Photography FAQ #1

Starting from today, I decided to start posting some of the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) by our blog readers. We get a lot of questions and feedback through comments and email, so I decided to post some of the shorter ones here. Let’s get started with the first part of Photography FAQ.

  1. I am having a hard time picking between Nikon D90 and Nikon D300/D300s. What do you recommend?
    Unless you are planning to photograph fast-action sports, action and wildlife, I would recommend Nikon D90 over Nikon D300/D300s, especially if it is going to be your first DSLR. Nikon D90 is a great camera that works great for occasional portraits, landscapes and other types of photography where the speed of the camera is not important. As can be seen in our Nikon D300 vs D90 high ISO comparison, Nikon D90 deals with noise in high ISOs a little better than Nikon D300. This is due to a slightly better sensor and a more aggressive noise-reduction algorithm on the Nikon D90. Therefore, if you were to compare the image quality of both cameras, Nikon D90 would have a very slight edge over Nikon D300. In addition, accessories for Nikon D90 are a lot cheaper than for Nikon D300/D300s (for example battery grip and remote camera trigger). So, unless you have special needs, you should buy the Nikon D90.
  2. Do you recommend using filters on lenses for protection? Do filters degrade image quality?
    Absolutely! I use clear filters on every single lens that I have for not only protection, but also for easiness of cleaning. Many lenses have round front elements that stick out and are somewhat painful to clean. In contrast, filters do not have this problem and are very easy to clean. If a filter gets scratched or damaged, you throw it away and get a new one, knowing that the front element of your lens is always protected. Now as far as filters degrading image quality, it all really depends on the quality of the filter. In general, filters do have a slightly negative impact on image quality – after-all, it is another glass element in front of your lens! However, if you get a good high-quality filter, it will have almost no negative impact on image quality. At least not something you will notice with a naked eye. I personally use clear/protection filters by a company called B+W and I use their B+W 77mm MRC Clear Filter on lenses with a 77mm filter thread. I buy the same kind of protection filter for all other filter threads as well. Always make sure to get an MRC (Multi-Coated) version of the filter. There are many other filter manufacturers such as Tiffen and Hoya out there, but I prefer to use B+W, because their glass is of higher quality.
  3. Is there a considerable difference between FX (full frame) and DX (cropped-sensor)?
    Yes, there is. Full frame sensors have a much larger sensor than cropped sensors and therefore have larger pixels that are more sensitive to light. When it comes to both image quality and low-light capabilities, FX has a huge advantage over DX. There is a 2-stop difference between low-light capabilities of FX versus DX. For example, shooting at ISO 3200 on Nikon D700 is comparable to ISO 800 on Nikon D300s. Check out my FX vs DX article on differences between these formats in much more detail.
  4. What Nikon portrait lens do you recommend?
    In my opinion, the best lenses for portrait photography are Nikon 50mm f/1.4G, Nikon 85mm f/1.4D and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II (not cheap). I personally love the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G and use it more than any other lens.
  5. I see that most of your articles are about Nikon. Are you planning to cover Canon gear in the future as well?
    We try to write most of our “howto” articles for both Nikon and Canon digital cameras. However, since we primarily use Nikon cameras and lenses, we feel that it would be wrong to write about gear we do not have much experience with. I personally shot with Canon Digital Rebel and 40D/50D/5D DSLR cameras in the past, but we do not own any Canon equipment at the moment. We are hoping to start playing with Canon equipment more in the future though, read why below.
  6. Are you planning to write more reviews on cameras and lenses?
    Going forward, one of the largest photography stores in the world (you can probably guess which one) will be sending us new equipment for reviewing and testing. We are honored and privileged to be able to do this and our review section will be growing in numbers fairly quickly. The only problem I have is time – testing, reviewing and writing about products takes weeks of hard work. But we are committed to our website and our readers, so we will work hard on making it all happen!

If you buy from any of the above links, we get some diaper money for our Ozzy :)

That’s it for now, more to come later!


  1. February 14, 2010 at 5:56 am

    Congratulations on the relationship with the photo store! That will be really good for you guys (and for your readers)!

    I’ve used a lot of filters over the years, my current favorite “protective” filter (I only use it in harsh environments, like kid’s birthdays, haha!) and circular polarizer are Hoya’s Pro1D series. Check them out too.

    I’m in the process of switching from DX to FX. Decided to get lenses before camera. Looking forward to reading your article on the subject. I’d like to get an f/1.4 prime after I’ve got the zooms I’ll need, and I keep flip-flopping between the 50mm or 85mm first. I don’t know which I’d find more useful on an FX body… :-P

  2. February 15, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Aaron, thank you! :)

    I have heard a lot of good things about Hoya lately and I will definitely try out their filters. Maybe that’s the next thing to try…Hoya vs Tiffen vs B+W :)

    As far as lenses for FX, I would first get the 50mm f/1.4G before going for the 85mm f/1.4D. I personally use the 50mm lens for many things, not just portraits, so it is one heck of a good lens for FX. 85mm f/1.4 is superb, but I only take it out for portraits…

  3. 3) Rose Taylor
    February 17, 2010 at 2:54 am

    Those are really good questions and answers about photography.I came to know so many new things and I have also learned something from this post.Thank you very much for this helpful post.

  4. 4) Camellia
    February 17, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Thank you so much for great articles. I was considering purchasing a Nikon filter soon, have you tested those by any chance? I read great reviews about some Hoya filters too. Have been struggling to decide between two. After reading your article, I’m thinking about B+W vs. Nikon… any ideas?

    I’d also highly appreciate an advice (or even a new article with video or pictures:D) on how to clean photo gear properly (lenses and sensor) or can I send them to nikon for cleaning if my gear is still under factory warranty?

    By the way, congrats with a new achievement, I’m sure this connection will take your blog to the next level. I only wish this happened before, because I purchased many photo and video equipment from B&H in the past. I’ll definitely use your links for new purchases from now on ))) and I really hope your reviews stay objective and accurate.

    Best of luck!

    • February 17, 2010 at 11:35 am

      Camellia, Nikon filters are also very good, but not quite as good as B+W. I have used them in the past and never had any issues. Again, B+W is my personal favorite, but other filters by Hoya and Nikon are also worth looking into.

      As far as a tutorial on how to clean photo equipment, I have been putting it off for a while now and hopefully will write it this week. I believe that Nikon does not clean your camera sensor for free under warranty, unless you have a problem with it. They charge between $50-100 for sensor cleaning.

      Thank you for your feedback!

  5. 5) Francis
    December 22, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    A two part question if you dont mind and possibly have time later to address.

    I just bought a d90 with the 18-55 kit lense, and now just added the 70-300 lense that was on sale and couldnt pass it up. I dont have filters for either of these lenses, just the caps that come with the lense.

    1) when I shine a light directly into the 70-300 I can see a small “spec” or two that wont seem to wipe away with the cleaning solution and microcloth, almost as if it is inside the glass and not on the surface, the depth at which i see it varies on how I shine the angle of the light into the lense. Are a few imperfections like this a really big deal, or am I fretting over something that will have no real impact on my photos anyway? Just trying to get a grasp of what is normal and what isnt, and what is really worth trying to correct.

    Are a few specs of dust inside the lense or a few very minor scratches over time going to truly degrade your photo quality? As far as contaminant specs inside the glass, are we to expect perfection here or not?

    2)I am debating on getting a clear filter for protection. This is my dilema, I like the idea of later using polarizers and ND grad setups ( maybe cokin holder) to buy one size and use on all lenses I will have.
    So I am thinking of using a step up ring on both of theses lenses to bring both of them up to 77mm, then use the same filters on which ever lense I choose to shoot with.

    Just a few things I notice if I use the step up rings

    – the lense hood wont fit
    – the nikon protective lense caps wont fit.

    I suppose I could use 77mm step up rings and use a clear filter on each lense to keep on all the time, if so:

    – when carrying equipment in the camera bag would you remove the clear filter and step ring to put back on the supplied lense cap, or is there a third party lense cap in the 77mm size you would buy and slip on over the clear filter instead, for a full time solution?

    – would I take this clear filter off when using polarizers and grads, or would that depend on what system i choose?

    Thanks, hope my question is not too long, I totally understand if you are unable to answer.


    • January 6, 2011 at 5:42 pm

      Francis, don’t worry about the small dust spec in your lens. Every lens I own has dust in it and if you don’t have any dust today, you will have dust in your lenses later. The good news is that small dust particles do not impact your image quality, as long as the particles are small. If you are seeing anything big (more than 2-3mm), then I would send it back to where you bought it from. Scratches on the lens surface on the other hand, is not something you want to have. I would certainly recommend to protect the front lens element with a basic UV filter.

      As for clear filters, don’t buy step-up rings, since lens hoods and lens caps won’t work with them as you have pointed out. I would only use step-up rings for using expensive polarizing/ND filters. It is cheaper to buy one polarizing and one ND filter and use step-up rings, then to buy several of those for different filter sizes…

      And yes, I would certainly take off your clear filters when using other filters. Stacking filters is never a good idea, unless you are using several filters for effects.

      • 5.1.1) Francis
        February 7, 2011 at 12:38 am


        Thanks again for the recommendations and advice!

  6. 6) Sam
    January 27, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Hi Nasim,

    I would like to hear your views on the 18% grey card. Is it necessary to have one of this card?


    • February 24, 2011 at 3:44 pm

      Sam, I have never used a grey card and I don’t think you need it either – as long as you shoot in RAW. If you shoot in JPEG and want to get better white balance results (especially indoors), then a grey card can certainly help.

  7. 7) Sam
    February 25, 2011 at 4:44 am

    Thanks for your reply, Nasim.

    Have a nice weekend.

  8. 8) pranay kilpady
    November 14, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Hi Nasim,
    Im Pranay from India, and i found your website very interesting and a lot of help. I recently bought a nikon D7000 and im very happy with it. I take most of my pictures in M mode and vary my ISO as and when required, but mostly at ISO 200. Now what i need to ask you is: about a month back i used my friends nikon D5000 for taking portraits, and i found that the pictures on that came out very well as compared to what i clicked on the D7000, it was the same location, the same outdoor light, the same lens (nikkor 18-105) but the pictures were much sharper and much clearer, the D5000 was on auto (no flash) mode. I need to know why this difference.

  9. 9) chinmay d
    November 30, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    sir i can understand that your website is for beginning professional photography with professional camera. but can u please introduce article for those who dont have or dont have any plans to purchase a professional camera anytime soon and they just have the low cost cams as digicam. so as to know the scope of their cams, and as to what kind of photography other than the usual ones can be carried out using those digicams. in my case i am using a panasonic company’s lumix dmc-tz11. so i wish to carry out photography with that. so please put up some tutorials about it!!

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