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Amateur photography justification

Hello everyone,

I'm new to this forum and I'm looking to draw on each of your experiences as amateur photographers and how you went about inspiring yourself to get out and shoot and justify the expenses that the gear amounts to.

A little bit about me first. I currently reside in the town of Bathgate, Scotland. I have always had an interest in photography with most of my focus on landscapes.

I find that my biggest restraint is time, being a Train Driver by profession, I find it challenging to get out at the best times for landscape photography as after a week of 3am wake up calls the last thing I want to do is add another on my days off. The other thing that often disheartens me is after I get back from the occasions when I do get out and look at the images I have taken. The results rarely inspire me and lack the quality of the images that I see from other photographers. I don't know if I am being overly critical of myself or expecting way to much from my equipment but this has a knock of effect to when I have a chance to go out and shoot as I fear that I will be disappointed with the results and feel that I have wasted my time.

So next comes my current conundrum. I am thinking about upgrading my camera body and currently sitting between 3 choices in either the Canon 6D II, Canon 5D IV or the Sony A7R III/IV. My thoughts are that a new camera with help raise the quality of my images and as such inspire me to go and shoot more often and really enjoy my photography the way I want to. The only thing that has stopped me buying one already is that I worry that it won't make any difference and at the expense required to purchase any of the above I'm continually trying to justify it to myself.

So thus is where I seek all of your experiences and advice. What did you do when you first started out? When did you upgrade your equipment and did you find it make you get out and shoot more often? Does anyone else struggle to get out as often as they like and how do you commit yourself to the opportunities?

I am sorry for the long first post and it's somewhat negative narrative but It would be greatly appreciated if you could all share your experiences with me to help with my decision making. I have included a few images below that I have taken and welcome all critique, tips and advice on these also.

Thanks
Dale

All below taken with Canon 400D(Rebel XTi)FB_IMG_1569753249645.jpgFB_IMG_1569753167634.jpgFB_IMG_1569753144354.jpgDBuchanan-Queensferry-16-1.jpg and 24-70 USM I
 

Phill104

Always on
Premium Member
Hi Dale and welcome.

I am sure I have seen your shots elsewhere, just cannot place them. I quite like all of them. Like you, I look at other peoples shots, including yours, and feel I need to put more effort in. I don't think kit will help, at least for me. Instead maybe try and challenge yourself to something. Try either something different photography wise or work on a project, maybe take a trip somewhere but not on a train.

I am sure others can give you some advice on landscapes, it is something I struggle with. However I would love to be in your part of the country, it is stunning and provides so much opportunity.
 
Hi Dale and welcome.

I am sure I have seen your shots elsewhere, just cannot place them. I quite like all of them. Like you, I look at other peoples shots, including yours, and feel I need to put more effort in. I don't think kit will help, at least for me. Instead maybe try and challenge yourself to something. Try either something different photography wise or work on a project, maybe take a trip somewhere but not on a train.

I am sure others can give you some advice on landscapes, it is something I struggle with. However I would love to be in your part of the country, it is stunning and provides so much opportunity.
Thanks for your reply. My images are on social media so may have turned up there over time. That has put some perspective to my thoughts as I suppose someone may look at mine and think that they want to do better and its all variable based on each person's experience, so thank you.

Scotland is a great place and is filled with opportunities but I still struggle as I find the central belt has the least and the travel time adds to my time restraints. I like the idea of challenging myself and am going to look into some ideas of what I can set.
 

Newbandit

Always on
Perhaps open up you photographic ideas by doing street, still life, people and things you can do without the early mornings and travel involved. It's amazing what's on your doorstep if you look for it.

Camera wise, ask your self how your current camera is holding you back and go from there. What you point it at is whats really important in the end :)
 

rebel06

Looking for a cause.
Moderator
Hi Dale and welcome to the forum.. for some ideas why not take a look at our weekly forum here .. https://www.photography-forum.org/forums/the-weekly-challenge-forum.241/
Are you allowed to take your camera into the cab with you, if so you should be able to see many things that we cannot and from a different viewpoint .... Not while driving of course ... :blurry-drunk:
Also don't fret too much on gear, I have a Dslr and a few expensive lenses but I have won "Image of the week, Image of the month and several images in the yearly awards on here including Image of the Year" all with a second hand bridge camera.

Paul
 
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paulmag

Always on
Honorary Life Member
If you are looking to justify spending money on gear............look to glass first it is significantly more important for image quality than what body is stuck on the back of it.......
 
Perhaps open up you photographic ideas by doing street, still life, people and things you can do without the early mornings and travel involved. It's amazing what's on your doorstep if you look for it.

Camera wise, ask your self how your current camera is holding you back and go from there. What you point it at is whats really important in the end :)
Thanks for your reply. I have dappled in and out of different types of photography and generally have enjoyed them but just not as much as landscape. However I see your point in using them to get out more when perhaps an early rise isn't on the cards so thanks.

With regards to the camera, it is one of the things I have questioned repeatedly. Is it really the camera or just my technical abilities. Noise and sharpness and colour dynamics are probably my biggest issues, some of which I think may be resolved with an upgrade.

Hi Dale and welcome to the forum.. for some ideas why not take a look at our weekly forum here .. https://www.photography-forum.org/forums/the-weekly-challenge-forum.241/
Are you allowed to take your camera into the cab with you, if so you should be able to see many things that we cannot and from a different viewpoint .... Not while driving of course ... :blurry-drunk:

Paul
Thanks for your reply and for the link to the tread, I will definitely take a look at this for some ideas.

Unfortunately I think that would be frowned upon. Also I don't get many chances to stop and shoot with the area I work in although there have been many occasions where I have wished I had my camera with me.

If you are looking to justify spending money on gear............look to glass first it is significantly more important for image quality than what body is stuck on the back of it.......
Thanks for your reply. I am definitely looking at upgrading my glass as well and have never really had an issue with spending money on that, although I normally buy used to make some savings.

My current setup includes;
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L USM IS (Mark I)
Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM (Mark I)

And I am currently in the market for a 16-35mm to suit more wide angle shots.
 

Snips

Always on
As Paul says, a good lens is worth buying. As for a camera, the 6D Mk1 is very good on noise and is a reasonable upgrade. You can buy decent (nearly as new) second hand bodies from dealers like Wex and MPB. The 16-35mm has a good reputation on this forum.

It’s good to continue with the critique but don’t beat yourself up about it. I have a feeling that in your case, an upgrade will see a considerable difference as you’ve clearly got an eye for landscape photography and know what you’re doing.

Nice opening set!
 
As Paul says, a good lens is worth buying. As for a camera, the 6D Mk1 is very good on noise and is a reasonable upgrade. You can buy decent (nearly as new) second hand bodies from dealers like Wex and MPB. The 16-35mm has a good reputation on this forum.

It’s good to continue with the critique but don’t beat yourself up about it. I have a feeling that in your case, an upgrade will see a considerable difference as you’ve clearly got an eye for landscape photography and know what you’re doing.

Nice opening set!
Thanks for your reply and kind works on my images. As above I tend to stick to used equipment to make some saving and hopefully this will help me make the justification in the end if I finally decide to pull the trigger and purchase a new body. Thanks for the recommendation, the 6d I is not one that I have looked at so I shall go and do some research.
 

Phill104

Always on
Premium Member
One thing to remember is if you go from your current camera, a crop body, to full frame your lenses will feel a lot shorter. Try one first and see how it feels with your lenses. Another body option that provides very clean images would be the 80D. As the 90D has just been released there are some amazing offers out there on a new one. On HDEW for instance they have them for £609. you would notice a huge difference to your 400D(Rebel XTi).
 
One thing to remember is if you go from your current camera, a crop body, to full frame your lenses will feel a lot shorter. Try one first and see how it feels with your lenses. Another body option that provides very clean images would be the 80D. As the 90D has just been released there are some amazing offers out there on a new one. On HDEW for instance they have them for £609. you would notice a huge difference to your 400D(Rebel XTi)(Rebel XTi).
Yeah I usually find me looking for a wider angle so I feel full frame is going to suit me better along with the additional benefits that come along re sensors and such. Do you know anywhere that I could try the camera's with my lenses? It is something i have considered but the only place I could find to rent was wex and I found there prices to be expensive and large deposits required. Again thanks for the camera recommendation, I will have a look into this one as well.
 

Ramble Vision

Mountain Climber
Super Moderator
When I started out, my images were not great, but with practice they improved. Really for me the drive to go our was because I enjoyed the process. Even if I came back with nothing, I always enjoyed being out in the landscape taking images.

When I upgraded it did not give me more drive to take photos, infact nice upgrading I have barely been out, but other circumstances have caused that. Upgrading is bit of an odd one. the step up in image quality is there, but it's not significant.

I had a canon 650D(Rebel T4i) before I upgraded and while I had it I got to the point where i was getting decent quality shots from it. it took a lot of effort and required my technique to be completely spot on, both in the field and in post production. I enjoyed this part of the challenge.

From reading your post, it seems to me that you are not sure how to fit photography into your life despite there being a drive to do so. Personally I do not think this is a good reason to invest in an upgrade. I think you need to try and cultivate the passion a bit more, and get a bit of momentum. If the momentum is not there then a new camera will not necessarily add any. and also try and squeeze every bit of quality you can out of your existing setup.

Looking at your images above it seems you are having similar struggles that I had, the dynamic range being a bit of a limiting factor. I combated this by learning how to take multiple exposures and blending them in photoshop. After learning these techniques I got really good understanding of light and it really honed my technique. So yeah maybe try and squeeze some more life out of your existing setup up first.

one other thing that really helped with me. I found one point in the week where I could commit to going out (it was friday evening in my case) I made a point of going out no matter what. Being consistent like this meant that over time I got better. and if the wether did not play ball it was not then end of the world its all practice. So yeah I appreciate getting up at 3:00am on days off is not ideal, but over the winter sunrise is much later in the day. But that said in scotland, you can shoot any time of day really. Catching some light directly after a rain shower often makes for some fantastic shots.
 

Phill104

Always on
Premium Member
I know nowhere up your way sadly. Maybe there is a local camera club or even a nature reserve where there will be other photographers.

As for bigger sensors, the noise advantages have reduced massively in the last couple of generations. In fact, pixels on subject some of the crop bodies actually give less noise. The lower DOF a larger sensor effectively provides is not really a consideration for landscape. I know for instance many landscape togs who bought f2.8 lenses initially but later switched to their F4 versions to save lugging the extra load. Most tell me (I mainly shoot wildlife so can only go from limited experienc) they rarely shoot below f8 for landscape. So the DOF part of going full frame doesn’t come into it.
 
When I started out, my images were not great, but with practice they improved. Really for me the drive to go our was because I enjoyed the process. Even if I came back with nothing, I always enjoyed being out in the landscape taking images.

When I upgraded it did not give me more drive to take photos, infact nice upgrading I have barely been out, but other circumstances have caused that. Upgrading is bit of an odd one. the step up in image quality is there, but it's not significant.

I had a canon 650D(Rebel T4i)(Rebel T4i) before I upgraded and while I had it I got to the point where i was getting decent quality shots from it. it took a lot of effort and required my technique to be completely spot on, both in the field and in post production. I enjoyed this part of the challenge.

From reading your post, it seems to me that you are not sure how to fit photography into your life despite there being a drive to do so. Personally I do not think this is a good reason to invest in an upgrade. I think you need to try and cultivate the passion a bit more, and get a bit of momentum. If the momentum is not there then a new camera will not necessarily add any. and also try and squeeze every bit of quality you can out of your existing setup.

Looking at your images above it seems you are having similar struggles that I had, the dynamic range being a bit of a limiting factor. I combated this by learning how to take multiple exposures and blending them in photoshop. After learning these techniques I got really good understanding of light and it really honed my technique. So yeah maybe try and squeeze some more life out of your existing setup up first.

one other thing that really helped with me. I found one point in the week where I could commit to going out (it was friday evening in my case) I made a point of going out no matter what. Being consistent like this meant that over time I got better. and if the wether did not play ball it was not then end of the world its all practice. So yeah I appreciate getting up at 3:00am on days off is not ideal, but over the winter sunrise is much later in the day. But that said in scotland, you can shoot any time of day really. Catching some light directly after a rain shower often makes for some fantastic shots.
Thanks for your detailed response and it's great to hear from someone who has been in a very similar situation to what I find myself going through. I like your idea of challenging yourself with the technical accuracy to ensure the best quality possible from the gear that you had and it is probably something I need to work on myself.

I think this is the thought process that I am going through that has stopped me splashing out as of yet. I'm going to try and commit more time to getting out and developing my skills and then hope that I get the bug and can then think about upgrading.

I know nowhere up your way sadly. Maybe there is a local camera club or even a nature reserve where there will be other photographers.

As for bigger sensors, the noise advantages have reduced massively in the last couple of generations. In fact, pixels on subject some of the crop bodies actually give less noise. The lower DOF a larger sensor effectively provides is not really a consideration for landscape. I know for instance many landscape togs who bought f2.8 lenses initially but later switched to their F4 versions to save lugging the extra load. Most tell me (I mainly shoot wildlife so can only go from limited experienc) they rarely shoot below f8 for landscape. So the DOF part of going full frame doesn’t come into it.
Cool I will have a look and see what I can find locally that may give me the opportunity to try some of the cameras out.

Yeah I very rarely shoot below f/8 when shooting landscapes so I agree this isn't really a factor. I am interested in anybody who has experience in the field when it comes to recommendations and I will certainly be doing some research into anything that is suggested here and keep my option very much open.
 

rebel06

Looking for a cause.
Moderator
Well Dale you have done the first very crucial step in upping your photo desire and improving your photography ... what is that ... JOINING Here.
As you probably have already seen there is plenty of help and advice on here and criticism in the best possible taste... and we are a friendly lot.

Paul
 

MikeB

Always on
Premium Member
You will not become a better photographer by upgrading your camera. You will not take better photos by acquiring the latest in technology. However, if you desire to have greater resolution in a photo, then a higher resolution camera will help. Bear in mind that some of the finest photographs produced were taken with lower resolution cameras than what is available today. Your photos prove that. Resolution (fine detail) benefits a subset of landscape, architectural, and macro photos - oftentimes high resolution is inappropriate especially for some portraiture and photojournalism. Also high resolution is only useful if you are printing the image or cropping into an image already taken; if you are publishing to social media and significantly downsampling and compressing an image then high resolution is not a benefit.

As mentioned above, lens quality has the greatest potential for improving the technical quality of an image. Your current lenses are good, however better lenses are available that will marginally improve image quality. I started off with basic zoom lenses then moved to prime lenses to maximize image quality.

I have Canon's 5D Mark IV and a 5DSR. I find the 30Mp range to be excellent for most of my images and the 5DSR has been relegated to specialty shots and as a backup camera. Since you are accustomed to the crop sensor, consider Canon's 80D or if you want the highest resolution, the 90D - however, this is far greater than you are used to. If the angle of view provided by your crop camera is limiting, then consider a full frame. The Sony a7 III is the minimum resolution you should look for as it closely parallels what you are used to on the 400D(Rebel XTi). The a7R III has nearly twice that resolution. One more point regarding resolution, the higher resolution the camera, the higher resolution (and much more expensive) the lenses need to be to support that resolution.

Once the image is captured, I find that post processing provides many opportunities to further set the image apart from others of the same vein.

With regards to motivation, break out of the routine, constantly try different approaches, and have fun. This is a hobby for you, as long as you are enjoying it then all is well, when it becomes a chore then move on.
 
You will not become a better photographer by upgrading your camera. You will not take better photos by acquiring the latest in technology. However, if you desire to have greater resolution in a photo, then a higher resolution camera will help. Bear in mind that some of the finest photographs produced were taken with lower resolution cameras than what is available today. Your photos prove that. Resolution (fine detail) benefits a subset of landscape, architectural, and macro photos - oftentimes high resolution is inappropriate especially for some portraiture and photojournalism. Also high resolution is only useful if you are printing the image or cropping into an image already taken; if you are publishing to social media and significantly downsampling and compressing an image then high resolution is not a benefit.

As mentioned above, lens quality has the greatest potential for improving the technical quality of an image. Your current lenses are good, however better lenses are available that will marginally improve image quality. I started off with basic zoom lenses then moved to prime lenses to maximize image quality.

I have Canon's 5D Mark IV and a 5DSR. I find the 30Mp range to be excellent for most of my images and the 5DSR has been relegated to specialty shots and as a backup camera. Since you are accustomed to the crop sensor, consider Canon's 80D or if you want the highest resolution, the 90D - however, this is far greater than you are used to. If the angle of view provided by your crop camera is limiting, then consider a full frame. The Sony a7 III is the minimum resolution you should look for as it closely parallels what you are used to on the 400D(Rebel XTi)(Rebel XTi). The a7R III has nearly twice that resolution. One more point regarding resolution, the higher resolution the camera, the higher resolution (and much more expensive) the lenses need to be to support that resolution.

Once the image is captured, I find that post processing provides many opportunities to further set the image apart from others of the same vein.

With regards to motivation, break out of the routine, constantly try different approaches, and have fun. This is a hobby for you, as long as you are enjoying it then all is well, when it becomes a chore then move on.
Thanks for your detailed response. I know that it won't make me a better photographer but I think my thought process was that it would make me get out more and as such I'd become a better photographer over time. However, after reading all the input from above I think I have been right to hold off in purchasing a new body and think that I will possibly move to purchase a new wide angle lens to start with.

It's good to hear from those who have used these cameras in the field and I take all your recommendations on board for when I do get round to getting a new camera. The 5DSR is one I had considered but decided it was way more pixels than I needed.

Post processing is also something I'm working to develop my skills on and have recently noticed an improvement in final edits when I have gone back and reedited previous images which is heartening to see.

Thank you for your words of wisdom and I will definitely be looking for ways to break that routine and get back out to doing what I enjoy.
 

Minor Problem

Always on
Premium Member
Your position is a familiar one to most photographers especially landscape togs. You have some bery good images in your opening set which have no doubt been gathered over time and that is the part you need to come to terms with. Looking online you will see the best images from other photographers and not see the much larger percentage of failed shots.

The better you get the more critical you are and the more often you come away with images that you aren't really all that happy with.

The key is learning to enjoy the process and the time outdoors watching the world go by. Then when you come away with a good image it's a bonus but if not you've still had an enjoyable time out. Try to place less emphasis on the results.

As an example on my day I'm a half decent landscape tog and I've just returned back from a few days away doing some intensive landscape shooting with a good mate of mine. It was the 5th time we've been away to shoot together and only the second time I came away with a good image. That's 2 good photos from 15 odd days shooting but I always thoroughly enjoy the time and don't consider it wasted even if the results are terrible.

Embrace the despair of failure and enjoy the process!
 
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Your position is a familiar one to most photographers especially landscape togs. You have some bery good images in your opening set which have no doubt been gathered over time and that is the part you need to come to terms with. Looking online you will see the best images from other photographers and not see the much larger percentage of failed shots.

The better you get the more critical you are and the more often you come away with images that you aren't really all that happy with.

The key is learning to enjoy the process and the time outdoors watching the world go by. Then when you come away with a good image it's a bonus but if not you've still had an enjoyable time out. Try to place less emphasis on the results.

As an example on my day I'm a half decent landscape tog and I've just returned back from a few days away doing some intensive landscape shooting with a good mate of mine. It was the 5th time we've been away to shoot together and only the second time I came away with a good image. That's 2 good photos from 15 odd days shooting but I always thoroughly enjoy the time and don't consider it wasted even if the results are terrible.

Embrace the despair of failure and enjoy the process!
Thanks for your reply. Yeah I think the sheer amount of YouTube blogs I watch probably hasn't done me any favours . Although I am glad to see a lot of those guys showing videos that include raw images and also times when they just haven't got the shot. Gives us a matures a bit more perspective.

I have just seen your image from the trip and I have to say it looks Incredible, great shot! I agree that I need to get back out and just enjoy the process and not get so stuck up on my images. Quality will come with time.
 

Trevor Gale

Active Member
Premium Member
First-off, my apologies for the length of the reply, I couldn't find a shorter way of echoing my thoughts upon your question. I am not a professional photographer nor do I have any desire to become one: I am an Electronics design engineer in the Space business and now retiring although I'll never be fully distant from that work as it is also one of my serious hobby interests, hence my own electronics lab and workshop at home! I am what I would call a very serious amateur photographer (still with my own darkroom); I mention a couple of camera makes here but I have no commercial interest in any of them so my opinions are my own and only biassed by my own experiences. I have had five photographic exhibitions to date with pleasantly positive reviews.

What you've already shown here communicates to me a number of very clear thoughts from that imagery - for example the first (actually excellently composed) echoes exactly the kind of 'modern architecture' place that I would never, ever, want to have to live in: BUT it is exactly the good composure and the detail in that image which evokes that feeling, so it is already good photographically in my opinion. You ask "how [we] went about inspiring [ourselves] to get out and shoot and justify the expenses" - well, it is all a matter of Communication - a recurring theme in my life even though I am not particularly good at it - which I consider the most important interaction for the human race. Communication takes many forms, not only the written or spoken word, but in theatre, photography, music and other arts - all forms of expression. After my second exhibition, a colleague of mine told me "I never thought of photography as art - but your photos have shown me otherwise." - and that was, I think, one of the best compliments I could have heard. So many people think that photography can never qualify as an art form: I choose to differ!

Photography being a very significant pastime interest, I found, after years of using mainly two sets of 35mm Minolta X-700 equipment with all the bits that go with them (and eventually my own darkroom, see below), that I couldn't get enough out of that negative size that I wanted for the photography that I do. Like you I do far more landscape work than portraiture although I do now have a number of portrait-based projects that I'm working on.

You ask us to give "[our] experiences and advice. What did [we] do when [we] first started out?" - here I'd like to say that perhaps sometimes it's an idea to step back and think of how we want to convey what we portray... just as sometimes we'll use a 'prop' in a photograph (think of that warm fireplace in a portrait or the small flowering weeds at the fore in a mountain view) to emphasize one or other aspect, why not accompany a photo series with some poetry or prose that binds with the subject matter? Or maybe we are thinking of the massive distances being shown, so let's think also of perhaps enhancing the perspective through a different choice of lens or lying on the ground to take the shot? (Yes, I've been seen sitting down on a rock in the middle of a fast-moving stream and getting back to the bank soaking wet to the consternation of some passers-by!) In other words it's a matter of what we take and how we do it just as much as what kind of kit we use, assuming at least a minimum basic quality of our gear.

As to the choice of gear, some time ago I decided to move from the Minolta kit into medium-format even though the costs of the different camera items and lenses, etc, would be somewhat (!) higher than 35mm. I looked at the various options around, and finally, when I looked at the available accessories the build quality and ease of use, I decided on the Mamiya 645 professional, and I have never regretted my decision since then. After a significant amount of experience with the 6 x 4.5 format, especially in portraits, I decided that the 6 x 7 format would be more suited to studio / human aspect photography and so I added that workhorse of the professionals, the Mamiya RB67 Pro-SD and then moved into the RZ67-Pro II. So I (still) use 6x4.5 and 6x7 negative formats to the best advantage; yes it is something of a luxury but it is equipment that will last a long time and it enabled me to concentrate on the themes and emotions I wished to portray. Though I have on occasion used the 6 x 7 kit in the field as well (as shown), even though it's heavy!

Then along came the more mature digital "revolution" away from film (though I can still obtain film which is sometimes more appropriate) which meant moving to a Canon EOS 5D III kit with a substantial array of lenses for different situations; I still prefer prime lenses to 'zoom' lenses but often for weight reasons those zooms do have their advantages! I will say that the quality of the images obtainable (that's not necessarily dependent upon the *resolution* in megapixels) is extremely good, but in my humble amateur opinion it's possible to achieve better image quality and depth from 120 roll-film negatives than the "full-frame" 35mm digital result: so right now I'm in the process of looking at digital backs for my medium-format Mamiya gear, and I've found a couple of possibilities - expensive ones but reliable second-hand.

You're using the 400D(Rebel XTi) Rebel with a 22mm x 15mm (roughly) sensor giving 10.1 megapixel file - if you moved to full-frame (e.g. a Canon EOS 5D variant) you would have a sensor that's 36mm x 24mm (full frame) and a 22 megapixel output; however it's not all down to megapixels, things like dynamic range, ISO rating range and noise in the darks / long exposures are important. With what I'm achieving with the EOS 5D III I was already thinking of going to a better Canon model (I've found the Canon to be very reliable and there's a great deal of after-market accessories for it as well as a good wide range of lenses) but for me it's not going to give me the output that I want for exhibition prints.

However it's horses for courses, and I'll reckon you'd be indeed be better-off with a higher-grade sensor camera kit, which one of the Canon EOS's would give you, and they also have a better dynamic range so I'm thinking you'll get better coverage of what you'd like to portray. The 5D mark IV gets you 30.4 megapixels, full-frame sensor, and with an ISO range from 100 to 32000 (which is in my opinion well over-the-top, since I reckon 6400 is more than enough unless you're talking astrophotography and even then you have noise considerations). It also has (apparently) better autofocus performance but certainly better dynamic range which is one of the things that Canon were addressing when they developed this model. It'll do 7 frames per second if you're that kind of shooter but I reckon that's for the airshow or motor-racing buffs! It *does* have built-in WiFi so the downloading of images to a computer or laptop / tablet is going to be easier / faster. With my 5D mk.III I have to use the below-body extra for the WiFi capability which also contains a battery.

As soon as you move to full-frame you will notice that the lenses appear to have a 'wider angle' than you may have become used to with the 400D(Rebel XTi) - you currently have an area of 22.2 x 14.8 = 328 mm2, with full-frame you'll have 36 x 24 = 864 mm2, that's over 2.6 times the area so the 'old' 50mm will behave like a 30mm lens (i.e. area 864 / 328 = 2.6; sqrt(2.6) = 1.62; 1 / 1.62 = 0.617; 50mm x 0.617 = 30.85). Basically what you might be used to seeing with a 50mm lens on the 400D(Rebel XTi), you'd see through an 80mm lens using a full-frame camera. It's the same situation I faced when I moved over to medium-format, since the 6 x 4.5 format (which is a 56mm x 41.5mm negative = 2324mm2 = 2.68 times a 35mm neg) means I use an 80mm lens where I would use a 50mm lens in full-frame 35mm format!

The EOS 6D II may be somewhat cheaper; there aren't too many differences but some may be important depending upon your own preferences, such as whether you would like quality video for example. The 6D II:- 40,000 ISO, 5.7uM pixel size, 45 AF focus points, 6.5 frames/sec,; max. 1/4000S shutter; Vresolution 1080. The 5D IV:- 32,000 ISO, 5.4uM pixel size, 61 AF focus points, 7 frames/sec.; max. 1/8000S shutter; Vresolution 2160. Personally I'd prefer the EOS 5D but again it's horses for courses.

Whatever your choice in the end, I wish you all the best in your persuits.
x700a.jpgrz67.jpg
 
First-off, my apologies for the length of the reply, I couldn't find a shorter way of echoing my thoughts upon your question. I am not a professional photographer nor do I have any desire to become one: I am an Electronics design engineer in the Space business and now retiring although I'll never be fully distant from that work as it is also one of my serious hobby interests, hence my own electronics lab and workshop at home! I am what I would call a very serious amateur photographer (still with my own darkroom); I mention a couple of camera makes here but I have no commercial interest in any of them so my opinions are my own and only biassed by my own experiences. I have had five photographic exhibitions to date with pleasantly positive reviews.

What you've already shown here communicates to me a number of very clear thoughts from that imagery - for example the first (actually excellently composed) echoes exactly the kind of 'modern architecture' place that I would never, ever, want to have to live in: BUT it is exactly the good composure and the detail in that image which evokes that feeling, so it is already good photographically in my opinion. You ask "how [we] went about inspiring [ourselves] to get out and shoot and justify the expenses" - well, it is all a matter of Communication - a recurring theme in my life even though I am not particularly good at it - which I consider the most important interaction for the human race. Communication takes many forms, not only the written or spoken word, but in theatre, photography, music and other arts - all forms of expression. After my second exhibition, a colleague of mine told me "I never thought of photography as art - but your photos have shown me otherwise." - and that was, I think, one of the best compliments I could have heard. So many people think that photography can never qualify as an art form: I choose to differ!

Photography being a very significant pastime interest, I found, after years of using mainly two sets of 35mm Minolta X-700 equipment with all the bits that go with them (and eventually my own darkroom, see below), that I couldn't get enough out of that negative size that I wanted for the photography that I do. Like you I do far more landscape work than portraiture although I do now have a number of portrait-based projects that I'm working on.

You ask us to give "[our] experiences and advice. What did [we] do when [we] first started out?" - here I'd like to say that perhaps sometimes it's an idea to step back and think of how we want to convey what we portray... just as sometimes we'll use a 'prop' in a photograph (think of that warm fireplace in a portrait or the small flowering weeds at the fore in a mountain view) to emphasize one or other aspect, why not accompany a photo series with some poetry or prose that binds with the subject matter? Or maybe we are thinking of the massive distances being shown, so let's think also of perhaps enhancing the perspective through a different choice of lens or lying on the ground to take the shot? (Yes, I've been seen sitting down on a rock in the middle of a fast-moving stream and getting back to the bank soaking wet to the consternation of some passers-by!) In other words it's a matter of what we take and how we do it just as much as what kind of kit we use, assuming at least a minimum basic quality of our gear.

As to the choice of gear, some time ago I decided to move from the Minolta kit into medium-format even though the costs of the different camera items and lenses, etc, would be somewhat (!) higher than 35mm. I looked at the various options around, and finally, when I looked at the available accessories the build quality and ease of use, I decided on the Mamiya 645 professional, and I have never regretted my decision since then. After a significant amount of experience with the 6 x 4.5 format, especially in portraits, I decided that the 6 x 7 format would be more suited to studio / human aspect photography and so I added that workhorse of the professionals, the Mamiya RB67 Pro-SD and then moved into the RZ67-Pro II. So I (still) use 6x4.5 and 6x7 negative formats to the best advantage; yes it is something of a luxury but it is equipment that will last a long time and it enabled me to concentrate on the themes and emotions I wished to portray. Though I have on occasion used the 6 x 7 kit in the field as well (as shown), even though it's heavy!

Then along came the more mature digital "revolution" away from film (though I can still obtain film which is sometimes more appropriate) which meant moving to a Canon EOS 5D III kit with a substantial array of lenses for different situations; I still prefer prime lenses to 'zoom' lenses but often for weight reasons those zooms do have their advantages! I will say that the quality of the images obtainable (that's not necessarily dependent upon the *resolution* in megapixels) is extremely good, but in my humble amateur opinion it's possible to achieve better image quality and depth from 120 roll-film negatives than the "full-frame" 35mm digital result: so right now I'm in the process of looking at digital backs for my medium-format Mamiya gear, and I've found a couple of possibilities - expensive ones but reliable second-hand.

You're using the 400D(Rebel XTi)(Rebel XTi) Rebel with a 22mm x 15mm (roughly) sensor giving 10.1 megapixel file - if you moved to full-frame (e.g. a Canon EOS 5D variant) you would have a sensor that's 36mm x 24mm (full frame) and a 22 megapixel output; however it's not all down to megapixels, things like dynamic range, ISO rating range and noise in the darks / long exposures are important. With what I'm achieving with the EOS 5D III I was already thinking of going to a better Canon model (I've found the Canon to be very reliable and there's a great deal of after-market accessories for it as well as a good wide range of lenses) but for me it's not going to give me the output that I want for exhibition prints.

However it's horses for courses, and I'll reckon you'd be indeed be better-off with a higher-grade sensor camera kit, which one of the Canon EOS's would give you, and they also have a better dynamic range so I'm thinking you'll get better coverage of what you'd like to portray. The 5D mark IV gets you 30.4 megapixels, full-frame sensor, and with an ISO range from 100 to 32000 (which is in my opinion well over-the-top, since I reckon 6400 is more than enough unless you're talking astrophotography and even then you have noise considerations). It also has (apparently) better autofocus performance but certainly better dynamic range which is one of the things that Canon were addressing when they developed this model. It'll do 7 frames per second if you're that kind of shooter but I reckon that's for the airshow or motor-racing buffs! It *does* have built-in WiFi so the downloading of images to a computer or laptop / tablet is going to be easier / faster. With my 5D mk.III I have to use the below-body extra for the WiFi capability which also contains a battery.

As soon as you move to full-frame you will notice that the lenses appear to have a 'wider angle' than you may have become used to with the 400D(Rebel XTi)(Rebel XTi) - you currently have an area of 22.2 x 14.8 = 328 mm2, with full-frame you'll have 36 x 24 = 864 mm2, that's over 2.6 times the area so the 'old' 50mm will behave like a 30mm lens (i.e. area 864 / 328 = 2.6; sqrt(2.6) = 1.62; 1 / 1.62 = 0.617; 50mm x 0.617 = 30.85). Basically what you might be used to seeing with a 50mm lens on the 400D(Rebel XTi)(Rebel XTi), you'd see through an 80mm lens using a full-frame camera. It's the same situation I faced when I moved over to medium-format, since the 6 x 4.5 format (which is a 56mm x 41.5mm negative = 2324mm2 = 2.68 times a 35mm neg) means I use an 80mm lens where I would use a 50mm lens in full-frame 35mm format!

The EOS 6D II may be somewhat cheaper; there aren't too many differences but some may be important depending upon your own preferences, such as whether you would like quality video for example. The 6D II:- 40,000 ISO, 5.7uM pixel size, 45 AF focus points, 6.5 frames/sec,; max. 1/4000S shutter; Vresolution 1080. The 5D IV:- 32,000 ISO, 5.4uM pixel size, 61 AF focus points, 7 frames/sec.; max. 1/8000S shutter; Vresolution 2160. Personally I'd prefer the EOS 5D but again it's horses for courses.

Whatever your choice in the end, I wish you all the best in your persuits.
View attachment 307195View attachment 307196
Thank you very much for your detailed response. The time taken is really appreciated.

You have provided a great insight into what you have done as a serious amateur photographer which is something I aspire to be. Since posting I have been thinking more about what I want from my photography and that in turn has already given me the hunger to get out and shoot. I'm working hard to focus on my technique whilst I try and decide what upgrade to make. I still feel that I need to upgrade to help up the quality of my images but also know that I need to actually get out and shoot and improve my technical skills as well.

The details on both cameras was helpful and similar to the conclusions I had made whilst researching online. I think I will eventually go for the 5d iv.

Thanks again for you response and well wishes. I wish you all the best with your retirement.
 

Trevor Gale

Active Member
Premium Member
You're very welcome, and if I've helped you along your way towards a constructive, creative goal then that's the better for me. Thank you for the compliment.
 

JAH-WAR

Always on
Premium Member
I never feel the need to 'justify' anything I do or buy, whether it's photography kit/related or otherwise. If I want something and I can afford it, I'll just go and get it. Why would I need to justify it?

As for the motivational/inspirational side of things, my personal findings are that if I can be bothered to go and do something I'm interested in or inspired by I will. If I'm not then, I won't. Simple as far as I'm concerned.

Life's too short to get hung up on these things. I want to be able to look back on my life with no regrets and not wishing I'd done something or bought something (or not as the case may be) when the opportunity was there. So far, I've achieved these aims.
 
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