Posted by: JennyRain | June 7, 2010

Calling all Photographers: Recommendations Needed

Hello photo-bloggers and photographers!

I have recently had the incredible opportunity to learn some basic photography skills from one of your own, and now I am hooked.

That being said, I need your advice on cameras…

My plan has been for the last year to purchase a good camera when I graduate seminary, which, Lord willing will be December of this year.

My preference is a Nikon or aΒ Canon, because if I go out on photo-shoots with some of my friends here, we can switch out lenses.

So (and please forgive my lack of knowledge on proper photo-lingo…)

1 – What would you recommend for a DSL Nikon or Canon that will grow with me?

2 – I am not averse to second-hand cameras, so if you know someone who is upgrading and getting rid of their old camera, have em send me a tweet.

3 – What corresponding lenses would you recommend for me to buy to go along with the camera?

4 – Is taking a photography class worth it? If so, who would you take it from?

This is what I know about how I will develop as a photographer…

1 – I know that I love taking pics of faces and people (this is definitely my favorite)

2 – I know that when I go on mission trips, the camera will come with me, so I’ll want to be able to do photo-journalistic type pix…people, scenes, action shots.

3 – I just purchased Adobe Lightroom, so I can do some after-editing, however, I want to stay relatively “pure” in my photography (e.g., make very few edits later)

4 – Below are some of the photographers that I greatly admire (just a few of the list… to put them all there would take up the rest of this post!) I most admire them because they tell a story – being able to tell a story with photography is what I would like to eventually be good enough to do.

Joshua White:

Garrett Hubbard:

Gina Meola:

David J. Nightingale (Chromasia)

Trina Chase: (Trina was the one who gave me the complimentary photo lesson in Burundi and let me use her camera for the day!)

Pitter Kalpak: (in development); Pitter’sΒ Facebook page

Peter Rice:

Elie Rice: (Peter and Elie have been coaching me for the last few months and I LOVE their styles! Peter has tried to explain this concept of “negative space” and the “rule of three” to me a couple of times… slowly I think I’m catching on)

So, any advice y’all could share with me as I step into the new waters of this photography journey is SO much appreciated. I’m a complete beginner, so completely teachable (and completely clueless!)



  1. Hey Jenny, I don’t feel like I have much knowledge to offer as I just started taking photos about a year ago. But here’s a couple things nonetheless…

    I started w/a beginner Canon and recently went through digging into the whole Canon vs Nikon mess thinking before I invest money in some real lenses that I’d figure out an answer to the Canon/Nikon question. And the answer I found is… there is no answer. Bottom line it comes down to personal preference. Though there are some factors can influence your decision. Things like: which model produces photos you think look better, if you’re going to be sharing lenses with friends what do they shoot? When you hold the camera what feels most comfortable in your hands. Every couple of years it seems C&N flip-flop each other on who has the latest/bells and whistles, one year C is better at low light next year N makes a better low-light camera and back and forth, so IMO don’t base your decision on tech specs so much, but what looks better, feels better produces a better image in your opinion.

    Second, and this was recommended to me when I started as an “artsy” started lens. Pick up what’s generally referred to as a “nifty fifty” lens. Usually you can pick one up for around $100 either C or N. The actual specs you’re looking for are 50mm 1.8f (again wither Canon or Nikon). Great cheap starter lens to get some artsy effects and give you some good creative experience. Here’s a link to those lenses on Amazon:

    And this site can be overwhelming with geek-speak, but it’s extremely helpful if you’re looking for info about a certain piece of gear.

    Hope that helps and somewhat made sense. πŸ™‚

    • y’all rock! Thank you so much Shawn for the advice. And thanks for the links too – I have a few months to research, so that will help. You are right – I have so much to learn. But so excited to start learning! I’ve started to try and figure out Adobe Lightshop too. Ahem… because I was flabbergasted at the complexity for photoshop – oye – was probably just me πŸ™‚

      Thanks Shawn – I so appreciate it!

  2. What he said. πŸ™‚

  3. As a photographer, I would say Shawn hit it on the nose. Solid advice. I personally shoot Canon. I love the way that it feels, and what I can produce. Others do not feel the same way. It really comes down to personal preference. I would say to try and not be swayed as much with what people say. Go check out the cameras for yourself. Get them in your hands. If you go with Canon or Nikon, you definitely can’t go wrong. Amazing photos are captured with both brands. I would definitely agree with his lens advice too. I need to go buy that Nifty-Fifty! I’m excited to see this adventure kick off for you!

    • I’m excited too! I’ve had this developing passion for photos the last few years, and getting to actually use a professional photographers camera on the Africa trip solidified it for me – I sooo want to start learning πŸ™‚ Thanks for the great advice πŸ™‚

  4. Nikon and Canon will both give good results. I’ve used both and as has been said, they tend to leapfrog each other in quality.
    In my purely personal opinion, Nikon seems to be a bit more user friendly with better feel in hands.
    With my current Nikon I can literally pick up camera, turn it on, autofocus and shoot picture with one hand. Same thing took 2 hands with last Canon I used.
    I would try to get a full frame camera. It’ll probably cost more and will be worth it.
    Speaking of cost, I’d get the very best you can afford, knowing of course, it’ll be outdated soon.
    On the 50mm lens mentioned, I would not get the 1.8 f stop version, its amateur version for both makers. I’d get the 1.4 50mm as a starter. Cost won’t be that much more. Plenty good used ones out there.
    Use your feet as your telephoto lens.
    Both companies make a good one and shooting wide open will not only give you a boost in low light, it also looks pretty darn cool, depending on your out of focus background.
    Happy Shooting!

    • thank you so much! I’m starting to save now… πŸ™‚ Just trying also to get my best camera for the money too. Thanks for the great advice!

  5. Hello!
    Ok I will give you advice witch was given to me, witch you will probably ignore, and when you will have experience you will probably understand it was the best advice.

    Camera is only the box before lenses. Camera can do something but not much, in your photographic lifetime you will change cameras, believe me, but lenses is what stays. So put more money into lenses than to camera, you will be able to change it latter, there will be technology developments etc. So start with your budget, put 80% of it to lense and 20% to camera not opposite (well usually everyone start with kit, but not best thing to do, then you have a good camera witch will be crap after 2 years asn crap lense, while after 2 years you will think how to buy better). If it is for close up portraits I rrecomend 80mm, for full body 50mm is standart. I prefer to shoot 200mm, but it is individually. Fix lenses are lighter, gives better results, zoom lenses are darker, lover quality, but hey, they are zoom πŸ™‚ The less zoom there are, probably better quality there will be.

    Decide about mark Canon or Nikon, this is only to help you invest in lenses, while the same price range cameras will give aproximetelly the same results, so no need to doubt too much, camera is as paintbrush for painter, whatewer you pick, it is you who make photos, so take the one you feel more comfortable with. (I personally hate Canons, they are too big for my small hand, while boys better usually with them). Well pritty much the same Shawn sad πŸ™‚

    And enjoy…

    p.s. sorry for my english.

    • Awesome advice – thank you so much! I was wondering about the comparison of lenses to camera – so your explanation is really helpful. Thank you! p.s. your english is just fine πŸ™‚

    • This is actually really good advice as well. I wish I would have listened to it when I was first starting out. Definitely learning now.

  6. Jenny, Steve’s Canon EOS took amazing portraits when I/we were the wedding photographers at his cousin’s wedding last Sept. It always has. Our friends’ Canon Rebels also take amazing portraits. All do well with action shots as well.

    Steve knows a TON about lenses and other technical stuff, but he doesn’t type well and he’s flying until 11pm tonight, so I can’t put him on the computer to respond. He also has several photography certifications and could tell you the value of his various classes. They must be worthwhile because he can get any shot, whereas I am great with composition but don’t always pull it off because I don’t have the background on the technical stuff. Anyway, if you want to give us a call, Steve could answer all your questions.

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