June 22, 2015
I only really picked up photography late last year, despite owning a DSLR camera since 2012. That was when I started exploring different parts of Singapore – the usual spots like Chinatown and the more obscure ones like Istana Woodneuk – and decided to document them for my own keepsake, especially since almost every nook and cranny of our country gets torn down to make room for development and urbanisation. Sure, I do take photos with my iPhone now and again because it’s easier and more convenient, but it just doesn’t capture the detail and sheer brilliance of each place the way a DSLR camera does. By Adam Kerr.
You’d think that our small country has little to offer in terms of cultural and heritage places, and that it’s really “boring” in Singapore. I beg to differ. In fact, I have a super long list of places I want to visit. For one of my “expeditions” around Singapore, I brought with me the Nikon D5500, the world’s smallest, lightest and slimmest DX-format DSLR. Being a Nikon user myself, I was drawn to the touchscreen capabilities of the camera, since it’s the brand’s first DSLR of the sort. The user interface on the 3.2-inch vari-angle LCD monitor is very intuitive. All the usual settings that I’m always adjusting, like the shutter speed, aperture, ISO sensitivity and exposure compensation among other things, are literally at my fingertips. It’s way faster and more convenient to just touch and go. I didn’t end up fumbling through layers upon layers of menu commands to just get the right settings (I’ve missed photo ops because of this).
Also, in the live view, I was able to touch anywhere on the screen to focus and shoot as well, which is good because it lets me take photos from all sorts of angles (i.e. ground up, top down, etc.). The built-in Wi-Fi was pretty nifty as well – a few clicks here and there on the camera and on the Wireless Mobile Utility app, and I was connected to my smartphone. It took mere seconds to download the photos onto my iPhone (you can do the same with Androids). The carbon-fibre monocoque body, though small and light, actually feels strong and durable. Also, the deep grip – something that I had to get used to – was indeed more stable and comfortable to hold, especially with a heavier 18-140mm lens.
A HOBBYIST MUST-HAVE
Once you’ve gotten the hang of shooting with a DSLR camera, you might want to save up to get more gear. One of the must-haves is a prime lens. For starters, you might want to try out the AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8g. Prime lenses are generally known for being high quality and having the ability to create clean, sharp and precise shots (have we mentioned the creamy bokeh as well?). They’re easier to construct since they only have one focal length and have less moving parts, which makes them lightweight as well, so their prices are generally lower as compared to zoom lenses. Prime lenses make great companions for street photography, portrait shots, low-light conditions and when you’re travelling (for practical reasons of course). Also, you might want to do a little bit of research on finding the right tripod if you’re thinking of exploring long exposure photography. Oh, and if you want to go all out and play with light, check out the Pocket Reflector on the Photojojo Store (photojojo.com).
The first thing you should know about Nikon cameras are the two formats (the size of the image sensor) that are available – DX and FX. The DX-format sensor is 24x16mm, and the FX-format sensor is 36x24mm, a size similar to 35mm film. While FX sensors have a bigger “light gathering” area, which means higher sensitivity, less noise in photos and no crop factor (we’ll talk about that later) present, FX-format DSLRS are generally more expensive and heavier. With a DX sensor, it’s possible to create lighter, smaller cameras like Nikon D5500. But that means DX sensors cover a smaller part of the image projected by the lens – a 1.5x crop factor, which means that a 24mm lens on a DX-format camera will give a 36mm view (it’s more zoomed-in and cropped). Also, one of the good things about using a DX-format camera is the ability to use both DX and non-DX NIKKOR lenses.
EFFECTIVE ANGLE OF VIEW: Nikon DX format; focal length equivalent to approximately 1.5x that of lenses with FX format angle of view
EFFECTIVE PIXELS: 24.2 million
MAX. RESOLUTION: 6000 x 4000
MAX. VIDEO RESOLUTION: 1920 x 1080
ISO RANGE: 100 – 25600
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/4000 – 30, in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV; Bulb; Time
BUILT-IN FLASH: Yes
LCD SCREEN: TFT Vari-angle LCD Touch Screen with 170o Viewing Angle with 100% Frame Coverage
DIMENSIONS: 124 x 97 x 70 mm
WEIGHT: 470g (with battery & memory card) / 420g (camera body only)
Nikon D5500 + AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II Kit (Black), $1,229; Nikon D5500 + AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR (Black), $1,449. Available at authorised Nikon dealers. nikon.com.sg
WIN! We’re giving away a Nikon D5500 + AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II Kit (worth $1,229). To stand a chance to win, all you need to do is to fill up the form at the bottom by 11am, 24 June.