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The Official Head-Case Photography Thread.


Knuckledragger
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I think for APS-C sized sensors, 6-8 MP is ideal, and for full frame 12-16MP. I have no interest in APS-H, frankly. Some wiggle room to crop is nice, but real point of significance here is pixel pitch. Part of the reason the Nikon D3, and D700 have such amazingly low noise at high ISOs is that they have a comparatively low pixel density.

Really, the megapixel race is at this point marketing bullshit. The areas where real improvement is needed is dynamic range and high ISO performance. Nikon has recently edged out Canon in both these areas. The D700 really is the ideal camera for me, except for one tragic flaw (it lacks a Canon lens mount.) I will be watching the reviews of the 5D mk II very closely. If it's dynamic range and high ISO (and auto ISO) are even close to Nikon's, it's clearly my next body. If the D700 bests it, I may seriously consider selling my entire Canon kit and going Nikon. This would be equivalent to Sprtizer going dynamic.

Seriously, there's one thing that will probably keep me in the Canon camp forever: L glass. My 17-40mm F/4L ultrawide is a dream. The 85mm F/1.2L is one of the greatest camera lenses, period. If the brand new 24mm F/1.4L II lives up to its promise, it will be glorious indeed. Nikon is either unwilling or unable to compete with Canon when it comes to fast primes.

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Nikon is either unwilling or unable to compete with Canon when it comes to fast primes.

I'd say Nikon doesn't care is the real reason. Post processing in the digital age seems to have made primes all but obsolete for anyone other than the purists. So they concentrate their efforts on making the best multi-use glass they can rather than on lenses they'll sell very limited numbers of.

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I'd say Nikon doesn't care is the real reason. Post processing in the digital age seems to have made primes all but obsolete for anyone other than the purists. So they concentrate their efforts on making the best multi-use glass they can rather than on lenses they'll sell very limited numbers of.

It is true that Nikon's kit lenses are much better than Canon's, particularly in their DX cropped sensor line. In the 1990s, Canon successfully stole the pro market away from Nikon with superior autofocus performance, and their line of L glass (both primes and zooms.) Nikon seemed to basically stop competing in this area. When the D3 came out last year, Nikon also announced a bunch of telephoto lenses aimed at the pro and sports world. Clearly, they want to get back in the game. I wonder if some decent fast primes will follow. Nikon used to make an excellent 28mm F/1.4 that was quite expensive new, and now commands Orpehus-like prices on the used market. The truth is Nikon is a much smaller company than Canon, and while their optical engineers are very clever, they don't have the resources for some of the ventures Canon does. I don't know about sales numbers, but Canon sells enough L primes to keep refreshing the line pretty regularly.

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What's the advantage of a prime lens, and this new one specifically? I wonder if I should get it.

Also how do you blur out a background in manual mode with a large object filling most of the frame? I know how to do it in non-manual macro mode of course but I still haven't figured out how to do it in manual. I'm using the Nikon D80 if that's relevant.

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The advantage of the 50 1.4 pictured above would be the f1.4. You'd be able to take non-flash pics due to the wide aperture that the lense is able to achieve. Also, primes are usually sharper than zooms (though some people say that's not the case these days).

As for blurring out the background in manual mode, it's the same as in other modes. If you're in Av or Tv, look at your settings. Put it the same in manual and you'll get the same results.

Easiest way is to play with your camera. Large aperture and close focus will achieve more blur. From there, play with your settings. Use a depth of field calculator to figure out how much of your subject is in focus.

Online Depth of Field Calculator

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As Laxx said, aperture is the main advantage prime lenses have over zooms. Discounting the two nutball F/2 zooms for the 4/3rds system, the fastest zooms are F/2.8. Most zooms start at F/3.5 or F/4 and shrink down F/5.6 at the long end. Constant aperture zooms, especially F/2.8 ones, are quite expensive. Wider apertures are possible with prime leneses, but they can be pricey too. Canon's 50mm F/1.8 is under $80, but it's built like a toy. The F/1.4 version is more than four times that. The 50mm F/1.2L is $1200, and IMJO, complety not worth it. The long-discontinued EF 50mm F/1.0L sells for more than an HE90 on the used market.

There are some very good primes that aren't bank-breakers. The EF 35mm F/2 ($250) is the best deal in the entire Canon lineup. The EF 85mm F/1.8 is also a steal, especially for photographers overly concerned with bokeh. If you don't know what that is, consider yourself among the sane. ;D Primes have several other optical advantages, they are often sharper than zooms, and usually have less distortion. Usually they are smaller and lighter as well.

Prime lenses are popular with skinflints, available light shooters, and pretentious photography snobs. I happen to be all three. There is something to be said for the fixed field of view a prime offers making one a better photographer -- or at least offering the potential for such growth.

Most very wide and and very long lenses are primes, though recently that has changed on the wide end (Nikon's 14-25mm F/2.8 is a really groundbreaking lens.) Lastly, there are all sorts of special purpose prime lenses: macros, fisheyes, tilt/shift, soft focus, etc etc.

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I can get two people in focus @ F/2 with my 35mm quite often. To a lesser extent, with my 50mm as well. Thusfar with the 85mm, I've had some difficulty getting one cat completely in focus @ F/2:

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This is one of those instances in which both the fore- and background are quite fuzzy.

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From Yosemite to Whitney

Morning in Tuloumne Meadows:

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Coming down Tioga Road:

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Vacation cottage at June Lake:

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Convict Lake and Laurel Mountain:

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Aspen signal the end of summer:

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Lone Pine Peak towers:

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And Mount Whitney beams:

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Waterfalls at Whitney Portal, despite the drought:

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Nightfall approaches this Sierra outpost:

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