February 8th, 2013

Choosing a DSLR Camera: Which one should I buy?

 Canon-1DX-vs-Nikon-D4

So many family and friends ask me this question and truth be told, I find it difficult to answer because there is much to consider!  To start off with – I’m definitely not a technological guru and I don’t claim to be one! There are so many websites on the Internet that can take you through the individual specs of a camera in detail and I would urge you to read these reviews before purchasing any camera.   This article will focus on some general points of consideration if you find yourself sniffing around for a new DSLR…

Start by establishing your needs and asking yourself a few simple questions…What will I use it for? How/When will I be using it? Have I got my sights set on becoming a pro or is it just a bit of fun that I’m after? After you’ve done that, consider setting a rough budget based on how much you are willing to spend but know that there may be some compromises made along the way…

Which Brand?

There are several manufacturers of DSLR cameras in the market today and many of them offer high quality cameras priced very competitively making it quite confusing to know where to start. Because you can use many different lenses with one SLR, when you buy an SLR camera you are technically committing to the brand in the long term.  For this reason, it is important to be aware that Canon and Nikon are the two front-runners of the industry.  They have a vast range of lenses and accessories all the way into the professional range.  Choosing a Canon or Nikon DSLR (even though you may choose an entry-level Canon/Nikon SLR) makes it easier to expand your kit as you change and grow as a photographer.  And if you don’t plan to expand your kit, no harm done.  Canon and Nikon are both great brands so which one you opt for is really up to you!

Bursting the Megapixels Bubble

To put it bluntly, megapixels are not as important as the camera manufacturers want you to think!  A common misconception is that the more megapixels the camera has, the clearer/better your image.  The honest truth is, if your camera can give you anywhere around 10 megapixels then it will most likely suffice for all your needs and enlargements!  The key here is that there are several OTHER factors that result in the sharpness/quality of your image such as the lens, the focus point of your photograph and the low light capability of your camera.  So please don’t be fooled into paying more for megapixels, its really not necessary!

Lenses and Accessories

As important as it is to choose the right camera, the lens or lenses you end up with are even more important!  So lets discuss lenses before talking about the other features of the camera you need to look out for.

Chances are, your DSLR will come with a standard kit zoom lens.  This kit lens will be great for playing around with your camera and for taking daily photos; for many of you, that’s all you need to complete your photography journey!

However, if you decide to take your new camera just a little bit more seriously, you will soon discover that there are a host of different lenses that can aid your photography immensely. In fact, many photographers will go as far as to say that the camera is not as important as the lens!  Admittedly, the lenses referred to in this statement can be incredibly expensive.  Yet, there are some lenses out there that are wonderful and inexpensive!  One of my all time favorites is the 50mm prime lens F1.8 which you can pick up for under £100!  This lens is great for taking all kinds of portraits and it can give you a wonderfully sharp image with a creamy soft background when used correctly.  Parents, this is a great lens for taking pictures of your kids.

Another accessory you may wish to consider is an external flash unit.  These are small flash units that you can mount on your camera.  Yes your camera does have its own built in flash, but the results from a simple external flash unit can hugely improve the quality of your image!  It gives you the flexibility to direct and bounce the light creating a much more eye pleasing result when flash is needed in low light situations.  The latest external flash units are quite expensive however as hobbyists, you can hunt for some great bargains by choosing older models or opting for used/refurbished units.

In conclusion, you may find it wholly unnecessary to invest in different lenses and flashes – however, equipped with this knowledge you may decide to consider a less expensive camera body in exchange for a special lens or two, or a simple flash unit!

Important DSLR Features

When looking for a camera, equip yourself with knowledge about some of the following important camera features:

1)   Focus points: Focus points are used to pinpoint which part of your photo you want to have in focus.  Whilst it is certainly not necessary to have more than a few focus points (3-9) having the luxury of more focus points does create ease of composition.  It also makes it easier to track a moving subject.  Pro range cameras can have anywhere between 39-60 focus points.

2)   Sensor Size: Nikon has two different sensor sizes: Full Frame (FX) and 1.5x (DX).  Canon has three sensor sizes: Full Frame, 2.3x and 1.6x.  Without getting overly technical, Full Frame cameras offer better image quality, ‘no crop factor’, and they really do shine when it comes to ISO performance.  They are also terribly pricy.  For the average consumer a smaller 1.5x or 1.6x sensor will suffice just fine; if you only plan to own the standard kit lens and maybe one other lens, it just won’t make sense to spend the extra money on a full frame camera.

3)   ISO capability: If you plan on shooting with pre-dominantly natural light and/or in low light situations, do read up on how well a camera performs with a high ISO.  Again, Full Frame cameras cope excellent with high ISOs but don’t expect to find them thrifty.

4)   Speed (Number of frames per second): This refers to how many pictures a camera can take in one second.  For the average consumer anywhere between 2-4fps will suffice.  Faster is only better if you need the speed for quick action or sports.

5)   Video Recording Capability: With many DSLRs offering HD quality video recording capability, it is a worthy consideration to check out what recording options are available within your budget.

Again, reading online about each camera and its features will help you to ascertain your needs whilst staying within your budget.

To give you a starting point, below are some cameras that may be suitable for various budgets.  I am a Nikon girl and the recommendations below are all Nikon based however rest assured that Canon models are equally fantastic.  Do note that this is by no means an exhaustive list so please use these as starting points to begin your camera hunt…

Entry level

Budget: Under £300-£500

Nikon D3200 / Nikon D5100

Amateur

Budget: Under £800-£1000

Nikon D5200/Nikon D90/ Nikon D7000

Pro

Budget: £1800-£5000

Nikon D700/ Nikon D800/ Nikon D3x

In conclusion, whilst I can’t tell you exactly which camera to buy I hope that the article has given you some background information to begin hunting for your perfect camera. The Internet is obviously a great place to research a camera’s features in depth and I would urge you to do so before purchasing any camera.  Once you do this, you may find that you have specific questions about features and I am more than happy to help answer any questions you have!

For those of you who want to know what I use here at MJP, below is a list of my core camera equipment:

Camera Nikon FX D700

Camera Nikon DX D90

External Flash SB 900

External Flash SB 700

Prime Lens 50mm F1.8

Zoom Lens 24-70mm F2.8

Good Luck and Happy Shopping!

 

February 6th, 2013

Valentines February Special Offer

To all you Sweethearts out there!  This February only, I’m offering half price outdoor photoshoots to all couples.  Whether you are engaged, happily married or simply together, treat yourself to some much deserved ‘together photos’ that you can cherish forever…

Limited spaces are available on this offer so please book soon to avoid disappointment.  Email mehdiya@mehdiyajafferphotography.co.uk or call +447702737901 to book/inquire for further details.  T/C may apply.

 

Valentines 2013 offerLee&Natalie_0063

January 25th, 2013

Photography Article Published in Muslim Mums Magazine

Below is an article I recently wrote for a Muslim Mums Magazine about photographing kids.  I hope you enjoy the read and I hope it gives you some ideas about how to capture your sweet munchkins!

Cheese No More! 7 Tips for Capturing Memorable Photos of Your Kids

By Mehdiya Jaffer

No matter what kind of camera you have, you can capture great photos of your little ones.  In this article, we visit some easy, practical and fun ways to take better pictures.

 

 

1) Golden hours

Although this tip may not always be practical, it is helpful to keep in mind that dawn and dusk are mother nature’s helping hand for beautiful photos.  When the sun is low during the early hours of the morning or during the hours before sunset, the light is softer, warmer and generally much more flattering in photos and portraits.  You may have noticed that photos taken at high noon on a sunny day seem harsh, shadowy and too bright.  So, get out there with the kids during the early hours or in the evening for some fantastic looking light in your photos.  If you do happen to be out at noon, look for shady areas to take pictures in.

2) Rule of thirds

The Rule of Thirds, also referred to as the Golden Ratio, is used in many aspects of art, including photography. Following the rule achieves artistic results that are pleasing to the eye. The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking down an image into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts (as seen in the illustration).  Endeavour to place your subjects at the points where these lines intersect. Studies have shown that when viewing images people’s eyes are drawn to the areas of intersecting points rather than the center of an image.  Most digital cameras have the option for you to turn on this grid so you may want to start experimenting with it! The next time you feel like centralizing your subject, think Golden Ratio! Tip: Please don’t think that every photo needs to follow this rule! It is only a guideline to experiment with!

 

 

 

3) Don’t make the flash your trustee!

Simply put, avoid using your camera flash if you can use available light!  The handy flash that pops up on your camera is admittedly very handy in low light situations.  Unfortunately it can leave you with very flat, plastic looking images that lack detail. Try taking photos near large windows or switch on the lights to avoid using the flash.  However, when used effectively, the flash on your camera can be very useful to fill in shadows and compliment the available light, such as in bright sunshine.  And of course, if your pictures are turning out too dark or blurry you may not have any other option but to resort to the flash but before you do that, play around and check the results you get without it.

4) Tell a visual story

Rather than harassing your kids to smile and say cheese for the camera (lets face it we all do it – including me!), try a more sneaky approach.  Give them a little assignment (eg: “why don’t you go and smell that flower”) or simply let them carry on playing whilst you sneak some photos from a distance.  This strategy often results in photographs that have meaningful visual stories.  The next time you force your kids to sit still for a photo, consider giving them a purpose or activity (eg: “lets paint a picture”) – you may surprise yourself with the gems you capture and the best part is, years later, the photos will tell you a cute little visual story that will most likely hold some genuine memories!

5) Shift your perspective

As tempting as zooming into your child’s face is, stop and think for a moment – Consider the different options you have.  Each photograph can be approached from so many different angles and perspectives to maximize the visual interest of the photo!  Consider the different results you might get if you choose to shoot from up above, down below, at eye level, from a distance, at a close range, from behind your subject….the options are literally endless! Remember also to capture the smaller details you never want to forget – the adorable stomach rolls, chubby thighs and tiny toes.   So the next time you are about to click the shutter, take a quick moment to consider your options.  Tip: Don’t think for too long, you might miss the moment! ;)

 

6) Don’t be lazy, print it!

I have seen way too many people store their beautiful photographic memories on iPhones, hard-drives and computers!  Please do yourself a favour and PRINT your favourite images- when it comes to photos, there is nothing like a hardcopy! Make albums or scrapbooks! Frame some pictures! Stick them up on the fridge!  Send prints to the gramps! Displaying your pictures effectively and sharing them with friends and family will motivate you to keep taking good pictures through all the phases of your child’s life!

7) Have fun!

Taking things too seriously is never a good idea! So, keep all of the above tips in mind, but most importantly, pack your camera everywhere you go, relax, snap away, and have fun capturing your special memories!

 

Mehdiya Jaffer is a professional wedding and lifestyle photographer.  You can find more information about her work by visiting her website: www.mehdiyajafferphotography.co.uk

June 22nd, 2012

Family Studio Photoshoot, Another Sneaky Peek, Northwood

Another little teaser while I work up the rest!  What a gorgeous family!

June 22nd, 2012

Family Photoshoot – Sneak Peek, Kingsbury

These two girls melted my heart! Just a little sneaky peek before the full post!

 

June 7th, 2012

Maternity, Hartlebury Castle

I had the pleasure of photographing this gorgeous family a couple weekends ago.  Jodie is pregnant with her second baby who should be making his/her entry into the world anytime! Fortunately we had a glorious day full of sunshine and boy did we make the most of it!  I love how all the photos have turned out and I’m particularly obsessed with the photos we took by the Gypsy caravans!  Jodie, Neil and Faith you were all such a pleasure to work with and I hope you like the photos as much as I do!  I can’t wait to meet your new addition!

 

 

May 28th, 2012

Maternity, A Sneak Preview

I had a wonderful maternity session in Hartlebury this weekend.  Neil and Jodie have one daughter and another baby on the way!  Jodie is full term and looks absolutely stunning!  There is something special about a woman carrying new life….Here are a couple of tease photos while I work on the full set!  Thanks Jodie, Neil and Faith for an awesome photoshoot, I can’t wait to show you the rest!

 

April 19th, 2012

Natalie and Lee

I photographed Natalie and Lee whilst I was in Dubai last month and their photoshoot gave me such a buzz, reminding me of just how much fun my job really is! We started off at the park and then headed down to the beach for the sunset.  Natalie and Lee have been married for just over a year and I think this set of photographs celebrates their union so well!  The weather was perfect, the light was gorgeous and the sun put on a real show for us as it set at the beach!

Both Natalie and Lee were so relaxed and easy behind the camera so everything came together fabulously… Lee even climbed up a tree when I asked him to and then climbed back down when we decided it wasn’t such a great idea (LOL)! Thanks for being such great sports!  I hope you like the pictures….I couldn’t be more pleased with how they have turned out…

 

April 3rd, 2012

Hello from Dubai – Sneak Preview!

I had an awesome time photographing MuhammedAbbas and Sukaina’s wedding here in Dubai last week – I can’t wait to get stuck in the edit once I get back home!  Today, I had a terrific time photographing Natalie and Lee!  We started our shoot at the park and then headed to the beach to catch the sunset.  I could not resist sharing a sneak preview!  Gorgeous much?  Can’t wait to share more!

March 11th, 2012

MJP is coming to Dubai!

This March/ April, I’m proud to extend my services to the place where I was born and brought up – I’m so excited to mix work with travel and pleasure! I will be photographing a wedding in Dubai at the end of March.  After the wedding, I’m pleased to offer a limited number of ‘mini-sessions’ for families and couples whilst I’m there!

Check out the information below and please get in touch soon to reserve your space! Reserve your slot by emailing me at mehdiya@mehdiyajafferphotography.co.uk or click here.  Mini-session slots are limited so please book soon to avoid disappointment!  If you are leaving for holiday or if the dates below don’t work for you, please do get in touch to register your interest and Ill see what I can do for you!

 

What is a mini-session?

A “mini-session’ is a shortened photo shoot with an exclusively reduced price, providing excellent value for money.  The session will take place at an outdoor location in Dubai chosen by me (e.g.: park/ beach) at an agreed upon time and date (see below).  Locations will be confirmed after booking.  At your mini-session I will take a variety of posed/ candid photos along with lots of group/ individual portraits of your family.  You will receive your high-resolution, edited digitals approximately 4-5 weeks after your session. With your digitals in hand, your options are endless – you can print them for an album, enlarge them for framing or make a canvas for your living room!

Sat April 7th                                                                   Sun April 8th

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