1 Pick Your Gear
Outdoors Photography for Beginners
Produced by: Frank and Sue Wall / Our Hiking Blog
Pick Your GearStephanie Cotteret
2 Pick Your Gear
As tourists, travellers and hikers, we come in contact with the
outdoors at its best. From grand mountain crags to pristine
deserted beaches, nature is full of gorgeous scenery. Beyond the
beauty of the landscape, nature also lives in the moment - the
flight of a sea eagle above the waves, the play of light falling
through the trees deep into the woods, or the smile of a partner or
a child as they explore new places - the many instances that come
together to create powerful experiences and weave fond
Photography is a natural companion in your discovery of the
outdoors. Photography helps you appreciate and reflect on your
surroundings, engage further with the environment,
and above all, capture the moods and essences of those precious
This Outdoors Photography for Beginners series will ease you
into the wonderful world of photography. This first book, Pick Your
Gear, takes you right from the start, as we explain how to choose
the right equipment for your needs, with:
a comprehensive rundown on the different types of cameras
the important features to look for;
the wonderful range of accessories and what they do;
advice on how to care for all this fabulous gear.
Welcome to Pick Your GearIntroductIon
OverviewTable of Contents
Click on a chapter title to jump to that chapter.
What type of camera should I get? . . . . . 3What to look for in
a camera . . . . . . . . . . 10Lenses for your SLR . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . 15Accessories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . 19Caring for Your Gear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . 25Sharing our passion for the outdoors . . 29Learn the lingo .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30Explore the great
outdoors . . . . . . . . . . . 33A Big Thanks. . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
What type of camera should I get?chaPter 1
What is a camera? Nowadays, a camera can be anything from an
option on your smartphone to a complex, state-of-the-art SLR. This
section gives you an overview of the range of cameras available and
helps you decide which type may be best for you.
Image: Vladimir Agafonkin
WHAT TYPE OF CAMERA SHOULD I GET? 4 Pick Your Gear
You will be familiar with the point and shoot camera. Small,
lightweight, cheap and easy to use, the compact camera is the
obvious choice when you are just starting out in the world of
These tough little cameras come packed with special features. A
variety of modes allow you to take different types of photographs,
from portraits to landscapes and sports shots. All compact cameras
include a video mode as a standard feature, and many make it easy
to take panoramic, black and white or sepia photographs. They have
an in-built flash, simple controls and advanced technology such as
face detection, so taking pictures is a quick and easy job.
Because they are so easy to use and carry around, point and
shoot cameras are the ones you are most likely to take
with you, no matter where you go. Shockproof and waterproof
models are available, making these cameras truly all-terrain and
In many ways, a point and shoot is the ultimate foolproof
camera. However, great ease of use comes at the cost of freedom.
Compacts will rarely let you choose your own settings, relying
instead on built in automatic modes, that is, the camera makes the
decisions for you. As you improve, you will want to have more
control of your photography, and the limitations of a point and
shoot may soon have you frustrated and wanting more.
Compact Cameraspoint and shoot
Compact cameras pack a lot of punch into a tiny package, so you
will get you great bang for your buck for a while! But dont panic
when you outgrow your point and shoot, it is still so handy youll
want to keep it around!
Phone Cameras Using your phone as a camera has two great
advantages. First, its small, slim and light and youre very likely
to always have it with you. Second, it makes it incredibly easy to
share your pictures with friends through social media, instant
messaging or email. But, unless you own a high-end phone or
Smartphone, image quality will be at best average. As the camera is
just an added bonus to the phone, it suffers from the lack of
dedicated camera controls making it impossible to tweak settings,
or use accessories such as tripods and filters.
Bottom line?Use your phone as a good backup camera - handy for
quick snaps and sending pictures instantly to family and
WHAT TYPE OF CAMERA SHOULD I GET? 5 Pick Your Gear
A helping handIf youre feeling overwhelmed by the number of
cameras available, youre not alone.
As well as asking the helpful staff at your local camera store
for advice on specific cameras, there are plenty of resources
available online to help you with your choice.
Two sites which review all types of digital cameras to help you
decide between them are linked below:
Digital Photography Review
Digital Camera Resource Page
WHAT TYPE OF CAMERA SHOULD I GET? 6 Pick Your Gear
Bridge cameras are bigger and better than a point and shoot
camera, but still not as advanced or expensive as an SLR. They are
great for intermediate level photographers, or keen, committed
beginners. They are the perfect go-between hence their name.
Because it is usually physically bigger and heavier, the bridge
camera might not be quite as practical as a compact, especially if
you intend to carry it for long distances. Shockproof or waterproof
options are not usually available. However, because bridges still
include a wealth of automatic or semi-automatic modes, as well as
video, they are just as easy to
use just a little heavier to carry around.
Why bother with that extra weight and mass?
First its not that bad. Bridges are still quite light, and their
medium size makes them more comfortable to use
for people with bigger hands or when wearing gloves! Their
larger, better quality
LCD screens are a boon to everyone, as are their powerful
Second - and most importantly - what a bridge takes away in
practicality, it gives back in functionality.
Bridge Camerasstart learning
Bridge cameras have full manual controls. This means you can use
photography staples such as shutter speed
and aperture, and good understanding of your camera and fine
tuning your settings, you will improve as a photographer. Plus, if
youre in a rush or feeling lazy, its easy to just flip the switch
and revert back to automatic!
If youre keen on photography and have a bit more cash to spare,
a bridge camera will take your photography further and last you
WHAT TYPE OF CAMERA SHOULD I GET? 7 Pick Your Gear
For years now, the SLR has been the cream of the crop, and the
digital revolution has not changed that one bit. What has changed
is that, thanks to the digital revolution, an SLR is now within
reach of the keen amateur!
What makes an SLR so good?
SLRs have bigger and better sensors for optimum image quality.
They perform well in difficult, low light conditions. They are
extremely quick to start up and shoot fast, so they will get more
shots right - no more missing the moment because your compact
needed a minute to think first! SLRs react instantly to the press
of a button.
SLRs come with full manual controls, both in settings such as
and focusing. If you feel like playing with depth of field, or
notice the autofocus floundering you can take charge and have
complete control over your photography. Whereas bridge cameras have
only one lens, SLRs have many interchangeable lenses. Although this
means youll have to buy more gear to take full advantage of an SLRs
potential, it ensures fantastic image quality due to greater
optics. And because there are so many different kinds of lenses
available, the SLR is unparalleled in terms of versatility.
This all comes at a price literally. SLRs are by far the most
expensive cameras, and their high performance and quality build
make them big and heavy, so they are never fun to carry. Their high
price tag may be a source of
Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camerasTurn into a pro!
extra stress as you really wouldnt want them to get broken, lost
SLRs are designed for the serious photographer and imply a
serious budget. But if you do go crazy about photography, there are
no two ways about it youll want one sooner than later!
WHAT TYPE OF CAMERA SHOULD I GET? 8 Pick Your Gear
Now that your head is buzzing with information about the
long-standing division between compacts, bridges and SLRs, you
might be wondering why no one has thought of combining the best
qualities of each yet. Well, surprise they have!
Although hybrid cameras are still rare, they could turn out to
be the next big thing. Hybrids can be compared to bridges in that
they stand halfway between a compact and an SLR, but they do so in
a smart new way. The idea behind a hybrid is to have a camera with
the full manual controls
and interchangeable lenses of a SLR, but be as small and
lightweight as a compact
How is this possible?
SLRs have always used internal mirrors as part of the viewfinder
system. This works very well, but takes up a lot of room inside
the camera, making the body bulkier and heavier. Hybrids have done
away with mirrors entirely,
thus saving a lot of space and weight.
This saving is used to accommodate interchangeable
lenses and a large sensor -
Hybrid CamerasThe best of both worlds?
synonymous with better image quality - while still ending up
smaller and lighter than a traditional SLR. Because the mirror
affects the way lenses are built, hybrid lenses are smaller than
SLR lenses, making the whole camera lighter.
Now, surely, there are downfalls to such an amazing new system?
Surprisingly, the drawbacks are few:
WHAT TYPE OF CAMERA SHOULD I GET? 9 Pick Your Gear
Because they have no mirrors, hybrids dont have an optical
viewfinder and instead rely on an LCD screen or electronic
viewfinder. The difference is no big deal. Sensor area is still
smaller than an SLR, which may lead to slightly lower image
quality.On early models, autofocus may be slow. The range and
quality of lenses available is not on par with SLR lenses
yet.Hybrid cameras are not cheap, and for the price of a brand new
one you could almost buy an SLR instead.
Hybrid cameras may be the way of the future, as their image
quality is similar to that of an SLR, you can change lenses as
needed, and they are a fairly compact size.
Hall of mirrors?Hybrid cameras are often referred to as
mirrorless cameras for obvious reasons, and also as Micro Four
Thirds which is the name of the standard for mirrorless
interchangeable lenses cameras developed by Olympus and
If you cannot make up your mind as to which camera is meant for
youyet, think about it in terms of activities:
A compact camera, especially one that is shockproof and
waterproof, will be a great all-rounder that can tag along with you
no matter what. If you love kayaking, rafting or snorkeling, or if
you intend to go on a tough tramping trip where every gram counts
and conditions might be wet and difficult, the ompact should be
your weapon of choice. As a matter of fact, a compact camera is
generally a good choice if photography is only a secondary purpose
to your activity.
If, however, photography is equally important to you as your
other activities and you can afford to carry some extra weight with
you for instance on day trips, easier tramps or birdwatching
excursions then pick a bridge or SLR according to your budget and
whether you decide to prioritize practicality or image quality.
Hybrid cameras may soon prove to be the contender of choice by
their ability to combine both, but as the technology is still in
its early stages nothing is certain yet!
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A CAMERA 10 Pick Your Gear
What to look for in a camerachaPter 2
Now that you have an idea of which type of camera you may want
to get, we will dig a bit deeper and explore the important features
that should help guide your choice for a particular model. As you
learn more about camera features, keep your mind open and be ready
to challenge any preconceptions you may have had. A camera is an
investment be informed and choose wisely!
Image: Azlan DuPree
What type of camera should I get?What to look for in a
cameraLenses for your SLRAccessoriesCaring for Your GearSharing our
passion for the outdoorsLearn the lingoExplore the great outdoorsA