Photography, videography. Share your advice
I'm currently trying to get into photography. Does anyone have any advice to share?
Examples are welcome.
I'm currently trying to get into photography. Does anyone have any advice to share?
Examples are welcome.
Seems obvious but - once you've taken images, look at them. I mean properly, not just on the back of the camera. Examine each image carefully - what is good, what is bad, what would you do differently, and how? If you shoot a few thousand images and never look at them you'll never learn anything. If you take a hundred images and think about each one you'll learn a lot more. I don't necessarily mean zooming in and checking every last pixel, but spend some time properly looking at each image. See what you like and try to figure out why you like it, and what you don't and why.
Also a trick I like to do is restrict yourself. Give yourself one lens, or a time period, or a camera setting or whatever - then go and explore that thing for a bit.
For example: you might opt to shoot only in black and white for a day. Or just go and photograph a particular building. Use only a telephoto or wide-angle lens. Or set a time-based challenge, such as you have one hour to take 20 pictures of wherever you are. Only use long shutter speeds, or wide-open apertures. Loads of choices, just make one and go with it.
Because there's such a wide range of options available - you can do so much with a modern camera - limiting those options takes a lot of decision making out of the process and helps you focus on the important thing, the actual image.
This is good advice. It reminds me of the "shoot for a week with one prime lens" advice often offered to new photographers. It forces you to think about how to get the image you want, which indirectly means you've now decided what the image you want is. That's a huge leap forward in thinking for a lot of people, because you stop thinking about the camera and lens, and start thinking about how to get the image you actually want.
That's something I never thought about myself
Good advice here already, and I don't want to over-complicate matters. But I'll probably end up doing that anyways. In the end, your options will be mostly determined by budget, but you'll still have quite a few choices within that budget.
First thing to understand is that the different sensors have different sizes, and that size ultimately affects how the image is framed within the projection from the lens. This effect is called "crop factor". It get funky from here but I'll try to explain as best as I can without getting into too much jargon. There are plenty of articles out there to explain crop factor as well, but I'll try to keep it short.
Full frame - The equivalent size to 35mm film, which was standard for consumer grade SLRs. If you're using a lens that says it's 24mm on a full frame sensor, you'll get an image with a 24mm view. Full frame cameras can be expensive, but you can find used ones within your budget if that's what you want.
APS-C - Very common consumer grade size. The equivalent of "super35" if I remember correctly. It was a film size used more for video. This has a crop factor of 1.6. That means if you throw a 24mm lens on there, you'll get the view of ~38mm.
4/3 - Commonly used in mirrorless. Crop factor of 2. 24mm becomes 48mm.
So what does it matter? It seems like the smaller the sensor, the more bang for your buck you get from the lenses.
Problem 1: The smaller the sensor, the higher the minimum becomes. They can only make lenses so wide, so if you want to do some nice wide landscape photography, 4/3 sensors are going to limit your range. They don't make lenses much smaller than 8 or 10mm, but on a 4/3, that becomes a 16 or 20mm.
To put it another way, if you want to take a selfie with the camera at arm's length and not have your face be uncomfortably large in the frame, 35mm is a good size. On APS-C, that means a 24mm lens, and on 4/3 that means an 18mm lens.
To give you another idea in practice, I threw this video together a few days ago. I have an APS-C sensor. The wide shots are with a 10mm lens (16mm equivalent) and the tighter shots are with a 50mm (80mm equivalent).
Problem 2: Because the smaller sensors are basically acting like a pre-zoom, the lens imperfections are also magnified. This can result in loss of image quality. But to be fair, a lot of the more recent mirrorless builds seem to be doing a decent job of maintaining sharpness and avoiding excessive chromatic abberation.
If you're just doing photography, your decisions will be greatly simplified. Because this stuff can get wacky. In short, not all codecs are created equal. Just because it says 1080p doesn't mean much of anything. If a codec uses too low of a bit rate, the video is chunky, the colors fall apart, and there are artifacts constantly. Higher bitrate codecs require more robust hardware and memory cards, so that tends to come at a cost. Frame rates played a key factor for me because I like to use some slow motion from time to time.
Color grading is a whole big tangle of a topic that I'd be more than happy to go into depth on, but suffice to say that both Canon and Sony are safe bets for color. Sony has log profiles, which makes the image looked washed out and grey, but is incredibly useful in post and results in a higher range of brights and darks. Canon only has log on a few of their higher end prosumer models, but people tend to like Canon's colors especially for skin tones.
Autofocus was another huge one for me because I do vlogging and needed good tracking. Canon's dual pixel autofocus is magic. Sony's autofocus tends to hunt a lot more (racking back and forth looking for a focus point), but is still decent. Other brands I don't know much about.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you're going to do video, you'll also probably want a decent shotgun mic. Shotgun mics basically screw onto the top of the camera and plug into the mic jack. It records the audio straight into the video track, so it doesn't require syncing in post. Rode is pretty standard, and their sub-$100 models are good enough to clean up in post. There are also some decent Chinese models out there for $25, but I can't remember the model names.
I have a Canon 80d. I don't know much about mirrorless lenses except that it's still early in the game. I don't know much about the specifics for Sony cameras either. So I'll keep it to what I know for Canon.
There are 3 different mount types for Canon. EF is full frame and APS-C, EF-S is APS-C only, and EF-M is mirrorless only. If you have a mirrorless, you can only use mirrorless lenses. If you have an APS-C, you can use both ef and efs. And if you have a full frame camera, you can only use ef lenses. I think I just said the same thing over again, just in a different way.
EF lenses tend to be pricey. But damn, they're nice. But pricey. Like, out of your budget pricey. You can occasionally find used ones for a decent price, but generally speaking, lenses don't depreciate much. A $1000 ef lens is a steal at $800, even if it's 5 years old. Unless they're dented or have a scratched lens, in which case you probably don't want it anyways.
EF-S has a really nice variety. And they've been coming out with some nice updates that are more geared towards video. Most have quiet, fast, and smooth autofocus motors. Quite a few also have decent image stabilization, which helps quite a bit for handheld video. There is a good selection of focal lengths as well. And despite being cheap, many of them have some pretty damn decent image quality.
I don't know much about the mirrorless selection, but I know that Canon is really trying to fill out the range a little more (which pretty much tells me that there are gaps in what's available currently, but should be much better in the next few years).
Other companies use different mounts for their lenses, but there are all kinds of converters available. Proper ones like the metabones speed booster are a bit pricey, but give an added bonus of increasing the "speed" of the lens by funtionally increasing the aperature size.
I could go into much more detail on the subject. I think I've probably done enough damage for now though. I know I kinda rushed through a lot of this, and probably did a piss poor job of explaining things properly. So if you have any questions, ask away!
Edit: Formatting is weird. Having technical difficulties. Sorry.
Edit2: Corrections and clarifications.
Thanks a lot for this writeup. It's a great source of information
Just to add another comment, you can't go very wrong by heeding the advice of one of the best photographers of all time:
“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it"
..and a few other gems from the great Ansel Adams
I love this one...
Good article though. I'm actually heading up to the Ansel Adams Wilderness in a few weeks. I'm hoping my new stabilizer gets here before the trip so that I can do some fancy stuff, but even if it doesn't there's just so much to photograph out there.
Lots of good advice already that I won't repeat.
One thing I didn't see mentioned is to find pictures that you like and try to recreate them as closely as possible. The main thing this will do for you is get you out of the rut of trying to come up with your own ideas and instead allow you to focus on how to make those ideas a reality. Time practicing and reflecting on what you tried to do, how close you got to doing it well, and what things need improvement are the main ways you'll get better. Do a 365 challenge where you take photos every day for a year, do try to imitate a style(s) youj've seen others do well, practice, practice, practice is what will get you to where you want to be.
Finally don't expect it to be a lucrative career, do it for the love of doing it and as a result it might bring in money but don't do it only because you're hoping to be a famous photographer.
Thanks for the advice. I don't want to make a career out of it. I just wanna express myself more artistically. I am a computer scientist
Before I give out any advice, I think that it's first important to know these things:
Every photographer is an artist, and like all other categories of art, there's billions of approaches to get what you want. Although I'm not an amazing photographer myself, from my experience I'd suggest you go out and start experimenting with whatever you have whenever you have the opportunity. The first step is to get a feel of what you like in a photo, so experiment and try out different techniques, and find a style you like!
Thanks for the advice, I'll try and take as many pictures as I can first :D
Personally I wouldn't advise buying a DSLR. They're big and heavy and the big manufacturers haven't been keeping up in recent years. I'd always advise buying mirrorless. I know so many pros who have ditched Nikon/Canon DSLRs for Fuji's X-series or Sony Alphas, not just because they're easier to carry around but also because the image quality and camera features are so good. I'm a Fuji fanboy and will always suggest people buy an X-series, but the Sonys are amazing as well.
If you want a camera that also has good 4k you could look into the panasonic gx80/gx85. It has a 4/3 sensor with good stabilization and a very compact body, fast af for stills and you can find relatively inexpensive lenses for it. Generally speaking panasonic and sony have the best video capabilities it seems.
Honestly you can't really go wrong with modern cameras for a beginner, I have a fujifilm x-m1 (2012 entry level) and it lets me do most of the stuff I want. The hard part is choosing the lens. You could start with a kit zoom and then look into what focal length you use more often, or choose directly a 24/35/50mm (equivalent) fast prime and see if after some time you feel the need for something wider/longer or if it's perfect like that.
Some random advice considering your beginner level :
Plenty of good advice already in the comments. I just wanted to add one thing that helped me a lot - learning to read histograms.
It has an added bonus of taking photos on days it's too bright to really see your screen.
Once you start using it, it becomes just as important as how the image is framed. Great habit for getting the right exposure levels.
A quick tip, and something I find very helpful myself, is to try a technique called framing. Say you want a picture of a tree by a lake from 20 feet away, take the picture on standard settings on a tripod, take the same photo with different iso and aperture settings (and perhaps shutter speed) and note them. Then do it again the other way. When I look at my pictures immediately after I take them I usually have a favorite. When I get home and look through the whole set of them again, a different one sometimes pops out to me. Or after I revisit the set after a week, maybe an entirely different one seems pleasing. See what styles you like, what settings you like on your camera, what time of day you like to shoot. I got better just by messing with the settings and taking a lot of pictures. Good luck I hope you enjoy it!
One thing that helped me to take better pictures was to use either a 35mm or 50mm lens. When I go out to take pictures, I choose one or the other and go. I feel like it really forces me to think about what exactly I’m trying to capture, what I can actually capture, and how best to capture it.
I used to run around with a 35-200mm (iirc) and would take a dozen pics at different FLs and very few of them were good because I always assumed at least one of them would be.
A lot has already been said, but I'd like to add a resource I think is invaluable.
Covers a lot of the technical topics pretty in-depth and in a reasonable way. Give it a look.