Thursday, September 20, 2012

My first D-SLR

I already shared the history behind my first SLR. Now I would like to share bit more details about my decision making on that matter and some basic know-hows. Nopes, I'm not going into all those technical details which one can find easily - either in the product site or in hundreds other sites.

Everyone come across the question while buying any item - which brand and which model? Camera (be it slr or point-n-shoot) is not an exception. In case of point-n-shoot cameras, the answer is not so difficult to find, but in case of a slr camera - these puzzles are bit tricky. Let's try to solve one by one.

Why D-SLR and not a Point & Shoot?

This is obviously the first question for all photo enthusiasts. A point & shoot (now on I'll address it as PS) gives limited control over a D-SLR. What are these controls and how are they important for an image quality? These controls (basic) name aperture, shutter speed and ISO (sensitivity). The combination of the aperture and shutter speed is often termed as exposure.

These three items basically decides how a picture will look like. A PS camera does not have much controls over these - there the photographer is bit paralyzed, the camera mainly decides how a image will look like and not the photographer. One can argue that, in PS camera you can control the white balance, focus method, flash, etc.; then how come the photographer is not in control? Honestly speaking, white balance is not at all important (!) and like the others. The basics of an image are exposure and ISO. In a PS camera there is very little that a photographer can do to control the desired exposure level. That is why, it is very difficult to make subject isolation in PS (everything in the frame remain focused in PS) which is easy to do in a D-SLR.

Subject isolation (background out of focus)
Subject isolation (background out of focus)
Apart from these three, there are complex controls like metering, bracketing, etc. These are advance controls. I will not discuss about these here and will keep this article simple.

Using D-SLR the photographer can capture RAW images whereas using PS one can get only JPEG images. I will not go into the details of RAW vs JPEG. Just for basic ideas - RAW is kind of negative (which you might have seen if you ever came across a film camera) and the photographer can develop thousands of positives (JPEG or whatever format) from that RAW. RAW files gives you the flexibility for thousands of option of post-processing which a JPEG cannot offer.

Come'on dude, don't tell me that a PS cam is crap and do not have any advantages! No, I'm not saying that, a PS camera comes with great flexibility to price ratio, which a D-SLR can hardly offer. PS cams are comparatively cheaper (most important point), light weight (though slr-like heavy PS cams are there now in market), one do not need to change lenses (and no need to carry lenses - so travel light), etc. A super zoom PS camera can serve all needs (be it a romantic full moon night or an adventurous day in a national park) , whereas a good zoom lens for a SLR camera comes with a high price tag. Here comes the good point of a SLR camera - inter changeable lenses. A SLR gives you the flexibility to change the lens depends on the occasion (lets not talk about price now) - be it a macro lens, ultra-wide angle lens, fast lens, super telephoto lens whatever you need just change the lens and you are ready to go. You do not need to change your (expensive) camera body every time. A photo enthusiast will land in a situation when the PS images will look flat, the desired looks/effects will not be delivered by a PS according to the demand. With D-SLR - just change the lens according to the need of the occasion and bingo! You get what you were looking for.

So, there are numerous advantages of a SLR over a PS which one can utilize over the life time of the camera. There is no doubt about the supremacy of a SLR over a PS. If you want to control the looks of your image - do not waste money on PS, buy a SLR. Maybe I dragged a bit here, but this is exactly how my friend convinced me for SLR.

Which brand?

Once you decided to buy a SLR, this will obvious be the next question in your mind - which brand? Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus, which one?

My friend told me, if you want a SLR then make your option list limited into Canon and Nikon, throw out all others. One should go for such brand which has a rich history in Photography and that's obviously either of Canon and Nikon. It does not mean that brands like Pentax, Leica, Olympus, Sony - they do not have a back ground but the problem with these brands are either they are (heavily) expensive or they have a poor lens catalogue to offer. When I say poor lens catalogue - that should not be misunderstood that these brands do not produce superb lenses. These brands produce costly (but superb) lens (also costly third party) and they have comparatively less number of lenses than Canon/Nikon. In a decent price range and with a sound collection of lens (including third-party offerings) Canon or Nikon shall be the primary option.

One may ask, why should I worry so much about a lens? I already mentioned above: "A SLR gives you the flexibility to change the lens depends on the occasion - be it a macro lens, ultra-wide angle lens, fast lens, super telephoto lens whatever you need just change the lens and you are ready to go. You do not need to change your (expensive) camera body every time." So, it is important to choose the brand which has a wide selection to offer (at a decent price); and/or wide selection of third party makes.

Close focus with a macro lens
A macro shot
Note: If you wish to buy a PS, then I will suggest Sony or Panasonic. With Sony you get a lens of Carl Zeiss and a Leica make lens with Panasonic. That makes these two brands my favorites when it comes to PS.

Read more from a proNikon vs Canon vs Sony

Which type?

Based on the sensor size there are two different type of D-SLR camera: DX and FX. I'm keeping micro four thirds and the new mirror-less cameras out of discussion. Canon and Nikon do not have four-thirds, their mirror-less venture is not upto the mark yet. 

FX cameras have a sensor size of a 35 mm film, approximately 36x24 mm. That's why FX cameras often termed as 35 mm format or Full-frame camera.

DX (also referred as cropped size sensors or APS-C) camera has a sensor size of approximately 2/3 of a FX sensor - 24x16 mm. 

Sensor is the heart of a camera. Better the sensor - better the camera. Obviously the FX cameras come with much better quality than DX cameras and FX (camera body and lenses) are much more expensive than DX.

Being amateur or beginner, DX should be your choice to start with. One should not spend a heavy amount on FX in the beginning. Later in future, after getting a good grip over basic D-SLR know hows,  one can consider upgrading to a FX system. More lucidly, if your photographs start to paying you up then you can consider a upgrade. Otherwise a DX is more than enough. 

With the recent launch of Nikon D600 and Canon 6D at a price tag of USD 2,099/-, there are some discussion on air that FX prices are lowering down. But do not misguided by such discussions. D600 (body only) costs almost 1.7 times of a Nikon D7000 (one of the best DXs in market today) with a kit lens!

Read more from a proDX vs FX

Which model?

Now I know that, I'm going to buy a D-SLR camera (DX body) of Canon or Nikon. The question is which model finally? It is pointless to debate about the supremacy of Canon and Nikon. Here I took help from SNAPSORT. When I checked with them, it was quite clear for me that I will go with Nikon. They have two very good DX camera i.e. D7000 and D5100; but Canon do not have anything like them in the same price range.

Finally I made my mind for D5100; D7000 was my top choice but it was out of my budget).

Almost a year ago, when I bought my camera, Nikon's D3200 was not there. Even today when having a option of D3200, I will still prefer either D5100 or D7000. The extra mega-pixel count of D3200 failed to lure me. Apart from that, I do not see any further advantages of it above D5100. There is one more good DX body by Nikon - D90. D90 is bit costly affair than D5100 but cheaper than D7000. On the other hand, D7000 is much better than D90 in many regards. If the budget is really tight, then D3100 can be considered - it gives very good value to it's price and able to produce quality images.

Read more from a pro: D5100-01, D5100-02, D7000-01, D7000-02, D3100-01, D3100-02, D90

Which kit lens?

Irrespective of the DX body you choose, make sure that you are buying AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens along with. This is the best DX lens available at a reasonable price which will cover your regular needs.

Here I would like to conclude my article with one simple though very important statement; several version of this line you may heard already, I'm just repeating one of them: It's not the camera which captures a great picture - it's you who makes it great. Wish you all Happy Photographing :)

Read more

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Right OR Left (read WRONG)

Not even one month passed since we celebrated our precious 66th Independence day on 15th of August. There were national tri-colors waving on almost everyone's social networking page and with patriotic messages. Not only in soft media, physically as well we all have waved the national flag. Even in space we have hoisted our national flag.

If we go further past by 4 days on 11th of August (2012), then there were Azad Maidan violence - where some sick people allegedly desecrated the Amar Jawan memorial dedicated to sepoys martyred in the First Indian War of Independence - Indian Rebellion of 1857. There were protests by millions and outrage seized the social networking sites with demand to hunt down them who vandalized national prestige.

When we look at these pictures we see overflowing emotion of our fellow citizens towards our mother India.

Apart from these two image, everyday we come across hundreds of cartoons slamming our political leaders. There are thousands of creative cartoons everyday generating and/or circulating - slamming our leading politicians irrespective of their position; be it president, prime minister, chief minister or any body else! Not even the ex-bodies are spared! 

Here I would like to add few lines before going further. We are not insulting our respected constitution or constitutional posts by means of these cartoons - we are hitting them hard who are misusing these highly regarded constitutional posts. These are our constitutional birth rights (right of voting, right of free expression). We are doing good - may be a good change knocking at the door. These show our political awareness and our response towards the situation - overall a very good sign in the interest of the country. Coast ahoy!

Let's come back to present date and have a look to our networking pages once again. And what we see? We see there is Mr. Aseem Trivedi - a cartoonist who made a cartoon of wolves with the sign of danger and a message that reads bhrastamev jayate; a symbolic parody of our National Emblem. Mr. cartoonist arrested immediately (actually he surrendered) for charges of sedition on him. The arrest has sparked a nationwide outrage, political parties and civil society groups condemning the arrest and slapping sedition charges against him.

Wait a minute! In my eyes, this incident portrays exactly opposite image of the other images that we discussed earlier. I can understand our frustration, our anger, our agony towards our current government bodies and I can understand all those thousands of cartoons. But simply I can not understand this cartoon - poor me! What happened to my basic understanding capabilities within such a short span? 

We all know our National Emblem by heart - Lion Capital of Asoka with a message of Satyamev Jayate. In my eyes the national emblem is no different than the national tri-color, the national anthem or the national song - all stands alike. These are what defines the Republic of India - Bharat Ganarajya. These does not define the post of our president or the post of prime minister or any state chief minister! These defines us - these together symbolizes 1.2 billion Indians. The basics of Bharat (the undivided nation) lies with all of these. 

Like we cannot disrespect the national flag, or cannot make fun of the national anthem (or national song) similarly cannot portray an image which insults the national emblem. If we make parody in the tune of Jana Gana Mana or Vande Mataram to humiliate any individual or a group of people; if we make some protesting slogans (may be with F word) in the tri-color targeting someone then it is not insult of the targeted one. It is the humiliation of the whole nation - it is insult of all us (Indians). I do not understand what kind of protest is this? Against whom the protest is addressed? Is it against some group of people or against the whole nation? In this bhrastamev jayate cartoon row - I would like to stand in a different queue. 

What is the difference between this cartoonist and that sick guy who allegedly desecrated the Amar Jawan memorial? If that was the insult of all the 1.2 billion Indians, then how come this cartoon is not? 

My fellow citizens, my dear friends, please think a bit more (preferable more wisely) while utilizing our freedom of speech. Lets do not mislead (or misguided by media); lets do not divert from the main cause. This phase is crucial for our nation - many will try to break the unity. We shall always make sure that, our voice is never against our nation. The nation stands first, for which's betterment we are seeking a change. We are making a movement for a better future. The nation is the basic of all, if no nation then changes for what? and for whom?

Jai Hind. Jai Bharat.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


If you ever visit Dubai and do not treat yourself with a luxury - luxury of being AT THE TOP of the tallest building on earth (to date) - Burj Khalifa then I must say, your visit was incomplete. 

I still remember very well my first sight of Burj Khalifa - a spectacular view combined with another beautiful man made creation: the fountain show in Dubai mall

When I first came in Fujairah (back in May 2010) with my new job, frankly speaking - the experience was pretty much frustrating. When you hear Fujairah, do not imagine it like other glittering emirates (i.e. Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah) of UAE. After a month (or may be 45 days) I had to visit Abu Dhabi for some official works, way back to Fujairah I took a break and the magic happened! I saw the Burj Khalifa standing in front of me, that sight and a spectacular fountain show took away all my frustrations. All of a sudden I realized that, this is the part of the world where all construction professionals / civil engineers dream to work - to be a part of; I'm so lucky to be here and I should not be frustrated - Dubai is just an hour drive from Fujairah :). Cheers!! Believe me - it worked exactly like that  and I started to enjoy my stay afterwards.

But I had to wait another 6-7 months before I could explore this marvel from AT THE TOP - an observation deck at 124th floor of Burj Khalifa  is open for public (at a nominal price) who wish to be there and wish to enjoy the view of Dubai from the highest point. If one is lucky enough (if the weather is with you) then even can see upto Sharjah very clearly with naked eyes. March 2011 - for the first time I went to AT THE TOP. It welcomes all with a warmth gesture.

After entry through Dubai mall's lower ground level and security check, you will arrive in a dark corridor and you will find a nice animation  on the wall.

Now you know, who is Burj Khalifa. It's the time - embrace yourself for an unforgettable ride of world's fastest and smoothest lift which will travel 124 floors within a minute! Do not want to believe? Have a look on the video:

Once you are there, you can please yourself with unrestricted views of the famous Sheikh Zayed road, Burj Al Arab, The World islands and many more. If you plan your visit time well, then you can make yourself lucky to watch sunset from there - a memory of life time.

Shadow of Burj Khalifa on Dubai mall
Fountain show from the TOP
It is hard to say, which is better experience of the fountain show - one from the gallery or the one from the TOP; from the TOP one can not hear the music but the view is simply superb. 

I went to AT THE TOP for the second time on November 2011 (actually, the above two videos are captured during my second visit). For me it was equally refreshing like my first time. And this time with my D5100.

Cam sketch of Dubai mall entrance (01)
Cam sketch of Dubai mall entrance (02)

Dubai mall from AT THE TOP, feats The Address Hotel (Dubai mall)
View of Sheikh Zayed road from AT THE TOP
And an unforgettable sunset from AT THE TOP 

Sunset from AT THE TOP, feats Burj Al Arab
Sunset from AT THE TOP, feats Burj Al Arab (on left) and The World islands (on right)

Sheikh Zayed road - after sunset
Somehow, Burj Khalifa is never a boring experience for me; may be I'll visit it many more time - lets see. Accordingly I will post the snaps here too :). You can find the snaps in My Flickr also.

Please feel free to comment. All comments (criticisms & appraisals) are welcome. Please do not reproduce the images for commercial purposes without prior permission.