Which Digital Camera? part 1

Variations on the question of, What camera should I get? or Which camera is best? or What camera can I get to take better photos? is the second most commonly asked question*, and the answer I nearly always give is – The one you have.
Let me explain. The majority of people who take photos now, no longer print them out. They are destined for facebook, flickr or some other web use, or they languish in a folder on the pc. There is not much thought gone into the photos themselves – they are in effect snapshots – nothing wrong in that, I hasten to add – However, purchasing a new updated camera every couple of years will not improve your photography. Much better off to take a few simple steps to improve your photography on the camera you currently use.

The following images were all taken on equipment more than 4 years old.

Lg Viewty (original) (2007) – about £10 from eBay. A 5 megapixel camera on this early smart phone. Not so great at landscape shots, due to poor resolution, but changing the style of photography can give pleasing results.

The Fuji S5500 (2005) – about £30 -£40 on eBay. A 4 megapixel bridge camera that’s quite average in all departments, but still capable of producing good results. Extremely tough camera that has being pretty abused, completely soaked, run over by a rally car and still works fine.

The Canon 350D and kit lens 18-55mm (2006) – about £70 -£100 on eBay. An 8 megapixel DSLR camera. The kit lens is a very good starter lens and produces fine results.

The Canon 350D with 50mm 1.8 prime lens (2006) – Canon’s cheapest prime lens about £50 on eBay. I have had spectacular results with this combination.

Saving the best till last is the 6 year old Canon 5D (2005) – my workhorse paired with Canon’s L lenses for the best in image quality. Around £600 for the body only. I can’t see me upgrading from this one ever. Does everything I need of it perfectly.

I hope these images show that quality can be achieved using older equipment.

If you want to improve your photography, the 4 main points I will give just now is to;
1 – get out there and shoot
2 – study other major photographers’ work whom you admire
3 – learn about apertures, shutter speeds, and ISO speeds and the relation between them
4 – pay no attention to web forums – there is a lot of mis-information out there

Take it slowly, improvement doesn’t come overnight, but with patience and putting into practice what you learn, improvement will come.

If you really do need/want a new digital camera… tbc in part 2

*Most often asked question is – “Do you do weddings?”


10 thoughts on “Which Digital Camera? part 1

  1. Hi David. Great advice there from someone who takes awesome photos! I need to follow up on point 3 and learn more about manipulating the camera to better effect rather than just pointing and pressing. I tend to follow point 1 and always take loads of photos wherever I am on the assumption that if I take enough I’ll get a few decent ones as well as having enough photos to “tell the story” as it were especially of the kids. As I’m an outdoor type including winter and watersports I use a Panasonic FT3 for it’s shockproof and waterproof abilities. Cheers. Andy

    • Thanks Andy,
      Most people find point 3 the hardest, usually giving up before understanding. Perseverance is the key though, (as with most things in life I guess). Once you master this area, you will find yourself shooting less and less as you will find that capturing the image you want will be achieved within the first or second attempt. (although I still take loads of photos of the kids myself) 🙂

  2. Many thanks David. I am going to keep my old camera which occasionally gives some good photos out of the loads I take! Mastering point 3 will defintely help reduce the volumes! I think you need next to explain about lenses to us next please though as I haven’t a clue what you are talking about there. Maybe a session at the U3A? I shall suggest it to the others..

  3. An interesting discussion is price comment. I think that it is best to write extra on this subject, it may not be a taboo topic but typically people are not enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  4. I keep coming back to this post David – I’ve found it very thought provoking – it’s also prompted some window shopping on ebay. The images are stunning – I’d like to have a large version of the last one on my wall, and I shall continue to come back for the photos alone.
    Since I first read it, I bumped into someone I’ve known for a very long time who recently discovered my blog. I had my camera with me (I usually do unless I’m working) and he was keen to look at it – but very disappointed when he saw it. “Is this it?! I was sure you must be using something professional. How did you get photos like that with this?” I presume he thought I’d be using a large format DSLR when in fact I have an Olympus 560UZ, a super-zoom bridge camera. I love the camera because it’s compact and very flexible. I’ve barely consulted the manual and I’m sure it has capacities which I’m yet to discover. I don’t shoot in RAW and I’m not really sure what the benefit would be if I did (I think I could on this camera – but I don’t have photoshop – I use picnik on flickr) . For quite some time I was convinced that I didn’t need or want a DSLR for various reasons – the size, potentially needing several lenses, and principally the cost. At times however I have found myself coming up against some frustrating limitations of my camera and I’ve begun to think the grass might possibly be greener elsewhere. This is all slightly academic since I shan’t be purchasing anything in the immediate future – but it’s nice to scheme.
    Looking forward to part 2!

    • Thanks Mark. I’m not really one for self-promotion but I do have a couple of images for sale here; http://www.photo4me.com/dsp

      Just a quick note as to part 2, I have several posts in a draft folder that I can’t seem to get around to finishing – severe shortage of time. But if I was to start out now and wanted a camera that would satisfy my leisure goals/perfectionism, I would be looking at the Sony Nex – 7 and a couple of good prime lenses.

  5. That certainly looks like an amazing camera. Now – if I can flog one of the kids on ebay…..
    (Still, if I wait 20 years the price will probably have come down!)

  6. I see that Chris Townsend has been using a Nex 5 which might be a more affordable alternative from my point of view. The ‘door’ on the the battery comparment on my Olympus has developed an alarming crack, which may force my hand a little on the dilema as to whether or not to replace it.

    • yeah, I would be very happy with the Nex-5 also – tbh, depending on your needs, almost any of the modern micro cameras would do a more than competent job. The main thing to do would be to narrow down your choices then get to a camera shop and try them out. See how they fit in your hand, how intuitive are the menus and buttons.

      My main reason for pointing out the nex-7 was that it would be my own personal choice if starting from scratch again which meets my personal requirements and that would last me for years.

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