You don’t need that Expensive DSLR When you are starting out.

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I have been teaching Photography and Street Photography for over 6 years now and I have noticed a growing trend. The amount of people turning up on my workshops with the best top of the range kit with out a clue how to use it worries me. On one hand I understand that if you can afford it why not have the best ! But on the other hand would you take your driving test in a Ferrari ?

Photography is a life’s journey and there are no short cuts to a life of learning, but some people are convinced by having the best camera helps.

One of other issues that crops up on my workshops is when people switch from a DSLR to a mirrorless Camera they can’t work out what the Exposure Triangle is so it’s the first thing I get asked along with “what settings do I use ?”

I always remember a heated argument on Facebook from a few years ago when a professional photographer said “amateurs just ask questions, Professionals just get on with it” it caused quite a row but the statement was very true, love it or hate it he was correct. The fact is quite a few professionals don’t have a clue either and have been winging it for years or as so many say “fake it until you make it” it’s quite easy to get a DSLR out of the box and stick it on Auto, with a little bit of research you can fool quite a few people as there is a vast amount of people that don’t have a clue what a great image is. So much so that most clients don’t have a clue these days so everyone gets away with it ! Does it matter ? Well if the clients are all happy then I guess the answer is no, as far as the client is concerned.

What is that doing to the people just starting out though ? Well we have reached a critical point in the industry where the manufactures are only interested in selling the next best bit of kit to help you take that amazing image you have not taken yet and most people are falling for it.

Many of the brands have stopped supporting great photographers and now chase the bloggers and people with massive fake Instagram followings ! Why ? In the belief they will shift more cameras.

They are ignoring all the amazing photographers and this could be a big mistake, as time goes by people do slowly learn and become aware of what makes a great image and it’s not about likes or a big following. It’s hard work passion and commitment, combines with a great eye a lifetime of learning and sometimes a little luck.

So now I get more and more people turning up on workshops with the latest mirrorless cameras who are again clueless and think me telling them what settings I use will help. When I say I just use the camera in raw and shoot using the Exposure triangle they think I am being a nob. I then try and explain Photography does not work like that.

I was told as a small boy “the more time you spend with a camera in your hand the more you learn” this is the best advice I was ever given.

You can’t just set your camera up on someone’s advice and go shoot. It’s so much more complicated than that. There are far to many variables.

Photography is about Light Composition Moment Amazing Subject and Emotional Impact. First you do need to learn the technical side. This could take 6 months to two years or more but once you learn how to use your chosen camera, you need to stick to the camera you have learnt not keep chopping and changing at this stage because you think this new camera might be the answer to your prayers to great images. Even worse your friend takes better pictures with his Nikon or Canon or the shop said buy this one it’s much better !

I have loved teaching workshops and that’s because people used to come on my workshops to be inspired or learn what to go out and look for in the way of good light etc Now they just come to show me there Kit and compare it to mine. I think most of the time they are shocked when they see me with a £350 second hand Fujifilm X70 on a wrist strap when they are carrying 10k in DSLR gear !

The image at the top of this blog post was taken with an iPhone as that is all I had with my at the time. It’s one of my favourite images taken over the last few years for simplicity and using the 5 elements. I did go to get my X100 out of my bag to shoot the scene again but the guy had gone by the time I came back.

I would recommend anyone starting out to use their smart phone first then as they progress spend some money on basic camera workshops to learn how to use the camera and really get stuck in to how the camera works in different light etc

When you then decide to go for a better camera than your phone buy a camera with Manuel controls on the outside that way you can start the learning process as soon as possible. Before you decide what style of photography is for you get out there and take lots of photos and learn how to operate your new camera, stick to a fixed lens camera learn to zoom with your feet and explore your scene and subject. Explore Light Composition Moment and look for a great subject and scene. I would also say limit yourself to a 4 Gig or 8 Gig memory card for the day or even shoot film. Do this for at least 18 months to two years before you buy a Ferrari and crash it !

Would you ask a driving instructor his settings ? Or would you learn to drive ?

I will leave you to think about that for a while….

11 thoughts on “You don’t need that Expensive DSLR When you are starting out.

    Stephen Hart said:
    May 10, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    Nicely put Matt.
    So glad I’m old enough to have used a film camera when I was first learning and nearly 40 yrs on still consider I’m learning.

      matt6t6 responded:
      May 11, 2018 at 6:26 pm

      I am so glad I used film as well ! Makes you think out of the box 😉

    James Ball said:
    May 11, 2018 at 7:01 am

    This is a fantastic read I’m beginning in photography and have been for 12 months I’ve got a d3200 and yes it’s a beginners camera because that’s what I am and yes I want a full frame Nikon something like the d610 or d750 but in time I’ll get there. Sometimes I think I’m getting left behind but after reading this I’m really not I’m learning the basics before I get my Bugatti Veyron Ha Ha Ha Ha

      matt6t6 responded:
      May 11, 2018 at 7:09 am

      Thanks for the comments, I just use a Fujifilm X70 most of the time for most of my photography. I have different tools for different jobs but only buy the right tool for the right job. Just keep going learn all about Light Composition Moment Subject and emotional impact. Take your time there is no rush. You might not been a Bugatti you might just need a Fiesta 😉

    jr cline said:
    May 11, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    I use my iPhone a lot. It’s one of my favorite cameras. I have GX7 I have used for years. I know that camera well. Sadly it’s not working well. Time and lots of snaps are taking their toll. I’m trying to replace with a GX8. Not loving it yet. hahaha
    For some types of photos I bring out my faithful friend an Alpha 700

      matt6t6 responded:
      May 11, 2018 at 8:07 pm

      Yes it’s a shame when our favourite camera die ! I try to buy second hand favourites 😉

        jr cline said:
        May 23, 2018 at 10:00 pm

        I’m considering getting my GX 7 refurbished.

    Gear – Will Noakes Photography said:
    May 16, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    […] about £300. The plan was to reward (bribe) myself after clearing out the spare room. But then I read this from Matthew Hart and I’ve decided to stick with what I’ve got and just take photos. […]

      matt6t6 responded:
      May 16, 2018 at 9:10 pm

      Good plan, save up some more and take a holiday with what you already have 🙂

    To Much Clutter ! « Lighttraveler said:
    May 30, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    […] away on holiday was most peoples obsession with Gear amongst photographers and this is why I wrote This it drives me mad watching people buying tons and tons of gear thinking it will make them a better […]

    AwethentiQ said:
    June 3, 2018 at 12:04 am

    I thought the same, now it is costing me more. I should have bought a Canon EOS80D from Day 1 for its fast autofocus, superior video ability, battery life of 960+ shots, sturdy build. After using a 1200D and a 700D, I now have to pay more to correct my error.

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