The Beginners Guide to What Equipment You Need to Become a Photographer | Frank Minghella | Skillshare

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The Beginners Guide to What Equipment You Need to Become a Photographer

teacher avatar Frank Minghella, Perfect Photo Company

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

11 Lessons (1h 47m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. MODULE 1: Is Gear Important

    • 3. MODULE 2: Camera Body Styles

    • 4. MODULE 3: Is Size Everything

    • 5. MODUE 4: Considerations

    • 6. MODULE 5: Lens Choice

    • 7. MODULE 6: Flash

    • 8. MODULE 7: Tripods

    • 9. MODULE 8: Straps

    • 10. MODULE 9: Camera Bags

    • 11. MODULE 10: The Assignment

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About This Class

Hi everyone and welcome to the Beginners Guide to Choosing Camera Equipment

Choosing camera equipment can be really confusing especially when you are new to photography. The choices seem endless and deciding what you need can be frustrating and perhaps a little scary. This class has been designed to guide you through your options with simple to follow explanations and good advice. Think of it as your personal guide to choosing the equipment that is right for you.


As a photography teacher I have helped and advised thousands of students to navigate the complex world of photo equipment. I promise things will become a lot clearer as you progress through the class modules.

I will cover everything from DSLR and Mirrorless bodies and sensor size options, through to lenses, off camera flash, tripods, straps and bags. By the end of the class you will be well informed and ready to put your photography kit together.

I have also produced a handy information sheet to help you decide which camera is right for you. Simply follow along and check off the camera features that are most important to you. It really will help to lead you to the ideal camera to suit your needs.


I have listed the course modules below together with a snippet of what to expect in each. I hope you are excited to begin your photographic journey and you enjoy the class as much as I did in creating it.

Best wishes, Frank

  • MODULE 1: Is Gear Important?

    Gear certainly helps but just how much? In this module I will discuss how incremental improvements throughout your photographic journey will make you a better photographer.

  • MODULE 2: Camera Body Styles

    DSLR or Mirrorless? They're both fab, but which type is best for you?

  • Module 3: Is Size Everything?

    A choice of three - Small, medium or large = Micro Four Thirds, APS-C or Full Frame.

  • Module 4: Considerations

    Exploring what functions and features are important to you.

  • Module 5: Lens Choice

    So much choice, but it helps to know what subjects you like to photograph.

  • Module 6: Flash

    Forget the pop-up flash and switch to a dedicated flash head.

  • Module 7: Tripods

    Heavy or lightweight? Aluminium or Carbon Fibre? Which type is best?

  • Module 8: Straps

    Why quick release straps are so much better.

  • Module 9: Camera Bags

    How to transport your precious cargo

  • Module 10: The Assignment

    Upload a photograph captured using you new equipment and explain the reasons you decided to purchase the particular item.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Frank Minghella

Perfect Photo Company



Hello, I'm Frank, Photographer, media lecturer and obsessive creative. (and part time rock star... : )

Photography is my biggest passion and teaching photography allows me to share my knowledge and enthusiasm with others, which I love to do. Over the years I have taught photography I like to think I have created a whole new generation of creative photographers.


My mission is to unleash your inner creativity by giving you the skills to become confident with your camera. Once you have been shown how to get the best from your camera you will become capable of capturing exciting images and the Auto setting will become a distant memory.


I make learning how to use your camera fun with easy to follow animated explanati... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hey, what are you up to? Hi. I'm just about to start filming a photography class. Great, what's it about then? It's about all equipment you need to become a photographer. Sounds fab. What type of equipment? Well, cameras, lenses, tripods, flash, bags, straps, pretty much everything. Great, that's a lot. Can I be in it? Well, do you know much about photography equipment? Do I know much about camera equipment? I wrote the script. Let's crack on them. Fancy a coffee? Yeah, why not? So as I told him, this class is all about the equipment you need to become a photographer. Now the market is flooded with so much choice and it can seem really confusing when you start your photographic journey, so think of this class as your personal guide to how to select the camera equipment that is just right for you. Now, of course, it all starts with the camera and the lens. So we'll jump in, look at the different camera body styles and synthesizers. Then we'll go on to look at lenses, tripods, flash, camera bags, straps, you name it, we'll cover it. By the end of the class, you'll be well-informed and ready to go out and spend your hard-earned money. Now I'm so pleased to be part of your photographic journey and I look forward to seeing you in module 1. Is that coffee ready yet? 2. MODULE 1: Is Gear Important: Is gear important? Yes and no. There's no doubt that having better equipment will make your life a bit easier. But trust me, whatever camera that you purchase in today's current camera market will take absolutely fantastic photographs. They're already good. What can massively improve your photography and the quality of your images is by adding quality expensive lenses. No, I said the word expensive there because quality lenses are expensive. But they are a great investment because camera bodies come and go; they pass the sale by days and you replace your camera body. But if you invested in quality lenses, they will last a lifetime, and in most cases, they'll even hold on to the value. So it's a really great investment, but more on lenses later. Also, I'll mention it now, which is that you don't always have to buy the camera brand's own version of a particular lens. You can buy third-party lenses which work out slightly cheaper. That's a little tip for you. But yeah, quality lenses will make the difference. Obviously, a more expensive camera will take a better quality photograph, but by how much? Now there's been test that approves that if you took an entry-level camera and a more expensive camera and you were to pop the same lens on both cameras, take a selection of shots and then review those shots, then sure, the more expensive camera will have a better quality image but by how much? You'd be surprised on how close they were, thus proving that quality lenses do make the difference. But as I say, more on lenses later on. So why purchase an expensive camera? But clearly, if you got pots of money, burn a hole in your pocket, then why not? Don't let me stop you. But there's something quite exciting and refreshing about starting lower down with an entry-level camera or a mid-range and inexpensive camera. Then as you improve as a photographer, you will notice the incremental increases in quantity as you improve your equipment. I think if you start at the top with an expensive camera, you will never know any difference. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that, but I just think it's exciting as you make that journey and you improve as a photographer, you will appreciate those improvements in quality in your equipment. But it's entirely up to you, it's your choice, isn't it? I found in many cases as a teacher, that a lot of students are happy with their entry-level cameras or their mid-range cameras. As I say, as they move along, they just add quality lenses. Now at some point, you will have to update your camera body because as I say, they do pass the sale by days. It's a shame really because in some cases, they become absolutely worthless, which is crazy, isn't it? But yet, as I said, I know I've said it before, but those quality lenses will maintain and hold value whereas your camera body won't. But yeah, just know that that entry-level camera will be fine and maybe you'll stay with that and massively improve your photography and layout all about the skills that you need, and then you can make that decision to move up the ladder. But as I say, it is your choice, isn't it? It's also important to choose a camera that has all the functions that are important to you. I have a special formula, it goes like this. Budget plus considerations, so all those options equals camera choice. You can also download this information sheet. It's a PDF information sheet. You can check off as we move along the things that are important to you. Then what you can do is armed with the knowledge and all this information, you can visit your local camera store and handle some of the cameras because that's really important too. It has to be a good fit for you. It's a passion purchase if you like, so it has to feel good. But being able to physically hold the camera and having that list of features and functions that are important to you will lead you to your camera decision. As I say, you can download this PDF or you can just make a mental note as we move along. In the spirit of looking at cameras and what cameras to buy and quality, I thought it might be nice to show you the first camera that I started my photographic journey with. It's this one just here. It's a Nikon Coolpix 950. As you can see, it's not even a DSLR camera. Back in 1999 when I bought this, a DSLR camera would cost around about $25,000 which was totally beyond the reach of me, so I bought this. In 1999, this cost me $1,000. That's a lot of money, isn't it? It's a lot of money now. In fact, you can get a really great entry-level DSLR camera together with a lens for around about $400 or $500. So a $1,000. This just has a couple of features built-in. It's got a little switch on its top that says, record, manual, or auto. If you pop it into manual, you would get the option to select a couple of settings. It's got a tiny little lens on the front and a little screen on the back. It doesn't really offer you that much and yet, this camera was used professionally to capture images that I sold in galleries in the city where I live in Liverpool. I'm going to show you one of those. It's a rather large image and I'm showing it mainly for the size. It's absolutely huge image. There it is there. It's a panoramic image of a famous landmark in Liverpool. It's the Eleanor Rigby bronze statue. I captured it with the inexpensive, well, I'll say t's expensive, it was $1000. But I captured it with this camera. It's only a two-megapixel camera. What I'm showing you really is that even with a really inferior camera, compared to what you can get today, you can still capture an image that can be blown up this big and it still retains the quality, thus proving that whatever camera you buy, trust me, it's going to capture fantastic photographs. Now, this is stitched together with 12 individual photographs. Now we used to do that on a computer manually. It does make me laugh that these days, panoramic functions are built into some cameras and of course, you can do it on your smart device, can't you? You can just spin it around and capture a panorama. Whereas back in the day, we had to take individual shots and then stitch them manually on a computer. So that's the quality that I got with a two-megapixel camera. Now moving forward, I got my first DSLR camera, which is this one, and it's a Nikon D70. It's got a tiny little screen on the back, but it is a fully featured DSLR camera. Now, I use this for everything, you name it. I started off by opening up a fashion and portrait studio, and I used to capture model shots for the portfolios, or for the agencies, or for magazines, and personal portraits. But I went on to use it for everything, weddings, landscapes, you name it, it got used for everything. It was a revelation to be able to take the quality shot, with all those settings in a digital SLR camera. Now, of course the commonplace now, but back in the day, it was a great ground for me to start off with this camera. Now, over the years, I've had many cameras and I've tried every camera brand, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Fuji, Lumix, I'm sure I've missed a few. Now, I don't suggest you do that, stick with one camera brand and then whatever extra equipment you buy, lenses, flash for instance. If you stick with the same brand, if you update your camera body, then you can reuse and carry on using the same equipment. If you change camera brand, you've got to change all your lenses and additional equipment that you've got. Always try and stick with the one camera brand is my top tip. Why did I do it then? Well, as a photography teacher, 15 people can enter my class with 15 different cameras, and I need to know how they all work, and I need to be able to answer questions on all the different camera brands and models, so that's why I do. But now, I found that I'm going to stick, and I've landed with Sony, which I never thought I would do, but it's a good fit for me and I really enjoy using this camera. Of course, it's a full-frame mirrorless camera, but more on that later. This is the A7III, and I'm sure they'll bring out the A7IV sometime soon. But this offers me everything in a camera, that suits me, so will I update to the mark four? Probably not. But say in that though, I do have its cousin which is filming me at the moment, which is the Sony A7SIII. That cost me with the lens over $4,000, and I'm really happy with the two of them. So I've got a nice little Sony family of cameras. What are the improvements then that I've seen in cameras over the years? Now there's been quite a few. One of them would be the sensor quality. When I look at a photograph that I captured many years ago and I compare it to a photograph I've captured more recently, I can clearly see the difference in quality. Now, that's down to lenses as well. But it's certainly down to the sensor quality. The next one would be focus points. Now, there wasn't many focus points available on my early Nikon D70, this one has tons of them and I can move them anywhere, where I want them to be, so that's fabulous. It also as eye detection. If you're photographing people, the camera will find the subjects eyes without you having to do anything, which is amazing. They also have animal eye detection and pet photography is very popular at the moment. Obviously a pet's eye, a cat's eye certainly is different to a human eye and the camera can distinguish that, which is amazing, isn't it? Then there's tracking, so you can track your subject. If you're doing a sports photograph for instance, you can touch the screen on the sportsman or sportswoman, and the camera will make sure that, that wherever you put the tracking point, it will always stay in focus, as the subject moves through the frame. That's amazing, isn't it? Focus points have been a revelation over the years. Next one would be ISO, the ISO limits have gone through the roof. My early DSLR camera maxed out at around 1,600, whereas this camera maxes out at around about quarter of a million, through 1,600, quarter of a million, it's a massive leap, isn't it? The next one then would be Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Now, we take that for granted, but back in the day, that was unheard of on a DSLR camera. But now it's more commonplace. It means that you can control your camera remotely, which is what I'm doing at the moment. If I spin this round here, you can see that I am controlling that camera with this iPad, which is nuts, isn't it? I can change all the settings, I can do whatever I want remotely. Also, as you take shots, in photography mode, you can fire those images via Wi-Fi to your smart device, edit them, and then get them onto social media. I love using the Wi-Fi when I work for a client. Because as I take shots, they instantly appear on my iPad and the client can review them and suggest changes if they're not happy with the shot, so it's pretty amazing, isn't it? What next then? Articulating screens and touchscreens. This camera has a articulating screen and a touchscreen. Of course back when I started, that was unheard of, because there were no anything smart devices existed back then. To be able to touch the screen and move your focus points around and pinch the shot to make it bigger, so you can see, all of those things fantastic. The articulating screen makes life a lot easier as well. Lastly, the biggest one, last but not least, is the introduction of mirrorless cameras. Then we're going to talk about that in a future module. But yeah, mirrorless cameras have arrived and all my cameras are mirrorless, but more on that later. The difference between DSLR and mirrorless, I'd go right through there. But yet, certainly the new kid on the block is the mirrorless camera body. In conclusion then, all cameras in today's markets are fine. You just have to make sure that you stick to your budget, and that camera also includes all the features and functions that are important to you. Now, to help you I can say, you have this PDF that you can download and you can check off what's important to you. As we move forward, you can fill that in, take that to the camera store. Obviously, that together with being able to physically hold a camera to see if it's a good fit for you, will lead you to your camera purchase. But trust me, they all take fantastic photograph no matter what budget, that you have. As we move forward, as I say, I'm going to introduce you to various options, mirrorless versus DSLR, and sensor sizes and all of that. You can make that informed decision then. So I'll see you in the next module. 3. MODULE 2: Camera Body Styles: [MUSIC] Let's begin the journey then of how you select the perfect camera that is just right for you. We're going to look at camera body styles, and you have two options. Now, don't forget that you can fill in all this information on this downloadable PDF information sheet and the first one there is camera body style that's what we're going to look at. Camera bodies come in two flavors. You can choose the traditional DSLR type body or the new kid on the block, which is the mirrorless camera. Now, before we go any further, I have to say that they do exactly the same thing. All the features, functions, options, the way the camera exposes to take your photograph, everything is identical. It's just the mechanics inside the camera that are slightly different in that a mirrorless camera doesn't have a mirror obviously. What does the mirror do then? Well, let's take a look at a mirror inside a traditional SLR camera. It lives just behind the lens mount, just here. Don't ever do this with your camera by the way. This one is an old SLR camera. It lives just here. Why is it there then? Well, as the light enters the camera through the lens, it finds its way to that mirror. That mirror is just there to deflect the lights and the image up towards the top of the camera where it finds another set of mirrors, and that will deflect the light and the image to the viewfinder. When you look through the viewfinder, you're actually looking through the lens, which is pretty cool. Now with a mirrorless camera, there is no mirror. That process doesn't happen. What you get instead is a very small video screen that lives inside the viewfinder and that reflects everything that the lens can see. Wherever you point your camera, this little video screen will show you what the lens can see. It's quite clever rarely. In most cases that video screen is absolutely superb quality. Some cameras have OLED little video screens, little monitors inside the viewfinder. Now, early mirrorless cameras, some of them had really inferior little video screens and it was difficult to use that type of camera, but modern cameras now, honestly they all have really good little video screens inside the viewfinder. That's the big difference really. What are the benefits then of mirrorless over traditional DSLR camera? Well, clearly one of them would be size because you are removing a component from the camera. As the DSLR camera has this mirror in, mirrorless doesn't. It allows it to be a little bit smaller and it allows the lenses to be a little bit smaller. That's the theory anyway. But I have noticed over the years that mirrorless cameras are tending to get a little bit bigger, but then that said, if I had a DSLR camera of the same quality side by side, this would still be smaller, this mirrorless camera. But you can get really small mirrorless cameras. If traveling is your thing, and just having a smaller form factor in a camera then mirrorless would be the way to go. Because as I say, you can get them in some cases really small. If that's a consideration, just make sure you make a note of that on the little info sheet. Now another advantage that mirrorless has is in the continuous burst mode. When you keep your finger on the shutter release button to take a number of shots, an action shot or a sport shot, for instance, they tend to take quicker shots, quicker burst rates, and more shots as well. I know with my camera, I could literally keep my finger on it for hours until the battery run out. It is pretty amazing the way you can do that. Now with a DSLR camera, it has this problem with the mirror and has to keep flipping the mirror out of the way. That's quite taxing on the camera. It just makes so much more sense, doesn't it? It's more ergonomic with the mirrorless option. If sports photography is your thing, then mirrorless might be the way to go, but just let me tell you that there's been some iconic, absolutely fantastic sports photographs taken with a DSLR. Although the difference and I know mirrorless is better in that burst mode, it's not as if DSLR is miles behind, it's only slightly behind. I have heard the argument that a DSLR camera in flipping the mirror of the way in continuous mode can cause a bit of camera shake, but I must be honest, I've never experienced that. Don't let that worry you. As I say, they are very close, but I think mirrorless just takes the edge and takes the award. Now for me, mirrorless is the way forward. It's the modern technology, so all my cameras are mirrorless. Now if you start off with a DSLR camera and you buy a range of lenses to fit your DSLR camera and then in the future, you bought a mirrorless camera, just remember that those DSLR lenses will not fit on your mirrorless camera. Now they will with an adapter, you'd have to use an adapter. Now it's all about how the lens is manufactured and the optics are pushed slightly forward inside a DSLR lens because it has to accommodate the mirror. Whereas with a mirrorless lens, the optics are pushed backwards closer to the sensor. Of course, that is where the incompatibilities takes place, but an adapter will negate that problem. But it's another piece of equipment you got to buy, and of course, with a mirrorless camera, you adding that extra length or extra size to your camera with this adapter, but just note that you can do it. Now as far as cost of the cameras goes, I think you can get a really inexpensive entry level DSLR camera, and you can get an inexpensive mirrorless camera, but I think mirrorless cameras always tend to be a little bit more expensive. I don't know why, but they do. When you think about it, it hasn't got a mirror and so it should be cheaper, but then again, it has got a video screen so I suppose it balances out. Now when you get up to the top end and you're looking at a professional DSLR camera and a professional mirrorless camera, the prices are comparable, so there's nothing in it. Just to recap, then, mirrorless cameras and DSLR cameras do exactly the same thing. It's just the mechanics that are different. I have highlighted, I hope, some differences that may be beneficial to you. You can make a little source on here. Now if you're not sure and you want to wait as we go through to get more options because there are plenty more coming up, then just leave that blank. But they are your two options and they're both fantastic, and you can't go wrong with either. It's just for me that I think modern technology mirrorless is the way forward. I'll see you in the next module. [MUSIC] 4. MODULE 3: Is Size Everything: Is size everything? Well, we're going to look at sensor sizes. Now you've got a choice of three. You have the full-frame sensor. You have the APS-C sensor and the micro 4/3 sensor. Now let's start off with the full-frame sensor. Now, obviously, the full-frame sensor is the biggest sensor and therefore gives you the best quality. Now that's not to say the APS-C crop frame sensor and the micro 4/3 sensor don't offer you fabulous quantity because they do. But the winner has to be the full-frame sensor. By how much is debatable, but it is the quality of the three. There's another thing about sensor size and it affects the field of view. Let me take you through that. It's a bit mathematical, but you'll be fine. You stayed with it, you'll be fine. If I put these two cameras next to each other, this is a traditional SLR camera, and this is the full-frame digital camera. If I popped on a 24-millimeter lens onto this camera, and a 24-millimeter lens onto this camera, and I look through the viewfinder of both cameras, I would see the exact same image, exact same field of view. This digital camera full-frame, it replicates what a traditional SLR field of view could see. If you remove him from an SLR camera to a digital camera, then this full-frame camera would seem quite familiar. Now, all the dials and buttons would be a bit alien I suppose, but at least the field of view would seem familiar with specific lenses and that's the way that works. Now let's change this then to a APS-C camera, which has the smallest sense often known as the cropped sensor. I have my old Nikon D70 here. Now, if I was to pop onto this camera the same 24-millimeter lens, it would appear zoomed in. Now it wouldn't be zoomed in. But what it's doing is it's cropping out parts of the image and then filling the frame. It gives you the appearance that it's actually zoomed in. Now it's doing that because the sensor is smaller and there is a multiplication factor to apply, so 24-millimeter times 1.5 roughly would be 36. This 24-millimeter lens would become a 36 millimeter. It gives you the impression that you've zoomed in slightly. Now, is that a problem? Well, if you were standing in the camera store and you had a full camera and an APS-C next to each other with the same lens on, and you looked through the viewfinder you'd notice the difference. If you didn't do that, you wouldn't notice the difference. Is it a problem? Not really. I shot for many years with APS-C and I was very, very happy, but you just have to be mindful of that. Then, once you are mindful of it, you quickly forget it because it doesn't really matter. But it's something that you need to know. Now, the micro 4/3 sensor is something completely different. Let's have a look. Now I do own a micro 4/3 camera, you're going to laugh when you see this one. This is my micro 4/3 camera, and it's a special film camera. It doesn't take stills, well it does, but it doesn't take stills very well. It's for making movies obviously. This has the smallest sensor inside. The micro 4/3 sensor is the smallest and offers you, in my opinion, the least amount of quality as well. That's a margin on that camera I've just showed you, I put the 24-millimeter lens onto that body. There is a two times multiplication. It would look even more zoomed in because it's cropping out quite a lot of the image and obviously filling the frame so it gives you the impression that you've zoomed in. That 24-millimeter lens would become 48. Now, is that a problem? Well, if you consider that if shooting really wide-angle shots is your thing. Ten millimeters, for instance, 10 millimeter is quite wide. Then that 10-millimeter lens would become 20 millimeter. Is that a problem? Twenty millimeter is quite wide, so it's fine. But you just need to know that that there's a double multiplication factor on that focal length. Now, it has a benefit the other end if you think about it. Because if you pop a 300-millimeter lens onto that micro 4/3 body, it becomes 600 mil. From 300 double multiplication to 600. Now a 300 mil lens will take you over to the lion that's eating its dinner off in the distance, but 600 would take you over to the eyebrow of the lion. That's the big difference. Now my friend is a fantastic wildlife photographer and he's got multiple cameras, both for his nature shots. He uses micro 4/3 because its 300 mil lens becomes 600. He can get right in amongst nature from a distance. That could be your thing. Now, obviously, you can get a 600-millimeter lens for a full-frame body. But trust me, it's going to cost you thousands and thousands of dollars. Whereas that 300-millimeter lens with the, obviously the two times multiplication, I should say. That's going to cost you less than $1000, so there's a big difference. If nature and being able to get a huge telephoto lens that takes you off to where you wouldn't normally be able to photograph, then micro 4/3 could be the thing for you. All the benefits of the full-frame sensor is that it finds light really well, or as I say, photography is all about [inaudible] and exposure, and the full-frame sensor is fantastic in low-light. It also does a fantastic job with the right size aperture of isolating your subject from the background. If you like shots with a lovely, blurred background and a really sharp subject, then the full-frame sensor does a brilliant job of that. That's not to say the APS-C sensor is not that far behind. Because that does a great job as well. It's just that obviously the full-frame does it a little bit better than the micro 4/3 sensor. I think, in my opinion, and don't forget I do own one. I don't think it's particularly great in low light, and I don't think it gives you that same beautiful, shallow depth of field with the blurry background. Now you can do it and people will argue, well, I get separation and lovely depth of field with my micro 4/3 camera. Of course you can, but you have to get closer to your subject and you may not be able to do that. That's a downside for the micro 4/3. The APS-C is fine in low light and fine getting that lovely shallow depth of field but the full-frame is much better at both of those things. That could be something that's important to you. A benefits of the micro 4/3 system, however, is that it has a stellar image stabilization. The image stabilization inside micro 4/3 cameras is absolutely brilliant. It always amazes me at the shots and video that you can get using that image stabilization. Now it works because the sensor is tiny and it's on a gimbal. It's on a level access inside the camera. As you move your hands, if your hands are moving as you're taking a shot, it will compensate for your hand movement and give you a steady shot. Now in most cases, obviously, you're not going to get the hand movement recorded. But if you are taking a long exposure of say, a second but then just by breathing, the fact that you're alive, the camera will move slightly. Of course, that floating gimbal will compensate and balance out the shot and allow you to take, as I said, a longer exposure. Now moving up the APS-C camera does a pretty good job of doing the same thing, but because it's a bigger sensor, it's a little bit more difficult to make it float inside the camera and it's not as good. Then right up to the full-frame camera, which I've got here. This has image stabilization, but it is not as good as the micro 4/3. In fact, it's nowhere near as good because the sensor is so big, it's hard to make it float. What they do is when you put this into active image stabilization, it actually crops in slightly to allow for that movement of the sensor. If image stabilization is your thing. Nighttime shots, for instance, or long exposures, then micro 4/3 could be the way to go. But as I said, micro 4/3 is not so great in low-light setting. All these things you've got to think about. Have I noticed the increase in quality over the years with my cameras then? As said in the previous module, yes. I was really happy with my APS-C cameras. Of course, along the way, I got better as a photographer, more knowledgeable, and I could appreciate those incremental changes and increases in quality and arriving at the full-frame camera, and reviewing the images on the computer, I am really happy with the quality. Yeah, there is a difference between micro 4/3, APS-C, and full-frame. But I hope I've shown you some of the advantages of micro 4/3 and some of the advantages of full-frame, and in the middle, the APS-C got both as well. But it'll never be a gooder quality as the full-frame obviously. It's all about budgets. But there are considerations as I pointed out to you. Lastly, we come to pixel count and I've left it to the end because I don't think it's that important. I think any camera, if the sensor is above 12 megapixels, then it is fine. Now if you remember back to the previous module and I showed you the big panoramic image, that was taken with a camera that only had two megapixels and the quality was fine. Anything above 12 is great. Now, this has got 24 megapixels and the camera that's filming me at the moment has only got 12. As long as it's above 12, honestly, it's fine. Now, there are cameras that shoot above 50 megapixels, and I've never owned one of them. I would like one though. But would I use it a lot? Imagine this, I'm going to give you a scenario then with a camera that's over 50 megapixels. Think about this. If I was photographing a model in the studio, I could take a full-length shot of the model and she might have jewelry, earrings, or wherever, and fantastic makeup that the makeup artist has done. But I will take a full-length shot to get the shoes in, to get everything in. Because it's 50-megapixel image, I can, on the computer, zoom in, and get a head and shoulder shot. Because its pixel count is that high, I can zoom in and just get a face shot with the jewelry and the fantastic makeup all from one shot. That's pretty cool, isn't it? Again, if you're a landscape photographer, same thing. There might be a lighthouse off in the distance, so you can get a lovely, wide landscape shot. But then you could make the subject of the shot just the lighthouse just by cropping in on the computer. That's amazing, isn't it? Now the file sizes tend to be huge. You need the processing power on your computer to handle all that. Now, I never owned one, but they are the advantages of the higher pixel count. Now generally, as a said, anything above 12 is fine. You've got to think about where your images are going to go as well. Are they going to go online, are they going to be printed or how big are they going to be printed? Honestly, anything above 12 will be fine, trust me. I'll see you in the next module. 5. MODUE 4: Considerations: Not every camera offers you exactly what you're looking for. So you have to cherry-pick which sorts of features and functions that are important to you. That's what we're going to take a look at. So don't forget, you can check them off on this little information sheet and make a note as we move along as I say what is important for you. So the first one we'll look at then is physical size and weight. Now the size and weight of a camera has never really been that important to me. This camera though, is fairly heavy. But if this was a DSLR camera with a battery pack on the bottom, so the battery grip, it would be a really huge camera. I haven't handled a camera like that, it is much too big, bulky, and heavy for me. So if you're going to go travel and you want to carry your camera around, but not to take up too much space, then obviously physical size and weight would be important to you. Cameras such as the micro 4 third body is a smaller option, as is going mirrorless rather than DSLR. So the best way to determine if the camera is the right size and weight for you is to visit the camera stores and then to pick a camera up and go, oh, that's a bit too heavy or that fits nice. So that is what I would suggest you do. So that is your first option then, physical size and weight. Now the next one is number of pixels. We did touch on this earlier, and as I said, anything over 12 megapixels is fine. But you may want to consider the really high-end above 50 megapixels if that's your thing. I've never owned one of those cameras, like I said earlier, but yeah so that's a consideration, but it's an easy one. This because like I say, anything over 12 megapixels will be fine. Next on the list then is ergonomics and ease of use. Now, cameras offer you a menu system. Diving into the main menu can seem really confusing especially when you starting off on your photographic journey. But they will also offer you a quick menu. Now all cameras have a quick menu. But the quick menu offers you the functions that you will use more often than some of the other ones that are buried inside the menu. So as I say, most cameras will have this quick menu. The next thing is the amount of buttons and that offer you direct access to certain features. Now the smaller the camera body becomes, the less buttons and direct access buttons will be available. So that's something for you to think about. This camera has quite a lot of buttons. I think most cameras will offer you a direct white balance button or a direct ISO button, for instance. But with a camera like this, the bigger it goes, they will offer you customizable buttons but we'll talk about them later. As a photographer, if it's your main job, if it's your career, then having all those buttons makes things a little bit quicker. So certainly for the paparazzi, they would be able to have the camera to their eye and know instinctively where those buttons were to change things very quickly. So that ergonomics and ease of use could be important. Now, most cameras' menu systems are easy to navigate around. When I jumped to Sony cameras, the menu system was really difficult to follow and understand and it wasn't very logical. Now they've changed that with the newer camera that I'm using today, the 7S III on the menu system. There is more in keeping with what you'd find on other DSLR cameras. I think entry-level DSLR cameras, mirrorless cameras, they do make things a little bit easier for you as well. Obviously, there's less functions and options. So they can be easier when you're starting off. So that is that one done, ergonomics and ease of use. Next one is the articulating screen. Again, we touched on this area. Now, I couldn't live without an articulating screen, but for many years I didn't have a camera that had an articulating screen on it. But now I couldn't live without it, to be honest. To be able to flip the screen out is fantastic. I love low-level shots. Now in the past, before I had an articulating screen, I'd have to lie on my stomach to get the shot. So you could either see the screen or look through the viewfinder. Now it's easy because I can just bend over and I can see everything on the screen. The same for high-level shots as well, you can angle the screen back as you take in a shot. Of course, you can get flip-out screens. So the camera that's filming me at the moment has a flip-out screen and I can see my face in the screen. It's a bit scary but I can see it. So yeah, articulating screens, and I say not all cameras will offer you an articulating screen, and certainly, an entry-level DSLR camera is not included. So while we're talking about screens, let's mention the touchscreen facility. Now, not all cameras have that either. This camera has a touch screen, but it only allows me a limited amount of functions when I touch the screen. I can move the focus point around, for instance. But I can't change any menu items. My new camera that's filming me today that has everything. Any feature I want to change, I can change using the touchscreen. I guess with the smart device age that we live in, we're all familiar with swiping through and touching the screen to change things. So if that's your thing, look for a camera that has the articulating screen and touch screen, right. Next on the list is autofocus. Now again, I've talked briefly on autofocus in a previous module. But over the years the autofocus on cameras has got better and better and better. Now we have such things as eye autofocus and that's what I'm using today, so the camera is actually continually focused on my eye. Fantastic for taking portraits because you just point the camera at your subject and it will find the eye straightaway. Of course, that's what we focus on when we're shooting a portrait. So that eye autofocus is new. Eye autofocus for animals, because animals, obviously, a cat has got a completely different eye to a human, would you believe? So. Honestly, pet photography is really, really popular at the moment so having a camera that has got an eye detection for animals is fantastic. Then there is the way you can track a subject through the frame and I think that's great. It's great for sports because you can touch the screen onto the source of sportsman or sports woman and then as they move and as you are taking shots, it will always maintain the focus wherever you put that tracking point. That's fantastic. Not all cameras will do that and not all cameras are fantastic at doing that even if they offer that facility. If that's important to you, as I always say, put a check in the box. Number of card slots. Now, all my cameras throughout the years, I've only had one card slot until now. All my cameras have two card slots. If I just show you on this, I open this up, I have two cards in this camera. There they are there, two cards. What's the benefit of having two cards? Well, I can't believe that I had a camera that just had one card slot. Now, let me just say if the camera you are looking at only has one card slot, it's fine, don't worry. But I think if you're going to treat it as a career, you really need to have a camera that has two card slots. Imagine if you're a wedding photographer and you are photographing the wedding and after the wedding, and the card is corrupted and then you've lost all those wedding photographs. Having two card slots, allows you to have the second card as a backup so it will obviously as you take a photograph it will send the image to both cards. That's like a safety feature. You could set your camera up where one card slot record JPEGs and the other card records row images. That's another way of doing it. It can be an overflow, so all the images go to the first card, once that's full, it will then jump to the second card. There's various things you can do. On my camera, I will have one card set for video and one card set for photography. Having two card slots is really useful. Now, if it's a hobby, photography is only ever going to be a hobby then one card slot is fine. But I think if you're going to be professional two card slots, makes more sense, doesn't it? Next one, burst rate. This could be important to you, again we touched on this earlier. Some cameras have a fantastic continuous burst mode, some cameras don't. Now, when I teach a full class, if somebody arrives to the class with a very entry-level DSLR camera and one of the laws of workshops we do involves continuous burst mode. It does amaze me that the buffer on the camera, so what happens when you press the button, shutter release button, it starts to take shots. It has to write them to a buffer and the buffer is in-between pressing the button and actually sending the photographs to the card. On some entry level cameras, I've noticed that when you press the shutter release button, the buffer it can only take a limited number of shots, maybe six or seven. Then it will start slowing down as it's moving the images from the buffer to the card. If sports photography is your thing, or fast nature shots, then you need a camera that's got a fairly good continuous burst rate, so make sure you do that. I just don't want it to go out and buy an entry-level DSLR camera, because you're going to be shooting sports events and then it only takes six shots and the buffer is full and I'll have to wait. Just bear that in mind. A mirror-less cameras tend to be slightly better and have a better burst ways. But as I said earlier, DSLR cameras are not far behind. Next one then, these are in no particular order by the way because I don't know what's important to you. Just make that point as well. The next one is whether the camera is weather proofed. Now not all cameras are weather proofed. Now I say weather proofed rather than water proof. The weather proof on some cameras is fantastic. I wouldn't like to drop it in the ocean, but they are sealed really well. Now of course, if you've got a weather proof camera, you need a weather proof lens. Otherwise, it's a waste of time, isn't it? Yeah, because what happens is, as you zoom out on your lens, the moisture can get onto the actual body of the lens and then as you zoom back in, the water is then inside your camera. So you would need a waterproof or weather proof, we should say, weather proof lens as well. If you're going to be out in the elements shooting a lot in climate weather then I would suggest a camera that has got a good weather proof rating. Next one, then it's customizable buttons. On my camera, I have a selection of customizable buttons, C1, C2 on the top, the C3 over here. I can go into the menu system and customize those buttons. If I want a particular function, specifically where I want it to be on the camera body, then I can do that. Now, it's more high-end professional feature, and you may never, ever find a use for it, and of course I do, because my camera is set for video and photography so I can customize those buttons for video or photography, so it's something for you to think about. But, only you will know the right answers about whether those customizable buttons are something that's important to you. Next one is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Again, I've mentioned this earlier, but Wi-Fi and Bluetooth is fantastic. As I've said previously, here is me. Now, I hope the light doesn't shine on that, I don't know. But yeah, there's me and I'm using this iPad to control the camera and I can change the shutter speed, the aperture size, I can change everything with this, which is amazing, isn't it? Not all cameras have built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so look for that if it's important to you. An application for Wi-Fi, for instance, could be a nature shot because your camera could be some way off and you could be hidden behind a bush controlling it with the Wi-Fi part and with the Wi-Fi link, which is amazing, isn't it? Also, obviously, as you take shots, you can fire them to your smart device, which is really good. You could take quick shot, fire them to your smart, say device, a quick edit on that and then they're on social media straight away. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, if that's important to you, as always, put a check in the box. Then finally, as I've mentioned, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, it seems only right to mention the actual app itself, because what I've found over the years is that some apps are a bit clunky and some apps work fine. Every camera manufacture will have its own app that you can download. The Sony app I'm using today, I will eventually go it work and so it might be a bit of trial and error to do that. Some apps work fantastic. I remember the Canon app often used to let me down when I was teaching, but then it seemed to fix itself and get better. Things are bit with trial and error, but once you've got them settle it's fine. Just remember as well that when you using Wi-Fi on your camera, it's generating its own Wi-Fi signal, and that is taxing on the battery. So that's something else for you to bear in mind. That's just made me think of something that isn't on the list. Maybe I will add it. That is battery power. It's often overlooked. Many times, students will arrive at one of my classes and they will have only brought one battery. Now in the case for this camera, the battery is quite large and would easily last all day. But on the smaller cameras, the entry-level cameras, they tend to come complete with a smaller battery that hasn't got as much power and so you've got to be careful. If I bought an entry-level DSLR camera, I would buy batteries to go with it. I wouldn't just rely on one battery. If battery power, if you think you're going to shooting quite a lot, then battery power could be a consideration for you as well. On the Micro Four Thirds camera I showed you earlier, I use for cinema stuff, and the battery on that last about 15 minutes and then dies, which is naughty, isn't it? So I had to buy a massive USB power pack to go with it. You won't have to worry about that. But as I say, entry-level cameras and the smaller body cameras, tends to smaller batteries, which don't last as long. I'll see you in the next module. 6. MODULE 5: Lens Choice: One of the questions that I get asked on a regular basis is, Frank, which lens should I buy next? I almost get asked that as much as which camera should I buy next? But which lens is the best, or which lens do you think I should buy next? The thing is, there isn't one lens that covers every focal length perfectly well. There's some that attempt to do it. But as I mentioned in a previous module, investing in good quality lenses for the specific purpose will massively improve the quality of your photography. It really does help to know the subject matter that you are going to be photographing. If you're really keen on landscapes, then obviously buy a lens that is more adept at capturing landscapes. If you're more into photographing people and portraits, then opt for a portrait lens. You will find that photographers have a bag full of various lenses that cover every single aspect and genre of photography. Of course, when you start off, that's a bit difficult because it's all about purchase and money. But yes, that is the answer. There isn't one particular lens that I would recommend that covers everything. Let's take a look at the human eye. What focal length is our eye? Well, our eye see around about 50 millimeter and they're fixed. We can't zoom in and zoom out. So they're fixed at 50 millimeter. It stands to reason that anything below 50 millimeter, the image would start to go wider. So wide-angle lenses begin at around about 10 millimeter, and then all the way up to what your eye can see, at 50. This makes the 50-millimeter lens one of the most popular lenses because if you had a 50-millimeter lens on your camera body, then if you saw something that you liked, you could literally just point the camera at that subject and it would capture exactly what your eye could see. We've established that then your eye sees at 50 millimeter, anything below that, it goes wider. Now, obviously, anything above 50 millimeter, you would start to zoom in. Those focal lens can go up to say, 600 millimeter, which is telescopic almost. It will take you right off into the distance. As I say, our eyes, fantastic though they are stuck at 50 millimeter. Therefore, anything wide from 10 millimeter onwards is great for landscapes, cityscapes, group shots, interiors. There's a whole heap of things that a wide-angle lens would cover. Then anything above 50 millimeter, same thing you start to zoom in. I reckon 80 mil, 100 mil is fantastic for portraits. Then as you increase that focal length, it takes you way off into the distance. It does help to know the specific genre of photography that you want to photograph. But in an ideal world, that's what we do. But we don't live in an ideal world. That is why you will probably have a camera bag full of different lenses that cover different subject matter. There are two types of lenses, the variable focal length lens and the fixed lens or prime lens. So let's take a look at variable focal length. I got my old friend, my old Nikon D70. The focal length on this lens, and it's always written around the barrel of the lens. This one is 18-70. So along the way, it does actually hit 50 mil, which is what our eye can see. But anyway, 18 is fairly wide and 70, it's just zooms you in slightly so it's not bad for portraits, this lens. So that is a variable focal length. If you buy an entry-level K camera, DSLR camera, they generally come with that 18-55, and that's not a bad focal length. This one actually came with the 18-70 focal length. Now, the other type of lens is the prime lens or fixed lens. That's what I have on this camera, and that's what this one is too. These are fixed, they don't zoom in and they don't zoom out. They are just fixed. This one is fixed at 30 millimeter and this one, if I remember rightly, is 16 millimeter. What's the advantage then of a prime lens? A prime lens, the optics tend to be much better than a variable focal length lens. That's the first thing. The second thing is the actual aperture size tends to be bigger. The aperture size on this lens is 1.4. That's the biggest aperture size. Now, the lens filming me at present is my favorite lens, which is the 24-70. The biggest aperture on that lens is 2.8. That might sound similar 1.4, 2.8, but honestly, there's a big difference between the two and the amount of light that this lens will let in at 1.4 is superior to the 2.8. Also, if you look at that of separation, your subject from the background with a blurry background, 1.4 does an amazing job of doing that. The downside with prime lenses is the cost. They tend to be more expensive because of the better optics. But also, it's the fact that you would need a number of them to cover every focal length. If we take a look at my old friend, my Nikon D-70, and we have a look at the lens, this variable focal length lens. We know it's 18-70. Also on the barrel of the lens, it will tell you the maximum aperture size. In this case, it's 3.5 to 4.5. You may think, well, can't make his mind up. Or you might think that's the range. A lot of people say, well, my lens only goes from 3.5 to 4.5. It doesn't mean that, it just means that that is the maximum aperture size. There's two of them. We're going to look at that in a minute. Maybe you've got the kit lens, the 18-55, which is generally 3.5 to 5.6 and all that means is, they are the two maximum aperture sizes. When I am zoomed-wise with this lens, it's on 18 mil, so it's nice and wide. I can have a 3.5 aperture. Now when I zoom in, so I'm now a zoomed to 70 million. At 70 mil, it automatically closes down without me asking, without me telling what to do, it will close it down to 4.5. So it will actually shut it down. That is what happens with a cheaper lens, it will just do that automatically. If you've got a kit lens, an 18-55, and the two maximum aperture sizes are 3.5 to 5.6. Then when you are 18 millimeter, the camera will allow you to have 3.5 aperture. But when you zoom in to 55, it will close the aperture down to 5.6. That is one of the source of bad points rarely about a kit lens or a cheaper lens. The lens that's filming me at the moment is a 24-70. It's got a what's called a constant aperture. I've set it to 2.8, and because it's a more expensive lens with this constant aperture, when I zoom in or zoom out, if I want to 2.8, it will stay at 2.8. Of course, it got all the other sizes too, but that was what a constant aperture lens does and you pay more money for that. You might see two similar lenses when you're looking online, both with the same focal length, and you think, why is one more expensive than the other? It's to do with the aperture size, in that, it will have the constant aperture and it won't automatically close down like it does on a kit lens. Obviously, you can have better optics as well in the more expensive lens. As I say, the prime lenses offer you that extra bit of equality and that larger aperture size. You don't always have to buy the manufacturer's lens. I shoot with Sony, but I don't use Sony lenses. Not that I don't like Sony lenses. I think they're great, but they're expensive and there are alternatives. So I shoot with these Sigma lenses and the lens on the camera that's filming me at the moment is a Tamron lens. I've had that Tamron lens a number years and I think it's absolutely fantastic. As I say, these Sigma lenses are fantastic as well. What you need to do is have a look at the reviews online. There is a website made by Ken Rockwell. It's a fantastic website and he does wonderful reviews. I trust what he says. When I'm thinking about buying a new lens, I can take a look on his website and see if he has done a review. The other thing you can do is you can hire lenses. If you're unsure, why not hire lens for a couple of days, it's very popular at the moment, and you can decide if it's right for you. As I say, these third-party lenses tend to be cheaper, but still have wonderful quality. So my advice would always be to get a variable focal length lens and a couple of primes. At least if you get the 50-millimeter lens, that seems to be the most popular with photographers, they call it the nifty 50. Most photographers you will find will have a 50 mil lens in their bag. Some will argue and say 35-millimeter. That's because remember you've got that multiplication factor, so if you've got an APS-C camera, there's a 1.5 time multiplication making that 35-millimeter lens, 50-millimeter. It's up to you. I'll let you do all the mathematics. Another consideration is that some lenses have built-in image stabilization. Together with the cameras in body image stabilization, couple that with the image stabilization and the lens, and you've got the opportunity to take really slow shutter speeds. Now, I have lenses with image stabilization and I have lenses without. I use it sometimes and sometimes I don't. If you buy a lens that doesn't have image stabilization, don't worry. Neither of these two lenses have image stabilization nor has the lens that shoot me at the moment. It's not a problem for me, but it's something for you to consider. If you own an APS-C camera or if you purchase an APS-C camera, that's the crop frame sensors name, and you move on eventually to a full-frame body, those lenses that you had for your APS-C body will not work on the full-frame sensor. It don't simply won't work. What you can do though, is if you have an APS-C camera, you can buy a full-frame lens. That's what I did when I shot with APS-C cameras. I would buy full-frame lenses, knowing that when I made the jump to a full-frame body, that the lenses would be compatible. It works one way, i.e., full-frame lenses work on APS-C, but it doesn't work the other way where APS-C work on a full-frame body. So just something for you to bear in mind as you start purchasing your camera equipment. Just to recap, you have the variable focal length lens and the fixed O prime lens. The fixed O prime lens gives you a better image quality and a larger aperture size. In the variable focal length lens, keep an eye out for that constant aperture because it's fantastic that you can zoom in and zoom out and keep that wide-open aperture. As I say, kit lenses tend to have the variable aperture as you zoom in and zoom out. Now, as far as focal lengths are concerned, that's your decision because I think you need a range because it's okay, say in that, well, I'm only going to photograph landscapes, but one day, you'll want to photograph something else, I'm sure you will. So it does help if you know your subject matter. But as I say, are IC 50 mil, anything below that is going to go wide. Just bear that in mind. Anything above 50, as I say, portraits are greater to 100 millimeter. Then beyond that, it's the realm of the telephoto and that's going to take you right into the action. Great for sport in nature and candid photographs where you can be unobtrusive as you capture shots. I'll see you in the next module. 7. MODULE 6: Flash: At some point, you may add a flash system to your shopping list, and do you need flash? Now, you might think that you don't need flash because you have a pop-up flash on the top of your camera. Let's take a look at pop-up flash then and I'll show you why you should never use it and how bad it is. There's a typical pop-up flash. When we look, it's a tiny little light source that fires directly at the subject. Of course, we don't see lights in that way, we see light from above. Light, it comes from the sun, it's diffused by the clouds. If you went to a Hollywood film set, they would have huge lights dotted around the scene and it would all be diffused because soft light is really nice, isn't it? This thing just give you really horrible harsh light pointed directly at the subject. We don't use that. Now, the other thing you'll see on the top of the camera is what's called a hot shoe, which is this here. This is where we attach an external flash and it has little contacts there. What happens is, the camera, as you make changes to the focal length, etc, it sends a signal to the flash head, and that's already cool, isn't it? Then the flash will calculate how much power and how much light it needs to throw out. That's what we do. Now, if you take a look at my professional camera, you'll see, well, maybe you won't because it's not there, that there's no pop-up flash, but it does have a hot shoe. With the same thing, contacts and the camera speaks to the flashcard. That's where you would use an external flash. Let's take a look at an external flash then. This is an external flash unit and it looks like this. This one is made by a company called Nissin. Now, I can't recommend this flash enough. It's absolutely brilliant and it's so easy to use. You literally just switch it on and you can scroll through. It has little icons and it's so easy to just select which setting that you want. Now, I'm going to put it back on to TTL. I'm going to pop it onto my camera and it just simply fixes to the hot shoe. What you might be thinking is, "Well, that's great, Frank, but all you've done is made that light source bigger. You're still firing at somebody's face." But that's not the case, because we've got the ability to be able to do this and point it towards the ceiling. If you were doing an indoor portrait and you were photographing your subject, you could fire the flash and it would hit the ceiling, and it would be diffused by this lovely white ceiling and then it would fall down onto your subject and it would look fantastic. That's what we do. You can also bounce it off a wall, you can bounce it off anywhere, it is pretty amazing. It will calculate how much flash to fire, as well, but you can actually override that and boost it or take some out, depending on what you want to do. It's a really simple system to use and I'll take a quick photograph just to show you the flash fired. Not very exciting, but there you go, at least you'll see it working. It's a nice photograph of my sofa. Now, also, you can put things on it, diffusers. Let's look at this one then. We can put this one, and this is a Gary Fung diffuser. Now, it doesn't fit this particular flash, but that would sit on the top, and when the flash fires, it would fill that down with light and then it softens it. These are really popular and you can also put things on like this. This is a little bounce card and that would go on to the camera there fixed with a Velcro strap and I can bounce that flash to wherever I want it to be. This particular flash got one built-in as well, so I can pull it out and use it this way. If I didn't have a ceiling, for instance, I can have the flash like that and the card would help to bounce the light towards the subject. Fantastic, though, isn't it? I can't recommend that flash system enough and it's this one here. It's the Nissin Di700A. Absolutely brilliant. Now, when you buy your flash, especially if you go with Nissin, consider buying the wireless controller. That is what this is here. This is the wireless controller. I just want to show you how it works then because what it allows you to do, by the way, is to control the flash wirelessly. In other words, the flash doesn't have to be on the top of your camera, it can be somewhere else. I'm just going to switch this off and show you how it works then, because the two of them have identical screens on the back. Let me switch it on and I'll show you how it works then. That started beeping and it's looking for this. Now I need to switch this on and hopefully the beeping should stop because they will be speaking to each other. There you go, they are now speaking to each other. Let me just show you this. If I spin this around and just press this button on here, there you go. Now, I do this. As I turn this little scroll wheel, you can see it's adjusting the power on the flash head, and I'm doing that from this device. I'm able to control the power of the flash. That's pretty cool, isn't it? Just to show you how they speak to each other. How would you use it then? Well, I would take this off. I'm going to take this flash head off. There we go. Pop it down there for a second. In its place, I'll put the commander unit. The commander unit would go in the same place, make sure it clicks in. There you go, it's clicked in. I can now take a shot and you'll see that this flash head fires. I'm just holding, I'm not pressing anything. If I just take a quick shot, you'll see this flash head fire. From here, it sent the signal to this and it's brilliant the way it works. Now, you can have three flash heads. This will control three separate flush heads. Why would you do that then? Well, you can position the lights around your subjects. Maybe you're doing a portrait, maybe it's a newborn shot, maybe it's a product shot. What you would do is you would put the flash head inside a softbox. As you can see here, that flash is now living inside this softbox and it would receive the signal from the commander unit on the top of the camera. As I said, it would illuminate your subject, be it a potrait, or a newborn, or whatever. It's fabulous, isn't it? That's what I do and it's a really small system. Now, you still have a professional studio with big flash heads, but now I use these small Nissin flash heads. A little recap then. That is the system. It's the Nissin Di700A. Make sure, if you do buy one of these systems, that it's dedicated for your particular camera. Obviously, if you've got an icon, make sure it's a Nikon fit because the flash head, that bit there, they're all different on different cameras. These hot shoe attachments and the contacts are different for different cameras. So make sure you get one that's dedicated to your camera. Now, lastly, batteries, because they are battery-powered. I use these guys here. I think they're made by Panasonic and they're called eneloop batteries. Just see if you can get a focus on there. Yes, it should do. That's an eneloop batteries and they're great and they do last a fair amount of time. But obviously, if I'm teaching a class, I need quite a lot of batteries. That's what I do. That's flash then. As I said, you may never, ever want to buy flash because maybe you're just into street photography and landscapes. But if you're into portraits and newborn photography or product shots, you will need some sort of flash. As I said, I would highly recommend this system. Okay, see you in the next module. 8. MODULE 7: Tripods: Do you need a tripod? Do you need to add it to your shopping list? Well, a tripod comes in really handy in many situations. I'll give you some examples if your landscape photographer, you would definitely need a tripod because chances are you will be doing a longer exposure and certainly if photographed in the evening, you would definitely need a tripod because you would be using fairly long exposures and of course, you can't handhold your camera. Now tripods come in handy for continuity. If you were a product photographer, and you were photographing a place of food, and that place of food changed with different food items, you could keep the continuity shot by having your camera on a tripod. Newborn photography, portraits I could go on. Tripods have their place. Now there's two types of tripods; a heavy one and a light one, and they both have their source of factors that make them useful. Now ideally, a tripod should be heavy because it's all about stability, but then have to carry it round. There are plenty of travel tripods which are lighter. Now they come in two materials. You can have an aluminum tripod or as my American friends would say aluminum, or you can have a carbon fiber tripod. Now clearly the carbon fiber tripod is lighter, but then it's more expensive and it's less steady, but it's easier to carry around. There are your first two options; a heavier aluminum, aluminum tripod or a lighter carbon fiber tripod. As for particular brand of tripod, there are many on the market. Manfrotto, or as my American friends would say Manfrotto, make a really good tripod. My camera that's filming me is on a Manfrotto tripod. There's Gitzo, Three-Legged Thing, Peak Design I could go on. There are numerous companies that make really good tripods and there's budget designs as well as Newer or Neewer make a really good budget carbon fiber tripod. I would suggest you read the reviews and before you decide which one to buy. I'm going to show you some of my tripods, but first I want to show you some alternatives, some things to think about then. The first one would be the actual head that goes on the tripod because you can buy a tripod that has a head already on it or you can just buy the tripod legs as it's called, and then you can purchase the head separate and there's many different types of heads. The one I favor is the ball head. Now you can get all the tripods that have multiple leavers and they are super accurate for dialing in the pitch and the roll to get the angle of the shot perfect and I just think it's so much easier with a ball head. With that said, let me show you a ball head and we just hold it up there yeah you can see that, can you? Yeah. If I just loosen it, you can see I can move that ball head to any position. I can even make it portrait, and quickly once the camera is in position, I can just lock it like that and it's ready to take a photograph. That is a typical ball head, and the bigger the tripod, the bigger the ball head normally as well and that could add weight to your tripoid. But all heads do to be honest, and they're not generally made out of carbon fiber, so they add that bit of extra weight. I favor the ball head and I think that is the one to go for. The next one then is the actual quick release plates because the idea is that you can quickly put your camera onto a tripod and quickly take it off. Now, here's where there's a problem because different tripod manufacturers have their own particular version of quick release plate and this becomes a bit annoying. Let me show you a typical Manfrotto or Manfrotto tripod release and I will just hold it up so you can see it. We have a little red button here, this is the safety feature, and I can just loosen just here, press this button and low and behold, the plate will come out. It's this plate that you attach to the bottom of a camera, and then it would just simply slide back in and then you can clamp it into place and it's fairly steady. That's a typical Manfrotto plate. The other options are Swiss Arca, I'm going to look at one of those in a minute and then Peak Design have their own version of their plate. What you got a better mind is you may only ever own one tripod in your life. If it was Manfrotto, then you would have a Manfrotto quick release plates and you'd have no problem. But if you're like me and you have a couple of tripods, then they'll have different quick release plates and they can get a bit annoying. Even with Manfrotto themselves or Manfrotto. If we look at this one here, this is another type of Manfrotto quick release, and there you go. It's released out, and then I would just put it back in, and that is another type. Even with the same manufacturer, they often make different plates. Just bear that in mind, but I'm sure you're just going to buy one tripod, you'll be fine. Time to look at my tripods then it now I have to add more, and probably about six months ago, I sold my heavy tripods and bought a fantastic travel tripod which I'm going to show you shortly. A tiny little tripod which I carry around most of the time, especially if I'm out in the park or I'm in the countryside. Let me show you that one first then, and it's this guy here and it's this tiny little travel tripod and its fibers. Let me just open my legs up so you can see it a little bit better. Pop it onto the table, and let me put a camera onto it then. This one has a Swiss Arca plate, and you just simply put the camera in there and tie it up to the side. With the ball head, I can put the camera into any position, including portraits and spin it round so I can quickly get it into position and then just lock the ball head and it's in place. Now the other thing about this tripod is it extends so I can extend the legs, so let me just do that then. As you can see it now has the legs extended and it goes to a fairly decent height, doesn't it? I did only use this for, as I say, for convenience and it's nice and small. As I say, once I'm out in the wild, I can pop this onto the ground, pop up onto a table maybe or a fallen tree or anything that's level onto a rock and I'm getting a really decent shot. I say I captured a fantastic shot recently in my local park, I'll put that up on the screen now so you can see, and I think it was a five-second exposure. That is my little travel tripod that always lives in my camera bag and as you can see, it's brilliant, isn't it? It's my bag company called [inaudible] I'll put all the details up on the screen. Time to look at my main tripod then, and you'll be surprised when you see it because it actually lives inside this little bag here. This looks like a pencil case, doesn't it? It's that small. Let me get the tripod out and I'll show you where it looks like. This is my mini tripod. To extend the legs, very simple, you just basically pull out these leavers and as you can see, the legs will extend they'll open out fully. But trust me if it was to a decent height, and say clamp five, it's fairly steady. I'm just going to open it up then and show you what it looks like with the camera on top. This has got its own version of its quick release plate, so it does make things a bit difficult, swapping between tripods. But now I love this because the ball head is built into the tripod. If I just turn this center part, you can see I can change the angle of the camera to whatever I want it to be and then simply turn the center part and lock it into position. Now this is a really expensive tripod. It's a beautiful design, and it cost me $575, 525 pounds, which is a lot money, isn't it? But it's worth it because I love the engineering and the simple designs fantastic, and it's lightweight. Now I did mention before that you can make a lightweight tripod heavier. I'm going to show you how you do that. I don't know if you spotted in the center, we have this center column here and has a hook and you can hang a weight from the hook. Now you need to take the weight with you, but it makes more sense to maybe take a canvas bag, and then when you arrive at your destination, just find some rocks or something heavy to put it in the canvas bag and hanging from this hook. Or you can hang your camera bag from this hook. Let me show you what that looks like. That would look like this. This could be your bag of rocks, it could be your camera bag and that weight would pull down on the tripod and make it heavier and that is ingenious, isn't it? Now most tripods have that. But just keep an eye out to make sure the tripoid that you're looking at has the hook on the bottom of the center cone. There you have it then. Tripods love them or hate them, do you need one? Well, of course you do. As I say, if it's for landscape or even as shots longer exposures, continuity shots it comes in handy in numerous places. Maybe go for an aluminum, aluminum one, or maybe a carbon fiber version which is a bit lighter. But whatever you do, let's say you have the heavy one but it's heavy, you've got to carry it around. You get the lighter one, it's a bit more expensive and you can weigh it down. There are the choices you have them and I'll see you in the next module. 9. MODULE 8: Straps: Now I think it's written in camera law that when you buy a camera, you have to attach a camera strap, and quite rightly so because you spent all that money and if you drop your camera, there will be tears, trust me because I have witnessed that. Normally what would happen is in the camera box, there will be a strap, something like this one. This came with my Sony camera. As you can see, this part here will attach through the camera locks left and right of the camera on either side. It's quite a time consuming thing to do, but it is really strong. Let me show you what that looks like on a camera. Once it's threaded through, it looks like this. Now they all vary, but it's similar to this. That is really strong. Now however, there are times when you want to take the camera off. When would you take the camera off? Well, if you're going to put your camera on a tripod, perhaps to capture a long exposure, you don't want your camera strap blowing around in the wind because it might introduce a bit of camera shake, so that's the time that you'd want to take the camera strap off. Plus there's other various reasons why you do it. But that is an ideal situation where you would remove the camera strap, and because that is on so tight, you can take it off, but it's a bit of a performance to get it on and off. Now this one's quite clever because you can do that. However, this bit would still be blowing around in the wind, so it's not ideal. I'm going to show you some better versions then. The first one is made by one of my favorite companies, now I have mentioned that before, Peak Design, and they do this system here. Let me just show you how the camera strap attaches. You have these anchor connectors that attach to the locks left and right of your camera. Take the strap. Now this is the leash strap. It's call the Peak Design leash strap. If I just hold this part up here, this is the part that will attach to those anchor points. Let me show you how that works then. If I just take the anchor point then, and it just sits inside here like so. If I just pull that tight, you can see it clicks into place and it's a really strong connection. When I want to remove it, I just simply press and it comes out. How cool is that? That's the Peak Design leash. The leash is really, really strong. I use it on my smaller cameras. But it's fantastic and they do a wider version, but it's expensive. Honestly I love these straps, they're really well-made. Now there's an alternative to the Peak Design, as I said, which is a bit cheaper. That's made by a company called SmallRig. Their version looks like this. Now as I say, this is a fatter version and the fat version, I'm sure it's got a name, but the fat version of the Peak Design strap is at least $30, maybe more expensive than this one, so I opted for this one and it has the same little system here. Let me show you. However, the anchor points and the anchor system, I don't think is as strong as Peak Design. Peak Design gives me 100 percent confidence when that strap is attached to my camera. When this is attached to my bigger camera rig, I'm kind of 80 percent 90 percent, and it's never fallen out and I've never read any reviews where camera is fallen outs of that particular strap. But a lot of people do say it's not as good as the Peak Design, but you can make your mind up and you know what your budget is. I've got both so you can trust what I've done. Lastly, we have the Joby Pro Sling Strap. It attaches to your camera with this. Tripod mount is just here, so that just goes into the bottom of the camera. Let me attach it then and I'll show you how it works. Once the cameras has been attached, you just simply sling it over your shoulder. If I just put my arm through there and there you go. What you do is it's got what we call the cinch system, so if I just pull up, I can also locate it there and there's a little locking point that just clicks into place. That is secure at my side for when I want to use it. Now, I can just quite simply lift it to my eye, but I can also unlock it and making the strap longer. Now, it's right out there, so I could use the back screen to take a shot maybe. But then when I'm happy and I want to sort around, I can just pull it back in and cinch it up to the top, lock it, and it stays there. It's quite good, isn't it? Do I use this one much? Not really, because the one I favor, as I mentioned earlier, is the Peak Design, which is this one. I think this is a great little strap, and the wider ones really good as well. The Joby one is quite good though, so something for you consider because it is really comfortable. But so is this one, to be honest. I would just show you a close-up then of this one because the quality is awesome, it's so well-made. I should get paid by Peak Design, shouldn't I? There's another one of their products coming up in the next module. Anyway, so straps, you do need one. Make sure you attach one to your camera. I've given you a couple of options there, shown you a few. You can also get something like this as well. There's plenty of these on the market and this is just a little wrist strap. That would go around there and then attach to your camera. If nothing else, consider getting one of these but a heavy camera around your wrist like that is not ideal, but for smaller camera these guys are ideal. Okay, I'll see you in the next module. 10. MODULE 9: Camera Bags: Now you all need something to carry around your precious cargo, and camera bags come in many different styles, different weights, different quality, different colors, multiple brands. How would you know which one is right for you? Let's take a look at camera bags. Before we jump in there, I'd take a look at some camera bags. I have an admission to make, I'm totally addicted to buying camera bags. Now there's no rational explanation for that, but trust me, I'm totally addicted. It doesn't help that my social media feed is often full of new designs, and new manufacturers that have come up with a crazy concept for a new camera bag. Now the good news is, I haven't bought any for awhile, and also the other bit of good news is I've got a lot of bags that I could show you, I could do a whole class on bags. I'm not going to, I'm just going to show you some options that you have. What are we looking for in a bag? Well it needs to transport your camera and your equipment. We're going to look at capacity, because bags come in different sizes obviously. Then it's the protection that it offers your camera, and some bags offer you more protection than others. The third one would be whether it's waterproof, because not every bag is waterproof. The fourth one is obviously budget, and it all depends how much money, because honestly you can pay a lot money for a camera bag, but some of the budget camera bags are fantastic, so you have to shop around, read the reviews, and do your research. In some cases you will have more than one bag, he says, ''I want many". But the reason for that is because you might want to travel light one particular day and then another day, in my case for instance, if I'm going to work for a client, I need a bigger bag because I'm going to be taking multiple lenses, flash units, camera bodies, so it makes sense to have two sizes. Let's jump in then, and I'll show you the options that you have. The first style of bag is a shoulder bag, and if I just show you what I mean here, it's just a bag that has the shoulder stuff and obviously that would go around and be slung at the side, and this is a small Manfrotto bag or Manfrotto. You can access it by undoing this clasp here and pulling the flap up, or you can use top access, top access is ready, good, isn't it? Because I can get easy access to my lenses or camera body, and that's pretty easy, isn't it? Now, it offers a fair bit of protection, you can also fit an iPad and this one as well, now there's so many bags similar to this on the market, it is untrue, but that's a typical small shoulder bag. We look at this one, again, made by Manfrotto or Manfrotto, it's the same thing, it's a shoulder bag. This one is a bit fancier, isn't it? I often use this if I'm just traveling light and I might just be nipping into the town center to get a couple of street shots, and this is nice and small. Again, it's got top access. Now what they all have are these things inside, and you can customize the inside. Now, every bag I'm going to show you has these, these dividers that you can unvelcro. In fact you can move around inside and try and get this word right, compartmentalize the inside of your bag. They all have that inside. That's another little Manfrotto or Manfrotto bag. Pop that over there. The third one in this little series of shoulder bags is this one here. This is my Billingham bag, and it's made by a company in the UK, very famous company called Billingham, and they hand make these bags and the quality is absolutely awesome. This is a really big one, they do them in different sizes, different colors, khaki, stone call it. I went for the black one. I often use this when I'm working for a client because it looks great, and it looks impressive, and it fits a lot in it. I would have flash heads in here, different lenses and as I say, everything would be in this bag and again, compartmentalized or divided inside, and protected really well. This is great, it hasn't got top access. You have to undo these buckles and pull the flap back, which can be a bit of a nuisance to be honest. But, that said, the trade off is it looks cool, isn't it? This is the third one in our little series then of shoulder bags. This got a handle on, the other two have got handles on, but this has got a proper leather handle. But inside, trust me, I can get the shoulder strap out, and I can just pop over my shoulder. These are shoulder bags. Let's look at something a bit different then, let's look at the traditional rucksack. I've never really been a big fan of rucksacks but over the last couple years, I've found that I've taken to them and I quite like them, so I have a few rucksacks. I think what put me off rucksacks was the very first one I bought which was this Lowepro bag here. Because as you can see it's enormous and it's meant to go on your back obviously. There was no way a full bag like this with all my stuffing would go on my back. It put me off, but I discovered better rucksacks which I am going to show you. Now that's not to say this isn't a pretty fine rucksack. It's just that, it's a bit big I think. But, let's open it up then, and again, it's divided up inside and you can customize. At the moment, it's full of junk, I'm sorry about that. But I use this when I'm teaching, so I take a lot of equipment to the class. It could be anything from a gorillapod and many tripods that I carry around. It's stuffed full of all kinds, it's usually a bit better organized, but you can see how big it is and it will fit a full size laptop as well, which is again, when I'm teaching, that's what I do. There's a lot of protection that it gives to your equipment and there's a lot of straps on it too. Here, for instance, you can put your tripod legs and then secure to the front, which only makes a rucksack even heavier I found. Well that's a big Lowepro professional rucksack. The next one then is my peak design bag, which I have down here. It is a very, very well made bag. I do like this one, super-strong. What I like about it is it's super comfortable as well. This one, I do put on my back and I find it really comfortable, these straps are great, and it sits really nice. Very easy to adjust, to get the right comfort. Here's my camera, loads of protection. There's lots of pockets and stuff, and it's quite unique in that it's side access, let's just take a look inside. Side access, and it's unique in the way you can divide the insides. As you can see, there's a lens there. I pull this flap back, I could get access to my camera. As I said, that side access is not for everyone, and it did take me a while to get used to that, to be fair, but as I said, I do love the way you can customize the inside. Waterproof zips as well. These are all rubberized to stop the sorts of water ingress into the actual bag itself. Nice little top piece there to put all this stuff in, and it's great. It's a Kraken bag and it's really expensive. Again, I said earlier you can get some really good budget bags. But then there are bags that cost you a little bit more. Now there's more expensive ones than this bag. I think it cost me something like $250, 250 pounds. But it looks good, as well it's impressive, it's comfortable and it protects your equipment, so I like it. Do you use it all the time? No, because I've got that many bags that I like to share the love, so I kind of use them all. But this one gets used quite a lot. Let's take a look at another rucksack that I use then. That would be this Manfrotto bag. Now, it is not as strong as the Peak Design or the Lowepro bag but what it does have is in its favor is that it's lightweight. I use this bag when I am cycling and I put it onto me back and because it's light weight, and I suppose when I put the equipment in it makes it heavier but, you'll find that some bags have got weight in them before you even put equipment in. That's something for you to bear in mind. You need a camera store, just pick the bags up and say, of course, if it's going to offer your camera protection, then generally it's going to be a heavier construction, isn't it? So I guess it's a trade off. This one though, I got because it's really light, and when I'm cycling, I don't want a heavy bag on me back. We've got the front access here but I'm just open that up, and I can put my camera into there. We'll just pull that back there, and yet in she goes and safe and secure in there. In the top part, one of the reasons I bought this bag, in the top bar, I have got my Weebill. It's a motorized gimbal for when I'm filming, it fits nicely into the top. I simply pop this on my back, jump on my electric bike, and off I go to do a bit of filming around the city. I say it's nice and lightweight. I suppose if I fell off my bike and landed on top of it, I don't know what happened there. But this is inexpensive. As I say, the more money you spend, the more durable and the more protection it's going to offer your camera, but then it's going to be a bit heavier, isn't it? That's why I said early, you may find yourself having a number of camera bags, possibly two; one that gives your camera loads of protection and one that's lightweight for traveling. That's what I do anyway. One more type of bag to show you and that is the sling type. Let me just put this one out of the way. I hope you don't think I'm a Manfrotto or Manfrotto fan boy. I'm not, I like all types of bags, but the next one I'm going to show you is a Manfrotto or Manfrotto, and that's this one. It's a sling type. There you go, and I'm going to show you how that works in a minute. This bag cost me $10, 10 pounds and it was on eBay and nobody was bidding on it, and I was about to go on a trip to Madrid and fancied a sling type bag, which is what this one is. That's another thing. Have a look on eBay or Craigslist and you will find bargains. Because as I said, photographers do tend to collect bags and they will sell them on. So this is a sling type. Let me show you how it works then. I put it over my shoulder and it now operates as a rucksack. Believe me, I can't sit back but it would be on my back. But then I want to access to the camera, I would just turn it around, and I can just simply open it up and get access to my camera. Again, it's got dividers inside. I can access the lens and whatever I want can be in there and then you never had to take the bag off your shoulder to pop it on the floor to zip it open. It just sits really nice. Do I like this type of bag? I must do because I own it. But I don't use it a lot. I enjoyed using it on my trip to Madrid because it's nice and small as well, and it's a little bit too small for me. Now there's plenty of manufacturers that make this sling type. So I thought I'd include it in this little module so you can at least see what your options are. But it is quite clever and I just say that would go round and sit on my back. I'll show you that just in case you don't believe me. Then you sling it around. Okay. I'm not very good at modeling things on my back. That's the way it works. There you have it then, three types of camera bag. We've got the traditional shoulder bag, the rucksack type, and also the sling type. Now I own all three and I use all three, and you may just own one. But as mentioned earlier, it's kind of sensible to have two; a lightweight one for traveling and one that's going to protect your equipment. Now, I don't know where you're going to be going with your camera. You might be going rock-climbing, in which case there could be a inclement weather. So you may need one that's waterproof and really sturdy in case you slip or you drop your bag. I don't know how clumsy you are, that's the other thing, because you might drop your bag. I don't know, but a visit to the camera store and to be able to pick the bags up and look at the durability and if it offers the other things that you're looking for, then that's great, isn't it? You might notice that some of my bags are style over content. In other words that they just look good and they're probably not as good as something that makes a bit more sense and is a bit more usable. But I do love the designs and soon the new designs that are coming out are fantastic, but I'm not buying any more I promise you. Okay, so that's camera bags, and I'll see you in the next module. 11. MODULE 10: The Assignment: I hope you enjoyed the class and I hope you feel a lot more confident in selecting the right equipment, that is right just for you. Now don't forget, that you can download this information sheet. If you're in the market for a new camera body, simply fill this in and take it to your local camera store. Now I'm going to set you an assignment, and the assignment is this: Upload a photograph that you've captured using your new equipment. Now be that new camera body, lens, flash, or all of them. List the equipment that you decided to buy. Because I would love to see what choices you made. I'm sure other people would love to see it too. But above all else, thank you so much for watching. I will see you in the next class. You take care of yourself.