How to choose the camera that fits your needs?

When it comes to buy a camera, the possibilities seem endless.
In this article, I won’t talk about the new models coming up or even specific brands. I won’t tell you this camera is better, as it all depends on your needs (& financial capacity).
I want to help the owners-to-be to project themselves as photographers, as purchasing a “not-so-suitable-for-me” camera might keep you away from photographing & all the fun which goes with it.
I keep this article simple in purpose. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments section.


“The best digital camera is the one you have with you & use.”


There are different types of digital cameras:
- DSLR (digital single lens reflex) (full control over settings, with interchangeable lenses)
- Mirrorless or Four Thirds (lighter than DSLR; with interchangeable lenses)
- Compact (Point & Shoot) - (small & light without much -if any- control over exposure settings; lens is not interchangeable)
- Smartphone (you may already have one of these, so I won’t go any further)

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Now, I’d like you to think about yourself: what you want & can invest (time & money) now … & what you’re willing to do later:
- Your money investment range (camera + lens + accessories)
- Your skill level
- The weight you’re ok to carry around (maybe for hours)
- Your time & money investments to learn how to use your gear
- Your need of videos too
- Your desire to change your lens
- Your will to edit & process your images


And the things you might like to photograph:
- Close-ups (flowers, details, insects) - DSLR
- Portraits (kids, family) - DSLR or Mirrorless
- Sports - DSLR or Mirrorless
- Street photography - Mirrorless or Compact
- Travel photography - Mirrorless or Compact
- Nature or landscapes - DSLR or Mirrorless
- Wildlife - DSLR or Mirrorless

So, here are the steps I advise you to follow:
- Define what kind of photographs you want to take
- Rank the things which are the most important to you (video or interchangeable lens for example)
- Define what is a no-go (weight or budget)
Now that you have this in your mind, you’re ready to discover the 3 main types of cameras available in the market.

Let me tell you more about the different types of cameras, with their + & -


Compacts
+
They have the great advantage to be light & small. You’ll always find a place for yours in your backpack or handbag. They weigh about 200-300g, are about 10x6x4cm (the size of a wallet) and their costs vary between 300 & 700€ (for the “expert” versions).
They are very easy to use: “point & shoot” is all you need to do.
There won’t be much to learn about it (expect for the expert models) as they don’t often offer setting controls.
They would be good for street & travel photography.
Nowadays, they often offer 4K video.
If they offer Raw format, you’ll be able to fully edit & process your images.

- They can’t be upgraded as the lens is built-in.
They might not be good at sport (not fast enough) or wildlife (the zoom would reach its limits).
In low-light situations, they might not give you nice results (noise).
They are quite small so if you have large hands, check in a shop if you can access the buttons comfortably.

Here is a link to more info about the compact cameras available in the market in 2018.

Mirrorless
+ Smaller & lighter than DSLR.
They weigh between 400 & 700g (without the lens)
The variation of the sensor size creates a large price range: from 500€ up to 2000€, & in most of the case the sensor will be larger than compacts’.
The lens is interchangeable & you can have full control over the exposure settings.
You can buy a kit camera in specialized shops with a basic lens (18-55mm) or just the body & choose the lens that fits your needs.
Some brands choose an old-fashion esthetic.
Some of them have 2 SD card slots.
They offer Raw format so you can fully edit your images.
They have 4K video.

- The expert mirrorless cameras will be quite expensive.
The no-expert have cropped sensors (not sure it’s really a “-”!)
The lens offer is not always very wide for every brand.
Some of them have short battery life.
The viewfinder is digital so it uses energy
They are not that big so if you have large hands, you might want to make sure you still can access every button & wheel you need.
Beginners would need to invest on photo lessons.

Here is a link to more info about the mirrorless cameras available in the market in 2018.


DSLR
+ The largest offer for camera bodies & lenses.
They are a real long-term investment (from 1300€ up to 4000€).
The lens is interchangeable.
You can buy a kit camera in specialized shops with a basic lens (18-55mm) or just the body & choose the lens that fits your needs.
Some of them have 2 SD card slots.
They always offer Raw format so you can fully edit your images.
They have 4K video.

- The heaviest & largest cameras (from 800g up to 1,3kg without the lens).
Suitable accessories are a must, to carry & protect the camera & lenses.
They have large menus & a lot of things to set up. Help might be necessary.
They can be seen as a great target to malicious people.
Beginners would need to invest on photo lessons.

Here is a link to more info about the DSLR cameras available in the market in 2018.

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When you have the control over the exposure settings, and if you bought this kind of camera for this specific aspect, I advise you to find the best way for you to understand how things work. A lot of great tutorials are available on Youtube & on specialized websites.
If you know you need a face-to-face learning method (and you live in or travel to Istanbul), I’d be more than happy to organize private photo lessons for you.

Don’t hesitate to leave comments, ask questions & to share this article!

”A bit about myself”
My cameras: For my 30th birthday, I was offered my 1st DSLR camera: a Nikon D40 with a 18-55mm. I enjoyed it very much for many years. I bought a telezoom lens a few years later, to have a larger range of possibilities (it then became quite heavy!).
Then turning into professional, I upgraded to a Nikon D600, a full frame DSLR, with a 24-70mm, a 50mm & a 35mm.
And 2 years ago, because of some shoulder pain, I switched to Fuji XT-2, a cropped-sensor mirrorless camera, with a 16-55mm (equivalent of a full-frame 24-70mm) and a 23mm (equivalent of a 35mm).


How to evoke genuine emotions & feelings

Even though I think I’m nice & fun to work with, it is not always easy for all my clients to look at their partner’s eyes & show all their love when they’re outdoor, wearing a gown/suit & with a camera pointing on them… Anyone can be overwhelmed by the situation itself. Love, affection & tenderness for the other are here but might be hidden by stress or discomfort.

Last August, a lovely lady came up to me as she wanted posed images of her & her husband H. to celebrate their 1st wedding anniversary.

Posed images are something I almost don’t do, except for business portraits (one-to-one photo sessions). I mainly photograph people in action, walking in Istanbul, having interactions within the family, having fun.

How would I manage to evoke genuine emotions, to get them visible when my clients are just posing?

This is a challenge I always wanted to work on & that the reason why I invested on unique tips to create genuine happy & emotional moments during a photo session

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I want to capture their eyes saying “I’M SO IN LOVE WITH YOU!” & offer this memory to my clients”
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The 1st part of the secret ingredient is a unique type of preparation. A classic one leads to find the right place, the right time, the right outfits, the route during the photo session.

This special preparation is unique as the couple has to find, for example, objects that make them think about their other half or a song that reminds you of a lovely moment in their relationship.

This preparation has a hidden advantage: my clients arrive at the photo session excited about revealing to their partner what they prepared, just like kids!

When revealing their beforehand prepared interactions, I can see the magic gaze in their eyes & the body language begins to be more spontaneous. The couple feel highly connected & create lovely & intense moments. Just perfect moments for me to photograph, with emotions, loving states of mind, extra connections in front of the camera.

It’s really about them, their story, their anecdotes, their words, their love.
A very special thank you to Mrs & Mr LOVE 😍!

Scroll down to discover their live feedbacks & of course their photos!

How to prepare for a "Smash the Cake" photo session

The “Smash the Cake” sessions come from the USA & get trendy: so fun, so colorful & an amazing occasion to capture candide moments of the baby!

Such a photo session can be done when the baby is about 1-year-old: he needs to be able to sit without falling head over feet & to have the capacity to reach things. Still, it’s better when the baby is not much able to stand up or walk, so he won’t escape the scenery!

What about the cake?
The cake needs to be colorful to attract the baby’s attention. Avoid red & brown colors as they’re to close to natural “fluids” 😬. The cake also needs to be soft & creamy so it'll be messy and this is the fun part of it!
As the baby will be sitting with his legs around the cake set up in a low cake-stand, a 2-tiered cake will allow him to reach the top of the cake & then dig in. A higher cake would only work if it stays on the floor. It depends if you want the “fallen cake” image! The only thing we don’t want is the baby’s face being hidden by the cake.
Be generous with the food coloring for the frosting (to go natural, here are great tips!).
I know it’s not great for health but a sugary frosting will help the baby getting back at it.

What about the scenery? As it will get messy, I’d advice to set up the decoration behind the baby with washable items (rather than disposable ones). Be aware that there will be some food left on the ground so if you’re doing this outdoor & you’d prefer to avoid ants & insects to be attracted to the area, put a large cloth underneath the baby & the cake.

Which colors to choose? You can pick up a theme & coordinate the baby’s outfit & the decoration. Bright colors will create a dynamic & fun atmosphere.

Help is necessary as 1 person will take pictures when the other one will interact with the baby. To motivate the baby to touch & dig in the cake, don’t hesitate to show him that he can do it. Have also noisy & colorful toys to be shook around to get the baby look towards the camera.
I advice to be only 2 persons around the baby as the idea is to keep him focus in the cake or looking at the camera if possible. Too many distractions won’t help.
Keep siblings away too.

When is the time to have this session? Take into account the nap times & the lunch break. The baby needs to be fully awake & not completely full otherwise he might not be interested into the cake. Avoid having the photo session done before or after the birthday party, as it is tiring for everybody.

To the parents: during the session, with or without a professional photographer, you will - yes, it’s an affirmation 😂 - get messy too. Just because it’s fun, because their baby is having fun, it’s hard to resist not to go & help the baby picking the cake, helping him to smash it. So get dressed accordingly. You can also prepare a large cloth to roll the baby up in the way to the shower if it’s reachable. Or prepare a big bag to put away the messy clothes & have clean extra clothes. Baby wipes & kitchen paper rolls will be very helpful too.

Hidden workshops in the Grand Bazaar

A few weeks ago, I joined a guided visit of the Grand Bazaar.

'“Again?” you might tell me :). Yes, again.

I never get bored of the backstreets & hidden places in & around the Grand Bazaar. And even though most of the guides know the same “secret” spots, from one day to another, we never end up seeing the same things.

This time, I was very pleased to be able to photograph some “usta” (craftsmen, crafts-masters) working. Outdoor or in a dark small room, they work hard to create unique pieces. And always surrounded by cats, of course.

From the huge ornament meant to reach the very top of a cupola to the tiny tiny handles of sugar bowls, the tools & the processes are different but the dedication & patience are the same.

These “usta” might be the last ones to master these crafts.

If you want to offer yourself one of these photography, get in touch with me!

Teaching photography teaches me so much!

Last August, I was very lucky to meet a very nice & kind man called BT. He lives in Singapore, loves to travel & owns a Leica Q. An inspiring man with an amazing gear. Or the other way around, as you prefer :). 

He got in touch with me to organize photo lessons during his one-week holiday in Istanbul. I'm used to teach photograph to foreigners living here, one lesson every week or every other week. 7 days with 3-hour photo lessons per day was quite a challenge for me. And I loved it! We loved it! 

On day 1, we met to get to know each other & to go through the basics. Then, I organized 6 walking tours in different places in Istanbul, at different times of the day so we'll have to face quite a large range of situations & photography challenges. 

BT is a mindful, curious & hard-working student. He faced, like everybody, difficulties & mistakes but his will to achieve what he wanted to achieve was strong. It was great to witness him spreading his wings into the photography world. I could see he was not seeing things anymore, he was looking at them & looking for something different to capture.

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Albert Einstein, one of the men who worked on the most complicated themes, said that "if you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
So every time I struggle to explain a technic point, I know I have to study more, to understand more, to find new ways of looking at the situation. And then I study until it becomes simple & spontaneous for me to explain.

 

If I may, I'd add that you need to be able to explain it in different simple ways, so everyone, with different knowledge & backgrounds, can understand it.  
That's another trick about lessons: the teacher needs to discover the way the student thinks, understands & memorizes, in order to explain things in the most suitable way
So I ask questions, not related to photography, to find how to explain things to my student: I draw, I show a video, I give an example with the camera, I ask the student to do the same & to explain it to me. 

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The 3rd point is to give confidence to the learner by supporting them on their journey. Step by step, through hesitations & mistakes, that's how we learnt how to walk & that's how we learn everything. 
I'm always supportive & I listen to the doubts, fears, issues of my students. And I am very curious about the kind of photography they love & what kind of images they want to achieve. 

 

Learning photography takes time, efforts, commitment but it is simple. Not easy but simple. 

Since I gave photo lessons, I discovered myself much more patient than I thought & I learnt how to become a better listener and a good & positive critic

I feel very lucky & blessed to give photo lessons and to be part of someone's photography journey. 
To receive more info about my lessons, get in touch with me here

Here is the feedback from BT. THANK YOU so much for your trust & kindness! 

How a lens changed my photography

Nowadays, most of the people still think size matters to get sensational results.

When we spot a guy with such big & heavy camera, with a huge & long lens, we think "oh, that guy must a such a great photographer". 

The truth is that a "big lens" is not equal to great images. Neither so-called professional gears don't make someone with no knowledge turn into an award-winner. As I won't win any F1 race because I'd be driving a Ferrari. 

My first lens was the classic "kit lens" 18-55mm on my Nikon D40.
Then I wanted something bigger. I invested into a 28-300mm
Then, as I switched to the full-fram Nikon D600, I invested into a 24-70mm, a 50mm & later a 35mm
As I left Nikon to Fuji xt-2 (cropped sensor), I used a 16-55mm & a 23mm

But let's speak about first things first, here is a reminder of the major roles lenses play: 

  • Inside the lens, there is the diaphragm, which is the mechanism that makes a variable aperture to control the intensity of light that passes through the lens.

  • Along with shutter speed, this is what controls the exposure received by the film or image sensor.

  • A lens can be "zoom" or "prime". If there are 2 numbers to define the lens (16-55m for ex), you'll be able to zoom. If there is only one focal length, you'll have to walk :D!

  • The aperture & the zoom settings will have consequences on the depth of field.

  • The focus is made through the lens, either automatically or manually.

  • The lens might have an integrated stabilisation system to avoid motion blur.

 

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It took me quite a long time to find the lenses I love & which are part of my photography life now. 
I don't regret any choice I made, every step was an occasion to learn what I like, dislike & need. 

My photography changed when I began to use the 50mm (for full-frame - so for a cropped sensor, it'd be globally 35mm).
I had to walk. I had to move. I actually learn to go & get what I want. Walking makes me discover new places, meet new people & enjoy even more my photography experience. 

And I found out that I was putting much more intention into what I was photographing & at the same time, I was letting myself explore much more too. I just loved every aspect of using a 50mm lens. 

And I had to push a bit further composition & framing. To be honest, I think I actually learnt how to compose & frame. Using the grid on the screen, I worked in the rule of third or symmetry. I used the environment to frame my images. I just liked my work more & more, as I think my images were getting stronger.  

The great things about the 50mm lens:
- It's (quite) cheap, light & small
- It shows you the world without much distortion
- It very often has a very wide aperture, which makes it a luminous lens. 

Click here to read a great article about amazing photographers using specific lenses (and most of them are prime lenses). 

And here is a short guide about the purposes of lenses: 
8mm - 24mm: Ultra wide angle (fisheye): Wide panoramas & skyscapes, artistic
24mm - 35mm: Wide angle, Interiors, architecture, landscapes
35mm - 85mm (50mm common): Standard, General purpose
85mm - 135mm: Short telephoto, Portraits, candid
135mm - 300mm: Medium telephoto, Close sports, action
300mm+: Super telephoto, Far sports, wildlife, nature, astronomy

And here are the results of shooting the same subject with a wide range of lenses. See how the focal length has a huge impact! 

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