When to Upgrade your Camera
So you’re loving your DSLR, be it Canon, Nikon, Sony, or whatever makes your heart flutter and inner camera geek emerge. You’ve been snapping away when you’re out with family, friends, and pets and feel like you’re stuck in a rut. Maybe you think the only way to improve your photography is to upgrade your camera. A more expensive camera with more a greater dynamic range or graduating from crop sensor to full frame. But before you do that, try a couple different things first.
Do you shoot with only auto settings?
Portrait, sports, landscape modes have their purposes; maybe you’re on the go and don’t have the time to evaluate the scene to set your own settings. Being in full control of your equipment can greatly improve your photographs, but how would you do that? Practice, lots of practice with the exposure triangle (learn more about the exposure triangle). There will be a lot of photos with horrible exposure and then there will be a time when you look at a scene and automatically know what settings would make your photo exactly what you want.
Do you still have the kit lens?
Kit lens, what’s a kit lens you may ask. It’s the lens that came with your camera. Kit lens work great, but if that’s the only one you use think about investing in a prime lens. I would recommend a prime lens, because you can have the aperture wide open and have the beautiful bokeh (blurred background) with a sharp subject. Looks into all the different focal lengths for prime lens, personally I have the Canon 85mm 1.8 (why I chose this lens), but even something as simple as the nifty fifty would be awesome.
What time of day do you shoot?
Believe it or not, but the time of day and weather can really affect the look and quality of your photos. If you shoot in the middle of the day, the sun is high in the sky and shadows are really harsh. You know when you squint your eyes because of the bright sun? Yeah, it’s not ideal for your eyes and your camera to flatter your subject, unless that’s the vibe you’re going for. Well, you probably have heard of Golden Hour, and it’s truly golden and amazing. It’s within the two hours after sunrise and before sunset; the soft golden light is super flattering and you can create some beautiful backlit photos (how I set up my backlit photos). If you aren’t able to photograph during the golden hour, look for soft, even shade during the midday sun and set the exposure for the shade even if you have to overexpose the sunny background. And something else you can do is wait for an overcast day, the clouds softening the sun is like a giant soft box, creating soft shadows and flattering light.
So, if you’re still thinking of upgrading your camera, I would recommend that you have mastered the exposure triangle in manual, have fast glass (wide aperture range in a lens), understand the lighting for locations and subjects, or else you might be a little disappointed that your new, expensive camera isn’t taking amazing pictures for you. It’s because you create the images, the camera just captures your creativity.
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Artist, Photographer & Educator