Saturday, 9 October 2010

What question should I ask

Many, many times, we see newbies ask questions which they consider is crucially important or which they don’t understand the context of, at all. Invariably they desire a clear answer to the question. And proceed to the next question in a hurry, so that they resolve the issue of choice.

TED Talks: Barry Schwartz: The Paradox of Choice

Let’s walk through some of these questions. (I’ll add more as I find them)

Q1: I wish to purchase a wide angle zoom lens for taking wide angle landscapes. Should I buy the one with the bigger zoom range?

A: No, you buy the one that has the wide field of view that you desire, has better image qualities, is within your budget reach. A bigger zoom range is a practical desire but it’s not the highest priority criteria.

Q2: Should I choose a brand that has In Lens Image Stabilisation or In Body Lens Stabilisation? Which is better? Does In Body work out cheaper?

A: Choose the camera model that you like to use and bond with. Choose the camera brand that you like to own. In Body Image Stabilisation works fine and is useful when you want to fit any hunk of glass (lens) onto the body, often old legacy lenses or modern wide angles which are not offered with In Lens Stabilisation. In Lens Stabilisation is good when you want the best expensive pro grade telephotos – because the lens should have a mechanism tuned just for that lens. The cost of an expensive lens is largely in the quality and size of the optics and build – the cost of the IS mechanism does not affect the price advantage either way. Some brands offer an IS body can third party lenses for that body offer IS in the lens. That’s nice to have but I wouldn’t use that feature as the prime criterion.

Q3: I love those low light shots. Should I get the Canon XXX or the Nikon XXX? I’m avoiding those small sensor cameras because of high ISO image noise.

A: It is true that an APS-C size sensor camera will have better high ISO, low noise performance, relatively. It is also true that these two brands typically have a 50mm f/1.8 nifty fifty cheap and bright lens. But that’s it.

  • If you are into landscapes, a formal one that is set up nice so that you reap the rewards of taking the patience of setting it up means, a tripod. I don’t like to carry a tripod and I hand hold whenever I can but really if you want a horizons level, nice depth of field, good composition that takes more than a split second of framing then click, high ISO isn’t the sole criteria. You might take the time to bracket your exposures or explicitly meter your exposure and mentally employ an Ansell Adams moment or a histogram / review moment to get it right. A high ISO, feel good fast click isn’t the sole reason to choose a camera.
  • Having a fast f/1.8 lens isn’t the absolute solution either. If you shoot an f/1.8 lens at f/1.8, the sharpness and micro contrast of that lens at that aperture isn’t the best. Additionally if you intend to use f/1.8 for indoor portraiture, the 50mm image magnification size and the shallow depth of field yields very soft portraits except for the eye you are focussing on or the nose that you mis-focussed on.

Get some experience first and see what the total package works like in practice. Maybe you need a flash and reflectors. Maybe you need a tripod. Maybe you need brighter lights indoors or ask the subjects to come nearer the windows or existing lights.

Theory doesn’t overcome practical experience.

More as I see them….

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