Beginner Camera + software

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Eeden, Oct 7, 2008.

  1. Eeden macrumors member

    Oct 7, 2008
    Hello Guys,

    I'm new in the world of photography. As soon as the new macbook pro's come out I will get one. This will be my first mac ever!

    I have practiced alot with cheap digital camera's and now I would like to buy a more serious one. I'am looking for a beginners model that has the option to expand.

    I'm also looking for some good photo software to go along with my new mac. Do you guys think it is best to start learning in Photoshop elements or is it better to start with Photoshop CS4 or maybe aperture?

    In the new year I will have alot of time to learn the programs en to start enjoying my camera!

    I would really appreciated it if you can take the time to give me some advice
  2. bigandy macrumors G3


    Apr 30, 2004
    Aperture is fantastic, as is Photoshop - but they are two quite different tools.

    I'd suggest the free trials of either when you get your new MacBook Pro.

    Also, check out the alternatives - Lightroom is the alternative to Aperture, and many prefer it. I started with Aperture, so prefer that. Pixelmator is a fantastic, and far cheaper alternative to Photoshop, with a surprising amount of power.

    On the camera front, I recently moved to DSLR land with a Canon EOS 400D, which cost about £200/$400 brand new off eBay. It's fantastic. Check for some great reviews, and rifle through Flickr via camera (e.g. 400D page) to see what they can do before buying.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    So you are buying an SLR? Plan it out figure what lenses and so on you will want before you select a brand or an SLR body.

    About software. Start with Photoshop Elements. Later if you move to Photoshop CS3 there s little lost because Adobe gives you a good upgrade credit and you in effect get the money spent on Elements back. Also the user interface is very much the same so what you learn with Elements applies to CS3. For most photographers Elements has everything you need.

    But for most peole just getting started iPhoto is the software to use. Use that first. Then you can add Elements to it. Elements (and CS3) allow you to go inside the image and make selective changes to objects in the photo. for example to paint out a untility wire in a landscape. iPhoto is for organization, catalogging and making gross level adjustments to exposure and color balance.

    Aperture does the same job as iPhoto but has a lot more controls. It is very easy tomove from iPhoto to Aperture, just a mouse click and it's done. So start with iPhoto and then when you find a reason to move, move. but not before.

    Yes you could start out with Aperture and Photoshop CS3 but the learning curve is very steep. You are talking 6 weeks before you can do productive work, That time is better spent with a camera. So start with iPhoto then add Elements then move from there.

    One more "must have" is a hardware colorimeter. Like the Spyder 2. If you are at all serious about photography you need a calibrated monitor. The simpler "express" model is good enough. You might also want to get a graphic tablet. It makes using Photoshop easier. I've been painting out dust specks on scanned film and I don't know how I'd do that with a mouse.

    One more thing: The most importent thing to buy or borrow are those over sized art books. Look at the pictures, find the photographers you like and then try to emulate them. The difference between a vacation "snap shooter" and a more serious photographer is that the latter will think of the image he wants then go out and get it. Looking at those books will help you to think of images you might want to try and make
  4. BanjoBanker macrumors 6502


    Aug 10, 2006
    Mt Brook, AL
    I concur with starting out with iPhoto. The latest version is quite good. Start slow and concentrate on making the images, not manipulating them.
    For a camera, think about the types of photos you will be shooting and then look at the glass available for that type of photography. The lens is THE single most important part of your photograph. A great lens on an average body will give better results than a cheap lens on a pro body. I have the 20-200 F2 VR Nikon lens and I use it with my D700 and an old D70. It takes great shots. I put the kit lens that came with the D70 on the D700 and it returned okay results, just not the sort of shot I would have gotten with one of my pro Nikon lenses. The difference was subtle, yet obvious. By the best lens you can afford and get a body that will work with it. After you have learned how to compose and meter your shots, by a better body to go with your lenses. Bodies come and go, but the glass will last forever. I still use a 50mm F1.4 Nikor I bought back in the seventies to go with an F2 body. I have long since sold the F2, but I still use the lens. :eek:
  5. Eeden thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 7, 2008
    Thank you all so much for your reply's.
    I will start with Iphoto and Elements. I can still get a cheap version of Elements with a student discount.

    Can somebody give me an idea how long it takes in general to master Elements? (Ofcourse I mean basic editing)

    Can you tell me something more about the graphic tablet? Maybe you can show me an example

  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    The Wacom "bamboo" is a good one. they make a more expensive verson but for photography the bamboo is enough. For free hand drawign you want the other one with it's rotation and tilt sensor.
    Note that the "fun" version includes a copy of Elements, but it's the older version.

    How long to "master" elements? A lifetime, I'd guess. To learn the basics a few evening but to learn about masks, channels and adjustment layers and color management 6 to 8 weeks at least. Elements has about 80% of the features PS CS3 has. It takes years to get good at it. But for simple stuff a few weeks.

    That said iPhoto does all that many people need, you can adjust the color and exposure and crop and so on with just iPhoto.

    A painless way to come up to speed is to buy a $25/month subscription to You will then get to watch an unlimited amount of video. The one one PS Elements is 8.5 hours long and covers most of it. They have videos on iPhoto and Aperture too. and many on Photoshop's advanced features. They are well done and you can watch some samples. It's weel worth the $1/day price if you actually make time to watch every day or so.
  7. Toniola macrumors member

    Jan 18, 2006
    I upgraded from an old Canon G2 point and shoot to the Nikon D40, and never looked back. Wow! What a boom for my photography. The D40 is a fantastic beginner DSLR. I carry it around in a small waist pack that gives me quick access to capture all the opportunities possible. It's light weight, small in size and is packed with expandable potential. The small file size of the images is great on your hard drive, but the resolution is great for printing, due to the large sensor. All that being said, I've been swayed by the new D90 and will sell my 40 to upgrade, BUT, it's a healthy cost upgrade, too. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it the same. The D40 is a great camera for beginners, or pros. ...ooh...that was a little long winded, eh?

  8. Pikemann Urge macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2007
    We are all going to have different opinions and biases so don't take what I say below too seriously. ;)

    Buy a used pro Nikon like a D1X. It is a 6Mpx camera but in some ways it's a 10Mpx one as well. Please read about any camera you're thinking of getting. My favourite site for serious reviews is The D1X is out of date in some ways but is cheap for what it does.

    The heavy duty pro bodies are great because of one little thing: they will allow metering with most but not all older (manual) lenses. Cameras like the D40, although superb value, won't meter without AF lenses.

    ChrisA said something I agree with 101%: to take good photos you need to look at them. Lots of them. Lots and lots and lots. National Geographic, Bazaar, Vogue, stock catalogues, anything like that.

    I don't know much about the software end except for Nikon View, the free RAW converter that allows you to save your RAW files into workable formats like TIFF or JPEG.

    PhotoShop is overkill for most people so don't even lament the fact that it might be difficult to learn or whatever. Ignore it for the time being unless you want to get into compositing, which is a different art form again.

    Always shoot in RAW unless you know you don't need it. Always.

    I have nothing against good zoom lenses but lots of them suck. Cheap primes are worth buying. There are heaps of Nikkor lenses around for low dollars that give great results.

    Some quick tips. Don't waste your time with the 50mm f/1.4. The f/1.8 is almost as fast and gives better results at wide apertures. With DSLRs you don't need really fast lenses. The 105mm f/2.5 is one of Nikon's nicest portrait lenses. It's cheap when bought used. For the wide end, Tokina's 12-24 f/4.0 has a great reputation for performance and value.

    If you don't want Nikon, my second choice is any DSLR with anti-shake built into the body. Sony and others have bodies which have anti-shake technology in the camera body so you don't have to have it in the lens. To me it's the better trade-off if you want image stabilization of some kind.

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