Saturday, 27 June 2009

"so what camera do you use?"

i get asked this question a fair bit and i don't mind sharing at all. of course my hope is people ask because some of the shots i have taken turn out half decent and they're thinking 'if i can have the same equipment as raph then maybe i can take half decent or better shots too' :) which is all fine by me. i am not a pro-photographer and don't have aspirations to be one and i am no grand master with any big photo taking secrets. i am happy taking my semi-decent shots of the things and people that i love and things that i wish to capture in my images & thats good enough for me :)

so on to the question then man... 'what hardware do you have? and why?' ok here goes...

1) canon digital ixus 700 - most of the photos on my blog taken in 07 and 08 was with this camera. it served me well and also because i took a lot of the pics in a well lighted place, some of the shots turned out nice... good light helps give good pics with p&s

a contender in the tempus photo competition in 2007

2) fujifilm f31fd - i had heard SOOOO much hype about this that when i first got it it was a bit of a letdown compared to my trusty canon ;) [i am talkin about the camera... why would i be comparin this to... oh nevermind...] but it has proven to be all the good and bad things said about it and is one of the best point and shoots ever. a legend and if u r not a believer that its a legend then google and you will will be (sorry couldn't help but quote yoda there ;)

3) and for the answer that most folks are interested in... my dslr... the nikon d90 - i had started out looking at the d90 and the canon 5dmkii. 2 different brands and different pros and cons and two different formats. one was aps-c - a crop sensor with 1.5* focal length multiplication and another was a full frame sensor (based on 35mm film cameras as standard). i think very little divides nikon and canon. both are great brands with great lenses and their own adv and disadv...


whats good?
- good pentaprism viewfinder and bright, clear and nice lcd.
- live view and video recording (not the best video recording tool but usable)
- very good iso performance to me. the dxo sensor test also show it beating the d300 on iso and sensor quality...
- came wif an excellent kit lens, the 18-105mm vr. a great walkabout lens with good range and essential vr
- can af for lenses without built in motors
crop sensor pros
- gives u more zoom power with the 1.5* focal magnifier. eg a 200mm lens on it is 300mm
- more lenses to choose from, dx and fx lenses
- everythings lighter and less costly with dx
- less resolution than FF and less high ISO capabilities than FF.

full frame
pros (reference cons in crop sensor)
- better details and resolving power ie image resolution
- more usable shots with high iso (question is how often do u need to shoot in high iso? and this could also be made up by having fast lenses to a degree)
- u will need good fast glass to bring the most out of it n that will cost a lot n will most likely weigh a fair bit too...this could also take the fun out of it all... lugging heavy kilos of pricey stuff around and when they spoil the fixing cost is also gonna be a lot.



with my watch shots, i use the Best macro lens for me at least - nikor 105mm af-d
- u dont need vr on macros and its more than half the price of the vr version
- much better working distance than the also super sharp 60mm macro Nikkor
- i tried the tamron 90mm f2.8 and that sucks soo badly compared to the nikor 105mm for the shots i take...

The killer primes - creamy duo which take great pics...

Sigma 30mm f1.4 - amazing Bokeh. There are some focus inaccuracies for me (which may be more about me playing wif too shallow dof than the lens) but when u get it right u can take amazing shots even wif low skill levels. super creamy and a great lens.
Some people say it should be the nikon 35mm f1.8 over this but i hv spoken 2 several folks(veterans, sellers) and the sigma is the winner and honestly there is a huge difference between 1.8 & 1.4.
50mm is considered the normal focal length on 35mm film. however based on the frames diagonal length, normal should actually be about 43mm. so the 30mm fast large aperture sigma 1.4 rules! 30mm * 1.5 = a normal 45mm J

Nikon 50mm f1.4 - accurate af. very decent ca control. Can be slightly soft at 1.4 but good centre sharpness from f1.6/1.8. Wonderful bokeh too to me but i think the 50mm sigma would beat this having seen what the 30mm can do. Coz of crop factor, its a 75mm f1.4 which is sorta my equivalent to the 85mm f1.4 on FF although that lens would cost about 4x more(S$400 vs S$1600) and weigh 2.5* more. slight flaring/ghosting issues so a hood is a good idea for this fiddy ;)

The 1.8 v 1.4 difference - I dun understand them charts i jus know that when i had the 1.8, i used it a bit and it didn't impress me at all and I sold it after a few months. The 1.4 though is a great lens and has helped me take some shots that i am really happy with and it'll be with me for awhile(especially if the next part happens :)


i may go full frame one day though...perhaps with the release of the d800
the current d700 is the full frame camera i am eyeing so when the d800 comes out, that will probably be the one to consider IF I ever want to go FF. The d800 SHOULD have a higher megapixel count, good usable ISO range, good fps rate, full HD video movie mode, superior noise control, loadsa af sensors...

for usable low light pics, a fast lens and high iso will allow u to take good shots too for the following situations: indoors available / natural light, night street photos, places where flash photog is not cool eg. museums, or where it'll disturb the folks around...


the last word
its actually not so much about the equipment. get a decent dslr set and 2 to 3 decent lenses and you're pretty much good to go. reading and learning about how to take the shots u want to take. buff up your shooting technique and skills, noting composition and what it is you want to say with the photo are whats more important imo...

it becomes more about the person holding the camera then, as the photos u take and share should be all yours... to tell a story, to share beauty, to capture joy, to exploring darker themes or showing nature, to displaying different seasons... let it be about your expression or sharing the world in your eyes and whatever it is, enjoy your photography... as i do :)

cheers, raph


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