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How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera

Lesson 1 of 16

Buying Your First DSLR: Why Upgrade?

John Greengo

How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

1. Buying Your First DSLR: Why Upgrade?

Lesson Info

Buying Your First DSLR: Why Upgrade?

Well first off welcome everybody to how to choose your first dslr camera my name is john and what this class is all about is figuring out the right questions to ask and features to look for when you want to get yourself a great camera now you notice the word that I just used there a great camera I didn't say a perfect camera I didn't see the ultimate ideal camera because I think those air sometimes unrealistic goals for people I think some people get caught up trying to find the absolute perfect one and they're kind of missing that there's a lot of great ones that they can work with in many ways so this class is going to help you identify what those features are that you want to look for and what your needs are now I got to admit that I have a little bit of an issue with the name of this class this doesn't have to be your first camera this could be your second or third or fourth through as many as you want if you want information about the camera hopefully it's going to be here and the...

second issue I have with the title is dslr well we're going to be talking about marylise cameras as well as the dea sellers we're talking about any camera that's on the more serious nature you might say of photography is what we're going to be talking about in here and I think a big part of making the right choice is knowing the right questions to ask and I have spent a lot of time I used to work behind the counter in the camera store so I have sold thousands of cameras and I've talked to thousands of people and this is going to one little bit of a challenge in this class is normally when I am helping somebody find a camera, the first thing I do is I asked him questions and I listen to what they're saying and so I have helped many different types of people get themselves into a good camera and so I'm going to be using that information to kind of help direct you to finding the best camera for yourself now I have a long history in photography I've been shooting for thirty years I have a degree in photography I spent a lot of time in the camera store working and selling cameras and I love the technology I love picking up these cameras going through the menus, shooting with him, changing lenses and finding out everything that I can about these cameras I have a lot of classes where I teach on how to use these particular cameras and I am going to really be trying to summarize things and put things in perspective for you because I know a lot of times when you talk to somebody or you hear information about cameras there's there's an agenda behind the scene of what's going on there are people who are paid to tell you something or another you know if you talk to a sales rep from a particular company our cameras are the best because it can do this in this in this and if you go to a camera store in some cases they're on commission and they get paid more money to sell you one camera or the other and I can tell you right now that nobody told me what to put in this class I am not sponsored I do not work for canon, nikon, sony, fuji or any of the camera companies creative live has not taken any sponsorship money for this class this is a fully independent in fact nobody has even checked over my slides to see what I'm going to talk about and what I say in this glass so watch out and so it is this is this is my opinion as to what I think is good what I think it's important the types of questions that you're going to be asking and it is unadulterated I'm not trying to sell you something I don't care which camera you buy I don't care if you buy a camera, not I that got no skin in the game as they say and so I'm just here to provide you with honest, truthful, realistic well balanced information in this class so let's, take a look at what we're going to be doing in this class, so first off we're gonna be addressing your needs, the type of questions that you should be asking in the right questions to address your needs, and then I'm going to be going through the options. This is a little different than my other classes because normally I'm trying to explain how to use particular features to get the most out of him and to achieve a certain effect in this case, I'm just trying to explain what that feature does and how important it may be to your type photography. And then finally, we're going to end up the day with my recommendations, and what I've decided to do here is to kind of block out many different types of photographers to take a look at this list and see which type of photographer you might call yourself and if you're not sure well, you khun wait and see and when we go through these, I'll describe what is important to these different types of photographers, but everyone has a different criteria for what they think good camera for them, it would be like, and so I'll go through and I'm going to give you my top three recommendations for each of these categories, including what my favorite is for each of these categories if you're watching the recorded version of this class well, you have the advantage of just skipping forward to find out what those recommendations are, but if you're watching live, we're going to have to walk through the process here so let's get started on this process first off, I do want to take a step back and address the issue about upgrading all right a lot of us how are we taking pictures these days? We're taking pictures with our phones and with point and shoot cameras and what is the sense of jumping up to an slr camera? Well, let me do a little pros and cons list of what I think is going on with the point and shoot cameras and the phones pros obviously very small there things that we carry around with us very, very portable acceptable quality this is good enough quality to remember the situation you take a photograph of a park that you went to yeah, you're going to look at that photo and you're going to remember where you were when you took that photo. They're very easy to use because they don't have a lot of controls very simple operation on these one of the best things about phones is the connectivity so that if you want to post a picture and send it to somebody, it is still really the easiest way a lot of the cameras have wifi and we'll talk a little bit about that but if you want to send somebody photo real quickly you know you just got in a car accident you want to send your insurance company a photo of your car that is just a great easy way of doing it however we have limited lens options most of our phones on ly have one linds now some times they'll have digital zoom but that's a fake zoom it's not a really zoom you're limited to that one lens on the camera it's very hard to view these lcd screens in bright sunlight it's hard to compose it's hard to see sharpness there's very few physical controls if you want to change something you often have to dive into menu systems in order to change them so it's just not easy to work with when you're really getting into photography and the quality under low light conditions is not nearly as good as the larger cameras is you'll see here in just a moment and there is virtually no manual control on many of these cameras and if they do have manual control well I remember my first point and shoot camera I thought it was pretty cool because it had manual on it and when I went in to go change the apertures I could change from five point six two six point three which is a really small range and it's totally two options normally I have like a dozen options and so very limited manual control on these image quality is not really great so that you can make an enlargement with it you can't really crop in that much on him either because of the lower resolution and finally they just don't have many features and many options in them. So if you're an artist and you're working with this as a tool there's just fewer options for you to be creative with that type of camera in that sense and so just to do one test and I could do one hundred of these tests but I'm going to take a smartphone and I'm going to compare it to a dslr now we know the dslr is going to win ok, this this is this is not a fair fight here I and I just want to show you what it looks like between these two and I chose an apple iphone five because it was what I had access to and I have a cannon five d mark three both of these are fairly high end products there are products that are even higher in than this, so I decided to shoot a picture of seattle from kerry park very popular place the photograph seattle and I've wanted to photograph it when the light was when I really liked it which is at dusk just after the sun has gone down when I take out my phone and shoot it you'll notice that it's not as clear now if you can't get a real close look at it. Let's, take a closer look at the difference between the phone and the dslr camera. Take a close look at these two images. Can you see any difference at all? There's a big difference? It looks like we used a water color filter on the iphone because it's not really good under low light situations and that's just one of the downsides of using the phone. I like using a dslr camera or marylise camera because there are so many options we have telephoto lenses that we can get on so we can get closer to subjects that we can't physically get close to. I can put my camera on a tripod very easily, and I can use extremely slow shutter speeds to capture a view of a river, the motor drive on a camera, able to shoot one picture after another very, very quickly in fast changing conditions. That and having a really nice view finder so you can see what's going on when you're outside macro lenses, the ability to focus up very close. I know you can focus up pretty close with a lot of the phones, but it's, not the right focal inc, and it makes everything look distorted because it's not the right lens for that type of work. A really wide angle lens and the ability to work under very low light conditions are a huge benefit to me once again low light being able to put the camera on a tripod using really long shutter speeds. In this case, I think having a very good quality do you find her really helped me composed the image that and having the motor drive as well back to those telephoto lenses and using really fast shutter speeds to stop the action and being able to select those lock him in and make sure there were where you want them to be having those shallow depth of field lenses. So when you're doing the portrait photography, you can blur the out of focus background. And so these are just some of the photos in my collection where I know that I would not have been able to take them with a phone now there's a whole nother a group of pictures that I'm not going to show you, and they're kind of from my personal family history, and I was just thinking about this is I was getting ready for this class because I about ten years ago took on a very large project, and that wass is I was going to scan in all of my family's photos. And so I started with photo albums that my parents had given me, and they went back all the way to my birth scanning and photographs, and then I decided I'm going to take the big step. I'm going over to the parentshouse, and I'm going to take a look at all their photos. Now they had a dresser drawer of photos, they have four drawers full of photos, and I looked at this, and now this just like this is gonna be a major, major project, and so I took the first two box, and I took it home, and I am end immediately realized that I was just not going to have the time to scan in all the photographs I was going to have to pick and choose, and I was looking through photographs of my older brothers and sisters and my parents when they were young and getting married, and even when they were young as children and I had to pick and choose which photos would I keep in? Which one would I not scanning? I wasn't throwing him away, but I just wasn't scanning a man, and so any photograph that was of a person, a place or thing that was very important to our family, I would scania, but then I would also scan in any photograph that was just a really good quality. You know, maybe they just took a picture of the tree in the front yard but they did a really good job I would scan it yet but there was a lot of images that was like some random tree driving down the street that was blurry that had no artistic value no intrinsic value to meeks I wasn't there at that time and so that one would not get scanned in and so I ended up with the two piles of the scannable good quality images and call it kind of all these extra junk over here and the ones that I scanned in just became more and more valuable and it really changed the way that I started to shoot I started not bring my camera to thanksgiving every time I went I brought the camera out I would really take the time to get serious and get the best quality photos because I know it's better for me to cake five or ten really good quality photos than one hundred photos that I don't care about because when you look back in ten or your children look back at fifty years on the photos that you have they're going to be picking out the good ones the ones that really turned out well and all these other ones they're not really going to care about they're not going to know about their fine for remembering what your neighbor's dog looked like at one point but the photos that are important to you you want to have really good quality and if you want really good quality there's a lot of cameras out there that will give you that very good quality, but it does require a little bit more time and effort, but when I look back I wish my parents had used a better camera I wish they'd taken a little bit more time to take some photos because a lot of them were just a little too too quick and hurried, so I think taking great photos is much more important than just taking lots of photos of your coffee and your food. And so this is my impassioned plea for quality take the best pictures you can you will appreciate them long term in the future. So the cameras that we're gonna be talking about today our cameras with interchangeable lenses cameras that have very high quality to them and so the advantage is number one great image quality images they're going to stand the test of time. I have photos from my family collection that go back one hundred fifty years and it is so nice to have a good quality photograph from that far back the choice of lenses to be able to do so many different things wide angle telephoto, close up type work the view finder is one of the most underappreciated fax about a good quality camera we will be talking about it in detail later in this class tons of features so there's, so many fun things that you can do with the cameras it's great physical controls people underestimate this was well how comfortable is the camera to hold? How easy is it to work with manual control being able to manually get into it now not everyone wants to get in and manually take all your photos. I don't even do that on all my photos. I like automatic controls, but from time to time manual is just the ticket for solving a lot of problems. And there are so many options with flashes and lenses and tripods and wifi and gps accessories that you can hook up to these cameras it's a lot of fun and there's a lot of great things that you could do with him. Of course, the downside is that this are large and heavy and if we can just summoned the soul of ansel adams for just a moment, okay, and if we were to hand and ansel adams this photo this camera and tell him we consider this to be a large and heavy camera, he would be like this is so small wow, I could take this with me anywhere I go it's a matter of perspective large and heavy compared to a phone absolutely, totally agree with you but in the big scope of things, this really isn't that big it's not so big that you couldn't take it to the top of mount everest. It's not that big, they are a little bit more expensive. I can't deny that, however I'm gonna be recommending some cameras towards the end of this class that you can buy a body in the lens and you can take great pictures with for five hundred dollars and that's pretty cheap in today's economy and where cameras are, they are a little bit complicated now. Most of these cameras have simple, automated moments, and so I could take any one of these cameras. I could hand it to somebody who has never operated the camera before, and they're going to get pretty good quality images right out of the gate with that camera there's also going to be different in between moz, where they can start learning a little bit at a time in what they're doing and then there's going to be a full manual option down the road so they are kind of scaleable in their learning process, and so none of these cons really are that big issues to me, they're all things that could be overcome very, very easily.

Class Description

It’s nearly impossible for any beginner to sort through all of the functions, features, and price points of DSLR and mirrorless cameras and make an informed choice. In How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera, John Greengo will simplify the buying process and help you find the camera that fits your needs and your budget.

The key to finding a great DSLR camera for beginners is knowing the market and which questions to ask. In this class, you’ll learn about all the different types and brands of cameras and which one is right for you. 

You'll learn:

  • Which features are beneficial to your style of photography
  • The importance of having the right lens
  • The differences between Digital SLRs and mirrorless
  • How a camera’s sensor size impacts image quality

John will look closely at all the latest DSLRs from Nikon and Canon, and the mirrorless cameras from Sony, Fuji, Panasonic, Olympus, and others.

The current crop of photographic equipment is more diverse than ever before and finding the right DSLR camera for a beginner can be a challenge. There is a huge range of variables between cameras, even when they come from the same manufacturer. How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera will help you know what to look for and which questions to ask when it’s time to buy your first camera.



I have to thank John Greengo and the CreativeLive staff for another wonderful class. Mr. Greengo is a very good instructor (he has a nice Bob Ross ambiance), very knowledgeable and very technical with the camera and the terminologies. I am very grateful that he has material to download so I can continue to review and learn. I own a DSLR but I never truly understood the baseline technology. I am in the process of purchasing a new camera system and lens for some photography but mostly for filmmaking. With the knowledge I gain by watching this course, I can better choose and identify the features of the future cameras in my upcoming new passion. Thank you CreativeLive and Thank you Mr. Greengo. I am looking forward to attending future classes.


This was a great class. I already had an idea of the direction I wanted to go as I start my new business, but this class really helped me focus on the most important upgrades I need to make to my current system. I was particularly impressed with the visual graphics used to explain the technical functions of cameras and how those functions affect image quality and camera use. I would highly recommend this class to anyone who wants to up their camera system and I am looking forward to taking the classes that are specific to the camera systems I am using. I would love to see a class on image processing and getting the most out of editing software. Great Job! Glad I signed up for CreativeLive.

Bev Anne

Excellent course. I was happy to find out that I made a good choice when purchasing my entry level DSLR camera -- it does everything I need at the moment. I was also interested to find out that mirrorless is the wave of the future -- I really like the idea of the light weight because I am developing some arthritis in my wrists and when I am ready to move up in the future I will have great options. Meanwhile I also learned that there is an inexpensive lens that I can get that will upgrade my system enough for the immediate future. Thank you John Greengo for this informative class it was well worth the purchase price.