My brother-in-law, Vinod, was in India recently visiting his folks, including his grand parents. Newly initiated into the world of digital photography, he had asked me what camera to buy. I get question a lot, as you can imagine. Fair enough. For someone starting out I think one of the best dSLRs out there is the Nikon D80. It performs fairly well using high ISO (ie. you can shoot in lower light than you think) and handles reasonably well given its data transfer is to a SD card.
So, Vinod bought a D80 and then wondered what lens to buy with it. It took me a nanosecond to recommend the Nikon 35mm f/2.0 lens. It’s small, fast (uses a large aperture, again negating the need to bring out a flash) and best of all not very expensive. I eschew zoom lenses for beginners and in fact I am heading back to the land of prime lenses myself, because it greatly disciplines one in the art of composition. The zooming done in fixed focal length lenses is your feet. Move from one position to the next, to capture a different perspective of what you are seeing. Soon, moving into a scene and working a situation that is developing in front of you does become intuitive unless you are just tired or plain lazy.
Anyway, I am glad Vinod took my advice. He eventually bought a Nikon SB-600 flash unit as well, but check the image below that he created using available light. Do not doubt for a second that this was a fluke. It came from weeks of practice and persistence. And you can bet he has other amazing images like this one in his archive now. The kids (he has twins) will be so thrilled one day when they see what their parents have created for them. I can’t stress enough the importance of documenting your family life in new and interesting ways. It ain’t easy, but it sure ain’t rocket science either.
Here Vinod’s grand father cradles his great-grand daughter, Vera.