Monday, February 24, 2014

The Answers to Your Questions

AmateurNikon is back in action - although there is a ton of work still left undone (lesson to remember: photography 'paperwork' is massive, and takes quite a bit of time. Going through images, deleting, uploading, naming, tagging, editing...)

So, today I will be answering your questions. I received several dozens, thank you all for sending them. I attempted to answer as many as possible, but it's impossible to answer them all. I'm truly sorry if I left out yours.

So, in no particular order:
(I've edited them a bit, grouping similar questions, and trying to keep them easy-to-read. Still, it was a pleasure to read through your emails - some 'questions' were 2-3 paragraphs long!)

1. Will there be a D400?
Nobody can be sure what Nikon is planning to do. In theory, there should be a Nikon D400 (that is, top-of-the-line DX sensor in a pro body with fast performance). However, Nikon is going through a massive re-mapping period, and what you call D400 might be...D7200 (=great sensor, sub-par pro features). Perhaps Nikon wants the D300 crowd to move up to FX.

2. What camera should I get for taking photos of my children?
Some of those questions were in the style of "DSLR vs Mirrorless", others wanted specific Nikon DSLR models. It doesn't matter much. Mirrorless means smaller, more compact combo. DSLR means faster, more reliable AF. In any case, remember the camera+lens is what matters. A great camera with a kit (=slow aperture lens) will be less flexible than an older or lower-level camera with a fast 35mm f/1.8 prime. If you want a concrete answer: I'd go for a D3200, any 18-xx zoom, and the 35mm f/1/.8. Later on, you can add a flash.

3. What's the best lens for indoor sports?
Mindbogglingly generic question. There's no right answer - or, rather, there are many right answers.  If you can be close to the action, perhaps an 85mm f/1.8 will be excellent and more than sufficient - particularly if you can control the distance or the action happens at specific distances (say, basketball or volleyball). Otherwise, a zoom might be necessary, and then it's all a matter of how much money you wanna spend. On a budget, try a 70-200 f/2.8 by Tamron or Sigma. If you can afford the Nikkor AF-S VR 70-200 f/2.8, go for it.

4. How many flashes do I need for portraits?
You, dear reader, who asked this, you probably have noticed it yourself! The more the merrier, but there's a catch: Complexity rises with each flash unit. In other words, three flashes are better than one, but you must have the capacity and time to test the scene properly. In some occasions, I do that. In others, it just feels almost as good to use natural light and a single diffused flash. It really depends on the circumstances.

5. Is Canon or Nikon better for portraits?
Normally I wouldn't answer that, but a) there were at least 5 questions asking something like that; b) I realize people might be fretting a lot over such things before dropping the cash. Well, there's only one answer: They're both equally good/bad. It depends on so many other things, and, cliche but true, there are 100 things you need to learn before you even begin to reach limitations related to brands. Just go to a store (or order from a place that accepts return) and try both. The way they sit in your hand - so, ergonomics - is the only thing you should worry about at this point.

6. How can I become a professional photographer?
Wow, I really don't know how to answer that. If you have the opportunity to work for someone who is already a pro (friend? relative? your local photographer?) as an apprentice, you could begin there. The practicalities can vary a lot. In terms of philosophy, being a pro has nothing to do with being a good photographer. Occasionally I feel my photographic art has deteriorated since I got into business. Thankfully, every now and then I get an absolutely stunning photo, that makes me really happy, and I know I'm in the right direction.

7. What is the best lens for macro?
If you don't plan to use it as anything else and macro will be its exclusive use, the Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4 is probably the best bang-for-the-buck

8. Should I get the D7100 or the D610?
So, you're wondering if you should go FX or not, right? There's only one sensible answer to this - and I know it might not be what you wanted to hear: No, don't. If you're asking whether you should go FX, it means you don't need it (at least yet; you might need it later). You will know it yourself if you need to go FX. If you need to ask, don't.

9. Can I take wedding photos with the D3200?
You bet your blue eyes you can. Get a good lens (say, the AF-S 50mm f/1.8). Just to clarify though: I presume you asked about taking wedding photos of, say, your friend. If your question is "Can I become a professional wedding photographer using my D3200", then the answer is 'No', but not because of the camera. It just means that, if you need to ask that, you don't know enough about photography yet to be trusted with people's once-in-a-lifetime photographic memories!

10. What's the best camera for bird photos?
It's always a camera+lens combo. You need a camera with a decent performance, and a lens with a fast AF and a large maximum aperture, to help you get the AF performance. It of course also depends a lot by what exactly are we talking about. Ducks in the park? Wild birds that you can't get too close to? (So, do you need lens performance or reach)? In any case, if by 'best' we mean still within budget constraints, a D300 is more than fine. Unless if you plan to take photos in very low light, then be prepared to throw a heck of a lot more money into this.

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