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Thread: Total Beginner here!

  1. #1

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    Total Beginner here!

    Hi guys,

    I've been wanting to post here since I joined, but I've been really busy so I've been a bit delayed.

    Anyway, where do i start!

    I was talking to a friend who does photography, and it really seems like something i want to pursue, It'll get me out the house, doing things and being creative!
    There are a lot of fields and landscape that look amazing here, and also a lot of lovely buildings. I'd also want to take photos of friends and family when we're out and about, and maybe at some point look in to portrait photos and things like that. I thought i would say a few of the things i would like to take photos of as i know this effects what lenses i should get

    Firstly, I've been thinking about the practicality of taking photos,
    I use an electric wheelchair and have very weak arms and hands.
    however, i was thinking of attaching a tripod (which my dad would modify to fit properly) to my wheelchair. So the camera would be about my chest height, maybe slightly higher.This would save me holding the camera (which i would find difficult, especially trying to take a clear image without shake). And i could use the pan and tilt to get the angles i want - albeit limited to some degree.

    Obviously this is all ideas in my head so far, but would you think that this would be the way forward for me using a camera?

    Secondly I used to have a camera (not a dslr, or one i could change lenses on)
    however, the battery compartment has broken, it's about 5 years old and I think getting a camera with changeable lenses would be the way forward for someone wanting to get in to photography.

    So, the question is, if I'm getting a new camera, what should i get, and what lenses.
    I am a complete novice as to camera's and lenses, so I'm sorry if i say any stupid things that aren't right!

    I've heard as far as megapixels go, once you get over 7-8mp that the improvement isn't hugely noticeable. This might be wrong, as anything i say at the moment, so i would appreciate correcting if i talk rubbish!

    As for the camera, I don't really know what to look for, in terms of spec, but I've heard that the canon eos 500d and 550d are good. For budget, depending on lens costs and stuff, I'd say 500-550 for the camera body (is that the right term?). Any advice would be really helpful!

    For the lenses, i really don't have much of a clue,
    for big shots like landscapes i imagine i would need a wide angle lens?
    and i don't know what kind of lens i would need for general shots,
    and I'm guessing i would need some sort of zoom lens?

    Also, I've read some of the tutorials on here, are there any specifically you would suggest for a beginner?

    So, i hope i haven't bored you all to death with my rambling and questions!
    Basically, I think photography will be good for me and fun too, so i'm willing to put in the time and effort to truly enjoy it. Any advice and guidance will be appreciated massively

    Thanks for your time

    Andy

  2. #2
    jiro's Avatar
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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Andy, a big welcome to you here at CiC. I admire your enthusiasm about photography.

    If I may suggest, I'd probably recommend this small pocket cameras that has the same 'capabilities' or features found in DSLR's like the Canon S95, the Canon Poweshot G12, Panasonic Lumix, or the Nikon P7000. Since it has a built-in zoom lens, it would be a versatile camera for you to use, not to mention that it is much lighter than a typical DSLR. Wait for other members to see your post and I'm pretty sure they will share their ideas to you soon. Good luck!

  3. #3
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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Welcome aboard and you certainly have not bored us. We are here to share our enjoyment of photography and to help others enjoy it also.

    After I retired from the U.S. Navy and from professional photography (my arthritis prevented me from being agile enough to continue shooting weddings or news), I received a Master of Science Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from San Diego State University. I especially enjoyed assisting persons with disabilities to be able to make adaptations which would make their everyday life easier.

    IMO, photography is a wonderful pursuit which could provide you both relaxation and enjoyment. Your idea of attaching the camera to your wheelchair certainly is the way to go. However, IMO, a tripod is not the way to attach the camera to the wheelchair.

    Here is a link to a unit which could be what you need. http://rollingfstop.blogspot.com/200...otography.html

    I am not sure of the cost of this unit. However, if your dad is handy, he might be able to fabricate a unit for you based somewhat on this design.

    I can only advise you regarding Canon products. As far as cameras go, either a top-line point and shoot camera would be the way to go or, possibly a DSLR. The quality of imagery from virtually any DSLR camera from the Canon 350D (Rebel XT) or Canon 20D on would be just fine. I would play with the Rebel (series) camera and also play with the x0D (20D to 60D) cameras and see which type suits you best. The major differences between these cameras which would concern you are the control systems (and of course price). There are other differences such as weight with the P&S being the lightest followed by the xx0D and then the x0D models. However, once the camera is mounted on your camera support, the weight should not make a great difference.

    I shoot with older 30D and 40D Canon cameras. The 40D is the first of the x0D cameras with live-view and I am quite satisfied with the image quality from either camera. The 40D and 50D cameras have three user selected modes which might be of benefit to you. Using these modes, you can preregister the parameters with which you desire to shoot and then select the parameter groupings with a simple turn of the mode dial. The 60D reduced the User Selected Modes to a single one. I don't believe that the xx0D cameras incorporate the user selected mode functions. However, you could always use the basic modes but, these preclude shooting in RAW. I don't know which type of camera would be easier for you to use.

    I am wondering however if looking through an optical viewfinder might be problematic since you would have to keep your eye close to the viewfinder. A camera which allows live-view shooting might be the way to go. Delkin supplies hoods that shade the LCD screen and make live-view shooting in bright light easier http://www.delkin.com/products/popupshades/. However, a hood can easily be fabricated from cardboard or foam-board which will do the job just as well or better.

    As far as lenses go, I would recommend a zoom with an extended focal range such as 18-200mm. The reason I would recommend this type of lens is that you could virtually shoot any image without needing to switch lenses. Switching lenses might or might not be problematic for you.

    Perhaps a larger memory card might be what you need so that you would be able to shoot a large number of images without needing to switch cards. Inserting and removing cards requires some amount of manual dexterity.

    Depending on your dexterity and hand strength, a remote release might just be a better way to trigger your camera.

    You might also do a Google search using the parameters "wheelchair photography". You will get a plethora of hits, some of which convey good ideas. Good luck with your new avocation. I hope that it offers you many hours of enjoyment.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 26th January 2011 at 04:40 PM.

  4. #4
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Hi Andy,

    Welcome to the CiC forums from me too, great to have you join us.

    Your use of the terminology was fine by the way.

    I am going to come at this from the other direction and ask what you intend to do with the images?
    The reason I ask is because taking the picture is only half the process of digital photography, I wonder (as you haven't mentioned it), have you allowed for the editing process? Is the result to be an online gallery, as many have, and perhaps printing?

    I am guessing you have a computer, but you will need some photo editing software too, there are some free options, we have several members using them, something called GIMP is probably the most popular. Then there are commercial packages, with Adobe (Elements, Lightroom and Photoshop CS5), being the market leader. The advantage of going this route is support available. Maybe you already have something.

    I am sure you will be just as capable of producing good images whichever you go with though.

    Another area where you could excel is still life or mini studio (on a table top) environment, but perhaps I'm stating the obvious (sorry).

    I am interested in how you get on; I have a brother in law who, due to a stroke, is in a wheelchair and he used to do some photography, unfortunately his 'recovery' has been very slow, with many setbacks. It would be nice to learn how he could get back into that at some level. Getting a camera (capable of single arm operation) attached to his chair is a first step. So I will also be investigating the ideas that come up here.

    Best regards,

  5. #5

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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Wow, thanks for the replies guys!

    Jiro: Do you recommend the pocket cameras as they are lighter - and If i could get a suitable stand/support would you recommend a dslr?

    Richard: As far as changing lenses and memory cards etc, My dad would help me with things like that whiles i was out taking photos, so that shouldn't be too big an issue.

    The link you gave for a device to hold the camera is great, and i've shown it to my dad, so we're now working out how to make it work!

    Thanks so much for the advice!

    Dave: That's a great question!
    I think i'd like to have a digital type gallery, and to print photos I like lots too, But also to take photos of family and friends whiles we're out and about, at a birthday perhaps, and to give them the photos too.

    But I would also be interested in digitally manipulating them to improve what they look like and maybe get in to that side of things too. I saw some hdr photos, and i think doing things like that could be cool, as well as lots of other things. I have used photoshop cs2 ( a long time ago now) so i know how photoshop works, to some degree. I've heard of gimp but never used it - although from what i hear, it's highly rated!

    So, the first thing i need to do is make a device to hold the camera - which should hopefully be simple enough!

    And i need to figure out what camera and lenses to get too.

    I can go and look at some cameras in the flesh this weekend i think.

    So far, I think from Richards reply, i'm quite safe with the canons i mentioned and he mentioned. Is there any more advice on those cameras or other cameras not mentioned? I don't think weight or size is much of an issue, so any ideas or guidance is appreciated

    thanks for your time

    andy

  6. #6
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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Hello, Andy. Knowing now that size and weight is not an issue to you, your initial idea about the canon dslr's are actually right on the money. Good luck on your selection!

  7. #7

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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Hey,

    Ok, So I just mentioned a few things over facebook (so not in any detail atall)
    about the cameras i was thinking of (eos 450,500,550d) to one of my friends who does photography and he said that with the 550d i can't do the white balance by kelvin number.
    will this cause a big problem for me, as i really have no idea what that really would mean.

    and he mentioned getting second hand lenses that are just as good as canons?

    sorry for all the questions

  8. #8
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Quote Originally Posted by scoped View Post
    ~ one of my friends who does photography and he said that with the 550d i can't do the white balance by kelvin number.
    will this cause a big problem for me, as i really have no idea what that really would mean.
    Hi Andy,

    No, that won't be a problem because;
    a) you are very unlikely to ever want to do that on a camera (how would you know what to set it to?)
    b) for good quality, you will need to shoot RAW and post process with software and with that combination, you can always set the white balance (WB) if necessary, even by Kelvin number.

    Quote Originally Posted by scoped View Post
    and he mentioned getting second hand lenses that are just as good as canons?
    He may have meant "third party" if he said "just as good as Canons", what he means is lenses made by Tamron, Sigma and others, these can be bought to fit Canon (or Nikon or Sony) cameras. Personally, I do not believe the majority of third party lenses are as good as Nikon (or Canon) lenses. They are cheaper, but I have lost faith and now steer clear of them, having been disappointed twice in my life, I'd rather pay more and have one that is better, fortunately I can afford to, but I accept many cannot.

    True second hand (Canon) lenses will also be cheaper, but you may get sold one that has been damaged in some way.

    Cheers,

  9. #9
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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Welcome Andy! Good to have you here. Looks like these guys have pointed you in a good direction. So I will just say, I look forward to seeing some photos!

  10. #10
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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Andy,

    The other guys have a lot more experience than me but I will offer a little bit that may help.

    I own a Canon 60D which has a swivel out LCD screen more similar to a handheld camcorder than a DSLR camera. I have found this helps when I am taking photos at an awkward angle or point of view. I can see the correlation to your situation in this. Other cameras would need you to look directly though the line of the camera to see the image you want (whether that is through the viewfinder or screen). The swivel screen would help you with a lot more flexibility between your viewing angle and camera angle.

    On the budget side, it is a little more expensive that the entry level cameras though and that is a downside. In terms of image quality, I believe there isn't much different so I guess it comes down to whether the swivel would really help.


    Regards,

    Peter

  11. #11
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Hi again Andy,

    Peter's point about the swivel LCD is a good one, I got a D5000 for that feature and it could well help you too.

    However, the AF using the D5000's LiveView is very slow and pretty poor, so I won't recommend it to you (the normal focusing is ace though). Another range you might want to consider are the Panasonic G series, we have members here with them, as second cameras mainly, but I think they'd agree that there's no reason why it should be a first camera choice on quality grounds, the 4/3 system is good enough, although two things to consider are;
    a) compared to Canon, a lack of affordable lens choice
    b) the smaller sensor (crop factor of 2) gives more DoF (depth of field) when sometimes, we want less.

    Cheers,

  12. #12

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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Hi Andy,
    Welcome to the site. I'm still trying to improve and this site is great for that !
    As well as the Canon dSLRs you mentioned and the high end compacts what about looking at bridge cameras ? There are pros and cons to these compared to a dSLR but may be more suitable for your situation, especially the 'superzooms' compared here -

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/Q110superzoomgroup/

    I think some of them may have a swivel screen which may also be useful for you as mentioned earlier.

    Regards,
    Mike

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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    There you have it, Andy. You can now decide what camera and features you might need including the swivel thingy. If I may add one more thing that could help you so much in this new found hobby and you may want to consider. A remote trigger, wired or wireless. click on this link:

    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/R...N3-Review.aspx

    This allows you to capture images even without touching the shutter button. Good luck and waiting for your first post

  14. #14

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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Firstly, would something like: http://broadenedhorizons.com/3rdhandmount.htm and if you scroll down to "camera manual" you'll see what I mean. If i take the top off my tripod and make an attachment for my wheelchair to hold it similair to that arm, and then use that instead of a gimbal, would that be ok?

    Ok, I will be looking at all cameras mentioned here, so i think, 450/500/550D and 60D and Panasonic G2 - I'll do that hopefully this weekend or monday/tuesday

    But I think, I need to have an idea what i'm most likely going to spend on the lenses i need - so i know how much money I have to use.

    I've been trying to do as much research as i can, and i came across this website: http://photonotes.org/articles/begin.../lenses.html#L

    Which seems to suggest i'm gonna have to spend more on lenses than i anticipated.

    I'm thinking, wide angle, normal, and telephoto - perhaps skipping the normal lens and using the wideangle instead?
    Do these sound like good lens choices for a beginner, to shoot what i was thinking?

    thanks for your time and all your help, it really is appreciated

    andy

  15. #15
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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Hi Andy,

    When you buy your camera, it usually comes with a kitlens. Play around with it first for a month or two, read the manual, study the different controls, knobs, settings, parameters, and capabilities. Attend a basic photography workshop if you can and develop your skills by shooting some landscapes, portraits, candids, still life, food, pets, insects, anything that may catch your interest. Decide what field/s or areas (landscapes, portraits, still life, etc) you want to focus on then build your arsenal of lenses and accessories around them.

    Dont be like me. A few days after I bought my 50D, I went on a buying spree acquiring a lot of stuff including lenses thinking I needed them. After a few months, I sold them at really low prices so that I can just get them out of my house and after falling in love with the areas I wanted to concentrate on.

    Good luck, Andy. Have fun with your shiny, new camera.

  16. #16

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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Hi there,

    Sorry to keep replying with more questions each time.
    I've been doing my best to research as much as i can.

    I've read that Auto focus using the lcd screen is slow, in digital cameras in general. But i keep reading that the 60D is quite slow, I don't know whether this has been picked up on more because one of it's big features is the rotating lcd screen or if it's particularly slow.

    Will i be able to be able to rely solely on a live view, or am i likely to need to use the view finder?

    Sorry for all the questions, but I like to research things like this, but I end up researching then finding out something, then having more questions lol!

    thanks for your time

    andy
    Last edited by scoped; 28th January 2011 at 06:24 PM. Reason: spelling mistake

  17. #17
    jiro's Avatar
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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Andy, there is a shorter route to this - go to a good, and reputable camera store that has the model you are considering and ask them if you can try it out inside the store. Tell them that you are in a position to buy but uncertain what specific model or brand to take. If they are professional enough, they will show you the models and the pros and cons. Bring your own memory card or buy one so you can keep the shots for comparison later. It's like buying a car. You ask for a test drive first if possible before committing to it. If this is not possible, then the question and answer portion is always fine.

    When I tried to buy my first DSLR last November, 2010, the only guiding factor for me is the price. 2nd would be the basic features that I need for a start. Having only $300 as my budget, I opted for the old but proven Nikon D70 (7 years old model). Logged in to Ebay, bid on 10 sellers, and was lucky enough to get a nice, reliable unit so far (Knock on wood). I know I will eventually upgrade in the future, but for now since I am also a newbie this is really fine by me.
    Last edited by jiro; 28th January 2011 at 07:53 PM.

  18. #18

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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Ok, that sounds logical.
    I'm hoping to get out to a camera shop or two in the next few days, so I'll definitely do that, taking a memory card is definitely a good idea to compare image quality.

    So, my plan is to try and make a stand to hold the camera, and go to some camera shops to look at different models,

    Thanks for all your help, I'm sure i'll be back on this thread again soon enough to find out more

  19. #19
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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Quote Originally Posted by scoped View Post
    .....taking a memory card is definitely a good idea to compare image quality.
    Just check to see which memory card the particular cameras you are interested in use. You may find there are different ones used by different cameras, especially across different makers. Another possibility is to take a flash drive with you. If the shop is really interested in a sale, they would be prepared to load images on a flash drive for you to take home and compare. Just a thought.......

  20. #20

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    Re: Total Beginner here!

    Ok, I have some updates!

    Firstly, I've been trying to find ways to hold a camera, as I said earlier. But I've been really trying to put in the effort, so after a while I was looking through different ball heads and things i could attach my camera to, when i came across this : http://www.digitalrev.com/en/cullman...agic-7473.html

    (I looked through the rules to see if its ok to post seller links, and I have actually seen an advert for this site on here, so i figured if any seller site is allowed, it would be one that advertises here)

    That to me, looks good - so I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with it?

    I went in to a store the other day, to look at cameras, and i think i can rule out all the ones with fixed live view screens, as I feel i will be able to use a flip screen more effectively. But i didn't manage to try out any of the cameras properly (more than just picking them up, messing around with the live view screen and such). The store staff wern't very helpful either (i guess thats what i get for going to a huge non specialised chain i guess). Because the cameras were up quite high and they were attached to their stands by a metal wire type thing, so it wasn't easy to really reach them, as they didn't stretch quite far enough down to reach sitting down. And the sales man came over and asked "do you need any help?" and i said "i'm just looking at the 60D" and he said he'd go and get one in a box, but i said i was just looking, and he replied "oh, i can't show you one in a box, there's one there to look at" and walked off lol.
    so yeah, i think my next stop will be a specialised camera retailer.

    anyway that's by the by, at least i've narrowed it down to the lumix g2 or the canon 60d - which is progress!

    For lenses I'm going to get a standard 50mm canon lens - if i go with the canon, or the panasonic kit lens, and use it for a few weeks, look at my photography, then add a lens to my collection (would two count as a collection? :P) when i see what lens i could really make use of.

    Also, could i ask if anyone here has used digitalrev - and if they would recommend it?

    thanks so much for all your help to get me to this stage, I feel like i'm progressing and getting somewhere, which feels good!

    Andy
    Last edited by scoped; 1st February 2011 at 10:53 PM.

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