I’m Going On Vacation! Camera?
First… don’t use a vacation as an excuse to buy a camera. Its possibly one of the biggest sales pitches and gotchas of camera sales! Look at it logically. If you think a fancy camera is just magically going to turn out Pinterest worthy images, then you would be seriously mistaken. It takes years of practice, Photoshop skill, and trial and error to get to that point. Your better off just using your phone’s camera until you get used to using the bulky DSLR Now if you genuinely feel like you want to get into photography and are not easily frustrated with failure, then read on.
Rent a camera. There are a few companies out there that will rent you a camera, and even insure it! Its a great way to stick your toes in the water and get a feel for this whole photo thing. And, if you hate it, your only out a hundred bucks or so instead of 8-900! Personally being an Atlanta native, I always directed people to www.Aperturent.com. You can pick up locally from them and they are super nice and helpful people. You can still use them even if you don’t live in Atlanta, you just have to wait for shipping.
Next we need to sort out, what should you rent? Id look for the cheapest camera body and a prime wide angle lens. The reason for the cheap camera body is because the cheaper the DSLR, the more automation it has built in to help you out. Its a STARTER camera for a reason. Next the lens. You might think that a zoom lens would be best, as you can change the zoom and frame your shots at your leisure! But tell me… how do you frame a shot? No idea right? Lets focus on the things we can easily figure out and get you hooked on photography rather than frustrate you with it. The prime lens is what will give you those nice blurry backgrounds, or bokeh as we call it. The wide angle (24mm or 35mm) will give you a wide enough perspective, but not loose the bokeh effects while taking portraits of family members.
Ok, so we have this nice bit of equipment rented. But how the heck does it work??? You’ll only need to understand a couple things to make some decent shots. Aperture priority and ISO. Keep in mind, this isnt a “every picture I take will be perfect” solution. Its meant to end up with some good shots that will keep you interested in photography.
Aperture Priority: The camera will automatically adjust the other settings based on what aperture you select. But what is aperture? Its the size of the opening in the lens allowing light to enter the lens and inevitably onto the image sensor. The larger the opening, the more light, and the faster the shutter speed can be. The smaller the opening, the less light and the slower the shutter speed will be. There’s one more interesting side effect. The bigger the opening, the more blurry the background.
As you can see from the image above, the widest aperture (biggest opening) is f1.8. The shutter speed (the grey numbers) was also drastically reduced the smaller the opening, because less light was coming in. Ok, thats all fine and dandy, but what does this mean for me while im doing my vacation pictures? Simple, leave it in aperture mode and at its smallest aperture number (biggest opening). This will get you the best possible performance of shutter speed and the nicest blurry backgrounds!
Next we need to tackle ISO. What exactly is ISO? If any of you can remember back to the film days, it was the film “speed”. Simply, the higher the ISO, the faster you can take a picture. The same goes for digital! The side effect however of a high ISO number is that your image will look grainy. Here’s a couple comparisons.
To the untrained eye, these look fairly similar. However, take a look at the sticker inside the guitar. Most cameras will not have this good of performance, however if you do get seriously into photography, this is what you can expect from the Sony line of professional cameras. Here’s a closer crop of the details.
Much easier to see when zoomed in! The lower the ISO number, the slower the shutter speed. Because the camera is trying to get as much information as possible and that takes a longer time. The higher the ISO, the faster the shutter speed. Because its getting less information. So practical purpose here… if at any time while your taking pictures, you notice the shutter is excessively slow, increase the ISO! And if you find while taking pictures that its too overexposed, then decrease your ISO! Eventually what you will find is that when your doing daytime pictures, you’ll want the ISO as low as it will go. When you start shooting at night time or sunset, you’ll want to increase it to 800 or 1600.
Hopefully if you’ve managed to read this far you have learned a few things. In essence, if you want a quick and dirty, get me into photography tip, this is it. Leave your camera in aperture mode at its lowest number (1.4 or 1.8) and adjust the ISO for the time of day. Happy shooting!
Results from the article above… My friend Matt rented an a7ii and a 55mm f1.8 lens from Aperturent and he nailed it! Heres a few highlights :
While my friend Matt definitely has the eye for photography, this was his first time using a DSLR! Pretty impressive results Matt!