“I Need a Better Camera!”

Butterfly Palmhouse 2

Shot on a Canon 300D Edited in Lightroom

One of the mistakes “I think” people make when they become interested in photography is to start buying gear. Of course you need to have a camera to take pictures, but I mean buying the biggest and best cameras and lenses. I am an advocate that you can use any camera to take a picture, you just need to learn how the camera works and its limitations. You also need to understand the subject.

Yesterday I took a friend’s son to the Palm House (a greenhouse/botanical garden). Over the summer I have been introducing him to photography and on day trips we have been taking pictures together; first with is point and shoot and then with an old DSLR (300D*) of mine that I lent to him. During our trip to the Palm House the camera he had starting playing up, I decided we could switch cameras as this was really a trip for him and not for me. I got the 300D, he was using, working although it was being temperamental and I used it instead.

One of the reasons for going to the palm house was to see the butterflies they have there. On the 300D I had the kit lens while my friend’s son had a macro set up with my camera now.
If I was to say let’s take pictures of butterflies I am sure many people would attach their macro lenses or wish they had one to attach. This is logical, you want to get in close and get some fantastic pictures. However a macro set up would be nice, a kit lens can make just as good images. Selecting the sharpest aperture and the longest focal length I got off a few shots until the camera gave up the ghost for the day. Not to be deterred I put the camera back in my bag and whipped out my phone. Yes, My phone.

Butterfly Palmhouse

Shot on Canon 300D Edited in Lightroom

Now my phone has an 8mp sensor which sounds better than the 5mp on the 300D, yet the sensor is smaller as is the output resolution. Using the voice activation I approach a butterfly as close as I could and then focused on the head with my finger before taking the picture by saying “cheese”.

The pictures I got at the end of the day were slightly noisy but usable.

palm house butterfly

Shot on Galaxy S3 Edited in Photoshop

To take good pictures you don’t need an amazing camera just an understanding of how you can use what you have got. Saying I need this or that to take pictures is relying to heavily on your tools which you will blame when things don’t go to plan. An entry level DSLR and kit lens can be an amazing combo to learn from and later on still take great shots. Even a point and shoot camera with the current scene mode can take better pictures than a DSLR. It is not the camera it is the person taking the picture that matters the most.

*The 300d was the first canon rebel camera released in 2004 sporting a 5mpx Cmos sensor which had high noise at 800ISO with 1600ISO being nearly unusable even after a firmware update.  

Feel free to share your opinions in the comment box below; do you agree/disagree, what do you think of the photos.

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14 thoughts on ““I Need a Better Camera!”

  1. Fascinating post (and I tend to agree). I recently was thinking about deliberately going out with my old camera to see if my better images now are a result of increased experience or better equipment (probably both). It’s tough, though, to resist the call of all that new gear (the marketing pressure can be hard to resist, especially if finances would permit new purchases).

    • I found the focus was slight slower which made me more aware of my compositions and with noisier ISO I had to work harder with my exposure.
      I think some photoblogs and rumour sites make it seem that the latest cameras are the answer to all problems and you are fools nor to be using them.

  2. Great post Ben. I agree with you that it is important to know how to use the equipment that you have. Having recently gotten into photography I don’t have a huge collection of lenses, but I make the best of what I do have. Each time that I go out I try new things with my kit lens and the one telephoto (55-300mm) that I currently own.

    • My first kit lens was a 18-55mm and then I bought a 28-300 mm and didn’t make anouther purchase for many years as it was all I needed. I kind of laugh at people carrying a whole bag of lenses around the mountains where I am atm because you really only really need two.
      It’s good to try new things with your lens as it teavhes you how best you can usw it before you get another.

    • Expensive gear can make you creative but I generally see it making people lazy. Be creative with what you have now, if you get something new in the future you will want to be creative with it too.

  3. I know people who think they need a new camera every year because it’s better than the old one. However, as someone I took a workshop with once said “It’s the person behind the camera who takes the picture, not the camera.” I agree with that, and I have seen pictures from people with the most expensive equipment but sadly the pictures were absolutely unimaginative… So I’m totally with your statement that you have to know your camera and what it can do but you also need an eye for your subject.

  4. Great post. When I decided to take up photography as a hobby about 8 months ago, my son lent me his second camera, an entry level Nikon D5000 which is still keeping me busy. Rather than buy better gear (other than a cheap, 70-300mm lens), I’ve gone backwards and started using an old 1970s Fujica film camera sometimes. Because I only have 24 (or 36) shots and it’s going to cost me money to see them, it forces me to be more thoughtful. I don’t use it all the time because it can be expensive but I love it. I feel I have to put in the time to improve… I can’t just buy that experience.

    • My first 3 years of photography was solely film. And I was always kicking myself when I messed up a shot. Learnt alot from those days. Constraints can breed creativity.

  5. Great thoughts Ben! It’s most often the skills that need improvement, not the camera. But I also do understand that it can be fascinating to try out a new camera. 🙂 Fantastic photos!

  6. Great post, Ben, I agree with you… Master the technique, understand your gear and how to get it to produce the images you want…. I use a camera that is nearly 5 years old, but it does what I want.

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