BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Q&A: Answering Viewer Questions

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I have received several e-mails asking various photography-related questions since the beginning of this Website. Here’s a few of the more common questions and my best answer. Thanks for submitting and I hope this helps.

Question 1: Which is better? Nikon or Canon?
This is one of those great debate topics some photographers like to get into with one another. It’s probably akin to the great Ford-Chevy, Toyota-Honda, Yankees-Mets (Yankees, no doubt) arguments heard at any watering hole in the U.S. So here’s the lowdown truth: Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax and Sigma all make good products. It’s up to YOU to decide what you want from your camera and how much you want to pay. Are you a student who aspires to go pro? Then may I suggest starting out with a Nikon or Camera body and start building a collection of quality lenses. Are you a hobbyist who wants a great camera without breaking the bank? Olympus, Pentax and Sigma may be the way to go. It’s all about assessing your NEEDS and your WANTS then factor in how much you want to pay.

Question 2: Should I Consider a Career in Photography?
The short answer is, unfortunately, a resounding NO. It’s a tough market out there and it’s only going to get tighter.
If you’re a student, let me make a few suggestions. First, major in field in which you stand a better chance of finding employment. Computers aren’t going out of style anytime soon and neither is the folks who program, install, troubleshoot, repair and network them. Also, the healthcare field is booming. Registered nurses, respiratory therapists and X-ray technicians (sorry, I’m old … radiologic technicians) are great careers where you can make very good money.

You can ALWAYS take photography classes to help build your knowledge and experience but by majoring in another field, you’ll have a pretty good safety net for the fallback.

Here’s another tip: Schools that specialize in art education, while they offer killer classes and great opportunities, are VERY EXPENSIVE.
Here’s a scenario to ponder: If you enroll in a community college in your hometown and major in one of the allied health fields, you can expect to pay an average of $3,000 per year for school if you live and eat at home. For a two-year degree, that’s $6,000, but let’s be real generous and say $10,000 to cover everything. Once you graduate, say with a degree in respiratory therapy, your average starting salary will be in the $30,000/year range.

Now, tuition at a particular school of design I am well acquainted with, for ONE YEAR, is about $33,000. It’s a 4-year program leaving you with a bill of $132,000 and who knows if you’ll get a job.

If you’re serious about a career in photography, that’s great and by all means pursue it. But unless you’re living off a trust fund or mommy and daddy are willing to foot the bill, then be wise and have a safety net in place. I’m pretty sure you’ll be glad you did. And here’s a rule of thumb: If you’re making more money from your photography than you are your day job, then consider making the switch to full-time pro.

Question 3: Should I Spend More Money on the Camera Body or the Lenses?
This is another one of those age-old questions. OK, probably not “age-old” but at least one that gets batted around quite often.
My opinion? Spend more on glass. Lenses aren’t going out of style. A good piece of glass is a good piece of glass and I have lenses made in the 1960s that are still needle-sharp today. Camera bodies, especially now in the digital age, come and go out of style. More megapixels, better buffers, better sensors, are always going to outdate your current camera body. A good lens, however, isn’t very likely to become outdated after you purchase it.

Question 4: Manufacturer Lens or Third-Party Lens?
This one, for me, is a tough one. As a rule, I always say go with the manufacturers lenses. Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Olympus all make great lenses.

On the other hand, I’ve been quite pleased with the Sigma lenses I’ve used. The pro-level lenses are very nice and I can’t complain about any Sigma lens I’ve ever shot with.
So, I’ll adapt my philosophy to this: Manufacturer or Sigma.

Question 5: Do I REALLY Need to Know About Shutter Speed and F-Stops?
Well, the short answer here is “it depends.” Are you just interested in making snapshots? If so, set the camera on automatic mode and go have yourself a ball. If you’re interested in getting more polished or “professional-looking” images, then yeah, you need to know a thing-or-two about how a camera works and what all the settings do.

The good news is, it’s easy to learn. Photography is about more than shutter speeds and f-values. It’s about composing images and being creative. Once you learn the mechanics of photography, you can easily learn to apply them to make images that shine.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Thanks for your questions. If you happen to have a question I can kinda-sorta answer, drop me an e-mail at questions@brickhousephotoschool.com. I hope to hear from you soon!

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Written by jeremyparce

May 2, 2009 at 5:15 am

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