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Camera Buyer's Guide

Lesson 2 of 16

Upgrading Pros & Cons

John Greengo

Camera Buyer's Guide

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

2. Upgrading Pros & Cons

Lesson Info

Upgrading Pros & Cons

Now, for those of you who are new to kind of serious photography and the interchangeable lens world, you might be wondering, is it really worth upgrading from your phone or from a point-and-shoot camera, into a larger system with interchangeable lenses? And so, I wanted to first look at, you know, what are the pros and cons of just using a phone or a point-and-shoot, which in my mind, are kinda in the same category, a fixed lens, fully automated system. So, obviously, the phone is very portable, it's got great connectivity, it's incredibly convenient, and I think anybody who has a phone and a camera, probably uses it for the convenience factor, and so, it's got a lot of good things for, going for it. Once you get into the possibility of different lenses, being stuck with one lens is definitely a limitation with the phone. It's hard to work with it in bright light because you are working off of a screen and you don't have a proper viewfinder, which is very important. There are limited p...

hysical controls, so if you wanna adjust shutter speeds and apertures, there are manual apps that you can do that with, but it's a little bit futzy, you have to be very precise about where your fingers are on the device. They have gotten very good in quality, but still, because of their sensor size, they do pale in quality compared to the more dedicated cameras out there. Some of them have very little manual control at all, and once you start being able to take control, it's a, it's a little intoxicating when you can make sure that things are exactly the way that you want them, and it's fun to be able to have something that's repeatable high quality. Now, as I mentioned, the image quality is quite good on this, but when you dig into it, it's not what I would call great, and there are few other features and additions and things that you could add onto it, so it's a very limited system. It's generally the trade offs that you get, here in the photography world, and so, I wanted to do a straight up test with a modern smartphone versus a modern camera and what I have found in general, is that the smartphone will give you very good, if not, excellent photos under pretty easy conditions, but when you throw a little bit of a hurdle in the photography world, that's where these simple devices kind of trip up, and so, the small hurdle that I've done in this test is I photographed under somewhat low light. It's sunset here in Seattle. I took a couple of photos of downtown and at a relatively small magnification. Eh, they're pretty simple, they're slightly different colors and we could argue about which one looks better, but let's take a look at the detail. If we magnify a small portion and make it a lot larger, take a close look at your screens and what you will notice is that the camera has incredible detail on the buildings. You can see individual windows, individual lights, whereas it starts to become what we call in the photography world, mushy, on the left side, and so if you are making an enlargement or you wanna get into the details, it just doesn't have as much there. Now, granted there are some phones that get a little bit better in one category or the other, but this is a general problem because no matter how good they make the phones, the cameras with the larger sensors are always going to be higher quality. There are many other areas that a dedicated camera would be an advantage. Having a quality telephoto lens. If you wanna go on safari or you're gonna go just to the animal park, or maybe it's just your kid's soccer game, having a proper telephoto lens so that you can really hone in on your subject is something that is a big advantage with interchangeable lenses. When you get into the world of photography and you start experimenting with slow, slow shutter speeds, there's a lot of fun that you can have in being creative with these shutter speeds. Getting in, really close up, but I know a lot of phones and point-and-shoots can focus pretty close, but it still doesn't compare with the proper macro lens put onto an interchangeable lens camera. They are putting on wider and wider lenses on some of these cameras, and some, some cameras and phones have multiple lenses, but they still don't compare to the ultrawides that you can put onto an interchangeable lens camera. The low light ability is very good when you get to an interchangeable lens, larger sensor camera. And as I mentioned before, the detail, even under pretty good light, if you wanna make a variant large enlargement, you can dig into the detail of a quality camera's image, and it's all going to be there. It's not going to be lost. You could also do specialty tricks. This was the eclipse and I did a multiple exposure of this. This is seven different exposures in camera, and so, there are many different creative possibilities that you can do with a camera, just because it's a dedicated tool for that device. And for those of you who like shooting portrait photography, shallow depth of field, getting that soft bouquet in the background, is something that the phones have made great strides on recently. They've been doing something called computational photography, where it's not really out of focus, but the software turns it out of focus, but as people review these phones, they find that they're good and they're better than not having it, these computational photography features in there, but it still does not compare with an individual single-lens camera that you can change the lens on 'cause there are specialty lenses that you can get for this, and so, there is just flat out, there's a lot of pros to using one of these larger, dedicated devices. As you can imagine, a dedicated devices is gonna do better than something that is designed to do multiple different things. Now, the bad side about these interchangeable lens cameras is that they are large and heavy and I do put that in parentheses because Ansel Adams is rolling over in his grave as I say this because he had to take a mule full with camera equipment, hundreds of pounds to go take photos, and now, a large camera is something that weighs about a pound or a half a kilo or something, and so, our definition of large and heavy is very subjective and has changed over time, and the higher cost is something that is definitely an issue with these cameras. The price of a quality camera can go from $500, well up into the stratosphere, but I think it's worth it if it's something that's important to you and you can utilize and appreciate the quality that you get out of these cameras. They are more complicated, there is no doubt about that. Trust me, I've created a lot of classes on these cameras and there's a lot of features and the menus have gotten larger, but I think once you've taken a little bit of time to understand the camera, then it's gonna be quite easy to work with. Most people keep cameras for several years. They'll spend the first couple weeks, figure things out, and then, it will work for them just fine. And so, it's just an initial hurdle to, initiation phase for everyone to get through on any sort of new camera.

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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Ratings and Reviews

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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!