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Friday, March 26, 2010

Comments on Buying a Digital Camera - A Primer Lenses

From My friend

Hey Lee! Thanks ever so much for the info. I am still processing through it all. I am working on visiting the sites.
Here is what I know...
1. I have a little point and shoot. It's good for inside, close up, medium light shots. I think what I am looking for is a DSLR. And digital. 2. I do not want video on the camera. I just want pictures. 3. I have heard good things about Nikon. Now I think it's up to finding something that is quality but inexpensive. I'm thinking in the $300 range. That probably is a little low. I will keep researching and looking. If you come up with any wisdom, etc. let me know. Oh what fun. Do you have a webpage that would be a walk through on good pictures. I can at least start up on my point and shoot... I want something that would make sharp pictures of people outside mostly. We have such a wide variety of people but either the sun is too bright, or it just isn't clear with my point and shoot. Thanks!

From Lee:
1. Yeah, digital is the way to go. BTW Prepare for your hard drive to fill up quickly unless you shoot JPEG. Shooting Raw takes up more space but is more adjustable once the photo is taken. I started shooting JPEG but went to Raw.
2. I'm not a big fan of video and SLR combined, at least at the moment. It is still in its infancy and a lot of changes will come. For now I will keep two separate cameras.
3. Like I said, Nikon and Canon are both excellent. One thing that influenced me to go Nikon was the private forum at www.Nikonians.org . It is the Smithsonian of Nikon knowledge and only costs about $30 a year (first 30 days free). I tell people at work that if there is a question you can’t get answered at Nikonians, I want to see it. Unfortunately, I know of no such site for Canon people.
$300 is a little low for a DSLR. The Nikon D3000 here http://www.adorama.com/INKD3000K.html is $496. A good deal is here http://www.adorama.com/INKD3000K.html#kits for the $539 kit which is now at $513. It includes a spare camera battery (you will want one) and a 4GB memory cards) and a camera case.
I did not mention the refurbished kits offered. They are out there but for a beginner, a new kit is what I would recommend.

The 18-55 lens with the Nikon D3000 is a good overall lens. It will zoom out for scenic or group shots and zoom in a little for tighter shots (See below about what 50mm produces on a camera. Basically on a DLSR 35 is normal view.)

“Do you have a webpage that would be a walk through on good pictures. “ Unfortunately no but this conversation (edited would be a great thing for my website / blog) What you are getting is basically the benefit of all my research at tons of places. The links I mentioned previously are the best to start at.

A primer discussion of lenses:

The 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S DX VR Lens means it goes from 18mm (WIDE angle, lots of picture) to 55mm, closer up image. A quick lesson in digital cameras. Most DSLRs, Nikon and Canon included, both have what is called a crop factor of 1.5. What that means is that when a regular film camera is at 50mm (considered normal size, what you see with the eye image), the DSLR photo will appear to be at 75mm or 50% closer. This is great for getting zoomed in on those far away images. My D300 with a 200mm records an image as if it were 300mm with a film camera. BUT downside is that when you try to get a wide-angle photo the 18mm setting on the lens produces an image that will be as if it was 27mm on a film camera.

Solution? Buy one of the new “full frame” sensor cameras (all of this is due to the size of the sensor in the camera. A full frame sensor camera will give an 18mm image when the lens is at 18mm BUT it will only give a 200mm image when the lens is set to 200mm. ALSO Full frame sensor cameras are VERY expensive. A lot of pros have not gone to them. Some like the smaller, lighter cameras. I plan to stick with my D300 for quite a while.

The G means you don’t set the aperture on the lens, but with the camera.) AF-S is autofocus. DX means is it a lens not designed for a full frame sensor DSLR but one of the cameras with a crop factor. (See below for explanation). FX means the lens is designed for a Full frame sensor. A DX lens will work on a FX camera but the camera will automatically change to DX mode. At the moment, most DSLRs are DX. VR means it has vibration reduction. The bad news – Every manufacturer has their own set of acronyms for DX vs FX and all the other things. It isn’t just Nikon and Canon but other lens companies like Sigma and Tamron.

What does the f/3.5-5.6 mean? The aperture is how big the lens is open. More open = more light coming in. Now for the challenging part. F-stops (aperture settings) work like fractions. 1/2 is twice as big as 1/4. 1/32 is tiny. The f-stop or aperture is the focal length (f) divided by (the /) the aperture opening. The f/3.5 –5.6 means when you are at 18mm (zoomed back for a lot of image) you can get more light in. The most light you will be able to let in will be at f/3.5 with the lens discussed.

When you zoom in to the 55mm (for the lens we were discussing) you can only get f/5.6 at best, which means less light. You can always set the aperture to a smaller opening (bigger number) like 8 or 11 to adjust for the light. The best thing to do is play with it and you will see. Most standard zoom lenses are 3.5 – 5.6.

If you see a lens like 17-55mm f/2.8; that means you can open it up a lot (the 2.8 part). The lack of a second number means it can stay at f/2.8 no matter where the lens is set, zoomed in or zoomed out. These lenses cost more (lots). You don’t need them.

As long as I am at it, you will hear people talk about “prime lenses”. A prime lens is a lens that doesn’t zoom in and out. It is “fixed” at a certain focal length like 50mm. They don’t zoom. Common primes are 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm. (There are others but these are common ones). A 35mm f/1.4 lens (shoots like a normal 50mm lens on a film or full frame DSLR – remember the multiplication factor 35 x 1.5 ~ 50) lets tons of light in. Great for low lighting. Very expensive.

One last point and I will close for today. When you adjust a lens to 3.5 instead of 8 or 11 lets say, the depth of field get shallow. What that means is that the person you are photographing will be in focus and the background will be out of focus. Some people love that. The closer you get to the person, the more behind them will be out of focus or soft and blurry. If you photograph a person 25 ft in front of you, not much will be out of focus behind them. Photographing at f/11 generally puts the background in focus.

A great book to read is Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography. There are three volumes. The first volume is a great reference for starting equipment. He gives three ranges of equipment – low price, medium price, and what budget price!

Oh, one last thing wikipedia defines NAS as Nikon Acquistion Syndrome. I am sure there is a Canon equivalent. How many lenses do you need? Just one more!

1 comment:

  1. It is a good info. Thanks for your info. I really enjoy this post.

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