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Monday, October 29, 2012

Photography 101 {Which camera to buy?}

Christmas is right around the corner.  And if you're anything like me, you've long ago given up trying to get your well-intentioned husband to read your ESP.  I no longer drop hints or leave clues laying around about what I'd like to get for Christmas, my birthday, Mother's Day... {Insert gift-giving occasion of your choice.} And I've never been one for surprises, so now I just tell him what I want.  Better yet, I am very specific when I tell him including size and color and style, and I write it down.  And even better yet,  I send an email with a link to the order form page already filled out.  So not romantic.  And SO what works for us!  In his busy days of providing for us, he is quite appreciative to know that he really got me something I actually want.

{A little self promotion if I may - If you're interested in purchasing a gift certificate for 4 weeks of my DSLR coaching as a Christmas gift for someone you love, or maybe your sweetie wants to get you a gift certificate using the above technique, just drop me an email or comment.  I'm currently booked through December.  So a Christmas gift will be perfectly timed to start in the beginning of the year!  Be sure to leave your email address.  Click here for more info.}

First, there are some things you need to think about before you ask for a DSLR from Mr. Kringle a.k.a. Mr.Wonderful.  Or perhaps you're thinking about just going out and buying one for yourself.  It is a lot of money either way.
I don't necessarily recommend a DSLR for everyone.  In order for a DSLR to function better than a good point-n-shoot, there is a learning curve.  Many folks get a new fancy camera only to discover that learning how to use it beyond its auto mode (which is really just an expensive point-n-shoot) is not easy and time consuming.  DSLRs are heavy and not likely to fit in your purse. And they're kinda fragile and not something you want to let little Bobby play with.  I also recommend purchasing at least 1 additional lens, (a 50mm at about $100.  Info here) and some editing software, (I recommend Photoshop Elements or Lighroom) and expenses go up from there.  It can become an expensive hobby.  Without this extra stuff, you will be limited on what types of photos you can produce.  But if you're willing to invest a little more money and time, then you will likely find it a rewarding investment!  If not, please consider purchasing a nice point-n-shoot.  There are some wonderful ones on the market.  I really mean that!  Not to mention that camera phones have come so far and can also take wonderful images!

Do you still want a DSLR?  I hope so!  This is not a professional review of products.  If you were my girlfriend and we were having coffee, this is what I'd recommend.  It's only my opinion based on my experience.  So take it for what it's worth.
And by the way, I'll take a vente iced coffee with 2 pumps white mocha, 2 pumps vanilla, and breve please.

For first-time DSLR users, I'd recommend the Canon Rebel T3i.  There is a T4i but the reviews are mixed so let's wait till they get the kinks worked out.  I have an older model, the T1i.  It was my first DSLR, and I still love it and still use it!  The Rebel line is kinda like Canon's best non-professional DSLR.  DSLRs usually come with a lens.  It's probably an okay lens, but it's one that you'll likely outgrow if you're committed to learning photography.  I don't really use the lens that came with my camera, and if I could do it again, I'd buy a camera body only and a separate 50mm lens.
A note on lenses.  You will likely outgrow an entry level lens long before you outgrow an entry level camera. In my opinion, the lens you purchase is more important than the camera body.  If you see yourself staying with photography for a while, I recommend you consider spending a little extra and get good lenses that will grow with you.
One of the very first photos I took with my Rebel of sweet Tess, 21 months old.
I was so excited to use it that I was still in bed and taking photos even before I got up.
So there you have it.  My very non-professional take.  And just so you know, I'm a Canon gal only because the first big-girl SLR camera I got in 1989, circa the stone age, was a Canon.  Nikon is also wonderful brand.  But because I'm a Canon gal, I don't know nothin' bout birthin' no Nikon babies.  Except that Canon and Nikon are both are very worthy of your investment.  So I also recommend that you look into the Nikon equivalent of the Canon Rebel line.

Up next on Photography 101 - So I have a DSLR. Now what?

PS- I have no affiliation with Canon.  Canon has no idea who I am.  Canon has never even sent me a birthday card.  I wanna be Ree Drummond and give away Canon babies on my blog.  Oh well.

Photography 101

12 comments:

  1. I am still loving my cannon rebel T3i :) And thanks to you I am not in Auto!!

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  2. Do you have any suggestions for a good and affordable point and shoot? As I'm looking ahead to my trip to China to pick up Kayla, I'm wondering if I should invest in something better than my rather crappy point and shoot...but finances are scarce. Any hope for me? =)

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    1. Michele-YES, there is LOTS of hope. But unless your point-n-shoot is OLD and awful, I'd guess it's just fine! I'm sure that others have different experiences, but as long as the have a high-ish resolution and image stabilization, I kinda think point-n-shoots are all pretty much the same. My hubby goes through them like water because of his job. BUT I DO recommend that you invest some time in learning how to use it the best way you can. Learning how to take photos w/out flash. Learning LOTS about light and where to position yourself in relation to the light for the best photos. And learning about composition. You can take WONDERFUL photos with a point-n-shoot. ALL the pics of our VietNam trip were with a Nikon point-n-shoot. Be sure to get a HUGE memory card (16+) so you don't have to worry about running out of memory when you're out and about. And you may want to consider investing in some editing software (Lightroom or Photoshop. My personal preference is for Lightroom) for afterwards. You can "fix" many things in editing and make your point-n-shoot images even better.

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    2. As a former Nikon guy (sorry!) who's still saving up for a real DSLR, I'll put in my $0.03 and suggest taking a look at some of the Panasonic Lumix point-and-shoots. My DMC TZ5 has zoom out the wazoo, decent video capabilities, and is at least "good enough" in most other ways. It helped document the last year of my sister's paperchase, our adoption trip to China, and much of the Pipsqueak's first couple of years home with us -- and lately, has survived being used by the Pipsqueak herself!

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  3. Loved reading this. The 50 mm lens is on my Christmas list. I just got a Nikon D3200 after much back and forth and also looking at the Canon T3i. I absolutely love it and have taken a million pics already.

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    1. Oh I think you'll LOVE the nifty 50! Its a WONDERFUL lens to learn with and one that you will not outgrow. Professionals usually all have a 50mm in their bag.

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  4. Following your blog now, and thanks for following mine! I look forward to reading more. And I'm going to go read all your photography stuff right now. :) (I'm a little obsessed with it.)

    I'm a nikon girl :) And I love my nifty 50. I'm hoping to upgrade to the 85mm at tax time. And I agree 120% with the lens/body statement. Lenses are where it's at. :)

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    1. Megan-Oh the 85 is dreamy McDreamerson! Such a lovely portrait lens and TACK SHARP! So worthy of all these exclaimation marks that I'm overly using!
      nancy

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  5. GOOD FOR YOU!!! It drives me crazy when women expect their husbands to be mind readers!! LOL!!! :)

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    1. The ESP thing is a kinda a joke in our marriage. It was a significant moment in our marriage when we realized how silly it was that we thought that to be truly "connected" we should just know what the other was thinking! Honestly, neither really has the time any more to drop all those hints!

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  6. Great stuff in these past few - love the 'sock monkey'!

    As for cameras and lenses - couldn't agree more! Well - OK - I'm a Nikon guy - but have been for longer than I care to remember 40 or so years - long before the D in dslr!

    On lenses - absolutely a 50 - and an 80 is GREAT if you do a lot of 'sit around portrait work' - but if not I'd save that money and get the absolute best say 35-120 you can find! That's my 'grab the camera and go' lens when I'm headed to the zoo or park or pretty much where ever! A lot of cameras at a 'big box' store will come with a decent 20 - 70 (ish) and 70-200 (again ish) lenses in a "kit" - but a body (I'm currently using a D300 I think - my now 6 year old trashed my D50 12 hours before we left for adoption #3 and I had to get what I could buy and learn it on the plane!) and a good lens is probably "worth" the extra money rather than leaving you with a couple lenses to sell on e-bay!

    hugs - great work -

    aus and co.

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  7. PS - none of the forgoing should be considered a 'rip' on Canon! typically folks simply stay with whatever brand they started with because the 'learning curve' is easier - most manufacturer's don't change the buttons too much! ;)

    hugs - aus and co.

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