Over the coming months we are going to learn all about how cameras work and all their little tricks to make your photos look really amazing. One burning question that we both often get asked is ‘What camera do you have?’ I on last count have five cameras, and I shall go into these in more detail later. A lot of people want to know whether it is worth buying a DSLR so we thought that we would help demystify them a little bit.
What is a DSLR?
DSLR is short for Digital Single Lens Reflex. That basically means that these cameras use a mirror positioned behind the camera lens to direct light towards the viewfinder when you are taking a photo. To put it even more simply, a DSLR is a camera which will have interchangeable lenses, meaning that you have greater creativity over your shots which you wouldn’t find in a point and shoot camera.
What do they do that my compact camera doesn’t?
It obviously depends on the model you have but DSLR’s offer you the greatest level of creative control, not least because you can swap lenses but also because of the wide range of menu options. For example with a DSLR you can manipulate exposure, focus and colour- something which we will be talking about lots over the coming months.
How much do they cost?
How long is a piece of string? DSLR’s start at around £300 for an entry level camera like the Nikon D3100 which comes with a kit lens as well. You can then opt to purchase a mid range model, like my own DSLR the Nikon D5100 which is for more enthusiasts or semi professional photographers for around £550. Serious DSLR’s that professionals use can cost thousands, for example the Canon EOS 5D Mark III which starts at a whopping £2890 without a lens. The best thing is to do your homework and pick on that has all the things that you require. When purchasing my recent DSLR I spent a lot of time looking at reviews online and asking friends. You can also pick up a bargain on ebay if you want to get into photography but don’t have a huge amount of money to spend. I recently sold my old DSLR on there for a really good price.
Should I get a Canon or a Nikon?
There are two main players in the DSLR market- Canon and Nikon. Obviously there are others such as Pentax and Sony but these are the two that yougenerally will hear of and everyone has an opinion on which is better. I heard someone once say that most professional photographers use Canon but then I heard that Nikon are better by far. When I bought my DSLR I opted for Nikon for a number of reasons. Firstly because I had owned a Nikon D50 for many years and really liked it, and secondly because most of the people I spoke to preferred Nikon. I spent a huge amount of time researching it and at the end there were tiny pro’s and con’s for both but Nikon had a few more functions that were geared towards me. It is worth spending time talking to others, and definitely go into a shop and play around with them. (for example Canon’s are generally slightly lighter than Nikon’s if you have smaller hands) Ultimately though they are both brilliant manufacturers who have been around for decades and so you know you will get a good camera with either- it just comes down to personal preference.
Will I get professional looking photos with a DSLR?
One of the things that most surprised me when I first got my DSLR was that yes the picture quality was so much better but I didn’t instantly get professional looking shots. It is not the camera that makes the shots amazing, it is the photographer, and it is all about your creative eye. So yes while a DSLR will give you all the features you need to potentially have fabulous, professional shots, you can get some amazing photos on your mobile phone or your compact camera just by having the creative ability to really frame a shot. However from the second I took my DSLR out the box, it had better image quality even when it was on the auto function.
What lens shall I get?
Most entry level and mid range DSLR camera’s come with an 18-55 kit lens but you can just purchase them body only. These lens are great to get you started but if you really want to get into serious photography then you will want to start purchasing more lens- unfortunately these come at a price. Lenses are very expensive and the better the lens, the more they go up to. We will be explaining more about lenses over the next few months.
What cameras do you own?
I get emailed about this a lot and I know that Lucy does as well. I own five cameras and I thought it would be best to list them all. First of all my ultimate baby is my Nikon D5100. I bought it a few weeks ago and it is what spurred me on to joining forces with Lucy and creating I heart snapping. We are by no means experts, in fact I am far from it, and I am hoping to learn all about my camera and post what I learn on here so people can see. My next favourite is my Panasonic Lumix LX5, my husband bought this for me a few years ago as a surprise and I absolutely love it. It takes great pictures and is so incredibly retro looking, which I love. Since upgrading to my DSLR, I use this one as more of a compact camera. It is great for people who want a few more functions than a compact camera but perhaps don’t want to commit to a DSLR. I then have my iPhone 4S, which is probably the camera I use most- after all iPhoneography is so much fun and I always have my phone on me. I also have a Canon A3000, which is just a simple point and shoot- I could not have lived without this when Mads was first born as I took millions of photos of her but now it has become a bit redundant since the iPhone camera has got better. Although I still recommend it as a great little camera for holidays and days out when you don’t want to risk taking a more expensive option out with you. Finally I have a Lomography Fisheye camera which my husband brought me as a present before we even got together many years ago- I haven’t had it out in ages and I keep saying that when the weather is nice we shall head out and use up a roll of film and see what we end up with. I used to find it magical when I got rolls of film developed, it makes me sad sometimes that those times have passed us by!
Over the next few months we will be talking a lot about the functions of a DSLR, essential equipment, how you can improve your photos and of course tips and techniques we have discovered. Together we will take our camera’s off auto!
Do you have a camera that takes amazing photos? If so recommend it to our readers below- it is always good to hear what other people own.