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Take Better Photos with your DSLR

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Take Better Photos with your DSLR

26th July by

Whenever technology and creativity meets, people are always quick to point out that its your great ideas, concepts and skills that makes your product unique; not the equipment you use. I understand why people say it: because its half true.

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.

Introducing the 50mm 1.8 Lens

Now, it doesn’t matter whether you shoot with a Canon DSLR or a Nikon. This lens is going to give you fantastic results.

There are these things called prime/fixed focal lenses

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.

Prime lenses give great results for an affordable price

Dollar for dollar, prime lenses will give you a better image than its zoom lens equivalent.

Prime Lenses are light

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.

I can shoot indoors without a flash!

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.

Blurry backgrounds!

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.

Ready to take great photos?

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.

Make a Comment/ but be nice!

  • http://www.CravingTech.com/ Michael Aulia @CravingTech.com

    Thanks, Josh!

    “If anyone had mentioned that there was a lens that you couldn’t zoom, my first impression would be that it was inferior.”
    I had this same impression before. My good friend lends me her Nikkon and I thought the other “non-zoom” lens is useless and put it away.

    Not sure what the aperture is but I’m sure it’s better than the zoom lens. Should double check it after writing this comment

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, give it a try, Michael!

      I even get better results with my $150 prime lens, than photos with my $1,500 zoom lens!

  • Mathew Hozdecky

    I dare say, Top write up! I’ve been wondering about a prime lens for a little while now. This has sold me on one ^_^

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Mathew :)

      If you buy one, let me how you go with it!

  • Dalatingod

    This is a fantastic article. I own a Canon digital SLR and didn’t know about the existence of this , that I can only call, AWESOME PRIME lenses.
    Thank you Josh …. :-)

    • Anonymous

      No worries :)

      Hope you give it a go with your SLR.

      Let me know how you go!

  • http://www.facebook.com/robyward Robert Ward

    love blurry backgrounds makes the subject look so much sharper

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, its amazing how much a bit of shallow depth of field can add to the overall quality of an image!

  • Bridget

    This was really helpful, I hope to explore DSLR HD video territory soon enough. :)
    Also, I think you should write a blog on your VCE Media Production and your experience producing it over your final year of school. I found it on the Lesson Bucket website and I think most VCE students would find it most beneficial if you perhaps wrote about the process with some tips and advice. Just an idea? :) Thanks anyhow !

    • Anonymous

      Hey Bridget,

      Thanks for the comment. Can definitely put a post together on the topic!

      Thanks for reading!

  • http://twitter.com/thisistran Tran

    Similar to you, before I bought my DSLR, I was totally obsessed with the zoom on [compact] cameras, haha. If there was little zoom, I thought very little of it. My current compact camera has 12x optical zoom; silly really and only useful if I was a stalker or something. But then, I started using prime lenses on the DSLR, and that’s pretty much all I use.

  • Yadya77

    I’ve yet to own a prime but I have a wish list. A 50, 85, 100 or 135.