Advice on on buying my first DSLR.
Posted: Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:24 pm
I have about a £700-£800 budget and I am looking to purchase my first SLR. I am a total beginner when it comes to photography but I have a desire to explore and grow in this field.
I am looking for a camera that is suitable for beginning enthusiasts but also one that allows me to mature and take greater control down the line. I am interested in experimenting with landscapes, portrait, urban and sport to start with. I am also going to take a couple of short courses to get the technical foundations down but I mainly plan to improve through practical experience.
Any advice would be much appreciated.
Re: Advice on on buying my first DSLR.
Posted: Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:25 pm
In order of importance:
1. Your knowledge. This point trumps all others. As example, if I hand the same exact camera & lens to 10 different people and ask them to take a picture of the same subject, I will likely get 10-different images. One of which might stand out from the rest. Why does that image stand out? Knowledge of the photographer. One prime example: composition. A pleasing composition is invaluable to a good image and has virtually nothing to do with gear.
2. The Light. Any camera in the world is simply a tool used to record an exposure: to record light. There isn't any one camera (within reason) that can record light "better" than another. If a light meter tells me my exposure value is f/8, ISO 400, @ 1/250th... then that is my exposure value (exposure settings) for any camera on the planet because that is the light falling on the subject. The four principle characteristics of light are: quality, direction, color and intensity. In addition, a single light source provides "x" amount of contrast. Do you know what the camera can do to control any of those? Absolutely nothing. BTW, I say in my first point that composition has virtually nothing to do with gear. But, lighting is an element in composition that you can exert control over should you desire. At which point, the proper gear can help.
3. The Lens. Exponentially more important than the camera is the lens. The lens gathers the light and then focuses the lighting onto the camera sensor. Do not underestimate this. A common "kit" lens is the 18-55 variety. New, this lens is somewhere around the $200 mark. The professional version of this lens is well north of $1,000. Why do you think that is? Which one do you think gathers and focuses the light more effectively? Another aspect of composition is perspective. Perspective is determined by one thing and one thing only: the distance from which you photograph your subject. The lens will determine your field of view for any given distance.
4. The Camera. Yep, dead last in the equation is the camera. After all is said and done, the only thing the camera does is record the exposure. And they all do this using the same exact math. What's the difference? Well, you have difference in formats such as a Point & Shoot or a DSLR. And then within any given format, there can be different features. One camera might record more frames per second (if that is important to you). Some cameras have more controls on the body and less menu driven. Of course if you never take the camera out of auto, then this won't be important to you! And the list of features goes on. A $5000 DSLR will be built like a tank, offer a high frames per second, have a very fast and accurate auto-focus system (the ability to AF at 10 frames per second or something) and so on. But the resulting exposure isn't going to be overwhelmingly better than a $500 DSLR (most of the differences will be in the lens).
The final thing to keep in mind: all photography is a compromise. Period. When first starting out, you have no idea what compromises you are willing to make. The only way to know what compromises you are willing to make is to go out and take pictures. Learn what you like and don't like about your pictures and how to improve them. And repeat the process.