questionsis taking an introductory camera class at a…

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it depends on your learning style. if you learn well in class, then go for it. but if you can retain information by just reading, then the class might be a waste.

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Is it worth the money, strictly? I'd have to say no.
Find a friend who's into cameras (everyone has one) and learn from them (they are very eager to teach, usually). Additionally you can learn just as much on youtube as you could from any class.

However, if you like the classroom atmosphere, you could do it explicity for ephemeral enjoyment. I would be "worth it" for you, in that sense :)

But as far as looking at it from an investment standpoint, you might as well be buying wet toilet paper.

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Sorry, I'm really bad about dumping my opinion and not actually being so helpful...hence this should have been included in the above :)

I just talked to my fiancee who is a great hobby photographer, and has hoards of knowledge and experience. She said that the a Canon Rebel T3-something would be a good start. There's an equivalent Nikon as well, but we are Canon junkies.

She recently used ebay to buy her uber mumbo jumbo god-like Canon camera (can't remember the name, and I'm too embarassed to ask her right now, in fear that she'll think I don't pay attention to her personal interests....), while we were in America. She said ebay had the best prices for cameras.

Looks like you can score one that she suggested for under $500, new :)
http://www.ebay.com/itm/USA-Model-Canon-T3-1100D-18-55-IS-Lens-EOS-Digital-Rebel-SLR-Camera-Kit-NEW-/140839799258?forcev4exp=true&forceRpt=true

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@dmaz: I think it really depends on the instructor. I have a friend who is taking some photography classes and they're taught by a professional photographer, so it seems practical and worth doing from that standpoint.

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I find learning photography from a book difficult. I gained a lot more from the Photography clases I took. Just make sure you are taking classes where your out in the field shooting rather than being stuck in a classroom. The teacher can direct you specifically what apertures and settings are right for a particular shot first hand. You simply can't get that from a book.

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I'd go for are what are called "compact systems". They use the same sensor as their full-sized SLR brethren, have interchangeable lenses, the same amount of manual control, but no mirror and thus no optical viewfinder. They are much smaller and lighter than slr's, too. You can get one made by Olympus for 300 that comes with a standard zoom lens.

I feel the best way to learn is to simply "play". I got my start by trying to take pictures that I thought would make good desktop backgrounds. You'll develop a sense of which settings give you the kind of look that you like.

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First it depends on whether it is a digital or film photography class. I took a film photography class and learned a ton. We learned how camera's work, different aspects of lighting/perspective/exposure/focus, and we learned how to develop film. I loved it and would recommend it in a heartbeat.
If you just want something to learn how to use a digital camera I think that reading up on it and playing around/experimenting is probably the best option.

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I actually did this, and took an intro to digital photography class at the community college a couple years ago. It turned out to be a photoshop class. I learned a few cool tricks, but they were only really applicable if I was willing to buy (or pirate) the overpriced photoshop software, so I never really applied anything from the class to everyday photography. I was hoping to learn more about picture taking techniques and how to play with the various settings on basic digital cameras, but the class didn't really cover much of that at all. The class was all about manipulating images on a computer AFTER you took them, not about taking better photos to begin with. I was disappointed.

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Learning photography in a classroom or over the internet is a bit like taking an on-line class in swimming. You can get the "knowledge" part, but you still need the "doing" part. A community college class might be of value, but it depends on who teaches it, what they are actually teaching, and what it costs. If you are just starting in photography, you need the "knowledge" part - how cameras work, what different settings do, etc. - and you can get most of that for free from the internet or a good free class. Then you still need to get a good camera (or more than one if you can borrow from friends) and play around with it/them.

In my area there are camera stores that give free classes, so you might want to check before paying for the same instruction.

As for a camera: selecting a camera is like selecting a car, or a computer. Go into a camera store and pick up cameras. Ask about them. Try them out. There is no one "best" camera for everyone.

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It really depends on your learning style. Are you self taught? Do you need the "hands on" type of learning?

I was practically self thought on the fundamentals of photography by both YouTube and some Scott Kelby books I received for Christmas a few years ago. Technically, there is no "right way" in photography as every scenario in the books/videos/classroom cannot be completely replicated in real life. So you're still eventually going to be on your own.

IMO though, go for photography classes for the fundamentals (I'm sure you'll learn more and wouldn't be as boring to watching videos all day) and then go take advance classes after that to further refine your photography skills.

Community college classes are fairly cheap depending on the number of units, but yours is around under $200 right? I would've also recommend workshops that your local photography shop may have like mines at Pauls Photo.

Good luck!

Check out snapsort.com for cameras

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Oh yeah, one more thing. You're definitely going to need classes if you wanted to get into off-flash photography or strobing.

The benefit to that is there is a pretty good chance that you don't need to bring your own equipment because off-flash photography would probably cost as much as your camera with all the good equipment that you would want. And I'd say off-flash requires more of a "hands-on" experience than just watching videos.

Trust me, off-flash photography is the best thing that has ever happened to me as it opens a whole new world on what you can do with you camera and also your photos will come out ten folds nicer than without having an off-camera flash.

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I think everyone above has contributed good thoughts, ideas, opinions and experiences. But, here's mine just the same.

I am actually currently enrolled in a level 2 photography class myself here locally. I already finished the level 1 class and enjoyed it. I learned quite a bit in the class. But I think I have learned just as much and more myself online and going out and taking photos.

If you want a book that, IMHO, is the "bible" of photographic books and covers all forms of photography including using your mobile phone's camera as well as more experienced DSLR/SLR stuff, check out the National Geographic Ultimate Field Guide to Photography. It's still to this day, 6-7 years after it was published, one of the best most comprehensive books you can find. And, NG themselves still hands this out to their students in their classes and events. So that says something right there.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0792262093/ref=oh_details_o04_s00_i00

Hope this helps!

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To repeat what everyone said - it really depends on the instructor. Whether you learn from a book, online, friend, or a class, it will be through their lens or perspective.

The benefit of a class is hands-on instruction but with a progression of lessons. Unless you have a friend who has thought out how to teach you, it'll just be a bunch of random how-tos.

As for a camera, don't get caught up on brand but look for the ergonomics and how intuitive the menus are. The thing to pay attention to regarding brands is the available lens. With Canon and Nikon, there's no shortage of lens from the mfgr and 3rd party. With Pentax (what I have), there are fewer but still have what I need.

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I'd say no for an introductory class, if you have a friend who is into the hobby you'll get a lot of useful advice, but a book and time spent trying out will develop a lot of the basic techniques. Books on film photography will have some information that is no longer relevant, but the basics on composition, lighting and exposure are fundamental. I've always found rules about framing less useful, I could selectively enlarge film when I had a darkroom, and cropping digital images is trivial, so long as the detail is present.
I've had a couple of Canon Rebels (or EOS as they're designated in some markets), the cheaper ones are a little plasticky, but lightweight, the higher models have magnesium bodies and a better feel. You really can't go far wrong with any Canon or Nikon. I've since given up on SLRs, since I never seemed to have the bulky bag with me when opportunities came up, and compact cameras are rapidly improving in terms of image quality, controlability and features.

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Short answer: it depends what you want out of the class. Long answer: more of the same, with detail.

I took a couple of digital photography classes last year, and here is my advice/experience:

College-level art teachers are a total crap shoot: they are not trained teachers, they are artists who got MFAs because art is no way to make a living. There is no way of knowing if your teacher is is any good (for you) or not except through experience. I knew my teacher would be horrible (for me) the first night of class because I have taken many art classes and recognized the style of a bad presenter whose strength was in darkroom stuff (or here, the digital equivalent) and in answering questions I would never ask (stuff about cropping, which photo to use, etc.). I stayed in class, well, because he was good-looking, but that's probably not a good reason for you.

As far as learning to use your camera, learn it on your own. Don't take a class until you are comfortable with it. (con'd.

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Why should you take a class?

1. The college probably has much nicer printers than you have. And they print bigger. You have to buy the paper, but printing should be covered by an activity fee, and you can print stuff from outside of class.

2. You will have to take photos of things you would not normally photograph, and put yourself outside of your comfort zone. This a very good thing, even if you end up hating the photos. It will clarify what you want and what you do. And you may end up loving something you would never have considered otherwise.

3. Exposure to other people's work and thoughts. Will it all be good? Nope. Not by a long shot. But it will affect how you think about your stuff, and some of your fellow students will be very talented. You might even make some good local connections.

So, my final advice: yes to a class, but not until you know how to use your camera and have an idea of your style. Get the most out of your teacher with knowledgeable questions.

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Are you considering taking a for-credit semester-long course? Or an introductory workshop offered by a local community college? My county has an amazing series of continuing education classes that range from art to home repair, and most of the classes are 1-5 sessions, with a cost of $20-$75. I'd say that the second kind of class could be very helpful, depending on your learning style and the realities of your life (for example, I'd like to learn more about my own camera and I'm pretty good about learning from a book, but on any given day, it's never a priority: it might be worth $20 to have two hours set aside where I can't wash dishes or go into my office or rub puppy ears instead). One other advantage of a brief class is that it's a great opportunity to meet other people who share your hobby.

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Community collage?
Is that like group scrap-booking?
;)

j5 j5
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Depends on your learning style, but you need a good structured way to get a grasp on ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture. If you can do that on your own looking off the Internet and experimenting, then great. But a good instructor will share a whole lot of beginner's mistakes for you to be aware of.

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@j5: Hah damn, i came here to say the same thing. Tattle'd hopefully it'll get fixed.

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It wouldn't be a bad idea. You might get a free course or two, like English 101.

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If it is cheap and you have a good professor i would recommend it. My humanities professor taught me a lot about photography and i am grateful.

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Aside from learning about all the technical details of photography (light basics, refraction, depth of field, apature, shutter speed, etc) the main way that you get better is by taking lots and lots of pictures. You can get all the former from reading online. The assignments for the class provide structure to get you out and praticing.