A graduate of Northwestern Polytechnic University, Peter Hsieh began to pursue his true calling as a photographer by teaching himself the ins and outs of photography. His love for everything creative led him to experiment with different genres and eventually discover his true passion: product shots. Today, he shoots a large variety of products, including furniture, fashion accessories, toys, foodstuff, jewelry, and home appliances.
Peter has the following advice for aspiring photogs looking to upgrade to a professional tier camera.
1. Ditch the kit lens
Kit lenses are often mistaken as being a good all-purpose lenses. In truth, these lenses have been cropped down from larger and more expensive optics to keep costs low on entry-level DSLRs. As such, they’re not optimized for high-quality images, especially in low light conditions where an f/5.6 aperture and shallow depth of field means you’ll end up with a lot of blurring and noise.
2. Invest in a solid tripod
A tripod is paramount if looking to shoot clear, sharp images at slower shutter speeds. A tripod will allow you to take sharp pictures even if your hands are not. A good quality tripod will be able to hold the weight of your camera and lens without shaking or moving, so invest in a heavy-duty one for best results.
3. Start with high ISO film
Since today’s cameras all have an expanded range of ISO settings, it’s possible to take a high-quality image even in low-light conditions. This is a good way to learn how your camera performs at higher ISO settings without paying too much for film and development.
4. Examine the sample images
Before purchasing any kind of camera, scrutinize the sample images that are included in its instruction manual. Take note of how sharp the images are, what kind of bokeh (blurred background) they have, and what colors they produce.
5. Understanding your budget limitations
You can’t go professional without shelling out quite a bit. Entry-level DSLRs start at around $300, but you’re looking at least five times that amount for a midrange DSLR with features such as weather sealing and fast continuous shooting speeds. The price varies even more with mirrorless cameras due to the sheer number of options available in the market.
6. Purchase additional lenses
On top of your primary lens, you’ll want to get specialized ones depending on what kind of photography you’re looking to do. For portraits, a telephoto lens with a fast aperture is a must-have. A macro lens will give you the ability to shoot close-up shots of your subjects.
7. Use an umbrella
Reflectors are known for being one of the cheapest forms of lighting, but using an umbrella instead can give you a more diffuse light source without any of the harsh shadows. Umbrellas can also be used as makeshift diffusers for your on-camera flash, which will soften the light and provide a more natural skin tone.
8. Get creative!
Your camera is just one part of being creative, so keep an open mind to new places and ways of shooting. If you want to improve your images, experiment as much as possible with different angles and lenses so that you can use them to their fullest potentials.