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How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera

Lesson 3 of 16

Your Needs in a Camera

John Greengo

How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

3. Your Needs in a Camera

Lesson Info

Your Needs in a Camera

So if you want to make a great buying decision, there are two things that you need to know about you need to know about yourself who you are, what you do what's important to yourself and cameras and since you know you and I know cameras between the two of us we should be able to make a smart choice here all right? So let's first talk about you all right? What do your needs? How are you going to be using the camera? What sort of things do you want to be photographing with the camera? No there's lots of different genres that we like to shoot it all right? You see some here that you like and what I'm really asking what I'm asking what are you going to shoot with a camera? Is I'm thinking about the size of your subjects, how close you are to them, what sort of lighting levels you're dealing with and if we're getting into movement and so what I'm thinking about is the challenging subjects of photography the's air things that are hard to photograph, all right, the first subject, what do we h...

ave? We have things that are small, alright, if they're small, we're going to have to use a number of tools to make them larger the next subject are things that are dark black cat in a coal mine at night is really tough to photograph all right, elephants or large throughout the daytime, but they could be really far away so things that air distance, which is kind of the same thing, is small. The fourth category are things that move very quickly, so whether you're going to shoot sports or wildlife or kids running around these things are very, very tough to shoot. So let's take the hardest thing in the world the photograph, the midnight lady buck okay, midnight ladybugs are really, really small, and they're also very scared of humans, so they're very far away and they only come out and they move very, very quickly in the middle of night, and so that would be something that would be really, really challenging to work with. So think about these factors and what you're trying to shoot, because if you have one of these factors that you need to deal with, I would say, not a problem, you could do it. Two of these factors, ok, this is going to be a little bit challenging, but it can be done three of them extremely challenging, you're going to need just the right equipment and right technique. Four of them forget about it isn't gonna happen, it's really, really tough, so for things that are small, how do we address things that are small? Well, we have telephoto lenses which could magnify images we also have close up or macro lenses which are specifically designed for objects that are really really close there is also a number of different types of macro accessories that you can add to the front or the back of the lens to make any linds focus closer what do we do for subjects that are dark well we can address this in multiple ways the first thing is we can use a tripod so we can use slower shutter speeds we might use something called a fast lens which lets in a lot of light we could use a larger sensor we're going to talk a lot more about sensors coming up but larger sensors are better at gathering small amounts of light we can also add a flash to it include our own light onto it so there's a lot of technology and tools that we can throw at each of these problems for subjects that are far away of course we've got these beautiful telephoto lenses there's lots of those out there but you know what we used even more than telephoto lenses we use our legs and effort to actually get closer to our subjects and so a number of different ways to solve that problem for subjects that moved very, very quickly we want to look at the auto focus six system of the camera will talk a lot about auto focus in a special section in this class we want to talk about the lenses how quick are they at focusing and how much light do they let in so that we can stop the action of these subjects that are moving for these having a very good view finder is very helpful because you're trying to track these subjects in the viewfinder and if your viewfinder is blocked out for some reason it's going to be really hard to track without action action is going the next question you need to ask yourself is about how you are going to use your images what are you going to do with them? How are they going to be used now there is really only two ways that you can use your image is you can either put him on a screen which means for instance you're gonna put it on your computer you're going to put him on a website you're going email into somebody you might put him into a film project or on tv for instance which is a screen of different sorts you could also use a projector and you could project it in a movie theater or on a slide show in your living room or something like that and so these air all digital versions of your image the other option is you can put it on paper you could make a small print that you can hand to somebody and they can put in their pocket bag you could put it in a publication or more of a medium sized print or you could make a large framed print and hanging up on the wall so how do you plan on using your photos because what's going to happen is we're going to revisit this when we get into the section on pixels and how many pixels you need to do these sorts of different things but you can just kind of think about this in the back of your mind for right now next well how much do you want to manually control the camera you know, on every camera there is tons of controls that you can do automatically or manual of focus the exposure white balance tons of little different controls and you can have all you can have a bunch of them emanuel in a bunch of them an automatic and in general what I'm trying to ask is how much do you want to learn about photography? Is this your new hobby? Is this what you're going to become a photographer or do you just want a camera to take a few pictures every once in a while because that's going to determine a little bit about what type of camera to get how important is size and weight to you now pretty much all of us like something that smaller and lighter weight it's easier to take with us and so we often say well, portability is very important well how does portability balance with ease of use? Well I like a small camera like this one on the left that's easy to carry around I can throw that in my laptop bag really, really easy but when it comes time to shooting pictures I like a camera with nice easy to use physical controls let me just show you an example let me pick out a couple of cameras here and we'll just go with these two right here and if we can get a shot on the back of these two cameras right here the size of the buttons how easy are they depress the smaller the button the harder they are to press look at this red camera that has five buttons all about the size well smaller than my thumb I mean I can cover him all up with my pinky they're so small and over here on the larger camera each of the buttons is a much easier size and so on a larger camera like this I can actually have it held up to my eye and I confined where these buttons are without even taking the camera away from my eye it's much faster to work with and easier to work with and so when you actually get to shooting it's the big camera you want but it's the getting from a to b is where you want the smaller camera and so you have to kind of balance these two is to figure out how important is one to the other, and this is why most serious photographers choose ah, larger camera like this is because we have nice, easy to work controls on the camera. The size and weight of the camera does not matter not at all, and the reason is because I have never seen someone walking around town with a camera body hanging around their neck like this. At the very least, they're going to have a camera and lance, you gotta look, well, what are the lenses that go with it? And people? I kind of laugh when I tell them the best way to buy a camera, and it it sounds goofy, but people who've been around this for a while know that this is really good advice. The best way to buy a camera is to go over to the bag department and find a bag that you really like, and then go over to the camera counter and figure out what it is in that bag, because it's, the camera bag that you're going to be walking around with for the most part, and so I brought in three different camera bags over here, we're gonna be talking a lot about the different size systems that are out on the market, and so I have three different camera bags, and I am a bag. I love different bags and the little bag here is my micro four thirds camera back. I could take a camera and two or three lenses in here if I have a mirror. Elice micro four thirds camera. Which would be like one of these kid. This this olympus camera right here. It'll fit very nicely uncomfortably in there. The next one up is my medium sized bag, and this is for a p s type camera we take like this nikon d thirty three hundred. We could fit that. And one, two, three lenses in there would work quite nicely if I'm going full frame. Here's a nikon eight ten that's a full frame, bigger camera that's going to fit in here. I can fit that with two or three lenses, depending on the size of the lens. And so which one of these bags do you feel comfortable carrying around now? Obviously the smaller ones, always smaller and lighter weight. That's always nice to have, but can you work with that larger one? Because you can fit a lot more better quality equipment in there. And so bags are really important because they're kind of the final rapping on the whole package and one of the most the biggest mistakes that I see once people have purchased the camera and I always I always get a kick out of this whenever I'd sell somebody a camera would go through probably about twenty minutes on selling the camera and then they'd say, well, I probably need a camera bag and I'd say ok, yeah we got the bag department over there want to go take a look and see if you can find some bags that you like and they'd be gone for thirty minutes they spend more time looking for the bag then they do looking for the camera and if it was nine times out of ten maybe eight times out of ten but more than half the time they would come back to the camera counter they say well, I like this camera bag let's give it a try and I would look at it and I would say that it's too small so their vision of what they want to carry around doesn't match the camera that they bought and so that's why I say get the camera bag first and then we'll figure out what sort of camera can fit in their matching up your expectations versus reality and there is a bag rule I don't know if you guys know about this but there is a rule on bags in the bag rule it's also a house rule so if you buy a house it's the same rule applies whatever beg you get you will fill it up okay every pocket will get fill every land spot we'll get filled and so if you buy a bag like, well, this is much bigger than I expected to really fill up, you will end up filling it up you're like I cut that extra spot, maybe I should get that extra lance and so you will fill the bag that you get it. Unfortunately, we do have tio talk about money from time to time now we're not going to go over a lot of prices because they do change and people are going to be doing this over why a long period of time? So we're not going to get into a lot of specific pricing, but we do have to talk about what can you afford? Because for most people it's not an open and budget where you could just spend as much money as you want, there is a a limited amount of money and you may have your dream camera and the basic camera may seem like a bit of a letdown for you, and so you have to kind of bring this, bring this all together, folks, you might be looking at new cameras and we're going to talk a little bit about use cameras I've bought and sold a lot of news cameras and so I have some tips on dealing with use cameras and you could get some very nice use cameras because the technology advances so quickly these days there's a lot of people who like to be on that bleeding edge of technology as soon as the new item comes out the old item goes down in price and so there are some very good deals out there for people who want a really nice quality cameras I was helping ah lady the other day who had a top of the line camera from canon that sold for about five thousand dollars but it was a few years old and she bought it for eight hundred house no it's a couple of years old and it's not the latest technology, but it was, you know, it's what the photographers were shooting the london olympics with but now it's not nearly worthless much as it used to be. How much can you afford for the camera versus all the accessories? I did mention this before and we need to talk about bags and flashes on tripods and everything else that you need to do the right job. You know, one of the things that you should always have in the budget is if you're going to be using your camera fair bit, you absolutely need a spare battery you should always have two batteries one charge ready to go and you should always have a spare memory card even if you don't think you're going to fill up the memory card because problems happen and sometimes your camera just needs a new memory card in there to make it work right so think about all the accessories and everything and if you live in a place that has taxes how much is the tax is going to cost you because that all has to be paid for ah final question that you need to be asking yourself is about existing gear nikon and cannon have different lens mounts their lenses don't go back and forth in fact cannon has two different types of lenses fitting on two different types of lenses in the same with nikon and in many cases you can't use one on the other in some cases you can use one on the other so you have to learn about the compatibility sony is a little bit confusing these days because they have four different camera systems out that have four different types of lenses that may or may not require adapters to get between them so if you're inheriting your brother your sister's camera or you got a good deal on a camera work you've got to figure out what sort of lenses can you put with it? Fuji lenses are completely different than panasonic panasonic well that happens to be exactly the same as olympus it's part of this four thirds consortium we'll talk about where you can actually share lenses between panasonic and olympus which is kind of a benefit to that particular system but these are all very, very proprietary systems where the flash units the lenses the batteries are all unique to that system there and if you're inheriting a system or you're starting with a hand me down system well that may or may not want to be the direction that you go and so you have to really be thinking long term on this one of the things that I think about when I when we talk about the cameras is sometimes referred to is the ecosystem is you know, the whole life around that camera I often think of it as a whole city you know if you're going you're gonna move tow city of nikon or the city of cannon and you don't go there for a little tiny reasons because there's a lot of things I mean you don't move to a new city because they have a nice bike path I mean that's a nice feature for the city to have but that's not a reason that you're going to move to a city there's a lot of reasons why you're going to go toe one system or the other yeah we're getting a lot of questions that I think will probably answer through the course of through the later in the course basically um but we do have a question if you started with a brand like nikon or cannon would you say best to stay with that brand and just find what works is the grass greener on the other side? That's basically the question. Yeah. You know, I have seen throughout my time in photography people jumping ship changing from cannon to nikon michael into canada, and I would bet that, you know, creative life has probably had, you know, one hundred great pro photographers teach classes here in the last year, just, for instance, you could switch, have them switch systems, and their business is not going to skip a beat because they could make that transition. And so rarely is there one item in nikon or in cannon that would make working with the opposite system just not doable. Now, there's a preference. So I kind of prefer the way this feels and looks and works and that's perfectly fine to have those preferences. And there are a couple of lenses that only one company will have and that's just not enough to switch. I am not a big fan of switching. I I was forced into switching because I took a job. I used system x and I went to a company and I had to use system. Why? Because that was what all the pool equipment that everybody had and they actually gave me a whole bunch of that equipment, so I ended up selling the old, so I ended up doing the switch but at this point now, there's, just no way I want to switch. I got way too much money invested in lenses and accessories that aren't going to work on the other system, and so specifically between nikon and cannon. No, I just laugh when somebody says they're going to switch, their life is going to be so much better when they switch over to this other system. There's. A few rare cases where there's a particular peace or grouping of equipment that will address issues, but through, for most of us, mere mortals. It's not going to make a difference. I've I've actually tried to come up with a list, or even a reason why someone should, by nikon or cannon, why they're better than the other, and there's really, not much to say in that regard, but we're going to get we'll talk more about the brand specifically as we get into him.

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.