Necessity Or Indulgence

White-tailed does in winter grass.
White-tailed Does in Snowy Grass – January 2021

A few thoughts on my photography pursuits and life in general as I head into 2021.

I started the new year with an unwelcome guest, kidney stones. An acute condition, which put a serious damper on my physical activity up until this point in the year. For those unfamiliar, kidney stones can be excruciatingly painful and can also be a very serious health issue that could land one in the hospital. I’m trying to avoid going into large enclosed spaces filled with sick people in the middle of a pandemic, but sometimes it isn’t really up to one as to how serious a medical issue can become. Fortunately, I’ve avoided having to go to the hospital, both recently and last April when my first bout of stones occurred. The recent condition was not as serious as my bout last April, but still, I spent quite a bit of time laying in bed suffering from excruciating pain, interrupted by brief periods of normalcy. I’m feeling better now, but from time to time over the past few days, I get a little reminder in my right kidney that it isn’t quite through with me.

As a result, I haven’t really spent a lot of time on photography. Luckily, I was feeling well enough yesterday that I made a drive to Rocky Mountain Arsenal in search of deer and bison, after a modest snow fall. I needed some fresh air and the feeling that I wasn’t a sick case wasting away in the house.

Yesterday’s photography was limited though. I got a few shots, but the bison were not really cooperating. A large group of buffalo were in shouting distance but they never really came as close to me as I would have liked. No worries, these things happen often and you get what you get. I’ll be out again in short order and hopefully I’ll have better conditions on one of those excursions.

Despite the lack of mass quantities of photographs, the day trips to allow me to dial in my updated photography kit. I’ve been playing with using two bodies, which is what I normally carry in the kit, but deciding on which bodies to carry is still, well, undecided. I really love the Nikon D810, so I’ve been using it with the 200-500mm lens for the super-telephoto needs and I’ve been using the newly acquired D850 with the 70-200mm and from time to time, the 24-70mm. I don’t have to swap lenses much with this setup. But I do have two other fully capable DSLR’s sitting in the cabinet and I sometimes delude myself into thinking they are feeling neglected. The 24 megapixel D750 is a very good camera and I’ve used it a lot over the years, but these days, it is mostly relegated to my house camera for taking shots of family and yard activity. My other body, the Nikon D500 is less than a year old and I’ve put a few miles on it, mostly last summer while working moose and birds in flight. It’s a great birds in flight camera. From a functional standpoint, I can use the D850 as I would the D500, as cropped the D850 produces an image file roughly the same size as the D500 at around 20-21 megapixels. Plenty of resolution for modestly large prints and getting a little more effective reach with the 200-500 lens. But, the D500 does something that the D850 can’t do and that is shoot at 10 frames per second for over 200 full resolution Raw files at a 14 bit depth, producing a very nice raw file that is as good or better the the more expensive D850.

In order to get those massively deep buffers though, I must use the faster XQD memory cards. Up until now, I’ve been using Sandisk SD cards in all of my cameras and they work fine for about 18-20 shot bursts. Two of my cameras, the D850 and the D500 have XQD memory slots, but I have no XQD memory cards in my kit. So I ordered one and an XQD card reader, to give it a try.

XQD memory cards are not as popular as SD cards, so there isn’t a good selection on the market. And, they are expensive, typically twice as expensive as a good quality SD card. But, to my thinking, why buy expensive high end cameras and not use them at their maximum capability?

The new XQD card arrived today and I stuck it in the D500. I’ll play with that for a while, great blue heron comes to mind as they start showing up in February, so I’ll see if ripping off a burst of 200 photos is going to do me well. We’ll see if adding these expensive cards to the kit is a necessity or indulgence.