a replacement DSLR isn't great. I enjoy using the Nikon but it's far from perfect. The flip out screen slows the autofocus from plodding to glacial. It's not great in low light, far worse than any of the compacts. Don't try to freeze loco on the move, sport mode is hopeless.
The standard 50mm zoom isn't as impressive as the smaller brethren. I know I can buy more lenses, but that's more cost and more stuff to lug around.
The biggest problem is my photography. I tend to leave the camera on auto and let it get on with things. I like composing an image, I can't be arsed with the fiddly technical bits and for 99% of the time, I don't need to for any of the cameras.
I use photos in print, but even a mobile phone camera used correctly can be good enough for that. Many of my pictures are shared online and every camera has been producing high enough resolutions for that for decades.
"But proper photographers have a DSLR" I hear people cry. Well, I've had to work with the results from people with "proper" cameras and you know what? Some of them aren't impressive. Boast about editing in raw all you like, but when the photos have buffers or half a signal arm cropped off because you didn't point it in the right direction, then shut up.
Likewise, if you have a camera that costs well into four figures but I end up with photos with soft-focus loco faces, then it's time you learnt to point, half-squeeze and then frame the shot. Yes, the middle of the loco is in focus, but that doesn't look right does it?
There is a phrase that covers it - All the gear and no idea.
There is one reason, and one reason only I can see to replace the Nikon. Using it makes me feel like a "proper photographer".
I've used SLRs since my early Zeniths and enjoy handling them, but do I enjoy handling them enough to shell out for another?