Any photographer heard this at least once in his life “If I had an expensive camera, I could take amazing pictures too” Well, needless to say, that’s not the case, but let’s go ahead and see everything that’s wrong with that statement.
Nowadays, most cameras, DSLR and mirrorless alike, have incredibly good specs. Of course, a professional will have a higher quality than an entry-level one, but with the right settings, you’ll barely see the difference.
The specs differences between an entry-level camera and a pro camera can be huge, but it depends on whether you know where to look. After looking at the Nikon Z7 or the Canon R5, you probably won’t want to check out an entry-level camera. Still, I can give you a few reasons why you don’t need an expensive camera to take amazing pictures, so you don’t end up buying an overly expensive camera you don’t know how to use.
1. It’s About The Composition
In photography, we have this amazing thing called the rule of thirds. You need to imagine (or even better, activate the grid) that your screen is divided into 9 squares. Well, your subject needs to be at the intersection of those squares in order to have people focusing on it. It’s known to be the most pleasing to the eye to have your subject on those intersections.
You don’t need to have an expensive camera in order to do this, and it will make all your photos look incredible. Even better, when it comes to macro shots, doing this will assure that your whole subject is in focus and your depth of field stays consistent.
2. Know Your Settings
Any photographer will tell you that you can’t just shoot in auto. Your settings will go crazy and your pictures won’t be close to what you wanted them to be. Instead, learn how to use them. There are three main settings you need to know. The ISO, aperture and shutter speed.
In order to understand how to use them, you need to understand what each setting does.
The ISO value is how sensitive the sensor is to light. The higher the ISO, the brighter the photo. In general, the ISO should be as low as possible to preserve the quality of the photos.
The aperture controls how much light passes through the camera and the depth of field. If you want a blurry background, that’s going to be your favourite setting(I know mine is).
Lastly, the shutter speed controls how fast the shutter closes. A longer time will allow more light to pass through the sensor, making the photos brighter and probably blurry if you’re not using a tripod. Of course the photos will look sharper the faster the shutter is too.
All these being said, you need to play with the settings and see exactly what they do and how to use them to your advantage.
3. Invest In Lenses
If you’re ready to pursue your photography passion, it would be best to work with the camera you already have and invest in some cool lenses instead, depending on what you want to do. In general, the biggest advantages are the fact that prime lenses usually have lower apertures and focus distance, so you can experiment a little more.
This being said, if you want to do macro photography, for example, you may need to get yourself a proper lens for it, but you will be able to shoot some very cool portraits with a stock lens.
Lenses to experiment with:
Macro lenses come in many varieties. You can find a bunch of different lenses here.
Low Aperture Prime Lenses
Prime lenses come in many sizes, the most popular ones are 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm.
85mm and over can give you some wonderful looks with a closed in background which gives more focus on the subject.
Vintage lenses are incredible for getting unique dreamy bokeh and looks. A famous one is the Helios with it’s swirly bokeh.
Lighting is one of the most valuable aspects to photography. Using light to create shadows and depth will make your photos stand out so much better than an ultra expensive camera with bad light. Creating depth in a scene can change it completely and instantly make your photos looks professional.
After all, if there was no light then there would be no photo! So do what you can to utilise the light you have to design your scene.
You can also do a method called light painting shown below. A simple explanation is where you put the camera on a tripod, have the shutter open for enough time to be able to paint the light, have a light source to draw with and you will get a result like this.
5. Color Grading
Nearly all professional photography has been corrected and color graded. So don’t think that it’s just the expensive cameras that have achieved the colors you see on professional shoots. These colors can be achieved on nearly all cameras.
Quick note is that you will need to shoot RAW to get the most out of your image, this gives you the ability to adjust settings afterwards like white balance etc. RAW basically saves a lot more data than a JPEG so you can push the colors further without the image falling to bits. Most cameras including beginner DSLRs can shoot RAW so it’s not just for professionals.
Again it’s all about getting the right light and then color grading to enhance those textures and colors.
Most popular photo editing software:
6. You Need The Experience
Just as with everything, you need experience if you want to make a living from photography. I know it’s not what anyone wants to hear, but it’s a fact. A few years ago when I started shooting, I remember feeling completely overwhelmed by everyone around telling me that I should take more pictures in order to improve. In time, I realized they were right. Nothing just happens, and if you also want to capture some amazing lens flares or the perfect bokeh, you have a long way to go. But the good news is that any camera can do it!
Happily, you can learn this in no time. And no, you don’t need expensive gear to take incredible pictures. All you need is to realize that you have all the tools you need in order to improve, and you don’t need an expensive camera to take amazing pictures.
7. Understand Why Professional Photographers Need Professional Gear
The moment you start earning your income from photography, you can think about investing more and more in gear, but invest in a smart way. Start by buying studio equipment such as softboxes, beauty dishes and backgrounds, and then start getting different lenses. When you buy everything, make sure you can use them together, and keep this in mind when you upgrade your camera.
A professional photographer may need to take fashion photos and have them displayed on billboards so they need the best quality they can get, but up until that point, you can do with just everything.
Some time ago, I had this “professional” photographer who rented the studio for a few hours. Everything was perfect, except the fact that she didn’t really know how to use her $2000 camera in the studio, and it took some time to show her everything.
The conclusion? You really don’t need an expensive camera to take amazing pictures. All it takes is a little bit of creativity!