I got a wonderful surprise today when I got a call from my friend Katsunori Shimada. We'd talked earlier in the day (after our workout -- we do the elliptical trainer and weight training a few times a week at a local club) about how there's a worldwide shortage of Nikon's new digital SLR. I'd ordered a Nikon D200 a week or so ago, and at the time the shop had no idea when it might come in (could be two days, or could be two months). Since then, reading online forums, I've found out that they're in short supply worldwide.
It's a bit frustrating having no idea even how many people are in front of me in line, so Shimada-san kindly agreed to call to find out. Well, it turns out that the camera body was already in! This information, of course, was the aforementioned wonderful surprise. Slightly dampening it, though, was that the lens I ordered at the same time wouldn't arrive until mid February.
Well, since my previous camera broke and is at the shop, I've been without a reasonable camera lately. The timing is particularly bad because this past weekend one of my neighbors from Cupertino visited (stopping buy Japan on his way to Nairobi, London, and Ireland). It would have been nice to have a camera.
I called the shop to confirm that indeed my D200 body was waiting for me, and without much time left before I had to pick Anthony up at daycare, I hightailed it on my bicycle down to the Teramachi electric shopping district, 15 or so minutes away (but the way I was flying today, it was half that). Along the way I had to find a bank or convenience store to withdraw the money, and this turned into more of a hassle than I wanted (involving returning home to get a forgotten bank card), but in the end I was able to get what I needed. (Unlike ATMs in America, there are much higher daily withdraw limits in Japan. When it's a non-bank-specific one such as at a convenience store, the limit is usually $1,000 or $2,000, but I've been able to pull $2,500 from the convenience store near us, so I don't even know what their limit is.)
So, I picked up my D200 body. It turns out that they'd tried to call me a number of times (or so they claim). I wonder why I didn't get the messages. Anyway, I asked how many of these they get in a week, and the guy said that it's not measured that way (they can go weeks without getting any... they trickle in when they come in). The only reason I got mine now is because someone else canceled. Otherwise, I'd still be waiting (but, presumably, be next in line).
Just as with many electronic shops, Joshin Denki offers “points” with most purchases -- basically, it's credit back that you can use for purchases later. In this case, I got about $160 back, and on a whim used $90 of it to buy a four-year extension to the one-year Nikon warranty. It's probably money well wasted (at least, I hope it will be), but I consider it free since I used the points . I also used $30 worth to get a printer ink cartridge I'd been needing. I still have enough left to get a camera bag, or something, I suppose.
Anyway, there remained the issue of a lens. I bought the body only, so needed a lens if I wanted to actually use it. They had a very small selection of lenses -- a few Nikon and a few Nikon-fit Tamron lenses. I would have loved a somewhat fast short-range zoom (say, in the 16-60 range) because I'd still want it even after getting the slow 18-200 on order, but they had nothing really appropriate. What they did have was close, but I didn't want to spent $500 on something “close”, so after much hemming and hawing, I decided to not get the lens there. I thought I might go pick up Anthony and then take a drive somewhere to get one.
But, while at the checkout, I got a text message from Shimada-san suggesting that the lens selection would be better at a nearby camera store (since the place I was at sold mostly computers, and had only minimal camera stuff). Time was getting tight, but I stopped by and indeed they had a wide range of lenses (Nikon, Sigma, Tamron), and also a quite a lot of used ones. After much (much!) hemming and hawing, since I'm really quite out of my element, I spent $90 and got a used Nikon AF 28-80 f/3.3-5.6 zoom. At f/3.3 it's not very fast, but it'll suit me fine for a while until I can decide on a good short/medium zoom. They buy used equipment, and if they give me $50 for it in the summer, for example, then it's like renting it for 30 cents a day. I can live with that.
So now it's 9:45pm and I've taken the D200 out of the box but have done nothing so far other than ogle it. Now the fun begins....
UPDATE: my first shot, the toy-strewn top of Anthony's play stove...