Friday, March 31, 2017

Finding the Perfect Type of Camera for You

Congratulations on your upcoming camera purchase! You've made it through the Is it Time for a New Camera? post and are ready to get serious about finding the perfect camera for you. Below are some questions that will help guide your decision.

Questions When Considering a New Camera

Biggest Question: what are your current photography needs? Where is your current camera lacking?

  • If you tried the exercises in the Time for a New Camera? post, you should have a good sense of where your current camera is letting you down. Is it too slow? Poor quality? Too heavy? Lacking options for customization and control? Etc.
  • I am a list person, so I found it very helpful to actually sit down and make list of some of my likes and dislikes about my current gear. The more specific you can get, the better you can determine the right camera for you, rather than just "a good camera." 

Price Point: how much are you looking to pay for your new camera?
  • You can spend a LOT of money on any category of cameras, but broadly, prices break down in the following ways:
  • Keep in mind the "hidden" costs of buying a new camera or new camera system: lenses, backup batteries, extra memory cards, a case, and any additional accessories like a tripod, filters, etc. (Read up on all Must-Have Camera Accessories here.)

Once you have a reasonable understanding of your price point and your needs, you are ready to start shopping and comparing options, so that you can make the best choice for you.

Camera Category Comparisons

The following chart gives you a visual guide to some of the big differences between the broad categories of types of cameras. This is a good starting place for narrowing down your search, based on your personal camera criteria.

Think back on your answers to the flowchart of questions from Time for a New Camera?

  • Looking to upgrade from your phone or basic point-and-shoot for something with higher quality and more creative control? Consider a mirrorless or entry-level DSLR camera.
  • Is your current camera reaching the end of its functional life? Consider whether you want to make a sideways move (i.e. buy a similar camera to what you had before) or an upgrade. 
  • Looking to upgrade based on the limitations of your current camera? Consider moving up to an intermediate or professional-level DSLR, based on which specific limitations you want to overcome. Or consider investing in a high-quality lens for your current DSLR camera, if you are struggling with issues of zoom, sharpness, or other quality issues.

Narrowed down which type of camera you want? Stay tuned for the next post(s) in this series, which will help you figure out which specific camera is best for you!

Upcoming posts:

  • Mirrorless vs. DSLR. Which choice fits you better?
  • Mirrorless Camera Comparison Shopping
  • DSLR Camera Comparison Shopping
  • and more ... 

What additional questions do YOU have about camera buying?

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Time for a New Camera?

One of my most-read and most-discussed posts for Digital Photography School was the one where I asked the question, "Do You Need to Upgrade to the Latest Camera?" (Spoiler alert, my answer was no.)

But there's a big difference between upgrading to the latest camera simply because it is the latest camera and upgrading to a new camera because it fits a "need" or a gap in your photography arsenal. Since I am in the market for a new camera myself right now, I thought it might be interesting to revisit the question from the opposite angle: when is it actually time for a new camera?

When NOT to Upgrade

But first, some caveats. Upgrading to a better camera does not magically make you a better photographer. It's sad but true. New gear does not teach you composition, turn a snapshot into a memorable image, or help you better discover the "decisive moment." There are plenty of terrible images out there shot on expensive cameras.

Before you decide you "need" a new camera, spend some time thinking about the camera(s) that you already own. How well do you know how to use your current camera? How often have you referred back to the manual or investigated some of the bells and whistles that might already be at hand?

In what situations does your camera perform well? In what situations does your camera seem limited? Are these situations the result of a weakness in your camera or a weakness in your knowledge or experience? (Self-promotion moment: my book, Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is specifically geared towards DSLR owners who want to get the most out of the camera they have.)

If you are a casual, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of shooter (and we all are, on some days), then maybe what you need is a new commitment to pushing yourself and your current camera to the limits of its abilities. Go out late at night and shoot in low light. Crank the ISO up high and see how poorly (or not) your images turn out.

Find a speedy pup or cranky toddler and see how well your camera deals with moving subjects or the need to shoot rapidly. Test the limits of your zoom, the limits of your handholding without shake, or the limits of your burst mode. That should give you a much stronger idea about whether you might really "need" a new camera ... or not.

Once you've determined that your current camera doesn't meet your needs, then you are truly ready to move forward with researching and purchasing a new camera.

Signs It Might Actually Be Time for a New Camera

Think you're ready for a new camera? Try out handy-dandy flowchart to see for sure ...

Ready to make a decision? Check out the next post in this series, which will explain the different options in detail, to help you make the best choice for you: Finding the Perfect Camera Type for You.

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

5 Tips to Keep Your Gear & Photos Safe

It is critically important to maintain your camera and accessories in good working order. You also need a structured routine to backup your photos. Keep your gear and your images safe with these 5 tips From the Archives.

Keep Your Camera & Sensor Clean

It is essential to keep your camera clean both inside and out. This article on Keeping Your Camera and Sensor Clean provides preventative advice, tips for regular maintenance, as well as a case-study in what a dirty sensor means for your camera and for your images.

Avoid Memory Card Disaster

A broken or corrupt memory card will take all of your images with it when it goes. But you can generally avoid ever having this problem through basic care and maintenance of your cards. Find out how in the article on How to Avoid Memory Card Disaster: proper handling and care of memory cards.

But, if such a tragedy does strike, there are some actions you can take to try and recover your images. Get all the details in the article Memory Card Disaster: what to do about broken, corrupt, or damaged memory cards.

Backup Your Photos Regularly

Top Tips for Camera Memory and Storage | Boost Your Photography

In addition to taking care of your memory cards, you also need to take care of your memories! Frequent, redundant backups are critically important to making sure that you do not lose your photos if something should happen. Find out all the recommendations in Top Tips for Camera Memory and Storage.

Know How Long Your Battery Lasts

A final tip that will help you avoid all sorts of problems is to Know How Long Your Camera's Battery Lasts. Estimates and manufacturer's ranges are all well and good, but the best test is keeping track for yourself and your particular shooting style. This article provides a simple method for tracking battery life, ensuring that you'll never miss a shot again due to a dreaded dead battery!

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.