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Who knew I had to go to Africa to fall in love with my Nikon Z5?

Let me be honest – it’s not my Nikon Z5! It’s my husband, Peter’s. Like any good story there is a beginning, middle and end. In 2020 during the height of COVID Peter decided for his birthday photography might be fun. So, he headed to Paul’s photo in Torrance, CA where Mark Comon introduced him to the Nikon Z5 and his on-line classes, boot camp, composition, photoshop – he took them all.

In the spring of 2021, we rented a trailer and went to Utah, Peter with his Nikon Z5 and me with a small handheld Olympus. (I need my camera to be light weight because of my neck.) We had a great time. However, I was not happy with my pictures or the camera. The buttons were so small I would hit them inadvertently and totally change the settings. When we returned home, I took my camera to Mark at Paul’s Photo and asked him to help me. He shared that these types of cameras are susceptible to this problem and there was nothing that could be done. He did have a solution, however, the Nikon Z50. It was lighter than most.

Great! I took it on a trip with Paul’s Photo to the slot canyons. I felt all “grown up” but had no idea what F-stop, shutter speed or ISO meant. Mark said, “Boot Camp will help.” Life happened, as it usually does, and I soon realized “Oh crap” we leave for Africa on a photo safari with Paul’s Photo in less than six months. I quickly enrolled in boot camp. I was introduced to what I call

“those pesky settings” – F-stop, ISO, and shutter speed. I enjoyed the process each week doing the homework and getting out to shot. It really helped, and then life got in the way again.

The day before we left for Africa, I said to Peter, who was now using the Nikon Z7: “do you think I should try to use the Nikon Z5 on the trip?” The look to on his face spoke volumes…Mark always says, “know your camera, practice with it before taking them on long trips.” The day before I had no idea if it was to heavy, how or where the buttons were, I could sense this might be a problem, but Peter was gracious and kind as he replied, “if you want to try, we could make it work.”

The first morning in Amboseli, I sat up front with Karen - after a while I got brave and asked her a question about F-stop. She was so kind and helpful. I later asked her about ISO – she showed me how to set my ISO to auto and shot on manual. We had discussions about shutter speed and composition. Karen is a great photographer, who taught me to check my pictures for focus etc. She shared her pictures as she took them and soon, I found myself doing the same. It was encouraging to hear “that’s good.” The learning and fun was incredible.

We had many successful game drives. On particular day we were looking for a cheetah hunt. The day before we had found three brothers, but they were not yet ready to eat. This particular day, we spotted zebras and then the 3 brothers. Our guide, David noticed the zebras were going to the water, so he drove like a “bat out of hell” to put us in position. From a distance you could see the cheetah’s who had not yet noticed the zebras.

We put our camera’s in position. Karen and I had a conversation through our eye pieces – “what shutter speed and F-stop. I also asked what to focus on and Karen said, “you could focus on the prey like Craig did the day before.” It all happened so quickly. It was as if the zebras and cheetahs were shocked to see each other, and the dance began!

After it was all over, I glanced through my photos – I was hoping for a cheetah in motion. I showed Peter, he didn’t seem impressed until, he asked to see my camera. He took a look and said, “Lisa did you see the shots you got?” I replied, “no.”

A newbie like me who still struggles with F-stop, ISO and shutter got one of the best shots of the chase.

That was the day I fell in love with my Nikon Z5 camera and 100-400 lens. (Oops, did I say my Nikon Z5 – technically it still is Peter’s but hopefully not for long). I have shared small clips of the beginning and middle of my story. But the end has yet to be written…

C.S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”

I cannot wait to see where my new Nikon Z5 will take me next.

Thank you to Karen, Mark at Paul’s Photo and to all who went on the safari. It was a memorable adventure.