Updated: Dec 9, 2019
Take Photos All The Time
Whether you are using a smartphone, point and shoot, expensive DSLR or mirrorless camera you should take photos as much as you can. Although the type of camera and lens depends on the true capability of what you can shoot, you will always be able to work on composition, which in my opinion is much more important in most situations for most people.
Since most people have a smartphone with a decent camera we really have a lot of opportunities to practice taking photos. Although a smartphone can’t equal having a camera with manual controls or interchangeable lenses, having the ability to compose at any time is really helpful. The smartphone killed the pocket camera for most people but if you’re semi-serious about photography I highly recommend getting a quality point and shoot, mirrorless camera, or DSLR. You can take your photography to the next level by understanding the Exposure Triangle (Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO). Besides the composition, the exposure triangle is arguably 90% of how your photos will come out.
Take the above with a grain of salt as there is so much more to discuss.
I often leave a camera on my dining room table and every morning when I wake up I take a few photos of my daughter, morning breakfast, a glass of water, or whatever is around. The camera you have with you is the best camera. Use it and use it often.
Invest in Lenses first
As a beginner photographer you’re probably looking to decide which camera to get. There are so many options out there it can be overwhelming. If you’ve decided to get an interchangeable lens camera consider the lenses available for the system you’re potentially investing in. Although a camera is important the real important magic in photography comes from the lenses.
As mentioned above, learning the exposure triangle is key and the aperture of a lens is of important significance to your photography. Most cameras these days will have the option to purchase a lens to start with. This is often referred to as a kit lens, often with a negative connotation. While a kit lens can be a great starting point for beginners they typically have variable and slow apertures which may not give them the best versatility for poor lighting conditions. You’ll want to look at a camera systems lens lineup and budget for the future purchases that you will potentially make.
Another deciding factor in your lens choices will be what do you plan to primarily shoot. Will you often shoot wide cityscapes, shoot vlogs indoors, or do you shoot wildlife? Depending on what you plan to do it will require a varying degree of lens types. Do you like to zoom or will you keep one focal length and adjust your position?
Camera Body’s don’t matter
As mentioned in the previous section the magic happens in the lenses. The camera body these days are all very good even at the consumer level. There will be differences in the body type, features, and other build, but the quality of the sensor and images it can produce will still generally be very good across most brands. The difference is what types of lenses you use with the camera. Your lenses age well and are a long term investment. With current technology changing so fast a camera body will get an upgrade every 14-18 months. However, a good lens will last decades until a refresh. And just because there is a refresh doesn’t mean a good vintage lens can’t do well on a new camera body. There are adapters for everything nowadays.
Decide what features matter to you
Technology is simply amazing but sometimes it can cripple us as much as it can help us. In my opinion, we should be more concerned with creating great artwork and improving our knowledge and skills than getting more megapixels, touchscreens, wifi, etc. None of these things are going to make you a better photographer but they often come at a premium in terms of price. They are simply conveniences that are a way to upsell us on new models year after year. Camera companies are invested in these technologies and they want to cash in by slowly introducing new features over time. Truly decide what matters to you and buy the camera that will satisfy your needs.
Consider buying on the used market
Cameras can be an expensive investment. It's important to choose wisely when making a purchase. We can get caught up in purchasing the latest camera but there are loads of quality cameras on the used market at a bargain price. Keep in mind that the some of those cameras used to be flagship camera bodies only a few short years ago. As long as it has the features you are looking for and is in proper working condition then it could be the best option for you. Spend the excess cash on lenses.
Jason Logan is a Jersey City, NJ based photographer and co-founder of JMT Photography & Media. You can check out his work at www.jmtphotographymedia.com. You can also follow him on instagram @jmtphotographymedia.