Hello newbies to DLSR's! I'm a newbie myself (somewhat), and have been immersed for some weeks now researching, reading, posting, creating shopping carts, deleting shopping carts, scoffing at opinions, wow'd by opinions. I'm sure this is a recognizable story to many of you.
By profession, I am a Production Designer in film in Los Angeles. My primary desire to evolve to a DSLR is to document my design work. Documenting work as a Production Designer means more than just taking snap shots of some flats, props and furniture. My photographs need to tell stories and be compelling all by themselves. They need to tell a story and encourage the viewer to want to see more. As ANY good photograph should.
After the easy decision to purchase Nikon (D200), the chore of finding the right lenses and accessories began... daunting, to say the least. After selecting, in MANY iterations of shopping carts on Amazon and Adorama (and various others, the top of the line Nikon lenses and staring down the barrel at WELL over $8,000(US), I took a long hard swallow and thought, "maybe this isn't the right choice for me." Then I snapped out of it.
Going from a point and shoot, even a slightly more sophisticated SLR-Like Panasonic-Lumix DMC FZ30 (which I've used for a few years), to a top of the line Nikon is not just a little like learning a new language, it's TOTALLY like learning a new language. Imagine plopping yourself in to a foreign country having only read a few pamphlets on the language. That's what most of us do when we make the switch to a DSLR. Have no fear! There's a HUGE learning curve and A LOT of support out there for you. (At Camera Labs Forums, for one.)
What I realized, at least early on in my DLSR journey, was that I am willing to sacrifice a little bit of top-notch quality for flexibility. I had a plan for a bit to ONLY get THE BEST and FASTEST Nikon Lenses (for which there are MANY differing opinions about)... and then about 6 months down the road I would get another one... and maybe a few years down the road, when I can afford what I want, I would have all of the toys to start using my D200 the way I want.
Bad photo's can be taken with GREAT lenses, and FANTASTIC (even award winning) photo's can be taken with so-so lenses. What matters the most, to me at least, is who's behind that lens. Let's face it, these are toys... not to tinker with, but to have a lot of fun with... and for many of us to make a living with. You will ALWAYS see the difference between a photo taken by a photographer (at any level) who truly has joy for what they do and one who feels they are using sub-par equipment and is never satisfied with their work.
Working in film, I have seen some of my favorite films shot on nothing more than shoestring budgets and laughably poor equipment. Conversely, some of the worst films I have seen have wanted for nothing having EVERYTHING at their disposal, including the best camera and grip gear that money can buy. It's all about joy!
Take it easy and have fun. Like being in a foreign country, you will not hit the streets for the first time being totally fluent and fool even the natives. You'll most likely have a few necessary phrases to get by, and after sometime (if you are willing to learn) will know what you need to know... and more importantly, know better what works for you best.
Okay, so all you can afford right now is no wider than a 28mm and no faster than f/4.5. Play with it! Become adept at it... know it. Learn why it is the way it is. Every lens has a purpose, just like every phrase. No one phrase in any language is going to make it possible for you to communicate everything. (Then again, some choice words in most languages can get you pretty far!). In time, you will know why you HAVE to have that 50mm f/1.4, or that 600mm Telephoto. All in good time.
Any good photographer will tell you that every lens has its own personality. They will know when that (crappy by some) lens is AWESOME stopped down to f/11 at ISO200. You wont know everything all at once. Start perfecting those shots on what ever lens you have. Don't like the shots you are getting with the lens you have? Experiment... find what kind of shots that lens wants to take and know your lens.
Well... that was quite a rant! I hope this was helpful to some out there who are feeling like I did.
Looking forward to seeing what you all see!