I don’t think I would change too much, because I climb my beginnings well 10 years ago. Usually, when someone asks me what to choose to start with, the topic starts with the equipment, so I will start like that. Later, we will move on to less technical issues.
The lens is the basis
I would start like today – by buying a decent lens. I would choose one that would meet my expectations in terms of the photos I am going to take. I wouldn’t look for a lens “good to start with” or “universal” for every occasion. I’m not saying there aren’t any, but they’re usually heavy and expensive. A good example is the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM , which costs about 16 thousand zlotys. When I started my adventure with photography, such a lens was Nikon Nikkor 24-70mm 2.8G , which cost about 8 thousand zlotys at that time. Of course, you can buy used lenses cheaper, which is not bad, but they will still be large amounts.
Usually, in sets with a SLR or mirrorless camera, we get the so-called KIT zooms in the style of 18-55mm, 18-105mm with 3.5-5.6 light. Today I know that if I want to have a van and a race car, I have to have two. If he wants to have a cheap and good lens, then the matter is the same. KIT lens is a term of manufacturers, for lenses added in the set with the camera. They are rarely clear. Their build quality often leaves much to be desired, not to mention the quality of the image. Many people, for example, refer to lenses such as the Sony 16-50mm f/ 3.5-5.6 with a camera cap. I had it in my hands and I agree with that. The difference in the price of a camera without this lens is about PLN 500, so there is no point in reselling it later (if someone wants to buy it at all). It is better to buy the body itself, and these 500zł to something decent. Sometimes there were exceptions, but then the difference in price is noticeable.
For starters, a SLR camera or a mirrorless camera?
In 2021, I would no longer choose a SLR, but look for a mirrorless camera. It would not have to be new, much less the lens – these age very slowly and can serve for years. I think to this day I could still shoot recreationally with the lens I used in 2010 with the Nikon D90, D700 and some time on the D750 . By choosing a mirrorless camera, we will also be in a more future-oriented system, because many percent are already starting to focus on solutions for professional photographers, putting a little in the corner of the SLR. There are also differences in design, while you can connect the lens from the SLR camera to the mirrorless camera with better or worse results, they are usually larger and heavier, and there is also an adapter that extends the entire structure.
Maybe a SLR camera?
For people who really want to save money, or are not sure if they want to invest in photography, buying a used SLR camera is a low entry threshold. Even with equipment that a few years ago was used by professional photographers (you have to be careful about the mileage).
Nikon D750 with a full-frame matrix, which is still a great piece of equipment, can be bought today for 2-3 thousand zlotys, similarly with the used Sigma ART 35mm f/1.4 , which is also a very great glass.
Full frame, APS-C, or micro 4/3?
I would consider the issue of choosing a sensor based on where we want to photograph and how much we can carry, because the size of the sensor is not so much related to the weight of the body itself, it is the later size and weight of the lenses. It cannot be said that a solution is the best, because the technology is developing and today APS-C matrices can match the full frame.
For a long time on trips I took the Olympus OM-D EM-5 II with a 25mm f/1.8 lens (equivalent to about 50mm for a full frame), which during the day was enough, and by the way was very small, light and silent (with a quiet electronic shutter). In worse conditions, there was no tragedy, which was helped by one of the best stabilization of the matrix. So I could photograph “views” from my hand at 1/10s.
What I could recommend to start with is:
The E-M5 is not only better in terms of shooting parameters, but above all a sealed body if you want to expose the equipment to more difficult weather conditions.
With Micro 4/3 there is a plus that we can use Olympus and Panasonic lenses interchangeably. My favorites are:
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8 – My only Olympus lens, very versatile. Corresponds to 50mm for a full frame. – price about 1499zł
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8 – higher, but also praised for its price/quality ratio – now it costs about PLN 999
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens – a lens that I sold after buying the E-M5 II, because it was a little too big for me, but today I would consider leaving it if it did not shoot too much from the hand after dark. Really great glass for trips. – price about 3199zł
On my blog you can find some photos from the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II + Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8 set:
Many people choose cameras with an APS-C sensor to start with and it is still a great choice, because in reasonable money, you can make a cool set like the Sony A6300-6500 with Sigma C lenses (16mm f/1.4, 56mm f/1.4).
A little more expensive, but in my opinion beautifully designed, and for this technically great Fuji cameras deserve attention. Many wedding photographers use Fuji X-T3, X-T4 or X-Pro2/3 series cameras. I myself considered trying the X-T3 or X-T4 as an alternative to the full-frame Nikon D750. However, it is still an APS-C, and the lenses are still quite expensive. Fuji is simply appreciated, but does not make such a linden as the screens in the Sony A7III, which is more expensive, and the display has like from any phone. For this reason, I also strongly considered the X-T series, because it has a really good feeling in every respect and it is pleasant to work on such equipment.
Shooting on a small sensor
If someone is also going to film a lot, then Micro 4/3 or APS-C in terms of price to possibilities is a great choice. Many filmmakers choose Panasonic Lumix GH5, and photo-filmmakers who mix photography with film work on cameras like the Fuji X-T3, which are also great for photos, even wedding ones.
Personally, I would prefer to add to the full frame in a Sony/Nikon/Canon mirrorless camera, if the budget allows me, but only in the case of funds for good glass. As I mentioned earlier, the lens is very important. I would consider used equipment in good condition. Full frame, often gives better results in low light, which I like, because I’m not a big fan of flashing the lamp. Especially when I’m on vacation and I want to have less to wear and be not focused on myself.
Learning to shoot for beginners
Having already chosen equipment, I would try to master such a set to perfection and squeeze its capabilities like a lemon. I would photograph anything that catches my attention, but at the same time I would try every new branch of photography. I would master the equipment until it becomes natural for me to use and I can fully focus on the light and frame.
I would choose the next elements when the equipment will be a limitation. I wouldn’t look for better photos in better equipment like people who spend thousands of photos on store sets that they don’t understand. Hoping that more megapixels and zoom lenses in the set will give better results than the camera on their phone.
The pictures of the house you can see were taken with a “cheap and good” Samyang lens, which was supposed to be a cheap wide glass for interior and party photography. This is where my needs end. At the parties it was ok, but…
How much I have worked with him to master his imperfections. If I did not suggest only the price, I would pay attention to the fact that each photo received distortion in the shape of a mustache. So I had to correct each photo separately with a special profile. It worked. Today I would ask myself if I accept these imperfections and want to struggle with them. I would borrow it, test it in practice, or check the raw files of interior photos taken with them. Maybe I would look for another one then, instead of relying on the reviews and opinions of amateurs like me, who only had more to say, and could not necessarily sense such nuances.
Own projects at the beginning
The problem with professional photography is that many people overestimate their skills, or want to start just to earn extra money and go for 12 hours wedding reportage for 500-1000 PLN and do not give advice, giving some mush of photos, which is hard to watch. Neither for them nor for the young it usually works out for good.
Do you want to photograph weddings? Then take a camera, but do not disturb the wedding photographer hired by the young. Maybe you will take fewer photos, but they will be only for you. If something great comes out, you can give it to the young. Maybe you’ll capture something that their photographer didn’t have the opportunity to capture. Learn calmly and experiment, in different conditions, and then go out with your photography to people.
How did I start?
I was having fun walking with my friends around the city, then some ruins and photographing them. Over time, I took more portraits of my friends, and took the camera to various events. When I had photos that I am happy with, I uploaded them to the network, or sent them to friends. Once I took pictures during the Warsaw Taste Fair and in this way we started cooperation on subsequent events.
I photographed my first wedding as the second photographer with Krzysiek from AFS, whom I met while doing a promotion project for a team of young dancers for friends. Krzysiek planned to set up his own photo studio, and I did not know anything about lamps and we agreed that he would help us in the studio session. Krzysiek then founded Studio Swing , and I used to come there for some time to the meetings of the Night Photo Marathons, where I learned to work with other photographers with flash light. My portfolio was expanding and the first inquiries about sessions or wedding photos began to appear on their own. People were convinced by my photos, not the price. This is the strength of your own projects. I’ll admit that I have to make up for it a little.
Trips and photo walks
Today, most of the photos I take for myself come from trips. I like to travel, so there’s a little bit of that. An interesting solution for people who do not want to move far are Photowalks. Thanks to Fotospacerom, I could not only visit places such as Warsaw tram depots, PKN Orlen refinery (a little further) or Frisco warehouses, but also meet other photographers and test Panasonic equipment, which was for some time a sponsor of events. Photowalks also organized a lot of stylized sessions, or projects developing creativity such as “gravity photography”.
Of course, there are other initiatives and projects associating photographers. Just as I mentioned earlier about Studio Swing and Night Photography Marathons, where you can master working in the studio and working with make-up artists and models, you can also act on your own. If someone likes cars, he can take the camera to rallies or events such as Warsaw Night Racing and photograph cool cars. The possibilities are endless.
From another barrel
As such an example from a completely different barrel, I can say on my example, when learning EXCEL at a slightly higher level than using the SUM formula, I do the same. Not only do I absorb theoretical knowledge and some exercises related to them, but I try to implement these solutions in my own work. What I learn I transfer to my own ideas with creating a budget, planning expenses, or other tasks that require calculations and creating reports. In this way, without pressure, I can still learn a lot.