As part of reincorporating what I love back into my life I have been exploring buying a digital camera. Currently all the images on this blog, for better or for worse, are taken on a Nokia mobile. Most of them aren’t that bad and I also use an online site that allows you to autofix images for free.
Investing in a camera is a big deal, not only financially, but also accepting that if its to be used well it should become an extension of me and my everyday life. Will I use the camera enough to decrease its ‘cost per wear’? Can I learn how to bump the camera out of auto and into manual? Do I even take good enough photos to warrant the investment? So many questions!
When I was a teenager one of the 10 schools (!) I went to had a darkroom. The process of watching an image come to life was like a drug that I became addicted to. In order to access the darkroom I took photo electives and after school classes and after learning the basics I managed to turn about some award winning images. This was all pre digital, where each film roll was precious and you really didn’t know what you had until you processed the images. In my late teens my family clubbed together and purchased me a digital camera that took film. Unfortunately it was a lemon (sadface) and although expensive it died quickly. Then life moved fast, final exams, university, an over controlling boyfriend, family demanding my time and photography got left behind.
With this sort of history and experience of not using an expensive camera to its potential it has made me nervous about a purchase. I started asking everyone if they had a DSLR camera and what brand/type they had. I even stalked my favourite blogs as everyone has posted about their cameras at some stage! Then one of my lovely colleagues suggested I investigate DSLR Photography courses in London. She had bought a camera wanting to use the manual function and this course gave her the basics in three hours. This was perfect but I didn’t have a camera! Not a problem, as when I investigated these courses I saw the company allowed students to borrow cameras for the class. Sold!
The class was run by Gyorgy Laszlo, a cinematographer and director of photography, who recently started his Instagram. With a maximum of seven students, the intimacy of the class allowed Gyorgy to spend time with each student, as well as giving us an overall theory of how cameras work. Two of the students had just brought their cameras and the rest bar one had only had theirs for a few months. After an hour of theory where we learnt about aperture, light, shutter speed and IOS we started learning how to play with all the elements and take pictures. The great thing about digital cameras is when you put them in manual mode they still help you find the right settings.
Halfway through the class we headed outside and took photos of muscle men figurines with a park and stormy sky in the background. For me this was the test. Was it worth investing in one of these cameras vs using my phone? Is manual really that much better then automatic? Whilst everyone, and myself, were doing the task at hand I also kept changing the camera to automatic to see the difference in output. What I found was a significant difference and a much better image from the manual camera settings. My phone just did not compare! After 40 minutes outside where we also learnt that an extra layer and gloves is key to photography, as you move a lot slower then normal, we moved inside and learnt about changing our autofocus. This was the game changer for me. Suddenly I could produce images that looked like professional and I couldn’t contain my excitement.
Once we finished the class I stayed back quizzing Gyorgy on the best camera I could purchase for a £500 budget. In this range there is little difference between Nikon and Canon and he also suggested looking at a Fuji option with a slightly higher design spec and cost. Throughout the class I was really excited to be holding a camera again and talking photo’s. I know it will be a conscious choice to always bring my camera with me and lose any inhibitions of taking photos. I am determined to do it and will be wandering down to the camera store on my lunch break to test out some cameras. The actual purchase will likely wait until November and the Cyber Monday sales!
What camera do you use? Do you use the manual settings? What is the photo you are most proud of?