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Aug 20 2011

Happy World Photography Day

This post is a bit camera nerdy. But there are pictures for those of you who don’t like to read.

Ooooo…zing!

Ahem…it’s after midnight and I’m getting a little slap-happy. Moving along!

Today is World Photography Day!

In honor of WPD I got myself a treat. Okay, it wasn’t because of WPD, it was because I had been thinking about getting a new lens. Well, there are three lenses that I have thought would be very cool to add to the camera bag:

  • The AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED: This one would let me take really good pictures of far away birds – $6300
  • The AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED: This one would let me take really good close-up pictures of bugs and flowers. – just under $850.
  • The AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G: This one would let me take good portraits and decent low-light photos. –  $220

Guess which one I bought? Hint: It wasn’t the $6300 (ohmigod, that’s more than I spent on my current car!) or the $850 lens.

Yay – new lens!

I also picked up an expanded manual (i.e., a pretty picture book to teach me how to be as smart as my camera) and some new UV filters – one for the new lens and replacements for the other two lenses because the old ones were getting a bit smudged and scratched.  I almost broke down and bought a circular polarizer and a star filter, but I managed to pull myself back from the edge before I reached the checkout counter.

Because the new lens has a fixed focal length, it’s thought by some people to produce a clearer image than a zoom lens, and because it has a f/1.8 I should be able to take clearer pictures in lower light than my other two lenses (the lowest they have between them is a f/3.5).

I was a bit worried when I first took the lens out for a test drive this evening. I wasn’t seeing much of a difference in the preview screen between my standard 18-55mm lens and the new 50mm. And in the low-light I couldn’t figure out how to get the camera to actually shoot. But I eventually picked up on a few things:

  • If shooting with auto-focus in low light, it helped to keep the AF-assist flash on. Otherwise the camera had trouble finding its focus and wouldn’t shoot.
  • The camera is happy to let me shoot manually in low light. I think it’s the camera’s way of saying, “No prob, it’s on on you, bub.”
  • It’s really hard to shoot at night with the UV filter on the lens. I couldn’t figure out why I was getting a funny reflection in most of the shots in which there were stoplights, headlights or reflective surfaces:

I suspected that I was getting a reflection off of the lens back onto the UV filter (let me know if you can confirm that), and when I took the filter off, the flare-slash-reflection went away:

So, it’s going to take me a while to figure out the benefits of this particular lens. At the end of the night I was encouraged by this set of shots. The first was taken with my standard 18-55mm, and the second was taken with my new 50mm. This was a poorly-light corner outside of one of the local Walgreens.

18-55mm lens

50mm lens

I know – they look exactly the same here on the blog, but when you view the full, larger files (which you can do by clicking on the images) there is a subtle yet obvious difference between the two shots. The photo taken with the 50mm lens has better contrast, and the patterns in the wood are much more striking than those captured by the 18-55mm. I think this could pay off for printed photos and higher resolution online images.

And later in the evening I snapped this photo of Prada with the new lens:

I mean, the crap lighting is courtesy of the nearby fluorescent lighting in the kitchen, but the crispness of the image impressed me.

So we’ll see. I’ll do some more playing. I think that I’m going to like this new lens, but it remains to be seen if I’ll like it $220 worth of like.

1 comment

  1. 1
    Mully410

    Congratulations. You’ll learn a lot. Once of the first things that messed me up is how shallow the depth of field is at f1.8. You have to have a sharp eye ball and when you shoot at f1.8 the auto focus will focus on the nose. Because the DOF is so shallow the eyes will be out of focus…but that why you have the manual focus over ride on this lens.

    As you know, I love my 35 f1.8…I want to try yours. ;-)

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