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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | July 12, 2020

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Get yourself a camera

Aimee Catt

Let’s start at the very beginning; a very good place to start. When you read you begin with ABC, when you sing you begin with Do-Re-Mi (Do-Re-Mi), when you take photos, you begin with a camera.


Without the aide of a bowl cut and seven children, my first blog aims to help with those narky decisions you will face when buying a camera. Or at least, what you should look for when buying one.


For the convenience of your wallet, snap-happy impulses and the modern digital world, I’m just talking digital. Film is a whole other thing and will get its own post. I’m also generally referring to DSLRs; compact cameras and I are not like peas and carrots. And they’re just not as good.  Unless you get that one that has detachable lenses. I LOVE LENSES.


So… What camera? What brand!? The main argument is between Nikon and Canon. Its like Mac or PC? Tom-ay-to or Tom-ar-to? Well let me just say: Mac reigns supreme and it’s Tom-ar-to. But when it comes to cameras… I honestly don’t think there’s a clear winner. It comes down to personal preference and what you want out of the camera.


I am a Canon girl, but that’s because I suck at decisions, used to know absolutely nothing about cameras and someone told me to buy a Canon. I had a look at it. It sounded fancy. I bought it. Now I have a Canon. It’s pretty great. Sometimes I suffer from “I want what she’s got” and get Nikon-pangs but my camera serves me well and I really don’t feel I have regrets about the road not taken. It would be the same if I had bought Nikon. I have used Nikons and both are great. At the end of the day, it’s not the size of the ship, it’s the motion in the ocean; it’s not the camera, it’s the person behind it.


People often say “Wow, that’s a really good photo, you must have a nice camera” which would be like someone saying “wow, you look so pretty today, you must have really good makeup”, it’s soul crushing when it’s what you’re all about. A good photo is the final result of more things than good equipment. That being said; a good camera doesn’t hurt!


Why do you want a camera? Do you want to be an amateur? Do you want to be a professional? Or are you a hobbyist with a butt load of money? Do you just want to take happy snaps of your BFFs? Do you want to photograph landscapes, events, live music, portraits? Think about all of this first!


For professional standard images, the most important thing is lenses. LENSES, LENSES, LENSES! It’s like if you need optical glasses and have awesome frames

My puppies. Top photo taken on an iPhone, bottom on a DSLR. The blurry background is from using a large aperture.

but no prescription lenses, you’ll look cool but won’t see anything clearly – a camera without a good lens is going to be the same! You don’t have to buy the most expensive body (something like a Canon 5d Mk III or a Nikon D800) if you have a crappy kit lens on it. You want to put the most of your money into a lens with a nice big aperture; the lower the number, the better. Lenses with an aperture of 1.4 or 2.8 are an absolute beauty!! Aperture refers to the size of the lens opening; the BIGGER the aperture, the SMALLER the number. When the lens is set to the highest aperture, the most light is let in. This is good for low light situations ie… night or helps to create a blurry background. However, if you’re just happy snapping in the day time, you go crazy with your kit lens (usually the kind you can get for cheap when you buy the camera), they are fine in that situation.


But, you do need to put your lens on something…


Think about the crop sensor. Do you want a “full-frame” or a “sub-frame”?  I’m not going to get too technical but full-frame gets the whole image, sub-frame is a little bit closer cropped. It makes the tiniest difference to quality, but if you have a good lens, it ain’t even a thang! Until I start charging my clients more than $1/hour, I have a sub-frame. I’m used to it and it is fine! Full-frame also chucks on at least $1000 to the camera body alone. So if you are not looking at going professional, full-frame is not at all important and I’d tell you to buy a sub-frame, save the money and get a nice lens.


Megapixels were always a selling point for me; the higher the number, the better. Not necessarily the case. If you don’t want to blow your images up to billboard sizes, the highest megapixel count isn’t the most important. You still want a decent amount to preserve quality, in the teens at least, otherwise you may as well continue using your crappy iPhone camera, put on a filter, upload it to Instagram and call yourself a photographer.


Another important factor is the camera’s ability to shoot in low light situations. Ask your friendly camera shop man about this. If you are likely to shoot in low light, this is very important. Some cameras don’t deal too well with grain (I LOVE grain, but we’re all different) and can’t render sharp images in low light. So if you want to shoot live music, for example, this is something you need to really be serious about… as well as using a good lens. <3 Lenses <3


Left photo taken on an iPhone, right on a DSLR

So there are just some tips at what to look for. As a Canon user, if you don’t want to spend too much, look at one of the lower EOS models; they are still great and if you know how to use it and have a good eye, you will do great things. There is a Nikon version of each, also allowing great things! One selling point of Nikon is that the lenses can be used on their digital and film SLRs, whereas Canon changed mounts. Poo, poo, poo!


I hope I’ve helped or at least led you in a direction, there’s so many models out there I can’t list them. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you want my opinion or advice!


Now that we’ve talked cameras, we can talk about other cameras and the action of actually taking a photo. I am excited for all of us!