“My Camera” – Dear Crissy and the Nikon D300
Crissy Page is a work-at-home writer and photographer, as well as the voice behind Dear Crissy, a blog that features poignant glimpses into her life as a Midwestern mom. Crissy has worked previously in photojournalism, and more recently as a self-employed lifestyle portrait and wedding photographer. You can connect with Crissy on her mom blog, or on Twitter @Crissy.
How Photography Found Me
I bought my first digital camera, a Casio QV-70, in 1999. A true dinosaur by today’s standards, it was a huge investment in a technology that was moving quicker than I could have imagined at the time, however, it was a purchase that ignited within me a life-changing passion for photography. By 2002 I owned my first DSLR, the Nikon D100, and upgraded recently to my current camera, a Nikon D300.
When I first became interested in photography, I explored self-portraiture and conceptual art. At that time I was painting often, and photography was simply another avenue of self-expression. During my late teens, and early 20′s, I was almost never without a camera in hand.
Immediately after graduating college (I earned a degree in English, by the way, not photography) I accepted a position at a local newspaper where I worked for a year as a photojournalist. I was handed a Nikon D1X, and a bag-chock full of high-end Nikon glass, which only furthered my love of the brand. I quickly learned that while a career in photojournalism could be exciting, and fulfilling, it was a little too fast-paced for me. I soon struck out on my own, and opened a lifestyle portrait and wedding photography business.
As if I don’t already sound like the most indecisive woman on earth at this point in my story, I am currently transitioning away from my photography business to focus more on my family, and on my blog, Dear Crissy, but I know that my camera will always play an important role in my life.
Nikon vs Canon?
Honestly, I ended up choosing Nikon by chance. I purchased my first DLSR gently used from another photographer, and while I knew Nikon was a great name, I made the leap because the camera was available to me at a reasonable price. That said, at this point, I have made a substantial investment in the Nikon brand, and have been very happy along the way.
Do I think that Nikon is superior to Canon? Absolutely not. I have plenty of friends and colleagues who produce spectacular photos with their Canon equipment. When it comes to Nikon vs Canon there are certainly differences between the two brands, but generally, I think both offer a high-quality digital photography experience for photographers at any level.
Why I Love the Nikon D300
The Nikon D300′s gorgeous colors, highlights, and shadows are what won me over. I find that I can achieve beautiful photos with very little post-processing, which is plus now that I am a mom and have less time to agonize over perfecting photos in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. I also find that the D300 produces photos that are nice and sharp, even without tweaking the sharpening in-camera.
Finally, I am really happy with the battery life of the Nikon D300. I use the Nikon MB-D10 Multi-Power Battery Grip, and it really feels like I can shoot forever without having to swap batteries, something that is really nice when I’m on the job shooting a long wedding.
Lens Recommendations and Must Have Accessories
If you are considering purchasing your first DSLR, I would highly recommend choosing the camera body that you have your heart set on, and skipping the kit lens in favor of a fast prime. While it may seem like a good idea at first to have one or two all-purpose lenses from the start, you will soon find that these kit lenses are not always going to produce the photos you have envisioned or seen from digital photographers you admire.
I advise purchasing a great 50mm lens. From Nikon, the 50mm 1.8 or the more expensive 50mm 1.4 lenses are exceptional. The low light performance, and depth of field benefits alone make either of these lenses a great purchase. I am also a huge fan of the Sigma 30mm 1.4, and I use it more often than any other lens.
Two Simple Tips for Taking Better Indoor Portraits
1. Open the Curtains
Turning off your camera’s flash, and utilizing the natural light inside your home is the best tip I can offer to anyone hoping to capture beautiful images of their children indoors. Put your child near a window, and let the beauty of the natural light do its job!
2. Get Close
As I mentioned above, while having a zoom is nice in some circumstances, it’s almost always better to shoot with a great, fast lens, and just move closer to your subject. Practice filling the frame and shooting from different angles. Get below, or above your subject to see them from a new perspective, you might be surprised by the great results!
I am extremely happy with my Nikon D300, and would generally recommend Nikon DSLR’s to anyone considering a new camera purchase. That said, like any true photography buff, I have an extensive wishlist of items that far surpass my budget, including the lust-worthy Nikon D3s.
That said? I truly believe that anyone with a camera can make amazing images, and while having great equipment certainly doesn’t hurt, it really all comes down to having a good eye, a desire to create and try new things, and a little practice!