Project 365: The arrival of the Nifty Fifty

by DaniGirl on April 17, 2009 · 14 comments

in Photo of the Day

I got a new toy this week! A 50mm f1.8 lens, so well loved in the photography community that they call it the “nifty fifty.” I totally love it!

As with far too many things in my life, however, the circuitous route by which it came to me makes for both a cautionary tale and excellent blog fodder.

I’d been eyeballing it for weeks, and knew I could buy it on for about $135US. I also happened to have $40 in gift certificates, for my last couple of blog tours. When I got a $100 paypal payment in $US, I figured it was meant to be. I have $140US to spend, the lens I covet costs $135. Hook me up!

Problem: doesn’t ship lenses to Canada. (And doesn’t accept gift certificates.)
Solution: Find benevolent American friend willing to re-ship lens to me.

Problem: doesn’t accept paypal. If I cash it out, I lose both ways on the exchange.
Solution: Use $$ in paypal account to bid on $100 Amazon gift card on eBay. Brilliant! (Beloved thought of this one. He’s so clever!)

Problem: I’m 80c (yes, eighty CENTS) short when I go to check out of the Amazon store. Friggin’ taxes!
Solution: use dregs of paypal account to buy a $5 gift card.

Problem: Lens finally arrives with $56.90 payment outstanding to UPS. Nanny doesn’t have the cash on hand to cover it. (I thought the $56.90 was the delivery charge, but my American friend had already paid nearly $20 for that. It was GST and duty. *choke*)
Solution: Must wait overnight and leave cheque for UPS.

Total cost to buy new lens from Amazon: $258.42 Cnd.
What it would have cost me to buy it from the Henry’s around the corner: $182.45. Sigh.

Oh well, my out-of-pocket is still only about $70. Not bad for a lens that I am completely and utterly in love with!

It took me a while to get used to the manual focus again (the 50mm f1.8 doesn’t autofocus with the D40) and of using my feet to do the zooming, but this lens is so sharp and takes the most lovely pictures. The f1.8 means that it has a particularly wide aperture, much wider than the f3.5 or so I can get with my kit lens. I’ve always liked playing with depth of field, and this lens is just amazing for that. (Depth of field refers to the amount of the photo that is in focus. In a wide depth of field, using say f20, all the details would be in focus. In a short depth of field, you can highlight what you want to be in focus and throw the foreground and background out of focus. /photography lesson)

You can see how much fun I’ve had with DoF in this week’s photos:

81:365 Colouring eggs for Easter

82:365 Easter candy

87:365 Pizza night

85:365 Tristan in motion

(In this case, the out-of-focus areas are from motion. This is a technique called ‘panning’ where you move your camera to follow a moving subject (theoretically) keeping your subject in focus while the background is blurred. I just love the expression on Tristan’s face!)

86c:365 First wildflowers (3 of 3)

86b:365 First wildflowers (2 of 3)

86:365 First wildflowers (1 of 3)

(I’m playing fast and loose with the definition of “this week’s photos”. You’ve already seen the peanut butter jar picture and the picture of Tristan and Lucas, so I slipped in a few extras of the pretty flowers. I found them growing wild by the side of the road near the Experimental Farm and didn’t figure you’d mind! Sometimes it’s hard to choose just one picture for the day, and sometimes it’s hell coming up with something, ANYTHING that will do for the day! Also, those flowers represent what I truly love about my 365 project: I never would have stopped and got out of my car to photograph or admire those flowers before — and I spent a lovely and restorative 20 or 30 minutes creeping around and even lying sprawled on my belly taking pictures of them. That in and of itself was a gift!)

And here’s one last thought for this week, a photo that I didn’t take that speaks for itself:

87b:365 Unphotographable

(With props – and apologies? – to Michael David Murphy of Unphotographable, and to Kate , who first exposed me to his work.)

The photographer’s equivalent of the one that got away, I guess!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mad Hatter April 17, 2009 at 7:53 am

I’m getting a nifty fifty in a couple of weeks and I am stoked.

Interestingly, captcha is “is communed” as in Mad is communed with Dani in her desire for a nifty 50.

2 BeachMama April 17, 2009 at 7:59 am

I knew you would enjoy that lens! I wondered why you were getting it from Amazon. Although prices are great they just don’t ship here. Not sure if B&H ship to Canada but they are another awesome resource. I always ship to my Sister and she delivers ;).

Enjoy!! You have some nice Bokeh going on in several photos. It’s all about Bokeh for me with that lens.

3 Mom on the Go April 17, 2009 at 7:59 am

I’m jealous! But Time Magazine is recommending that I buy a camera because prices are low. I’m sure this extends to a new lens and how can Ken argue with Time?

Btw, there is a place in Ogdensburg that will accept delivery of parcels for a $5 fee. (I have specifics if you ever want them) You could eliminate the second shipping fee and just drive the 60 minutes to get it yourself. Lucas is small enough to sleep in the car still, right?

4 alison April 17, 2009 at 8:30 am

Lovely, lovely photos, Dani! I especially like Tristan on the swing. And the pizza one has made me hungry. Off to have breakfast now, sadly not pizza.

5 cinnamon gurl April 17, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Oh, don’t let that be the last time you approach a stranger. People are entitled to say no, and it’s not a reflection of you at all. Hey, did you see Tony Fouhse is teaching a workshop at SPAO all about street portraiture? Please, please take it for me and tell me all about it?!?

(Captcha is “the systolic” as in blood pressure rising by asking strangers for pics…)

6 cinnamon gurl April 17, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Hey, how did you make a jpg with text? I want to do that for a project I’m working on…

7 DaniGirl April 17, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Mad, you will totally heart the 50. Please share some pix when you get it!

Anna, what other lenses do you have or recommend? (I need something new to covet, now that I have fulfilled my wishlist!)

Barb, sent you an e-mail then realized half-way through I still don’t have my passport. Passport is still more expensive than GST+duty at this point!

Thanks, Alison!

Sin, saw that Tony Fouhse workshop, and am way too timid to sign up. I’m just not that gritty — I think he’d scare the hell out of me in person!

Created new file in Photoshop as PSD, typed text, tinkered with formatting, Save As…jpeg. Easy peasy! (And noticed how I deftly skipped over the bit where I tried for 45 minutes to force PS to cough up a simple black rectangular border for my text and ultimately failed utterly.)

P.S. I’m now shooting RAW. Wheeee, lookit me go!

8 BeachMama April 17, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Dani, I recently acquired a new camera and with it I picked up a 24-70 lens so this as well as my 50 are my faves. I am thinking that a Macro (60mm) will be my next purchace, either that or the 70-300.

9 suze April 17, 2009 at 2:32 pm

mmmm – now I have a desire to get my husband’s nifty fifty out and play…

10 carolynn April 17, 2009 at 5:36 pm

sorry – not about your new lense at all! I wanted to thank you for sharing Plan B! I have started using Calorie Counter, after reading about it here, and I am down 6.2 pounds in 2 weeks. I love “playing the numbers” and it is obviously what works for me! Thanks again and please update is every once in awhile.

11 mrsgryphon April 17, 2009 at 9:24 pm

I’m so glad you’re enjoying the 50mm, Dani! I’ve been playing with mine alot lately, and love it more and more each time. You’ve had some great 365 pictures this week, too. (I’m going to try to do a 365 project for each of my kids when the baby is born in a few weeks – force myself to take at least one picture of them a day so that we can follow the changes through baby’s 1st year and Bean’s 4th year!)

P.S. captcha is “of flub”… hope I don’t “flub” my 365 plans!!

12 hw April 18, 2009 at 7:02 am

I’m loving that lens.

I need to learn more about lenses. Is this the type that will also function as a telescopic lens – give you an up close shot for things that are far away? Like when my kids play sports, I’d like a close up, but don’t think running onto the field to get a photo would be appreciated.

13 Amy @ Muddy Boots April 18, 2009 at 10:50 am

Great to know about the shipping/customs issues since I’ve been tempted by Amazon’s pricing for some time now. However, the lens I have my eye on is this one:

30mm f/1.4 with BUILT IN MOTOR so you can still autofocus with the D40. Be still my heart!

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