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Help and advice for beginners If you don't classify yourself as being particularly expert or experienced and you have a question or problem that you need help with in the area of improving images, this is the board to get the assistance you seek.

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Old 15-10-06
Dana Dana is offline
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Where Do I Start?

Hello All,
I am a total beginner who has a dream of having a career in photography. I am able to spend about $1,500.00 on equipment at this time. I know almost nothing about what camera to start with. I am looking for something that is as professional as I can get within that budget. After I buy a camera I would like to take classes. Does anyone have advise on camera brand and model and what lense and flash would be appropriate for a person just starting out but starting out with all seriousness? Any help would be great!

Thanks!
Dana
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Old 15-10-06
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coupekid coupekid is offline
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Re: Where Do I Start?

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Originally Posted by Dana View Post
Hello All,
I am a total beginner who has a dream of having a career in photography. I am able to spend about $1,500.00 on equipment at this time. I know almost nothing about what camera to start with. I am looking for something that is as professional as I can get within that budget. After I buy a camera I would like to take classes. Does anyone have advise on camera brand and model and what lense and flash would be appropriate for a person just starting out but starting out with all seriousness? Any help would be great!

Thanks!
Dana
Hi Dana, and Welcome!

Before you gain advice,what experience have you got?
Have you got a point and shoot? If so what model, and does it have manual override that you have experimented with?

The reason I ask, is because primarily composition is key, and before stepping up to a digital slr (almost certainly a necessity in the professional world), I would nail the composition side of things, posting your shots on the 'Photo Critique' board would certainly help!

Out of interest, what sort of photography are you looking to get into?

Cheers,
Ben
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Old 15-10-06
Dana Dana is offline
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Re: Where Do I Start?

Hello Ben,
Thanks for the reply! I have little experience other than fooling around with my Canon PowerShot A400. You can override the auto, but nothing too in depth. I will certainly take your advice and post some of my shots, but I think they will look pretty elementary!! I am looking to get into photographing people.....artsy portraits and the like.....close up shots mostly interest me. I hope that gives you an idea. Again, thank you for the reply Ben!

Dana
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Old 15-10-06
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Re: Where Do I Start?

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Originally Posted by Dana View Post
Hello Ben,
Thanks for the reply! I have little experience other than fooling around with my Canon PowerShot A400. You can override the auto, but nothing too in depth. I will certainly take your advice and post some of my shots, but I think they will look pretty elementary!! I am looking to get into photographing people.....artsy portraits and the like.....close up shots mostly interest me. I hope that gives you an idea. Again, thank you for the reply Ben!

Dana
A warm welcome to DPNow.com!

Hi Dana, is it your intention to make this a career? If so, so you have a plan? You would need to do a lot of research on the business side as well as know what kind of photography you want to specialise in.

Deciding on the equipment you will need will rely on the results of these two considerations.

Ian
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Old 16-10-06
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Re: Where Do I Start?

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A warm welcome to DPNow.com!

Hi Dana, is it your intention to make this a career? If so, so you have a plan? You would need to do a lot of research on the business side as well as know what kind of photography you want to specialise in.

Deciding on the equipment you will need will rely on the results of these two considerations.

Ian
Hi Ian,
I am amazed by this forum process....truly a wonderful way to communicate. Here is my background....I am young....just finished business college. I am a creative artistic person and am facinated by photography. I haven't thought a lot about the business side yet, because I would like to start my photography career as a serious hobbiest. After all I have no idea if I will be very good at it! I also have started a career, so I am not in a rush to make a living. I would like to start slow and take some photography night classes. But, I want to start with the right equipment. Every time I pick up a photography book and try to test some of the theories I get frustrated because my cheap point and shoot camera doesn't allow me to do much. Also, the photography course I want to take requires a D-SLR camera. My dream would be to have a small studio where I do portraits....the human body facinates me, and that is what I am always drawn to photograph. Does this make my requirements in a camera more clear? Your thoughts are much appreciated.

Thank you!
Dana
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Old 16-10-06
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Re: Where Do I Start?

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Originally Posted by Dana View Post
Hi Ian,
I am amazed by this forum process....truly a wonderful way to communicate. Here is my background....I am young....just finished business college. I am a creative artistic person and am facinated by photography. I haven't thought a lot about the business side yet, because I would like to start my photography career as a serious hobbiest. After all I have no idea if I will be very good at it! I also have started a career, so I am not in a rush to make a living. I would like to start slow and take some photography night classes. But, I want to start with the right equipment. Every time I pick up a photography book and try to test some of the theories I get frustrated because my cheap point and shoot camera doesn't allow me to do much. Also, the photography course I want to take requires a D-SLR camera. My dream would be to have a small studio where I do portraits....the human body facinates me, and that is what I am always drawn to photograph. Does this make my requirements in a camera more clear? Your thoughts are much appreciated.

Thank you!
Dana

Yes, this is a great forum, and you will find a wealth of information on it, this is where I started my photography a few years back with a little point and shoot Casio.
In my opinion, (and I am sure the others will have other ideas) if you havent received any critique on your shots so far, then post a few on here, (you will get very honest feedback by some pretty accomplished photographers!) as you dont need a high level camera to ensure that you are composing the shot correctly.

Once you have nailed that, I would go for an entry level DSLR, like a Canon 350/400D (I have the 350D, and its a great little beastie!) where upon you can learn the basics of SLR photography. Remember to factor in the possibility of purchasing an editing software package as well, the one I (and many people on this forum) use is Photoshop, and the latest version (CS2) is a few hundred pounds (not sure of the conversion to Canadian Dollars) but may prove invaluable.
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Old 16-10-06
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Re: Where Do I Start?

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Originally Posted by coupekid View Post
Remember to factor in the possibility of purchasing an editing software package as well, the one I (and many people on this forum) use is Photoshop, and the latest version (CS2) is a few hundred pounds (not sure of the conversion to Canadian Dollars) but may prove invaluable.
If Adobe Photoshop CS2 doesn't quite fit into your budget at this stage, you can start with the much more affordable Photoshop Elements (v.5 is just about to come out) and this has most of the key features of the full CS2 version that you are likely to need for now - even curves and RAW file processing.

Ian
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Old 16-10-06
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Re: Where Do I Start?

Hi Ian, slightly puzzled,by,,,equipment you will need,,, do you mean lighting, stands,,,flash etc,, as i would think, any good slr would handle any type of photography, ,,as you know, i am awaiting the review of the olympus 400 slr, do you know if they are making any new flash guns for same, or are the already available units to be sold for same, , p.s my sister & her family live in H.H
john
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Old 16-10-06
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Re: Where Do I Start?

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Originally Posted by tarzieboy View Post
Hi Ian, slightly puzzled,by,,,equipment you will need,,, do you mean lighting, stands,,,flash etc,, as i would think, any good slr would handle any type of photography, ,,as you know, i am awaiting the review of the olympus 400 slr, do you know if they are making any new flash guns for same, or are the already available units to be sold for same, , p.s my sister & her family live in H.H
john
I really meant the specific choice of camera model, but also accessories like flash, tripod, lenses, etc.

Ian
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Old 16-10-06
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Re: Where Do I Start?

thanks Ian, loved the article iv,e just read,, making a better bounce flash, cant wait to make it & have a go, frustrating to wait another month for the slr, have been messing about with my panasonic fz5 & a jessops 150s flash unit i bought about 15 years ago, they still sell them, will any camera automatically balance the amout of light, even when one uses the cameras flash, in addition with the extra flash which is triggererd by same, john
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Old 16-10-06
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Re: Where Do I Start?

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Originally Posted by tarzieboy View Post
thanks Ian, loved the article iv,e just read,, making a better bounce flash, cant wait to make it & have a go, frustrating to wait another month for the slr, have been messing about with my panasonic fz5 & a jessops 150s flash unit i bought about 15 years ago, they still sell them, will any camera automatically balance the amout of light, even when one uses the cameras flash, in addition with the extra flash which is triggererd by same, john
Multiple dedicated flash systems will use the camera as the meter, so you should be able to get balanced exposure with multiple flash unit. But in a studio setup, it's not the be all and end all - do some test exposures to set your aperture for the correct exposure by trial and error and you're done.

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Old 16-10-06
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Re: Where Do I Start?

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Originally Posted by Dana View Post
Hello All,
I am a total beginner who has a dream of having a career in photography. I am able to spend about $1,500.00 on equipment at this time. I know almost nothing about what camera to start with. I am looking for something that is as professional as I can get within that budget. After I buy a camera I would like to take classes. Does anyone have advise on camera brand and model and what lense and flash would be appropriate for a person just starting out but starting out with all seriousness? Any help would be great!

Thanks!
Dana
Hi, welcome to the forum.

I have a friend who recently decided to start her own portrait business from home and so I'll offer my suggestions based on how she got things rolling. If I'm covering areas you're already familiar with, I apologise in advance, but hopefully the extra (non-equipment related) tips will also be useful to you.

Firstly, you should research your chosen business and dertermine it's viability in the physical area you intend to "practice". Look on the internet and through the Yellow Pages and find out who is offering similar services to those you intend to offer and precisely what customers are getting for their money. It would also help if you make contact with your local chamber of commerce (or whatever the equivalent commerce-related body is called in your area!) to seek all the business-related advice (and financial support, if it's available) you can get. You'd be surpised how many people there are out there who are paid to help you to get your business moving in the right direction. You'd also be surprised at the numbers of people who think they can start a business by simply buying the right equipment and going on a course........you need to have a plan!

As far as kitting yourself out is concerned, you'll already know that in order to photograph people, you're going to need a studio space (possibly a room or even a garage will do) and a dependable light source of some description. It's actually possible to set up a makeshift studio with a couple of flashguns, some light stands and a camera, but obviously the more flexibility you have, the easier your job will be.

My friend had already allocated herself a space (she has a studio across the garden from her home, which is essentially a converted garage) and she'd attended a basic photographic course. Her daughter is a qualified - but inexperienced - make-up artist and so they decided to do makeover-style portrait shoots via fixed packages which they'd advertise on their own website and in local newspapers, Yellow Pages etc. She'd already bought a camera (a Canon 350D/Rebel with the standard kit zoom-lens) and she asked me to help her to set up her rudimentary studio.

I took her along to my trusted supplier (you need to visit an established photographic supplies dealer who will give you time and the benefit of their expertise) and basically asked them to demonstrate and sell my friend the items she'd need to do her job, while remaining mindful of her budget, which was around 1200 GBP. The sales guy gave her a couple of hours of his time and she ended up with precisely what she needed for a few hundred pounds over her stated budget, which was acceptable to her because all the things she bought were pretty critical to the needs of her new business.

In your case, you should research a little and find a supplier who will look at your business model and sell you items (on or around your set budget) which will meet your needs for at least the first six months or so. If the salespeople are worth anything, they'll demonstrate the products to you and explain the features/benefits in detail, so whatever you end up buying will be kit you can use from the outset with a degree of confidence in it's purpose and usefulness.

Camera-wise, I'd recommend that you purchase a DSLR from the outset if this is going to be a business. You're going to need to attend a course which introduces you to the se of a camera and therefore you should have one with universal controls (like a DSLR) to avoid confusion. Plus, if you start as you mean to go on with a camera capable of fully manual control, you can begin to grow your existing system with lenses and flashguns etc, instead of having to through the inconvenience and expense of upgrading from a compact digicam when your skills start to develop beyond the initial stages. There's nothing wrong with compacts - in fact there are some very good ones around, but ultimately you're going to want a DSLR and the flexibility it will bring, so why not start out with one?

The Canon 400D/Rebel, the Nikon D50 and the other intro-DSLRs from Pentax, Samsung, Sony and Olympus are all good in their own ways. As with the studio kit, you'll need to see them all and decide for yourself which suits your needs the best. Make sure that the sales people know about your lack of experience and ask a million questions - $1000 or so is a lot to spend on anything and you deserve to feel confident and reassured before you hand it over! Also compare the maximum apertures of the kit lenses and decide which will be better suited to your type of work - a wide aperture is oftennecessary for natural-light work, so obviously a lens capable of f2.8 is going to be preferable to one which can only achieve f4 or f5.6....at least intially when cost is everything and you can't necessarily afford to splash out on additional lenses.

Once again, if I've covered obvious ground here I apologise, but we all have to start somewhere and I've just thrown in what I think are some sensible suggestions. Whatever you decide to do, there are people here with a great deal to offer in terms of knowledge, skill and experience, so make sure you ask questions if you need to!

Good luck

Last edited by Bearface; 16-10-06 at 04:22 PM. Reason: Elucidation, punctuation etc.
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Old 16-10-06
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Re: Where Do I Start?

Great advice Tim, many thanks for your input. Im not sure if Dana refers to US or Canadian $, either way it wont go far these days
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Old 16-10-06
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Re: Where Do I Start?

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Great advice Tim, many thanks for your input. Im not sure if Dana refers to US or Canadian $, either way it wont go far these days
So true, although I think the $USD goes quite a bit further on camera gear (and other stuff...) than the GBP, more's the pity
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Old 16-10-06
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Re: Where Do I Start?

Thank you very much for taking your time to give me advice! I will think very hard about what everyone has said. I have a business degree, so hopefully that will help me when I want to put together a business plan! I will do my homework to make sure I stretch my Canadian dollars as far as possible!

Thanks again!
Dana
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