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Equipment pt.2


What to take or what not to take, that is the question!

(Part 2)

So, following on from last time, let’s first look at the Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera. If you are really serious about getting into photography, then really, you should be looking at one of these. As I mentioned, the brand you choose is up to you, they all do basically the same thing.

The first thing to consider is sensor size. You will find full frame sensors and cropped (smaller) sensors. Full frame cameras tend to be more expensive, cropped sensor cameras generally cheaper. A ‘full frame’ sensor means that the sensor is the same size as a 35mm film negative, so lenses will be true to the focal length of that lens. E.g. a 50mm lens on a full frame sensor camera will give you a 50mm angle of view, as it would on a 35mm film camera. Many cameras have a smaller sensor, such as; APS-H, APS-C, Micro Four Thirds, and several others, they are mostly similar. If your camera has a smaller sensor, it will change the angle of view of any lens you use, so then a 50mm lens on an APS-C sensor camera would be more like 85mm. A smaller sensor will generally extend the focal length of a lens and give a narrower field of view. You can, of course, get lenses designed specifically for small sensor cameras too, but if you use a lens designed for a full frame camera, the range will be extended.

So, why the difference? Well, a smaller sensor means a smaller and lighter camera. Additionally, extending the focal length of your lens can be very useful if you like wildlife photography. A 600mm telephoto lens will become a (roughly) 720mm lens, giving you better reach. By the same token, if you prefer wide angles for landscape, then you lose some of your angle of view with a smaller sensor.

These days, another option is a ‘mirrorless’ camera. In a DSLR camera, the light enters through the lens, and the camera has an angled mirror to deflect the light up to the viewfinder, so, this is an optical viewfinder, looking through the lens with the aid of an angled mirror. When you click the shutter, the mirror lifts up as the shutter opens, exposing the sensor to the light, and then it lowers again. By removing the mirror, you can make the camera body smaller and lighter, but you lose the optical view finder. In a mirrorless camera, the viewfinder is a digital image, which may take some getting used to. Another modern ‘plus’ is connectivity. Most mirrorless cameras offer wi-fi connection to get your shots onto social media super quick! So, the advantage is smaller and lighter cameras and wi-fi connection,  the down side is worse battery life as the camera is powering the viewfinder too and some may not like the digital viewfinder. They tend to be more expensive too!

What we have discussed here is mainly the camera body, you then need to add a lens or several lenses. For landscapes most likely you will want a wide angle lens, and for things like wildlife photography, a telephoto lens, and then there are many special use lenses such as macro. There are hundreds of options so we will leave lens choice for another time. Keep in mind, if you want more detail, there are masses of articles out there and all I am doing here is giving a brief overview.

On the other end of the scale from your DSLR’s are campact cameras and smart phones. Compact cameras are basically your point and shoot type camera and these are rapidly going out of fashion now with the onset of cameras in smart phones. Given the choice, I’d use my phone camera these days over a compact camera and for mainly social media use, a phone camera will be ideal.

If you want something in between a DSLR with all the lenses, and the simplicity of your phone camera or compact, then there is the bridge camera, and there are some really excellent bridge cameras available. A bridge camera comes with a fixed zoom lens so no additional lenses to buy, usually mirrorless, and usually with a very long zoom reach. They are quite small, (most have smaller sensors), and can be very easy to use and give great versatility. Newer ones also have wi-fi connctivity too. The extreme zoom means they are good for wide angle landscapes and also for wildlife and birds! They are light and compact too so easy to travel with if you don’t want to take your big heavy lenses when you go out, and you can get a lot of fuctionality at relatively little cost. My wife uses one to great effect!

Obviously, in an overview article like this, its impossible to give all the details you may need, but as you see, there’s lots of choice out there when it comes to equipment but  don’t forget the most important things:

  1. The best camera is the one you have with you!
  2. Above everything, enjoy what you do!

Roy Frankland ARPS

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