Debating on the ‘best’ camera maker is something that will never really end. Some swear by Nikon while others may swear by Canon, while others believe in another company! So why not take a more mature and appropriate stance on such discussions?
Imagine giving an excellent set of paints, brushes and a pallette to somebody who has no clue on how painting is done? Now imagine giving some very basic tools to an excellent, trained artist. Who do you think would be able to make a better painting at the end of the day? Now put this same question into context with photography. Just because you have a better camera does NOT necessarily mean you have become a better photographer.
We are NOT saying that the camera does not matter, because quite simply – that statement is not true. So does the camera truly matter? It is a yes and no answer! If you are a person who uses the camera only for family picnics, then your camera probably doesn’t matter all that much. However, if you are a hobbyist or an amateur photographer, the tool in your hand could make the world of difference to you and your images. If you are a professional who makes a living out of photography, the camera matters to you more than to anyone else. However, a very basic camera model in the hands of a talented photographer will be utilized to its fullest capabilities, just as an excellent artist making quality paintings using very basic tools. But at the end of the day no photographer would want to continue working with a mediocre camera, just as no artist would want to remain with substandard brushes and paints. Quality tools in the right hands give quality results! Ansel Adams, the renowned landscape photographer loved working with the best cameras in lenses, but don’t forget – he knew how to push his gear to perform at its best, churning out the highest quality images possible.
Have you heard the story of the two photographers standing together and shooting pictures? One is a professional who makes a living out of taking photographs, and the other is a hobbyist. The professional is taking his pictures with a professional camera and lens, while the amateur is shooting with his basic entry level camera and kit lens. At one point during the shoot, the amateur tells the professional that with his expensive camera and lens, no doubt he would get great images which would make him a lot of money. The professional tries his best to convince him that the camera is only a tool, and that his skills sets do have something to do with the quality of images that he creates. Getting frustrated with the amateur’s constant rejection of this idea, the pro offers to exchange equipment with the amateur for the remainder of the day, and suggests that the photographer with better images at the end of the day gets to keep ALL of the camera gear! The amateur knows when he is beaten, and walks away saying nothing.
This little story just goes to prove that many a time people hide behind the fact that they have lesser equipment than others, and make this an excuse to shoot substandard images.
What DOES Matter
When does the equipment really matter? If you are an absolute beginner, the camera that you shoot with would not matter at all. If you are a keen hobbyist, the tools that you use matter much more – the better your tools the more control you have over your images. If you are a professional photographer, the camera matters even more, since you have skills to milk the best out of your equipment. Sensor size matters as well, no matter what some folks may say! There is a huge difference between the tiny sensor in a point and shoot model, and a full frame sensor in a professional DSLR. Factors such as the dynamic range, depth of field and noise levels are defined by the quality and size of the sensor. Lenses matter even more! The type of lens that you are using, its focal lengths, its aperture capabilities and color rendition all play a significant role on the final image that you are presented with. For example, if you wish to isolate a subject from the background, you will never be able to do this with a compact as effectively as you can do it with an SLR fitted with a 200mm lens! Further, you simply cannot replicate the effects of a tilt and shift lens with an ordinary lens! So who says equipment doesn’t matter? Now you know how it does! But the final and most crucial tool in the photo making process is the photographer’s eye! The camera is only a tool in the photographer’s kit bag! Without the skills of a professional, you will never be able to make the images of a professional, WHATEVER the camera you may own.
Let us finally get down to camera systems now. The demand for digital SLRs has seen a sharp increase over the last few years. It is no wonder then, that camera makers have started pumping in more money into the research and development of DSLRs than ever before. Today, the most successful names include Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Panasonic, SONY, Fuji, Sigma and Pentax. With so many camera makers out there, it CAN be a daunting task to pick one brand over another. To make things even more confusing, new players are bringing out feature packed models at competitive prices.
So what camera do you put your money on? Look at the camera as an investment rather than simply another electronic gadget in your kitty. If you are serious about photography, you will definitely be putting in more money over time, to build up your entire photography system. Be it new lenses, filters, extra memory or flash units – the camera that you invest in plays a huge role in whatever else you get into the photography kit. If you make a wrong choice with the camera, it is going to be a costly affair to get rid of the camera and make a fresh purchase. Professional photographers typically go with Nikon or Canon, simply because of the extremely wide range of accessories available for these cameras. if you want to play it safe, go with these brand names and you cant go wrong – but they don’t come cheap either! Other camera makers such as Olympus and Pentax have been in the industry for very many years as well, and are also doing well. They have pioneered the micro system cameras which are more affordable, but remember – a smaller sensor can never match the quality of a full frame.
It is a great idea to seek the guidance of a personal friend who has had experience with DSLRs, especially if he or she is a professional. You may want to get the same brand as this person, simply to be able to learn all you can about the camera system using his or her expertise and experience over time. Further, you may want to borrow or buy some of the equipment this person could want to get rid of over time.
But the grass on the other side is always greener isn’t it? Whatever brand of camera you purchase, you will always be looking at other brands, to re-evaluate your own equipment. If you have a Nikon, you will always have a watchful eye on Canon cameras, and vice-versa, and if you own another brand, you will always be looking at Nikon and Canon! Nikon and Canon have been rivals for years in the camera markets, and the same goes for their users! However, Nikon users tend to secretly hold a belief that they just may want the extra mega pixels that canon offers, while Canon users envy the noiseless images that Nikon cameras make! What you need to ask yourself is, how much better your images would truly be, if you chose one brand over another. In most cases, there is little difference. It really doesn’t make a huge difference between a Nikon and Canon, unless one brand suddenly comes out with a breakthrough product (which the other would match over time no doubt!).
So DO think of your camera as a tool that gets the job done. Without the necessary technical skills, it doesn’t matter what camera you own, you still wont be taking winning images. We do not mean to discourage you by saying this. In fact, what we are trying to say is – camera gear is important, but not as important as your skill set. Why not improve your skill sets to such a degree as to ‘earn’ your fresh equipment in a sense? Why not push your existing equipment to its fullest before you commit to buying a new camera? Going about things this way, you will always know your gear to its fullest detail.