Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Same Yet Different - DSLR

The Digital Single Lens Reflex camera has become ubiquitous amongst professional photographers and proud mothers everywhere.  You will see it on the sidelines of every pro football game you watch on television and every kids soccer game where you cheer simply because the kids look so adorable in their little uniforms.  And for good reason.  The DSLR is the most versatile piece of equipment in a photographer's bag.  Modern cameras shoot video, work well in low light, have fast frame rates, have quality sensors, etc.  And you can throw on any of a number of lenses to fit your specific need.  These are just a few of the reasons DSLRs are the go-to camera for most working photographers these days (myself included).

DSLR Bodies:
Nikon D3S
Nikon D300
Nikon D7000
Nikon D90
Nikon 3100

DSLR Lenses:
Sigma 150mm f2.8 Macro
Nikon 85mm f1.4
Nikon 85mm f2
Nikon 85mm f2.8 PC
Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 Macro
Nikon 55-200mm f3.5-5.6
Nikon 50mm f1.4
Nikon 50mm 1.8
Nikon 24mm f2.8
Nikon 24mm f3.5 PC
Nikon 18-200mm f3.5-5.6
Nikon 18-55mm f3.5-5.6
Tokina 11-17mm f2.8
Nikon 10.5mm f2.8 Fisheye
Holga Toy Lens

Molly, Mike, and Ben with the D3S / 85mm f1.4
I knew I was going to like shooting these cameras.  These are the cameras I am most comfortable with.  But I do have to say that the D3S stands on its own here.  The way it feels in my hand, the crazy fast frames per second, the full frame sensor (equivalent to 35mm film), and a number of other things add up to making this camera and others in its field (the D4 for example) worth the money.  Now, am I saying that everyone can justify the cost to go out and buy one?  No.  But I am saying that you get what you pay for here.

Mike, Ryan, and Molly with the D7000 / 85 f1.4
One thing that impressed me while shooting this particular part of the project was how much I fell in love with the Nikon 85mm f1.4 lens.  This thing is gorgeous.  It is a beautiful piece of equipment and takes such great pictures.  Both of the image sets above were shot with this lens - the top image set on the D3S and the other on the D7000.  I have used both of these cameras a lot in my work, and I think this lens brings out the best in both of them.

Ryan, Mike, and Ben with the D3S / 50mm f1.8
Probably the best $100 you will ever spend in photography will be on a fast 50mm prime lens.  This was one of my first lenses and it still is one of my favorites.  Even after shooting the 50mm f1.4 as much as I have I still love to shoot this lens.  I love how clean everything is and how natural it looks.  There are no tricks with this lens.  You have to shoot a great picture with it in order for it to be noticed.  But it is definitely capable of taking great pictures.

Mike and Molly with the 85mm f2.8 PC tilt shift lens
There are lenses, unlike the 50mm f1.8, that can create interest simply by what they do.  Tilt shift lenses are in this category.  These types of lenses are used to create a more realistic image by architectural photographers, landscape photographers, and more.  But many others use them in other ways to create something different.  And that is what I have done here.  I had never tried to shoot portrait photography with a tilt shift lens before this shoot.  I guess I assumed it would have been gimmicky (and some of you may still think it is).  But to be honest, these are two of my absolute favorite images from the entire shoot.  This lens has the ability to draw your attention to the eyes in a way that others do not.  There is so much story behind these images.  If I had only shot these two images in the whole project I would have been happy.

Ryan, Mike, and Molly with the D3100 / 18-55mm f3.5-5.6
When you really dive into the files from the D3S (or other full frame cameras) you can see why it costs so much.  It holds a lot of detail.  However, I was honestly impressed with the D3100 among the DSLRs that I shot.  This camera is positioned the lowest in the Nikon DSLR line that I shot for this project.  I am not saying that it is better than any of the others, but this camera did hold its own.  It is a nice little camera and even with the kit lens I think we got some good images that I would be happy with.  I would definitely suggest this camera to someone buying their first DSLR (or the new D3200).

I could go on and on about DSLR stuff.  We took a lot of pictures with these cameras and lenses.  And that is one of the benefits of them - you can take a lot of pictures in a short amount of time.  But I have chosen to stop here.  I wanted to highlight some of the things that stuck out to me while shooting these.  Within these cameras is a great solution for the pro sports shooter, the landscape shooter, the portrait shooter, and the mom who wants something more than her iPhone (which we will cover tomorrow).  As much as I love shooting Large and Medium Format, the DSLR just makes more sense in many of the situations in which I shoot.  I will continue to shoot it and hopefully add a new D800 to my kit if I play my cards right.

*Thanks to Garrett Smith and Ryan Wells for the camera loans

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