Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My advice to people who ask me about buying a DSLR

Here is a collection of info I send out to folks when they ask me
about buying a camera.  Some might be relevant and some not.  If this
doesn't answer your questions please shoot me an email at
sposten@gmail.com and I'll be happy to answer anything I can and point
ya in as right a direction as best as I can.  Sorry for the length, a
lot of it is consolidated from questions people have asked me

The bottom line is my stock answer for 99% of the people who ask me
what they should buy is "Go to Costco and get either the Nikon or
Canon kit they sell there for about $1000 or maybe a bit less.  You
could also find good deals on similar official "kit" packages at B&H
and Amazon.  Any place beyond that and you are on your own. Don't buy
any kits that aren't officially bundled together by the manufacturer,
they are usually made by slimy vendors who are trying to get you to
buy a bunch of low quality gear at high prices."  That's not very
descriptive tho so for those who want more info about why I use what I
use, here it is.

First, people can spend months trying to find the perfect camera or a
really great bargain.  There is no perfect camera and most bargains
aren't.  DSLR cameras are expensive and generally they are worth it.
You wouldn't cheap out on a power tool, a car or other gear that is
functional, just because it's consumer electronics doesn't make it any
less important to buy a tool you can trust and that has very real

Also, buying the camera is only the first step.  To get the most out
of a DSLR you need a computer to store the pictures on, memory cards,
maybe a printer and software to edit your pictures with.  Plus a LOT
of learning.  With a digicam you just press a button and you are done.

The power of a DSLR is in making it do what you want it to rather than
it guessing like a point and shoot does.  If you use a DSLR like a
point and shoot you will waste a $1000 and not be any happier with the
pictures you take, and might even feel that the P&S took BETTER
pictures... And a number of my friends have bought DSLRs only to find
the size and weight very limiting, plus they can't give the camera to
a friend or spouse to shoot with very easily. You have to weight all
of that and decide if the pros of DSLR really outweigh the cons. I
personally can never go back to using a digicam especially cause of
what is known as the Shutter lag, that is you press the button and it
can take 2-3 seconds for the damn thing to take a picture, but YMMV.
Some of the newer digicams have eliminated a lot of that but you still
lose ALL of the flexibility of a DSLR.

For people new to DSLRs, the most important thing you can read is right here:

I am heavily biased towards Canon and Nikon for DSLRs.  I recently
reverted back to Nikon after using the Canon 20D for about 3 years.
Sony makes a new excellent set of DSLRs that can take some old
Konika/Minolta lenses.  Pentax and Olympus make fine DSLRs too I'm
sure, just not for me.  Sigma and Panasonic are making a DSLR
alternative called Micro 4/3rds that sounds really cool but I don't
own one, not yet anyway.  If I were to buy one it would be the
Panasonic GH1 but it still costs $1500 so it's a no go, I can spend
that on a tool that works everyday but not for something I would use
as a 'toy' to learn with.

My main camera is a Nikon D300, it is built like a tank and it is my
work horse.  It cost $1800 or so when they first came out, is down
under $1500 now, and has been officially replaced by the D300s model.
It is heavy and is not for everyone.  But for me, the weight is not an
issue and when I'm ready for a new camera it will be in the D300
family or moving up to its big brother, the D3 or D4 if and when Nikon
officially announces that.  Those cost ridiculous money so most
would never consider something in that range.  I mention this not to
flaunt how much I spend but to explain that the cameras that _I_
follow are in a smaller market than the consumer cameras like the D40,
D5000 and Canon XTI that they are considering.  So my opinion is
biased against those in some ways.

I DO own a Nikon D5000 which I mostly love but it would never work for
me on a daily basis the way it would for most people just getting
started.  The D5000 for me is the camera I leave in the car so I have
a DSLR with me at all times without risking leaving my precious D300
out there.  If the D5000 got stolen I would be bummed.  BUT if the
D300 and my good lenses got swiped I would be devastated.  The D5000
has the exact same imaging sensor the D300 has, which is fantastic.
It shoots video, is light and has lots of features. But it is not very
weather resistant and it's too small for my chubby hands =)  Most
beginners LOVE the low weight on it too, plus the LCD flips out so you
can angle it above and below your eyeline when using live view and
video, which is really nice.

-The Nikon D300 has incredible ergonomics and features, but it comes
at a weight and price cost.  The LCD is huge and detailed, the Live
very functional (very helpful for moon shots and macros) the metering
is spot on and I find the colors more accurate.  It does not shoot
-It allowed me to use all my old Nikkor lenses
-The Nikon 18-200 lens is one of the best performers and best value
lenses ever made.  It is NOT designed for low light shooting but even
in moderate light it is awesome.  Canon's 18-200 is supposedly pretty
good but not the equal of the Nikon, tho I have never used theirs.

Really right now Nikon is eating Canon's lunch in most price
categories for the cameras themselves, after having been behind for 10
years.  The D300, D3 and D700 are just amazing values and performers.
Lens wise it's a toss up.  Nikon has the better 18-200, canon has
better primes, Nikon has more interesting F2.8 zooms, Canon has L
telephotos.  Canon has a winner in the full frame arena, the $2500 5D
mark 2.  This is out of the reach for most beginners.  As is the Nikon

Most consumer level DSLR cameras are what are known as 'crop' bodies,
that is their imaging sensor is 2/3 the size of a 35mm frame.  The
Full frame
D700 and Canon 5D mark 2 use the full extent of a 35mm lens, so an
image shot at 24mm looks the same on a film camera.  On a crop body,
that 24mm
has about the same angle of view as a lens 1.6 x as large, so it comes
out to about 37mm.  This is great on telephoto lenses, so a 200mm lens
comes out with a 310mm crop, but on the wide end of things something
shot at 18mm has about a 30mm angle of view.  So getting 'real' wide
shots on these crop cameras can be tough.  You learn to work around it
but it is something you have to be mindful of.

The best advice I can give people is to pick a price range they are
willing to spend for the body alone, go to best buy or circuit city
and hold the Nikon, Canon and, if they have any, competing brands in
your hands and see which one feels right.  While I prefer the
ergonomics and features of Nikon cameras it really comes down to what
one works for you!  Then go pick out the best lens you can afford to
go with it.  The Nikon 18-200 is the best 'value' lens I have ever
used but it costs
$650.  In my opinion it costs that much because it is worth it.  And
while that is a crazy amount for most people getting started, it's a
third the price of the pro lenses I use and want more of =)  You CAN
get decent lenses for less money but I do not have much experience
with them.  Tamron, Sigma and Tokina all make SOME lenses that are
both excellent and total stinkers.  Your best bet for seeing which is
which is at this link:

Any time my friends or family want to try out any of my cameras or
lenses just let me know and I'm happy to let you go play!

Some links I recommend for getting started, all of these have their
own biases but I trust them for the most part.

To see everything new in the photographic world in one spot:

The most compelling photographic journalism I've found is here:

Deal finders:

http://www.pricegrabber.com to compare prices.
http://www.resellerratings.com to see if the guys you are buying from
are legit or shady crooks from Brooklyn.
Avoid the scammers and Brooklyn Crooks:

***If something looks too good to be true, it probably is!  Canon and
Nikon gear is expensive mostly because they are worth it!***

If you see info on Nikon stuff by a guy named Ken Rockwell understand
that he has some interesting things to say but on a lot of things he's
a real idiot, and he often says controversial things just to get a ton
of traffic on his page.  Take anything he has to say with a grain of

Don't forget you are going to need a system for getting your pictures
to your computer, editing them, displaying them and printing them!
Personally I use adobe lightroom, post my pictures on Flickr, and get
prints made at Costco.  Costco rocks!  Most beginners will be stumped
by this whole process.  I recommend they start on an Apple iMac and
use iPhoto to get going the fastest and with the best results.  If you
don't have a Mac and don't intend to get one, Photoshop elements may
be a good alternative but I don't have any experience there to share
with you.

Sam / Trey

Santa comes to Navesink Firehouse 09

09-FirehouseSanta-2057, originally uploaded by Kadath.

Santa made his yearly journey to Navesink Hook and Ladder Fire Co. #1 this weekend. The kids got some treats, sang songs and donated presents to Toys for Tots!

Full set -here-

Monday, December 07, 2009

Jonas Brothers at the Giants game!

09-GiantsDallas-1555, originally uploaded by Kadath.

I wouldn't know a Jonas brother if a whale spit one up next to us but Ryan confirmed this was all 3 brothers on the sidelines of the Giants game yesterday...

Domenik Hixon's incredible 74 yard Punt Return for TD!

09-GiantsDallas-1852, originally uploaded by Kadath.

Great game Giants! Congrats to Hixon on this amazing punt return and apologies for missing Brandon Jacob's TD, someone had to take a restroom break just before your run and we missed it!

Full set -here-

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Saturday, November 07, 2009

October 17/18 Games

09-OctoberGames-8392, originally uploaded by Kadath.

Fun weekend! Full set -here-




Ryan's buddy Andrew got to pitch this game:


Ryan's October Baseball

09-RyanFallBallOct09-5870, originally uploaded by Kadath.

Full set -here

Ryan even got to pitch, he did great, didnt let up any runs!

Eddie Football 10/10

09-EddieFootball1010-8006, originally uploaded by Kadath.

Full set -here-

Fun game under the lights:

Eddie's Football Game 10/04

09-EddieFootbal10-04-6523, originally uploaded by Kadath.

Full set -here-

09 Golf Tournament

09-IlexGolf-5789, originally uploaded by Kadath.

Full set is -here-


Spencer's Baptism

09-SpencerBaptism-9414, originally uploaded by Kadath.

Full set is -here-



PhotoPlusExpo 09

09-PhotoPlus-8525, originally uploaded by Kadath.

I coulda spent $25k easy that day.... Fun tho... And got to hang out on the streets of NYC with a few Renegades!


Full set -here-

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sony Dream Machine unboxing

09-iPodAlarm-9533, originally uploaded by Kadath.

I saw this guy a few months back on Engadget and have been waiting for it to ship/

Shocker, I walked right into the opening of the new @eatontownbb and plucked one off the shelf. Didn't get to open it until today. Took a few pix of the unboxing
Full set -here-

So far it seems nice as a concept, and in action its mostly pretty sweet. The LCD is amazing for the cheap $150 price, but the plastic feels like a $150 item, it's not too sturdy. The interface to get it to play along with video is a little wonky too, it doesn't automatically come up, ya gotta dig into the menus a bit. Either that or I havent found the right option to get it to do that yet.

Will keep playing with it but so far it seems like a keeper!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Blocked Punt

09-MUHawksVsAlbany-9075, originally uploaded by Kadath.

It was that kind of day for Monmouth U yesterday....

Full set -here-

Zombie Videos now posted!

09-APZombieWalk09-6087, originally uploaded by Kadath.

Click on them to go see them in HD:

09-AP Zombie Walk October - Vid #1 - setup from Sam Posten on Vimeo.

October 09 Asbury NJ Zombie Walk video #2 from Sam Posten on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Peter Sathmary, Effects Genius

09-APZombieWalk09-5909, originally uploaded by Kadath.

Pete was one of my students at MU, a really cool guy and a hell of a special effects artist, creature creator and zombie mastermind. If you are doing any kind of film, movie or video in NY/NJ area that needs technical wizardry, give him a shout at PeterSathmary.Com

Portrait of the Artist...

09-APZombieWalk09-6445, originally uploaded by Kadath.

... as a middle aged Zombie Goofball....

I like the lighting setup tho!

1500 hundred Zombie Walkers!

09-APZombieWalk09-5940, originally uploaded by Kadath.

And 303 pictures from it plus a ton of video to go through!

Thanks again to the great organizers at -APZW- for blowing our minds and somehow TRIPLING the size while still tossing in surprise after surprise. Was an absolutely killer afternoon!

Full set -here-

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Middletown Eagles Game 5, slugging it out in the rain

09-EddieGame5Rain-5704, originally uploaded by Kadath.

Eddie got his first carry tho! Nice to see the coaches mix it up a little.

Full set -here-