Photography tips – let’s talk cameras

I thought we could talk cameras today, since I have seen a few blogs where the gals are trying to decide what kind of new camera they want.  If we could have a discussion amongst us camera lovin’ folks, hopefully that would be helpful to others.

Here are the questions to answer:

  1. DSLR or point and shoot?  Brand and model.
  2. Love it? Hate it? Not sure yet?
  3. Why did you choose this brand?
  4. If you have a DSLR, what lenses do you have or want to have.
  5. Add a link to your favorite image(s) you took with your camera so others can see what it is capable of creating.
  6. Anything else you think is important for someone buying a new camera to know.

I’ll go first…

1.  I have a Nikon D50 DSLR.  They no longer make this camera, as it has been replaced by the Nikon D40/D40X.  I wouldn’t recommend getting the D40, only because of the lens limitations.  As any experienced DSLR owner will tell you, the body is only half of your camera.  The lenses are just as important, even more so, than the body of the camera.  Instead I would either look for a used D50, D70 or a new D80.

Most people that get a DSLR will get either a Nikon or a Canon.  Both are good cameras, that generally evoke fierce brand loyalty.  I personally think I could shoot a Canon or Nikon just as well.  Canon’s are better at higher ISO’s on these low end DSLR cameras.  The Nikon’s have richer colors, and Canon’s color isn’t as heavy.

2.  I really love my Nikon D50, but I would love to upgrade to a D300.  The reason for wanting to upgrade is basically that it has more features and the ISO goes way higher than my camera.  That being said, I think it is a good thing to start on a lower end pro-sumer camera, since they are easier to learn on.  If you start with a higher-end camera I think all the features would be way to confusing.

3.  Honestly, because it was cheaper than the comparable Canon.  If I had it to do over again, I don’t know if I would stay with Nikon.  Canon lenses are cheaper than the Nikons, and the glass is pretty comparable.  I didn’t save any money going with the Nikon.  I do love the richer color that the Nikons produce and it feels good in my hands.  I think test driving cameras at your local camera store, just seeing how they feel in your hands, is a great idea.

4.  Ah, lenses!  Here is what I have and what I like about each one:

Kit zoom lens 18-55 f.3.5-5.0 – This zoom lens can go down to f3.5 only when it is at 18mm.  At 55mm, the lowest it can go is f5.0.  It is a good lens for outdoors, and I have managed to get some nice shots with it.  Indoors it is not my favorite for natural light, but with a flash it works well.  I will show some pictures shot with each lens in natural light so you can see what the lens can do.

Taken with the kit lens: 18mm, f3.5, ss 1/160

18-55 natural light

Prime lens 50mm f1.8 (cost ~$110 for Nikkor) – Prime lens means it only has one focal length.  If you need to zoom, your feet are required for that task.  This is a good, cheap portrait lens for low-lighting situations where you don’t want to use the flash.  The aperture of f1.8 (lowest it can go) allows you to let in more light.  This lens stayed on my camera pretty much all winter long last year.

Taken with the 50mm 1.8 prime lens: 50mm, f2.5, ss 1/640

Prime lens 35mm f2.0 (cost ~$300 for Nikkor) -The reason I got this lens was because I wanted a wide angle lens for taking pictures indoors.  Basically, so I could get more people in the shot.  It really wasn’t a big enough difference from the 50mm.  If I had it to do over again, I should have gotten a much wider-angle lens, but there are not many options with a low aperture.  If I had to choose between the 35mm and the 50mm, I would say for the price, the 50mm did a great job comparably.

Taken with the 35mm f2.0 prime lens: 35mm, f2.0, ss 1/40


Prime lens 85mm f1.8 (cost ~$500 for Nikkor) – The reason I got this lens was that I needed a longer length lens and I read that it was a great sharp lens with a wonderful creamy bokeh (the blurriness you see when using a shallow depth of field).  I just got this lens on Monday, and I can’t give a great review since I haven’t had enough time to use it in all situations.  I have notice that it is nice and sharp and the colors are richer when using this lens.

Taken with the 85mm f1.8 prime lens: 85mm, f2, ss 1/100

85 mm

I took this with a flash since it has been dark, but hopefully this weekend I will be able to get some pictures during daylight using natural light.

Other lenses I want to get would be:

Longer zoom length (probably my next lens): AF-S DX VR Zoom-NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED

Wide-angle zoom: NIKON 12-24mm f/4G IF ED AF-S DX NIKKOR

Fish-eye lens: AF Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D

5.  All the pictures on my Favorite Fotos page and on my blog have been taken with my Nikon D50.

6.  Basically, if you really want to get a new camera that doesn’t have the lag time that most digital point and shoot cameras have, then get a DSLR.  Yes, it is big and bulky, but it’s not like I have a teeny purse…I have kids!  My purse is big enough to accommodate it, so I still carry the bulkiness of it around all the time.  It is worth it to get those great images of my kids growing up.

Now, it’s your turn, my wonderful friends.  You can post here in the comments or on your own blog, which may be better if you have lots of links to pictures.  My sp @mmer controls limit the number of links in the comments, but I will watch them really, really  well to make sure I don’t delete any of your hard written comments.  They may just show up in moderation in the meantime.  Or if you have already discussed this at some point in the past on your blog, then just add that link in the comments.

Hopefully this will be helpful to others! 🙂

25 Replies to “Photography tips – let’s talk cameras”

  1. I love this discussion! I am going to go write my own now…
    Now, I have a D40x, what are the lens limitations of it? Before I bought it I read and read and read about it and my dad (who is a more experienced Nikon user) read and read and neither of us found this. I am intrigued.

  2. Yaay, great discussion! I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s responses. I’ve posted my responses this morning.

    ~Happy Saturday, Y’all 🙂

  3. Thanks for participating ladies!

    Bunny, the D40 can only use lenses that have their own focusing motors. What this means is that the more affordable lenses can’t be used with your camera unless you do manual focusing. Lenses that have their own focusing motors are more expensive…in some cases a lot more expensive. The nifty 50 is a lens that does not have a focusing motor, which is why it is only $110. The only place I saw this discussed was on some photography forums since their advertising doesn’t really address it. I don’t know why they did that, but I guess it made it cheap enough to be an entry level DSLR camera for more people. It does have more megapixels than my camera, which only has 6.1mp. You can blow your pictures up much bigger than I can. That is another reason I would like an upgrade.

  4. Ahhh, I remember reading about that. Not knowing much about lenses at the time, I didn’t really understand how this difference would affect things. I gotcha now.

  5. Oh and btw, how can you tell when looking at a lens if it has a focusing meter? Is it one of the cryptic letters/numbers on the lens?

  6. Bunny, I found this:

    “AF-S lenses = everything works.

    AF lenses = meter works, but you have to focus manualy.

    Anything older = meter doesn’t work but you can still mount and use them.

    The problem with AF-S lenses is that there are NOT many primes in that style, yet. If you want a 50mm, it will be the AF version and you’ll need to focus manualy. get a nice short zoom in the AF-S style and use it at the 50mm range.”

  7. Well, I am a devoted point and shooter!

    I have a Nikon Coolpix 11 – which frankly I hate! It does not do well in low light, AND I have timed it, from the time I go to focus a picture, to when I can take the next picture is over 30 seconds sometimes (depending on how many times I have to try to focus the camera till I get it to focus – all it has is auto).

    SOOO, after 2 weeks of looking and researching what I need or want – I JUST ordered (2 days ago, and it shipped yesterday).

    I decided the Canon Powershot 720IS was for me, it’s a point and shooter – so not as big and grand as all you awesome photographers have – but I think it’s going to work well for me. Since I have NO earthly idea on any thing about aperture or that kind of thing, this is going to be a big step, as it does this kind of thing – along with auto!

    I know it’s not as grand, and cant do nearly as much – but LOL soon it will be mine, and I pray that I love it and it can do what I need – take great pictures of the kids and give me something fun to play with!

    Now, where do I start?! LOL I have already read the manual, but OMG wow I am kinda lost! 🙂 I cant wait to get it though, kinda like a kid in a candy store!

  8. Oh – cameras! Who doesn’t love to talk about that?!

    1. I have both a DSLR (Nikon D40) and a P&S (Nikon Coolpix P4).

    2. I love them both. I just got the DSLR in November, and I can’t imagine being without it. I carry it with me almost everywhere and has replaced the P&S as my camera that I use more of all. I also love my P&S, I keep it with me at all times, and it is a great substitute for when I can’t use/don’t have the bigger camera. I also like that I can use it for videos, as sometimes it’s nice to be able to do that on the spur of the moment.

    3. I have the kit lens (18 – 55) and also the zoom (55-200) lens, and I use both equally. I would like to get some more lenses, but I feel like I need to learn more before I am ready for that!

    4. Almost all photos since November have been taken with the DSLR – all before that were with my P&S (my flickr:

  9. I was just thinking that a nice follow-up/continuation of this discussion would be to talk Photoshop or other editing that goes on to produce the final product. Personally *most* of my photos are SOOC, but for some cropping only because I don’t really know what I’m doing in Photoshop. I’m really interested to see what other people do.

    Ooh, another idea: photography books. I’m looking at This.
    and it’s second volume that just came out. Any good books to share?
    I’d really like a “workbook” type if such a thing exists that would be like assignments if I were taking a 101 photography class.

  10. I have the Canon Rebel XTi and I love it. I’ve always had a Canon and never really contemplated switching. Almost everyone I know has a Nikon though. I work at a portrait studio and we use a Nikon too. There are times I feel like I’m not in the club because I don’t have a Nikon, but I’m glad you wrote this post because it seems like there really isn’t that big of a difference.

    I am trying to save up a few bucks to buy a new lens. I think I am going to go with the 50mm 1.4. What do you think?

  11. Bunny, that’s a great idea about sharing experience on books, too. I will make sure to put something up on that.

    Stacy, I have heard really good things about the 50 1.4, so go for it! If I had it to do again, I would have saved a bit more and gotten the 50 1.4 over the 50 1.8. The 1.8 is good, but the 1.4 is better. 🙂

  12. I am super late with this and quite possibly no one will even see it at this point – but I love my camera so I have to get my 2c in!

    I just got my Nikon D80 DSLR a month ago.

    I love it even more than I’d expected. I am truly amazed at how it has transformed my photography overnight.

    I gave serious thought to both Nikon and Canon, and even considered some of the less popular brands (such as Sony). I had almost decided on Canon, but then I inherited by sister’s Canon S2 IS (pas) and I really wasn’t impressed with it…so that disuaded me from Canon. I also like that Nikon has more afforable VR lenses, and that it allows spot metering. There were a few other features that pushed me towards Nikon but now that several months have passed since I did my reaearch, I’m not clear on all of them!

    I got a kit with both 18-55 and 55-200VR lenses included. I also got the 50mm 1.8 seperately – and honestly, I’d have been happy with just that lens. I love it so much and almost never take it off the camera. I would actually like to get a wide angle prime lens, as 50mm is sometimes a bit close in the house. I haven’t even begun looking at those options yet, tho.

    Tons of pictures on my Flickr…everything after mid-December is with the D80.

    Since getting my DSLR, I have actually become more of a camera snob. Before having it, I really didn’t get what the big deal was and I’d considered getting a “good” PAS instead. I felt that the photographer is much more important that the camera, and it annoyed me that oftne the first question people ask is “what camera do you have.” But now that I have my DLSR, I see that is really, REALLY is worth it. It brought my photography to the next level instantly. Natural light pictures indoors are a piece of cake, DOF galore, sharp and clear – all things I only dremaed of previously. So if you’re not sure about going for a DSLR – do it, you won’t regret it!

    Now Stacy, can you explain to me the value of a fisheye lens? I’ve never really understood its use, and it seems like a lot of money to shell out just for some funky effects.

  13. Thanks Christina!

    LOL…yeah, it really is a lot of money just for some funky effects. It would be nice if I could find a used one for less. It is down on my list, but it would be fun to have a lens that can do that. Just for a little added creativity.

  14. That was a super helpful post! I didn’t realize they quit making the D50 – being coveting my friend’s…I heard and have seen great things about the D80, but not sure my hubby is ready for me to make that purchase yet…I’ll bookmark this post and read it again and again! Thanks!

  15. er…..I like taking pictures….LOL

    But really…WINTER Stacy????? You like to make it tough don’t you!!! I may have to go through and dig something old out…..

  16. Well this is an old post and I have another post up there telling ya I have a point and shoot camera…well I upgraded, only I feel like I downgraded, though even in auto it takes better pictures than the P&S – LOL I just cant see to get the hang of it…Could I ask you Stacy, how did you learn? Just start firing? I am lost…I gotta say.


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