22
Aug
07

Lens differences

First of all, built-in flashes on SLRs are purely for fill light outdoors. They have many limitations including poor speed, short range, and the inability to point them anywhere but forward. Second, the zoom lens that comes with most SLR kits, including mine, have low maximum apertures, making it impossible to shoot in available light situations without flash. Fixed flashes cause harsh shadows and high foreground/background contrast. My indoor photography has been mediocre because I’ve had to raise the ISO to levels that create unacceptable graininess. My choices were to purchase a Speedlight flash ($250) or a lens with a larger maximum aperture ($109). I chose the latter, but not for the price difference alone. I’ve read that using a fixed prime lens like the 50mm helps to garner a deeper appreciation of composition. So far it is working.

The kit lens that came with the body is a 18-135mm f/3.5-f/5.6. That means that at 50mm the largest aperture is f/5. The above exposures are meant to compare the ability of each lens in an “available light” situation. Both exposures were made indoors, at night, on a tripod, and in a room with just a few incandescent lights. Also, they were both taken at 50mm, ISO 100, and 1 second shutter. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you which exposure goes with which lens (if you can’t figure it out simply look at the subjects).

The difference is drastic. My new lens gathers a few times the light that the kit lens does. This will allow for faster shutter speeds when hand held and more depth of field while on a tripod. The zoom lens is useful for sports, nature, and some specific wide angle photography including daytime landscape, but the 50mm is one of the best portrait lenses you can buy for this camera. It focuses at just a foot and a half so it handles macro pretty well also. I’ll be leaving this lens on my D80 most of the time. Although I plan to purchase a proper flash, the 50mm f/1.8 has postponed that eventuality for the time being.

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1 Response to “Lens differences”


  1. 1 RB
    August 24, 2007 at 1:15 am

    Wow! That is an incredible difference. I’m jonesing for a dslr now…course I have to wait cause the plasmas just came in!!

    Anyways, smart choice in buying this lense over the flash. I imagine this lense will also offer an interesting DOF for daytime landscape also.


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