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  • William Hunton

Sharp Photos Fuzzy Ideas

There is an understandable but unnecessary emphasis on lens sharpness, that is sometimes associated with acquiring the latest and greatest camera body upgrade. That's fine. Go for it if you have the money. I don't have lots of spare cash to spend.

It is spring in full bloom in metropolitan Atlanta. My front yard is uncharacteristically beautiful right now. I have lots of azaleas blooming, a couple dogwoods, and other assorted plants. They are giving it their all in lush colors, fully saturated without any assistance from me and Photoshop.

We have had rain for two days, and I took the break in the storms to capture a few raindrops. Not every picture has to be "a r t". Photograph for fun.

The photograph above is rather mediocre, in my opinion, and it is unedited. It comes directly from the RAW "digital negative" (Nikon NEF). I took it *hand held*, on a Nikon D5600, AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor ED 55-200mm F4-5.6G ($250.00 list price, new on Nikon USA site - I did not pay that much), and a Nikon 4T closeup lens, which screws to the front of the zoom lens. I have had the 4T for many years, and it currently sells for $65.00 at KEH. I have seen similar closeup attachments new at other sellers. I have a 60mm f2.8 Micro-Nikkor, my sharpest lens, but I like the zoom and 4T combo. The 60 f2.8 is great for "scanning" film negatives.

This setup of a 4T on a inexpensive zoom lens is hardly top of the line for macro work. However, it does perform. It is also very light weight. Weight is important when you are hiking and photographing Nature.

I buy my equipment used, and as least expensively as possible. In fact, I cannot recall a camera I have bought new, except a simple point and shoot. I buy each piece of equipment for performance and its return on investment. Shutterstock routinely accepts and sells my photographs, just to put this whole thing in context.

Let's look more closely at the photograph. The screen shot below is of the Development screen in Adobe Lightroom Classic. I used the cropping tool to zoom in on a small area of the original photograph.

Now, check the unedited detail in the cropped portion of this, my mediocre photograph of an azalea blossom. The photo should enlarge well also, maybe 16x20 inches or more, depending on viewing distance.

What do we see in this tiny segment of the original photo, taken with an aps-c, crop sensor, consumer oriented camera and one of the least expensive zoom telephotos Nikon offers? I see tiny, tiny details in the flower petal. Again, I applied no sharpening or other edits. Is it sharp enough?

Point being, don't stress over equipment. Don't be concerned that you do not have the very latest, or "best" Nikon beast (or Canon beast) you can buy. Besides being expensive, they also weigh a lot. Instead focus (pun) on getting the basic functionality you need to get the job done. Then learn how to use it. Then use it and enjoy it until it burns out.

My other opinion: Nikon entry level equipment is exceptionally capable. Exceptionally capable. I believe bang for buck it is better than any brand out there, and I have used Canon, Contax, Leica and others. The more expensive gear may provide additional features, but for most people they will not make any better photographs.

It is much, much better to have sharp ideas made with inexpensive equipment, than fuzzy ideas made with the sharpest lenses.

I hope this blog draws comments from the Canon lovers and others. We can trade stories much more interesting than Toyota vs. Nissan drivers I betcha.

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