Mike's handy guide to photography

Pictures of all our other pet family or friends and help and advice on photographing our Schnauzers.
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nessclair
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Mike's handy guide to photography

Post by nessclair » 30 Oct 2013, 19:28

I could do with a new camera and want to progress from a 'point and press' camera for taking holiday snaps to taking more arty photos, including, of course, my furry friend.
Mike, I have copied your very helpful guide to photography, but wondered if you have any recommendations for a starter kit and recommendations of camera???
Ness and Monty (S/P mini born 21.9.10 rehomed with me 13.8.11)

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Re: Mike's handy guide to photography

Post by Eddie » 30 Oct 2013, 20:05

I've got a Canon SLR with a couple of extra lenses, various filters and other accessories and a big bag to cart it all around in. I've also got a Samsung Galaxy S4 and to be honest for "normal" pictures I find it to be excellent. I know there are situations where the Canon will excel but for convenience and "happy snaps" the Galaxy is fine.
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Mike Jackson
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Re: Mike's handy guide to photography

Post by Mike Jackson » 30 Oct 2013, 21:45

What you need to do is get along to a camera shop and have a look and feel of the cameras. There are not really any bad DSLR cameras around. You've also got compact system cameras nowadays which are like a cut down version of a DSLR with less bulk but the flexibility of having interchangeable lenses.

It's generally best to start with some sort of kit and start from there. Several years ago I started out with a Canon EOS 300D with a very poor kit lens. When I bought a second lens I realised just how bad the kit lens was and fairly soon upgraded to another lens with similar focal lengths. After a few years I had an accident with the camera and claimed on the insurance. I put the insurance money towards a 50D and that was when the bug really hit. A few years ago I got a good bonus from work and upgraded to my current professional kit.

Things to bear in mind when looking at a DSLR kit are that you'll get a better picture with a good lens on a poor camera than a poor lens on a good camera. Also the better the camera the more it will show up the deficiencies in any lenses. You will also find that when you start using a DSLR you will be disappointed with a lot of the images you take. Most point and shoot type cameras are set up to take a reasonable shot straight from the camera whereas a DSLR requires a bit of work and knowledge to get a reasonable shot.

If you're looking to achieve arty type shots with shallow depth of field you'll need lenses with a wide aperture. a lot of lower end lenses start with an aperture of f/4 or even f/5.6. To get a nice shallow depth of field I like to use f/2.8 - f/3.5 which is wider than a lot of lenses go. The problem is you are getting into the professional lenses and more expense although if you go for one of the more common makes you can often find older lenses at a bargain price on e-bay and the like.

As you move up the price scale with DSLRs you will find that the various features get better/faster at a diminishing rate so at the top end a couple of frames a second faster can cost a £1000 more.

The various features that you will encounter on the cameras are.

1. ISO range, this is the equivalent of the old film speed and the greater the range the more flexibility you have to shhot at lower light levels. The higher the ISO the less light is needed. As a comparison the ISO range of the entry level 1100D is 100-6400 and the top of the range 1D Mk X is 100 - 204800. The top range of both these cameras will give very poor images but as you can see the top end camera will perform in much lower light levels.

2. Sensor size the larger the sensor the better the quality. The sensor in the 1100d is approx 22x15mm whereas the one in the 1 D X is 36 x 24. the number of pixels will also have a bearing on the ability to crop or enlarge images with 12 Mp and 19 Mp you have more ability to crop with the professional camera but a 12Mp sensor will be plenty big enough for most purposes. My 300D had a 6 Mp sensor and that would enlarge to A4 and bigger quite happily.

3. Shooting rate - a better camera will have a better frame rate i.e. 1100D 3 frames per sec 1 D MK X 14 fps.

Basically the more money you spend on a camera the more features it has (up to a point) and you can take better pictures with it but you also need to know how to make use of those extra features.

As I said at the start of this ramble you need to handle some cameras because if you don't feel comfortable holding the camera you won't use it. My camera is a beast and a lot of people struggle to use it because of the weight. I, on the other hand, struggle to use the smaller entry level cameras because they feel too small and fiddly.

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Re: Mike's handy guide to photography

Post by Eddie » 30 Oct 2013, 22:18

Good reply Mike and I wouldn't have expected less.
In simple terms the choice is between quality and simplicity and sadly in my case I opt for the latter.
I have been interested in photography for over 40 years, I have processed many B&W films (and enjoyed it) but I think that what we have currently can not be surpassed. A couple of clicks and we can get rid of "red eye". A "crop" can solve any framing issues and a simple editor with "cloning" features can get rid of any unwanted bits and pieces.
It would be interesting to see other members views on this.
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Re: Mike's handy guide to photography

Post by jacdales » 31 Oct 2013, 08:10

That was so interesting I have been toying with the idea of getting a bridge or dsl camera but the size put me off I have a lumix and my galaxy and to be truthful if I'm out and about with the dogs I don't have a free hand to operate a big camera so I tend to rely on the galaxy and I have taken one or two nice scenic pics with it much to my surprise. I can also edit the pics and email them on the galaxy I can't do that on my lumix although it is 6 year old now and newer cameras probably can email direct.

jackie

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Re: Mike's handy guide to photography

Post by nessclair » 31 Oct 2013, 14:50

Thanks for the responses- very helpful information. I have time to look around and do plenty of research before making a choice, so this is a good kickstart to know what to look for.
Ness and Monty (S/P mini born 21.9.10 rehomed with me 13.8.11)

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Re: Mike's handy guide to photography

Post by Mrpepperman » 25 Feb 2014, 19:51

[quote="Mike Jackson"]What you need to do is get along to a camera shop and have a look and feel of the cameras. There are not really any bad DSLR cameras around. You've also got compact system cameras nowadays which are like a cut down version of a DSLR with less bulk but the flexibility of having interchangeable lenses.

It's generally best to start with some sort of kit and start from there. Several years ago I started out with a Canon EOS 300D with a very poor kit lens. When I bought a second lens I realised just how bad the kit lens was and fairly soon upgraded to another lens with similar focal lengths. After a few years I had an accident with the camera and claimed on the insurance. I put the insurance money towards a 50D and that was when the bug really hit. A few years ago I got a good bonus from work and upgraded to my current professional kit.

Things to bear in mind when looking at a DSLR kit are that you'll get a better picture with a good lens on a poor camera than a poor lens on a good camera. Also the better the camera the more it will show up the deficiencies in any lenses. You will also find that when you start using a DSLR you will be disappointed with a lot of the images you take. Most point and shoot type cameras are set up to take a reasonable shot straight from the camera whereas a DSLR requires a bit of work and knowledge to get a reasonable shot.

If you're looking to achieve arty type shots with shallow depth of field you'll need lenses with a wide aperture. a lot of lower end lenses start with an aperture of f/4 or even f/5.6. To get a nice shallow depth of field I like to use f/2.8 - f/3.5 which is wider than a lot of lenses go. The problem is you are getting into the professional lenses and more expense although if you go for one of the more common makes you can often find older lenses at a bargain price on e-bay and the like.

As you move up the price scale with DSLRs you will find that the various features get better/faster at a diminishing rate so at the top end a couple of frames a second faster can cost a £1000 more.

Mike what do you have now, I am a Canon fan and looking to upgrade, it's a mine field and an expensive one too, it's so hard getting an image of Sid running towards me..

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Mike Jackson
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Re: Mike's handy guide to photography

Post by Mike Jackson » 26 Feb 2014, 07:10

My current set up is a Canon EOS 1D MK IV with a Canon EOS 24-70 f/2.8L USM lens, a Canon EOS f/2.8 L IS USM lens and an EOS 100 f/2.8 macro lens. I've also got various flashes, remotes etc.

My favoured lens for getting action shots of the dogs is the 70-200 as it lets me stay at a distance and gives more time to get the shot.

The first thing to look at when trying to get action shots of anything is to make sure that you are in the correct mode. You need to be in AI focus mode which follows an object once it is locked onto it. Some cameras have an AI servo mode which is a hybrid between single shot and AI focus that is supposed to automatically switch between the two, avoid using this mode as it is not very reliable.

Next you need to look at your aperture, a wide aperture will give a lovely blurred background but you may not get all of the dog in focus, particularly when they are stretched out facing you.

Now look at the shooting mode. Chose continuous as this will give you a choice of shots to choose from.

Once you've mastered all of the setting it may be time to upgrade the camera/lenses. There are a few things to think about.

Focus ability - higher end cameras will have the ability to focus and lock on quicker than a budget camera and also have better low light focussing abilities. The focussing ability of a camera will also be affected by the width of the aperture on the lens attached to it. No matter what you have the aperture set to the camera will always focus using the widest aperture. A lens with a wider aperture will allow more light in and speed up the focussing. Don't discount non Canon lenses when looking at lenses, Sigma and other manufacturers make some very good third party lenses and they can often be a lot cheaper than the canon equivalent.

Look at the lighting conditions when taking the shots. Modern cameras have very good low light capabilities with high ISO settings available but they will still focus more quickly in good light conditions.

Frame rate - My camera has a frame rate of 10 frames per second whereas an entry level may only have 3. A higher frame rate will give more shots to choose from but the prices rises dramatically as the frame rate goes up. Also look for the maximum burst rate. Some cameras have a high frame rate but are very limited on the number of shots that can be taken, this is down to the speed that it writes from the buffer to the memory card. The buffer fills up and no more shots can be taken until some space has been cleared. The memory card speed also plays an important part in this, no point of having a camera with a high frame rate and sticking a slow card in it as you'll severely limit the burst rate.

When looking for new cameras and equipment don't discount the second hand market. There are still bargains to be had out there. As well as the usual e-bay , second hand shops and gumtree etc. there are also FB groups set up for buying and selling camera equipment. As always be wary when buying second hand, especially if it's from an unknown source, if you've got any doubt don't buy especially when things seem too cheap, it's usually for a reason.

Good luck in your upgrade quest.

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