Category Archives: Gear

Lens choices

As mentioned in the lessons - making a choice of lens can create very different looks in your photos. One of the biggest drawbacks with smartphone photography is the choice of only one lens type (wide angle.)

The basic approach to choosing the right lens length is that: if you want to isolate and feature a person, object or texture, you want a longer lens; if you want to keep proportions of a person's face when doing a fairly close portrait, you want a medium to long lens; and if you want to include the environment around your subject or distort your subject you want a wide lens.

But for a more in-depth look at lenses, Cathryn and her daughter - who are readers of this Best Photo Lessons -  sent me this link to a buying guide by Best Buy - we're not affiliated in any way with the retailer, but thought this was good enough to suggest you review what they suggest.

bestbuy.com/site/buying-guides/lens-buying-guide

Buying a new camera

A lot of people wonder - "What camera should I buy?"

The answer is complicated, which is why they ask the advice - however there's a lot of factors that go into the best recommendation. What do you want to photograph? Are you thinking of turning professional or want to be a hobbyist (I'd rather see people do it as a hobby rather than try to go professional and burn out on photography - which happens a lot, being in business is not easy.)

If you're a first time dSLR (digital Single Lens Reflex) buyer - my recommendation is:

First - set your budget, it can be anywhere from $500 to $5000 (U.S. or Canadian dollars, your local currency may differ), so what you're comfortable spending is how much you should spend. And yes, you'll likely spend far more down the road, but what you're comfortable with now is what's important.

Second - go to a camera store and try out several in your price range. You want to see which ones are easiest to do some specific things: setting exposure manually, formatting the memory card, able to hold the camera comfortably.

Yes, buying online is cheaper in theory - but if its the wrong camera you wont use it, and a camera you never use is a lot more expensive than a camera you use all the time.

You'll want to do manual exposure to learn to control the camera - not let it make decisions for you. The easier to set those controls the better you will learn.

Menus on various cameras are easier for some people to use and harder for others - so make sure it is easy for you to understand and formatting cards is something you'll do a lot of.

Notice I'm not talking about all the features cameras come with these days - ignore them. If you want to learn to do photography at the highest level, you need to really understand what makes the right exposure for your vision of the finished image - and the only way to learn that effectively is to do it manually.

Honestly, if all you want is a glorified snapshot, get a really good quality point-and-shoot, you'll be much happier in the end.

Notice also that I don't recommend any one brand - each brand works better or worse for different people, so choose the right one for you. I've used Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony, Leica, Hasselblad, Pentax, etc. They are all good brands, and I'd happily shoot with any of them again - as long as I can easily make my own choices for exposure.

You might also want to look at a "mirrorless" camera - which look a lot like the old rangefinder cameras. They're kind of like an advanced point-and-shoot, except they use the same sensor as dSLRs and have controls for easily doing manual exposure. I bought one and have gotten many great shots. No its not quite as good as my professional camera, but at 1/3 the price its probably 85 per cent the quality, which is a very good buy to me and is a lot easier to take with me.