My name is Dean, and I am a professional photographer with years of experience in the industry. Throughout my career, I have been lucky enough to work … Read More
So you’ve decided the time has come to buy yourself a decent camera. You enjoy taking pictures on your smartphone but you want to be able to do a bit more than even the phone’s camera can allow. The biggest problem with buying a camera is that there are so many to choose from, all with enticing write ups that sell their benefits. So what are the top dos and don’ts of buying a camera?
Types of digital camera
There are three main categories of digital camera currently available – compact, bridge and DSLR. The compact is the beginner’s level and is small enough to pop into a handbag or a backpack, even a pocket sometimes. They have good basic features but watch the sturdiness of the camera as if it is too thin and flimsy, it might break while being used.
Bridge cameras are the middle ground and have more advanced features without being as advanced as DSLR. They have a fixed lens set up with good zoom and plenty of built in modes for different situations. There are some good priced models from big name brands as well.
DSLR are the professional grade cameras and can costs thousands of pounds. They have the flexibility with interchangeable lenses and manual settings to take the photos but also require plenty of knowledge to truly master.
Understanding a bit about camera basics is important before making a purchase as this allows you to narrow down the field based around what you want or what you don’t want. There’s no point going straight into buying a camera with multiple lenses and a million zoom that is going to frustrate you when you come to use it.
Do look at the megapixels and the zoom of the camera. Most decent cameras now have around 14 megapixels, which means 14 million little points that combine to make the picture. The more pixels, the more image and this also means it takes up more room on your computer so if you have space limits, you may want to keep the megapixels to a sensible range.
Zoom is something else that is easy to get carried away with. Don’t worry too much about it when you first start, a 5x optical zoom is a great option to have and will let you zoom in without needing to get overly complicated.
Features of the camera
There are some good features that are worth having on even your first camera and many of the start-up ranges include these. Image stabilisation is a great one as this helps to reduce the blurriness of a picture that can happen if you aren’t completely stationary when snapping.
Face detection is another benefit often seen on smartphone cameras that helps the camera realise there is a person in the shot and focus on their face. A good digital camera will be able to do this even in low light conditions.
Don’t worry too much about Wi-Fi connection on your camera but if it has it, then that’s an added benefit. Most cameras will connect with your computer via a USB cable to transfer images so you don’t have to worry about sending them via Wi-Fi.
Photography is one of those activities to which there is simply no substitute for practice. The best way to hone your photography skills, get to know your camera and learn what works for you is to get out there and takes lots of pictures. But what are the best assignments to set yourself to get the most from your new camera?
There are some great ideas for basic tricks that will get you started on advancing your skills beyond the simple family shot or the picture of the cat doing something cute. For instance, pick a location and take a set number of photos from that spot without moving your feet. See just how many different shots you can take from that spot, regardless of what they feature.
Another similar trick is to try to take a number of shots of a single item in as many different ways as you can. Say you take a vase of flowers – how many different pictures can you get? Close up shots, different angles, even from odd vantage points, count them up then try another similar item and see how you do from what you learned.
Digital cameras come with loads of different settings and something you can be like a kid in a sweet shop, eager to try them all. But the best way to get the hang of a particular setting is to limit yourself to it and only take photos with it for a trip, a session or even a day. Spend a whole session using that one setting or a focus length with the camera’s zoom. That way you will come to truly understand what works about the setting.
Auto mode is a great creation but can make us a bit lazy with our photos, allowing the camera to do all the work. Therefore, don’t allow yourself to use it for a series of photos and this can further learn you to see what modes work well in what environment. Try taking the same picture in various settings to see what worked best.
Go somewhere different
It is easy to fall into the habit of photographing the plants in your gardens or the landmarks in your town but to hone your skills you need to go further afield and try new locations. Whether this is a day trip or a full scale holiday, that’s up to you.
Photographic holidays are becoming quite popular with the Seamaid trip from Cro Exclusive Villas being one example. This offers a photographic holiday in Croatia and even the chance to try underwater photography. You can learn about seafaring and make use of the hundreds of photographic opportunities on the ship as well as the luxurious surrounding of the Adriatic Coast.
You don’t even need to go too far from home to practise your skills. A weekend to London, for example, has to offer one of the most varied urban landscapes to photograph. From the lush greenery of Hyde Park through to the historic landmarks and new cutting edge buildings, there are plenty of opportunities to try those new settings you are so familiar with.
Turning a hobby into something that you can make money from isn’t always the easiest thing to do. But when that hobby is photography, then there are probably more opportunities to do just that. You don’t need to be a professional London photographer, taking snaps of the stars, to make a living from it. So what are the top ways to make money from your photography?
One great way to make money from photos that doesn’t involve too much work is to sell your pictures for stock photos. There is a huge demand for good quality stock photos of all kinds from web designers, bloggers and even marketing agencies. Therefore, if you can take the kind of pictures that could be used in any of these areas, you have a good chance of selling your images to stock photo companies.
Create an eBook
If you have a little writing skill along with the ability to use your camera (or can pair with someone who can) then you could always create your own eBook. Write about your journey as a photography or a tips style book about how to take a certain type of photography, including plenty of your own examples to illustrate it. Then you can market the book across the internet. Alternatively, if you have a blog, you can use the eBook as a giveaway to get customers to the website and buy other services from you.
Capture local events
Someone reports on virtually everything that happens these days and the key to this is that they often aren’t near where the event they are reporting about. But what they often do need are photos to go with those reports so if you can take good photos you can sell them to people reporting on these events.
Offering your skills to a company who need good quality product photos is a great way to make some money and build up your portfolio. The more of these types of jobs you do, the more you will be able to do and suddenly you find yourself shooting for a big name multi-national company (hopefully!). If you want to go down this route, you could get started by offering local businesses the service free in return for reviews and the ability to use the shots in your portfolio.
Sell your images on Etsy
Etsy is a website that has become the go-to place for unique and handmade items and that can include photos. Whether you frame them, print them onto canvas or offer them in a book, you can take your images to a wider audience by setting up an Etsy shop. They do charge a percentage for each sale and a small cost to add items to the website but opens you up to a large audience of potential customers.
Printables are huge at the moment, allowing people to print everything from calendars to to-do lists and time organisation. People want them to be colourful, attractive and engaging and using real images in them adds something different. Take shots during the year to create a seasonally based calendar or a collection of flowers, birds or places for a themed one.