Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video A word about camera brands, part of Photography Foundations: Exposure (part 1).
- At the risk of sounding like a fortune cookie, I'd like to remind everyone that it's what you do with a camera that makes a good picture, not what brand of camera that you use. You can take a lousy photo with a really great camera. Conversely, you can take a great photo with any camera from a cellphone to a high-end SLR. Good photography comes from the combination of understanding the mechanics of your craft, and knowing how to see photographically. Choosing one camera over another might make some parts of that process easier but in the end, a good photograph is usually the product of a good photographer.
There's sometimes luck involved in the process too, but we don't talk about that. There will be times when you simply have to have high-end gear to get the level of quality that your shot demands or even to get that the shot at all. You can't, for example, do serious macro work without a macro lens. At other times, the final result that you want may demand a grungy toy camera to get the look and feel that you think is right. The point is that all cameras have their strengths and weaknesses. These days it is hard to buy a digital camera that takes bad photos.
Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Olympus, Sony, Pentax, Panasonic, Leica, these manufacturers and others produce cameras that yield great image quality. And in the end, image quality should be your main arbiter of camera choice. Just about any SLR or mirrorless camera that you can buy right now is going to produce great images. You'll see differences in the approach to interface design from one camera to another, and some interfaces will make more sense to you than others. You'll also find add-on features like video capability, image stabilization, and differences in lens options.
But it's hard to get a camera that yields bad image quality. There aren't a lot of point-and-shoot cameras anymore, but for the most part, the ones that are left are either at the very high or very low end. At the very high end, you can find point-and-shoot cameras that far out perform digital SLRs of 10 years ago. The reason there aren't many point-and-shoot cameras left is because cell phone cameras have gotten so good. The best smart phone cameras now offer advanced features such as RAW shooting, and dual-lens technology that enable you to better control what's in focus.
If you've got a good smartphone camera you should not shy away from using it for serious photography, however, it's not a full substitute for a dedicated camera, one with interchangeable lens that offers a range of aperture choices. You'll hear people say, the best camera is the one you have with you, and that's not always true. I often find myself in situations where the best camera is the one that I left at home. But in those instances, my cellphone camera at least means I can capture something, even if it's not ideal. However, the reason I can make do with my cellphone camera is because of my understanding of exposure.
In this course, we will be shooting with a Canon camera, partly because it's a great camera, and partly because it provides some technical features that we need for the production of these videos. Because you can get great results from just about any camera these days, and because the theory that we'll be covering here is true for all cameras, we'll be keeping this course camera agnostic. I'm not going to talk about the specific controls of my camera, and when I introduce a new control, I'll try to give you directions for what you need to look for in your camera's manual. So if you don't have the same camera that we're using here, don't worry, the camera you've got is probably capable of taking great pictures.
The rest is up to you.
Note: This course is designed to work with any digital camera, but it is easier to follow along using a digital SLR or mirrorless camera.
- What is exposure?
- Modern camera anatomy
- Shutter, aperture, and ISO
- Light metering
- Changing shutter speed and aperture
- Exposure compensation
- Light meters