If you are a serious shutterbug or looking to get serious about photography, selecting the right camera to execute your craft is one of the most important purchasing decisions you will make. Buying a quality single-lens reflex (SLR) camera is essential for anyone looking to delve into the more technical aspects of photography. So, what separates SLRs from their compact counterparts? In regular cameras, there are two optical light paths from the subject to the camera: one path leading to the lens and the other to the viewfinder. Since the lens and viewfinder aren’t on the same optical path, the photo you capture won’t be exactly what you are seeing through the viewfinder. SLR cameras contain a moving mirror system that allows you to capture exactly what you are seeing through the viewfinder. It is for this reason that professional photographers, who require greater precision and quality in their images, use SLR rather than regular cameras. SLRs are also the tool of choice by professionals because, unlike regular point and shoot models, they allow you to customise your camera to suit your individual requirements with a variety of accessories such as interchangeable filters and lenses. The next decision you will need to make is whether you stick with film or go digital. While the advent of digital technology has made taking great shots much easier for even the photography novice, most old-school photographers maintain their orthodox devotion to film. The major difference between a digital SLR and the traditional SLR is that the latter saves the images captured on film rather than a digital storage method such as an SD card. Because the storage medium if different, so too are the cameras’ image sensors. In SLR cameras, the light shining through the lens is projected directly onto 35mm film whereas DLSRs contain a CCD or CMOS imaging sensor that captures light and coverts it into digital data. One advantage of the digital type SLR over the film-based version is that images can be stored on reusable memory cards that have the capacity to store hundreds or even thousands of images. With digital storage, the cost of film and processing can be avoided. Instead, you just print the images you want. Another advantage of DLSR cameras over their traditional counterparts is that most now come with an LCD screen. This allows you review your pictures straight after taking them instead of waiting to get your film developed. So, if your photo doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, you can make the necessary setting modifications immediately and reshoot the scene. Film also determines the light sensitivity of the camera. So, if you are shooting with ISO 400 film, you are unable to change your light sensitivity until you have finished the whole roll. With a DSLR, you have the advantage of simply adjusting the ISO with the push of a button, helping to extend you creative control.
Do you love photography? Would you like to get more serious about it but aren’t quite sure what you’ll need to do so? Decking yourself out with the right equipment is a good place to start. There are certain basic tools that every photographer should have. Here’s a brief guide to the bare essentials you will need to get started.
Invest in a basic digital single-lens reflect (DSLR) camera body. While these are bulkier than regular compact digital cameras, they provide better picture quality. Look for a camera that is well made and comfortable to hold. The camera should also have a manual override to enable you to adjust the focus, shutter speed and aperture to your own settings.
Try to find one with the largest image sensor and that provides the greatest picture resolution (measured in megapixels) for your budget but don’t go all out on a professional level camera just yet – you can always upgrade later. If you’re going to spend big on anything at this stage, you’d be better putting your money toward some quality lenses and accessories.
Different lenses are suitable for shooting different subjects. Macro lenses are used for taking close-up shots and wide aperture lenses are best for photographing panoramic scenes.
The first lens you purchase should be the one best suited to your current needs. So, if you are mostly taking close-up photos of flowers, you will just need a macro lens for now.
Lens filters reduce the glare caused by reflective surfaces and the sun. They are also used to modify picture quality and increase colour saturation. With each lens you purchase, you will need to get an appropriate filter.
There are several varieties of filters and each has a different effect: • Neutral filters reduce the effect of bright lights • UV filters brighten an image • Warm or cool filters are used to alter a shot’s white balance.
An area’s luminosity is measured using a light metre. It helps the photographer to determine whether they need to modify the shutter speed, aperture or ISO setting. Using the reading provided by the light metre a photographer can make the necessary adjustments in order to capture a great shot even in darker lighting conditions.
A tripod is a must-have for any budding photographer. Whether you’re trying to capture a stationary or moving subject, a tripod will help to prevent camera movement to ensure you take the sharpest photo possible. Alongside stability, tripods also provide elevation and support for heavy equipment such as telephoto lenses.
Since photography is an expensive hobby, it is better to slowly build-up your arsenal of equipment as your skills and knowledge improve.