If you’ve ever gone on vacation, cell phone in hand, and returned home to find your photos somewhat lacking when you look them over on your computer’s larger screen (or even if you’ve printed them to the same effect)… This post is for you!
For our third installment of our “It’s not the camera” series, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t take a $3000 professional DLSR or Mirrorless setup to get results that you can proudly print LARGE. What if I told you, that you could be getting results with a camera and lens that can be purchased for (sometimes far) less than the cost of the latest iPhone… Is capturing detailed and artistic images important to you? Do you wish to be in full control of the end result? Yes? You’ll be pleased to know that these “hypothetical” scenarios are, in fact, well within your reach. The only thing you need, is a basic camera and some knowledge. If you’ve been following along, you’ll not be surprised that all images I am about to present to you today were taken with a camera that was purchased as refurbished for less than $400. Seeing how small it is when compared to a smaller Full Frame DSLR below, it’s easy to understand why it is so easy for me to take everywhere I go!
Before I go any further, I’m going to hammer home the primary point of all of these posts. Which, is to portend the notion that the single most important factor in photography, is YOU, the one taking the pictures. It is my hope to spread the idea that you don’t need the biggest and best to provide the world with your phenomenal art work. You simply need the desire and, well, the most basic ILC cameras (from any brand) on the market today will provide you with the ability to capture amazing images.
Today’s topic is loosely… Nature. Most specifically, nature scenery or, “landscapes”. As a quick aside, I’ll admit here and now that capturing wildlife (birds and animals in their natural habitat) often does require specialized and rather expensive equipment. Not to mention, this specialized area of photography requires far more patience, time, and knowledge than most people have while on vacation. So for the purposes of today’s post, nature scenery will be my focus.
For those who are interested in hiking, it is often the journey and not the destination that draws you into the woods. For those of us who like to mix a bit (or a lot) of photography in with their hiking fixes, it is pretty important to have a dedicated camera somewhere in your equipment. Concentrating on taking all the lenses and the best body you can get your hands on will get very heavy very quickly. Trust me, I know what it’s like to take 15-20lbs of camera equipment out in the woods for a 10 mile hike. My back almost never forgave me for that. It is for this reason I bought something light weight and capable. There’s something to be said for keeping weight low enough to actually enjoy the hiking experience. My little Rebel allows me to do just that, barely weighing in at 1lb with the kit lens attached, I hardly notice it at my side, even after 5 miles on the trail. I’ll typically bring along my little 50mm lens as well, just in case I want to grab some portraits of my beautiful wife, Jessica, or our pups as they’re enjoying the trail.
My first case would be the hiking “snapshot” which, to me, is a shot taken hand-held as passing through a scene. In this case, composition and making sure your exposure is correct, are the key. Many beautiful images in our gallery have been taken in such a manner, and I’ll say that these type of images can be just as beautiful as any, especially if the scene is blessed with amazing light.
Don’t think for a moment though, that this setup isn’t capable of more specialized photography as well. One of my favorite such cases is for longer exposures. Well, one of the reasons I grabbed the SL1 over comparably priced cameras was the touch screen. The touch screen implementation by Canon is well done, and makes tripod shooting a breeze, not even requiring a remote control to trigger the shutter (though, I do still have one, just in case it’s too cold for me to take my hands out of my pockets or, for the touch screen to work well).
And, just in case you’d like to see a couple of comparisons. I’ve got you covered. A couple years back we went to Colorado. Like all people visiting Colorado for the first time, we simply had to see Maroon Bells. Seriously… If you go, check out Maroon Bells… Especially in Autumn and, in the morning… Simply magical. But, I digress…
Directly below is an image taken with my Full Frame Nikon D610 of Maroon Bells at sunset. It is a tricky backlit scene. One, honestly, that I should have bracketed (even with the superior Nikon sensor) but, I didn’t. So, this makes for a great comparo here. The second image is one that our friend Tim snapped on the Canon SL1 that I had brought along for him to play with. You will find very little differences (aside from being edited several years apart). I did my best to match the editing from one to the other to make them look as similar as possible. I think the similarities are pretty obvious. The biggest difference is that my shot with the Nikon was taken using a tripod and a Polarizing Filter so, I was able to drag the shutter a bit to smooth out the ripples in the water. Had I used the Canon here, instead of my Nikon, I don’t think that the difference would be very noticeable to anyone viewing at a normal size.
And, just for a bit more of a comparison between a Full Frame and an APSC using similar settings and filters. In this case, the first image was taken by my talented wife Jessica with her Nikon D750 and a Tamron 35mm prime lens. The follow up was a shot I took using my Canon SL1 using a much cheaper Tokina 11-16 F2.8 (version 1) wide angle zoom lens.
To my eyes, it is pretty difficult to discern much difference between the image quality of the two images, editing nuances aside.
I can’t tell you that having more expensive gear is bad. I am a gearhead, after all. There are definitely cases where the added features do make a difference. However, most of the differences are what I would call “quality of life” improvements. The more pro models will provide more ability to access features on the fly. The bigger sensor full frame models will allow more flexibility, especially in low light situations where higher ISO is required. There are sometimes quantifiable drawbacks to using the APSC (Crop Sensor) models but, knowing the limitations (and sometimes, the benefits) of the smaller sensor rigs will be your key in delivering images that are very difficult to discern from a $1000+ Full Frame camera.
Do you have any beautiful images you’d like to share? We invite you to do so below! And, as always, please let us know if you have any questions. We will be happy to lend whatever insight we have.