Focus on Photography

Cameras


Canon SLR Video

Buying a camera

I get asked "What camera should I buy?" all the time. My answer is very simple, "The best camera you can afford."



What makes a good camera?

Anymore, it doesn't matter whether you're talking about a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) or a digital point and shoot, both have a lot of the same settings and the same functionality. DSLRs, however, typically do offer more robust features such as ISO range and shutter speed.

ISO

In my opinion, ISO range is the most important feature of a digital camera. Why? ISO range controls the amount if light the camera can use. Back in the day, there was film speed. In Photography, we used 400 speed film. Now, instead of film speed, there is ISO. Just like film speed, the lower the ISO the sharper your image will be. High end portrait photographers want "buttery" pictures, or pictures with sharp, clean pixels (silver-halide crystals for film). To achieve this look, they use low ISOs. The disadvantage to using a low ISO is that, like film speed, it requires more light. To compensate for the low ISO, larger apatures and slower shutter speeds are required to gather enough light.

Conversely, high ISO settings are better for low light situations. Low light situations can be literally dark environments such as a play or concert, or can be situations where you set the shutter speeds fast to stop motion, such as sports. Dark environments can also be a combination of the two, such as a sports event at night or the dancing portion of a play. With higher ISO settings, the more light the camera has to use. The disadvantage of high ISO setting is "noise" - the pixels are not as sharp and clear. In film photography, the crystals are physically bigger, giving the image a more coarse look.

In film photography, a photographer would have to consider the lighting situation they were shooting in (and therefore film speed) before buying film. They would then be forced to shoot the whole role of film using that film speed. The beauty of digital is that a photographer can shoot at a low ISO for a portrait and then raise the ISO and shoot in a low light environment on the very next picture. Or, the photographer can just skip worrying about the ISO and set the DSLR to ISO AUTO, and let the camera choose the right ISO for the lighting conditions. Pretty cool.






Camera Exposure


LCD Screen

The next item I really rely on when shooting is the LCD screen. Some screens ARE clearer than others. So, when buying a camera, consider the size and the clarity of the screen.

Lenses

Canon Lens Video
The Ideal Lens

Lens Overview



Zoom Lenses



Prime Lenses






  • Don't spend all your money on the camera itself, without a good quality lens the pictures that you take will not turn out to be all you hoped for.
  • A high quality camera lens is the key to taking good photographs.
  • One good quality camera lens is better than two cheaper lenses.
  • You can always upgrade your camera body and use your quality lenses.
  • Start out with the best quality camera lens that you should afford.

Lens Types

There are three basic camera lens types, as follows:
  • standard
    • 50mm
  • wide angle
    • less than 50mm
    • popular with landscape photographers
    • great for highlighting foreground objects with the background almost fading into the distance (DOF)
    • most common focal length for a wide angled lens are 24mm and 28mm
  • telephoto (zoom)
    • more than 50mm
    • great for bringing far away objects right up close
    • great for sporting
    • reduce the depth of field (SDOF)
  • macro
    • used for close up photography
    • have similar properties to a normal lens, but they are able to focus a lot closer to the subject
    • common focal lengths are 50/55mm or 90/100/105mm
    • optical quality of a macro lens is normally very high fisheye
  • fisheye
    • angle of view is a full 180%
    • pictures produced are distorted - center of the picture almost comes out to meet you whereas the top, bottom and sides of the picture appear to be further away
    • circular and full frame fisheye lenses with full frame being the most common
The power of a camera lens is measured in millimetres and is known as the focal length of a lens. The 50mm lens is standard lens for a 35mm camera. Any camera lens with a shorter focal length than this is considered to be a wide angle lens and any lens with a longer focal length is considered a telephoto lens.

Lenses

Review

fstops (aperture)
shutter speed