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It Lies in the Lens

Posted Jun 23 2010 5:01pm

Oh, boy – work kept me busy, busy today! And a good thing, too. If I’d had a repeat of Monday I’m not sure if I would have been able to stay. Yikes!

I’ve been getting a lot of camera questions lately (they seem to come in waves!) and thought I’d knock out a few answers today.

The answer to the number one question? No, the camera I use for my food shots is not a really nice camera.

Which one looks like the better camera to you?

Well, in all fairness – it’s not a bad camera. I can’t say enough good things about it given all its’ been through and the fact it’s only a 6 megapixel camera. It’s an old been-through-hell-and-back Nikon D40 , that I bought…four years ago?

But, you know what matters more than the camera itself?

Your lens.

So, today I finally took some comparison pictures.

Nikon d40 on left, d90 on right.

Admittedly, in the first demonstration, my exposure is off in the first (too hot/overexposed – basically, too bright) in the granola area, and my focus is off in the second. But besides those driver errors, isn’t the first photo much more visually appealing? Sure – it’s got a lot to do with personal preference, but when it comes to food photos, I much prefer a shallow depth of field.


In your camera, you control your exposure by using aperture (or f-stop) and shutter speed. Imagine the aperture as your iris – the wider it is, the more light there is being let in, and in turn, less depth of field. Depth of field, of course, referring to how much depth is photographed, how far in the distance you can see. You’re probably all more familiar with shutter speed – but that’s the garage door. A fast shutter speed lets less light in but captures fast action…and a slow shutter speed allows for a lot of light to be let in, ideal for night-time but not sports or the like.


A brief review?

  • Wide aperture (a small f-number, like f/2, which is where it can get confusing)= shallow depth of field, ideal for close-ups, lots of light let in.
  • Small aperture (a large f-number, like f/16)=lots of depth (ideal for landscapes), little light let in.
  • Fast shutter speeds are ideal for situations with lots of light and fast action.
  • Slow shutter speeds are ideal for still objects in low-light situations, or for use with a small aperture to photograph a landscape. Additionally, slow shutter speeds are tons of fun to play with when it comes to light graffiti!

Not the best example, but I wanted to use one of my own.

So, what’s all this have to do with anything?

Well, the only reason the photos from my hinky-dink d40 look better than the photos from my d90 are because of the lenses.

Yep – the camera body can only do so much. You’re better off getting a middle-of-the-road dSLR and investing in some quality glass, than shooting with a top-of-the-line dSLR and shooting with a kit lens. Don’t get me wrong – the sensor is still very much important! But my point is, don’t skimp on the lens. The d90 is far from top-of-the-line. But, I do plan on investing in some nice lenses to outfit it with.h


My d40 is outfitted with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens. Hardly the best lens out there – but they don’t call it a nifty fifty for anything. Shooting with your aperture wide open is often not your best bet to get a really sharp image, however – and so I’m often shooting at f/2.2.

The d90, however? Just shot with a kit-lens…an 18-105mm f/5.6. I like the lens for horsey-stuff…but really guys…

50mm lenses are so much fun. Portraiture, fine art…it can do it all!

So, that’s enough for one night. We’ll pick up on this again soon :)

What else did I do today?!

Why, carried on a new tradition, of course!

Roasted broc & red pepper, feta, hummus, tomato paste

I definitely missed my seitan (guess what’s going down tomorrow?) but I can’t get over this combo. And I love tomato paste on sammiches.

Oikos and a pluot. Or a plum. I'm still not sure.

I tried another Oikos flavored greek yogurt with my last coupon from Stonyfield. I tried honey last time and really liked it – but also realized that that’s something I could do myself. Which is ironic, because considering the amount of strawberries we’ve had (and I just finished) I could make strawberry greek yogurt, too.

Even more ironic is the fact that I tend to hate strawberry flavored things, but always forget this since I like actual strawberries so much.

Luckily, this Strawberry Oikos was not a part of that group – it was great! Likely because it’s all real, and nothing artificial. Strawberry is like banana in that it can easily taste too fake. But, Oikos uses all natural and organic ingredients, which lent itself to a great strawberry experience ;) I don’t know why I don’t have yogurt with lunch more often.

Probably because of my pretzel addiction.

Such is life.

A homemade granola bar was also snacked on, and an unpictured banana too.

I figured by now, you know what bananas look like. although I know I never get sick of them ;)

I also came home to my new coffee shipment, and was really excited to try iced coffee.

Green mountain , you sort of let me down, but I can’t say I blame you.

Don’t get me wrong – the coffee’s the same Green Mountain I know and love – but I was expecting some sort of unrealistic miracle that a hot coffee brewer would somehow produce an ice cold french vanilla cofffee.

No dice.

Rather, they encourage you to brew it at a smaller setting over ice. So, you’re basically melting half the ice, but it’s okay since you’re brewing at a smaller setting.

At least they know how to market to people, because I was sold. Still, it’s not bad – but it’s the same K-cups with different directions. No grudges, and I still love you.

I was glad to be able to come home to a nearly-prepared dinner tonight, as I was hangry! A black bean cutlet was nuked real quick, as well as a sweet potato. I mixed together some maple dijon and apple BBQ sauce for dippage, as well as some apple rum walnut conserve and nuts.

So, does anyone have any specific camera questions? I’d love to talk more! I’ve hardly scraped the surface with this post :)

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