She’s Great, but the Family’s a Problem

Who doesn’t love a summer romance? Everything comes together so perfectly. And you think to yourself, “this is better than I could have imagined.”

That was my feeling when the Nikon Z5 arrived at my doorstep. It was an arranged meeting, and only for a while so I could write a review. I decided the best way to get to know one other was on a road trip. I packed my bags and we headed to Lake Tahoe.

You know how it is in the beginning: long walks by lake, sunsets on the balcony, and more moments together than apart.

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I like this camera. A big part of its appeal is the new 24–50mm compact zoom lens. And even though the Z5 features a full frame sensor, it feels lighter than you’d think. I had no problem carrying it on a 7-mile hike to Emerald Cove.

Many photographers frown upon the kit zoom. It’s the lens that comes with the camera — versatile, affordable, but not professional. The 24–50mm Nikkor is lovely. I just finished looking at the pictures it produced in Lightroom, and they are gorgeous. I’m not kidding. My fondness for the Z5 was growing by the frame.

But the Nikon is only mine for a month. Like I said, it was an arranged meeting. The morning will come when I’ll receive a shipping label with a note on how to return the camera to New York. I’m in California. That’s so far away.

So I started considering my options. Could I afford to keep the Z5? Let’s do a pros and cons list.

The pros: Fantastic image quality, great physical design, impressive electronic viewfinder, beautiful tilting LCD, cute zoom lens, and twin SD card slots. You heard me: two card slots.

Con number one: $1,696. Whew. That’s a lot of money for a writer.

The initial investment challenge was compounded by the fact that I don’t have additional lenses in the new Z Mount. Sure, I would be able to shoot with the 24–50mm, some of the time. But its maximum aperture is only f/4–6.3. That’s great for a hike around the lake, but what about indoor photography, soft-background portraits, and closeups? I would need at least one more optic to make this work. I must look to the Nikon family for help.

My typical plan is to find an additional prime lens that’s affordable, maybe a 35mm or 50mm. I can do amazing things with either. And if I pair one of those relatives with the 24–50mm zoom, we could have a sustainable relationship.

So I opened my laptop and started searching for lenses. “I know we can make this work,” I thought to myself.

Have you ever been in a relationship where you liked your partner but weren’t crazy about her family? It’s awkward.

I felt a sinking feeling when meeting the Nikon lenses for the Z5. The first relative, a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8, was $596 and not easy on the eyes. I know I’m not supposed to say these things, but it’s true.

The situation became even worse with the 35mm f/1.8 — $846. That’s expensive. What’s the deal with these folks?

My mother once told me that you don’t just marry the woman, you get her clan as well.

As much as I wanted to be with the Nikon Z5, this was not meant to be. I could maybe come up with the initial $1,700, but not the additional $600 or more for a family of lenses that don’t appeal to me.

So I resigned to this: I’m going to enjoy the time we have together. But when the return shipping label arrives, I’m letting the Nikon go.

I hate it when family gets in the way.

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