So far, Facebook is winning for me.  I can’t seem to keep up with both places.  I turn around, and Poof!, it’s been another two or three months since I’ve posted here!  For any WordPress readers who are also on Facebook, you might want to check me out at www.facebook.com/sarahstarrphotography; I post almost a photo a day there.   I still plan to use Wordpress for longer posts, though, and collections.  Here, for today, is a set from an evening at a harbor in Juneau, Alaska.A cool knot D_20110621_0115-Edit D_20110621_0120-Edit D_20110621_0121-Edit D_20110621_0122-Edit D_20110621_0132-Edit D_20110621_0143-Edit D_20110621_0155-Edit D_20110621_0167-Edit D_20110621_0176-Edit


I’ve had three different friends ask me about entry-level DSLR cameras.  This isn’t a review, because I haven’t had many entry-level DSLR cameras in my hand.   Rather it’s a summary of some information you might want to consider.  I’ve had Nikons for the last several years, so my examples are Nikons. 

(Note: The camera numbers in Nikon names make no sense.  D90 is a higher-level camera than D5000, but D700 is in a higher class than the D40.) — UPDATE:  My photographer friend Steven posted (below) a comment shedding some light on this!  <:

The Light Triangle

Low light = need for higher ISO, bigger aperture, or slower shutter speed.
Think of it as a triangle, the three sides of which will add up to an ideally lit picture. 
As you consider more expensive cameras, you are usually buying an ability to take pictures at a higher ISO without grain.
For example, The D40 showed a distressing amount of grain with ISOs starting at 400 or so. The D200 was a big step up, allowing me to take pictures at ISO 800 or a bit beyond that. With my current camera, I can go to even higher ISOs without worry.
The Nikon 5100 has very good reviews about this! Scroll to the end of this article to see examples: http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Nikon_D5100/noise_JPEG.shtml

Here’s the issue with the D5000 series (and D40, D60, and D3000s): Many lenses will not autofocus with them.

These cameras don’t have an internal autofocus motor. This means that your dad’s old Nikon lenses won’t work (or at least won’t focus) with this camera. If you want to buy a 50mm 1.8 lens, you’ll have to buy the AF-S 50mm f/1.8 G at $220; you won’t be able to pick up just any 50 1.8 on Craigslist for $100. If you want to be able to use old AI lenses, consider the D90 instead.    

You want to think about which lens or lenses you want.
Your lens can make a big difference in your pictures by allowing a bigger aperture.
     Note: Smaller aperture number = bigger aperture opening.
Info for folks who speak fluent “math”:  It’s proportional to the reciprocal of the radius, measured in increments of the square root of 2, so each “stop” doubles the area of the aperture. When the aperture goes from 2.8 to 2, for example, the amount of light let in is doubled. <:
Typical biggest aperture option on a kit lens: 3.5 or 4.5.  A zoom lens might say “3.5 to 5.6” in its stats; its maximum aperture would then be 3.5 at its least zoom (say, 18mm) and 5.6 at its longest zoom (say, 200mm).
If you want to take low-light pictures without a flash, I recommend buying a 50mm 1.8 aperture lens.
Used, they’re common and inexpensive. You will then be able to choose a 1.8 aperture and take many pictures indoors without flash.
(Note: At 1.8, you’ll have a small depth of field (the plane perpendicular to your camera lens) in focus. Depth of focus, or dof, is affected by multiple factors, including aperture.)
One disadvantage of the 50mm 1.8 is that you won’t be able to zoom in. It’s “fixed” at a single distance. So you probably also want a zoom lens of some kind.
(“Fixed” lens pictures tend to be crisper, but “zoom” lens quality is not unacceptable. It’s just not as good.)
What outdoor pictures do you gravitate toward – big-scene pictures or zoomed-in shots of a single item (bird, flower…)?
If you like to be able to capture a large part of what you see, all in the same picture, you want a wide-angle lens, eg, 18-55mm.
If you want to be able to zoom in on a bird up in a tree, you want a telephoto lens, eg 70-300mm.
 There are many reviews out there comparing cameras.   Here’s a list of Nikons grouped into general classes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikon_DSLR#Digital_single_lens_reflex_cameras.  
Hope this helps some of you!  Feel free to email me with questions.

Cheyann called me late this summer to ask about senior portraits. We’ve had to work around colder, wet fall weather, but have taken some fabulous pictures! She ended up becoming my senior rep (like a PR person).

One of my favorite things about photographing Cheyann is her easy smile. I was surprised recently when she said that she had never been comfortable, before these sessions, showing her teeth to a camera. Now she knows how beautiful her smile is. That’s what I like best about being a photographer!

These are part of a family session, but the parents have asked that the children’s pictures not be posted online. Lots of love….

Giraffes are at once ungainly and graceful. Close-up (or with a zoom lens), they lose the grace!


If you’ve found a subject that appeals to you, but your picture doesn’t capture its magic, try a different angle. This will affect both background and lighting. Here, I lay on the ground and shot the stalks from below. (I also did a bit of editing on the looking-up image, but the point remains the same. <: )

This is Laja Okunuga, a merchant of authentic African goods. (See http://www.adeafricana.com.) I was so pleased to take his portrait at the 2012 Worldbeat festival in Salem.

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