Saturday, February 09, 2019

Prime Lens - Back to Basics

A kit lens makes you lazy. This is the first thing you learn when you step out of your comfort zone in photography.

I have been photographing with an 18-105mm lens for more than 10 years now and thanks to the convenience of zooming in and out, I had all but forgotten the basics of photography. I knew I needed to get back to the basics, to detox, to relearn, and a fixed-focus 'prime lens' seemed the best way forward.

The ones I could afford were shortlisted to the Nikkor 50mm 1.8 lenses which came in two types 'D' and 'G'.  The 'D' was a older version without an inbuilt focusing motor, and it came for less than half the price of the 'G'. Since I was using a camera body that already had a motor the former seemed better value for money - especially when it came at an an extra discount during the recent Amazon Sale.

So last month, I set aside my kit lens for the first time, and twisted into its place a brand new 50mm 1.8D. The Nikon D90 now felt like a strange new animal - lighter, faster and sharper than ever before, and yet completely unfamiliar. Despite clocking nearly 50,000 'shutter actuations' on the D90, I realised that  knew very little about the nuts and bolts, the basics of photography: focal lengths, F-stops and apertures.

They say the 50mm lens shows you the world the way your eyes see it, by "rendering images that closely match the true perspective of the human eye". Sounds nice... but when you look through the 50mm lens for the first time you feel like a horse with blinkers plodding through a tunnel. The world shrinks. Instead of just zooming you now need to use your feet and composition becomes a bit of a struggle.

The 50mm lens is also a bit puzzling with all its numbers and dials packed into a tiny ring. So here is a collection of links that has helped me re-learn photography -

Understanding Exposure and F-Stops:
  • Expert Photography -

And just in case you too are weighing the pros and cons of a prime lens, these might help -

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