If you’re an amateur looking to upgrade to an SLR, then you need to know your lenses and accessories. First the lens — Nikon, Canon, Sigma continues to rule the optics world. Depending upon your interest — macro, portrait, street, landscape and wildlife — here are the lenses that will get you going.
Nikkor Ultra wide 16-35 mm F4 VR: designed for wide angle applications with dramatic perspectives this lens is a great value for money providing amazing clarity, contrast and colour, both in the stills or HD videos.
How much? Rs 1,09,950
Nikkor 70-200 mm F2.8 VR II: Nikon has had six other lenses earlier in the 80-200 mm series, but this one leads the chart in its overall performance and superior design. Brilliant optics, being comparatively lighter — it offers great flexibility to do handheld photography. With VR II, it offers shooting shutter speeds up to four stops slower. Its silent wave motor is awesome, especially for wildlife photographers. Its dust and moisture protective cover is useful too.
How much? Rs 1,15,200
AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 85 mm F/3.5 G E VR: For an amateur, experimentation is the key. This macro from Nikon gives 1:1 magnification at 28 cm minimum focus distance. With its VR II feature and slow shutter speeds, this is an ideal lens for shooting small movie clips. It is adaptable with most DSLRs.
How much? Rs 22,950
Canon 16-35 mm F/2.8 L II USM: One of the top lenses, this one is built for accuracy, speed and great image quality. With internal focusing, Ultra Sonic Monitor and excellent auto focus system, it produces natural background blur when shooting at wider apertures.
How much? Rs 64,500
Canon 70-200 2.8 L IS USM-II: This focal length is a favourite for every genre of photographer. Compared to its earlier USM I series, with 23 elements in 19 groups, it also has the minimum focusing distance of less than 4 ft at all zoom settings. This lens is also compatible with Lens Extender EF 1.4x II, EF 2x II.
How much? Rs 1,75,000
Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8L Macros IS USM: This lens could very well be the essential multipurpose lens; be it for the tight telephoto portrait for a close-up macro subjects or hybrid Image Stabilisation (IS) which will compensate effectively for camera shake. This unique technology and ultra low dispersion elements with circular aperture offers certain advantages — at longer focus distances the stabiliser gives a 4-stop advantage, reducing to 2 stops at 1x magnification, up to 4 stops at longer shooting distances. For both amateurs and professionals, especially for wedding photographers, this is a handy lens in the bag. Under non-tripod conditions and shooting extreme close-ups, it reduces camera shakes. The hybrid technology is of course the first of its kind in the SLR range.
How much? Rs 70,000
Sigma 24-70 mm F2.8 EX DG Macro: Autofocus lens incorporates HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor)— a quieter and speedy AF with full time focusing ability and nice finish in construction. Compared with other lenses of similar range, this is much lighter. Its 9 blade diaphragm helps in creating pleasing blurs and good landscape pictures. It is not as sharp as the originals from Nikon, Canon. This lens is available in both mounts.
How much? Rs 31,000
Sigma 70-200 mm F2.8 EX DG APO Macro HSM II: This range is a must for every kind of amateur work and easily adaptable for most DSLR cameras. The macro feature points towards the closer-than-usual minimum focusing distance of about 1m, which is 1.5 m in other lenses. Super multi-coating reduces flare and ghosting that tends to occur when mounted on Nikon and Canon bodies. How much: Rs. 42,000
Sigma 105 mm F2.8 EX DG Macro: It focuses down to 1:1 magnification at a close focusing of 12.3 inches. It reduces the flare and reflections from the image sensor and corrects chromatic aberration. This is also equipped with a focus limiter switch that limits the AF range that improves the speed and accuracy of autofocus.
How much? Rs 23,500.
Software for going pro
Adobe Photoshop — Adobe is the first name for photo editing and indeed one of the best in the industry. With unlimited features that helps manipulate, edit, create workflow and get your creative side to a new high, Photoshop also works easily for all kinds of raw shooting. Trial version available on www.adobe.com MRP – Rs 17,600
GIMP 2.0 – meaning GNU image manipulation program is an open source software editor for image enhancement and works on all major operating systems. Much like Photoshop, it has unlimited features that help edit your JPEG, TIFF and RAW images from any SLR camera. Since it is an open source, it is cheaper than Photoshop and provides most of the features for professional editing. For beginners, GIMP offers all the image manipulation tools they need, most of Photoshop’s core functions while improving further in its performance. Free downloads available. Check http://www.gimp.org/
Pixelmator –With its intuitive and graphic user interface, Pixelmator is for those Mac favorites and an affordable alternative to highly priced Photoshop. Serious professionals can debate, but it’s functions and performance emerge from the shadows in key areas including its iPhoto browser functionality. Although it doesn’t have Image Ready or Bridge tools, it has array of editing tools and features that range from simple touch ups to full optimized level controls, adjustments and layering tools. Downloads are available at www.pixelmator.com .
Next week, we’ll talk about photography accessories.
Bhaskar is an award-winning natural history photographer. His expeditions have taken him across deserts, rainforests, mountain passes and the Arctic tundra.