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Camera Buyer's Guide

Lesson 12 of 16

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John Greengo

Camera Buyer's Guide

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

12. More Features

Lesson Info

More Features

All right, there are lots of other features that we're gonna kind of knock off real quickly here that you need to know about as well. First and foremost is the file type that you are recording to your memory cards. You have the option of JPEGs, which are a very common system out there, but the raw image records the original information off the sensor. Now the problem with the raw image is that every manufacturer has their own version of this. And so you need the right software, whether it comes from that manufacturer or another manufacturer like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. You'll need it on your computer, set up so that you can read the raw images. If you have a raw image, you can make JPEGs later on. Now different cameras will have different ways of separating the JPEGs and the raw option in the menu system, so you'll need to learn your menu system to figure out which ones you want to select. Obviously you're gonna need memory cards. There's a couple of different types of memory ca...

rds that are common out there. The secure digital is the most popular card. It's a little bit flimsy and can be broken, so you do need to be careful with it. You don't wanna be throwing it around too much. Some cameras will take two different cards or two cards at the same time. The compact flash is a very sturdy card, but it seems to be diminishing in popularity with the smaller SD cards. And there are other cards, I'm not gonna go into all of 'em. One of the other new cards is the XQD card, which from a technical standpoint is by far the best of the cards, but it's also the most expensive of the card, and it's a lot less common, and there are much fewer options out there. And so that's something to consider to know, be aware of when you're looking at cameras. If you have unusual cards and you would like something to match all the other cards that you currently have. Controlling the shutter release on the camera is the drive mode. Most of the time our cameras are in single shooting, and there's a couple different versions of this. Some cameras have a quiet mode, which do something to make the camera a little bit more quiet, or they have remotes that you can get. For sports or action shooting there are various different settings on some cameras, depending on how fast that camera can shoot action. And then there's always gonna be some sort of self timer or delay mode that you can use, whether your camera's on a tripod, or whether you wanna get in the camera with a group of friends. All cameras will have some sort of built in memory. On Nikons and Canons it's kinda nice, they tell you that number right in the viewfinder, and they'll tell you how many images you can shoot right away in a row. Now what's going on here is the camera can only shoot so many photos very, very quickly before things bog down as it's trying to write to the memory card. And so a camera might shoot at five frames a second that has a 10 frame buffer. Which means for the first 10 shots, or two seconds, they'll be able to shoot very quickly, and after that time the camera is gonna slow up as it is slowly downloading those cards to the memory card. And this is something that's gonna vary. One of the things to look for if you're into sports photography, is a large buffer, something that can shoot 20, 30, or a hundred images all at one time. You also wanna shoot as fast a frames per second in shooting sports but the more frames you shoot per second, is the faster you're gonna go through your memory buffer. This will vary whether you shoot JPEG or raw. And will vary by what file size, whether you're shoot on large, medium, or small file sizes, so be aware that there are adjustments that you can make in the camera that will change how your buffer reacts to what you're doing. Another important setting is getting the correct color. And this is the White Balance setting on the camera. All cameras have this, they're gonna have some settings for natural light, like daylight, cloudy, and shade. There's gonna be some artificial light settings as well, and if you're not getting the correct color, you probably need to get into White Balance and make an adjustment. There are further adjustments, you can set the Kelvin temperature yourself, if want it to remain at a particular place, where you happen to know what it is. And there is also an auto White Balance, which generally does a pretty good job in most cases. The way your camera reads light has a number of different options. Traditionally cameras used a center weighted system. Photographers then wanted something that was a little bit more precise, which was a spot meter, but now days, most popular is something that I generally call a multi-segment system. This goes by a lotta different names, from the different manufacturers, but this is what is all generally the same, that breaks the scene up into a bunch of different parts, and it is good for mixed lighting. And so while a camera may have many different exposure options most people end up with that multi-segment and use that a vast majority of the time. You might wanna think about whether you would use a built in flash or not. It is highly convenient if you are in a low-light situation, but it does have a limited quality to it, because of the location of the flash being so near the lens, and being very small in size, you do end up with very distinct, in some cases, harsh shadows. And so it's not the best solution for all flash needs, but if you do a lotta portrait photography, and you like a little kicker flash to add some light onto the face, it can be very, very helpful. Do realize that when you are using any type of flash, you are gonna be limited in the shutter speeds that you can use. And so some cameras have faster shutter speeds, which just give you more leeway, some cameras which have slower shutter speeds are just a little bit of a limitation in certain lighting conditions. If you want better quality light, you will wanna look at an additional light source. And there's a lotta different flashes out there, depending on which manufacturers you get into. Often times there's gonna be a entry level, a medium level, and then a high-end, professional flash that typically gonna be different in the amount of power, and the features and options that it offers. Most people that wanna use an external flash, would probably be wise to start looking at the middle of these zones, you might say, the intermediate level flash, and then go up or down depending on their needs. And so there's a number of advantages as I say, when it comes to these high-end flash units. If you do a lotta people photography, that's the best case scenario of using these external flashes. For the DSLRs, there is an option for viewing off the back of the camera, and this is called Live View. So you get a live view of what the lens is looking at. And this is very much the way that mirrorless cameras work all the time but this isn't exactly how DSLRs were designed, so they're at a little bit of handicap when it comes to this. And so all of the DSLRs on the market, that I know of, have Live View. But they're all not as good at focusing in Live View as they are when they're not in Live View. And so that is one of the disadvantages to know about SLRS, and working off the back of the camera. There are many different types of stabilization available out on the market. A lot of the companies have felt that it would be best to put a stabilization system into the lens that way they know what focal length is being used. And they can have different types of motors and systems that are truly dedicated to the lenses. And they tend to work the best. Now the other type of system is camera based system, where the sensor moves around, and these tend to be the most convenient because you don't have to buy 'em every time you buy a lens. Any lens you put on, even an old, traditional, manual focus lens, can be image stabilized. In some cases, like with Olympus, it will use the stabilization in the lens and body if they both have it, and they'll work together for even more stabilization than you could get any one system. It is a handy system to have and most all photographers I know would prefer to have it, rather than not have it, but there's a lotta cameras that just don't have stabilization in the camera body or with certain lenses, and it's perfectly fine, because if you're at a fast enough shutter speed, you don't need any sort of lens stabilization, or body stabilization at all. It's just one of those extra features that can be very handy in certain types of photography. Travel photography, where you may be without a tripod, shooting in low-light, that is a really handy place. If you do a lotta sports photography, it's not gonna be very important for most people. So it really depends on how you are using that particular product. One of the features that's becoming more and more standard on cameras is a wifi capability. Which allows you to hook your phone to your camera, so you can see and control your camera from your phone. And so this can be a lotta fun if you wanna put your camera in a unique location, or you have a tricky set up. There's a lotta fun options here, and if you're the type of person who uses your phone a lot, and you like to be able to be connected with your camera, look for that feature. I will have to say that most of the cameras do have this on the market now. And in most cases, I would have to say, that I am pretty disappointed in how cumbersome, and awkward it is to set up. It seems to really, you really gotta dive in in the instruction manual. It is something I go through in my fast start classes, how to set it up, 'cause there's a lotta steps. You gotta set this up on the phone, then you go over to the camera and set this back up, and then you gotta confirm it, the you gotta come back and double confirm it, and then you can work it. And so there is a little bit of time, and it's a little bit of a hassle, and I think there still got a lotta kinks to work out, in doing this, but it's a nice feature, once you get it set up. Another feature I've found handy in some situations, is GPS, some cameras will have GPS built into it. In some cases there's a device that you can add on to it to add GPS to it. And it will record exactly where you shoot every photograph, so if you've wondered, where was I when I took that photograph, this would totally solve the problem. As you can see on screen it has various ways of working, either leaving pins on a map or can show you a bread crumb trail of everywhere you wandered, when you were shooting photographs. And so that can be a great way of reconstructing where you were when you took those photos. All cameras are gonna have function buttons. These are general buttons that can be reprogrammed in order to do something else. And generally speaking the more advanced users want more custom function buttons. I can see in my perfect camera, I would have a bunch of these all over the place that I can could reprogram exactly the way that I want them to. And so this is one the fun areas of getting a new camera, is getting it set up to the way you like it to work. You want this button to focus? Or do you want that button to focus? And you can go into the menu system, and you can reprogram these buttons to do exactly what you want. The better cameras will have more buttons and have more options on how to reprogram it. So you'll need to get into your menu system and dive into your custom functions, as I say, all cameras have it. And it's worth your time to get in there and get those programed to get your camera set the way you like it to work. The software that is on your camera that runs all the operations is called firmware. And from time to time the manufacturers will have updates, improvements, sometimes it's really small, like fixing a foreign language spelling mistake, sometimes it's a major feature where they add in a whole new feature that wasn't there before. But it is free from all these manufacturers, and all you have to do is go to their website, follow their instructions and download it to your camera, and your camera can the new, latest, best software, so that it's working as good as possible. There's a number of development modes, and this is for people who are shooting in JPEG images Raw images require a little bit of processing and time. If you prefer to have the camera do it for you, because it's quick and it's easy, there's a lotta different ways that you can go in and you can tweak the results that you're getting out of your camera. This is very much like the days back in film, where we had Fuji film and Kodak film and Konica film, and each one had a slightly different contrast and color to it. And so if you are using JPEGs from your camera, get in there and adjust those JPEGs so that they're looking the way that you want to. And so there'll be specified controls for the Color, Sharpening, Saturation, and Contrast of your subject, so that if you are using JPEGs, you can get 'em to meet your exact needs, right in camera without having to do any processing in a computer at all. There's a number of Image Enhancement options in a lotta cameras. And this is once again for people who are shooting JPEGs, because if you shoot raw file types, that's getting you the original information, and the camera is not going to mess with your image in any way. With the JPEG images, you are now giving the camera a little bit more information on how to work and adjust those images to meet your satisfaction. So one of the options is an area where it will allow you to either brighten the shadows and limit the highlights with the setting. This goes by various different names from different companies. And you can set this on low and high settings, and this can be very helpful in a lotta situations. Some cameras will have a Vignetting option. So Vignetting is a darkening of the corners, and generally you don't want it on a landscape scene, 'cause you want an even tone in the sky, but in some cases you actually do want it, and so for portrait photography, it can be a nice feature to have. Generally people don't like distortion, unless they are specifically buying a fisheye lens for distortion purposes. And so not all lenses are perfect. And the camera, if it understands what sort of distortion a lens may have can correct for that in camera, which I think is a great thing. Another problem that some lenses have is Chromatic Aberration. And this is a color ghosting that you get between bright and dark areas in a photograph. And cameras know how much Chromatic Aberration a lens may have and can automatically go in and fix it. And I think that's pretty good 'cause I haven't met anybody who likes Chromatic Aberration. Exposure Compensation is a feature that all cameras are going to have to some degree. It's gonna allow you to make your picture a little bit lighter or a little bit darker, when using the program mode, aperture priority mode, or the shutter priority mode. Related to that is something called Braketing. And this is where the camera will automatically go through and shoot a series of photos from dark to light or light to dark, your preference is in there, and you can choose the number of frames, that it wants to shoot. You can shoot three, five, nine, or more. You can do an adjustment to the increments, how big of change from one image to the next. And this can be really handy either if you're not sure about what the final exposure is supposed to be, or if you want to use all of those images, in an HDR or high dynamic range photograph, where it combines tonalities from all the images into one single photograph. Flash Exposure Compensation can be really important with flash, 'cause over exposed flash does not work very well. So being able to dial back the power on the flash is a feature that most cameras will have, especially ones with flashes on it, and I encourage you to dial that back down from normal, down to in the -1, -2 category for more natural skin tones. A fun feature that some people will use is an interval timer, and this is where it shoots a picture after an interval of time. Might be a second, it might be 10 minutes between photographs. And you'll have a whole group of photographs, that then can be turned into a video. Some cameras will turn it into a video right in the camera, and so using this allows you to see the world in a whole new way. In some ways, I think of this as the opposite of photography, in that a photograph stops one moment forever. In this case it compress lots of moments into a short bit so that you can see it in a new light. Video is a whole area unto itself, and so there are lots of different video options out there and there's a lotta different aspects that people that shoot video are looking for. First and foremost is the resolution of the video. Our cameras have been shooting in HD and full HD videos for quite some time now. And so kind of the latest standard is 4K video. And so that is something that is being incorporated on more and more cameras out there. There are a couple different versions of 4k video, depending on which aspect ratio you're talking about. But I'm sure in a few years, we're gonna see 8K video coming out these cameras. Next up is looking at the frame rate. Different frame rates are used for different types of purposes. Most standard video is at 30 frames per second, but if you can shoot at 60 or 120, you can slow that video down, you can do more different things with it, you can have video that looks different ways, so having more options there is a good thing. The file format will vary according to the different type of product you have, and what type of package, and what type editing software that you'll use with it. There's also the compression standard, which is gonna have an impact on the final image quality. The compression type, what type of file, is it being recording and how is it doing. This may have an effect on the type of editing. The type camera and set up that you might want for very simple, basic video, for family video or for vlogging, is gonna be a little bit different than for commercial purposes that's gonna be edited to the frame. So be aware of that when you're looking at all these different video features. There's Bit rate, which is gonna have another affect on overall video quality. This system, there are different systems, depending on what region of the world you are in, and you will have to switch this over. Most all cameras can be switched from one setting to the other. And then of course audio, one of the most important things to video is having good quality audio. And, some cameras will have built in Mono, some will have built in stereo, but even the ones with built in stereo, are not very good. So you need an external microphone, and if you really wanna get good sound, you gotta get the sound off of the camera itself, so having plug in mics on the sides can be very important for those. The focus is not all equal on these cameras, we talked about the types of focusing system, and so how quickly you're camera can acquire a subject. Does follow that focus, does it maintain it in focus? Is it easy to manually focus? Are some issues you should be looking at. The recording time, and this is kinda strange, it's for tax reasons, we're not gonna get into why tax reasons but many of these cameras will limit the maximum recording time to 30 minutes. And so that may limit you for long performances, or speeches or something like that. Long foreign broadcasting. And so most of them gonna be capped at 30 minutes, but because a lot of these cameras are not designed as videos cameras, and when you shoot video, that is just a huge pipline of material that is being stored to the memory card, the camera is working really hard and it tends to heat up. And the smaller cameras tend not to do as well, and some cameras will turn off after 10, 15, 20, 25 minutes, because that's most it can record before it starts getting too hot. And so some cameras have a longer recording time, than others, be aware of that if you are doing, as I say, long foreign recording. And finally, there is a rolling shutter effect, that happens in these cameras, and it's because of the way the information is being recorded by the censor. And in short what's happening on the censor, is the image is being scanned on, it's a very quick scan, but the problem is is that when you move the camera back and forth, in a quick pan move, a straight line will become bent because as the camera moves, it's recoding those pixels at different times. And so some cameras are much better at this, some cameras are much worse. And so if you're in to video and you're running gun and you're out in the field, and you're doing those quick pans back and forth, that could be something that's really important to think about.

Class Description

Our Camera Buyer's guide will be your guide to figuring out the best digital camera for your needs.

Gear expert John Greengo dives into the major brands and lenses that are currently on the market.

John breaks down some of the more confusing aspects of mirrorless and DSLR's from focusing systems to sensor size; you'll get a better understanding of what the gear does so you can make an informed decision.

At the end of the class, John gives his recommendations for different types of photographers from the aspiring student to the filmmaker and everyone in between. If you're looking to purchase a camera or gift one to a budding photographer in your life- this free course will be your guide in making the best purchase.

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Denise Watson

Another outstanding class by John Greengo, my favorite Creative Live instructor. John's delivery is entertaining and his info clear and very easy to understand. If you need more explanation, well, don't worry - he's got a slide or PDF for that! I'm a working photographer and I learn something new with each of John's classes. Don't hesitate to buy any of his classes - you won't regret it.

David Reichel

Yes - there is such a thing as a free lunch - this class is it! I enjoy landscape, seascape, architecture, portrait and travel photography. I've been a Canon user for decades (film and then digital full frame with the 5D Mark II then 5D Mark IV). Recently I got a Fujifilm mirrorless medium format GFX 50R and discovered some Fujifilm features (e.g., film simulation, menu system) that resonate with me. I now have over-kill on full frame format and because I like the Fujifilm so much, I've been thinking about moving from my Canon 5D Mark IV to a Fujifilm X-T3 as my walk-around camera. This class helped me better understand the trade-offs and alleviated my concerns about a crop format sensor in the X-T3. On top of that, this is a great refresher course on camera fundamentals.

Sherry Throughmyeyes Prater

There a thousands of reviews/guides/ floating around the internet, but this one is by far the best by far. I usually watch a portion and then move on because I simply lose interest, but I watched every single lesson. John gives a very unbiased explanation of cameras, functions for every type of shooter. Not only would I recommend it, but I am going to recommend. I am a member of multiple photography groups on FB and one of the most asked questions is camera buying advice. This is excellent!