Instructables

getting started in photography

I have recently become interested in photography and I need your help. I would like to know what you think I should get as a first camera and I would also like a recommendation on some good reading material. any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

These days a half decent camera is pretty cheap... If you're fairly sure than a creative compact is a great step between an SLR and a point and shoot, you get creative control and good lenses in general. My olympus SP-560UZ was £200 earlier this year and is pretty good 18X zoom, 8MP and lots of manual control available, if you plan on macro photography then an Olympus is a good bet, they have super macro mode which is unholy, it focuses really well and allows amazing detail. I also have an older Canon EOS 20D SLR which is great because my family had all the old film lenses, my dad bought that by selling some - Refurbised, I've not tried from other companies but canon refurbished cameras are good as new and a big money saver. I used to own a Fujifilm S5600 aswell, good camera, probably in your price range by now, full control, 10X zoom and 6.0MP pretty good all rounder in my opinion. If you wanted something a bit more like a point and shoot but with higher qualities then something like a Canon G-series or Sony's W series aren't bad, they tend to be higher megapixel cameras with a 3-5X optical zoom. A few key points to look for: - Optical Zoom (Ignore digital completely) - Anything over 6MP is pretty adequate these days unless you want really big prints - Look for creative control, a manual mode in other words - A good aperture range is good, the bigger the aperture the smaller the number, so ones that span a long way are good all round. Smaller numbers at the low range will mean more light in when it's needed and you can play with depth of field very easily. - Build quality, make sure it's tough, my olympus has had a couple of beatings already from various things Weigh up your options, creative compacts tend to be a trade between megapixels and zoom, I had the choice of 10MP but only 10X zoom or 8MP with 18X zoom, my personal choice was to have the most versatile for different situations. It's your own perogative to decide which will make it for you. As for an enrty level SLR if and when it's that time look for a versatile lens that will cover you for lots of situations, I personally carry a 70-210mm and a 28-70mm lens with a little 2X teleconverter for long shots... If you're going for landscapes and smaller situations then the 28-70 which is a standard for alot of cameras to have tends to be a good choice, if you feel the need to zoom in alot then 70-210 may suit you. Note that with 70-210 you will need to be almost six feet away from someone to get a full frame of their face at 70mm. if you want macro then look towards shorter lenses but you can always do one from distance. As for handy equipment: - A tripod (not necessary in every situation but great for longer shots, if you're shooting inside or with big zooms then it's a must.) - Spare Batteries, even just one backup is a lifesaver at times. - Extra memory cards, again you don't want to be stopped by a full memory card - Camera bag, handy for protecting the camera and carrying your stuff. If you're just starting then a compact with a decent sized memory card will get you by pretty well unless you start going in to fairly serious stuff with it. Another thing to think about is that a creative compact can almost match an SLR for versatility at times and is probably the best way to experiment with photography, alternatively film cameras are cheap if you fancy that approach... Hope this lot helps a bit.
mynameisjonas (author)  killerjackalope5 years ago
wow, thanks, a lot of great information there, I'll have too look into those cameras. do you have any recommendations in the category of books. and once again thanks a lot for your help.
I'd say that books aren't needed any more, there's a huge amount of material on the web, however if I had to recommend some look for a decent technical handbook to help you understand photography, a few more artistic books, maybe on different subjects, to help you learn about technique and everything, I'd also say straight away to learn how to use photoshop, if not for after-editing then for other needs like printing etc. reason being that I know people that have been several hampered by not being savvy with computer software. I'm considering a basic photography 'ible, about cameras and such, to help people, and hopefully to save next years students from the awful videos in photography.
mynameisjonas (author)  killerjackalope5 years ago
the photography 'ible sounds awesome. if you decide to publish it please tell me
I Don't think it's needed, I missed This the first time round, also check out W'burgs other photography 'ibles, he's got it covered pretty well...

If you want to play about with something in the meantime, check out my 'ible about better photos with phones, a little sense makes them intelligible enough to be representative of that hazy night or just for social sites, which make me sick with bad photos at times...
westfw5 years ago
The "beginning photography" class at our middle school uses full-manual SLR film cameras with B&W film (they do their own development and printing too; if you don't have access to a darkroom, you could probably use color film and commercial development services.) You learn quite a lot that way, but it may or may not include "how to take nice pictures with a modern digital P&S camera." Lots of used SLR film cameras on eBay...
If you don't have access to a dark room, I'd suggest staying away from film all together. You can't really learn a lot by just having someone develop your film and receiving prints. The post processing is what really needs to be hands on.
Do you know of an inexpensive digital camera with full manual capabilities? I'd be pretty happy moving all the post processing into a computer, but the capabilities don't tend to match up ...
My fuji finepix s5100 had full manual. Check out that line.
I had the S5600, it was pretty nice, I think the newer but not latest models got extended lenses, I know there are 12X ones and such, plus they tend to have pretty decent sensors, also they've got RAW and a plethora of semi automatic modes that help the learning curve, it was the first camera I bought myself and got in to photography with, I originally wanted something that would do me better than a point and shoot but be handy enough, it fills that role nicely aswell. Canon compacts have full manual, some of them might be an option...
LinuxH4x0r5 years ago
I'd recommend getting the feel of it with a digital camera for under 200 and then upgrading to a SLR or DSLR later on. Cannon A75 Minolta XG-A (50 and 135 MM lenses)
Minolta XG-A you say? I may have a few old 35mm lenses for them sitting about, I'd have to check because I'm not sure if Minolta continued backwards compatibility.
Quite a nice camera for its age. Got it for $10 with body, lenses, and flash. Every lens I've ever found separately for it has been way out my budget.
Ah I was thinking new one there, I have a fair few lenses kicking around for them, however most of them are 50mm and 135mm I think there's a few telephotos about the place too, why what kind of prices where they at?
They were in the 50 dollar range, but they had issues. I buy stuff cheap, I don't think I'd ever buy lenses unless its garage sales or estate sales or just really cheap. Honestly its not worth it. I am interested in macro lenses though
Hrmm I'll see what we have "in stock"
Instead of typing out a page's worth of info, i'll just link you to an instructable I wrote on just this:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Learn-Photography/

You can get standard technical information and age old techniques from any book, the real way to learn is by taking pictures and finding out how to make them better. Finding a good critique site (Like the one I run) will help. You can post your pictures there, and get others to tell you what they think. It's one of the most important parts of getting better.