When photographing seriously, seriously, take off your sunglasses. Especially if you are using an EVF....

If you wear polarized sunglasses you will have difficulties using an EVF. There is a cancellation effect that makes viewing the whole frame well pretty much impossible. And I'll have to say that when you are in a dimly lit convention center, even with an optical viewfinder I think you'll find composing a photograph easier if you are able to get your eye close enough to the finder to see the edges of the frame.

Just a public service, education posting. Sunglasses. Hmmm.

The camera I just recommended to everyone who asked me this holiday season, "Which camera should I buy for someone who.......????"

It happens. You are a professional photographer. Your friends have this idea that you must know everything about every facet of the imaging business. I get phone calls asking me about weddings. I get phone calls asking me about shooting baby photos, and twice a year I get a lot of phone calls from friends asking me what camera they should buy for: Their spouse, their graduating senior, their college junior about to do a semester abroad, their small business, their once in a lifetime trip to XXXXXXX. Very few of these people really wanted to get mixed up in the sticky spider web of photographic technique practiced at the highest technical level. Those I send to Ming's site. To the rest I end up recommending the camera above. 

Interesting thing about the Nikon entry level, APS-C camera line, is that they all pretty much have the same absolutely excellent, Sony, 24 megapixel, imaging sensor. This means that the camera is 90% of the way to fulfilling the real technical needs of just about anyone out there. The camera represented above has shared the same basic body design, with a host of similar cameras, for fifteen years; ditto  the menus. Nikon has had a lot of time getting things just right. And to understand how to craft a camera for beginners.

But the reason I recommend the package consisting of the D3300 body and the lens above is that the kit lens, the VRII version, is sharp and well corrected, and adds vibration reduction to the system. It's the equivalent of a 28-70mm. The camera is small and light and pretty much bulletproof. Plus the batteries last twice as long as most mirrorless camera batteries. 

One of my friends came to me yesterday and wanted to know what to buy. He'd had someone recommend a Sony RX100iiii to him, or, at a lower cost level, the new Canon G5X. I looked at both of those cameras and laughed. My friend didn't want to spend $800+ on a camera. He's got big hands too. I know the one inch sensor in both of those cameras are really good but, to someone who is a casual shooter I know they'll be more comfortable dropping $395 and getting a camera that has the potential to outshoot both of the above mentioned cameras. The Nikon focuses faster, the chip has better high ISO capability and, down the road my friend or his kids, can add a flash, add more lenses or use the same lenses on updated or upgraded bodies. 

I've had neophyte friends buy trendier cameras and struggle to use them well. The Nikon line just works. If a person has been indoctrinated in believing in Canon cameras I am happy to research the equivalent Rebel. I just believe that this class of cameras are the best bargains out there today and that they provide the best platform for people who are just starting their photographic journey, beyond the cellphone. 

I was looking at yet another little camera as a possible "take everywhere" camera when I started researching cameras like the D3300 as well. Half the price for more performance, and I can put a Sigma Art lens on this puppy and get amazing results. No sense recommending more. You'll just have nominated yourself as the "camera support/teacher/coach for someone's longer learning curve. 

That's my stock recommendation. 

A triptych from Berlin in Fall of 2013.

Need to do some online shopping? Here's a link to five good photo books and one fun novel:


In a San Antonio shop window. Near the San Fernando Cathedral.

I love walking through the streets with a camera. It's a great excuse to get some exercise and stay intimately familiar with your camera and lens. Sometimes you see things you wouldn't see if you stayed home and watched TV.  If you've grown accustomed to the sights in your own city that gives you a great excuse to travel to the closest big or small city near you and start a walking exploration all over again.

To recap: Walking keeps you from getting fat and out of shape. Seeing new things keeps your mind interested. Sharing images gives you an intention that drives you to walk and see new things. I guess that makes exploring with a camera medicinal. That's my prescription for today.

Need some gift suggestions for photographers on your gift list?