Ahh, Camera porn. ‘Tis the guilty pleasure of most photographers.
I too, drool on expensive/pretty camera equipment time to time.
More often though, I find myself drooling at pictures. Really, really, pretty pictures. I then realise that although having expensive equipment helps getting the ‘look’ of the images, good images come down to lighting and composition. I then recognise that having limited set of equipment actually helps me specialise – learn how to use everything I have to get awesome results, instead of getting ‘usable’ results, flipping around all the options and equipments I have.
In this post, I am going to list my equipment, and discuss how I use them, and end it with a wish list.
As of now, possibly the best bang for buck DSLR body out there. The D7100 is even awesome-er, but the price is steep enough that some would say; “With that price, I may as well go full-frame with the D610 or the D700”.
The only real downside of this camera is the buffer – I found myself frustrated in the times that I needed to photograph action. With a Class 10 memory card though, I get by.
I do sometimes wish I had the D7100 or the D610 over my D7000, though. The reasons will be explained later in the post.
Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G
I love this lens when doing portraiture work.
Its sharpness suffers wide open with subjects more than 3~5 meters away. However, for most portrait composition, this lens is ‘sharp enough’ even wide open.
Honestly, this should be the go-to portrait lens for any DX shooters. The 70mm-ish equivalent framing effectively prevents fellows from getting too close to the subject, preventing the face-mushing distortion. The AF is fast enough to catch the subject before small movements/respiration throws them off focus. The nine, rounded, asymmetrical aperture blades create incredibly smooth, dream-like ‘swirly’ bokeh that is just incredible for the price. In fact, this lens is one of the reasons why I chose Nikon over Canon! A detailed post in my philosophy of gear choice is coming soon. It is also quite nice for outdoor events. I have to step backwards a bit for posed images, but candid photos from this lens look fantastic.
Nikkor 35mm f/1.8g DX
The poor man’s 50mm lens.
The equivalent framing is quite nice for indoor event and street photography. Wider, 28mm or 24mm lenses can get me better looking shots than the 35, but the 35mm overall has more versatility.
It is sharp enough wide open, and gives the best of both worlds. (Shallow enough depth of field+low light capability and good resolving power.)
My only beef with this lens is that its AF is quite often not good enough for candid/street photos, especially in the night.
Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6 DX VR
This is my least favourite lens. It can be reasonably sharp, but the colour rendition and contrast is not to my liking. I, in fact, dislike it so much that I have no sample image from this lens to offer.
However, it does give me the focal length that I sometimes need in the occasion that I am asked to shoot an outdoors/sporting event, so it does have a place in my bag sometimes.
Due to many of its shortcomings, there are some occasions that I wish I had the 70-200 f/4 VR. The ‘holy trinity’ f/2.8 produces excellent results, but it is WAYY too heavy and expensive for me.
Samyang 8mm f/3.5 fisheye
This lens has slightly different fish-eye characteristics than other diagonal optics. I like the ‘feel’ of the lens for both architecture and landscape. It’s micro contrast is also excellent, making it an excellent choice whenever an ultra-wide perspective is called for.
My photo wish list
Extra resolution is always nice to have. The AF is also very tempting.
Most important aspect, however, is the ergonomics.
Its grip feels A LOT nicer in the hand compared to the D7000, and it is particularly important for me because I prefer to keep the camera either in my hand or stowed away in my bag, rather than having it strapped around my neck or shoulders.
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 A
My prime lenses are by all means, not bad at all. However, the 35mm often gives me headaches. It is a good focal length for street photos, but the AF speed and accuracy makes me miss a bit too many shots. I have heard good things about the 30mm 1.4 A lens, and it is definitely an item of desire.
Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC
There are times where I wish I had a little bit wider angle when I’m out and about with the 35mm. There are also times where I wish I had a bit of reach to capture that subject that is good ten meters away from me. I often get tired of swapping lenses for different subjects in events, and I know with confidence that this Lens will serve me very well in both outdoors events and on the streets. Although I won’t have the same depth of field, the VC at least compensates for the loss of light compared to the prime optics.
Nikon 85mm f/1.8G
Oh. my. lord. This is one of the sharpest portrait lenses out there (within the price range, of course).
The 85mm focal length is also magical for chest-up and headshot portraits, which gives this lens a place in my wish list.
I also mentioned about a 70-200 f/4 lens, but I have neither the frequent use nor the likings for Telephoto focal lengths to justify purchasing such a lens.