January 1, 2009

Which camera do you use?

I get asked this question A LOT. I was asked it again today by a mother of very active twins (Hi, Jennifer!) which prompted this post.

I should start my reminding you that I’m not a professional photographer and there may be a lot of different opinions about which cameras to use and which lenses are best that run contrary to mine, but this is what I’ve learned in my limited experience. I know NOTHING about Nikons, but I do know a little about Canons. This post = my opinion only.

I think the most important thing to note when selecting cameras is that a better camera does NOT make you a better photographer. More expensive cameras do not automatically equal better pictures. Sorry if that bursts anyone’s bubble. I get a lot of people who say, “You take great pictures . . . you must have a really nice camera.” But no one ever says to my sister, “You’re a great teacher . . . it must be because you work from a great curriculum.” No one says to my cousin, “You’re a great chef . . . you must have a great set of pots.” And certainly no one attributes a dancer’s skill to her shoes or a pianists’ skill to his piano.

Great photography is not a result of a nicer camera. Granted, the right tools help (just as nice pots and pans make things easier for a chef and a good curriculum might help a teacher), but unless you know how to use the tools, it makes little difference. Using any camera with the built-in flash on automatic will give you the a similar result to a nice point and shoot. That’s just the plain truth. At the same time, some people have cameras a step or two down from the one I have and take pictures that are way better than mine! It has a way less to do with the camera than it does with the photographer.

The bottom line is that if you want to take good pictures, the camera you use matters, but it doesn’t matter as much as learning to use the camera you have.

That said . . .
I use a Canon 40D (updated in August 2009: Canon 5D Mark ii) and I switch between 3 & 4 different lenses, but I use the Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens the most and the 50mm f/1.8 when I’m outside with the camera (it’s a lot cheaper to replace if it breaks . . . which I’ve done twice). In my opinion the 50mm f/1.8 is such a good value that there’s really no excuse not to have it. The lens that I really want? The
Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L. Got it!

Anyway, I used to say that for people who are buying a camera to shoot family, friends, everyday life, and other personal things (non-professional) the Rebel xsi is the best you can get for the money. But the 40D is so much cheaper now, that it’s about the same price as the Rebel. Actually, many professionals actually use the Rebel too! It’s a great camera that has all of the capabilities of a DSLR without the bulk.

The 50D is the new upgrade of the 40D. You’ll see a lot of 40Ds (and now 50Ds) selling used on ebay, because a lot of people get them and realize that it’s a little more camera than they need. The 40D is a good option, especially if you want to take the time to learn to shoot in manual or if you want to shoot semi-professionally. The 50D offers some minor upgrades from the 40D, but not enough to make me want to spend the extra money right now. If you’re upgrading from a 40D, the price would have to come down a lot to make the small improvements worth spending that much. And I’m not sure the differences in the 40D v. the 50D make it worth the current difference in price.

Also, if you’re thinking about upgrading to a nicer camera, maybe think first about buying a nicer lens.

Ok, there are my pseudo-educated thoughts on cameras. Happy new year!

No comments: