Tag Archives: Accessories

Looking good – the essence of the professional photographer

Looking good :: To be a pro-photog just look the part...

Looking good is obviously the main aim here!
(Image from the Video).

The important part of being a pro-photographer…

Looking good and owning the top kit is essential. Otherwise we won’t know you are a successful photographer (not!). In this hilarious spoof on professionalism the video provides a humorous insight into looking good as photographers. Maybe some see themselves that way. Maybe it’s how others see us too!

How to look like a Pro Tog


DigitalRev TV Looking good :: DigitalRev TV | External link - opens new tab/page

Creative comedy

The video takes a poke at photogs who are a bit “up themselves”. And, perhaps some are a little over the top. Creative comedy like this is needed to make us laugh at ourselves sometimes. Looking good is important as in any business. It is also something we should not do to excess.

What we should not be doing…

We are all proud to be photographers. It is a passion and a lifestyle. It is also a competitive business and an actively developing one. The video shows us something we should be careful about. Gear lust is an affliction that many beginner photographers have. They spend all their time scouring the magazines and websites for the latest and greatest equipment. Looking good and having the latest technology seems to be the aim. The truth of that is that it is not what photography is about.

What we should be doing – it’s not about “looking good”

Photography is about getting pictures. It is about making those pictures good enough so they create an unforgettable image in the mind of the viewer. It is worth remembering that…
Despite excellent technology you can

  • Still make mistakes.
  • Produce a picture that says nothing.
  • Make a picture that’s ugly and of no value.

In other words, bad pictures can come from great technology. Also, excellent images and art can be produced using non-cutting edge equipment. Just look at any number of photography websites – Instagram is one example where all sorts of art is produced without top quality DSLR equipment.

Photography is about how you take your picture and what you show in it. Our passion is a unique synthesis of art and technology. But the technology can range from a simple pin-hole box “camera” to the worlds leading-edge DSLR. Both can surpass each other if used in the right way.

The lesson in this…

Looking good with up to date equipment can be important. But don’t aspire to the most expensive and up-to-date equipment just because looking good makes you fit the part. Concentrate on getting your technique and your skills right. Learn to produce great images. Understand your art – your pictures will be much better for that focus. Give up any obsession with the new and shiny.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Autumn photography – 50 things to think about

Autumn Cherry Leaves

• Autumn Cherry Leaves •
As Fall is upon us. Think of new ways to pull in the eye of the viewer.
Autumn Cherry Leaves by Netkonnexion on Flickr

Autumn is a great time of year.

There is so much to see and photograph. Being out in the open air and lovely locations is part of the attraction. Here are some other important and photographic things to consider.

Locations
  • Don’t always go to the same spot. Find somewhere new every Autumn.
  • Fall colours depend on the species, which may not be shown on maps.
  • Check with park information centres to see if the colours are right.
  • Information centres are great at giving directions to the best locations.
  • Watch weather forecasts to see when the best light is likely to show up.
  • Check websites for the area near the location for useful information.
Colours

What makes Autumn particularly exciting is the lovely russet and golden colours. Making those come out is not always easy. Think about these points…

  • Even slight greyness in the sky can dampen the colours.
  • Bright colour can be lost against a bright sky, exaggerate colour contrast.
  • Shoot yellows against a darker background so they don’t get lost.
  • Golden colours are best with a red dusk. Aim for times in the Golden Hour.
  • Don’t use a pop-up flash. It will flatten the colour and depth.
  • Use off-camera flash from the side to make leaves translucent and bright.
  • Use side light as much as possible to emphasis shadows and define shapes.
  • Use any greens you can as a back-drop for golden colours.
  • Low sunlight peeping under clouds often brings out yellows.
  • Take pictures after rain – the wetness often revitalises colours.
  • Consider a filter on your camera to exaggerate natural colours.
  • Try shots with as many mixed colours as possible.
  • Try shots with lots of similar colours across the picture.
Equipment

Every shoot demands its own approach. But here are some ideas to help the Autumn shots work for you…

  • A tripod is essential. A fuzzy shot of a great scene is horrible!
  • Most people forget the wide angle shots.
  • Remember that zoom lenses flatten perspective – consider prime lenses.
  • Consider using white boards and gold reflectors to help bring up colours.
  • You can’t make great images if you are cold/wet. Wear proper clothing.
  • Beware of changing lenses in damp air!
The shots

Found a great place to rejoice in colour and texture? Now you need to think about composition and ideas for your shots…

  • Check out our resources on composition.
  • Before going spend two hours looking at images by others (Google)  External link - opens new tab/page.
  • Work out a list of, say, 25 shots you would like to try out.
  • Concentrate your efforts on a few ideas.
  • Use your trip to try at least one type of shot new to you.
  • Practice your chosen shots before you go.
  • Remember to work the scene at the location.
  • Remember The fifteen second landscape appraisal.
  • Have a go at this old sailors trick to improve landscapes.
  • People often look up when in trees. Look down, there is plenty there.
  • Get really low.
  • Get really close.
  • Experiment with Depth of Field:.
  • Light leaves from behind. Translucent leaves are wonderful.
  • Consider backlighting to bring out shapes.
  • Hold up something interesting and photograph it with your hand.
  • Dogs look great in leaves! Capture your pet having fun!
  • Take a macro lens or macro tubes. Get really close.
  • Look for golden, yellows and reds in reflections… they look great!
Try going to manual (M) settings…

There is nothing more exciting. Get great images knowing they came out the way you intended. Avoid ‘auto’ shots programmed by a boffin at the camera factory.

Autumn and you…

Don’t be so intense that its not fun! Love your trip, enjoy the moment and if possible share it with a friend. Make some great images along the way.

Have a great Autumn.

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Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is managing editor of Photokonnexion.com with professional experience in photography, writing, image libraries, and computing. He is also an experienced, webmaster and a trained teacher. Damon runs regular training for digital photographers who are just starting out.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’
By Damon Guy :: Profile on Google+

How to do DIY diffusion – great light from simple tips

 • DIY Ways to diffuse light •

• DIY Ways to diffuse light •
Image taken from the video.

Inexpensive photography equipment!

Following on from the Save money and improve your scene lighting yesterday, we have another video showing how you can provide yourself with an inexpensive light diffuser. It will be quite as good as any professional diffuser and in fact you make it have variable diffusion effects.

Professional and amateur alike use quickly and easily made DIY solutions for their photography. They know they can make things to the specification they require without the equipment costing the earth. In most photographers studios you will find materials and adaptations to be able to do all sorts of ‘quick makes’ with materials, frames and stands. It just makes sense to save money and do it how you need it, rather than spend a mint on something you only use once.

DIY Ways to Diffuse Light


Playgallery  External link - opens new tab/page

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

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How to prepare for a photo safari and what to take

The King

• The King
Image by John de Jager • OnePhotography  External link - opens new tab/page

Going on safari – it’s amazing.

Photographic safaris should be experienced by every photographer at least once in a lifetime. They provide the perfect opportunity to photograph wildlife and nature as they are dedicated tours focusing on photography.

What is on offer on a photo-safari?

Most offer private vehicles allowing the photographers to focus on specific wildlife, spend the needed time with the wildlife to get the shot, and allow for a more flexible approach to the safari. Most importantly, the safari is hosted by an expert wildlife photographer to assist clients with getting the perfect shot and then processing the images.

How should you prepare

• Contact the operator of your chosen photographic safari company and confirm with them what their recommended equipment is. This can vary from area to area, especially with regards to lenses. Some reserves allow vehicles to follow animals off road and one can get away with shorter lenses e.g. 200mm. Other reserves are more restricted and longer lenses are required e.g. 600mm.
• Spend time getting to know your camera and equipment. Wildlife photography is not static. You will see fast moving subjects and shifting light. You should be able to change settings quickly.
• Practice by photographing pets or birds in your local home area. Get a feel for photographing a moving subject. (You can get some more advice on this in our action photography course – Editor).
• Beginners and amateurs, don’t worry! This is exactly why an expert wildlife photographer joins you on safari. The host will assist you with the best camera settings and how to get the best out of your camera.

On a mission

• On a mission •
Click to view large
Image by John de Jager • OnePhotography  External link - opens new tab/page

What you should take

Once you are out in the field it is not easy to get more equipment. Think ahead…
• A camera and lens within your price range (some operators offer equipment rental). Lens wise, it is good to have a wide angle lens for landscapes and a telephoto lens for the animals.
• An external flash with spare batteries is well worth having. If you can also bring a wireless flash transmitter to avoid “red-eye”.
• A shutter release switch for star trails and possibly an (intervalometer).
• Take enough memory cards (high speed). I have shot 8GB in RAW images in less than an hour on safari before, so it is important to have enough backup memory space available. Some form of external storage device to transfer images onto after each safari is advisable too. The reason why I suggest high speed cards is because in wildlife photography you will often shoot in high speed continuous mode. Card speeds affect how many frames you can capture in a burst of shots.
• Take spare batteries. You can be out on a drive for many hours at a time.
• A good laptop powerful enough to process images on Photoshop/lightroom or other post-processing software. Some operators offer monitors to uplink to for editing purposes but if not, bring a laptop with dedicated graphics and an RGB LED screen.
• A memory card reader or method of downloading your images to clear your memory cards each day.
• A good lens cleaning kit is essential. Being out in the field leads to dust collection!
• Insure your equipment! Weather can be unpredictable and I have had a client lose a Canon 600mm lens in a freak wind storm that caused a log to fall on the lens. The lens was not insured…!
• Bean bag or vehicle mount to hold your camera nice and still while shooting.
• Plastic packets, waterproof camera sleeves or waterproof material! Thunderstorms are common in Africa through the summer months. So bring something just to cover up that lens or camera.
• Bring a lot of patience! Wildlife photography is often about waiting for the right moment. Under the guidance of your host and guide, this wait will be more than worth it.
• A willingness to learn and share. It is important on these safaris to be willing to learn, not just about photography but about the creatures you are photographing. The more you learn about animal behaviour. the better. It will allow you to anticipate your next shot. Share with the others on safari too. Everyone has some idea or technique that may just help others in the group.
• An ethical respect for nature is very important. Not only is it unethical to disturb animals to get a shot, but it can at times put you and the rest of the clients in danger.
• Adequate protection against the sun (hats, sun cream etc).

John de Jager (Contributing Author)

John de Jager is the owner of Onephotography  External link - opens new tab/page; a photographic safari company operating in South Africa. They specialize in luxury photographic safaris focusing on rare and endangered species found in South Africa – as well as all the classic wildlife. For details on your next photo safari go to http://www.onephotography.co.za/  External link - opens new tab/page or OnePhotography on FaceBook  External link - opens new tab/page for regular updates and stunning imagery.

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Using a neutral density filter

ND filters can be used to produce some great images

Lee Filters – Big stopper neutral density filter reduces the light by ten stops. You can produce great images like this one from the video.

Sometimes you need a long exposure…

However, to take a very long exposure in daylight will mean too much light will burn out your picture. So you need to turn down the incoming light. For that you use an ND Filter. Here is how they are used.

Remind me, why do I need this?

Remember, shutter speed controls movement blur. If you want to show a car looking blurred as it goes past you might set the shutter speed to about a fifteenth or thirtieth of a second. But what if you want to capture a much less obvious movement or a really slow movement? Say two minutes? Well, normally the amount of light coming in will burn out the shot. Of course you can use a really small aperture (eg: f22) and let less light into the camera. But on a bright day two minutes will still burn out the shot. This is where Neutral Density (ND) filters come in. They are specially darkened filters that cut the light down allowing you to extend your exposure. With one of these you can do some awesome effects.

10 stop Neutral Density Filter (video)

In the video we see the making of a picture (above) by using the Lee Big Stopper Neutral Density Filter. This ND filter is very dark, which takes down the light by 10 stops. It creates a great effect on of the water swirling under the pier. This is the darkest type of ND filter.

ND filter strengths

ND filters can reduce the light entering your camera for up to 10 stops. This allowed 2 minute exposures in the video. However, there is also ND2, then ND4 and ND8. Other strengths exist, but these are the most common. They allow you to have shorter exposures so you can adjust the exposure to the needs of your shot. You can also put them together so an ND8 + ND2 gives you an effective ND10 – the strength in the video.

ND Grad.

Another of these type of filter is the graduated Neutral Density, or ND grad. The use of an ND grad is quite specific. It is used to reduce the incoming light from the sky when you have a bright sky and dark ground. If you expose for the ground the sky burns out. If you expose for the sky the ground is too dark. The ND Grad. helps prevent the sky burning out.

The ND Grad. is dark at one end and clear at the other. The two zones meet in the middle where the clear graduates into grey. Put the filter over the lens so the line of clear/grey graduation lies on the horizon, darkening the sky. Now, you can expose for the scene and get even light distribution. The next video will show you how this type of ND is used.

Mike Browne  External link - opens new tab/page
Problems?

No, filters are simple and easy to use. There are some important things to remember…

Always use a tripod. It is impossible to hold a camera steady for more than about half a second. After that your image will start to get blurry.

You need to be quite precise about lining up ND Grads with the horizon. Take a little practice before going out to do the BIG shot.

The darker the ND Filter the more there is a tendency to impact on the white balance. Sometimes you get a blue colour cast, sometimes a red one. You can remove this in post production if you are using the RAW file format. Alternatively you can test the filter with your camera and adjust the white balance setting in-camera to correct for the aberration. Most of the stronger ND filters have this colour-shift tendency. it is exaggerated by the sensor type. CMOS sensors tend to magnify the effect.

Sometimes getting the exposure right is a matter of experimentation. Take a few test shots and make sure you do some “Chimping”.

If you are buying ND filters, especially ND Grads buy square ones. You can buy adaptors for these to fit any lens and it allows you get creative in more ways than round, screw-on filters that only fit one lens.

There are many different kinds of filters which produce a huge range of fun effects in-camera. Many of these effects cannot be processed into the shot later. The square filter system shown in these videos allows you to expand your collection and develop a new set of skills without buying an expensive filter for each lens.

ND Filter set…

3 full ND filters
3 graduated ND filters
Full fitting kit for a range of camera
and lens sizes.
10 Adapter Set + 6 Filter ND2 ND4 ND8 G.ND2 4 8 For Cokin P Canon Nikon Sony LF6

Please leave any questions or comments you have about these in the comments below.

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

The secret to world travel – but staying at home!

• Winchester Cathedral •

• Winchester Cathedral •
Chroma key work is quite easily done in Adobe PhotoShop and a range of other quality photo-editors.

When you want to be somewhere else…

There are places we would rather be than where we are now. I would like to be on an island paradise …not going to happen! But you can do it photographically. The secret is something called Chroma Key photography or green screening.

Substitution

In chroma key photography the subject is photographed against a uniformly lit green background. Then, in post production the subject is easily selected out from the green background. The selection can then be pasted into any other photographic background.

Any uniform colour can be used as a backdrop for the chroma key shot. The picture above is selected from a blue background and pasted into a picture of Winchester Cathedral in SE England. The two pictures were taken on different days.

To make the selection of the subject from the background it is important to light the background evenly. When the colour is even the selection is easy and can be completed in one operation. Colour variations from uneven light make it more technical to isolate the subject.

Green is the most frequently used colour in chroma key photography. The colour is very easily separated from human skin tones. Where the subject has green tones, blue is often used as the chroma key alternative. Blue is a common colour for clothing. It is therefore less suitable than a strong bright green which is not so popular as a fashion colour. However, green does have other advantages. The human eye is able to see more shades of green than any other colour. This makes it easy to see variations in the green when setting up the lighting. Green sensitivity is also built into software applications to match the abilities of the eye. This helps us to work with the background when doing awkward selections.

Fun and games

The substitution of a subject into any other photographic background provides great opportunities for doing fun things. Film stars can be placed in your garden. You can apparently travel the world without leaving your front room. Just find the right pictures and substitute yourself into the background of your choice.

Of course there are also opportunities for advertising, graphic art, product photography, still life, portraiture, action shots and many other false situations. Of course we should be careful not to be immoral about such things! Feel free to have fun though. You can really make it look like you have travelled the world.

How is it done?

Basically you need a chroma key background, lighting to illuminate it evenly, a camera and a subject. On a small scale this is easy to do. A lot of people doing chroma key work for the first time start with still life or table-top photography to get the technique right. Probably the most common use of the technique is for portraiture. Take a picture of yourself or your friends and then start playing. For this you need a larger screen…

The video is a complete introduction to the use of chroma key photography. You can take the same techniques and scale them to any size. The video introduces the ideas you need to grasp and shows how to set up the lights and the equipment. It also shows one of the software applications. After the video I will briefly look at that software for you.

How to Green Screen (ChromaKey) with Photography!

markapsolon  External link - opens new tab/page

Software

There is a whole range of software that is capable of doing chroma key. In essence chroma key software has two jobs. The first is to select the subject off the green background (or whichever colour you are using). The second is to successfully blend the abstracted subject with the new background.

The software from the video is called PhotoKey from FXHome  External link - opens new tab/page. It has been produced specifically for chroma key compositing. It is not alone in the market. However, there are not many applications specifically aimed at this work. Instead there are plenty of applications that do chroma key blending as part of a general suite of editing tools.

The website advertises a “try for free” download system. I did download the editor and install it on my computer. However, the try out does not produce a viable picture. The watermarking is so heavy the try out is really just to have a go at using the tools. So don’t expect to get something for free in reality. Here is the same picture from the top of the page done in Photokey…

• Winchester Cathedral •

• Winchester Cathedral •
Produced in PhotoKey from FXHome. The watermark is put onto the image when you use the trial download version of the application for free.

As you can see the result is similar to my Photoshop version at the top of the page – except for the heavy watermarking ruining the picture.

The actual process for producing the final blended image is relatively quick and easy. The tools are quite self explanatory if you have some editing experience. On the right are the main steps of the process arranged in order of use. Starting at the top you can created a final blend of the two images by clicking on each step in turn and working your way down. As you select a step the tools for the import, selection, blending and finishing of the image become available. As with any editor the blending tools manage colours, contrasts, edging and so on. The order of work is simple and the use of tools quite easy. Most tools are simple sliders. I did like the reset button on each which allowed you go back to the default for that tool if you made a mistake.

At the end of working through the blending process you final image is on screen. You can make further changes to it if you wish. If you are satisfied with it you can export it to make a .png, .jpg or .tiff image. If you are not satisfied with the final output you can go back to the blend left in the editor and do further work.

I liked the application interface. It was simple and easy to use. However, it had some tools that were a little difficult to understand. I think those would become clear with practice. This is not an application you can use immediately – it requires practice.

On balance I liked the application. However, for a beginner in chroma key work it is hugely expensive. At £119 (around $180 US) for the basic version it seems prohibitive. I think I would rather spend that amount of money on a full blown editor like Adobe Elements which could do the same work, and a lot more, for substantially under £100. An editor like GIMP  External link - opens new tab/page could also do the same work and a lot more and it is free.

The one benefit that makes it worth investing in this application is the simple and fast processing. If you have a lot of chroma key work the use of this software would save a lot of processing time. If you happen to be doing a lot of it professionally then it would be worth investing in the Pro version at £229 (at time of writing).

While I was not impressed with the basic price, the application was useful and could fill a niche in the market. However, it is not worth it for the beginner. Instead, it would be better to invest in a decent image-editor and broaden the work you do overall. However, if you are specialising then it may be worth considering providing you return income to cover your investment.

The way to do it in Adobe PhotoShop

The general photographer is most likely to have use of a quality image editor like PhotoShop, Elements, GIMP, PaintShopPro and others. All these are able to do the type of work that PhotoKey can do. Admittedly it takes longer. But for beginners it is better to save your money for more general photography kit. For those who are interested, here is a short video explaining the Photoshop method of doing a chroma key composite. It is a simple technique using standard photoshop tools.

Isolating with a Chroma Key Background

This tutorial is aimed at Photoshop intermediate level users.

Overall…

Chroma key work is fun. There is quite a lot to learn, but it adds flexibility to your photographic work and post processing. The use of up to date quality image editors is probably better than splashing out on expensive specialist applications. Nevertheless specialist applications do a great job, saving time in post processing.

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How to buy a new camera…

Buying a new digital camera

Buying a new digital camera

Buying is a big decision.

Photographers should be wary of the simple answer. Buying a camera is a deeply personal matter and a big investment. You live with the consequences for a long time. Look carefully at considerations that really matter to you and your performance as a photographer. Impulsive buys may spoil your photography. If you’re comfortable with your buy you will be more likely to get to know it, use it and have fun with it.

1. Work out what you need

Impulsive buying means something will not match your need, then you won’t get the use you want. The points below will help refine your thoughts. Write down your ideas to ease your research later.

Budget: Fix a budget – it may define the type of camera you can buy. So write down what you want to spend before starting. Change your mind later, but start with an idea to guide initial research.

Usage: What type of photography will you do? There are broadly two types of photographer…
The ‘point-and-shooter’:

  • Interested in recording fun, family, events and memories.
  • Love things they do when they have a camera around.
  • Take pictures as reminders. (Holidays, family, fun, action, friendship).
  • The camera is an accessory to the activity.
  • The camera is easy to use, probably in auto mode.
  • Simple controls – lighter, lifestyle-type design.
  • Less interested in the art of photography, more the style of life.

The ‘photographer’:

  • Take pride in every shot.
  • Indulges other passions through photography.
  • Wants more equipment.
  • Interested in “functions” and “controls” – technical cameras/DSLRs.
  • Camera is an essential part of the activity. (Landscapes, macro, action, nature, still-life, fine art…).
  • Loves photography for its art, technology, skills and techniques.
  • Documents passions and communicates interests through photography.
  • Take pride in camera control.
  • Enjoys the technical aspects of the capture as much as the images.

Each has an associated type of camera. A heavy DSLR is not well suited to the carefree life of the point-and-shooter. A compact, colourful, wrist-strap camera is not suited to landscape shots and large prints. Preferences and lifestyle should be shorted out early on. Are you are a point-and-shooter or a committed photographer (DSLR style)?

Conditions: Indoors/outdoors, weather, underwater, holiday, abroad, air travel? The situations in which you use the camera affects what you buy. Consider protection, travel, camera size and special equipment needs.

Experience: Skill level affects purchase – your aspirations for your future photography will too. If you’re just starting out, buying a camera with a bewildering range of functions is daunting. Take simple steps. Entry level DSLRs provide for years of growth into your hobby and produce great images. This allows you to develop skills without confusion.

Features/flexibility: Spending more on a camera means more features and flexibility. However, while this gives more control it increases cost for relatively little increase in picture quality for starters. Don’t waste your money. Focus on what you need, not “feature bloat”.

Physique/fitness: When buying you don’t get a feel for using a camera. Little, disabled, or not very fit people may find big cameras unusable. Fit, but not shooting daily? You might struggle to hold up a big camera for long periods. Buy a camera you can hold steady and use all day (if necessary). I know people who bought great cameras and had to sell them again to buy another great, but lighter, camera. Also ensure you can grip it properly and comfortably. Can you reach all the buttons easily?

Size of prints: More megapixels is NOT a better camera today. Good quality cameras have sensors to produce great images. High megapixels are only necessary for high resolution pictures – mostly for large prints. You pay a lot of money for top-megapixel cameras. Only buy them if you frequently do big prints in high definition. Don’t worry about megapixels in the market mid-range.

Lenses: To a committed photographer lenses are key. Buying the right lenses is more important than a camera body. Lens investment pays you back for a lifetime, or many camera bodies. Spend less on the body than you intended and save money for better quality lenses (not more lenses). Consider retaining at least half your budget for lenses.

Other equipment and accessories: New cameras require other items affecting your budget. Consider…

  • Lenses (Wide angle, Zoom, macro etc)
  • Camera/equipment bag
  • Tripod
  • Spare batteries (two)
  • Light modifiers (diffusers), filters, reflectors
  • Specialist equipment for specific interests
  • Memory cards (at least two – eg. 2×16 Gb not 1×32 Gb – cheaper and more secure)
  • Off-camera flash (pop-up flash is rarely useful)
  • Remote trigger to fire the flash/camera

There may be other things too.

Compatibility: Is your existing equipment compatible? Buying a camera could mean buying those extras again, straining your budget. Consider the camera brand you want to buy. That may affect the other equipment you buy later. Lenses are a particular consideration. Top brands make good lenses, but other brands may not. That could be important for your buying strategy.

Picture quality: Quality digital cameras produce great picture quality. However, large, high resolution images (especially for printing) may need larger digital-sensor size (cropped or full frame?) and type of lens and lens quality. Buy up-market lenses as far as you can. For a point-and-shoot camera consider the quality of zoom. ‘Optical zoom’ is best, the lens does the enlarging. The quality will be better with a good optical zoom. With a large digital zoom component expect lower quality prints. Digital zooms crop the picture in-camera to make the picture appear bigger. You will see more detail, but the picture may be a lower definition/resolution.

More after this…

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2. Research

Now look at what is available. examine a range of reviews on different websites. Check out what’s popular around the web and get a “best fit” camera to your specification from above. Talk to experienced photographers. Join a club. Leave questions on Internet forums. Ask in shops.

Be prepared for this stage to take quite a long time. You may be committing to a brand for a quite a few years, or your career. Take it slowly so you can understand all implications. Keep notes and be prepared to check definitions and learn about features.

3. Try it out

Once you have identified your dream machine, see if you can try one out. Beg, borrow or hire. You will be unlikely to try everything but spend a weekend or week with it to really get a feel for it. That will help you to feel confident about your ideas or start new research. Ensure you are on the right track.

4. The purchase

From a shop: Local camera shops often have deals and committed staff. They will have knowledge and experience too. Remember they are on commission and a different focus to you. So go to a shop with a really good knowledge from the above before you buy.

Online: There are some great deals but also a lot of scam artists. Consider…

  • Who you are buying from.
  • Does the site cover losses?
  • Is delivery and packaging good?
  • Delivery times?
  • Are there proper cancellation and returns procedures?
  • Transit/purchase insurance (the company or your credit card)
  • Is the online store reputable and well known?
  • Do not click from email ads to the site – insecure.
  • Check with friends to see which online stores they used.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A reputable company will have protections built into the purchase and made clear on the site.

When you are ready consider negotiations. Lots of websites will do deals. Shops will too. Make sure you get the right deal, but don’t compromise security or safety.

5. After purchasing

Check your purchase properly – has everything arrived? Retain all paperwork and orders for future reference, returns and insurance. Test to see that it works properly. Get signed receipts and correct paper work for returns, delivery shortages or damage.

Satisfied you have the correct equipment and it works? Put it through its paces in a logical way. In Getting started with a new lens I show how to work through testing and getting to know new lenses. Many of the principles apply to the purchase of a camera and help you get to know your camera properly.

Other ideas?

Please share your other ideas, tips or experiences on buying a camera with us below in the comments…

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.