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How to make the best out of the photography gears you have - The Photography Express

How to make the best out of the photography gears you have

Photo Credit: Nathan O'Nions Added text by ThePhotographyExpress

Photo Credit: Nathan O’Nions Added text by ThePhotographyExpress

Two of the most common questions I often get from people are “I don’t have enough money to invest on a DSLR but I’d like to learn photography, what should I do?” Or “How can I make the best out of what I have now until I invest in a decent camera?”. These are great questions and I want to give you my best advices in this post so they can help you if you are in this situation. Let’s get started!

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1) You don’t need a new camera

Yes! You DON’T need to buy a new camera to make the best out of the photography gears you have. I am not saying this to please anybody (because I know this is the answer everybody wants) but I am saying there are PLENTY of ways to improve your photography skills before you are mentally and financially ready for a decent camera.

If you visit my getting started page the 3 things that I talked about were INSPIRATIONS, PHOTOGRAPHY TECHNIQUES AND POST PROCESSING SKILLS. You need all these three elements to be a great photographer but you do not need expensive gears to achieve that. Buying the ultimate gears may probably give you the convenience to learn photography faster but if you are not prepare for it the pictures you produce will just be like  every point and shoot cameras. You now may wonder “what are the difference between buying a good camera now or until later when I can make the investment”? Well, let me walk you through the advantages if you own a DSLR today.

– You are now able to change camera settings in different lighting situation faster. For example, from Aperture priority to Shutter priority mode.

– You have a camera that can handle better in low light conditions

– You get better megapixels

– You get better frame per second

– You look “cool” compare to other people who owns a point and shoot camera

That’s it! Unless you are planning to hang your picture at the art museum, doing indoor sports photography for a magazine, or shooting long exposure of star trails for National Geographic then what you current own is enough for you to start your photography journey.

2) Focus on your photography techniques.

With the current gears you have, even if you own an Iphone or a disposable camera with 27 exposures, you can do the following to focus on your photography techniques. I’ve mentioned these in my previous post here, but what you can do now is to look up Instagram, 500PX, Pinterest and Flickr for ideas then use whatever photography gears to have to produce the same effect. Say if you see a picture that you like on Pinterest and you only have an Iphone, then try to use your iphone to produce that same picture. Doing this will give you opportunities to practice on your composition skills and train your photographer’s eyes.

To give you an example of how Iphone photography can make a person famous, Larissa from http://blonde-gypsy.com/ is famous with her iphone photography. She travels all over the world to take great pictures and she does not need expensive gears. I highly recommend checking on her blog and understand that we should not limit ourselves on photography gears.

3) The less is more

One of the best techniques I always tell people starting out photography is ‘the less is more’. What that mean is the less complexity you put on your photograph the better the photograph is towards the viewer. And the good news is we often don’t need expensive gears to produce that kind of images.

Take a look at the two images below. One of them is from my iphone and the other one from my Canon 5D Mark II. They both produce a great image for the viewer and any camera can do the same thing! So don’t let you gears give you excuses to not try hard in your photography skills.

Took this picture in Hong Kong with my Iphone 5s

Took this picture in Hong Kong with my Iphone 5s

Took this picture in NYC with my Canon 5D Mark II

Took this picture in NYC with my Canon 5D Mark II

4) It’s time to find your photographic style

We have been talking about not to buy new gears and to keep learning new techniques. Another thing I highly suggest you to do now is to find your photographic style. Think about the followings:

– What interest you when you go out and take pictures?

– What style of photography do you like the best? Portrait, landscape, macro, sports, pet etc?

– Any special colors you like? Perhaps black and white?

Now is the best time to choose your style and concentrate on it. That doesn’t mean you have to be a prisoner of your own style, but when you go out taking different kinds of photographs think about what is your ultimate goal in photography.

5) Challenge yourself in different ways

If you have done all the above and still have extra time, I suggest you challenge yourself or other photographers with the gears you have right now. Enter a photo contest on Instagram (by the way I’ve written a post here and here), do a 365 days challenges, weekly challenges and so on. In fact, there is a website that you can sign up for these kind of challenges with any gears you can think of here http://365project.org/. Another reason of not limiting yourself with the gears you have right!

6) If all else fails, follow these

If you still decide to buy a new camera, by all means please buy one. In this case I’ve a few suggestions for you to start without breaking your bank. Please note that this is for buying a DSLR camera only:

1) Try buying a 2nd hand DSLR from a friend. If you cannot find one buy from reputable local photography stores. For online purchases, use Adorama, B&H photos or Amazon.

2) Other than the kit lens that comes with your DSLR. Buy a 50MM f1.8 lens for your second additional lens. This is a sharp lens that cost around $100 and it will improve your photography skills.

3) Get an external flash. You can buy a cheap one for less than $80 bucks with a Yongnuo YN-560 III.

Buying the above 3 basic equipment will definitely make photography easier to learn but don’t forget to focus on the pictures and not the gears! Happy shooting photographers!

When should you invest in a new camera? What are your thoughts? Share with us below!

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About Gary

A passionate photographer with goals to fulfill your photography passion and motivate you to take pictures even when life is busy!

28 comments

  1. I love this, I think everyone should learn the most with the equipment they have and when they need to upgrade.

    • You’re right Natalie. Hope this post will clear out some of the struggle people have about their gears and their photography passion.

  2. It’s not the camera that takes the pictures, it’s the photographer. well said!

    • Thanks Melanie. Many people often tends to focus on the latest gear and researching what to buy. Those are important but I truly believe the photographer is what makes a great picture.

  3. I completely agree with #1. Upgrading your camera is usually last on my list of ways to improve my photography

    • Thanks Heather and there is nothing wrong with buying new gears either. As long as we stick to our goal to learn and be creative in photography there are many paths to this destination.

  4. I have the latest gears, almost, lol. Recently I was creatively challenged and inspired by a small group of hobbiests with their D7000s who were learning all sorts of photography techniques that I know many pros don’t have the knowledge of. Just inspiring!

    • It is very inspiring! Sometimes we are too drilled down to the techniques and forget about the creative side of photography. Looks like you’ve a group of people taking pictures together that’s awesome!

  5. Yes, trying to focus on working on my content now rather than technique! Good reminder!

  6. Thanks for the great tips Gary! I like your idea of focusing on your own style. For me I’ve let the technology side of things prevent me from even experimenting with photography. Thanks again – I’ve bookmarked this post.

    • You’re welcome Heather! And yes it’s very important to focus on our own style and choose what kind of photography we ultimately wants to major on. It’s a bit like going to college in the US where we spend the first 2 years doing general classes then the last 2 years we major in a core subjects. Similar to photography we should try shooting different things but we would want to have a set of strength that define us down the road. Thanks for bookmarking this post that makes me feel very special!

  7. So important for photographers to challenge ourselves at any stage of the game (entry level, or pro). It’s the best way to grow and create new and beautiful photographs. Well put together Gary!

  8. fantastic advice. i know some people still using the classic 5D and rocking it to no end. it’s all about what’s behind the camera.

    • Great example and I totally agree it is all what’s behind the camera. Nobody should have excuses to not learn right now with the gears they currently own!

  9. Great reminder that it’s not all about the gear.

  10. Great post! Totally agree with everything you said. There have been plenty of times I have loved pictures from iPhone or point and Shoot over my MKIII!

    • I feel the same way too Jennifer. Sometimes when I scroll down my iphone photos I want to post those on my blog more than my MKII photos in Lightroom. Isn’t that amazing!

  11. What a great and informative post!

  12. true. I wish I could make the best of what I have. There’s always 1 more lens that I really want though

    • Exactly! There is always another lens we want and we will never get to the point we feel satisfy with out gears. That’s why it’s very important to start learning and implementing our photography knowledge now! Thanks for commenting!

  13. What great tips! Thanks for sharing!!!

  14. Great post! Far better to learn technique and style first and then buy that new camera. Sometimes, you find that you DON’T need to buy that expensive Canon or Nikon when a lesser or older style camera will do the trick. Each to their own, there’s no one singular way to learn and improve.

    • Exactly Warren! There is no singular way to learn and each person is different. I see a lot of people with the most basic DSLR taken great pictures on 500PX, Flickrs etc. I truly believe each person should enhance their photography skill level first before thinking about upgrading gear. Once you feel you are being limited with the camera than think about buying new ones. Thanks for stopping by my blog Warren!