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The camera is a tool or not? for those against the kit lens

By Franklin Guerra

Ok, it is a fact that if you like High Quality images you have to expend some money, but, it is more meritorious know to use your resources than being able to spend more money.

If you are a "million dollars year contract" pro photographer you have to develop the best of you and that forces you to "share" a bit of your contract whit the camera (and lens) makers.
I post this to ask and make a place for share technical tips and "how to´s" suggestions.

And to begin these forum, I leave the question: how to make the most out of my 18-55 AF-S VR? (the most versatile lens I have for the moment) taking different scenarios such as indoors small concerts, portrait sessions at homes, and night street journalism (Also, i have a "75-150mm f=3.5 Serie E" that usually use for portraits).

Sorry High End Pro´s if these hurt your feelings, not what I want, i´m just looking for help improving my skills.

thanks to you all.

Replies

Reply from Chris on 08-29-11 8:26 AM
I think it comes down to what you want out of a lens?
If quality is really a big issue then yes you will need to spend money but not neccessarily a huge amount.
I purchased a sigma 18-50 f2.8 from ebay for a very cheap price, unfortunately this fell to bits in my hand so I had to either cut my losses and bin it or send it for repair. I did the latter and what was returned was an 18-50mm f2.8 that now worked like new and was pin sharp.
This spurned me on to purchase a 70-200mm f2.8 sigma with a faulty AF motor. Again I sent this off for repair and now its one of my most used lenses.
I'm no longer put off by purchasing faulty lenses if the price is right added on to repair costs. Both my repaired lenses are now pin sharp and have a renewed warranty on them and with the costs of repairs have still cost half the price of buying new.

However, as mentioned previously weight can be an issue if simply strolling around in which case I use my 18-135 kit lens which offers just as good results or....

.... go old school and stick a prime lens on the front.

This fixed focal length also forces you to move around your subject and helps train the eye in composition. It is all too often we get carried away with "zooming" in or out to compose a photo when moving closer could offer a better photo and / or open up opportunities you wouldn't have seen otherwise.

Always remember - having the best gear doesn't make for a good photo - you do!

Ever heard the phrase "All the gear but no idea"
Reply from Phil Cousins on 08-20-11 11:56 AM
Actually the Nikon kit lenses 18-55VR and the 55-200VR are both very sharp good lenses if you stop them down to f8 and I recently bought the 55-200 despite having that range covered by my "pro" Nikon 80-200 f2.8 and recommend everyone getting one if you want a light weight small lens for a walkabout.( the rhino pic in my gallery was taken with it if you want to see how good it is ). A friend has the 18-55 and has taken excellent shots with it also.

There is a lot of lens snobbery unfortunately and many people seem more concerned about what lens/camera they have than learning to take a decent photograph.

As the others have said the best camera is the one you have with you not the heavy pro monster with equally large heavy lenses left at home. I used to have a top pro Nikon (D2x) but never took it out as it was too big and heavy to carry for long with a pro zoom. I carry a consumer point and shoot, Panasonic Lumix T7 everywhere with me these days and have taken some excellent shots with it.

Most people would benefit a lot more by spending money on a photography course or good books than a new "pro" lens. Looking at your images you have some very good shots there and a good eye for light. The best tip I can give you is to take as many shots as you can and dont be afraid to experiment with unusual angle or camera settings and dont be afraid to use your camera at very high iso settings. I dont know which Nikon you have but any recent one from the D90 is very good at 1600iso and usable at 3200iso. Using such high iso setting will enable you to take shots in poorer light that would otherwise require expensive large aperture pro glass as will a good tripod if you dont have one.
Reply from John Crane on 08-20-11 10:10 AM
Hi Frank. A while ago I purchased a book about the late Galen Rowell, one who inspired me growing up with his stunning images. To my surprise, though he struggled with "what lens should I bring" syndrome like so many, his experience finally landed him squarely in the camp of logic. He would often carry consumer-grade lenses because they were lighter in his pack, and test each one to learn its sweet spot, then use it at its sweet spot. He was more focused on the moment and the location than the gear. This is one of the reasons his images are so brilliant and compelling.

If you're at a small concert and all you have is the 18-55, then your challenge is how to get in position for the images your mind's eye cultivates. If you're at a football game and can't get tight head shots of the QB because of your focal range limitation, what images can you get instead? What detail shots or atmosphere shots? Where can you put yourself to accomplish your goals. And how can you be ready for that one moment in the game where he may come close enough to you that you're ready to use your tool because you know it inside and out. Night street journalism? Tough with any tool! ;-)... but how can you use the environment to your advantage? Crank up the ISO, swith to spot metering and hang out beneath a street lamp, for example...?

As JT suggested, you can get good photos from your iPhone if you know what you're doing and the moment presents itself. I think the key is taking whatever you have and learning it inside-out, endeavoring to get the most performance from it. Shooting technique is a huge but often ignored component. Things like Mirror-Up shooting, good long-lens technique, and the biggest one of all - understanding light and what you're asking your camera and lens to interpret when you point it at something - are all more important than what lens happens to be mounted.
Reply from Jorge Torralba on 08-19-11 10:46 AM
The best camera in the world is the one you have with you when you need to take a picture. Yes, Nikon, canon Leica etc are great and very high end. But If you are ut in the wilderness where I live in the Pacific Northwest and you see Big Foot and all you have is a cell phone camera, that is the best camera. You get the image, you kill big foot and then you make more money than you can imagine and all with a $99.00 cell phone camera :)

In reality the 18-55 is very versatile and will yield images that are hard to tell from very expensive glass. And [url=http://www.nikonimages.com/standardgallery.php?lenstype=995&showall][b]HERE[/b][/url] are some perfect examples. This lens can deliver.
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