Forgotten in its old age

by Aditya

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I started to get into photography about six months ago, my husband had a rebel xt(has a kit lenses and a 75-300) that we were just not using. I had always used a point and shoot,but was getting frustrated at the quality of some of the pics I had taken.

So now I am using the rebel xt, taking a photography class(plan to take more!)and reading everything I can get my hands(books are great, but the internet has been a blessing). I just got photoshop elements( love all the actions & textures out there) Now my question,finally! I dont feel I am getting the best pics, would I be happier with my pics if I upgraded my rebel xt and or lenses.

P.S. I take lots of pics of my kids outside, but also take indoor pics at family functions.

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possible duplicate of Should I upgrade my Canon Digital Rebel XTi? –  rfusca Feb 20 '12 at 15:30
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Hi @onefunkyfreak and welcome to the site. It looks like somebody has asked pretty much the exact same question. Take a look at the link above and it should answer the question for you. –  rfusca Feb 20 '12 at 15:31
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Why don't you feel you are getting the best pics? What's holding you back? Specifically, what don't you like about your current pictures? Without knowing that detail, it would be hard to give advice that is actually helpful to your situation. –  Eric Feb 20 '12 at 17:21
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Can you post examples from photos you have taken that show why you're not happy with them? Are they blurry? Are they too yellow? Are they too dark? Too light? –  Eric Feb 21 '12 at 0:29
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I second @Eric's request. You've mentioned that you don't like your photos, however were lacking any specific details about what you do not like about them. To offer such details, a few sample shots and explanations of what you find lacking would be essential to actually answering this question in a way that provides any kind of solid, useful advice. It may not be your gear at all...you may just need help with technique, both technical and artistic. –  jrista Feb 21 '12 at 1:40

5 Answers 5

You've got a GREAT camera. Upgrade your lenses.

Yay for the 350D! I've just (10 minutes ago) been using mine to do some headshots for a colleague.

If he hadn't been a friend, I would have been charging money for doing the shots - I have no hesitation using my 350D/rebel XT for this kind of work.

You can get bodies which improve on many aspects of the camera, but do you need those upgrades? Really?

On the other hand, a new lens might make a big difference to you - again, only if it fills a genuine need for you.

Conclusion: upgrade your lens - but only if you actually need to.

PS. I can't help but mention that you really should check out a fixed 50mm lens. It works very nicely for pictures of your children.

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Love my 50 for the kiddo. –  rfusca Feb 20 '12 at 16:04
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You have a 5DMkII, and you can pick up the Rebel XT and actually use it? I feel like the screen is so small it is almost unusable after using the 5D for a time. I am fully on the boat to upgrade lenses, but that camera is getting dated. –  dpollitt Feb 20 '12 at 20:02
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I'm with @dpollitt here...the 350D is getting pretty dated. I definitely concur that investing in lenses is the best long-term approach, but I don't really think a recommendation can be made without really understanding what is wrong with the OP's photos. They could be all perfectly in focus with no camera shake but are noisy at the necessary ISO to get the desired shots; It may be that a high enough ISO is simply not available; etc. etc. It simply may be that the photos are not good for reasons entirely unrelated to gear at all....either way, the question seems a bit anemic in the details. –  jrista Feb 21 '12 at 1:38
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dpollitt, @jrista, I know what you mean. It's not hard to find a reason to upgrade (ISO, fps, small screen, no video,...). All the same, I can't help but love my 350D: it's small, light, less intimidating than a 5D (just my personal feelings). Also, while there are loads of objectively better cameras, unless you have a specific reason (or unlimited cash), I think we would all think about the lens upgrade first. ... but I agree - we need more information. –  AJ Finch Feb 21 '12 at 10:27
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@AJ: To play to your own point though, it may not be the camera nor the lens...it might simply be technique, in which case, better to save your money now, so when you have better skill later, you have a larger pool of cache with which to get gear you can actually utilize. –  jrista Feb 21 '12 at 18:59

To upgrade your kit, the first thing you need to identify is what is your limiting factor. It's useful to see your kit in 3 groups. (i) Camera; (ii) Lenses; (iii) Sensor.

Of course you can't mix and match sensors and cameras on DSLRs, as you can do with lenses, but it's useful to see it this way because the same sensor is often used on different cameras and there is no point upgrading your camera to another one that uses the same sensor if that is the limiting factor.

The camera(i) features are things like max shutter speed, flash sync speed, burst speed, photometers, viewfinder coverage, responsiveness, ergonomics. That is, most aspects related to the mechanics of framing, composing, metering and, of course, firing.

The lens(ii) primary feature is, of course, the quality of its optics: the sharpness of its focus, the quality of the colours, the depth of field, the quality of the bokeh and so on. But also, they are largely responsible for the responsiveness and speed of the autofocus.

As noted by @mattdm on the notes, while cameras are somewhat similar in what they try to accomplish, lenses have a wide variety of specifications and they serve different purposes. You may need to add (as opposed to replace) lenses to suit your needs. Maybe a a longer telephoto to photograph wildlife, or a wider angled lens to capture more panoramic landscapes, or whatever you feel you need that your lens doesn't provide.

If you have experience with film photography, you can relate to think of the sensor(iii) separately. Once the image has been composed, the sensor will retain the image. The features you are looking on a sensor are low noise, high sensitivity, good colour reproduction, number of pixels (resolution), etc.

Again, you can't change only the camera or the sensor, but finding out what is the limiting factor is key to understand what camera to switch to, if you find is not the lens that's holding you back.

Try to explore what is it that you miss on the photos you are taking and, before you buy new kit, make sure that the equipment you have is not able to do it. Sometimes the camera is capable but you haven't found the way to make it work.

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+1. Another factor for lenses is not just the quality but the flexibility. Maybe you don't have a fast prime, and that'd be the best use of your money. Maybe a wide angle lens or telephoto zoom, if you don't do that — but, as you say, only if that's a limiting factor for what you actually want to do. –  mattdm Feb 20 '12 at 18:38
    
Well noted @mattdm, I added this to the answer. –  guioconnor Feb 20 '12 at 21:17

In what way do you feel you're not getting the best photos? If you can identify some areas where you think you're having trouble, people can offer suggestions. For example:

  • If you feel like your photos don't pop off of the background, maybe you need a new lens such as a 50mm f1.8 so that you can better blur the background.
  • If you're shooting your kids playing sports but are having trouble grabbing that moment maybe a body with a higher continuous shooting rate would help.
  • If you're shooting indoors with the slow kit lens, built-in flash, and poor light, an external flash might be the most useful option.

Identifying in what way you want to improve things can be a challenge, and you should keep in mind that equipment may not be the limiting factor. You're reading and taking classes so your knowledge and skill should grow and help you understand your equipment's limitations better. (And you'll also learn to work around some of those limitations!)

Of course, there's nothing wrong with just wanting a new toy! I'd pick up a 50mm f1.8 to play with because it will give you a different way of working and let you explore what a large aperture will do -- plus they're cheap! An external flash is also a good investment.

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It's worth noting that depth of field is not only related to the aperture but also to sensor dimensions, focusing distance and focal length. So, depending on the type of photography one does, a 50mm may not be the way to go. It may be a longer lens or, sometimes, technique. –  guioconnor Feb 20 '12 at 21:28
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Yes, to be clear, my bullet points are simply examples of possible scenarios, not an explicit recommendation. –  Dan Wolfgang Feb 20 '12 at 21:33

The XT, or 350D, is a great little camera. I own it. The image quality from that little 8mp sensor is really nice. The only niggles with that camera is that it's a) too small for my hands and b) burst rate is too slow and c) the screen on the back is very small for reviewing pictures. None of those affect the quality of the photos it takes. My recommendation? Keep the camera and upgrade the glass. The EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM lens makes a terrific addition to this camera. Or, a straight 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 lens would also improve your photos. I can say both of these from experience as I had the 17-55 for a year or two, and have the 50mm f/1.4 too. Both of which were used on that camera. Great combinations....

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Your problem is not the camera or the lenses - it's that you don't get the picture you want, so what you should do is post a picture and tell us why you are not happy with it - than you will get specific recommendations how to solve the specific problem that you care about, not general advice.

It's even very likely you can considerably improve your pictures without upgrading your camera or your lens.

Also, don't forget that the quality of light often has a greater effect than the camera and lens (the best and most expensive lens will not make crappy light look good - while good light will make a good picture with a lens that is merely acceptable) - an external flash is a great investment.

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