PHOTOOG Photography writings by Olivier Giroux

Photography 101

I'm in the process of writing an approachable, no-nonsense guide to improve the photography of beginners.  My advice will probably surprise some: leave the camera in charge, but learn to avoid pitfalls.

Here are the articles in the order they appeared on the blog:

  • Check your results in the field
  • Master the half-press
  • Don't use the picture modes
  • Motivation for artificial light
  • Select lenses to results

    Lost in Yellowstone, 2005.

    Comments (8) Trackbacks (0)
    1. Looks more like Yellowstone to me. . .

    2. Dear Olivier,Thank You for precise cogent” Outines” of basic and most useful photographic concepts..I have been employing a DSLR since the Canon 10D and went from there to 20D ,Nikon D80 and Nikon D300.However I am in my “Sixth Decade ” and camera and lens weight has become a problem .I am largely self taught and am wondering wether my solution might lie in a lighter camera with one or two prime lenses(I now have a VR 18-200].I Love to take travel and street photography.I recently tried and bought the Panasonic G1 great but no joy in low light or with rapid subjects.Will the new Nikon d7000 be much lighter -have a better Dynamic Range and work well with a 35mm and/or 50mm prime .Dust reduction today seems to work on DSLRS. Help … an aging but ethusiastic photographer .Suggestions Welcome. Best Alan -New Mexico

    3. Hi Alan,

      The D7000 is about 150g lighter than the D300. It’s probably not significantly better than the D300 on any other metric, so a modest improvement.

      I can’t tell from your question if you mean “35/50mm equivalent” when you say “35/50mm”. I’ll presume you do, and I’ll use “mm-e” below to refer to this equivalence below.

      There are several 50mm-e primes that are small and light, the first one that comes to mind is the Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.8G. It’s not going down in history as a particularly memorable lens but it is quite serviceable and extremely cost efficient. It’s probably the smallest and lightest lens of its class as well – it sounds like an obvious choice given the goals. Before commiting to trade your D300 for a D7000, you might want to try this lens on the D300 first and see if that is enough for weight loss and maybe stop there.

      Unfortunately there are almost no 35mm-e primes for DX, and none that are light and/or small. I’m thinking of the Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G and the Zeiss 25mm ZF.2… neither are easy choices for a kit going on any kind of diet. You could still get the ancient Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D, which is small and probably inexpensive. From my perspective it’s slow and of underwhelming quality, but it’s faster and very likely better than the 18-200mm zoom at 24mm, and will benefit a lot from the reduced DX frame size.

      If you didn’t mean “equivalent” and you meant literally 35/50mm then things are simpler. I answered the question for 35mm. The answer for 50mm is easy : just get the Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G and don’t look back. It’s excellent, small, light, and moderately priced for a lens.

      Hope this helps.



    4. Thank you for your thoughful and knowledgeable reply.I did mean the “equivalent” as I am exclusively using DX Format. Interesting that “sensor”abilities have not made much progress in the lat few years but “Glass” may very well do the trick.I shall be reading your posts in all catagories as you update and will be especially interested in your Photo 101 entries.I realize that for you this is a selfless exercise but it is most useful to many of us. I saw your Hawaii photos and indeed your composition and spot on sharpness are remarkable.What lens? Best Alan

      • You’re welcome Alan, feel free to ask questions as comments on any post.

        Sensors are constantly getting better but they have been basically “good enough” for me for a few years. I think there’s a lot of people using very slow zooms with, e.g. a f/5.6 max aperture, that mis-attribute their problems to the camera when it’s the lens that’s unreasonably slow. It’s almost impossible to find a prime lens slower than f/2.8 – those are the bargain-bin prime lenses – and all of them offer better quality on top of the speed.

        So yes, I think looking at lenses is the way to go if that’s the position you’re in.

        In Hawaii I was using a D80 with a Nikon 70-200 VR-1 and a Sigma 10-20. The VR-1 was spectacular on APS-C sensors but I had to get rid of it when I moved to the D700.

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