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Old Feb 10, 2010, 12:59 PM   #1
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Default Best advice on Steves Forums about buying a camera !

rjseeney
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"Rather than pixel peeping a lenses (or a camera *) finest details, the focus for most consumers is learning proper shooting technique (both in handling and and using the right settings for each situation). With lack of knowledge and poor technique, even a $5000 lens (or camera *) will yield poor results."

* added by me.
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Old Feb 10, 2010, 1:11 PM   #2
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That's very good advise. In most cases, the shooter's skill is going to be the limiting factor, not the gear they're using.

Now, in some conditions, you're going to need better gear (for example, don't expect to use a dim kit lens for capturing moving subjects indoors without a flash). But, in typical shooting conditions, unless you're "pixel peeping" at 100% viewing size (versus typical print or web posting sizes), it's going to be very hard to tell the difference between many cameras and lenses, once you "tweak" the camera settings for similar processing.
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Old Feb 10, 2010, 2:08 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
... In most cases, the shooter's skill is going to be the limiting factor, not the gear they're using. ...
I prefer to think that matching the skill to the gear, and vice versa, is a more appropriate tack. A great photographer can get good photos out of a Barbie digital camera, and a rank amatuer can get poor results from a top-of-the-line dSLR with the best lenses, but they would both be better served if they swapped.
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Old Feb 10, 2010, 3:09 PM   #4
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For amateurs the equipment you own is often determined by your income rather than your skill levels. There is nothing wrong with this.

Buy the best you can reasonably afford and do the best you can with it, secure in the knowledge that even entry-level equipment today is better than much of the equipment that was available to many of the world's greatest photographers.

One advantage to buying the best equipment you can afford is that you cannot blame your poor results on equipment - only on your lack of ability.

For some of course it's far more about cameras and lenses than actually taking pictures. Once again there is nothing wrong with this. Why should collecting cameras be any less of a worthwhile pasttime than collecting stamps?

If you have any doubt that wonderful images can be made with just about any equipment sign up at 1x.com and browse, but of course you will see that good photographers usually do own higher-end equipment - this of course should not be surprising.
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Old Feb 10, 2010, 4:39 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by peripatetic View Post
One advantage to buying the best equipment you can afford is that you cannot blame your poor results on equipment - only on your lack of ability.
It never stopped anybody before.
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Old Feb 10, 2010, 5:03 PM   #6
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Thank you for the complement. I frequent several forums (although this is the only one I regularly post on), and see more questions about what camera or lens is better, (especially from beginners), and splitting hairs over test charts when in reality learning about photography is the most important task.

Quote:
I prefer to think that matching the skill to the gear, and vice versa, is a more appropriate tack. A great photographer can get good photos out of a Barbie digital camera, and a rank amatuer can get poor results from a top-of-the-line dSLR with the best lenses, but they would both be better served if they swapped.
I agree with this to, but as Peripatetic mentioned, often the equipment you buy is decided by your budget. I'm sure there are many very good photographers who simply cannot afford the best (or even very good) equipment. I like to shoot indoor sports, but I can't afford a D3s or a 70-200 f2.8. I make do with a D300 and even sometimes a D5k with a sigma 50-150 for less than 1/2 the price and get pretty good results. Sure the top of the line stuff would help, but it just isn't possible. Sometimes you just have to make do with what you have, and that means you need good technique to have a chance.
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Old Feb 12, 2010, 12:51 AM   #7
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I once read a post by someone on a non-photo board who wanted to replace her camera. When asked what it was about her old camera she didn't like, she listed a number of things that sounded more like either her technique, or else that she was asking too much from what she had (compact point and shoot shooting blurry pictures in low light, faces too light and background too dark with a flash etc.). I suggested a few things to see if her trouble was with a faulty camera or with her technique, but she wasn't interested in that - she only wanted to get a new camera to fix her problems. She posted a bit later that her new camera wasn't much better than her old one - she was thinking of returning it for something else. She still didn't recognize that she needed to learn a bit about photography to get good pictures, no matter what camera she used.
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Old Feb 12, 2010, 7:43 AM   #8
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Some good advice from rjseeney and mtngal. Especially relevant when people are looking at DSLRs. For whatever reason a number of people expect a DSLR to be a magic point-and-shoot camera. That it will make every shot a great shot. Of course that's marketing for you too. As the saying goes "a fool with a tool is still a fool"
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Old Feb 12, 2010, 8:14 AM   #9
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You all make very good points. As someone who has been using a compact point and shoot camera and thinking about the possibiility of adding something a little "more" or at least supplementary, I have been reading many posts on different forums from people who are trying to decide between superzooms, Micro 4/3 systems and DSLRs.

In fairness to some of those who seem to expect the DSLR to be some sort of magic bullet, in addition to the marketing hype, there is an awful lot of misinformation or incomplete information on the internet (there is very good information too, but one needs to look for it and know it when they see/hear it) . There are any number of people in various forums who respond to every post the same way -- "get a DSLR, it is light years ahead of anything else in image quality and they all have auto modes for beginners." While, of course there is some truth there, I think many people walk away expecting that a DSLR is just a big point and shoot that will give them better pictures in all situations and more features if they want them. That's what they want to hear, so they believe it and are often very dissapointed when their pictures don't look like all of the professional shots they see in magazines right out of the box.

As you all know, one size does not fit all.

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Old Feb 12, 2010, 9:22 AM   #10
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Attitude is also a pivotal issue. When you are open to new challenges, techniques and equipment, you are open to learning and getting the best out of new and more complex equipment.

Attitude and openness provide the road to photographic growth and the honing of skills.

Sarah Joyce
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