A Nurse with a Gun

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pawn Shop Circuit:The Camera

Kenny's pawn shop was first on my list as I drove through a drizzling rain today. Kenny waved me on over as I walked in dripping from the rain. "Hey Xav, I've got one for you!" he said cheerily.

Kenny pulled a blued Model 10 snubby from underneath the counter. It was a nice pinned square butt revolver, and the action was smooth and light. I already had a blue Model 10 snub though, as well as a nickel one. Kenny had a $319 price tag hanging on the trigger guard. "Know what Kenny?" I said, "You need to get this one for yourself."

"You're not interested?"

"Well, I've already got one. They are excellent revolvers, a great CCW piece." Kenny nodded. I continued, "Where are you at on getting your permit?"

"I'm still waiting on a class," said Kenny.

I gave Kenny the phone number of a friend, and suggested he get in touch. We talked a bit more, and I excused myself to head over to Neil's shop.

I hopped over a couple of puddles to make it to Neil's door, but it was warm inside. As usual, Neil was reading the classified ads. I went straight to the gun counter. Underneath the glass was a Model 19-2. It had aftermarket thumb rest grips on it, as well as a trigger shoe. Always curious, I asked to see it. Neil removed it from the case and I checked the cylinder. Then the trigger. I was hoping for a slick trigger job, but the double action trigger was no different than any other Model 19, and not as good as some I've tried. The high points of the cylinder had thin bluing, and the muzzle was silver. At $299, I might have purchased the revolver if it had a little less finish wear and the original grips. I handed it back without a bid. "Xav, I can knock off ten percent for you," said Neil.

Two-seventy wasn't a happy price for me either. I thanked Neil and turned to leave. As I was exiting the store, I noticed a Nikon camera on the camera shelf. When I was in the Navy, I maintained my sanity with a Minolta X-700, developing film at ports all around the Pacific. When digital photography came along, I stuck to my film roots for a while, but finally went digital. Digital photography allowed me to quickly share images online, a major point, but I still craved the control of the SLR. My Minolta and all it's lenses were put away for when I knew I wanted printed images. That became less and less frequent over time.

The camera that grabbed my attention was a Nikon D-200. I really had no idea what it was or what it was worth, but Neil had a $499 tag on it. Attached to the bottom was what appeared to be a motor drive, although I didn't know why a digital camera would need such. The lens had huge, clear glass, although a couple of nicks were present on the rim. I tried to turn it on, but the batteries were dead. Instead, I committed "Nikon D-200" to memory and drove home to research it.

I liked what I saw. Nikon glass. 10.2 megapixels. Manual mode. Unlimited capabilities. I could really get back into photography again. I read some more, and all the reviews were positive. I saw that Neil's price was fantastic, considering that I was getting a lens and multi-power battery pack. After a couple of hours of research, I drove back to Neil's pawn shop.

I walked in casually to find Neil haggling with a customer over the Model 19. The Nikon was gone. Gone just that quickly. Damn. I should have just bought it. Disgusted with myself, I left the store. I had gotten about five blocks from Neil's pawn shop when I decided to return and possibly get the Model 19. I turned around and drove back.

The puddles had gotten smaller, and I walked through them as I went back into the shop. Neil was nose deep in the classifieds again. "Did you sell that Smith, Neil?" I asked.

"Yeah. Didn't make a dime off it either," replied Neil. I knew better.

"Neil, who bought that Nikon camera you had up there?" I asked, pointing to the empty space between the video cameras.

"Oh, nobody. I saw you looking at it, so I hooked up the charger in back to charge up the batteries," said Neil. "You interested?"

"I might be," I responded. "Does it work?"

"Well, you need a card of some type to hold the pictures, but it all powers up," said Neil as he retrieved the big black camera from his office.

"Hmmmmm," I pondered. "Will you give me your usual 30 day guarantee?"


"OK, What's your best price?" I asked.

"Ah jeeze, I just got beat on that Smith & Wesson," Neil squealed.

"I'm not going to beat you, I just want your best price," I countered.

"How about $450?" asked Neil.

"Four-fifty means lay away," I parried. "Four hundred cash and carry today, right now."

"Plus tax?"

"Deal," I smiled.

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Anonymous Jack said...

Great story, and great buy!

8:31 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Good deal on the D200, especially with the battery grip. And oh just noticed the 85mm f/1.8 on it, good solid portrait lens. You'll want a wider lens for everyday use like the 18-105 VR, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001EO6W8K, would do nicely. Been running the 18-200mm VR on my D70 and now D90 and love it. And if you like primes they just released the Nikon 35mm f/1.8.

9:09 PM  
Blogger MedicMatthew said...

I tend to be a Canon fan myself, but Nikon of course makes some great cameras, even if it is just the standard kit lens, that D200 for $400 is a hell of a deal. Nice find.

9:33 PM  
Anonymous OrangeNeckInNY said...

Man, I hope for your sake, Neil doesn't read your blog. LOL!!

9:39 PM  
OpenID zercool said...

Damn, you did steal that.

I learned photography on an X700. I think Dad still has it, although he went digital also.

I have a Canon Elan 7e sitting in a bag under my desk, collecting dust. I need to find a new home for that.

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you realize the lens cost more than you paid?

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Martin Ouimet said...

Hello Xavier,

Been a longtime reader of your blog, this is the first time I've felt compelled to comment: Just had to say, you got an unbelievable deal on your new camera The previous poster is correct about the lens (by all rights, looks to be an 85mm f/1.8), not to mention that the original price on that D200 was $1,699 a few years ago. I know because that's what paid for mine, and they're still selling for a good bit more than you paid on ebay.

Just a small tip, if you decide to shoot without the grip, you'll find the battery door in a slot in the "battery dumb terminal" of the grip.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Chris Byrne said...

Unless I miss my guess, you got this lens:

Ken Rockwell link

Which on its own generally sells for around $400.

It's a good, fast, clear and sharp lens.

THe D200 is an excellent camera; but it really does need that big battery pack; it's battery life is horrible with the standard battery.

I wrote a bit about the best lenses for these cameras a few weeks back here:

Camera Lust

and here:

A prime lens

12:12 AM  
Blogger Chris Byrne said...

Oh and adorama has the d200 refurbished for $800; so a used one at $400 would be a pretty good deal without a lens or battery pack.

12:15 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

I just wanted to say I'm a bit jealous. I love my D200 and shoot every day with it. I'd also like to get an 85mm lens so if I saw them both I think I would have snagged them up too.

Just in case the manual didn't come with the camera you can download it here:

Happy Shooting!

3:52 PM  
Anonymous chris said...

you did damn good... i gave $300 for a 70-300 nikon af-s zoom lens and one of the battery packs you got this past weekend... i would DIE to find a pawn shop that made deals like that...

5:01 AM  

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