When the still life photography course with Kim Klassen started, we were very excited to get started. We had a hybrid camera. Not a compact camera, not a digital SLR, but something in between.

A lovely camera with an integrated zoom lens (35mm – 420mm) that we have been using for years now. Great for outdoor photography and nice for macro-shots as well.

But the lens on it (being a zoom-lens) didn’t let in a lot of light. Plus the camera’s sensor wasn’t very big.

We never knew this was something that would affect the feeling you can create with a shot, but it turns out it does. The dreamy look we like in photos, with only part of the subject in focus and the background blurred, is something we aimed for with our hybrid camera.

We tried all kinds of things:

– Shoot with the lowest possible f-stop (for us this was f2.8 to f3.7, depending on the zoom)
– Get close to the subject with the lens at a wider angle
– Or move away from the subject with the lens at maximum zoom
– Place objects further apart to create depth

The photos in this post show the best results we got with our hybrid camera… Taking these photos wasn’t very practical; we were getting a bit frustrated that we could not capture what we had in mind… Hmmm :/

Then a photographer friend came over who really knows what he is doing and introduced us to a digital SLR with a larger sensor, combined with a lens that lets in lots of light (or a fast lens). Wow, what a difference. Taking pictures with this camera was such a joy, because instantly we got this blurry, dreamy look we’d been aiming for. For us the 50mm 1.4 lens and larger sensor created such a shallow depth of field that it was almost too much.

It was so inspiring to be able to take pictures with this look. Our friend told us a financially sensible solution for us would be to buy a compact DSLR with an old fashioned manual but good lens. We found a second-hand digital SLR with a larger sensor (it’s not full-frame, but has a 1.5x crop factor) and an old manual focus 50mm 1.8 lens. It’s a lovely combination with which you can isolate a subject in the picture quite nicely.

Happy now… :) Now we only need to find the time to take more pics :)

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