Choices About Cameras

How did I know Canon was the right camera for me?  How does one choose the right camera?  Well, we all have a friend who prefers one brand over another brand, but do they truly know why they chose that camera?  Most of us do not, but we know what works for us or we adapt to what we have begun to invest in.

The first time one needs to determine when choosing a camera, is selecting what genre of photography that interests you most.  (http://www.mediacollege.com/photography/types/). That is one of the most comprehensive lists I have seen.  When I started out, I bought a camera.  I didn’t have a clue in the world as to what I wanted to photograph, I just knew I wanted a camera.  In 1994, I marched myself (actually drove) to the Camp Pendleton exchange on mainside and purchased a Canon EOS Rebel (analog) camera with a kit lens.  (Don’t ask me what happened to that camera.).

I took a lot of photos, but none to the quality that I have today.  That has nothing to do with analog over digital.  I just never paid attention to the mechanics of my images.  I did take a lot of landscape images from trips back and forth to Seattle from San Diego and a trip to San Francisco with those same friends.  But, I digress.

It wouldn’t be until my time in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba that I would touch another camera. Yes, it was a Nikon camera.  I am not sure what model.  I just know that I had the opportunity to use it, thanks to my friend Jordan Hawks, who was the official Navy photographer for the entire installation.

garth-close-up

My first published image was in the Guantanamo local paper.  The U.S. and Cubans were holding a joint firefighting exercise.  I used an 800mm Image Stabilization lens that was very cumbersome.  I wish I could post those photos here.  (Photo credit, Jordan Hawks).  For approximately a year and a half, I spent my time using the Nikon camera (digital).  So, when I returned to Camp Pendleton, I was without a camera and still had the itch to take photos.

Still to this point, I had not learned a thing about what the difference between cameras and models mean.  I wanted to purchase an intermediate camera, but I thought with all the deploying I would be doing in the future, I would just break the camera or not be able to take it with me.  So, I purchased a point and shoot Kodak camera.  It was 2MP, whoa, I know.  Way too much digital power.  That small thing produced images like this…

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Oh, the good ol’ days in Lamu, Kenya.  If you had any doubt of how hot it was there, you could make a small lake with the amount of sweat that exited your body.  Who needs enemies when you have friends willing to stab you in the back!  Can you tell we were thrilled to be there amongst baboons and lions?  Again, I digress.  The camera I selected was great for the time being, but not a forever camera.

So, when I returned from Ramadi, Iraq my very last tour in 2005, I didn’t give photography another thought until 2009.  In 2009, I bought an intermediate camera to my budget, which was a Canon EOS Xsi with a kit lens of 15-55mm.  It didn’t provide me much firepower, but it took some great landscape photos.  I was taking photos of anything and everything.  I made the mistake of buying anything that sounded good without taking into consideration what I was using the lenses for or the needs of the camera specifications.

I wasted so much money on everything until I started buckling down and learning what each lens was used for; prime, zoom, what have you.  I also learned what camera bodies would complement the lens.  Now, I leave with these steps:

  1. Determine what you want to do with your photography.
  2. Once this is determined, evaluate your skill level with your current photography be it a point and shoot or DSLR or even an iPhone.  If you feel you have an eye, then you could probably skip an intermediate camera and go straight for one with higher specifications.
  3. Before you purchase a camera, you may want to rent one from one of the reputable places like lensrental.com or borrowlenses.com.  (That is not a comprehensive list, just a few I would use).
  4. Then you can begin to learn what camera feels right (e.g., weight, ease of use, etc.).  Shoot a lot of photos in different parts of the day to get a feel for the limitations.
  5. Begin to follow photographers in your area, or around the world, to learn the different styles.  In the meantime, you can probably find a local photographer willing to give lessons or a community college may offer those classes as well.

So, before you begin spending thousands of dollars on cameras and lenses, there are lots of resources you can read to get up to speed on the best cameras with their pros and cons.  I will not (Canon) tell you in any blog (Canon) which camera (Canon) is the best (Canon) to select as your first camera (Canon), but I will tell you (Canon) there is one camera that is very versatile (Canon), but not cheap.

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(Photo Credit: Mark Ledesma)

 

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