In 2007 I purchased my first DSLR. It was a Nikon D40x that came with a kit lens and the Ebay seller threw in a 55-200 telephoto too. I loved that thing. I took a ton of pictures with it all over the country, from kid’s sports to vacation to abstract artsy shots. It was a great tool to help me get deeper into the craft. In 2012 I sold it. I needed cash. I justified selling by the camera I had in my pocket. More often than not I found myself using my iPhone 4s to take the family snapshots rather than busting out the D40x. I definitely lost quality in my images, but I have to admit I think it was a great thing for me in my growth as a photographer.
Why was it good for me to go from an entry level DSLR to a phone camera? To grow as an artist shouldn’t I have pushed deeper into the DSLR world, getting a better camera body, expensive lenses, gear and such? I don’t think so. Not necessarily.
Mt. Lassen by Tyrel Bramwell on 500px
What going to the iPhone did for me was allow me to think about the shot. I took the lenses out of the equation. I took the allure of getting all the accessories and equipment out of the picture and I thought about taking the shot. Sure, the images aren’t as good a quality as they might have been with a better camera but I sharpened my ability to frame an image – composition – and it doesn’t matter how good of equipment you have, if what’s in the frame sucks, the photo sucks.
The other thing the iPhone forced me to think about is light. As the world knows, camera phones have some serious limitations. Shooting in low light is one of them. Having no choice but to use my phone to capture the shot, I learned to be aware of light and to know what my equipment can do.
Chester's Barn by Tyrel Bramwell on 500px
For me, shooting solely with an iPhone for three years improved my skills as a photographer. It also was fun! playing with post processing apps allowed me to experiment with different looks and moods. Now that I’m back to a DSLR (Nikon D3300) and Lightroom/Photoshop post processing I have a better understanding of what I can do artistically with the tools of the trade. You could say the iPhone helped me sharpen my mind’s eye. I have a fuller understanding of what I want to capture when I set out to shoot a subject because I spent years playing with different looks and from within a set of limitations.
So why a D3300? I looked at a lot of cameras before deciding the D3300 was best for me at this point in my growth as a photographer. It’s an entry level body which is what I need. I feel comfortable with the artistic side of photography, but the technical aspect that comes with using a DSLR stills needs some work. I have a lot to learn before I bump up to the next level camera. And I want to keep shooting. If I bought a camera that was too advanced for me I’d get frustrated and stop enjoying the art of capturing a beautiful image. The D3300 has everything I need to produce great images without getting frustrated as my technical skills improve. A guy doesn’t need a high end, break-the-bank, camera to take great photos.
For more on that watch this great video by Zack Arias, after all, he’s right…
To see more of my photography (taken with my iPhone, my old D40x, and my new D3300) check out my gallery on 500px.