I recently bought a shiny new dSLR, mainly because my old camera was annoying me so much! Needless to say, the new camera is a massive stride forward in image quality.
In particular, my old camera utterly point-blank refuses to photograph small objects. (Knowing what I know now, I suspect I'm drastically exceeding the physical minimum focus distance of the lens.) My new SLR, with it's 18-55mm kit lens, has no such problem. Within a week of owning it, I was able to shoot incredible images like this:
Compared to the usual dull stuff I've been photographing for years, this is drastically more impressive and interesting. It turns out I really like photographing tiny objects.
It's not all gravy though. For example, this image:
It's an interesting picture, but there's really not very much on focus. Even in the previous two images, with their deliberately shallow focus, I would really like more sharpness in the in-focus areas. Greater magnification would be nice too; it would be great to see the individual hairs on that moss! (I originally framed the moss tighter, but the lens seemed unable to focus that close. I had to slowly back away until it appeared sharp.)
What do I need to make these images sharper and more vivid?
- More sunlight?
- More expensive lens?
- More expensive camera body?
- Shoot raw rather than JPEG?
- Change the camera settings? (E.g., exposure mode, aperture)
- More skill as a human being?
Needless to say, it was a dark, miserable February afternoon when I took these photos. I can't help thinking the pictures would have a "nicer colour" if the sky wasn't so damned grey. (Don't get me wrong, the camera has reproduced exactly what the scene actually looked like to my eyeballs. I'm saying scenery looks nicer when it's sunny!)
I find myself looking at macro lenses, and even seriously considering some very expensive ones. It's tempting to think that bolting a really expensive lens to the camera will make the images sharper and crisper, increase the depth of field, add more contrast, make the colours nicer and even make me a cup of tea in the morning. But is it really true? Or am I expecting too much from a passive lump of glass?
(I do know for a fact that when I tried some of the expensive lenses in the shop, it allowed me to take shots from much further away. People give you weird looks when you're crawling on the floor with your lens an inch from the ground, and it's pretty uncomfortable. Being able to shoot from further away is very appealing!)