Tag Archives: buying

Things to Consider When Choosing Your Camera

I think this is all of them
Creative Commons License photo credit: xdjio

This article has been submitted by Neil Austin, a digital photography enthusiast who writes on digital photography for his blog: www.DigitalWeddingGuide.com. He mainly writes about wedding photography. If you are a wedding photographer looking for you first camera then make sure you read this article on how to choose a wedding photography camera.

If you are into serious photography, then you have to take into consideration many things when selecting the type of equipment and gadgets to purchase. It does not matter whether you are going into photography as a hobby or as a profession. There are important things that you have to include in the general equation for the determination of the type of photography equipment and gadgets that you will have to invest in.

P&S VS DSLR

PS vs DSLR

When you are going for your foundation equipment, you have to decide if you are going for a Point and Shoot (P&S) or the more expensive Digital-Single Lens Reflex cameras. Your final choice will be based on your budget as well as your requirements and needs. Digital-Single Lens Reflex (dSLR) cameras are the better choice for those who have higher demands from their advanced photography. These are the type of modern cameras which are generally have wider functionality and are versatile in terms of the shooting conditions and controls. It comes with a wide range of features and provides the base equipment for future upgrades in the form of add-ons and accessories.

The dSLR is the camera of choice when it comes to action shots, nature and wildlife photography. It is also the appropriate type of camera when doing portraiture and people photography. On the other hand, Point and Shoot (P&S) cameras are the direct opposite of dSLRs. The main advantage of this type of camera is that they are extremely light and compact making them the better choice for those who put premium on convenience and ease of handling. They also come with the basic features that are normally required for day-to-day photography work as well as other photography requirements on the personal level. The major limitation of this type of cameras is that you will not be able to make any lens changes and their built-in flashes are limited in their range of capabilities.

CONSIDERATIONS ON RESOLUTION

Resolution

There is a wide range of resolution that is provided by dSLR from a low 3.4 megapixels to as high as 16.7 megapixels. There are even some high-end dSLRs whose over resolutions are higher than 16.7 megapixels. It is important to note that not all dSLR produce the same results for the same level of resolution. There are some dSLR cameras that can deliver better shots even with lower resolutions mainly because of the presence of a high-performance and more advanced sensor. The bottom-line is to assess the maximum level of megapixels that you will require in your photography work and settle for the type or model that meets this specification. Higher resolution dSLR does always mean better dSLR cameras especially if you are able to get the shots you like with a lower resolution dSLRs.

DSLR

UPGRADING YOUR DSLR

With the fast paced development and advancement in the field of technology, you will have to keep pace with the emergence of newer and more modern gadgets and add-ons for your dSLRs. The digital format is admittedly the platform on which all upgrades will be based. If you are serious about keeping pace with the advances in the digital photography technology, then you may have to replace your dSLR camera with a newer model every 18 months! However, it is worse in the case of Point and Shoot types of cameras as you may be forced to buy a new unit every six months.

ADDING DSLR ACCESSORIES

Accessories

Most dSLRs are bit heavy and unwieldy compared to the Point and Shoot cameras and you have to seriously take this into consideration when you are choosing the right dSLRs which would suit your needs and preference. You might need models that have a fairly large battery packs and all other add-ons, this will make things really heavier on the side. Don’t forget to consider the size of the lenses that you will need in your photo shoots using a dSLR camera. Once you include all these items, then you really have to consider buying a really large camera bag.

If you have an old camera with lenses and accessories, you may consider purchasing a newer model that can accommodate the lenses and accessories. The compatibility of existing lenses and other accessories can serve as a major motivation in picking out a specific model of dSLR camera.

ESSENTIAL FEATURES OF A DSLR CAMERA

DSLR Features

After you have considered the basic features of your digital camera, you can now assess all the other features which you might consider in your ideal digital camera. Though these might not be an immediate necessity in your present circumstances, you may have to look beyond the present and identify the functionalities which you would like your dSLR to have in the future.

  • Burst-Mode Functionality – This is the feature that you must have to consider when you are looking at action or motion shots. This gives you the capability of shooting a series of frames from an unfolding action.
  • Vibra-Proof Feature – This is a feature that you would like to have to give you fairly good shots while you are in motion. Though this may be an optional feature that spells the comparative advantage of one model from the rest of the units of dSLR, some would find this feature as a basic requirement especially when you are making shots while in motion.
  • ISO Rating Range – You also have to consider the ISO rating of your camera especially when you are looking at high speed shots and close portrait and people photography.
  • Digital Connectivity – With the convergence of digital based gadgets and equipments, you also must have to consider the connectivity of your dSLR camera with your computer and other photo-enhancing equipment. This would provide you with more functionality in creating high quality photo shoots with a wide range of use.
  • Review Mode and Review Features – You also have to decide on the size of the LCD panel of your dSLR. You need to assess the functionality that you will require for an on-spot review and assessment of shots. If you require detailed assessment of shots, then you have to consider larger LCD panel with brighter and sharper images.
  • Shutter Speed Range – This is another feature that you have to assess especially when you are into the more advanced photography. This has direct bearing on the kind of lenses and the ISO settings that you want in your dSLR.

About The Author

Neil Austin likes to write on topic of digital wedding photography. His focus is mainly on providing tips and articles for beginner photographers who are just entering into this amazing field of digital weddings. You can read more of his work and articles at digital wedding guide.

eBay Camera Buyers Beware

1 pound of fury
Creative Commons License photo credit: jj look

I’ve had a decently positive buying experience on eBay when it comes to old cameras. I’ve purchased six cameras and four of them arrived in great condition just as the seller stated. But I was disappointed with two of them.

In both cases, the seller stated “Camera is in good working condition. Now generally, if I see that I’ll assume that the camera is operational in every aspect and that I won’t have to pull it apart to fix it. But I guess the phrase “good working condition” is open to interpretation.

The first camera had a screwed up rangefinder with sticky joints and a half-silvered mirror with far less than half the silver left on it. I got the sticky joints fixed, but the half-silvered mirror is probably worth more than what I paid for the camera — so now it’s a nice little viewfinder camera that has to be used at f/16 to ensure focus.

The second camera (which I just received in the mail) was in far worse shape. The latch mechanism for the film compartment door is totally beefed up. It holds the door closed as long as you don’t touch the camera. And the viewfinder… well, it’s more than a little foggy. Oh yeah, and the focusing ring feels like it’s running on sandpaper. So I’ll be pulling this one apart to see what I can do with it. But, for a $10 camera I’m not too disappointed — I just wish the seller’s description was a little better.

The point of my whole rant: “good working condition” on eBay doesn’t always mean that the camera is in good working condition. Many times, the people selling the camera know nothing about cameras so they really wouldn’t know the difference. Anybody else have bad experiences with eBay camera purchases? Do share.

Your Guide to Buying Old Film Cameras

Linhof Mob
Creative Commons License photo credit: Voxphoto

With the boom in digital cameras, used film equipment has been dropping in price and increasing in availability. Many people switch over to digital and decide to get rid of their old film stuff that they’ll probably never use again. This is good news for anybody wanting to get into film — cameras and lenses are insanely cheap (though, not the ones shown in this first photo!).

The cheap old film cameras are fun to use and great to experiment with. If you currently use a digital camera with all the bells and whistles, I’d suggest looking into a fully manual film camera from the 50′s, 60′s, or 70′s. There’s a huge selection of these cameras out there, and most of them are still in great working condition.

Here are some things to think about when looking for a new used camera. And for additional reading on the topic, check out Antonio Marques’ 5 Tips for Acquiring Old Cameras.

FIGURING OUT WHAT YOU WANT

Before you start looking for that old film camera, you should probably have an idea of what you’re looking for. There are so many cameras out there, and you could end up wandering aimlessly if you don’t have any notion of what you’re after. Here are three ways that you can use to help you define what you’re looking for.

The Minolta Collection
Creative Commons License photo credit: auer1816

One way to start refining your selection is to choose a type of camera. Maybe you want an SLR, or a rangefinder, or a TLR, or maybe a box camera. Find something that interests you and meets your needs. Be aware of camera types that require removable lenses, and be aware of the type of film they use. Some film formats are no longer offered, extremely hard to find, or very expensive.

Another way to narrow your search is by selecting a film format. Be sure you choose a film that you can actually buy or one that can be re-spooled from a standard film. You’ll have a wide selection of cameras if you stick with the 135 format, or 35mm film. But maybe you want to jump into medium format and find something that takes the common 120 format. If you want to know what’s readily available, visit your local camera shop or film store and see what they have.

And yet another method of refining your selection is by brand, or camera manufacturer. If you’re a brand loyalist like me (I love Minoltas), you’ll limit your searches and avoid comparing across brands. But beware, there are a ton of old camera manufacturers out there, so this may not be the best method of selection unless you feel very strongly about one in particular.

Oh, and one last thing… figure out what you’re willing to pay for the camera BEFORE you start looking at them. If you want to keep it under $50, keep it under $50. Going into a camera purchase without a budget is a bad idea no matter what kind of camera you’re buying.

DOING YOUR RESEARCH

Ideas
Creative Commons License photo credit: louder

Once you’ve figured out your direction, start looking around the web and do some research. Wikipedia and Camerapedia are good places to do general research on cameras. Look around on the sites that sell the cameras and get a feel for the price and condition of the cameras. During this process, you may end up selecting a particular model that you’re interested in, or you might even change your mind from your original intentions.

Search around for reviews, follow threads in forums, and basically dig up anything you can on your camera. The more you know about it, the better you’ll be able to interact with sellers. If you go into a camera purchase not knowing the basics of how it works or the features it has, you won’t know what to ask or what to look for.

THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Different cameras will have different things to watch out for, but some things are similar across all cameras. I’m talking about spotting problems and avoiding bad equipment and sellers. Ultimately, what you’re after is a working camera at a fair price. Here are some things to look out for while scoping your equipment.

Watch out for prices out of the ordinary. You ought to have a feel for the going price on your camera — if you see one that’s priced too high, you might want to keep looking. Likewise, if you see something that’s listed way too low, there’s a good chance that the seller isn’t trustworthy or there’s something wrong with the camera.

Make sure everything is in working order. Some sellers don’t know the camera as well as they should — I recently bought a rangefinder “in working condition” and it showed up with a broken rangefinder mechanism! That sort of thing is kind of important. You’ll also want to make sure that things like the shutter, aperture blades, and film winder are working properly. Try to get a feel for the condition of the glass, and ask about scratches, dust, and fungus. Old camera bodies are pretty tough and scratches won’t do any harm, but watch out for cameras that are terribly beat up.

When was the camera last used? If it was recent and the seller is stating that it’s in working condition, then it’s likely that the camera will be fine. If the camera hasn’t been used in decades or if the seller is selling for a friend or relative, I’d be cautious. Old cameras will keep working for quite a while as long as they’re maintained and used often. If they sit in the closet for too long, things will start to rust and stick.

Cameras are sold for parts. Make sure you read the description for the camera you’re buying — some cameras are sold with the statement that they do not work and they could be used for repair or replacement parts. Don’t assume that all cameras for sale are in working order.

WHERE TO FIND FILM CAMERAS

There are plenty of places out there to buy used cameras. Here are a few that I’ve come across.

  • EBAY
    Most of my film cameras came from eBay. The selection is great, prices are low, but the risk is slightly higher than other avenues. On eBay, it’s important to predefine your spending limit and don’t let yourself get caught up in bidding wars. It’s also important to fully read the product descriptions and ask the seller questions if anything is unclear.
    See eBay Film Cameras Under $50
  • B&H PHOTO VIDEO
    B&H is a great store to buy new photo equipment and they’re a highly trusted source in the industry. They also offer used equipment and they have a collection of old film cameras to browse through. The selection is smaller than that of eBay, but the equipment is tested and inspected by B&H before it’s offered for sale.
    Take a Look at the B&H Used Gear
  • ADORAMA
    Adorama is another highly trusted source of photography equipment, and they also offer used equipment for sale. Again, items listed can be trusted to work more than those coming from eBay. They also have a nice little article on bargain-hunting in the film camera department — a nice little guide to the different types of film cameras you can find there.
    Browse Through Adorama’s Used Cameras
  • GOOGLE PRODUCT SEARCH
    Google does it all… even shopping online. If you can’t find what you’re looking for at other specific sources, you might give this a try and see where it points you. The nice thing about it is that you can set a price range in your search criteria so you have less crud to weed out.
    See Film Cameras from Google Product Search
  • OZ CAMERA
    An avid film photographer I know turned me on to this site. John Cooper from Australia runs it as a hobbyist collector, but many of the cameras found there are also for sale. He’s got a very nice collection of some obscure cameras that you won’t readily find elsewhere. It’s best to go in there knowing which brand you’re after.
    See the Goods At OzCamera
  • BLACK MARKET ANTIQUES
    I just recently found this online antique shop which is based out of Pennsylvania (go figure). They also have some really interesting finds, and most of the stuff is quite old. The prices are ridiculously low, so it’s definitely worth a browse.
    Check Out the Oldies at Black Market Antiques
  • ANTIQUE SHOPS
    If you live in an area with antique shops, go check them out and see if they have any cameras. Ask them if they typically get cameras, and you might even have them give you a call when new stuff arrives.
  • SWAP MEETS
    If buying old cameras online isn’t your thing, check out the local swap meets and flea markets. Sometimes you’ll encounter people with massive collections of cameras, and sometimes you’ll find hidden gems amongst the other stuff. The nice thing about this method of buying is that you can tinker with the camera and try to determine if things are in working order.
  • FAMILY
    It seems like everybody who grew up in the film-era has at least one old film camera lying around. Sometimes you never know until you ask them! My dad gave me his old SLR, my grandfather pulled out a pristine Canon AE-1 and an old Polaroid camera the other day, and my Mother-in-Law still has her Kodak Instamatic 44. So ask around and you might be able to resurrect and old film camera at little or no cost!

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR CAMERA


Creative Commons License photo credit: 油姬

Once you get your camera and you determine that everything works properly, go have some fun! Use it, and use it often. Take it out without bringing any digital cameras along. The best way to kill your film focus is to bring a digital camera along “just in case” you need it or something. Once you learn how to use it efficiently, you might even prefer it over your shiny new digital camera.

Keep it clean and store it in a place away from moisture or extreme temperatures. Letting these old metal cameras sit for too long can cause them to freeze up. Hi-tech materials weren’t as readily available in the 1950′s as they are today, so your camera parts will be more prone to damage and decay… which is probably why they’re built like tanks.

Experiment with different films. This is the great thing about film — you can totally change what your camera produces just by changing the film. There’s more to black & white film that just black & white. You get to play with things like differences in grain, contrast, and other features of appearance. Color films are great too — they all have a different look and feel, and different cameras will produce different results on the same films. Throw in some slide film and have it cross processed — you’ll get some really interesting results.

If you put the time and effort into selecting and buying your old film camera, you’ll be more than pleased with your choice. You could end up with a camera that’s much older than you are, and it will probably outlast your digital camera by many years.

Link Roundup 05-24-2008

Here’s a funny video on “Art”. Best part – “print making” – I totally didn’t get it until the very end. I’m such a goober.