Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Photography Q&A

I've gotten lots of questions over the last few weeks about photography equipment, so I thought I'd answer some of those questions here, for anyone else that wondered! I think I may do a follow-up post soon on some general photography tips. Keep in mind that I am by no means a professional!

  • What camera do you have/recommend?

I have the Nikon D90 and love it. The D3000 or D5000 are cheaper options, but just be aware that they will not autofocus with all lenses, and the lenses that will autofocus on these cameras are usually more expensive (email me if you have specific questions about this). Canon also makes great digital SLR's, but I don't really know anything about Canon!

  • What do you mean by "digital SLR's"?
To put it VERY simply, with an SLR (Single Lens Reflex), you look directly through the lens instead of looking at a LCD preview screen like you would with a point-and-shoot. With an SLR, you can change the lens (although you can do this more and more with a point-and-shoot). And most importantly, with an SLR the picture takes immediately when you press the shutter button, and will take many pictures in succession (very important when taking pictures of fast-moving kids!) instead of there being a delay when you press the shutter on a point-and-shoot.
  • How did you decide between Nikon and Canon?
Professionals are split down the middle with these 2 brands - they are the best and you can't go wrong with either one. My first SLR film camera was a Nikon, so I've just stuck with it! 

  • What lens do you have/recommend?

I have the 50mm 1.8, which I highly recommend. It is the only lens I've used over the last year (it will NOT, however, autofocus on the Nikon D3000 or D5000). It is a high quality, all-purpose lens at a low price. I also recently got the 35mm 1.8, which I also love (it is twice as expensive as the 50mm, but will autofocus on all Nikons). I also have quite a wishlist, which includes the 50mm 1.4, the 85mm 1.8, and the Tamron 28-75 2.8.
**I do not recommend buying the "kit" lens that comes with the camera - buy the camera body only and get one of the lenses mentioned above. The lenses that they sell with cameras are not good quality or worth their "up-charge."

  • What do those numbers on the lenses mean?
The first number (ex. 50mm) refers to the lens' focal length (how close the picture will look when looking through the view-finder). 35mm will look further away than 50mm, and so on. The lenses that I use are referred to as "primes" or "fixed lens", meaning that they do not zoom - you have to physically move forward or backward to get the shot you want.

The second number (ex. 1.8 or 2.8) refers to the maximum aperture that the lens has (maximum is the lowest number, so 1.8 is better than 2.8, and so on). Aperture directly affects 2 huge parts of photography - how "blurry" your background will be, and whether or not you can get a picture in low light. The lower the number, the better your picture will be (I don't recommend any lens higher than 2.8).

  • Why would you want a lens that doesn't zoom?
For several reason, I prefer primes. Most importantly, zooms don't have a high maximum aperture (virtually all "kit" zoom lens have a maximum aperture of 3.5-5), so you will not be able to take a picture in low light (inside or at night) without a flash, and you will not be able to get a blurry background. Also, primes are sharper. And lighter weight for carrying around.

  • Where do you buy photography equipment from?
B&H Photo or Amazon

  • What would be the best way to learn how to use my camera? has tons of information on the ins and outs of your camera


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