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Author Topic: Looking for a good, not too expensive Camera and Lens (Landscape photography)  (Read 6334 times)

sinus_hyperbolicus

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Hi Guys!

I started landscape photographing a few month ago, and it became a passionate hobby of mine. I really love to be outdoor and capturing those awesome and stunning nature spectacles.

Now i want to buy a better DSLR camera, which fits best for landscape photographing.
What's important when buying a camera specified for this? What are the "characteristics" of a camera body made for landscape photography? What wide angle lens should i buy (Are there any with additional zoom)? What camera body is currently the best on the market? And sould i spend more money on the lens then the camera body itself?

I want to spend around 1'000$.

I'm very looking forward to your answers!!!

Best regards


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BradSmith

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What are you using now?  That will help us some in answering your question.  And to help you set your expectations, you can't purchase either the best body or best lens for $1,000. 
I think your best use for your $1,000 will be in purchasing used equipment. 
Brad
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dwswager

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Hi Guys!

I started landscape photographing a few month ago, and it became a passionate hobby of mine. I really love to be outdoor and capturing those awesome and stunning nature spectacles.

Now i want to buy a better DSLR camera, which fits best for landscape photographing.
What's important when buying a camera specified for this? What are the "characteristics" of a camera body made for landscape photography? What wide angle lens should i buy (Are there any with additional zoom)? What camera body is currently the best on the market? And sould i spend more money on the lens then the camera body itself?

I want to spend around 1'000$.

I'm very looking forward to your answers!!!

Best regards


Bottom line is that I agree, at your price point, used equipment is a good bet.  I bought an Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 for $900, used it 17 years and sold it for $700.  Just check the stuff out.

Landscape is a broad category.  Any camera of any brand can be used for landscape photography.  You will want to find something that allows attachment of a remote release or at least to allow timer release of the shutter.  And you will want a tripod.

My recommendation is to look at some books that explain landscape photography of the type you are interested.  Make sure the books give some equipment recommendations.  I started 30 years ago and John Shaw's Books Nature Photographer's field guide, Close-Ups in Nature and Landscape Photography were instrumental in getting me started.
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Colorado David

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John Shaw'a books are excellent and the information is transferable from film to digital.

dwswager

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John Shaw'a books are excellent and the information is transferable from film to digital.

He actually has a Digital book too.  Most others updated in the last several years.  Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure and Learning to See Creatively were the 2 basic photography books I started with before landscape stuff.

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Endeavour

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You dont need to read loads of books when starting out landscape photography. You just need to get out there and take photos. It wont cost you anything and you will take better and better images all on your own

There are some areas of photography which dont need a lot of technical "insight" for digital photography. And I believe landscape is one of them.
You're not in control of the lighting, subject or environmental changes (weather, wildlife or angry farmers chasing you off their land etc)

All you have is you, a tripod and your camera. The most you will really ever take in addition are perhaps some filters & a cleaning cloth.

What is a book going to teach you, which you cant get from just waking up before dawn and heading out with your gear and a thermos full of coffee?

My advice?

If you really must get a new(er) camera, go for something like a used canon5d mk2 and a wide angle lens like a 17-40 L and a good sturdy tripod and you are all set. you might be able to grab all that for about $1k

Get on google maps/earth to scout out locations. Keep up to date with weather info and make sure you have a phone/GPS if you go wandering off on your own.
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Petrus

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A friend of mine just asked for advice for good but cheap DSLR for his daughter. I was quite surprised to learn that Nikon D3300 body costs only about 350€, even though it scores higher on DXOMark test than Canon EOS-5DIII and EOS-1Dx for example! So getting a splendid new camera IS possible cheaply. Lenses are another matter, but a couple of used slow primes would be perfectly good for landscape, even old manual focus ones. Also with a APS-C sized sensor only the center matters, making things even better, if getting used FF lenses.

So I would say $1000 goes a long way, and would get a system difficult to tell apart just by looking at the results from a kit costing 5 times more.
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smozes

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Hi Guys!

I started landscape photographing a few month ago, and it became a passionate hobby of mine. I really love to be outdoor and capturing those awesome and stunning nature spectacles.

Now i want to buy a better DSLR camera, which fits best for landscape photographing.
What's important when buying a camera specified for this? What are the "characteristics" of a camera body made for landscape photography? What wide angle lens should i buy (Are there any with additional zoom)? What camera body is currently the best on the market? And sould i spend more money on the lens then the camera body itself?

I want to spend around 1'000$.

I'm very looking forward to your answers!!!

Best regards


Canon EOS M3 w/ EVF, and the EF-M 11-22mm, around $800 new. You'd have to spend a lot more for this level of quality in a full frame DSLR and lens.
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dwswager

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dwswager

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You dont need to read loads of books when starting out landscape photography. You just need to get out there and take photos. It wont cost you anything and you will take better and better images all on your own

There are some areas of photography which dont need a lot of technical "insight" for digital photography. And I believe landscape is one of them.
You're not in control of the lighting, subject or environmental changes (weather, wildlife or angry farmers chasing you off their land etc)

All you have is you, a tripod and your camera. The most you will really ever take in addition are perhaps some filters & a cleaning cloth.

What is a book going to teach you, which you cant get from just waking up before dawn and heading out with your gear and a thermos full of coffee?

My advice?

If you really must get a new(er) camera, go for something like a used canon5d mk2 and a wide angle lens like a 17-40 L and a good sturdy tripod and you are all set. you might be able to grab all that for about $1k

Get on google maps/earth to scout out locations. Keep up to date with weather info and make sure you have a phone/GPS if you go wandering off on your own.

I agree that there is no substitute for DOING, but there is a lot to be learned from others experience as well.

I started photography and almost immediately was drawn to the nature photography and landscapes.  I feared studio photography because you had to CREATE your own light and thought that took money and knowledge.  Then once I started doing some studio portraiture, I found it was actually easier in a way.  I could practice and experiment with different lighting setups and modifiers and techniques.  You can't do that so much in the natural world.   You get the light you find or chase, and can tweak a little here and there.  In the natural world, the photo only exists once.  There is no second chance.  Sure, I've photographed the same thing multiple times and they are all different because the light was different.  In a studio, I can repeat a setup from my notes at will.  I'm in control.

I still carry a Nikon 20 something year old 62mm 5T & 6T diopters almost all the time.  I use them on the 70-200mm f/2.8.  Never dawned on me I could use a 62mm filter on a 77mm lens without issue, but it is something I learned in a book (Closeups In Nature).  A little closeup work is always available without having to carry much specialized equipment.  BTW, if you check John Shaw's Gear Page, you will notice he still uses them too.

Reading a book won't help you make better photographs, but understanding and applying what you have read can.
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Paulo Bizarro

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You dont need to read loads of books when starting out landscape photography. You just need to get out there and take photos. It wont cost you anything and you will take better and better images all on your own

Sure, you don't need, but it can be really helpful. After all, nobody is born taught.

There are some areas of photography which dont need a lot of technical "insight" for digital photography. And I believe landscape is one of them.
You're not in control of the lighting, subject or environmental changes (weather, wildlife or angry farmers chasing you off their land etc)

Again, I disagree. Because you are not in control of those factors, you can not afford to miss the "magic moment" when your landscape is bathed in golden and wonderful light. If you don't have the technical skills to set up your shot in advance, or to react/change your camera settings quickly to adjust, you will miss the moment.

All you have is you, a tripod and your camera. The most you will really ever take in addition are perhaps some filters & a cleaning cloth.

What is a book going to teach you, which you cant get from just waking up before dawn and heading out with your gear and a thermos full of coffee?

Source of inspiration? New ways of approaching and seeing old subjects?

My advice?

If you really must get a new(er) camera, go for something like a used canon5d mk2 and a wide angle lens like a 17-40 L and a good sturdy tripod and you are all set. you might be able to grab all that for about $1k

Agree, that is still an excellent setup.

Get on google maps/earth to scout out locations. Keep up to date with weather info and make sure you have a phone/GPS if you go wandering off on your own.

NancyP

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Tripod!!! Some of the best light is low-level dawn and dusk light. Tripod is a must in those situations. Used is fine, don't get one of the really light ones that are really designed for small mirrorless cameras. You will be getting an aluminum tripod. Also needed is a ball head and a quick release clamp and plate/L bracket. (Consider also a remote release, unless you don't mind using the 10-second delay shutter mode)
Used Canon 5D2 and EF 17-40mm f/4 would be an excellent starter wide angle kit. Later add used EF 70-200 f/4 no-IS for a few hundred dollars.

List what you have now - it might be fine for starters. If so, I would buy the tripod/head/QR clamp-plate system FIRST, upgrade camera and lens later.
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ErikKaffehr

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Hi,

I would agree on the tripod thing. It slows you down and helps with focusing on the important things.

Many of my best images were shot with a 16-80/3.5-4.5 APS-C lens. You can make very goo A2-size prints from 12-16 MP APS-C.

I bought all my cameras new, except my MFD stuff, but sensors don't wear so a used DSLR with a clean sensor is a good option.

Consider that buying a bit better stuff from the beginning may be better than to buy cheap and upgrade.

Some stuff I liked:

- Sony Alpha 700
- Tamron 17-50/2.8 lens
- Velbon Sherpa Pro tripod with Acratech Ultimate head

At that time I also used a Minolta 80-200/2.8 APO zoom and a Minolta 400/4.5 APO lens

Best regards
Erik

Tripod!!! Some of the best light is low-level dawn and dusk light. Tripod is a must in those situations. Used is fine, don't get one of the really light ones that are really designed for small mirrorless cameras. You will be getting an aluminum tripod. Also needed is a ball head and a quick release clamp and plate/L bracket. (Consider also a remote release, unless you don't mind using the 10-second delay shutter mode)
Used Canon 5D2 and EF 17-40mm f/4 would be an excellent starter wide angle kit. Later add used EF 70-200 f/4 no-IS for a few hundred dollars.

List what you have now - it might be fine for starters. If so, I would buy the tripod/head/QR clamp-plate system FIRST, upgrade camera and lens later.
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Nelsonretreat

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If you think back to the 'good old days', cameras had a shutter, an aperture ring and that was it. Move to today and the truth is that, for landscape photography you do not really  need an expensive  picture engine because ideally you should shoot RAW. The cost of a lot of cameras is jumped up by the picture engine which may allow hugely fast rate of shutter release and high buffering etc. . So, save money and avoid sophisticated picture engines that you will bypass to a large degree.

The sensor you choose should be dictated by the eventual use of your images. If you are displaying on the internet there is absolutely no point in having images that are many thousands of pixels wider than a screen can accommodate. You're going to have to cut them down and strip a lot of pixels out so they don't take forever to load. Also be aware that the hard to define 'image quality' that you see on your expensive monitor may not look quite as good on less expensive monitors, iPads and iPhones. Remember that most people are now accessing the internet through mobile platforms. Most of the traffic to my website is mobile so be aware of overkill in the production process. If, on the other hand, you are planning 1.8 metre wide prints for exhibition then your sensor size, and especially lens quality, is important.

If you want to really understand this reality - try the experiment I did. I took an iPhone and a D750 with a mid range wide angle lens on a trip. Took the same images and 'saved for web' in photoshop.I uploaded them to my site. I then got a totally unscientific group of friends to  guess which camera had taken which photo. No surprises when I tell you that the answers were all over the place.

People spend a lot of time analysing sharpness and bookeh etc in lenses. I have never, ever, ever, ever had someone look at my images and say.. "Boy the sharpness in the FX corner at 2.8 is awesome!"
People look at landscape images and get an overall impression. If you can afford pin sharp lenses they are great but don't feel your work is any less worthy because you have marginally less sharp images.

It's a cliche, but the painter with the most expensive bristles or the biggest brush does not necessarily paint the best pictures.  Learn how to speak with an individual voice and be original. Your choice of camera and lens become such a minor matter if you get the concept right. 

For what its worth the images on my website   www.newzealandlandscape.comwere all taken with a Fujifilm S5 Pro which you can pick up on eBay for $300. One of these and a wide angle and mid range zoom will more than cover everything and would probably fit within your budget.
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ErikKaffehr

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Great advice,

My take has always been that any good image may end on the wall. I also have an A2 printer, that is about 16x23", so A2 (16x23") is my normal print size. But a few images go to the lab for 27.5 x 39" prints and I want my images to be printable at that size.

Many of my best images were shot at 12 MP, and they make wonderful prints at 16x23".

Michael Reichmann interviewed Ctein, a legendary "dye transfer" printer who now only prints digital. Ctein said that his 16 MP Olympus is good enough for A2 size.

The reason I talk about A2 size is that it is the largest print size available in cut paper and on desktop printers. It also works very well with 50x70cm (19.7" x 27.6") frames with a passepartout which are quite common in Sweden where I live.

So, my take is that a decent lens paired with a decent sensor will give good enough results for decent size prints.

Just as an example the old Sigma 18-50/2.8 APS-C zoom was a very good lens.

I have been shooting a lot with a Sony Alpha 77 and a Sony Zeiss 16-80/3.5-4.5, but that will go to E-bay pretty soon as I am transitioning to the Sony A7rII. But, that is a combo I am going to miss.

Buying used stuff is great, just keep in mind that the sensor needs to be clean and that you don't have a warranty. Whatever you buy new or used, test it immediately. Quality control can slip a lot these days.

Best regards
Erik


If you think back to the 'good old days', cameras had a shutter, an aperture ring and that was it. Move to today and the truth is that, for landscape photography you do not really  need an expensive  picture engine because ideally you should shoot RAW. The cost of a lot of cameras is jumped up by the picture engine which may allow hugely fast rate of shutter release and high buffering etc. . So, save money and avoid sophisticated picture engines that you will bypass to a large degree.

The sensor you choose should be dictated by the eventual use of your images. If you are displaying on the internet there is absolutely no point in having images that are many thousands of pixels wider than a screen can accommodate. You're going to have to cut them down and strip a lot of pixels out so they don't take forever to load. Also be aware that the hard to define 'image quality' that you see on your expensive monitor may not look quite as good on less expensive monitors, iPads and iPhones. Remember that most people are now accessing the internet through mobile platforms. Most of the traffic to my website is mobile so be aware of overkill in the production process. If, on the other hand, you are planning 1.8 metre wide prints for exhibition then your sensor size, and especially lens quality, is important.

If you want to really understand this reality - try the experiment I did. I took an iPhone and a D750 with a mid range wide angle lens on a trip. Took the same images and 'saved for web' in photoshop.I uploaded them to my site. I then got a totally unscientific group of friends to  guess which camera had taken which photo. No surprises when I tell you that the answers were all over the place.

People spend a lot of time analysing sharpness and bookeh etc in lenses. I have never, ever, ever, ever had someone look at my images and say.. "Boy the sharpness in the FX corner at 2.8 is awesome!"
People look at landscape images and get an overall impression. If you can afford pin sharp lenses they are great but don't feel your work is any less worthy because you have marginally less sharp images.

It's a cliche, but the painter with the most expensive bristles or the biggest brush does not necessarily paint the best pictures.  Learn how to speak with an individual voice and be original. Your choice of camera and lens become such a minor matter if you get the concept right. 

For what its worth the images on my website   www.newzealandlandscape.comwere all taken with a Fujifilm S5 Pro which you can pick up on eBay for $300. One of these and a wide angle and mid range zoom will more than cover everything and would probably fit within your budget.
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razrblck

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Just as an example the old Sigma 18-50/2.8 APS-C zoom was a very good lens.

Agree, I have the Nikon mount version and while it is no performer if you are looking at MTF charts all day, it's quite an amazing lens considering how cheap it is now.
I got mine in mint condition when I bought a used D200. Both were pretty much like new, with only 2000 shots in 10 years, and I got it all with the original battery grip, two original batteries, two chargers (one third party), box, all the misc accessories and a couple of SanDisk cards for less than what you pay for a new D3300 body only.

For landscapes the 16MP of my D7000 give a bit more details and sharpness, but with good post processing sometimes I can't tell which camera I used unless I check the EXIF data.

Another stellar lens for APS-C is the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 HSM. Focusing is quick and precise, it can focus VERY close, it has a very usable range on APS-C (15mm to 30mm equivalent FOV). As for sharpness, if you think the old Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 is sharp enough, than this is much much sharper at all apertures. You can stop it down to f/11 on the D200 without even getting close to being diffraction limited, which makes it an even better performer, though it doesn't get better after f/8 just gives more depth of field.

As for flaring, personally I like it at times, but be aware that the old Sigma 18-50mm flares like mad. You will still need to shoot very high contrast situations with the sun at peculiar angles, so it won't happen unless you really try to get extreme. The 10-20mm is much more resistant to flaring, but again it can happen if you are way too extreme with powerful light sources.

You can get interesting shots with a phone as well, especially if you have manual controls in the camera app. But even if you have a lowly 5MP phone camera with only auto exposure, you can still do something nice as long as your composition and the conditions are good enough http://andreaminganti.myportfolio.com/natural-balance.
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the_marshall_101

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I don't think the previous posters have been very helpful to you here, getting straight into the details of particular cameras and lenses they may have owned, then getting into print sizes and MTF charts... come on guys!

To answer your original questions:
- There is no such thing as the 'best' camera body - only quite a few which would work well for you
- Basically, any recent and low-mid range Canon or Nikon DSLR will be absolutely fine for your use. Don't agonise over it, go to a store and pick up a few bodies to see which ones you prefer the feel and operation of.  That's more important than any spec at this stage for you.  Other brands are available and would also be fine, just with a smaller choice of lenses and accessories.
- Most camera bodies aren't really marketed as landscape-only, so the features I'd say are important are build quality, ease of operation (for you) - e.g. number of buttons allowing you to get to common settings quickly, for instance, maybe a fold-out screen which can help on a tripod
- Ultimately lenses tend to last longer and hold their value more than camera bodies - I'd say go about 50:50 on the value ratio at first.  Then see what starts limiting you later.
- There are quite a few wide angle options - the manufacturer's ones or Sigma 10-20 and similar are very popular.  None will have a large impact on the results you achieve.  Most will reach up to about the zoom range where your 'kit' lens (usually 18-55) kicks in, so don't sweat it.  In general, the greater the zoom range of a lens, the worse the optical performance.  It will be hard to get good photos at extreme wide angles, so don't necessarily go for the widest possible.

To summarise - here's my opinion of what's important, from being in your position several years ago then learning since: get any normal DSLR (within reason) that feels like a nice size and weight and has controls you're happy with, get a tripod (this will make massively more different to results than any camera or lens - without it you're helpless in many situations) - any tripod is a lot better than none - get a bag to carry things and let you access them in the field.  Then go practise a lot.  Then get Lightroom if you haven't got it.  These things will help your results and learning more than any incredibly minor differences in lens performance, number of megapixels etc.

So from that $1000, I'd say $800 camera/lens combo (roughly 50:50), $100 tripod, $100 on sundries - bag, lens cloths, remote release, maybe a polariser etc.  Any money left over, spend on a going on a workshop for a day then on Lightroom!

Have fun and good luck.


Hi Guys!

I started landscape photographing a few month ago, and it became a passionate hobby of mine. I really love to be outdoor and capturing those awesome and stunning nature spectacles.

Now i want to buy a better DSLR camera, which fits best for landscape photographing.
What's important when buying a camera specified for this? What are the "characteristics" of a camera body made for landscape photography? What wide angle lens should i buy (Are there any with additional zoom)? What camera body is currently the best on the market? And sould i spend more money on the lens then the camera body itself?

I want to spend around 1'000$.

I'm very looking forward to your answers!!!

Best regards

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dwswager

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If you want to really understand this reality - try the experiment I did. I took an iPhone and a D750 with a mid range wide angle lens on a trip. Took the same images and 'saved for web' in photoshop.I uploaded them to my site. I then got a totally unscientific group of friends to  guess which camera had taken which photo. No surprises when I tell you that the answers were all over the place.

People spend a lot of time analysing sharpness and bookeh etc in lenses. I have never, ever, ever, ever had someone look at my images and say.. "Boy the sharpness in the FX corner at 2.8 is awesome!"
People look at landscape images and get an overall impression. If you can afford pin sharp lenses they are great but don't feel your work is any less worthy because you have marginally less sharp images.

I agree in principle with this.  Most people will overlook a technical flaw of some some sort as long as the message gets through. However, most Amateurs make photographs for their own gratification and not that of others.  The quality standard for an amateur is generally their own eye!  And it is a good thing too, because have you seen some of the crap people post online and then other people comment on how wonderful the photograph is!

Starting in any type of skill, the key is to learn and do.  The quality will get better as you continue.

While any camera and lens combination will suffice it really is important for this original poster to consider where they want to take their photography and what type of time and money investment they think they will make in the longer term.  I gave no thought about this when I first started and had to scrap a whole system later to get where I wanted.  I had no idea when I was 18 that photography would be a passion at 50 and the varied type of photography I do now.
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sdwilsonsct

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- Basically, any recent and low-mid range Canon or Nikon DSLR will be absolutely fine for your use. Don't agonise over it, go to a store and pick up a few bodies to see which ones you prefer the feel and operation of.

+1. And read some books.

kers

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I agree that any low/midrange DSLR will do with a kit zoom. The basic quality of these cameras and lenses is already high.
Because you want to learn i would suggest that the camera of choice is able to manually adjust everything important: focus, ISO, Aperture, Shutter speed and colour .
So you can learn from changing these basics of photography.
Use the zoom as three lenses - wide, normal and tele and do not use it as a zoom... try to stay longer on one focal length and change position.
Then shoot RAW and learn to deal with it using some Raw converter of choice...
succes
PK

« Last Edit: February 18, 2016, 09:41:45 am by kers »
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