Why I Don’t Do Event Photography

I had been planning to write an entry about the strong and weak points of my new “walkaround” lens, and why I’m contemplating buying a similar but more expensive version of the lens. After some reflection, though, I realized that I just need some more real-world experience, both with my Sigma 18-200mm and with my DSLR in general.

Don’t get me wrong: I got some great shots in Japan. My new, wider lens allowed me to get everything I wanted in the frame without backing way up: meals, quick snapshots, and self-portraits all turned out a bit better for the wider angle. The zoom factor also helped on occasion, and allowed me to choose how to frame a shot, instead of just getting in as tight as I can and composing what I’ve got in frame.

The major downside, apart from some bigtime distortion at the 18mm end, was the speed of the lens — that is to say, how well it performs in low light. It’s not a particularly fast lens, meaning that it can’t “suck light out of a black hole.” This can be problematic, since I tend to do a lot of available-light photography.

My knee-jerk reaction? I need a better lens. One that’s faster, or that has vibration reduction. The truth? I need to learn to use my camera to its fullest before I go maxxing out my consumer-grade equipment.

The whole time that I was mentally complaining about my slow lens, trying to use a slow-sync flash or brace the camera or whatever — that whole time, my ISO was set to 200. I could have cranked it up to 1600, if the thought had ever occured to me. Better to have a sharp and grainy picture than a blurry and unusable picture, after all. But the thought literally never occured to me.

I guess I’m still living in a film world, to a degree. ISO? Set it and forget it. I should have set it to auto and let the camera decide, if I wasn’t going to keep up with it myself.

I still got plenty of neat pictures, even so. (And, yes, I’ll be posting them over the next while. Check my Flickr for the latest.) I just still have a lot to learn.