This is my very first installment of a “techie” segment I like to call Photo Dojo! I’ve been meaning to add a shop talk segment to my blog to discuss the technical aspect of photography and taking pictures. I just never got around to doing so. Well…now I’m doing so.
Welcome to Photo Dojo (folds hands, bows). Please, remove shoes, come in and prepare to learn the technical aspect of photography (air punch, air block “he-ya!”)
Today, as with any initial onset of learning something new, we will start off with something light and easy. My best tip for instantly upgrading the way you take pictures!
Let’s Get Started!
I get many people ask me about camera gear. Which is better Canon or Nikon? Which lens is better a prime (a fixed lens) or a zoom lens? How many lenses do you have/how many lenses do you need? And on and on. Recently, I was asked by an avid amateur photographer what she could do to take better pictures. She said she was looking to upgrade her camera so that she could take better pictures, but did not know which one and how much to spend. Presently, she was using a Canon 60D with a kit lens (the lens it comes with). Not a bad starter camera at all. However, I suggested she keep the camera she had and not worry about upgrading the camera, she needed to upgrade the lens (“the glass” in photo terms).
Why the glass? Look at it this way, a person can have an outstanding, brilliant mind. They can be an Astrophysicist! But if they can’t see well/don’t have good vision, they’re not going to have a clear view of the moon. Same goes for your camera. You can have a Canon 1DX with a full frame sensor, but if you have a 18-55mm kit lens on it…you’re not going to get the best, clearest image you can get. As a matter of fact, the better the sensor, the more detail you will capture. Unfortunately, as such, the better you’ll capture the flaws as well. Besides, would you be able to take a $4 million dollar picture with a Hasselblad camera yet have no lens on the end? I would venture to assume that your eye, your glass, has a lot to do with what your image ends up looking like.
What to do?
That being noted, I recommended, as I always do to aspiring photographers, to purchase a little power house of a lens…the 50mm. Also known as a nifty-fifty. This is a must have in any photographer’s repertoire. There are a few versions of this lens, depending on your camera body, but you can usually get this lens (either new or used) for right around $100 or so.
A fairly inexpensive lens (especially compared to $1k + lenses) but:
- it is a prime lens. In other words you cannot zoom in or out so this will make you move forward or backward to compose your shot. Also forcing you to move around and find new/different angles which in turn gives you new perspectives.
- it is a “fast” lens. This means that because this lens is at a fixed focal distance, it focuses faster. It also allows more light in and therefor adds to the speed at which the lens can focus.
- it is going to provide for more focus on your subject. Most lenses, especially kit lenses, only open up to f3.5, where as this lens can open from f1.8 to f1.2. The more open your lens can get, the more light you let in and the more in focus your subject will be in while the background fades out.
All of the images you see here were taken with this 50mm lens (and a Canon 20D!). Some were taken with a macro lens. A “macro” lens allows you to get in really close and capture a lot of detail. I wouldn’t worry about the macro lens right now, it’s a bit more pricey and it’s not a “fast” lens as it is a specialty lens used primarily for still images.
So, if you want to expand your cache & your skill set, I recommend you start off changing your glass. Ditch the kit lens, spend a small change, and change the look of your images. You’ll thank yourself for doing so after you sit down to go through what you captured afterwards 😉
San Antonio photography