Better photographers create better images.
During the recent Canon Roadshow I really pushed the point about how beginner and amateur photographers should not chase gear. In todays world it seems that one’s photographic skill is directly proportional to the capabilities and specifications of their camera. Well, its just not true. Rather than being so fixated on chasing the latest and greatest gear with a hope that it will somehow miraculously improve your photographic skill, I propose that it would be better for you to chase knowledge and experience.
I was recently asked if I would be keen to test out the new entry level DSLR from Canon, the 1200D. Now, one may be forgiven for thinking that I would be less than enthusiastic to leave behind the likes of the 5D III and 1DX and head out with an entry level DSLR in my hands. Quite the opposite really, I was only too thrilled!
Not only would this give me an opportunity to be the first to test out the new equipment but it would afford me the opportunity to take some of my own advice to heart and illustrate how a decent image captured on an entry level camera can be so much more appealing than an average image captured on the best camera gear available.
Which of these images do you prefer?
Both images are of one of Africa’s most charismatic species but somehow there is more of a story and far more energy in the second image than in the first. Do you agree?
The first image was taken with a Canon 1 DX in the Masai Mara during last years great migration safaris and the second was taken with a Canon 1200D in the Nambiti Private Game Reserve during my most recent wildlife photography course.
What makes the second image more interesting is the way that it was captured. The vision behind the image. The story it tells. The technique and skill required to execute the shot.
When we scroll through social timelines riddled with average documentary type images, or page through an African Coffee table book, what makes us stop and linger on a particular image? Is the first thing that comes to mind the question of what camera body was used or how the image was captured? Hopefully you are lingering and being compelled to look at an image because of the content, composition and story and not the impulse to uncover the brand or model of camera used to capture the scene.
That being said, there are a number of benefits that users of professional bodies and lenses will pick up on and appreciate but, these will not necessarily improve their photography if they don’t fully understand how to use and maximise the benefits. Some of these benefits include:
- The location of controls
- The variety of controls
- The ability to assign custom functions
- AF methods, modes and customisation
- Frame Rate
- Sensor type and size
- Image Resolution
- Battery life
[space height=”5″] And the list go’s on and on.
One of the major differences between the entry level and pro DSLR’s is frame rate and this is something that is talked about ad nauseum. Yes the canon 1DX can shoot at 12 frames per second and the Canon 1200D can only shoot at 3 frames per second. Does this mean that you wont be able to get decent images of birds in flight with a 1200D?
No. It simply means that you will have to be more selective of when you use your 3 frames per second. I am in no way disputing the fact that the additional frame rate can be a massive benefit in the field but I would rather an amateur user focussed on spending time developing their photographic eye and understanding the principles of photography before they start to spend money on the latest and greatest camera body.
Now, I have a slight confession to make. The images taken on the 1200D shared in this post were captured in combination with the Canon 70-200mm F2.8 lens. This is without a doubt one of the finest pieces of glass any wildlife photographer can own and raises another point. If you are going to spend money on equipment, spend it on good quality lenses.
Professional lenses will not only improve the sharpness and clarity of the images you capture regardless of the camera body (when used correctly) but will also hold their value and depreciate far less than a camera body.
The take home message?
Stop fixating on that new camera body that you want so badly. Start focussing on improving your photographic skills with what you have and then start to look at professional lenses.
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