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5 Steps Every Photographer Should Take Before Buying Their First DSLR!

Thalia Street in Laguna Beach, California

5 Steps Every Photographer Should Take Before Buying Their First DSLR!

June 7, 2015
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Buying a brand new camera can be very exciting, but for those of us who are just starting out, buying your first camera can be daunting. Personally, I find myself in a "photographer's limbo" where I am not sure if my smartphone photography will translate to a DSLR. I don't want to make the hefty investment only to find out my skills don't surpass a traditional point and shoot!
These days, a camera is quite the investment. And for a 21 year old paying rent and student loans, spending $350.00 - $500.00 on a basic DSLR is a pretty pricey risk. What if I spend the money and realize my skills don't translate with the upgrade, and I now am left with an expensive paperweight? Rather than wondering "What if?" my whole life, I decided to become proactive about the situation and come up with ways to test my skills before taking that first step. Below are my 5 essential steps to take when wanting to buy your first DSLR!

1. Take Photography 101 - For FREE!

Local Photo Classes offers the online portion of their beginner course, "Photography 101: Introduction to Photography" for free! After watching the 11 quick episodes, I saw an instant improvement on my smartphone photography. Important composition topics such as rule of thirds, leading lines, framing, depth of field, and so much more are discussed in easy to digest videos and leaves you inspired to get out behind the lens (or phone!). This gives you a sense of what using a DSLR is like without having to purchase a camera beforehand! And since it's offered online, you can learn at your own pace - and in your own space! What's better than that? Whether you have an hour or 15 minutes, you can pause, rewind and replay as much as you'd like! This is the best way to test your ability - and it's free! Click here to take Photography 101: Introduction to Photography online!

2. Check Out These Photography Websites!

Rather than wasting time on your phone playing the latest mindless game or scrolling through Facebook, why not check out PopPhoto.com, Fstoppers.com, PetaPixel.com? They are always posting relevant content about photography and how you can become a better photographer, as well as interviews with some of the biggest names in the industry! The only way you are going to increase your skills is if you are putting forth an effort towards your goal. You just might learn something new that can help you decide what camera to buy, whether or not you even want to pursue photography as a hobby or career, or simply become more educated about photography in general!

3. Rent a Camera!

These days, you can rent just about anything. So why not rent a camera? You'd be surprised to learn how easy it is to rent a camera or even lenses and accessories. For those in the San Diego area, check out George's Camera! They have just about everything you need to get started, and their staff can answer any questions on gear before you leave. Or, you can check out borrowlenses.com for rental cameras delivered right to your door! Renting a camera allows you to test out your abilities without all the pressure because you did not make the whole investment, so you are not out $500 if you realize you should just stick to your smartphone. You could even rent the camera you are wanting to eventually buy so you would be 100% certain of your purchase!

4. Attend a Class!

One of the best ways to learn about photography is to learn hands on. However, this can be difficult to do when you are learning on your own. When you are faced with a question while shooting, you have to stop what you're doing and search the web for an answer that is usually generalized and not specific to your unique situation. And after you've spent the time researching for the answer the moment, motivation, light, or just about everything else has passed so you move on. Thankfully, Local Photo Classes recognizes this, and offers the local "Photography 101: Introduction to Photography" class at Right Light Studios in San Diego! After you watch the online portion of this class for free, you can attend the local class! Here, you can apply everything you've learned online in a studio with an expert instructor there to answer any question you may have throughout the event! And for those not local to San Diego, a simple Internet search can yield plenty of results on clubs and local groups near you!

5. Visit Your Local Camera Shop!

It sounds like a no brainer, but not everyone thinks to simply stop in your local camera shop and strike up a conversation (as long as they're not busy, of course!). Chances are that they would love to answer any of your photography related questions and even give you gear recommendations! It can be difficult choosing between all the DSLRs out there, so going to an independent store will give you the most unbiased advice on which camera to choose. For example, if you go to a store owned by Canon, there's a pretty good chance you'll walk out of there with a Canon camera, and a few weeks later you may realize you should have went with a Nikon instead. Buying your camera from an independently owned retailer allows you to get past the memorized sales pitch on the latest and flashiest camera and have a real conversation with someone who has experience with all of the brands available!
I hope these tips help you get closer to taking that first step in buying your first DSLR! If you have your own tip, feel free to leave a comment below to share your own experience with buying your first camera! Who knows, maybe you can encourage someone else to purchase their first camera!
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