Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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I have a Samsung NX100 with the kit lens (20-50mm f/3.5-5.6, crop factor 1.54) and SEF15A flash (guide number 15, direct flash only), which as a whole cost me $300. I can't spend over that much on another accessory any time soon.

I'm an amateur looking for general-purpose stuff. Portability is hugely important, as I'm very petite with wrist issues. Most of my pics are either macro food photos or candids of people, usually street photography or on request for community events. Not a landscape person, so for most purposes my kit lens is perfect (if a little too slow for a lens without OIS).

These are the options I'm tossing up:

For an amateur like me, what would you see as the one item most likely to allow me more flexibility and be most well used? Are there other things you would suggest?

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Not a duplicate but related: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/6250/… –  mattdm Jul 14 '12 at 1:15
    
@mattdm Thanks, that looks useful! –  Key Jul 14 '12 at 1:23
    
IF there are reasonable used lenses available consider them. The 30mm f/2 sounds good, but not at that price on your budget. –  Russell McMahon Jul 14 '12 at 3:20
    
Auckland !!! :-) (I'm in Te Atatu). –  Russell McMahon Jul 14 '12 at 3:45
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Last time - I'd establish a permanent search on Trademe and see what turned up. eg - would This Trademe seller consider selling his 30mmm, f/2 pancake separately? –  Russell McMahon Jul 14 '12 at 3:51
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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I personally think a flash with bounce and more power offers a lot more flexibility than an additional lens. In many situations you can make up for lack of reach by just moving your body, or fast glass by doing long exposures, but there are just a lot of scenes you can't shoot at all without a diffuse light source (e.g. when fill flash is needed, or an indoor portrait, where a long exposure would have motion blur). Other things you didn't mention:

  1. If you don't have a flash diffuser, they're really cheap and would expand your options with both the SEF15A and SEF20A, allowing them to be used for fill flash and possibly macro. However they're weird shapes, so most slip on diffusers won't fit. There's a thread on dpreview about using pop-up flash diffusers for the SEF15A (the Opteka seems to work okay).

  2. A tripod opens up more options for long exposures and self-portraits. If you don't have a tripod I'd really recommend a small portable tripod that would be suited to such a small lightweight kit. For example the GorillaPod Micro 800 is 30 USD and the Samsung NX100 with kit lens weighs 463g, well under its 800g weight limit.

  3. Some wide open environments don't permit mini tripods because there are no objects around to hold them up. In that case I'd go for a collapsible light full size tripod like the Tamrac TR406, which goes from 11 inches (28 cm) folded to 44 inches (112 cm) deployed, supports 3 lbs (1360g), weighs 11 oz (311 g), and is also pretty cheap (50 USD).

  4. A remote or (better) wireless shutter release (e.g. the Pixel RW-221 has an NX100 model). These greatly simplify self-portraits and are very helpful for long exposures on tripods, since they let you shoot without introducing any vibrations that could cause motion blur. They also tend to be quite cheap.

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Whoa. Both those tripod options look really awesome and compact - I wouldn't carry around a proper tripod, but that self-constructing fiberglass one is quite impressive indeed, and the other'd mean I could use a slower shutter speed on macro shots. You're right about the diffuser too; both look like relatively cheap ways to open up a few more options! Thanks! –  Key Jul 14 '12 at 1:44
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From my experience I can tell you that you should review your pictures and take a look at your pictures and find in which focal length you take most of the pictures (And make sure you like these images) ;) Then decide to pick prime lens...

Fact no.1: In most cases primes are better then zoom lenses.

What I found pictures takes with fixed lens are better in framing/composition - because I had to move(!) with my camera to find better frame.

Fact no.2: Limitations stimulate creativity :)

Once I almost hear the voice in my head - "let it go - you will crop it later in post-prod..." I hope you know what I mean ;) And btw - Polaroid also has a fixed lenses and i takes images which you remember.

PS. Take a look: What software can show my most frequently used focal length?

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Heh. As has been pointed out to me, I'm very fond of shallow DOF and some of my pictures are noisier/higher ISO than I'd like, so it's quite possible I'd benefit from the prime more. And yes, it's true that with a whole box of gear the gear becomes more important than capturing the moment, which I'd like to avoid :) –  Key Jul 15 '12 at 21:31
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