Photography Tips and Tricks Blog

I am often asked questions about photography and about various cameras and their functions by other photographers who see me taking photos at events. As a result, I have created a blog about either photography basics or about some tips and tricks that I have found over the years to help me in my photographic journey. My photography started in the early 1970's with a used Single Lens Reflex (SLR) Canon 35mm film camera. In the 1980's, I started using Minolta equipment. Minolta's camera business was sold to Sony in 2006 so I transitioned over to Sony equipment at that time. I still use Sony Alpha Digital cameras (DSLR). This has allowed me to still use some of the lenses and lighting accessories that had previously fit my Minolta cameras. I also have a Canon DSLR camera along with several lenses and lighting equipment for the Canon camera that I use along with my Sony equipment.

I hope that you find something here that interests you and improves your photography.

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Photography Tips and Tricks   

Which camera should I buy? Without a doubt, the number one tip that I would give to any aspiring photographer would be to understand that taking great photos does NOT require that you go out and purchase a hugely expensive digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera with interchangable lenses. In fact, many folks who have these cameras use the "kit" lens that came with the camera and do not use 95% of the functionality that the camera has available. Most of them place the camera on the AUTO setting and allow the camera to make all of the decisions regarding the technical aspects of the photos that are taken. I am not saying that an expensive camera will not help your photography, but that is only if you learn how to use all of that functionality which can take years of study and practice. The majority of photographers will do just fine with a simple "point and shoot" camera or with the camera found in most smart phones or tablets today. So, I would answer this question by saying buy what you can afford, but don't feel that you have to spend a lot of money in order to take great photos! The only other piece of information to keep in mind is that DSLR cameras are "brand specific". That is, the lens used on a Canon camera, for example, will not fit on a Nikon or Sony camera. Therefore, if you buy a Canon or Nikon camera, the lenses you purchase must be manufactured specifically for that brand. In some cases, there are even different lens mounting systems within a brand.

What are pixels and how many do I need? As the term pertains to photography, pixels are the microscopic receptors that are located on the sensor of a digital camera. The photos from a digital camera are composed of millions of tiny square "dots" (the pixels) which represent what the sensor saw at the time it was exposed by the camera when the photo was taken. Having identified what a pixel is, we will now address the question of how many pixels are needed on a camera sensor to capture a good image. The measure of pixels is usually expressed in the form of "Megapixels" which refers to the millions of pixels on the camera sensor. In photography, the number of pixels affects the image resolution which is the amount of detail in a photo. Therefore, the more pixels on the camera sensor, the better the quality of photos the camera will take and the more flexibility to enlarge photos or to crop out sections while still retaining reasonable resolution. However, unless you are a professional photographer or you are taking photos that will be enlarged to extreme sizes, there is a point where more pixels provide little value to the photographer except to increase the cost of your camera. The sensor in most cameras today, even those in a cell phone or tablet, are rated from 6 to 12 megapixels which is more than adequate to produce a quality photo. Very expensive early professional DSLR's used sensors around this size. Of course, today a high quality professional DSLR may use a sensor with over 40 megapixels, but it will set one back thousands of dollars. My advice to aspiring photographers is to buy what you can afford and don't get hung up on the number of pixel the camera has on it's sensor. In most cases, you would not be able to tell the difference between the photos from cameras with different pixels counts.

What are the secrets to taking great photos? There are no really great secrets to taking good photos. One of the first things that is needed is to get practice. Many people who own expensive cameras still don't take photos that are any better than those you can capture with a cell phone. The only way to get great photos is to practice. You must take a lot of photos in many different situations. I would also recommend that the photographer take advantage of some of the photography podcasts and videos available for free out on the internet in order to learn more about how to use their equipment and techniques that can improve their photography. Another suggestion is to spend a few dollars to purchase some editing software in order to allow you to make improvements to your photos during post-processing. Personally, I use Adobe's Lightroom software (approximately $150). Finally, consider the purchase of a few good quality lenses for your camera, especially prime lenses. A prime lens is a lens with a fixed focal length like a 50mm or 85mm lens. They place less glass between the subject and your camera's sensor and are less complex. They will usually permit a larger aperture for more effective low-light shooting or may have specialized features that enables you to get the close-ups you’ve always dreamed about. Zoom lenses are incredibly convenient and they cover a wide range of focal lengths in a single package. However, this also means that they are more complex with some trade-offs in performance and size. Quality zoom lens also usually come with a premium price tag. Generally, prime lens perform better than their zoom counterparts and are much sharper resulting in better photos.

What does it mean when it says that a camera has a crop sensor? The modern DSLR camera is based on the single lens reflex (SLR) film cameras that have been around since the 1950's. The SLR camera commonly used 35mm film as the capture media and required that the film be developed before the photographer was able to determine his or her results. Today's DSLR cameras do not use film as the capture media, but rather they use an electronic sensor that captures the photo and stores it on an electronic "chip" as a series of 1's and 0's. In effect, modern cameras are actually small computers that convert the light coming into the lens into electronic signals that can be displayed on a screen. There are two main types of sensors used in most DSLR cameras today. They are referred to as either being "full frame" or as "crop" sensors. A full frame sensor is roughly the same size as the 35mm film that was used in older SLR camers. Crop sensors are smaller (and thus cheaper to manufacture) sensors. As a result of the increased cost to produce full frame sensors, full frame cameras are typically more expensive and are considered to be more "professional" cameras. However, the type of sensor that was in the photographer's camera will not have any visible impact on the photos that the photographer is able to take. It may affect which lenses the photographer uses, but that would be all. In fact, some of the sensors that are in today's cell phones are extremely tiny, but still allow the cell phone to capture some really fine photos.


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 This site was last updated 1/18/18.