D-SLR Photography In Focus Day 4

Thank you for coming back for Day 4 of our series. I have been working behind the scenes to deliver these posts to you and I can tell you that each guest has put in a huge amount of thought and work into bringing you their incites. Please enjoy another good read from Sue of  Taylor Tattle.

Thank you Lorraine for the opportunity to post today with an overview of the D-SLR's and lenses that I currently own. 


I recall in vivid detail the purchase of my first D-SLR.  We were on a family outing, which included a boat trip across the Dubai creek, taking us to the myriad of shops that make up the souk.  Here you can purchase items ranging from spices to electronic goods; however we left that day with a Nikon D40x camera (bargaining courtesy of Richard, my BIL!!) as my Christmas present.  I was so excited for Christmas that year!

I have since upgraded to a Nikon D90, adding more lenses along the way, which I would also like to introduce to you today.  I have included current prices taken from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk as a guide.  Prices in Dirhams would be confusing, plus cameras are much more expensive over here (sadly).

Choosing which D-SLR to purchase is not an easy task; there are countless models out there which seem to change with alarming regularity.  If you are considering Nikon, I can suggest a few options.  Firstly, if specs are important, there's a cool feature here that allows you to pick different models and compare the specs of each.  It can even be printed as a handy-dandy reference guide.  Ken Rockwell is also a useful resource, since he tests cameras and writes from personal experience.  Ken also provides downloadable user guides for a nominal (although voluntary) donation of $5, which I highly recommend.

I have been very happy with my purchases, and would like to introduce each of them briefly today.

Nikon D40x

The body retails around £250 ($618).  I have found this to be a fantastic little camera.  The photos are very sharp, it is lightweight and small enough to carry around with ease.    My purchase came with a kit lens (18 - 55 mm), which (according to Ken Rockwell) has a far better performance than many of the more expensive lenses.

Nikon D90

Retailing at £600 ($899), this is obviously going to be a more advanced camera.  In my mind, it is worth the extra money as you can see the difference in the quality of shots.  Continuous shooting is faster, it has more in camera image editing, almost double the shots per battery charge, and live view shooting to name a few.  It also has the added feature of movie capability.  Although I have to be honest, this is not something I have yet tried!

For me, the only downside of this camera is its weight, particularly if you team it with the heavier lenses.  It becomes uncomfortable to lug around if you are thinking of taking it on vacation for example.  However, if you are more of an "at home" photographer, then this would not be an issue.

My choice of lenses has been very much dictated by a number of factors, including the class I was taking, what I wanted to photograph and what came in the kit with the body.


LENS 18 - 55mm

AF-S NIKKOR 18 - 55 mm

Current retail price: £80 ($120).  As mentioned before this is a truly great lens, staying sharp even with close up shots.  Highly recommend for everyday shooting.


AF-S NIKKOR 18 - 105 mm VR

Current retail price: £238 ($349).  One again, a more costly lens (included as a kit with the D90) that produces really sharp photos, but also has the added advantage that it is great for low light.  A rather bulky lens though, which adds considerably to the overall weight and bulkiness of the camera.


LENS 55 - 200 mm

AF-S NIKKOR 55 - 200 mm VR

Current retail price: £157 (reduced from £300, wow!); $169 (reduced from $250)

I chose this lens primarily because I wanted an affordable zoom lens to take to Alaska for photographing whales, icebergs and all the wildlife that roams the Tundra.  I love this lens; it takes sharp photos, and creates soft backgrounds effortlessly.  Vibration reduction is also an excellent feature, especially when you are taking shots at these distances. Naturally for closer shots you have to move a distance from your subject, so it can't be considered an all purpose lens.  For the price, I am more than happy to change lenses as I need, rather than paying twice for a longer focal length.


LENS 50 mm


Current retail: £439 ($219).  Without a doubt my favourite lens.  Most often considered a portrait lens, however I love it so much for the stunning bokeh effects that can be achieved.  Truly one of the reasons I wanted a D-SLR in the first place!

I hope that I have been able to give you a little insight into some of the choices out there for Nikon D-SLR's, briefly demonstrating what each of the lenses are capable of.  Please feel free to ask questions, and while I am no expert, I will gladly try and answer!

Picture frames were from here

Thank you Sue! I am excited about the links you gave as I think they will be very helpful and I enjoyed seeing first hand what your lenses can do.  What lovely pictures.

Sue is willing to answer questions so now it is over to all of you and don’t forget to join us tomorrow for Day 5 with  Valerie from Pie For Breakfast...An Approach Toward Life.


Margie S said…
Sue, great information! Do you ever bring both cameras, each with a different lens and then you can just switch cameras and not lenses? You could have your husband be your camera caddy! Are both the DSLRs you have full frame?
Cheri said…
I know the 50 mm is a fixed focal point, but what can it do that one of the other lenses (say the 18-55mm) set on 50 would not do? What is the advantage? I have a 50 mm lens and really don't know how to use it!
Linda said…
Great article Sue! Love margie's idea of having Kev be your camera caddy! Cheri, I think you get a better lens if you go for fixed focal length as in the 50mm. (That's what I want next Is that right Sue? When we had SLR film cameras our fixed kens was definately the best quality. Did anyone else have film SLR? back in the day we used to do our own B&W developing, turining our littlest bedroom into a dark room with huge pieces of black plastic up to the windows!
Margie S said…
@Cheri - Linda is right that a prime lens has one piece of glass so less room for softness vs zooms that have pieces of glass interacting - if that makes sense? The other factor to consider is the maximum aperture (that number with the f, i.e., f/1.4 or f/2.8 or f/5 - you will see it on the side of your camera). Most zooms have a higher maximum aperture (smaller opening - doesn't let in as much light so shutter speed must be slower) than prime lenses, therefore they are slower than prime lenses that have a lower maximum aperture (larger opening to let in light so shutter speeds can be faster). Let me know if that isn't clear.

The 50mm lens is great for portraits and low light situations (and a ton of other situations). The lower the number gets, the better it performs in low light. BUT, it also has a much smaller depth of field (area that is in focus) so you have less wiggle room to miss the spot where you want to focus.

My suggestion is to put your 50mm on your camers, switch to aperture priority mode and start playing around.
scrappysue said…
Margie, thanks for fielding the questions; I am not terribly good on the technical side, I just took the recommendation of my teacher at the time, especially as I generally shoot indoors (unless on vacation) and the light is low. I can even get great shots with the 50mm lens in the kitchen that has no windows.

For some reason I do struggle carrying the heavier cameras around; maybe I should suggest to Kev that he carry one of them (mmm ... maybe not!).

I checked about the full frame too Margie; it seems only the D700, and D3 series are full frame. I would be interested to hear why this is an advantage?

Thanks for the comments everyone!
Great information! Thank you!

Thank you, Lorraine for putting this together!
Jules said…
Great post Sue, and amazing photos!
Lorraine said…
I think it is amazing! These kadies have all given a unique side to the art! So much information. I think it will take me a long time to digest it all.
Anonymous said…
Hi Lorraine - this is my second attempt to leave a response - Hi Sue - great post - and fabulous photos - I love the quality of light that you get in Dubai!

I would also endorse Ken Rockwell's site; he is definitely one of our go to resources too!

To tackle the full/ 3/4 format question. If you imagine the sensor is a negative - in the full format camera it is larger by 25%ish. This means that as you enlarge and print the image it holds more information and the detail will stay sharper than that of a 3/4 format.
This has an effect on your lenses - A 10mm (wide angle) will perform as if were a 15mm - not as wide as you were expecting. However you also get that benefit with a telephoto lens and a 100mm will perform like a 150mm. That is why the 50mm prime lens is so great a a portrait lens as it actually works at 70/80mm.

I hope that's a clear explanation - let me know if you have any more questions

It's Marie but I'm trying anonymous! - to see if it will let me post.
Valerie said…
Sue, I enjoyed your article and your photos are amazing. My 50mm lens is my favorite too! I use it most of the time.

P.S. Love those frames you used. Off to purchase them (@ 50% off)!
scrappysue said…
Thanks Marie, I appreciate your posting this info on my blog, and glad you got it to work here too! Do you know if there is a huge difference in sharpness, i.e. do I need to save up for a full frame. I am very keen on becoming a better photographer!
Sharyn said…
Great info Sue and thanks for the links. Kev would make a fab caddy..lol.
Lizzie said…
This is a great post, Sue. I found it very useful, especially as I'm kind-of wondering if I should invest in a DSLR and, if so, how much I should save up first!

I did take photography for a while, at art college, but I wasn't that good at the technical stuff. I just couldn't seem to grasp all the numbers, figures, ins-and-outs... I understood the basics of what the camera and lenses did, I could grasp ideas about light, colour and framing shots etc (they all apply in other areas of art anyway); it was just the specific tecchie camera stuff that got me muddled.
I still find it confusing - I only understood about 1/4 of the responses in the comments here... I'm not stupid usually, but seem to have a non-photographer's mind!

Still, your post was very helpful and I'll think about DSLR carefully. Thank you!

Popular Posts