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Old 15th March 2017, 12:19   #16
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Default Re: Gear for the Serious Amateur Photographer

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Originally Posted by earthian View Post
A lot of our members are SAPs. Serious Amateur Photographers, that is.. I am also one and thought i would share details of equipments and accessories used by me in my attempts at wildlife, landscape and night photography.

I have divided this write up into three sections:[list=1][*]Basic equipments[*]Desirable accessories[*]Post production requirements
Wow, now that's T-bhp. When you are looking out for something it just appears right in front of You!

Well I have been longing to buy an SLR from almost a decade now and finally things are getting to materialize and I will hopefully be getting my passion accomplished sooner this month. So that would make me an 'AP' out of the 'SAP' - which is still a long way to go.

Your inputs have been highly helpful but stuffs like aperture, focal length ..etc are still way above my head at the moment. But sooner or later I hope to pick up myself.

Now I have few questions for You and fellow BHPians who could help:

1) The budget I have allocated for time being is 50K and had rounded up on a new d5300 with 18-140 kit lens (which retails about 46-48K). The reason for a d5300 is mainly for it's wi-fi option, else I guess a d5200 should suffice. The latest body d5600 also has bluetooth connectivity, however is a little higher than my budget.

2) As per your thread I understand that you backup your photos mainly via Card readers. However I would like to see or download the pictures on-the-go and hence looking for the wi-fi option. I have also heard of Wi-fi sd cards that could do the same in case the camera body doesn't have the option - what's your thought on this?

3) Within the same budget I am also able to find a used Nikon D90 with the following lens:
  • 18-105mm
  • 70-300mm
  • 50mm f/1.8
  • 35mm f/1.8

The camera is 4 years old and has a slight damage on the card door - however does not affect functioning in any kind - as told to me. I am yet to see the item in person.

Do you advice going for this against the new d5300 + kit lens?
If yes, what all should I be checking both on the camera body and the lens prior to the purchase? I also know that there's a feature which tells you how many clicks are taken with the camera, how do you do this and what is the average count that should be on it?

4) The kit lens in case of a fresh purchase I had rounded up is 18-140 as I was told it should help both indoors & outdoors to an extent - do you agree to the same? Probably when I mature I could lookout for bigger lens when both passion & budget permits.

5) Your accessory lists is a lot detailed and many items are new to me even after all the homework I had done. Would you recommend buying a UV filter right away as for the rest accessories I might get them one by one again when budget or need permits.

I would stop here with these basic questions and come back once I have your answers or further questions

Once again thanks for your thread Earthian!
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Old 15th March 2017, 14:27   #17
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Default Re: Gear for the Serious Amateur Photographer

The points shared in the all of the previous posts holds good in photography. Its not a hobby but a profession that takes a lot to master. I used the Nikon D3000 and Sigma 70-300 to produce the below

Gear for the Serious Amateur Photographer-picture_9541.jpg

and also learnt a lot from http://www.kenrockwell.com/
Numerous sites and advises are available about the gear, post processing, techniques etc. Ultimately what we capture with our eyes and translate in the way we want others to see it matters the most. fellow bhpians may agree disagree but nothing like learning it in trial and error with very basic gear and keep investing if you really see the results. Read in a news article about a guy who tried 6 years to take the shot he wanted of a kingfisher hitting the water http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...000-shots.html

Dedication and passion drives you crazy. Keep it coming

My sincere thanks to earthian for taking the time to put it down for everyone

Cheers
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Old 15th March 2017, 14:33   #18
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Default Re: Gear for the Serious Amateur Photographer

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Originally Posted by earthian View Post
A lot of our members are SAPs. Serious Amateur Photographers, that is.. I am also one and thought i would share details of equipments and accessories used by me in my attempts at wildlife, landscape and night photography.
Very nice thread earthian! You have clicked so many nice pics and also organised the thread very nicely.

I am not sure where I fit in as SAP but well there is interest and passion for the hobby.
I started with a Canon D40 and did so many gear changes in between for various reasons but mainly due to the various internet traps which is the reason why I wanted to right few lines here.

I liked the way you analysed your lens usage pattern and this is where I got lost several times in the past which ended up in several purchases. I believe every one has their own style of shooting and with my particular style, I realised that I am more comfortable at about 100mm-120mm for portraits. The common wisdom says a 24mm-70mm will do but somehow I like the shallow DoF at slightly higher focal lengths. I could use the 200mm as well but again then I am that far away from the subject. My suggestion here is, one should try to identify what is that sweet focal range where you might click most of your pictures.

Another common opinion is to zoom with legs and have a great prime which might make sense to some but again I do not fit in that category as I am not looking to make one award winning picture but want to make memories or create a specific shot but can not anticipate the situation. Again, from this view point I prefer zoom to prime though it might come at the cost of Picture quality. I rather have the shot the way I want, even at a reduced quality and if you factor in all the advancements in this industry the reduction is less pronounced than it is made to believe on various internet forums.

And finally the camera itself. I had the sony A7 and then the mark 2 version which were great (especially with that 70-200mm e-mount lens) but again the full frame vs APS-C, being beaten to death drove me crazy. Then I started having two bodies and the other one being Sony A6300 (which is a great little camera) but in the end I got fed up with Sony for 2 reasons. First is the lens selection which always seem to be compromise and aimed probably at event / wedding photography and the second being the ergonomics of the camera body. There are so many old timers in the hobby who swear by larger bodies fixed display etc but I am a bit of 'convenience over old-fashioned' person. I like articulate screens and trust me, if there is only one suggestion from me, then it has to be that ( I shoot from hip, from floor, from anywhere). One beauty of this hobby the angle of view which changes perspective of the subject and I love it! I also like touch screen convenience and focus tracking with touch screen on occasional videos is amazing as well. So again, I suggest you to choose the body that suits your suiting style.
I shoot with APS-C and my picture quality is not so different from full frame bearing the dynamic range part which I am happy to let go given the lightness of gear that I get to carry!
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Old 15th March 2017, 14:35   #19
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Originally Posted by R2D2 View Post
Good thread... .
Quote:
Originally Posted by Srikanthan View Post
Thanks for the knowledge sharing...
Quote:
Originally Posted by cunnuvila View Post
Hope the best opportunities come your way, after which you can grace us with more breathtaking images. God bless
Thank you guys. And thank you cunnuvila. God's grace is surely needed!
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Originally Posted by techcoze View Post
I think the photography kit you own is overkill for amateur photographer, it has surely crossed SAP boundary towards pro photographers kit area.
Look at it in a different way. A SAP is in it for the satisfaction. A Pro for the money. A SAP would not bother about the IRR, whereas a Pro would. Having said that, i do agree with you.
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Originally Posted by R2D2 View Post
At the end of the day it is the skill, both in photography and post processing, that matters first & the gear follows.
True, and that is what i mentioned at the end of my article:
Quote:
Let it not be thought that in order to take a good photograph, one must have the best equipment possible. No, not at all. Far from it. Technique, perseverance, hard work and talent count for 90%. Good equipment the rest 10%.
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Originally Posted by Nempuguru View Post
I am in a position to become SAP ....
Look forward to read and see your exploits.
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Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
I don’t necessarily agree that a digital SLR is the camera of choice these days. There are a few threads on this already so I will leave it at that.
Just one final blog from a Pro, food for thought:
That was an interesting read. Thank you for sharing.
Quote:
The first one is to actually go out and take photographs! Doesn’t matter what camera you have...
Truer words were never spoken. i started with this camera swiped from my father.
Gear for the Serious Amateur Photographer-agfa.jpg
Agfa Clack


Had a lot of fun with it. Could take 12 B&W shots. Had to make each one count.

Quote:
You mention filters sparingly.
I like to shoot wildlife and filters are not very useful unless taking photos of BIF over the water. Yes, in landscape there is a great deal of scope, and i must develop the requisite skills in using them.

Quote:
I have joined the Royal Photographic Society, working on my first distinction
Congratulations and i am sure you would have great pleasure and fun.

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Originally Posted by unni246 View Post
... had rounded up on a new d5300 with 18-140 kit lens
It is a nice Dx format camera. Go for it. If i were you i would not worry too much on whether it has wifi transfer capability or not. while it does feel good to show off one's work and get appreciated; over time you would start loving the art for yourself.

Quote:
As per your thread I understand that you backup your photos mainly via Card readers.
I use LR and found that transfer of photos directly from my camera to my computer via LR was very slow. When i mentioned this to some experts in LR and Nikon, the opinion was to get a Card reader as sometimes the software of the camera could be affected on direct transfers. Could, not necessarily would.
Your first camera. and you are a budding SAP? Go for the new one.
Quote:
I also know that there's a feature which tells you how many clicks are taken with the camera, how do you do this and what is the average count that should be on it?
Read this and check this out
Quote:
Would you recommend buying a UV filter right away
yes
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Old 15th March 2017, 15:01   #20
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Default Re: Gear for the Serious Amateur Photographer

Very useful tips, thanks Jeroen. Agree with you, along with equipment good skill and composition techniques too are very important.

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Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
I agree, I would say there are various attributes that are really important for any photographer. The first one is to actually go out and take photographs! Doesnít matter what camera you have, if you donít use it or use it rarely, you are not going to get great pictures.
Sharing couple of links earthian:

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...h-my-lens.html (Photologue: Journey through my lens)

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...eh-ladakh.html (Five brother's winter trip to Leh - Ladakh)

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Originally Posted by earthian View Post
Look forward to read and see your exploits.
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Old 15th March 2017, 15:14   #21
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Nice thread and write up!

But somehow, nowhere in the corner of my mind I am able to accept the mentioned gears as SAP( Serious Amateur Photographer) kit. And the images you have shared are very much up to the mark of a serious/pro photographer sticking to composition rules, sharp and post processed well. Thus it gets qualified to be serious photographer's thread, if not up to the level of Artistic photography as the likes of Ansel Adams.

As for a serious amateur level I would suggest to stick to DX frames coupled with some good lenses (prime lenses to begin with). Of course, if someone's got the money to afford the best body and lens combinations in the FX range, nobody is going to stop them from owning one. But for the common man to be a Serious Amateur Photographer, DX is good to start and grow. Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 is an amazing lens for serious photographers and so is its 50mm f1.8.

Now to start with accessories, it is not really wise to go and buy the costliest tripod, Polarisers, Neutral density filters etc. There are good ones in the budget range and thing is, for most times we don't actually have the time to use all the accessories we have. As the saying goes, "When it comes to photography, you get the best shots when you carry less." Because, there is not much of fiddling around with settings and accessories. I personally learnt it the hard way... And I know many who just bought the best camera and accessories, thinking just a click of the button would do wonders, had finally sold everything out of frustration and understood that "Photography is not about the equipment alone". Period.

End of the day, yes there is a great debate on shooting RAW vs Jpeg. But my opinion is, both are required for different occasions. Say for example, you can shoot jpeg. in a family function and shoot RAW when you really want that detail and adjustments. But most times a serious photographer is supposed to shoot RAW and take that time to do that "post-processing". For post-processing I prefer the Lightroom as it gives good level of control and still maintains the originality of the shot with minimal modifications.

That's my suggestion for a common man to be a serious photographer. Most times I carry the DX frame with 35mm f1.8 and return with great shots. That was never the case when I had carried my entire kit of lenses, all the filters, flashes, tripod etc. Carry less get more.

Finally, this is one good book I would recommend and that turns the amateur photographer to be a serious amateur photographer, "The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos." And as you find yourself move up the ladder towards serious photography, you can go and buy some good body and lens for rent and enjoy. Now still if feel like you need some serious upgrade to FX and do some serious/pro photography, it is high time and no holds barred.

Pardon for Nikon terminologies, as most of my gear is from the Nikon family.
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Old 15th March 2017, 15:29   #22
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Default Re: Gear for the Serious Amateur Photographer

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Originally Posted by Nempuguru View Post
I said it in your thread earlier
Quote:
You have a photographers eye, no doubt. Your compositions are very, very good. That is >50% of the requirement to take good photographs. Technique, good gear and luck are the remaining in that order. I would therefore not agree with the gent who said that you were a "lucky" photographer. I would call you a talented photographer. And i would seriously advocate you work on PP skills and some technique. It may not be long when your photos get exhibited in some premier site.
see http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...my-lens-2.html (Photologue: Journey through my lens)

and i say it again: "You have the eye"

And thank you @SatsMumbai for your kind comments.

Last edited by earthian : 15th March 2017 at 15:30. Reason: added thanks
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Old 15th March 2017, 17:14   #23
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Default Re: Gear for the Serious Amateur Photographer

Nice thread. My learnings started from this forum only.

Some of my notes:

- All said and done, practice and time are the first requirements. This I think is given. No second thoughts on that one.

On PP
- Most dont look at PP skills as a must.
- PP does not mean getting Lightroom/Photoshop or additional plugins.
- It actually means to know how to read your image, look at histograms, where to edit etc etc.
- LR/PS are only means to them. So one needs to get the basics correct.
- Some of PP aspects can also help recover composition flaws.
- But one ought to remember PP cannot make a bad photo look good, but can make a good photo look better! (Words borrowed from an exceptionally gifted photographer friend of mine)

Another learning which I found along the way:

- First you dont know what to edit and how edit
- Then you learn a bit and you edit each and every image. (Making all images HDR, over saturating, adding high vignettes etc are some which I see is very common)
- Then you go further, and learn when to stop your edits
- And finally you come full circle to take such a good snap that you feel you dont need a PP!



Another aspect apart from PP is your data flow. Its very critical to make your effort easier and streamlined.
Aspects like

- How do images get transferred from camera
- Where do they get stored on your compute.
- How they are linked to your main PP software
- What is the back-up data flow ?
- What is the back-up for exported/published images ?


On Gear:
- Hit the limits of your body by upgrading your glass first.
- On lenses: Even for serious folks on a learning curve, it makes a lot of sense to take time out, to find what you need or you seek
- And then spend on a good lens rather than just get the range covered.
- When it comes to good glass real hard cash is involved. Hence choice is critical.
- I have also found, when you have a range of lenses, you tend of get into a comfort zone leaning to using one kind of lens. Lenses like 24-70 or 24-105 are very easy to get addicted to and one tends to remain with them.

- I think its an important point to keep moving around to handle every thing.
- Of course there are exceptions here. Example: if one is onto macro photography, a macro lens is a must. Similarly 24-70 2.8 is the goto lens for all indoor portraits

On learning
- There is large volume of learning material available online. Take time out to see them and analyse it against what you learn. Thats a very good self feedback.
- Its always good to have a small informal work group of your own

On my journey of learning and gear:
- Started with 550D. Got 50mm prime in 6 month.
- And then year on year invested on : 70-200 F4 IS; 10-22. 100m 2.8 macro L IS, 24-105 F4 IS
- Finally after near 6 years of learning I thought time was ripe to upgrade my body. Got a superb deal on 7D Mk-II

Later realised from my use case scenarios that my needs for family related travel were different. So I also invested in a good Alpha 6000 with kit and then later a 50mm 1.8 OSS.

- I also invested time and money on PP (Firstly Aperture and then shifted to LR6 plus selected plugins)
- Along with these there also is required a serious practice for genres
- Most genres also require one to learn both art and science associated. (Though art is more subjective, yet I still think to some extent you can try to understand art and develop your own)

Overall pretty satisfied on my learning curve. All thanks to this forum for igniting this interest. Its costly but an extremely satisfying hobby to have.

Last edited by ampere : 15th March 2017 at 17:31.
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Old 15th March 2017, 17:15   #24
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Thanks once again. As you rightly suggested, working on PP skills and editing techniques.

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and i say it again: "You have the eye"
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Old 15th March 2017, 18:04   #25
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Excellent thread, just what I needed !
I do consider myself an SAP, but I've realized that wildlife or nature photography is not my cup of tea.

I bought the most basic DSLR (Canon EOS 1100D ) when none of my family members were convinced about its importance (and they thought I was wasting money once again), they finally realized how good it is when I clicked some great candid shots (according to them) during my brother's wedding. Thats when it built my confidence and I started reading more about photography. As I was completely amateur I went ahead and got the 50mm 1.8 they call 'the nifty fifty'. Its a great lens and really make you look like a pro, but there is one serious drawback, in confined spaces it restricts the area covered to a great extent. e.g. functions in small halls or having a good DoF for a large background, amateurs are mostly subjected to click photos in such scenarios. I always had a feeling that a slightly wide lens (24 or 36mm) with a good f-stop range (F1.8 and above) would have been a better choice over the 50mm prime.

Based on my experience and my preferences, I think for a novice, a good wide angle lens with better (lower) f-stops should be a good point to start.
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Old 15th March 2017, 18:39   #26
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Thank you Earthian! For giving us this technology roundup, with your humour, humanity and you're too-good photographs!

By the way, there is one accessory that I very much regret the demise of. It used to come with every camera and, on all but the cheapest, be made of real leather too. I see it on your first-camera pic. They used to call it the Ever Ready Case.
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Old 15th March 2017, 20:27   #27
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Originally Posted by Wanderlust89 View Post
...End of the day, yes there is a great debate on shooting RAW vs Jpeg.
I shoot RAW and use LR 6 for PP. I like to do the PP myself instead of a program in the camera doing it for me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
All said and done, practice and time are the first requirements. This I think is given. No second thoughts on that one.
Yes, go out and shoot. The more you do, the more familiar you would be with the camera and the lens and the better your photos would turn out to be.
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Originally Posted by NiInJa View Post
Excellent thread, just what I needed !
I do consider myself an SAP, but I've realized that wildlife or nature photography is not my cup of tea.
Thank you, NiInja. i am curious to know how you realised that nature photography is not for you?
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Originally Posted by Thad E Ginathom View Post
Thank you Earthian! For giving us this technology roundup, with your humour, humanity and you're too-good photographs!
Thank you, N. Thought of looking you up when i was in your neck of the woods for about 3 weeks. Had a bereavement in the family and was sorting things out. Maybe next time.
Quote:
By the way, there is one accessory that I very much regret the demise of. It used to come with every camera and, on all but the cheapest, be made of real leather too. I see it on your first-camera pic. They used to call it the Ever Ready Case.
Sure they used to come with every camera. Here is one:

Gear for the Serious Amateur Photographer-screen-shot-20170315-20.25.34.png

I got this free from the Russians (Soviets)while i was studying at Delhi!

Last edited by earthian : 15th March 2017 at 20:47. Reason: corrected LT to LR
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Old 15th March 2017, 21:15   #28
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Thanks for such a detailed thread. I am looking forward to buy Nikon D5200.
The one question which has been bothering me the most is quick/reliable storage for pics.

Would love to hear from you guys what is your preferred method/app/portal?

Last edited by silverado : 15th March 2017 at 21:19.
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Old 16th March 2017, 00:30   #29
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Zenit! I remember those!

(Please do get in touch when around Chennai)
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Old 16th March 2017, 01:57   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wanderlust89 View Post
And the images you have shared are very much up to the mark of a serious/pro photographer sticking to composition rules, sharp and post processed well. Thus it gets qualified to be serious photographer's thread, if not up to the level of Artistic photography as the likes of Ansel Adams.
in the eye of the beholder. I would rate them as pretty average, nothing special. although some of the topics (e.g. tigers are very special, the image themselves are very average)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wanderlust89 View Post
Now to start with accessories, it is not really wise to go and buy the costliest tripod, Polarisers, Neutral density filters etc. There are good ones in the budget range and thing is, for most times we don't actually have the time to use all the accessories we have. As the saying goes, "When it comes to photography, you get the best shots when you carry less." Because, there is not much of fiddling around with settings and accessories. I personally learnt it the hard way... And I know many who just bought the best camera and accessories, thinking just a click of the button would do wonders, had finally sold everything out of frustration and understood that "Photography is not about the equipment alone". Period.

No photography is not about equipment. But a good tripod is something you simply canít beat with anything. Same for filters. Itís the amateur that thinks differently. You donít need to buy the most expensive, but again, compared to your investment on the camera and lenses itís an area you donít want to skimp on. It will show in your images. Period!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wanderlust89 View Post
End of the day, yes there is a great debate on shooting RAW vs Jpeg. But my opinion is, both are required for different occasions. Say for example, you can shoot jpeg. in a family function and shoot RAW when you really want that detail and adjustments. But most times a serious photographer is supposed to shoot RAW and take that time to do that "post-processing". For post-processing I prefer the Lightroom as it gives good level of control and still maintains the originality of the shot with minimal modifications.
As far as Iím concerned there is no debate. There are those who use JPEG and those who use RAM all the time. Most, if not all, all of the proís are using the latter.


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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
On PP
- Most dont look at PP skills as a must.
- PP does not mean getting Lightroom/Photoshop or additional plugins.
- It actually means to know how to read your image, look at histograms, where to edit etc etc.
- LR/PS are only means to them. So one needs to get the basics correct.
Sorry, sure you need to be able to interpret a histogram, but post processing is a real skills and takes much more than knowing a histogram.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
- First you dont know what to edit and how edit
- Then you learn a bit and you edit each and every image. (Making all images HDR, over saturating, adding high vignettes etc are some which I see is very common)
- Then you go further, and learn when to stop your edits
- And finally you come full circle to take such a good snap that you feel you dont need a PP!
One of the most difficult things for any photographer, even a very experienced and professional is to rate your own photographs. Editing every image you have taken is just silly. Part of the post processing is to decide which picture to edit.

Depends a big on the topics and so, but I would easily shoot 400-500 images on a day. I might edit 40-50. I will publish 4-5 images.

Steve McCury takes on average 5-7500 images and it will result in one published image! And that always requires PP as he only shoots RAW. So the idea of taking one picture and not PP is just not realistic. If anything if you shoot in RAW you will always need to do PP. Even if you have that one great shot!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
- How do images get transferred from camera
- Where do they get stored on your compute.
- How they are linked to your main PP software
- What is the back-up data flow ?
- What is the back-up for exported/published images ?
Agree, but I wonít do anything for your images as such.


Quote:
Originally Posted by NiInJa View Post
I bought the most basic DSLR (Canon EOS 1100D ) when none of my family members were convinced about its importance (and they thought I was wasting money once again), they finally realized how good it is when I clicked some great candid shots (according to them) during my brother's wedding. Thats when it built my confidence and I started reading more about photogra.
No offence, but you have to be honest: Is your family a good enough peer group to rate your images. Fact is, chances are they are simply not! You need to get feedback from, ideally, professional photographers, not family and friends.

Jeroen
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