Newbie/New Camera - Help?

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Newbie/New Camera - Help?

Postby khudson22 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:02 am

Hey - I'm new to the photography world. I started out being asked to take pictures for a friend who wanted photos/videos of himself surfing, turns out I love it! I've already stood in the rain and cold at ridiculous o'clock trying to get a good shot so I have a (very) small inkling of how much work has to be put in to get better.

I've started doing some research into a camera to get for myself. I know there are certain things the camera needs like a fast amount of frames per second and auto-focus etc. A few professionals' websites' recommended the DSLR Canon Rebel/650D with a f/2.8 200mm lens or 70-300mm lens(Sigma or Canon). I can't afford a water housing just yet to I am going to try and develop my skills from on the shore (tripod style) first. I'd really appreciate some peoples opinions on whether or not this is a good first choice? I know that the 650D sensors aren't as large as the 35mm but I'm on a budget. If anyone knows of any better cameras/lens for around £700 for the pair that would be of good use? I'm not adverse to going second hand either :)

Thank you! x
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Re: Newbie/New Camera - Help?

Postby Chris F » Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:21 pm

As good a first choice as any. what f-stop can you get from the zoom? If you are generally only shooting surfing photographs from the beach the 200m prime, or something longer, would probably be better, but if you want to use it for general photography too the zoom would be best.
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Re: Newbie/New Camera - Help?

Postby Poo Stance » Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:50 pm

I can feel an essay coming on. I'm still new to photography. I find it quite like surfing. The more you do it the better you get, especially if you review your shots. The less you do it, the easier it is for forget the little things that can help improve your results.

For me the photographer takes the photo, the camera only captures it. So don't get too caught up in the camera. However, there are certain requirements for a good surf camera. I don't know all of them, but maybe someone more experienced can offer more advice.

Things like you say are: fps, but also how many shots can it take at that fps (it may be able to take 10fps but if it can only take 2secs and then buffers for 4secs you'll probably miss the best of the wave), then how quick does it save them before you can take more shots. A good memory card helps this apparently. I prefer to wait for the moment then try and capture the whole wave sequence (my camera is sh*t), but if your mate want to improve then the whole wave is the best. If you are going for the one shutter release shot then it helps to have some surf experience. But after a while of just watching you will know how your mate (and others) surf so know when the right moment is getting close).

Re: Auto-focus. Again, I'm no expert. And I think there are threads coving this waaay back when. Maybe check posts by Ricky ? The thing for me with auto-focus is that the surfer is moving, not always at the same focal length away. So you need to set the camera on continuous focus. But this refocuses for every shot (i think) so you may end up with the subject out of focus. Ie. You may end up focusing on the horizon, or if playing with DOF then you may have the wrong part of the picture in focus. I'm not sure the best way round this as I don't play with my camera too much. Maybe something to do with focal point selection? Just something to think about.

I'd personally go with the 70-300. It will give you a better range of shots you can try for. I've only got a 35-70 and it's only really good for line up shots as I can't get close enough to the action. With the 70-300 you can get close in on the action and also use DOF to compose the shot better. Just my opinion though. A tripod would be needed though as shooting in low light often means the distance shots will be hard to get sharp. Move around to vary your results or you'll get the same bland 'from the beach' shot. Get some elevation, go down the beach. Sorry if this is patronising. A while i'm being so... also keep in your head things like, subject matter, framing, foreground/background, rule of 3rds and all the other things that every photography site will tell you.

The best thing you can do is scan through the surf magazines and see which pictures you like and why you like them.

I've got personal preferences that I like when looking at surfing pictures. But don't really want to go into them as what one person like another doesn't, plus I'd just be talking more sh*t. The Surfer's Path and Surfer's Journal do photography profiles and are good to read as the photogs talk about their shots, how they got them, what they like about them etc. All food for thought.

If you not too shy, post up some of your favourite pictures. Yours/others/surf/not surf. Sure people on here would offer there opinion. Or there is a thread for 'pics on MSW' that has some good shots to review.

A large sensor should give you better shots in low light (can someone confirm this?) so may be better if you're not always taking pics on a sunny beach.

A polarising filter may also be handy if your shooting into glare on the sea.

Most importantly. Don't leave your camera on 'crappy tiny pictures' setting after using it to list ebay stuff and then forget to change it back for your epic surf session when you get your best photo yet only to discover the file is 0.5mgb and thumbnail size. :-(
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Re: Newbie/New Camera - Help?

Postby Chris F » Thu Sep 13, 2012 1:13 pm

All sounds good advice to me! The memory card write speed piece is especially true. I would also recommend shooting in RAW if possible and get to grips with a good editing program to extract the best possible results from your images.
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Re: Newbie/New Camera - Help?

Postby khudson22 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 1:50 pm

Poo Stance wrote:I can feel an essay coming on. I'm still new to photography.


Thanks for the advice everyone - I think I'll go for the Canon 650D the 5fps lasts for 6raw files or 22jpeg files (I'm assuming this is enough to start out with?) and get the 70-300mm lens - Just to check Sigma is ok over the Canon (I can't really afford the step up in price) - it shouldn't make much difference to the quality and should be compatible am I correct in saying?

In regards to the focus the specification is saying 9 point and phase (which I know is better than contrast) but doesn't say about continuous focus in normal shoot mode - but does say continuous focus in video mode - does this mean it will have continuous focus for when I'm shooting 5fps do you know?

Sorry for the essay of questions - everyone is being so helpful! And I really want to get this right - I know someone who didn't do their research properly and was unhappy with the camera after trying it out!

In regards to posting pictures I only have a handful after my 'adventures' that I think are okay but all these were taken with a digicam with a 32x optical zoom.

Could you recommend a software I am definitely no whizz kid at editing my photos so need to practice that alot! :)

Chris F wrote:what f-stop can you get from the zoom?
the Sigma says f/4.0-f/5.6 and from my reading many surf photographers have recommended f/4.0 (albeit with 600mm not 300mm though :) )
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Re: Newbie/New Camera - Help?

Postby khudson22 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:20 pm

constructive criticism would be nice but don't be too harsh - I know I have a lot of work to do :p

also surf photographers I LOVE:
http://www.clarklittlephotography.com/ - clark little (everything) I used to do art at 6th form and do sometimes as a hobby I think his work is amazing!
http://www.aaronchanggallery.com/gallery-prints/surf/ - image 20 <3
http://www.ricardobravo.com/en.html - under recent work images 8,9, 14, 18, 19, 20 - I love how some of his photos are so artistic and abstract
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Re: Newbie/New Camera - Help?

Postby Zac Gibson » Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:24 pm

What Poo said is pretty spot on.

In terms of cameras im still shooting with a 1d mk2. Its only 8.2 megapixels but will still easily print a2, shoots 8.5 fps and has a damn good autofocus compared to the newer low end canon cameras. The high ISO will also be much better and the weather sealing and metal body will fare much better on a windy beach than the entry level cameras.

You can get them on mpb photographic for about £500 second hand which is pretty good considering it was once a £4000 camera. If you want memory cards the sandisks are pretty good, usually burn about 30mbs for the cheaper ones or 60 if you pay a bit more . I buy from 7 day shop as they are the cheapest around.

Lenses are up to you, 300mm will give you obviously more reach but then a zoom like a 70-200 is very sharp compared to the 70-300 zooms. I used a 70-200 for a while but found it slightly too short but does make you think more about how you compose the image.
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Re: Newbie/New Camera - Help?

Postby Black » Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:39 pm

If you are after the 650D then buy the body (cheaper import) here http://www.digitalrev.com/product/canon-eos-650d-dslr-body/MTAwMDkzNg_A_A and spend the saved money on better lenses. I bought the 550d from them and love it, it is light but I tramp about the countryside with mine so lightness is good for me. You can always weight your tripod if you need stability.
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Re: Newbie/New Camera - Help?

Postby Poo Stance » Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:48 pm

Zac Gibson wrote:the weather sealing and metal body will fare much better on a windy beach than the entry level cameras.

Another excellent point. I hate getting my camera out when the wind is blowing sand up and down the beach.

khudson22 wrote:I think I'll go for the Canon 650D the 5fps lasts for 6raw files or 22jpeg files (I'm assuming this is enough to start out with?)
So that's ~1 second of RAW sequence and ~4seconds jpeg. I guess the question is. How long does your mate stay on the wave for. I'm guessing that if you turn down the file size/resolution/quality then you can stretch this out longer? Must be nothing more frustrating than missing the best bit of the wave because the camera is buffering. Did it say a buffer time? Think I'm getting hung up on this fps thing though. Like I say. I just hit the shutter once normally. But if I get a longer lens I think I'd definitely use the 6 RAW 1second burst just to make sure I captured a whole turn/move.

Isn't 9 point to do with the metering? Don't have a clue about all that sorry.

I like your second shot. You can see the shape of the wave nicely, I especially like the little wave right at the bottom of the face of the wave. If that were in focus it would give another nice feature for my eye to fall on. The 1st shot lacks a strong subject for me. The third is ok, I would have liked to see the shot looking into the wave more, facing the surfer more. Hopefully that would have shown off the shape of the wave better and you could have fitted more of the face of the wave into the shot, allowing you to see what the surfer is seeing too, to some extent. Good work though if it's only with a camcorder! Is that frame grabs or stills? Hope thats not too damning. And what one person like another doesn't. The trick is finding what you like and then trying to capture that on film... I mean binary.

Some nice pics from that Ricardo there. :-D Showing it's good to be creative and not alway follow the 'rules' rigidly.
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Re: Newbie/New Camera - Help?

Postby khudson22 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:54 pm

Poo Stance wrote:So that's ~1 second of RAW sequence and ~4seconds jpeg.
do you know of any cameras where there is more time - that's not really long enough and no it doesn't say a buffer time. THANK YOU

Black wrote:I like your second shot. Yo
Yes I know the camera was on auto focus but at full zoom and wasn't great. I get what you mean about the angle in the third one. It was after that shot I realized I needed to move around more :) Thank you.
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Re: Newbie/New Camera - Help?

Postby khudson22 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:10 pm

Zac Gibson wrote: In terms of cameras im still shooting with a 1d mk2.


Now I'm confused lol firstly, Is the Canon 1D MK2 is different to the Canon 1Ds Mark 2? Wouldn't the lowering of pixels be bad when I'll be taking pictures that need sharpness? or will the extra fps account for that?

Than you x
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Re: Newbie/New Camera - Help?

Postby khudson22 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:11 pm

Black wrote:If you are after the 650D then buy the body (cheaper import) here http://www.digitalrev.com/product/canon-eos-650d-dslr-body/MTAwMDkzNg_A_A and spend the saved money on better lenses. I bought the 550d from them and love it, it is light but I tramp about the countryside with mine so lightness is good for me. You can always weight your tripod if you need stability.

Thank you!x
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Re: Newbie/New Camera - Help?

Postby Zac Gibson » Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:15 pm

Must be nothing more frustrating than missing the best bit of the wave because the camera is buffering. Did it say a buffer time?


Basically the cameras buffer is the size of the memory where the images are whilst they are waiting to be written onto the memory card. So the buffer time will be based on the speed of the memory card. Ie if he gets a 60mbs memory card that will write x amount of photos per second on to the card (dependent on the size of the images)

Isn't 9 point to do with the metering? Don't have a clue about all that sorry.


9 points is the amount of different auto focus points there is that the camera can focus too. For reference the 1d mk2 has 45 and the auto focus on it is pretty amazing, i preferred it to the 7d which i was shooting with a bit on holidays. The 1d's have pro bodies and once they are in your hand they fell really solid and they are pretty hard to do damage with. Now i have had one I very much doubt i would go any other way as they are just super reliable, plus the money you save can be used on a better lens.
khudson22 wrote:
Poo Stance wrote:I can feel an essay coming on. I'm still new to photography.


In regards to the focus the specification is saying 9 point and phase (which I know is better than contrast) but doesn't say about continuous focus in normal shoot mode - but does say continuous focus in video mode - does this mean it will have continuous focus for when I'm shooting 5fps do you know?


Yh the camera will have whats called al servo focusing which tracks your subject so it will adjust as your shooting as oppose to one shot which locks focus and wont move with your subject.
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Re: Newbie/New Camera - Help?

Postby Chris F » Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:46 am

Zac Gibson wrote:sandisks are pretty good, usually burn about 30mbs for the cheaper ones or 60 if you pay a bit more . I buy from 7 day shop as they are the cheapest around.


From bitter experience I wont use anything other than Sandisk extremes now. In hindsight its daft to spend fortunes on a high quality camera and then run a risk of losing images or missed photos due to buffering because you scrimped a few quid on a cheap SD card.
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