5 Things to Look for When Buying a DLSR Camera

Being a photographer and a photography teacher, one of the most common questions I get asked is “what camera should I buy?”. It’s a tricky question and the answer is not the same for every one. I can’t simply say such and such camera is the best, buy that one. But I can help you to know what things to look for in a camera so you know which one will be the best for you.

5 things

5 things to look for when buying a DSLR camera:

  1. Sensor Size

The sensor is the thing in the camera that actually records the image after the light goes through the lens. There are two different sensor sizes in DLSR cameras.

APS-C is the smaller sensor and is usually best for beginners and students. This smaller sensor is found on cameras that are lighter, much less expensive and a lot easier to use. You must use a wider-angle lens to get the same field of view as a full frame sensor. Most of the time cropped sensors have smaller pixels, however, it is plenty for the photographer who is just starting out or is just photographing for a hobby.

The second kind of sensor is a full frame sensor or 35mm. These are usually found on professional DSLR cameras. They have more resolution but are also quite a bit more expensive. Most of the time full frame is not necessary for a beginner and can even be over kill.

  1. Megapixels

The more megapixels your camera has, the more detailed and clear your images will be and, consequently, the larger you can print them. Megapixels are important when buying a camera but today almost any camera you can buy will have more than enough megapixels for even a 16×20 print. Generally, the more megapixels the camera has, the more expensive it will be. Beginners will be more than fine with a camera with even 18 megapixels.

  1. Frames Per Second

This is mostly important to photographers that want to capture a moving subject. Photographers who want to shoot sports, racing or even a busy toddler will want something with more frames per second. A faster speed will help you to be sure to capture that specific moment. 10 fps is excellent for sports and all fast moving subjects. But unless you are a professional sports photographer shooting car races for a living, 5 fps will be just fine.

  1. ISO

The ISO measures how sensitive the camera is to light. The higher the ISO the camera has means the less light you need to take a photograph. If you need the camera in a lot of low light situations like indoors without a flash, you might want a camera that has a high ISO.

  1. Kit lens

A great way to minimize the cost of your beginner DLSR camera is to buy it with a kit lens. Most of the kit lenses are low level lenses but they are great for learning on. Once you get comfortable with lenses and see what kind of lens you need for what you photograph, you can always upgrade later. When you are purchasing your camera keep in mind that a Canon camera won’t support a Nikon lens and vise versa. If you buy a Nikon you will have to invest in Nikon lenses. If you already own Nikon lenses and want to upgrade your camera body years down the road, you will probably buy another Nikon since you already have lenses that fit. So, once you have a Nikon its hard to change to a Cannon and once you have a Cannon its hard to change to a Nikon, without a substantial investment. So, be aware of that as you choose a camera.

Here are a few cameras that I recommend for beginners:

 

camera chart2


Using Window Light

how to window light

Window light is by far my favorite kind of light to photograph with. It’s the only kind of light I use when I photograph newborns. It’s just so lovely. When you use it correctly you can make your subject look fabulous! And who doesn’t want to look fabulous? The trick is to put your subject in front of the window about three feet away and at a 45 degree angle. If you want, you can even pop in a reflector to soften up the shadows on the other side. Simple as that! Who knew it could be so easy?

window light

window light 2

 

 

Learn more about lighting in my eBook, How To Shoot Your Family and Friends and Get Away with it. 

lighting pages

Learn better by watching videos? Then click here for my online photography class with videos, power points and assignments.  

The Best Online Photography Workshop Ever!

I am proud to announce my new online photography workshop! I had a lot of fun making this and you will have a lot of fun taking this workshop!

If you ever wanted to learn what all those buttons on your camera do, or wanted to learn how to take better pictures of your son at his soccer game, or just wanted to get better at photography in general, then this the class is for you. It’s a six week online course with six assignments designed for you to go at your own pace. You will never be afraid of your DSLR or manual mode again!




 

To learn more about his class click here!

Since this class is so new and I am feeling very generous, I am offering this workshop at a very special, very low price! But this offer is only good for this week. So take advantage and sign up today and don’t miss out. Even if you can’t start this course for another month you can still get it today and start when you can. There’s no excuse!  Get it now and start taking fabulous photos!




5 Tips for Photographing Your Family Indoors

I’ve recently had a lot of people ask me about how to use their digital cameras and how to take better pictures.  So I decied to put it all together in a nice little package in the form of an eBook called “How to Shoot your Family & Friends and Get Away With It”.  Then I decided to give you a teeny tiny little taste of what you can learn from my eBook. Here’s how to make your indoor photography go from drab to fab in just 5 easy steps!

1. Turn off your Flash

Yes, that’s right, I am telling you to turn off your flash indoors. Flash is evil…I mean, it even gives you red eyes and dark scary shaddows. Your subject will be so much more flattering if you just turn off your flash and place your subject next to a window. You be the judge, which photograph do you like better?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  2. Find the Light

Now that you’ve turned off your flash you need to find some light. Look around and see what rooms have the best light. Or even where the “pretty light” is in each room. Stay away from harsh afternoon light. Try to find soft diffused light next to a window. You might even be surpised where you find the best light.

3. White Balance

Are you tired the of orange and blue images you get when photographing indoors? Setting your white balance could possibly be the most important step when shooting indoors. This might just change your life. When you set the white balance on your camera, you are simply telling it what color the light is that you are shooting in. Different light sources give off different hues or temperatures. For instance, tungsten light (or regular lightbulbs) give off an orange color. Our eyes can adjust to this and we don’t even notice, but your camera is very sensitive to this. This simple remedy is to simply set your white balance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost every DSLR has white balance presets you can set. They are displayed as icons you can choose from to match your lighting:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Use the Biggest Aperture

I have a confession, I love big apertures. Huge, wide open, let – in – a- bunch- of- light apertures.  This makes a depth of field to die for. I really need a whole other post to really get into apertures and depth of field. But, basically, the aperture is the size of the opening of the lens. Having a big aperture will let in a lot of light and make the background blurry. Both of these things are perfect for indoor shots.  Try setting your camera to the aperture priority setting. On a nikon it’s  A and on a Canon it’s AV. Get your aperture to the smallest number possible (they’re fractions, the smaller the number, the larger the opening) I think I will definitely have to do another blog post on this later.

5. Use A Higher ISO

Use at least 400 but go higher if you’ve got it, 800, 1600, or even 3200! Yes, it’s true that higher the ISO the more noise, or grainer the image is. The newer cameras don’t have as much problem with this now. Just play around with the ISO and see how it can make your images lighter.

 

To sum it all up, try this when shooting indoors:

  • Aperture Mode (A or AV)
  • f stop 2.8
  • ISO 400 or higher
  • next to window light
  • and set your white balance

 

 Click here to learn more photography tips and tricks.