My advice for the beginning photographer buying their first DSLR.
I love my Canon cameras. I’ve owned two 40Ds, a 1D MkIIn, and now make my images with a 7D, the best one I’ve owned yet! I’ve gone through lenses like most people change underwear. Various Canon “L” lenses, too many to mention, have resided in my camera bag at one time or another. Some have made repeat visits(I’m currently working with my fourth 70-200 and second 17-40). Add in a smattering of third-party lenses and it becomes obvious that I’m always on the hunt for my next “favorite” lens.
But I didn’t fall in love with my Canon gear because I thought it was “better.” Though when I’m asked “which camera should I buy?” I generally steer people towards Canon. But that’s because it’s what I shoot, it’s what I know. Do I think Canon is better than any other brand? All kidding with my Nikon shooting friends aside, the answer is, no.
What’s mine is yours.
It would be understandable of you to think I did choose Canon over Nikon, or any other brand for that matter, for some advanced technical feature, or superior image quality, but you’d be mistaken.
Having no brand loyalty at the time, I chose Canon for my first DSLR for one very simple reason that had nothing to do with either. As I began my interest in photography I didn’t know nearly as many photographers as I now have the pleasure of knowing. In fact, I knew two.
Any guesses as to what those two photographers had in common?
If you guessed they both used Canon cameras, give yourself a prize!
My new-found interest in photography came with a ready-made knowledge base of Canon experience at my disposal. Throw in the added bonus of readily available lenses and other gear I could borrow and the choice was simple.
The images in this post are perfect examples of why this method of choosing one brand over another, especially when just starting out, can be very helpful. The first image of Cloudland Falls was captured using my Canon 7D with 17-40 f/4L lens attached. This is as close as I could get for a decent composition that included the entire waterfall.
17mm on an APS-C sensor camera just wasn’t wide enough.
This photo with my friend Adam in it shows just how large the waterfall is.
But I wanted to get close.
I wanted “wipe the spray off the lens between shots” close, with the entire waterfall in the photograph. Had it just been Adam and myself out shooting that day I would have been out of luck, since Adam is a Nikon man. But thanks to my good friend and fellow Canon guy, Glen, and his willingness to let me use his Tokina 11-16 lens, I was able to get up close and personal with this spectacular waterfall to capture the second image.
*To give you an idea of how much closer I was able to get, while still capturing the entire waterfall, if you look at the photo with Adam in it you’ll see a line of boulders starting just to the left of his left shoulder. The prominent foreground in the second photograph is the top edge of the third boulder to his left. My tripod was just behind that boulder*
There are a lot of great features on almost any camera made today. In the right hands, any of them will enable you (once you learn how to use it, preferably NOT on full auto mode) to make spectacular images. In certain circumstances some of these features may be of importance to you and should be factors in deciding which camera to buy. But don’t discount something as simple as the “My buddy Bob has one” reason for choosing your first DSLR.
This is why the first question I ask when I’m asked “which camera should I buy?” is “do you have any friends that are photographers, if so, what brand do they use?“
Of course if they don’t know any photographers, I’m going to highly recommend Canon ;-)
Livermore Falls, Campton, NH.
I’ve always loved the patterns and colors in the ice along the cliff and now I’m finally getting around to doing something with this image.
I’m coming to realize that winter might very well be my favorite time of year to make photographs.
Original date of capture: 2/6/2010
Camera body: Canon EOS 40D
Lens: Canon EF 17-40 f4L
iso 100, 40mm, f16 @ 1/4 second.
From late October through most of November, the most gorgeous golden light passes through the woods on the side of the road to my house. So far this is the best I’ve done to capture it. Taken back in 2008, only a few months after I bought my first camera, this is also my first attempt at HDR, not half bad if I do say so myself.
Canon EF 24-70 f2.8L
ISO 100, 45mm, f8 @ 1/100
Canon EOS 1D Mk IIN
Canon 16-35 f2.8L
16mm, iso 100, 0.6 seconds @ f11
Today? The weekly challenge theme this week is “Today.” What am I going to do with that?
What to photograph on a rainy day in New Hampshire? Too wet for any outdoor shooting, what do I have lying around just waiting to be photographed?
I’ve been eyeing the vase full of peacock feathers I keep for tying flies. Just like a lot of other things close by, they’ve been overlooked for subjects farther afield. Looks like a good excuse to play with the new 7D and 70-200 f2.8L. Throw in a 25mm extension tube and there you have it.
Decided one wasn’t enough for “Today,” so I added another.
Attempt Number One.
I love living on a lake, no surprise there. When I got my first camera, four years ago this month actually, one of the first things I knew I wanted to photograph was a sunrise over the lake. So one morning I grabbed my camera and tripod and went down to the beach closest to our house. There are a few boulders just a few feet from shore that I knew would be just the thing for that all important foreground element.
Being new to photography then, I figured all I needed to do was be there around sunrise, point my camera in the general direction of the rising sun, and wa-la, award-winning sunrise. Well it didn’t take long for that bubble to burst and realize that it takes just a bit more than that.
This is my first attempt, more of a “blue hour” photo than a true sunrise, but the clouds came in and this was as clear as it got.
It’s also pretty obvious, to me at least, that at this point in my journey to becoming a photographer I needed to learn a thing or two about composition as well.
My second effort didn’t turn out much better. If it wasn’t for the fisherman in the boat I’m not sure I would have kept the two images from this particular morning that have so far escaped the delete key. Not the most horrible photo I’ve ever made, but I don’t see any awards or sales orders in its future either. I do love the golden glow on the rippled surface of the lake though, so there is that going for it.
Third time’s the charm. I was all set to head to the seacoast in the morning, but just didn’t feel like getting up early enough to make it for sunrise. So I settled one more time on the lake.
One of the biggest reservations I have about putting much effort in shooting this lake is the utter featurelessness (is that even a word?) of the far shoreline. It looks like someone took a giant pair of hedge trimmers and went nuts. Not a hill or mountain in sight, just a straight, flat treeline. I was going to need a great sky, along with my already chosen foreground element to make it work to my satisfaction.
Yesterday morning it happened! And I almost missed it, can you believe that? I got up at 5 a.m., stepped out on the deck, looked up, seeing mostly clouds I seriously considered going back to bed. Then, while having my coffee I looked through the trees toward the lake and saw the horizon to the east was open. Not much, but enough to make me grab my tripod and camera bag and make a fast walk to the closest of our beaches. Knowing that with only a sliver of open sky at the horizon, things could be spectacular, but they would happen fast and be over quickly, I didn’t waste any time getting to the water’s edge.
Mother nature did not disappoint, and the sky lit up just as I had hoped. It also came and went as quickly as I had anticipated, so I was glad I picked up the pace when I did. At best, I had 7-10 minutes of the most glorious sky I have yet to photograph over “our” lake. And the reflection on the surface of the lake, I’ll just let the photograph speak for itself…
And to think I almost drove an hour to the coast…