Look Who POP’d in! It’s Edwin Watson!
My friend, my photographer & full opinions! Let’s dive in!
My name is Edwin Watson, and I am a commercial and fashion photographer located in Dallas. Leaha and I have a history that goes back many many years, long before we were ever photographers. The other day we were discussing the various things we get asked as professional photographers, and though our specialties differ greatly, several themes were overlapping, but one in particular was identical:
“I want to buy a ‘good’ camera, what dslr should I buy?”
My reply? Don’t.
This question comes from friends, family and clients alike, over and over… and my answer is always the same… DO NOT buy a dslr. Yes, I know this is an unexpected reply, and shocking to many, but I have 3 very good reasons for it… quality, cost and convenience.
First, image quality.
Just because a camera is a dslr does not mean it takes better photos. As a matter of fact, in the hands of a layperson, the opposite is quite often the case. Now, I know this runs counter to what you have been told, the marketing push, and even logic. Just because I, as a professional, use a dslr, doesn’t mean it’s a “better” camera for every situation and every person. It is a different tool, and a much more complicated one.
The fact is, that straight out of the camera, a good point and shoot or a camera with a “mirrorless” system will take a better picture almost invariably. Unlike the dslr, these cameras are equipped with in camera processing that is designed to aid the average consumer and help them take better photos. These things include red eye removal tools, processing that brightens up certain tones, such as sky blues and landscape greens, making the photos more vivid and appealing… automatically. With a dslr, these things must be done in post, or after the photo is taken and during the “development” process in a computer program such as Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.
The reason a trained professional photographer uses a dslr and can end up with a better photograph is because they know how to manipulate all the settings on the camera manually to get one result, knowing that in post processing (Photoshop/Lightroom) it can be further manipulated to get a desired end result. Straight out of camera, many professional photographers images will look comparatively shabby, or even terrible. Greens will look desaturated, blues will look flat, and people will look either really ruddy or bluish.
This knowledge of work flow and the understanding of the camera and the development process takes an immense amount of training and experience, and is not something you can walk into, and expect even near similar results with the same equipment. Even for the professional, this is a lifelong process… a state of constant and consistent learning.
Unless you are willing to spend significant amounts of time and brainpower learning not only your camera in detail, but processing programs like Photoshop, and are wanting to dedicate yourself to the art of photography, DO NOT buy a dslr.
Though it is true that DSLRs have come down in price significantly and you no longer need to spend $5000+ to get a decent camera body, they are still in the $700-1000 range at the lower end. While more affordable to the masses, this is still a big chunk of change for anyone, especially if you are just taking photos for fun, of friends and family or even while traveling.
For half that cost, you can buy a point and shoot or ‘mirror less’ camera that can hold its own against the lower end of the slur market, and as a matter of fact, even some that take images of the exact same digital quality. There are several non-dslr cameras that have the same sensors and number of mega pixels as the lower end dslrs.
In addition, buying the camera body is only the beginning… the lenses are a whole different story, and buying those can run into the thousands of dollars. THOUSANDS.
When I go on vacation, the camera I take is a little point and shoot. The last thing I want to do is lug around that huge camera (which incidentally also announces to thieves that I am a good mark). Also, instead of the prep time it takes to get a decent photo with a dslr, even when taken quickly, the difference of 10, 30 or even 60 seconds between the camera types can add up, be an inconvenience or even mean that a moment is gone and a shot missed. Unless I am sitting there, camera at the ready, expecting a moment… having my dslr guarantees I miss the shot. In those instances, I usually reach for my phone rather than my dslr.
Cameras I recommend people look at? There are TONS. These are some I have personally used and liked. Keep in mind, this is only my opinion and you should do your own research, but it should be a good starting point.
The Pentax WG-3 is a great little camera for $250. Its waterproof, shockproof, dustproof and freeze proof. The sensor is the same as you would get in the lower end dslrs, so the image quality is fantastic.
The Olympus SP-810UZ is a fantastic camera that can be found for around $150-200 these days. It has a massive 36x optical zoom, 24mm wide-angle view and 14 mega pixel resolution, plus 720p video. The in camera processing on this camera is really impressive, especially for landscapes and outdoors. Greens are nice and vivid and skies are wonderful.
The Nikon 1 is a compact little camera with a “mirrorless” system, good fast focus, great image quality, compact as all get out… and for those that MUST have their lenses; it does have interchangeable lenses as well. You can pick these up for somewhere around $300-350 to start.
And if you have to drop a grand to feel like you are buying a real camera, check out the Sony NEX line of MILCs (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras). They are impressive! Period.
Anyway, hope that helps answer questions… so unless you really want to be PROFESSIONAL and are willing to STUDY, please don’t buy a DSLR. Please.
WOWZA, did that make you think twice? What a fabulous guest blogger! Edwin is amazingly talented in his field. I feel honored he took a moment to address this huge question! This is the most asked question for POPography. Although, dslr cameras are what you see in most people’s hands- that doesn’t mean it’s the best camera for you. Honestly, I am looking into buy one of these cameras for myself! I hate having my 5d Mark iii on my hip while running around the city or with my family. It’s expensive, bulky and my main source of income. Probably not the smartest idea. Plus, I always feel like I’m working when its around my neck. So, for photographers, moms, amateurs, or wanna be camera owners- RESEARCH! There are so many options out there to give you amazing photos.
Thank you Edwin Watson Photography for offering your opinion and advice. Your work is AH-mazing and we look forward to following you!
EDWIN WATSON PHOTOGRAPHY
Copyright Edwin Watson Photography
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