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How to Choose which Camera is Best for you?

So we’ve talked about how we got into photography, and great ways to inspire ourselves, and now we’re getting around to talking cameras…. again!

I get asked this question a lot.

How do I choose which camera is best for me?

And what is my answer – always!

Drum roll……

Canon

No?

Nikon

Ok I’m joking – but it’s a really simple piece of advice that I think gets overlooked a lot!

What I always say is, it doesn’t matter if it’s a Canon or Nikon or something else? It really matters that it feels right in your hands and you like using it otherwise you’re on a non starter to begin with???

Very Simple… but very true…

Which Camera do you Own?

Not which one do you want? That’s a whoooole other post…….

I use a Canon 600d and I’m very happy with the images that I’m producing at the moment. Before I bought it I went to the shop and I picked one up and tried it out, then I tried a Nikon. But I knew straight away I liked the Canon better, it felt nicer in my hand, I liked the button positions and I liked the menu layout.

You may feel differently, camera choice is as individual as the photographer…

And I’m not saying you have to have a DSLR? I don’t necessarily think you need an all singing, all dancing camera to take really good images – see my Guess the Photo post.

I also think Micro Four Thirds camera’s and the APS-C Mirrorless systems are also very good cameras, and have all the control of an entry level DSLR. If not more in some cases…

So it’s over to you – Which Camera do you own?

Let us know in the comments:-

Mandy

 

3 comments

Are you ever hungry but don’t know what you want to eat?

I know that happens to me!

It can also happen with my photography, I want to go out shooting but I don’t know what I want to shoot, landscape, urban, close-up, family?

So when I’m in a rut like that then I tend to use one of these 3 tips to help me out of it:

1. Online Photo Sites

I’ll jump on Flickr or Pinterest and browse through their ‘explore’ or ‘what’s hot’ sections and just see what jumps off the screen at me.

I love looking at images as well as shooting them so this is an easy one for me. There’s lots of other sites besides these two and a lot of them have groups/communities you can join. Google+ has a great photography community as well…

2. The best camera is the one you have with you

I’ll always have a camera on me whenever I go out, whether I’m dropping the kids at school or going to the shops, something will catch my eye and I’ll take a quick shot.

Now don’t have visions of me walking down the street with a huge rucksack trying to go in the greengrocers? There’s nothing wrong with camera phones, in fact these days I think there’re just as good as a point and shoot, and I always have my phone on me! (killed 2 birds with 1 stone!).

3. Inspiration folder

I tend to pick things up as I go along from magazines, newspapers, postcards etc… that catch my eye, and put them altogether in a folder so I can look through them for inspiration when I’m stuck (ok, they might not be in a folder and they might be stuffed in my bookcase, but you know what I mean!).

This is also a great way of realising what kind of photography you like if you’re not sure. Look through what you’ve cut out, is there a recurring theme like a lot of animals, or landscapes, buildings, night shots, close ups etc…

Do you have other ways you get your inspirational juices flowing??? Let us know in the comments below…

Mandy

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How did you get into Photography?

If it’s because you love gadgets, or because you love to capture the image that you see, or you like recording memories, or you like the flexibility of post processing?

Whatever the reason is, I want to know – How did you get into Photography?

I’ll go first:

I got into photography in the days of film and Kodak cameras! (yes I’m that old!)

When the click of the shutter was the beginning and end of the image, and the only thing left was to wait for the photos to come back from the developers to see what I’d got…

But mainly I got into photography because I love to capture the scene in front of me, that moment in time and the memories I associate with it.

What excites me about Photography now?

What I love about photography now is that anybody can do it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a Pro DSLR or a camera on your phone, it is sooooo easy for anybody to take photos and share them.

Now the digital age is here, we can step beyond the click of the shutter and start imagining and creating (I love creating!) so much more….

Yes, I love gadgets, but pressing the shutter now is the start of the image not the end, and it’s that that excites me about photography now. It opens doors to new types of photography like HDR, timelapse, panoramas etc. And with post processing I can take my images to another level…

Just like the image at the top of this post, this is one of my favourite images at the moment.

Why?

Because of the where, when and the how!

So I’m thankful

That I have the opportunity to experiment and create (there I go again!) and I’m not trying to build a darkroom in the garden shed!

And because the surge in popularity for this kind of photography means that it’s no longer only for those few that can afford darkrooms or for professionals only. I think we have a very bright future with photography…

Why am I telling you this?

Because for me it’s good to remember why I got into photography and why I get excited by it, it helps to keep it fresh.

So now it’s your turn…

How did you get into photography? Tell me by sharing in the comments below….

Mandy

4 comments

It’s been a while…

I didn’t want to just start posting again and ignore my lack of activity…

Although it’s no excuse I have been very busy since last year with Google Business Photos, I’ve been through my training, certification process and I’m now a fully fledged Google Trusted Photographer (even got a t-shirt to prove it!).

Google Business Photos is a program for businesses which enables them to have a 360 virtual tour done of inside their business, using the same technology as Street View (but not the car lol!).

I think it’s great because it’s the next natural evolution of street view to me. I know if I’m checking somewhere out on Street View to go on holiday, and I find an interesting shop then it’d be cool to have a look inside before I go, yeah? Well that’s what Google Business Photos lets you do! So while your surfing the interwebs and you see something you like, look for a ‘see inside’ box (if they’ve had the photos done… hint hint) and you’re away. Maybe I’m nosey, but I think it’s a great way to find some hidden gems and that’s why I got involved with it.

Anyway, as you can see I’ve not just been slacking off, I’ve also been busy planning some good stuff for the Photographer blog and you my readers which I’m very excited about!

Here’s some of what I’ve got in store:

First off, I’m going to be posting easy to understand and use photography tips once a week on a Thursday (yes I know it’s Friday!), but at least you’ll know when to expect tips in future.

Then there’s a new design on it’s way (really soon) that’ll make it easier to find past tips and useful information.

Also a more in depth and comprehensive look at the basics of photography for beginners.

And the Photographer blog newsletter will be getting an update (subscribe so you don’t miss out if you haven’t already!)

That’s enough for now…… I’m looking forward to next week!

Mandy

 

4 comments

I thought I’d have a bit of fun!

Last time I looked at megapixels and how they really affect our photography.

So I thought this time I’d see if you can tell which photo was taken with which camera?

There are 3 photos below:

  • 1 taken on a 5mp camera phone
  • 1 taken on a very old budget 5mp point and shoot camera
  • 1 taken on a 12mp 450d DSLR camera

Now we have 3 photos taken on 3 different types of camera that all have different sizes and quality of image sensors in them. So if I was to print the images out, then you would know immediately which is which because of the quality and print size (check the megapixels post) of the image.

But when they are on the internet like this and all set at the same size (500 pixels wide), then it levels the playing field a bit and it becomes a lot harder I think to tell the difference.

So take a look below and see if you can guess right – should be fun! Please leave your answers in the comments below…

door

door

I purposely chose images that have had very little post processing, so they’re pretty much out of the camera!

flowers

flowers

 

lighthouse

lighthouse

I look forward to seeing what you think, and I’ll post the answers in the comments soon….

Mandy

22 comments

Megapixels:

The larger the Megapixels the better the image?

The first thing you hear about when you are looking at a camera is how many Megapixels it has?

So you’d think that Megapixels are very important when it comes to choosing a camera and taking photographs?

And the more you have the better…

But is there more to it than that?

Yes there is….

Megapixels are only part of what is involved in image quality. The image sensor, processor, metering and lenses are all part of image quality.

Megapixels and how many there are determine the size of the image.

The more Megapixels there are the larger you can print your image.

Simple….. Hey?

With all the new very large Megapixel cameras that are coming out it’s good to understand what Megapixels are. And also to realise what that means – the more Megapixels the larger the image file size.

So the more storage space you will need!

Whether that’s memory cards, hard drives or the Cloud!

What is for certain is that technology is moving on a pace, and keeping up with it can be a full time job….

Mandy

5 comments

Can You Take Fantastic Photography on a Budget?

Yes, I think so….

That’s one of the reasons I run this site, to show you how it can be done.

I love my photography, I get so much enjoyment out of it and in so many ways.

But my photography is on a budget!

Why should that stop me creating great shots? (I may be biased!).

Faulty Lens

So a couple of weeks back I was faced with the unthinkable, the auto focus on my lens broke!

It would still work in manual focus, but on the 18-55mm kit lens it’s very slow and very fiddly…

The only other lens I have is a 50mm f1.8 so thankfully I wasn’t completely stuck.

And although I was having a great time being made to shoot with a 50mm (it really changes the way you think and shoot). I was missing the flexibility of a zoom.

*Before I say anything else, for photography on a budget I think the best lens choice is a good zoom lens and a prime lens. And money wise I think there is no better choice than the 50mm f/1.8 prime lens.*

The Decision

I knew I didn’t want to buy another 18-55mm kit lens.

So I was shopping for a zoom lens, I always try to get the very best I can with my budget and I like to research thoroughly to make sure I do.

After a lot of searching and reading reviews I decided on the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom Lens, it ticked all my boxes. I wanted a good walk around zoom that incorporated a wide angle for landscapes and had a longer range than the 18-55, and the price was in budget.

I know I’m going on about budget and money but at the end of the day photography is an expensive hobby and it does come down to money…. and lenses aren’t cheap!

And on that point, when I was shopping for a lens it did start to raise a question over my camera body? I have a Canon 450D.

The 18-135mm lens just happens to be the kit lens with a Canon 600D/T3i. Should I upgrade my camera body at the same time, and sell my old one second hand before it gets too old and loses too much money?

Photography Advice

If I was to follow general photography advice then…..

  • I should buy better Glass (lenses) over camera bodies.
  • I shouldn’t just upgrade within my existing camera range (xxxD), I should move up in the DSLR range (xxD).

I blew it! I ignored all the normal photography advice and went for what I think fitted me the best for my photography…

oops!

A New Camera

I bought the Canon EOS 600D/T3i 18MP DSLR Camera and EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens.

Canon 600D/T3i 18-135mm lens

Canon 600D/T3i 18-135mm lens

I do agree with that photography advice.

I think it’s good advice as a guideline, and if I wasn’t on such a budget I would probably follow that advice. But each photographer and their needs are individual and that’s why the standard advice isn’t always a good fit.

If I had a larger budget and in an ideal world I would have gone for a Canon 7D with EF-S 15-85mm Lens.

I may even have looked at the Sony NEX-7 mirrorless system if I’d had bigger pockets.

And if money was no object I would have gone for a Canon 5D Mark III with 24-105mm L Lens.

But……

They are wonderful gadgets, but not essential to take great photographs with.

It’s the photographer that presses the shutter button not the camera.

I think it’s more important to learn how your camera works better, and understand composition and light, and develop your photographers eye for the situation.

And that’s exactly what can be done with today’s entry level DLSRs.

Conclusion

So just because your photography is on a budget doesn’t mean it has to suffer.

There’s some great mobile phone photography out there never mind anything else!

I’m very happy that I upgraded to a 600D/T3i and I’ll write a full review soon to explain exactly why.

I’d also love to hear your views on photography budgets, do you have one? Feel free to add your views in the comments.

Mandy

5 comments

If there’s one bad photography habit that I’ve got that really annoys me it’s shooting wonky horizons.

I’m forever doing it, I could swear it was straight when I took the shot but when I check it’s off again!

I don’t know maybe one of my legs is shorter than the other? Or maybe I’m just wonky?

Or maybe it’s just a detail that I’m not spending enough time on to make sure it’s right?

I like to get things right in camera rather than just rely on ‘it’s ok I’ll fix it later’ attitude.

So what I generally do in camera to stop myself doing this, is to line the horizon up with one of the lines of auto focus points in the viewfinder, and that works really well.

But for every other time when one slips through the net here’s how I straighten the horizon in Photoshop:

Rotate canvas

rotate canvas

rotate canvas - arbitrary

What I’ve always done is use the rotate canvas option from the image menu and choose arbitrary, then choose how much to rotate it by and in which direction (clockwise or counter clockwise).

Generally it’s not much (0.x).

Basically I’m doing it by eye (which can’t have been that good in the first place or I wouldn’t be doing this! or I’ll get it right this time because I’m actually concentrating on it!).

Because there’s a bit of guess work involved it can take 2 maybe 3 goes before I’m happy with it.

but…. is there another/better way….

… of course there is!

Measure tool

measure tool

find the measure tool

So although I enjoy my little tweaking in rotate canvas I’ve recently come across a more time efficient and exact way of straightening my images using the measure tool.

I’ll walk you through it –

In Photoshop go to the eye dropper tool in the tool box and right click to get more options, go to the bottom and choose the measure tool.

Then click on one end of the horizon and drag (draw a line) to the other end of the horizon. So the line that you’ve drawn matches the horizon in the image, as shown below.

using measure tool

using measure tool

Once that’s done go to image menu – rotate canvas – arbitrary, when the box appears you’ll notice that there is already a number in it, in this case 3.41. Photoshop has automatically worked out how much it needs to rotate the image to make the horizon (what you measured with the measure tool) horizontal.

arbitrary tool

arbitrary tool already filled in

Just click ok, and voila it’s straight!

Using the measure tool to straighten an horizon takes out the guess work and speeds things up a little.

You still have to use the crop tool to get rid of the white space though…

after rotate

after rotate

I chose a very bad example of a wonky horizon to exaggerate the fix that was needed, so you could easily see what the measure tool can do.

And when I open an image in Photoshop checking the horizon is straight is the first job I do and fix it if necessary!

You can see the final image at the top of this post.

Do you use the measure tool to straighten an horizon? Any questions? Let me know in the comments below…

Mandy

 

3 comments

Somerset Sunset

I took this shot just after the sun had gone down outside of Brean in Somerset, looking over to the Welsh coast.

It was a tricky one to take as in I had a lot of trouble getting onto the beach?

It made me realise how lucky I am, where I live I’m not far from the coast and the access to the beaches is very easy and free!

So it came as a shock to me when I popped out in the car from where we were staying to go and shoot the sunset (I left in plenty of time) only to find that I couldn’t find the beach?

There was static caravan parks everywhere so I couldn’t actually see the beach, but I finally found a little sign and followed it into a car park.

That for a start you had to pay for? And also closed at 7pm complete with barriers? No good when sunset was 7.30pm?

So I did what any other self respecting photographer would do and abandoned my car as safely as possible and ran across the road to have a look at the all too rapidly vanishing sunset…

And I found the above scene. I was too late to actually get the sun, but I didn’t mind as the colours were lovely (that must be why they call it blue hour).

There was no time for a tripod!

So I took a couple of shots hand held with a large aperture, and hoped I could keep it still enough in the rather strong winds and freezing cold weather.

Do you have any sunset stories?

Share them in the comments below…

Mandy

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Sea Odyssey – Giant Spectacular

I only just heard about the Sea Odyssey – Giant Spectacular in time, for some reason I’m always the last to know these things!

But I’m so glad I did hear about it and was able to go and see them, they really were…. well spectacular!

The Story

The story of the Giants goes like this: The little Girl Giant’s father was a stowaway onboard the Titanic and she wrote him a letter the day before the ship left.

The Giant went down with the Titanic, so the Little Girl Giant sought out her Uncle to try to help find her father.

The Uncle Giant combed the seabed looking for his brother, he found him but was too late, what he did find was a reply to the Little Girls letter. So he dragged the mail crate back across the ocean floor to give it to his niece and return the letters to the people of Liverpool.

So the Giants roamed the city looking for each other.

The story was written by Jean-Luc Courcoult of the French street theatre company Royal Du Luxe who performed the spectacular, he wrote it for the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

Xolo the Dog

Atmosphere

The atmosphere at this event was amazing. There was a real feel good feel to the whole thing.

Which made it a pleasure to shoot and a great experience to have…

It was great that so many people got to see the Giants, and the people of Liverpool really did take them into their hearts during their brief stay, and that made the atmosphere and the experience so much better.

But from a photography point of view it did make it a little hard to move around and follow the Giants so I could shoot them (so to speak).

It was a challenge!

And to just challenge myself that bit more I only had my 50mm lens with me because my 18-55 lens broke?

Shooting the Event

Uncle Giant

Uncle Giant

What I learned from my experience shooting this Giant Event (in every way) was that you had to be fast.

I had to be fast to try and navigate the crowds and get myself into a good position to see them. And keep moving with them.

At one point I even managed to tag along with the Event Photographers although that was more luck than anything else!

I’d get myself into a good position then shot as much as I could around me until the Giants passed, then I’d try to catch them up and repeat.

I wanted to catch everything and not just the Giants.

I found the ‘Liliputians’ that operated the Giants and the vehicles that moved them fascinating, the amount of effort that went into creating and moving the Giants was incredible. So it was easy to be enchanted by them!

And it gave me lots to shoot…

Slideshow

I thought I’d try something new!

I’m not sure how well it’ll work so bare with me…

Instead of listing a load of images I thought it might be nice to try a slideshow? So below are 3 videos (slideshows) with a selection of images, one video for each Giant – Xolo the Dog, Little Girl and Uncle Giants.

I used the free version of Animoto to make the videos, with the free version you get to make unlimited 30 second videos. So don’t blink! Or just play them again… oh and if you go full screen the quality isn’t very good, you have to pay for HD – what can I say it’s free! So remember – don’t blink or just play them again and enjoy…

If you don’t see them below try refreshing the page and hopefully they’ll magically appear?

Did you go and see the Giants – let me know in the comments below.

Mandy

Try our slideshow creator at Animoto.

Try our video maker at Animoto.

Try our video maker at Animoto.

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