Searching For that First DSLR 

Film then Digital

Digital technology has been around long enough that I occasionally overlook that there still are people who have never used anything but film cameras. I recently talked to a photographer who is finally ready to discard his old film camera and wondered which DSLR he should select.

He even sent me an email saying that regarding a camera; he would “need the whole meal deal.” I admit that I am not sure what he actually meant by that. I said to him that today’s modern technology cameras offer choices that are very different from his old film camera. As readers know, he is about to take a huge, creative step as he moves to digital.

He told me he has enjoyed photographing local rodeos. So what should be my advice to an aspiring rodeo photographer? Manufacturers like Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Sony, Fuji, and many more, all make cameras that will probably work fine for sports like rodeos.

I could start by suggesting he to go online and search out sport photographer sites for recommendations. Photographing sports is very technology driven and manufacturers are aggressively marketing to those photographers. He should begin by choosing a camera that is durable, and capable of taking some abuse, sturdy enough to be bumped around, because I think that’s a pretty rough and tumble (and dusty) world he’s participating in.

Both Canon and Nikon make professional cameras specifically designed for sports and the accompanying high ISO needed for low light, interior locations, that will focus almost any lens extremely fast, and are easily capable of high quality, excellent enlargements.

For fun I read up on professional rodeo photographer, Rick Madsen, who wrote, “Remember the camera is just a tool. When a hammer is used, it is the operator who makes it strike the nail. The same concept applies to a camera. It is just a tool and it’s what the photographer does with that tool that makes the difference between a good and a mediocre image. You must take the time to learn the camera’s operation and then utilize that acquired knowledge through practice to become proficient. You have to pay your dues.”

I personally would save my money on the camera and spend it on the lens, as my real concern would be to get a quality lens. A saying I have heard over and over in the many years I have been in this medium is that, “it’s all about the glass,” referring to the lens. And from my readings, most rodeo photographers recommend 70-200mm lenses, and I also think a 70-300mmm would fit the job also.

I hope he can find a good, well priced, used camera and a couple of quality lenses for it. He will be faced with so many choices and will receive many, many well meaning recommendations from other photographers that he’ll stay awake nights wondering what he’s got himself into. Nevertheless, I know he will be excited when he finally gets that first DSLR and embarks on the exciting journey as he learns how to use it.