Friday, October 13, 2017

5 Things Beginner Photographers Worry about (but Shouldn't)

Note: I am going through a very busy period, with a lot of personal & other obligations. The frequency of articles might suffer a bit for the next couple of months or so, but I expect to be back on a quasi-weekly form by Christmas. Thanks! 

The Internet is a wonderful tool. Just like a real, physical library, it contains a vast amount of information that can solve many problems or answers many queries. But, just like with books, you must learn to filter the information. As the Internet is specifically based on its users, this also means that substandard, erroneous, or simply misleading information can also be propagated.

None of the things listed below can prevent you to take images
such as this.

Today I'll give you a list with the top-5 things beginner photographers worry about (though they shouldn't). These are things we have all considered at some point or another during our journey from learning how to operate a camera to making great images. Some of the following things, to some extent, in some occasions might actually be things to ponder on. But in most cases, they're just distractions that have been blown out of proportions.

In other words, the list of the things below is things that do not hold you back from making great photos.

So, let's begin

1. UV filters and protecting the lens
For the life of me, I can't understand how this thing became a... thing.  Basically, the story goes, you're supposed to use a UV filter on your lens to protect it from knocks, scratches, and such stuff. Of course, nobody seems to understand the irony of putting a cheap UV filter (that will degrade image quality) to your expensive Nikon Nikkor AF-S 16-80mm, or conversely, an expensive UV filter to protect a lens that costs... less than the filter.

About the only occasion that makes sense is if you put an expensive, good quality UV filter to protect a seriously expensive lens while you're working in a risky environment (e.g. beach, warm springs, etc). If that's the case, do take a look at something like this (pay attention to the diameter).

2. Dust on the sensor and getting rid of it

Yet another thing beginners worry about, scared by all the stuff they read on the Internet. The story here is that your camera (kinda inevitably, the narrative goes) will suck in dust that will sit on your sensor, creating visible dark spots on your photos. Can this happen? Yes. Do you need to worry about it? No. You see, not only virtually all modern cameras have sensor-cleaning features (basically they vibrate the sensor before turning on/off, which throws the dust away), but even those specks that remain aren't really visible on most of your photos. Unless you're shooting white walls or blue skies at f/18 or smaller, you won't notice anything.

The only item I've ever gotten for sensor dust (and I don't even use it for that anymore, just to blow dust away from the the lens or body) is this basic rocket blower. Cheap, safe, all you'll ever need.

3. Sharpness of your lens

This must be the easiest way to separate someone who doesn't know much about photography from someone who's confident in her/his art. People preoccupied with the sharpness of a given lens usually don't make any great photos, because they're wasting too much time and energy in shooting diagrams or comparing 100% image crops of lenses trying to discover differences that, mostly, don't exist.

Fair enough, resolving power is a significant aspect of the technical side of photography, but it's one thing to try and improve your technique and increase the clarity of your photos (examples: holding the camera, direction of light, shutter speed), and entirely an other to say dumb things like "my lens isn't sharp enough". Unless there is some physical damage to it, every lens - and especially modern lenses - are sharp enough. Yes, even the kit lens that came with your camera.

4. Shutter life
I often see online people asking in agony: "what is the life expectancy of the Nikon D5500 shutter?" (just an example) or "can you change a shutter if it fails?" or things like that. I don't know from where this thing really began, but it has.

Bottom line: stop worrying about the shutter life of your camera. There is an overwhelming chance that you will never reach that number (which isn't set in stone anyway) either because you won't take as many photos or because you will eventually replace that camera anyway.

5. Battery life
Admittedly, this doesn't attract as much attention as the previous four, but I've also seen people fretting over the battery life of their camera. Although we haven't reached the insanity of comparing battery life the way we do, say, megapixels or dynamic range, some beginner photographers seem to be taken aback by their camera being rated as "only" 400 shots with a single charge compared to, say, 600.

Please, please, please, don't waste your energy on such things. Most people won't empty a battery through a single day (let alone through a single session). It's trivial to simply charge the batter in the evening, before you go to bed. If you expect to be at a place without access to electricity, or you're planning to actually take hundreds of shots in a single session (let's assume), all you have to do is spend a few dollars on an extra battery. Problem solved.

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