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Choosing a camera

From: The Practicing Photographer

Video: Choosing a camera

It's kind of just, just relaxing isn't it? Just a big wall of cameras and lenses and camera stuff. It just makes me feel good. Just kind of basking in it right here. We're here at Sammy's Camera in Santa Barbara. It's a great camera store, really nice vibe, fantastic selection. People are really friendly. I'm here because I want to talk about camera shopping. The internet has really changed camera shopping, because there is a tremendous amount of information that you can find online. Review sites, sample pictures, forums where people talk about their actual experience with there camera. And all that's great, and when you're looking for a camera, and you've chosen a price point that you want to shop at.

Choosing a camera

It's kind of just, just relaxing isn't it? Just a big wall of cameras and lenses and camera stuff. It just makes me feel good. Just kind of basking in it right here. We're here at Sammy's Camera in Santa Barbara. It's a great camera store, really nice vibe, fantastic selection. People are really friendly. I'm here because I want to talk about camera shopping. The internet has really changed camera shopping, because there is a tremendous amount of information that you can find online. Review sites, sample pictures, forums where people talk about their actual experience with there camera. And all that's great, and when you're looking for a camera, and you've chosen a price point that you want to shop at.

You kind of know what your needs are. You know your shooting style. You know what specs you need, and maybe you've narrowed it down to a set of cameras, a set of candidates. It's great to be able to go online and so easily find the different specs and things. Obviously, pixel count, dynamic range, burst speeds, lots of different technical specs are very important. But I want to talk today about once you've waded through those, one of the most important steps of all, which is just the practical part. How does the camera feel in your hand? How do the controls work, and do they work in a way that makes sense to you? And I feel like the only way you can answer those questions is to actually get your hands on the candidate cameras that you're considering.

And to do that you gotta find a camera store. That's what's so great about having a place like Sammy's nearby. So when you get into a store and you've got the camera in your hand. What do you look for? Again, at this point, I'm assuming you've already checked out all the tech specs. You're not actually looking into well, what's how many different levels of RAW plus JPEG can it do. And, and, what bit depth does it have and all that kind of stuff. You've, you've made those decisions. At this point, it's really about pretty basic stuff. How heavy is it? How does it feel in my hand? This is really important when I'm going to be carrying the camera all day. I also want to even consider, here's the kit lens that comes with it. How heavy is that? If I imagine two or three more lenses like this in a bag, what's that going to feel like? Is that something that I'm willing to carry around? After that, I want to know how bright is the viewfinder? How clear is it? Can I see edge to edge by looking straight through it? Or do I have to turn my head around? If I want to shoot without my glasses on does the diopter give me enough correction and if not is that a deal breaker for me? There are certain controls that I want to know that I had easy access to, easy quick access to.

Ideally quick access that does, doesn't require me to take my eye from the viewfinder. Can I find the ISO control by feel, and can I alter it without removing my eye from the viewfinder? Can I do the same with exposure compensation? Does it have a program shift feature if that's the way that I'm used to shooting if you're not clear on what program shift is. Check out my Foundations of Photography, Exposure course. Our mode change is easy. A lot of times there are critical controls for specific kinds of shooting. If you're a sports shooter and you regularly use drive mode, can you get to that easily? Can you easily get to focus mode changes where, maybe if you're a sports shooter or a wildlife shooter, you want to regularly turn on focus tracking? Can you find that easily? Is the menu system easy to navigate? Again, this is one of those things that you can look at screen captures and menus on the website. But there's nothing quite like getting your hands on and actually learning how the menus navigate.

Another one I think is really critical is status display. And this is a big thing on SLRs. Smaller SLRs tend to have only an LCD screen on the back that serves as the status display. While mid-size and higher-end SLRs. Will have the LCD screen and a top-mounted display. Personally, I'm a real sucker for these top-mounted displays, because I can just glance down at my camera, see exposure settings. They're visible in bright daylight, which an LCD screen is not always. So, those are things to look for. Finally there is of course image quality.

Now you can download a lot of sample images from the web and that's a great way to evaluate quality. You can process them in a RAW converter of your choice if you're a raw shooter. And you should be a RAW shooter. But in a camera store, you can actually take a card in and shoot images to it and then take them home and look at them. So if you check out ahead of time what the format is, this is an SD card, I can bring my own SD card, shoot up a range of images in here, and take them home. The types of images that I would be looking for would be partly to evaluate image quality and partly to evaluate quality of the lens that I'm choosing to buy.

For image quality my main concern that is testable in a store is noise at different ISOs. So I would want to turn the ISO up and just shoot the same shot over and over. And it could be In here, ideally it'd be nice to find a dark space, that's hard to find. There's some bags and things around, maybe I could shoot under them. But even without that, just shooting any scene in the store, over and over at different ISO's, is going to give me an easy way to evaluate noise. For lens evaluation, I'm going to want to look at edge to edge sharpness, vignetting and distortion. And those are all things that I can do here.

I can take my card home and check it out. So, those are just some practical things you want to check out as you try to make your camera decision. Now, if you come to a store and you look at a camera and you get this great opportunity to get your hands on it and you decide you want it. Buy it from the store. Don't go buy it online. Yes, it might be cheaper, but there's great merit to having your own camera store nearby that you can get help with. That will give you support if something goes wrong and you can build a relationship. So if you're camera shopping, don't forget to try to actually feel the thing before you buy it.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for The Practicing Photographer
The Practicing Photographer

74 video lessons · 46164 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 55s
    1. Softboxes vs. umbrellas
      2m 55s
  2. 1m 35s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
  3. 7h 13m
    1. Choosing a camera
      5m 27s
    2. Looking at light as a subject
      2m 22s
    3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
      5m 45s
    4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
      6m 30s
    5. Let your lens reshape you
      7m 26s
    6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
      7m 44s
    7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
      3m 56s
    8. Shooting without a memory card
      3m 6s
    9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
      5m 28s
    10. Working with reflections
      1m 26s
    11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
      7m 25s
    12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
      7m 30s
    13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
      2m 13s
    14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
      4m 15s
    15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
      11m 41s
    16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
      3m 18s
    17. Using a tripod
      3m 33s
    18. Wildlife and staying present
      5m 58s
    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
      6m 52s
    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
      11m 12s
    21. Seizing an opportunity
      4m 4s
    22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
      12m 24s
    23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
      4m 54s
    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
      13m 36s
    25. Shooting wildlife
      7m 24s
    26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
      12m 27s
    27. Using a lens hood
      4m 48s
    28. Working with themes
      2m 48s
    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
      5m 37s
    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
      3m 13s
    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
      6m 47s
    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
      9m 34s
    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
      10m 17s
    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
      8m 17s
    42. Shooting a silhouette
      3m 9s
    43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
      5m 29s
    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
      12m 38s
    45. Working with flash for macro photography
      4m 55s
    46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
      5m 10s
    47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
      4m 14s
    48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
      3m 4s
    49. Using Lightroom on the road
      6m 28s
    50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
      2m 20s
    51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
    52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
      9m 48s
    53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
      6m 41s
    54. Shooting level
      2m 42s
    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
      3m 23s
    57. Discussing the business of stock photography
      9m 48s
    58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
      3m 21s
    59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
      4m 45s
    60. Understanding the three flash setup
      3m 34s
    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
      4m 6s
    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
      4m 43s
    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
      5m 25s
    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
      4m 43s
    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
      7m 29s
    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
      5m 46s
    67. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
    68. Photography practice through mimicry
      8m 8s
    69. Canon wireless flash with built in radio control
      5m 59s
    70. Posing and shooting pairs of people
      5m 35s
    71. Shooting with a shape in mind
      3m 15s
    72. Shooting tethered to a laptop
      4m 40s

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