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26th July by Josh Janssen
But there is something to be said about using good equipment. Lecturers in photography and film seem to spread the message not to focus on the equipment. It is easy to blame poor photos or video on bad equipment. In fact, a lot of amateurs do. They spend way too much time worrying about the camera that they want, that they will never be able to afford, rather than going out and taking photos and using the resources at hand.
Its the obsession over equipment, which has resulted in many poor student films. But that doesn’t mean equipment isn’t important.
It was the introduction of an inexpensive lens that changed my complete understanding of photography and opened up my creativity.
Before being introduced to the 50mm 1.8 a few years back, I had only ever used a zoom lens. If anyone had mentioned that there was a lens that you couldn’t zoom, my first impression would be that it was inferior.
Dollar for dollar, prime lenses will give you a better image than its zoom lens equivalent.
I have used the 50mm 1.8 lens on multiple projects, as well as using it exclusively on a 10 day trip in Thailand. Its an extremely light lens, which makes it easy to carry around.
What makes prime lenses special, are their ability to have extremely wide apertures (low f stop). Normally, in a zoom lens, the widest aperture you will be able to get is 2.8. With Prime lenses, you can get inexpensive lenses that have an aperture at 1.8. Aperture helps determine how much light the camera lets into its sensor. The wider the aperture, the more light that can get into the sensor.
People will generally categorise a photograph as looking ‘professional’ if it has depth, in particular a shallow Depth of Field (DoF). In the early days of taking photographs, I would always try and get the ‘blurry background’. With a prime lens, you can achieve this with its wide aperture. ( e.g 1.8, 1.4, or 1.2 aperture)
All these factors can take your photography to a much higher level. Although skills and creativity are still required, using the right equipment will make it possible.
What I would suggest is buying a 50mm 1.8 lens. This lens is the most inexpensive prime lens across most brands. This Nikon and Canon 50mm lens will cost around $150.
The one thing that you will need to consider is that this lens requires exact focus. Because of the wide aperture, if a person moves their head even a few inches, you will have to refocus. I would recommend using the lens when doing portraiture as you have some control over the subject.