I have always been keen on photography but quite honestly I never followed up on it with much enthusiasm. Thinking back when I was a kid cameras were extremely expensive, so was film, and so was the act of processing. With time costs came down but processing was still a pain. I would take pictures, have to make notes on every detail, camera setting etc and then hand it in for processing. If I did not like the results I would repeat the process. Now many people would say, “if you read a book and followed instructions this would not have been so difficult.” Well, what can I say. I am not much of a book reader. I fall into the trial and error category of people.
So as technology evolved and digital SLRs entered the market I found myself taking more and more pictures and experimenting with my camera. You take a picture, you see the results, you adjust and you take another, and you keep doing that till you get it right. The best part being that you spend nothing on film, processing cost, and most important, time. So while I always wanted to learn and do photography its technology that provided the final nudge rather than my own desire.
So I thought maybe I’ll share my trial and error experiences since we live in this world of information sharing and 5 minutes of possible Internet fame. One thing to note is that I am no expert. In fact if you happen to be an expert of photography, please feel free to offer corrections, suggestions etc.
So here is a quick run down on the history of cameras I had and well, still have in some cases.
- My first camera an Agfa Klick III? Not even sure of the name. I still have some pictures taken from it. If I ever find them I will scan and put some up
- Yashica Electro 35. I still have it and it still takes great pictures.
- Minolta STsi Film SLR. Great camera, I still use it once in a while. Specially once I have figured out all the right settings on my DSLR for the kind of picture I want to take.
- Minolta 7D – My first DSLR. I loved this camera till it broke and Sony (Sony bought Minolta’s camera division) tried to screw me over my warranty.
- Nikon D80 - My current work horse
And here is some Advice
Cameras like most consumer electronics become a status symbol. People love owning the latest and greatest. I too fell for this trap. So trust me when I say I speak from experience. When you buy a DSLR you are buying a camera body and one or more lens to go with it. The put together creates a camera system. Most people go insane trying to buy the latest camera body because that is the advertized product. So its cool to have the latest camera, i.e., body. So now that you have bought the latest camera body you find that there is very little money left in your pocket. What do you do now? You buy some crappy cheap lens to go with it. Now you have a problem.
You see light goes through the lens before it falls on your sensor or film. Bad lens means bad glass which mean bad light which means bad pictures. Its like buying the latest most awesome home theater system and then putting cheap $5 speakers. No matter how great your DVD/CD player is and how great the sound to noise ratio of your receiver is. If you have bad speakers you will get bad sound. In the camera world if you have bad lens you get bad pictures.
Now I don’t know if the experts will agree with me or not. But if you are on a budget you are better off buying a cheaper or used camera body and then use the savings to buy a good lens or two. Over time you collect more and more lens for the camera system (such as Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Olympus, Sony etc). Then at some stage you upgrade the camera body. By now you have a good collection of lens and hopefully you are also an experienced photographer.
Another downside of cheap lens is that after spending so much money on an expensive body you will get poor quality pictures which will rapidly erode your enthusiasm. So don’t start off at an disadvantage with bad lens.
Now you may ask what’s a good lens? what lens should I buy? and so on…. Ummmm, I don’t know. But there are plenty of resources to read up and learn from. As I find them I will post links to them. But for starters perhaps you want to think about the type of photography you wish to do: Macro, Portraits, Landscapes, Wildlife, Sports, etc. Once you have that decision, choosing good lens becomes easier.