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How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera

Lesson 11 of 16

Other Features to Consider when Buying a Camera

John Greengo

How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

11. Other Features to Consider when Buying a Camera

Lesson Info

Other Features to Consider when Buying a Camera

Next we're up to what I call the lightning round ok, so we were kind of diving fairly deep into each of the following for the proceeding subjects this is going to be more off just this is something quickly should know about we're going to move on and we're going to start with file type not one of the more exciting things, but this is the whole j peg versus raw option your camera can record j pegs, which are great for e mailing and sending around on the web, but serious photographers like shooting in raw because it contains all the data from the sensor when you capture the image and its unaltered untempered with and you can get back to it now. One of the downsides is that each camera manufacturer has their own proprietary system for the raw and you need to have the right software and so you're going to have to get the right software with it now the camera comes with software but there's a lot of other software like photo shop and light room that'll do a great job working with many of th...

ose rocks now the way your camera reads raws and j pegs and has you set that is going to be different according to the menu systems in your camera, but you'll be able to shoot different size j pegs and potentially even different size roz you'll also be able to shoot both at the same time and you'll get two pictures every time you take one one is a j peg and one is iraq if you have the right software, you don't need to do that because if you have a raw you can create a j peck if you take a j peg you cannot make a robin you could on ly create a raw in the camera and it just contains all the best information. The best analogy is traditional film cameras the film lee put on the camera we didn't use to look at but we used to create photographs that we did look at and that is essentially the raw in our camera memory cards that go in the camorra or going to record the data very popular card for a long period of time was the compact flash card but systems they're starting to move on to a smaller car this secure digital card which happens to be a little bit less in cost and so we're seeing fewer and fewer cameras that air using the compact flash card you'll of course want to look at the size of the card that will determine how many pictures you get on it if you shoot a lot of sports and action you want to look at the speed of the card because that's going to indicate how fast the camera can transfer data to that memory card and if you shoot video you want to look at the minimum speed because with video, you have a special, unique attribute where the camera is constantly storing data from that video that's being shot, and so you need a card that's a little bit faster with the minimum speed or the continuous speed of it. As you should pictures to the card, you'll have a drive mode option where you can shoot one shot at a time or you could do continuous shooting, which means the camera will continue to firas long as your fingers down on the shed a release. We'll also have other options, like self timers and remote, so that we can get to in here if you do continuous shooting, you need to be aware of the frames per second. How fast is your camera? Most entry level cameras shoot at around three frames per second intermediate more around five frames a second, and some of the top in cameras will shoot around ten frames per second. More frames per second is generally better when you're shooting action because it enables you to capture those split second action peaks of action. Also involved in this is the buffering. This is the number of images that your camera can temporarily store in them before it goes into the memory card for the nikon and you. Cannon users, you can look in your viewfinder and over on the right hand side, the last number on the right hand side is generally the buffer number. How many images can you shoot right now on your camera? So as an example, let's take a camera that shoots at five frames a second and has a ten frame buffer. What happens is you shoot pictures well, for the first two seconds, you shoot five frames per second, but then the camera needs to slow down and process and download the information. And so you kind of want to know how many images can I shoot off very quickly? And this varies tremendously from cameras from five to one hundred, depending on the settings that you have in your camera, and so this will greatly be affected by whether you should raw or j peg images. There's a lot of professional sports photographers that do shoot j pegs because jay pigs are smaller and file size and their buffer is much larger and they'll be able to shoot for more pictures before their camera slows down. This will also be impacted by the size of the images that most people are shooting with their file sizes at the full large setting, and so this will vary from camera to camera. If you do sports photography, look at these stats to see how they stack up all cameras have the ability to adjust the white balance and this is the color of light that you are recording as humans are eyes adjust for the different color lights were under and when we look at a white piece of paper we know it's white no matter what color light we're working under but our cameras don't know this and this is a way for us to tell our cameras what color the lights are that is illuminating the scene in front of us and so we're going to have a number of different settings for the different types of common lighting situations that we're likely to encounter and so if you are getting unusual colors, you would change it with the white balance. A lot of cameras will have additional manual controls where you can go in and set a specific number if you want or you can shoot a photograph of a white sheet of paper and calibrated and then you could also have the camera just simply look at the scene and try to judge what is correct white or not and all cameras are going to have this how good they are varies slightly from camera to camera but I haven't noticed it be a make or break deal when it comes to cameras, but it is one of those controls that you want to have quick access to in adjusting them because it's a cut very common setting the cameras, when they're reading light, have different systems for reading light, and they go by different names multi segment system is a good general system for reading the light nikon calls that matrix standing calls it evaluative, but there's going to be a number of other systems, spot, center waited or other that they use in order to relight. It really depends on how you use your camera. Most photographers I know are using a multi segment meter in system a great percentage of the time, so you're not likely to see much difference with this feature. Some cameras have a built in flash some cameras you have to add on a flash if you want to use it. And so flash, as we mentioned at the very beginning of this talk, is very good for low light situations for potentially stopping action and there's a lot of different ways to use it beyond just an automatic flash that pops up when it's dark and so a number of the cameras and it kind of depends on the level of camera and how good the flash system is in that particular brand as to how many different things, these are just some of the examples that you can do with some of the more sophisticated flashes, for instance. Slow sink allows you to use a very slow shutter speed so that you can blur the background, but use flash to stop your subject in front of you. Second curtain sink synchronizes the curtain with the second curtain closing in front of your sensor and enables you to freeze the motion of your subject right before the shutter ends. Multi flash will fire multiple strobes off and so there's a variety of options that are going to be in the different cameras. I would say foreign away nikon and can have the best flash systems available out there. And so if you were going to be a way wedding photographer and you had a lot of flash systems that you wanted to set up, canon and nikon are going to have the most number of options in the most advanced systems out there, there is going to be a sink speed on all cameras. This is the fastest shutter speed that you can use flash, and if you use a lot of flash photography, then you're going to want the fastest think that you get can get so that you can use the white ist range of shutter speeds possible. In most cases, the variance is it that much it's, usually between one hundred twenty fifth of a second in one two fiftieth of a second, but those who do a lot of portrait photography with flash value a camera that goes up to two hundred or two hundred fiftieth of a second on pretty much all the cameras out there, especially the ones that we brought in here, you can add a flash on if you want, there will be small, relatively inexpensive flashes to add some more light compared to the built in flash. I often recommend people looking first at the intermediate level flashes thes they're going to offer quite a bit more power the ability to bounce the light off of nearby white walls and ceilings. And if you were going to get into this professionally, you're shooting a lot of event photography. There are the higher in flashes, which are again more powerful, and they also have special effects modes that you can get into for very creative effects. And so if you do want to use one of these add ons, they are going to give you more power. They're going to give you the bounce capability, which will give you better lighting options the distance from the lenses further, and you're going to end up with a better quality light. There is a very poor image quality from built in flashes and it's, because the flashes so close to the lens and there's nothing you going to do about it if you have a small compact camera. And finally, there's a lot of just special features. One of the options that a number of cameras have is a remote flash often options so you can mount a camera over someplace and you khun b wirelessly from that flash, having it trigger figuring out all the math and how much light you need and so some very cool options out there. A lot of those are with canon and nikon and that's part about having a long tradition in photography. Being in business for quite some time. They've built up a really good flyer system on all of the sl ours and of course, on the marylise cameras, you can view the image on the back of the camera. This is what we generally call live view. You're getting a live view of what your sensors sees through your lens. There will be a button on your back. Your camera that often turns is on or off, and this could be a very convenient mode for getting a better angle of view, especially the cameras that have a flip out screen. The problem is, is that many of the esa lars do not focus nearly as quickly in this regard, and if you like to use your camera in this way for a variety of reasons, for instance, if you were into underwater photography, you would need to have your camera in a housing and it's very hard to put your eye up to the viewfinder and so you need to view it on the back of the camera and having the camera that works well in live you and focus as well would be very important in that situation we had a question earlier about stabilization you confined stabilization either on the lens or the camera a lot of companies have gone with it on the lens nikon has their own name for it called vibration reduction cannon is called image stabilization they essentially do the same thing there's a gyro that configure out your movement and it balances out encounter acts your movements now fuji wanted to up cannon so rather than just image stabilization they have optical image stabilization and panasonic wanted to one up them so they have mega optical image stabilization, different names they all do the same thing. Some camera companies have gone the other route and put stabilization in the body and what they do is they move the sensor ever so slightly to stabilize the image which system is better? Well, the lens stabilization system is it is better in the sense that it is customized to the individual lens you're using the stabilization that you need for three hundred millimeter lands and twenty four millimeter lands are very different the ones in the body are really nice to have because no matter what lends you put on you have stabilization even if it's a manual focus lens and so with cameras that have led stabilization there's going to be a lot of lenses that you might mount on your camera that do not have that option so it's an option built into the lens that you kind of have to buy with each lands, so I can't really say that one is overall better than the other, but it is a feature that I very much like to have on camera, and I generally leave turned on and allows me to shoot several steps lower in shutter speed than I would normally be able to shoot, which means I can shoot in darker situations thanks to this technology, a feature that is being employed on more and more new cameras is the wifi ability for you to see and download what your camera sees right onto your smartphone, tablet or even computer, and so some of these options will allow you to go in and control your shutter speeds your apertures in your eye cells on some cameras, you can do it, but you have to add in a little device that might cost you fifty or one hundred dollars. And so if you want to make immediate uploads of what you're shooting with your slr, this is a way to get it from your camera to your phone, you know, I think the manufacturers they got a little bit of ground to cover here. These systems are a little bit clunky and getting them activated. Sometimes you have to go back and forth and then they lose connection that you got to go back and and so it's still a little bit fussy in my regard for doing this, but it could be really handy for getting the camera in unusual situations and viewing it and shooting right in your phone. A few cameras have gps and this is gonna look room give you the location that you shot the picture, which is kind of cool, it'll show you even on a map. This is how light room will show it to, you know, bring up a google map, show you exactly where when you should I shot that picture, how many pictures you shot, what altitude you were at and as much technology I love and I love going out on adventures of hikes and bike rides. A lot of people think I would love gps and I have a problem with gps and that is it uses a lot of battery power and when you're out far away, where you kind of want to record these data points that's when you can least afford running out of battery power and so it's one of those luxuries that you may not want to turn on all the time and so this is going to be important for a few people, but not a lot of people. More and more cameras, as I say, are getting more and more specialized, and they're trying to become mohr customized to the way that you want himto work. And one of the ways that the cameras do this is with what are called function buttons, these air buttons that you get to a choose what the function of that button is. Many of the cameras out there today will now have six orm or function buttons that you can re program from the factory setting default. And so if you want your white balance on function number six, you can put it there. If you want to drive mode there, you can put it there. How about image quality there's a lot of things that you can customize so that they're quick and easy for you to work with, and you don't have to dive into the menu system and dig around in the menu system to make those changes. So the more of these, the easier there to find and locate all the better. Pretty much all cameras have custom functions and these air ways for you to dive into the menu system. To really customize the camera the way you want it to work, how long does this menu stay on? Does this work in third stops or half stops? Do you want this thing to be or not deep in theirs dozens of other choices some cameras will have as many as fifty different custom functions in the camera controlling things that you could turn on or off. The software that runs your camera is called firmware, and from time to time the manufacturers make small updates in the firm where they might fix a spelling error they might make a change and improve the software. They might even add a new feature into the camera, and so from time to time, you can check back at your manufacturer's website to see what the current firm where is for your camera and you could upload new software and give yourself new features. I know they've actually improve the performance of some of my cameras ah feature that used to be considered a professional feature is depth of field preview and what it is is it's a little button and when you press that button, it stops the lands down to its working aperture to show you the amount of depth of field you're going to get, let me do it again and you press the button, you'll see that the come on let's press that button there we go you'll see the lens stop down on left over other right, we get more depth of field just for us to see in the viewfinder now this used to be a big deal back in the days of film when you didn't know how much depth of field you would get until you took the picture. Nowadays with digital, this isn't really completely necessary because you could just shoot a picture and review it on the back of the camera. However, this still helps out when it's too bright to view the image on the back of the camera. And so with an slr it's really nice to have this on bright, sunny days if you're trying to shoot a landscape shot with everything in focus, aa lot of cameras will use development modes when you shoot j peg pictures, when you shoot raw, you get very, very neutral colors in the development modes the camera may go through and adjust the contrast saturation vibrance of your particular photograph, you could even shoot black and white if you want, it changes the look of your images, and this is personal preference on how you want it to look, and so what it is adjusting, sharpening color saturation, in contrast, so this is the modern day equivalent of buying either kodak, konica or fuji film. How do you want your images to look many serious photographers wanted shot raw, which is in a neutral tone that they will then adjust later on their computer. There is a number of ways that the camera will jump in and start adjusting your photos I call it photo shop in the camera. One of the things that many cameras will do is a shadow recovery where it tries to lighten up the shadow so you can see more information in there and it's kind of nice but I don't really like it because I don't want it done on all the photographs and it's something that you can do later if you have the right software and you know what you're doing, which is it too much to ask. Many cameras will have a vignette ing problem, which means a darkening of the corners you'll notice the image on the left has darker corners and this is because that lens let's in more light in the middle of the frame and this way pretty much all lenses work especially fast aperture lenses. The camera manufacturers know how bad their lenses are vignette ing and can automatically fix it in camera and so one of the options it's not a make or break feature in a camera but it's something that is very, very common. Some lenses, especially wide angle lenses have a little bit of distortion and the manufacturers can automatically fix this digitally in camera which is kind of cool because most people don't like distortion in their images and it's very common as I say on a wide angle lens is another problem with a lot of lenses is chromatic aberration the exact definition of this pretty easy actually it's color ghostie chromatic aberration and when you shoot a subject that has a bright background, you'll see these colored halo lines around dark objects and your camera knows how bad your lenses are at this now this is something that you can fix in post if you want but you can have it done in camera as well. Now any of these image correction ones that I've been talking about if you shoot in raw they do not apply they will only apply to jpeg images and most of the cameras will do it these days if you are shooting in the aperture or center or program mode, you're going to be able to do exposure compensation and this is basically where you lighten up your images or you darken it so if you take a picture and you go, I think they'd be better lighter or maybe darker it allows you to selectively change that exposure. Many cameras will have a bracketing mode and this is the same as the modi just talked about but this is where the camera does it automatically for you so it'll shoot through a series of pictures underexposed and over exposed some cameras will do three frames, some will do five, some will do seven in some room, some will do up to nine, and for some photographers, this is a really important feature, and they want a camera that shoots a lot of frames doing this, and so you want to look at how many frames willett bracket by and what are the increments doesn't do it in third stops or one stops, and if that fits the needs that you have, most people are not doing this nearly as much as they used to, because digital cameras are so much easier determine correct exposure when you're out in the field. And so photographers used to do this with film simply because we didn't know how the film was exactly going to come out, and so I don't use this very much, and even though I do a lot of landscape photography, I rarely will use this, but it does come in handy from time to time, a term that you will hear frequently when you get to flash his t t l it stands for through the lens flash and what it is is it's measuring the light coming through the lens of your camera to determine how much flash output to help many cameras when shooting people will overexpose because they don't understand we're shooting ah subject that has a mix of light and dark pse and it's not sure exactly where that balance point is and so you can take your flash in the most common thing that I recommend is to power it down slightly and so having a cat, a camera that you could do flash exposure compensation is important if you're going to do a lot of people photography with flash hdr stands for high dynamic range it's often employed in situations that are a very high contrast so bright sun and shadows and so you can see in this image here the original image the area in the background is completely blown out. It is too bright in the high dynamic range meld different cameras will work it slightly differently, but in this case, what it's trying to do in the three different modes is it's trying toe shoot several photos and combine those photos to create one photo that is the correct exposure and I'm not a big fan of in camera hdr it doesn't seem toe work really good on any of the cameras that I've tried. If you simply just take a raw image and adjust it yourself, it seems like you're able to do more with it than the in camera systems that I've seen so far, and so if you are into shooting hdr high dynamic range photography, usually you'll just shoot a bracket of pictures and then you software to put all those together and so the in camera ones it's more of a gimmicky thing right now, and I wouldn't put a lot of credibility into it. One of my favorite things to do is to shoot a time lapse siri's and I set my camera to shoot a picture of maybe every ten seconds for maybe twenty or thirty minutes, and then I will turn it into a video. There are some cameras that allow you to shoot all these pictures in camera and programming in cameras. Some will require an external cable release. Some cameras will combine all of them into a video that you can simply play writing your camera, and they don't let you keep the individual images and so here's a time lapse that I shot just a few months ago, and this is down at mount hood in oregon. Now the movement of the camera was with a slider had the camera in a motorized slider and that's kind of a whole separate accessory we're not going to get into, but time lapses could be a lot of fun. We haven't talked much about video, a lot of people like video, and if you really like video, I recommend getting a video camera, but if you want to, you can shoot video in your slr. Poor marylise camera if you do want to do this there's some things you're going to want to look at and it dives in kind of toe a whole different field of photography and so first off you want to look at the resolution most cameras will shoot in full hd f h d nineteen twenty by ten eighty pixels we're starting to see some cameras that shoot in the ultra hd or four k format, but there's very few and far between there's a lot of people who want to shoot this not so much for the fact that we have four k tvs right now, but that we will in the future and this also gives them ability to crop in for shooting an hd quality video. You want to look at the frame rate, there are different types of frame rates used for different types of photography. Your normal tv viewing at least here in the united states is done at thirty frames per second, and pretty much all the camera manufacturers have a thirty frame option. Hollywood shoots a lot of their movies at twenty four, and some people like to shoot fast at sixty for either fast action or so that they can slow it down and do slow mo afterwards, the file format there's different formats that you're going to be using in this and this is kind of like the jpeg format currently, none of the cameras are shooting raw in these type of vessel ours, you're going to shoot a compressed format that's throwing away a little bit of the data, and so that file format is fairly important to people who shoot video. There are different compression standards, which tell you how much information they are throwing out. You might want to look at the compression type they're using. There are some that include more information that's better for editing, some that throw out more information in order to save file size. The bit rate is talking about how big the files are that you're going to get from a minute or ten seconds of shooting there's different systems set up for the north american tv system or the european system. And so you want to make sure that your camera can handle this the location you're in. Chances are if it's being sold in your country, it's going to work on your tvs? One of the keys to great videos is having very good audio, nothing more irritating than really bad sound. And so you want to look to whether your camera has a mono or stereo mike. To me, the difference really isn't that big a deal it's getting an external mike, which you're going to need jacks to plug into your camera if you really want to get better quality sound how well does your camera focus? Generally the mirror lis cameras do a better job focusing in the video mode, then the slr and it's just because the sl ours are not designed for that there's a couple of notable exceptions in the cannon lineup, but for the most part the muralist cameras were really good in that regard. You also want to look at the max recording time, which could be anywhere from ten to thirty minutes. One of the reasons why they don't make great camp quarters is that you have a limited time there and there is an effect called the rolling shutter and this happens is if you move the camera from side to side it's not capturing all the information in all the pixels at the same time and things that are straight up lines tend to end up looking a little bit curved if you go back and forth and so they don't tend to be as good with what they would call a whip pan as you move around quite a bed. And so there are areas where these cameras make for superb video cameras, but because they're not designed from the get go being a video camera, they do have a lot of shortcomings, but uh I find it really handy now I don't have to bring two devices with me if I want to shoot a little bit of video one question that just came in. What are the notable exceptions in canada? In the cannon lineup for video focusing, so can it introduced a new type of sensor that uses a dual pixel. That is better at focusing when it's in live you it's on the seventy d in a seven d mark to god.

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.