Sunday, May 19, 2013

Guest Post: Momtography and Cameras

Today I am featuring a guest post by my friend Stephanie, who writes the The Adventures of Us blog, and who owns Stephanie Anne Photography, LLC based out of Virginia. Steph is a great friend of mine and an amazing photographer! And she's sharing a few tips for those of us who dabble in what we call "momtography"... taking awesome pictures of your beautiful babies!! Today's post gives you some basic pros and cons of Point and Shoot cameras verus DSLR. Enjoy!!

First I want to thank Val for hosting me today *waves* Hi Val! and Hello to you, dear readers! Today we are going to talk buckle up, I'm going to hit you with some knowledge!

So you're a new(ish) mom! And like all new moms, you have most likely discovered the joy of not only photographing, but sharing adorable images of your little one(s)! Now, how do you keep from being the mom with the grainy dark pictures that never look quite right? You need to KNOW your stuff. So I am writing for you today, moms (and dads!) to help you get a little more know-how so you can get some snapshots to really show off!

Your first step is to invest in quality equipment. And with that, I bring you the most basic of camera comparisons: the point&shoot versus the SLR. 

The Point-and-Shoot

These are the cameras most people were using before camera phones and have a slight edge over most camera phones. These are your basic, compact little digital camera, such as the Nikon CoolPics, Canon Powershot and Fuiji FinePix that you see at the store. With similar resolution to a camera phone, these Point-and-shoots offer a compact, lightweight camera that is usually about the size of your iPhone, but with a few more features, better zoom and a slightly stronger flash. They usually offer auto-focus capabilities (most allow you to refocused by touching on the screens now, just like a camera phone!) and can be had for around $200-$350, depending on the brand and store. 

What these make up for in convenience they lack in features, however. Have you ever tried to capture a moving toddler with a point and shoot? Not easy. With it's auto-metering and limited shutter speed, Point-and-shoots can lack clarity in photos of more challenging situations. Unless you are in the most ideal light, you are going to have a photo that is blurry, grainy, pixelated or even just way too dark. Most point-and-shoots right now top out around 16.2 MP (mega-pixels) but even the highest of resolutions doesn't make up for clarity and control. 

This is an example of a blurry P&S shot due to slow shutter speed.

This isn't to say P&S can't take great pictures.

That's where the Digital SLR (single-lens reflex), or DSLR, comes in. With more control over your settings, more and better zoom and the ability to buy new lenses, all working together in harmony with a little bit of solid know-how, you can produce some crystal clear images. The camera doesn't make the photo; sure having better equipment can help, but know that your first day on a DSLR will be FULL of mis-shoots, over exposures, under exposures and just plain bad shots until you get the hang of things and learn a bit more about your camera. Understanding some basics like shutter speed and f-stops can help a great deal (but that's another conversation for another day!). 

With all the bells and whistles offered by even the most simple of DSLRs, comes the burden of knowing how to use one. You will have to learn a few new things to really make your camera work for you. Unlike a point-and-shoot, which is pretty self-explanatory, DSLRs require some knowledge, practice and patience. I have been shooting on my current DSLR body for over 2 years and I am just now starting to really get a feel for how it works. Most basic DLSRs now, like the Canon Rebel Ti series and the Nikon D3xxx series are being made to cater to the common consumer (versus the professional photographer) and are more user-friendly for a beginner who doesn't know much about photography. 

DSLRs can also be expensive. Sure, you can pick up a kit (body + two zoom lenses usually) for $500-$900  at your local box store, but with more parts, there is more maintenance to be done and eventually some parts to replace. You may also want to invest in one or two REALLY good lenses down the road, and those can start as low as $300 and cost up to $900 before you get into the professional grade equipment (but again, another discussion for another day). So by committing to a DSLR you need to know that you either need to learn how to clean it (or find a local camera shop that can do it for you), and that there may be more costs associated with it as the years go by. If you buy from a big box store, I HIGHLY recommend getting their insurance/replacement plan, as I have seen the prices for some DSLR repairs and they are not always cheap!

Finally, DSLRs are much bulkier and heavier than you might think. If you want to take your camera anywhere, you need (or at least ought to!) protect it with a proper bag or padded case, and when you combine even the smallest of DSLRs with a padded bag you'd be surprised how big (and how heavy) it can be, especially if you are lugging it around all day. However, you eventually get used to the added weight and bulk and there are some cool accessories, like the Joby sling strap, that make toting your camera around a lot easier!

My first decent DSLR shot. I have about 35 pictures of these roses, this is the only one that came out close to how I wanted it to.

In Conclusion...
So, what can you take from this? Some knowledge. Some things to think about. Think about what you are willing to invest; not just monetarily, but in time and knowledge. If you have the money to invest, great. Begin to consider, however, the following: 
Will you have the time to learn how to use a DSLR? Or would you rather be able to take your camera right out of it's box and start shooting? 
Do you have money down the road to cover damages to a DSLR? Or would it be cheaper (and easier) to replace a Point and Shoot? 
Do you want to lug a heavy DSLR and bag all over or would you rather have a point-and-shoot that you can stick in your pocket that weighs about as much as your iPhone?

No matter what you decide, go out and take pictures. Often. Especially because your kids will change and grow faster than you can imagine. And you definitely want to capture that!

Finally, an image I truly love. A shot of my daughter making faces at home for me one day. Two years and a lot of practice later, this is a good shot.

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