When An Aspiring Photographer Is Ready To Trade Up

For modeling photos
Photo taken with a Nikon DSLR

For most people, taking photos with their smart phone is a fun experience. Sharing them on social sites is the norm, but for a select few it’s just the beginning to a whole new world of artistic expression.

No, I’m not talking about “selfie” pics in front of a mirror, but in many ways that’s where it all starts. The smart phone has not replaced the traditional DSLR camera, but it has introduced many new people to photography.

So how do you know when its time to “trade” up from your smart phone camera to a DSLR?

In the last month I know of two people who either have or will be buying a new DSLR. For each, this was or will be their first “real” camera. In both cases it’s interesting to see how they reached this point:

  • Both are constantly taking photos with their cell phones.
  • Each seem to carefully frame their shots.
  • Their photos often tell a story or are used to tell a story.
  • The photos they share are constantly improving.
  • They enjoy the process of taking the photo just as much as sharing them.
  • Both start to understand the limitations of the camera they are currently using.

One of these friends purchased the Nikon D5200 and has never looked back. It has opened up a whole new way of taking photos that was not possible with his cell phone.

Often new DSLR owners realize that a photo can look very different depending on the camera settings. Unlike a smart phone, which relies heavily on special filters to enhance the image.

For example, in the image above I used an aperture of F/5 and a 80-200mm 2.8 lens. I filled the frame and so it resulted in the background being out of focus and the model in focus. To do this with a cell phone is almost impossible. The photo would have been flat.

Knowing that these differences are a result of the photographer knowing how to use his/her equipment is a good indication that one is ready to trade up.

But more importantly having the passion (and patience) to learn the craft is the real test. You can take all the photography classes in the world, learn about the “Rule of Thirds” and all the other principles taught by instructors. But if it’s not in you, that new DSLR will eventually just be another bookend on your desk.

So save yourself some money and know when and if it’s time to trade up to a DSLR.

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