Wednesday, May 23, 2012

seeking camera advice

The time is coming....

I've held out with using a point and shoot camera for a long time now.  I've always believed that when you get started with any kind of photography, there is no reason to run right out and buy a high end camera.  I still believe this.  However, during this past year, I feel like I have completely maxed out what I can do with my point and shoot and that my photography is stagnating.  I'm just not sure what else I can learn about point and shoot photography with the camera that I have that will significantly improve my shooting.  I could invest in a higher end point and shoot, but if I'm going to upgrade, I feel like I should go all the way and finally jump into this venture with both feet.

With that being said, I am still in the very early stages of research of DSLR cameras and accessories.  I'm looking for tips for both camera bodies and equipment.  Here are my thoughts thus far.
  • Camera body: Almost everyone I know who does similar shooting to me (lots of photos for blogs, product photography for an online shop, article photography, and/or some recreational/family shooting) has some type of Canon Rebel.  I have been very pleased with my Canon PowerShot and am inclined to stick with Canon.  If you own a Canon Rebel, I'm interested in: 1) your opinion of it and 2) whether you think it would be a good fit for me.  If you don't but own another body that you think would be a good fit, let me know.  I'm not too concerned about specific models at this point, as I most likely won't be making a purchase for another 6 months and there will be new ones available at that point.
  • Lens(es): I'm sure it's not a surprise that my biggest focus with photography is macro photography.  I've heard mixed reviews about the body/lens packages that some web sites and stores offer and would like opinions on that.  Share any and all information that you have about your favorite lenses, particularly those that you use for macro shooting.
  • Camera bag: I know that a lot of women photographers love Jo Totes and Cheeky Lime.  I really don't want anything that large.  Period.  If you have something smaller that you love, do share. Something in a cool color and/or handmade is nice, but a classic black Canon bag is just fine, too.
  • Camera strap: I understand the importance of having a comfortable strap and don't mind spending a little more to get a high quality, comfortable strap.  Do you have one that you really like?  I'm all ears.
  • Memory card:  You can laugh at me, but I'm currently using a single 4GB memory card.  Honestly it has been plenty of space for everything that I do on a weekly basis.  Now that Jake is almost done with intern year and will be getting his life back this summer, we will be taking more trips again, and it would be nice to have some more memory space.  We have some reward dollars at Best Buy right now so I may decide to upgrade my card within the next month.  I've heard varying opinions about different brands and sizes and am not sure if there's any truth there is to it, particularly for those of us who are not professional photographers.
  • Photoshop: I seriously have no idea what my hang up is with Photoshop is because I obviously am pretty fearless when it comes to learning new things on the computer.  Even the basic Photoshop terminology overwhelms me so I've just avoided it until this point.  I feel like part of making this photography jump includes finally buying and learning Photoshop.  Do you have any favorite beginner Photoshop books and/or web sites?  I know that there are tons of tutorial sites out there that will be helpful, but for now I'm looking for something that teaches the basics really well.
Is there anything obvious that I'm missing here?  Don't be afraid to let me know.  Thanks in advance for your feedback on this topic!


  1. I found a book at the thrift store: "Sams Teach Yourself Adobe Photoshop 6 in 24 Hours. $25 new, $7.50 written inside, my price 50 cents, excellent condition."

    Also, look at , a powerful free program (donation requested)that looks similar to PS to me.

    I still use point and shoot so good luck with your camera upgrade decision. I've used Arcsoft PhotoStudio for years, and had downloaded recently through recommendation of a web developer associate. But someone gave me a hard drive and it has PhotoShop 5 on it so I'm working with it now instead of I still use PhotoStudio too, for quick editing while I'm learning PhotoShop.

  2. I am going to have to go with my first choice...Nikon <3
    I've always been a Nikon girl and you can get a real nice digi slr to semi-auto for a fair price. For most people, it is a matter of brand. I wouldn't be caught dead holding a Canon, but then again, I have been holding Nikon's since the 1980's! My whole family, including uncles, are Nikon people tho. My husband argues that the Canons are good cameras....then again, he drives a Ford...I drive a Jeep. Ford vs. Jeep....Canon vs. Nikon. Ha! Anyway, my current camera is a Nikon D3000, purchased at Walmart for $400 last fall.

    As for photo software, don't waste your money on adobe. Well, actually, If I could afford it I would have it, but I can't. I use Corel PaintShop Pro X4. I upgrade when they get new updates at $20 to $40 a year. You can buy it new for $59. The good news, it does just about all that Adobe does. At least everything you would want for shooting product. But it really does have a lot of useful features, even for artsy photography. I have been using Corel for 5 years now and simply can't live without it! Plus, you don't need to take an adult ed course or a college course to learn ow to use it!

    There you have my opinion...good luck and let us know how you make out!

  3. I don't have a Rebel, but I agree that Canon is an awesome brand.
    And I love my Photoshop Elements. I've never felt like I needed the expensive full-blown version of Photoshop. It's easy to learn and makes life so much easier :)
    And if you have any questions, you know who to ask :)

    1. I agree on the Photoshop Elements. I've been pretty satisfied with this version, too.

  4. I have a Canon Rebel Eos. I've had it for quite some time and have loved it from day one. I'm thinking of upgrading to a new version soon, but for now, mine is working fine. You'll have to decide if you will be a Canon or a Nikon girl. Like stated earlier, you're either one or the other. :-) They are both nice cameras.

    I do have to say that Canon's customer service is out of this world. I broke the camera 6 months after I got it (complete stupidity on my behalf). I brought it to the local camera shop and they told me that I might as well buy a new camera. The camera was only 6 months old. So I called up Canon and they fixed it for free. And then when FedEx lost the camera and let it get wet, Canon fixed it again for free. No questions asked. They even paid for shipping. And they are a joy to talk to on the phone.

    I have a standard lens right now, but I would recommend a macro lens. I'll look up which lenses were recommended to me from my photography friend. I plan on getting one this year.

    I made my own camera strap, look on pinterest if you need some patterns. I know there are a lot of really great etsy store's that also have really cute ones. But you will need one. The standard one they give you is awful.

    I have the full adobe suite, but it's not really needed. If you don't want to spend any money try GIMP. It's a free version that is the most like photoshop. All my computer friends recommended it to me. And there are a great number of tutorials on the interwebs that will show you how to use it (or photoshop). I just learned by doing.

    And I will also recommend a remote shutter. You can pick one up for pretty cheap on amazon (this is also where I got my camera) and they are worth every penny.

    Happy camera hunting and if I think of anything else I'll let you know.

  5. I have been thinking of upgrading as well, Rose!
    I've been reading all the above comments - great
    advice to be found here. I'll need to bookmark this
    for when the time comes... :)

  6. I just upgraded to a bridge camera - a Canon Powershot SX40 HS. I considered going all the way and getting a Rebel, but the extra money was just too daunting. Next time I upgrade (or when I get an actual job), I'll probably take the plunge. The advice from the previous posters sounds very good. I'll be interested to find out which one you go with.

  7. The camera I use is a Canon 60D, and I taught myself how to use Photoshop. I think knowing the basics' on Photoshop really helps the images--even if you have a high end camera like the 60D. I took a photography 101 class to learn how to use the manual settings on the canon 60D, and simply used the automatic settings until I really knew how to work with manual settings. Also, about Photoshop, it does seem a little scary at first, but you can find a lot of helpful videos on Youtube that help beginners :-D

  8. I'm going to be upgrading soon too. I don't have any suggestions other than Daisy and Harley's mom had a Canon Rebel and it took fabulous photos. She just recently got a new camera but I don't know what it is.

  9. My husband works at a camera shop that specializes in digital bodies and lenses. While we don't use a Rebel, but after test driving the Reble, the G10 and a few others we settled on the Cannon G12 which is almost a DSLR, but a bit more compact, more affordable, and it has all the manual controls on the body of the camera which is an amazing feature. I use this camera to take all of my blog shots and shop shots as well as artistic photoshoots and it really is so incredibly versatile. If you'd like to know some specifics on some of the other Cannon's such as the Rebel as well as lens advice, I am sure my husband wont mind popping by your blog.

    Hillery stopping by from Etsy Blog Team

  10. I've always used Nikon and will probably never use anything else. As far as Nikon/Canon camera bodies go I think they are basically the same but I've always heard that the Nikkor lenses are superior optics. I've got both a D90 and a D200 body now and all of the lenses I own work well on both.

    I also use some other lenses, like Sigma. Last year I picked up a Tokina 100mm Macro lens, my first experience with Tokina, and I love that. I also bought a super high-end Sigma 50-500mm zoom lens that's awesome for wildlife.

    For software I primarily use something called Paint Shop Pro. It was originally available as freeware, many moons ago, and I just got used to it and eventually bought a copy. I have not upgraded in ages though since the version I have seems to do everything I need. I also have a copy of Photoshop Elements that I use on occasion and also some software from Nikon (Capture NX 2) that is specific to the raw format from their cameras. I think the full blown version of Photoshop is overkill for most people... and very expensive at that. Most of the time your going to be adjusting contrast and brightness and maybe diddling around withe color balance or saturation levels a little.

    Something you might consider over the standard DLSR are the new interchangeable-lens cameras (ILC). They are about the same size as compact point-and-shoot cameras but have the advantage of being able to swap the lenses. And the lenses are smaller than standard DSLR lenses as well. I would only do it if size is really a concern since the big advantage of DSLR lenses is having more glass. A big lens gathers more light which does a lot for you and means the camera itself has to do less.

  11. I'm sorry I can't be of help; I too am a photoshopless point-and-shooter. But I will say that I've downloaded the free program gimp and it seems pretty similar to photoshop. It's tough at first, and you can't do everything like photoshop, but it's a good program if you aren't quite ready to commit.

  12. when I bought my dslr I bought a sony mainly because of the price (it was on sale at the time) I only use it for my own entertainment and couldn't see spending more. As for the rest I don't know enough about it to give an opinion other than maybe for photoshop. I use photoshop elements and honestly, unless you are a professional photographer I can't see any need to purchase the full blown version. There is a lot you can do with elements (more than some people realize) As for books I found most of them to be confusing until you understand the basic. I have How to cheat in photoshop elements. I liked that one. I learned mostly from online tutorials and lots and lots of experimenting

  13. I have a cannon rebel T2i and I love it to pieces. I use the lens that came with it for close up photos and I think it works pretty well. I use the camera for everyday photos for the blog, my vlog I did, and product photos. When I don't feel like editing photos in photoshop I use picmonkey. It's a free online editing website.

  14. I can definitely relate to you! I was using a Canon Powershot for a long time (still use it some), but I finally took the plunge and got a Canon Rebel t3i at Christmas, and I LOVE it. I just have the kit lens it comes with, but a macro lens will definitely be the next thing I buy (or ask for for Christmas?). I can get good macro shots with what I have, but I can't get as close as I want to and end up cropping to get the composition that I want. I didn't buy a different strap either, but a strap COVER from adivaand3dudesdesign on etsy. I like it a lot. I'm still scared of Photoshop, so I can't help there. I've been putting off learning it, but I definitely need to. Good luck!

  15. I am also a Nikon girl, that being said my brother loves his Cannon T2i and my Mom is getting a Sony Alpha. It all depends how it feels when you hold it.
    As for straps I am loving my wrist strap instead of the normal neckstrap.
    I also love Amy Katherine bags. I bought one of hers and then added this to the inside you could do this for any bag you find and like.
    Go with a pro level memory card and you will be good there.
    Good luck on the search

  16. I use a Nikon D5000, so I don't think I can offer you too much advice about canons, since I've always used Nikon.

    As for lenses: I would strongly suggest investing in a 200 lens if possible. Macro lenses are nice but the range with them is limited. For closeups & product photography I always use my 200 and it works great. To give you some idea: this was shot with my 200, and this was shot with my macro. The difference is that the flower shot with the macro is much smaller, and the range of focus is extremely limited. For extreme closeups of very small objects - the macro is great, but for general up-close photos, the 200 is better.

    Honestly, despite doing a lot of photography - I am completely out of the loop in terms of technical aspects. I hope to change that soon with a photography class but in general I am sort of driving blind here haha.

  17. I know lots of people who like the Canons - and I have a Nikon. Just stick with a brand known to have both good cameras and good service. Darren of the fame also has a great camera blog with tons of info on everything camera.
    Go for the PhotoShop! If I can use it, anyone can ;-) I have CS2 now, but would like to upgrade. Can't quite justify the cost, though, as CS2 is working fine for me.
    Have fun!


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