F A Q.

1. What is the difference between hobbyist and pro photographers?

This is where I find myself wanting to say a rose by any other name would smell as sweet for some reason. Hobbyist is a pretty self-explanatory term. You have just picked up a camera and started to learn the ins and outs of the business, but when can you considered yourself more.
Let’s say you are going to enter your first photography competition and there are categories for amateur and pro. While you have invested the time and money into some equipment/classes/shooting, but you’re not sure when you would be considered a pro. Typically these contests will have a brief description giving you an idea what category you should fall into. If they don’t a good fall back would be if you make less than 25% of your income comes from photography than you can still claim hobbyist/amateur status. Hobbyist are typically capable of going pro.

. 2. What camera and lens should I start out with?

You can ask this question to any photographer and you’re bound to get a different answer each time. Essentially what you are looking for is a beginner DSLR camera that will grow with you as you learn. Nikon and Canon are two of the most popular brands of cameras, with Sony coming in very close in 3rd place.
?Both Nikon and Canon have great starter DSLR cameras. Their kits usually come with an 18-55mm lens with a VR Image Stabilization. These cameras are very easy to use in auto mode and can be easily switched into manual when you’re ready to try out your own settings. Their kit lens is a good starter lens, but does have its limitations. When you’re ready to focus on certain subject matters then you will have a better idea of what lens to get next.

3. Should I be shooting in RAW or JPEG?

The main difference between RAW and JPEG is the file size and quality. RAW photos keep most of the camera data, but the files are much larger than the compressed JPEG format. If your camera can shoot in RAW and you have the software to process the images then shoot in RAW. JPEG may be the better option if you are shooting large quantities of photos and you need access to them quickly. It really boils down to your needs as a photographer. RawExtractor is free software to convert RAW files to JPEG.

4. Do I need a tripod?

Yes, and a shutter release wouldn’t hurt either. Tripods help keep everything steady and looking clear. You don’t need to invest in an overly expensive heavy one either. There are some great tripod options in the $20 to $25 dollar range on Ebay.

5. Can you explain how filters work?

Filters provide an extra protective layer to the camera’s lens as well as help with lighting problems. Simply screw the filter onto the front of the lens and you’re done. The three most common filters are:
o UV filter – increases saturation and cuts down on haze
o Polarizing filter – helps reduce reflections
o Neutral Density (ND) filter – help with long exposure shots

6. Do I need more than one memory card?

It’s always a good idea to have a backup memory card. Memory cards like to stop working when you need them the most.

7. What are all these different lenses for and do I need them?

The kit lens should meet all your starter photography needs. Once you decide to specialize in one area or another you will get a better idea of what kind of lens to add to your arsenal. To get you started here is a list of some common lens and why you would need them.
o Fisheye Lens – this lens creates a wide hemispherical photo which can come in handy for capturing sports or panoramic shots. You can pick up a cheap fisheye adapter that will screw right onto your camera for under $20.
o Marco Lens – this is a magnification lens used to capture close ups of small items. If you enjoy capturing the tiny details that escape the human eye than this is the lens for you.
o Wide Angle – This is primarily a landscape photographers go to lens. The wide angle lens is usually around 12mm-24mm and is used to capture as much of an area as possible.
o Telephoto – this is the extreme zoom lens. They range anywhere from 70 – 200mm on up to 500mm.

8. What software should I invest in?

If you are going to invest in photo editing programs then Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are the best. If money is a problem than try free Paint Shop or GIMP. These are two free programs that are out there that offer some great editing features without leaving your pockets empty. You could also download Luminance HDR which is free HDR software or Photomatix , so that you can try HDR out too.

9. Do you have any more tips for me?

Join your local photographers club. This is a great way to get feedback on your photographs. Family and friends can be great to build up your confidence, but to improve you need real feedback on what you could have done better. Criticism is a necessary evil, so don’t let it bring you down. Above all else have fun!
Why not come along and visit our club and see if it's for you, Your very welcome