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Photography Question 
Tara R. Swartzendruber
 

Nikon camera upgrade


I've been operating an in-home studio for 2 years now with good success. I'd like to upgrade and am looking for advice.

I have a nikon d80 with a 18-135 lens. I'm reading reviews on the D300 and D700 and also looking at other lens choices. I do in-studio and outdoor photography of people (babies, kids, large families, etc...) and would like to get into weddings in the future.
My main reasons for looking to change are the noise at ISO's above 200 and the soft focus I get at aperatures wider than 5.6 (lens issue?). I would love the soft focus of a fixed 1.8 lens but also want to be able to keep multiple subjects in focus at one time.
So, I guess I'm just looking for some overall advice on a good camera and/or lens choice should I choose to upgrade.
I also of course want good detail and great image quality. I regularly print photos at 16x20 or larger for clients.


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1/3/2010 8:45:04 PM

 
Jeffrey R. Whitmoyer   I have the D300 and love it,however, I don't do people. Having said that, a friend has the D700 which he uses in his studio and for weddings and the results he gets are breathtaking. A lot of that is a matter of his style as it is with any photographer, but the camera is an excellent piece of equipment and the full frame sensor does make a difference in image quality. Regardless of which camera you go for, I'd keep the D80 as a second body and lens and purchase additional glass for the new camera if the budget allows.
Jeff


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1/4/2010 5:16:18 AM

 
Lynn R. Powers   Hi Tara,

I agree with Jeff 100%. The Nikon D700 is made for what you want to do. When you purchase this camera with a quality lens you will only cry twice.
1st-When you have to pay for it.
2nd- When you see the quality of the first 16X20 made with it. You will cry because because you didn't have this camera in the beginning.

It will go easily up to ISO 800 with excellent results. My Canon 5D is very acceptable up to ISO 1600.

Unfortunately you will also need new lenses. Buy quality and they won't let you down. Depending on how deep your studio is will determine which lens to use. The 50mm lens on a FF camera does not give you the best perspective for portraits. But they will work fine in a church. Unless you intentionally use something to soften a picture or you have a lens designed for soft focus all of your photos should be tack sharp.
An f1.8 lens used wide open has a very shallow depth of field, DOF, when used up close. Focus on a babies eyes while you are at the minimum focus distance and it's little non-existance nose ;-) will be blurry. Get 10 feet away and the DOF will be about 2 feet. That is when used wide open. Close the f stop and get greater DOF.

Lenses for head and shoulders or head shots would be 105mm-135mm. Full length I would recommend 85mm. For weddings a zoom lens in the 24-105 range.


Lynn


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1/4/2010 1:59:26 PM

 
Lynn R. Powers   Hi Tara,

I agree with Jeff 100%. The Nikon D700 is made for what you want to do. When you purchase this camera with a quality lens you will only cry twice.
1st-When you have to pay for it.
2nd- When you see the quality of the first 16X20 made with it. You will cry because because you didn't have this camera in the beginning.

It will go easily up to ISO 800 with excellent results. My Canon 5D is very acceptable up to ISO 1600.

Unfortunately you will also need new lenses. Buy quality and they won't let you down. Depending on how deep your studio is will determine which lens to use. The 50mm lens on a FF camera does not give you the best perspective for portraits. But they will work fine in a church. Unless you intentionally use something to soften a picture or you have a lens designed for soft focus all of your photos should be tack sharp.
An f1.8 lens used wide open has a very shallow depth of field, DOF, when used up close. Focus on a babies eyes while you are at the minimum focus distance and it's little non-existance nose ;-) will be blurry. Get 10 feet away and the DOF will be about 2 feet. That is when used wide open. Close the f stop and get greater DOF.

Lenses for head and shoulders or head shots would be 105mm-135mm. Full length I would recommend 85mm. For weddings a zoom lens in the 24-105 range.


Lynn


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1/4/2010 2:00:59 PM

 
Tara R. Swartzendruber   OK, I'm going to dig a bit deeper, especially to your response, Lynn. I'm very interested in the D700 (I'm already crying....I'm married to a farmer and I wonder why we both have to have expensive jobs!) But anyway, lenses....focusing on studio and outdoor shots....I really have to have something wider than an 85mm. I shot a lot at 28-55 in the studio when I have more than 1 person or for full body shots. My studio is only 17' front to back...factor in the paper, walls, etc... I can't get as far back as I would like so have to rely on a wider lens. But there are times I really want to zoom in too (often in the same shoot), so without changing lenses, my 18-135 works really good. BUT, it's a kit lens and I assume if I spend the $$ on the camera, I want a better lens to go with it..... So other thoughts? Would the 24-105 work for most situations? Or are fixed mm lenses sharper? I'm still a bit fuzzy on lenses.

ALSO, I know at least 2 photographers who exclusively use a fixed 1.8 lens and I don't see how they do it. From what I understand (and you stated again), nothing would be very sharp except perhaps the eye you focused on.... Am I missing something?

I guess I'm looking for some pretty specific lens recommendations that work with what I do now and are still great, sharp lenses.....

Thanks!!
~ Tara


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1/4/2010 2:29:00 PM

 
Lynn R. Powers   Tara,

This time I will try NOT to double post.:-) Also I am going to answer your questions from last to first.

My 70-200 f4 lens has a wide open f stop of f4 at all focal lengths. It can still be closed down to f22 with the aperture adjustment on the camera.
Many zoom lenses will go from f3.5 at the wide end to f5.6 at the full zoom end. Any zoom in between will change its minimum aperture.
Fixed lenses do not have the problem of changing focal lengths. The 1.8 85mm lens has it's widest aperture at f1.8 but the aperture can still be adjusted to f16 or 22 if desired. Lenses are rated by their widest aperture and are adjustable to the smaller f stops in the camera. Before digital cameras came out there was an aperture ring on the lens that you set for the desired f stop.

Your current camera is considered to be a cropped camera. This means the sensor is smaller than a 35m negative which is 24x36mm. The crop factor is considered 1.5x. The D700 is a full frame, FF, camera with a 24x36mm sensor. There is no crop factor to consider. You stated that most photos were taken between 28mm and 85mm. On a FF camera that would be equivelant to a 41mm and 127.5mm zoom range.
An 85mm lens on the D700 should let you take a full length photo from about 10 feet away. And a 135mm will give you a good head and shoulders photo.
The trick with the full length photo is to lower the camera to chest high, or a little lower, on the subject and keeping it pointed parralel to the floor. No pointing up or down. To make a short person look taller get a little closer and point the camera up but make sure the top of the background doesn't go through their head. LOL This is often doen with women to emphasize their legs as well as give the appearance of them being taller.

Prime lenses are generally sharper than zoom lenses. However if you purchase a high quality zoom the difference will be negligible when printed.

With a FF camera you will find a lot more background blur, bokeh, which will put more emphasis on the subject.

Good Luck,


Lynn


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1/4/2010 3:28:08 PM

 
Tara R. Swartzendruber   oh your explanation was just what I needed!
Sorry to be dense, but why does a Full frame camera differ in where you point the lens (i.e. at the chest of a person in a full length photo)?

Do you have a high quality zoom lens to recommend? I don't have unlimited funds, but I want to have a good idea where to start and work (backwards?) from there, if that makes sense!


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1/4/2010 6:53:21 PM

 
Jeffrey R. Whitmoyer   The difference isn't from one camera to the other, by using the chest as the reference point and having your camera square to the subject you will get a better picture. Having the camera at an angle to the subject can distort features such as the nose.


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1/4/2010 7:05:40 PM

 
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