Do you love taking photos? Here's why you should buy a decent camera (I love my Canon Powershot G7X Mark II) and have photography lessons
I am completely in love with my camera! I want to share with you why, and what I have done to try and fully make the most of it. In short, budget allowing, the Canon Powershot G7X mark II really is a fantastic compact camera for people who are on the go and want to capture moments and beautiful things. Perfect for Parents, ideal for Bloggers, frankly a good fit for anyone. I'll tell you why below.
This is not going to be a technical review. I'm still learning! It is going to be more a practical review and I hope will be useful. Also, if you have taken the plunge and parted with your hard earned cash on any camera, I want to urge you to consider having at least a couple of lessons to learn how to use it. It really does make the world of difference in your photography approach, and is patently evident in the quality of the results as well.
My camera: Canon Powershot G7X Mark II.
They say the best camera is the one you have to hand. Before buying my Canon Powershot G7X mark II, I took all my photographs on my iPhone. I did also own a small Canon Ixus (which was several years old) but I never used it. I've always rather fancied myself as a photographer. I have this whimsical notion (based on absolutely nothing but pure enjoyment!) that I have a good eye - albeit utterly untrained! I was keen to take better quality photos than my iPhone (a tall order, as they are remarkably good!) on something that was very portable. My husband has a big DSLR (also a Canon) but we rarely take it anywhere with us, and when we do, it is a pest quite frankly which is a shame. With young children, and all the paraphernalia that they require, something compact but packing a lot of punch was the main criteria on my research list.
The Canon G7X Mark II first caught my eye on blogging forums. Not literally photos it had created, but rather enthusiastic posts about how great it was. It has quite a reputation in these fields. I was intrigued. Although it is fair to say that every recommendation came with a warning to brace yourself for the price. I'll come straight out with it, currently on Amazon UK it is on sale for £479.99, with Prime free delivery. And I bought a spare battery too for just over £50. And a case. For most people this really requires thinking about. It certainly did for me.
This is a serious camera. But, by a very long way, this is not just a camera for bloggers, or people who want a decent camera for professional purposes. Of course, it depends what you want from your photography, but I think it is also perfect for anyone who simply wants excellent quality photographs in a portable package - these are the two main reasons why I LOVE it.
The quality in the automatic setting is superb, and venture out of auto and it is mind blowing as far as I am concerned! I have tiny hands (almost childlike!) and this camera really feels comfortable to hold. And yet interestingly my giant of a husband also says the same. Yes, I have had a Canon before, but the menu's are fairly intuitive even if you have not. It is a shame that the instruction manual only comes in online form - personally I would have much preferred a book.
It has an articulating screen too which, i'll be honest, so far I have only really used for "selfies" (with self portrait touch up filters!), but the idea is it can help for taking shots at awkward angles too. I'm keen to experiment with this more, it looks good. The "movie digest" mode is funky and I have had fun with this and some of the other different modes (i'm keen to try the fireworks setting...soon I hope!). The image stabilisation is impressive. It is awesome in low light. As is the zoom, which is plenty powerful enough for everything I need it for. And every single time I use my camera, I use the wi-fi function to hook up to my mobile devices afterwards - sharing on the go. The video function has also has an excellent reputation for "vlogging" (to normal people this is just making your own videos!) - and so far I've scratched the surface of this but been impressed.
For me, the Canon Powershot G7X mark II is better than a DSLR. Why? In short, because of the size combined with the quality, and the ability to really get creative outside of "Auto". Although for some, a negative might be that you can't change lenses on it. Oh, and it doesn't have a view finder... but I didn't even notice this for ages. And the battery (whilst apparently improved from the mark I) could still catch you out if you are doing lots of video in a day or really using it a lot - solution, buy a spare.
Having bought the swanky camera, I spent AGES looking for a case. I decided I really ought to maintain quality, and went for Canon's black leather one. My Powershot G7X mark II fits snugly inside and I think looks the bees knees. Only drawback, there isn't anywhere in the case to keep the spare battery, so I just pop that in my handbag, or pocket.
If you are still concerned about the price tag - if it helps, I think my Canon Powershot G7X Mark II is worth every penny that I spent on it.
My Photography Lessons: with Jérôme Aoustin (based in Carrières-sur-Seine, suburbs proximate to paris).
So, after a month or so of owning my camera, and already being in complete awe of it, I was feeling a bold desire to stray out of the "Auto" setting. The camera is extremely clever... but surely I could do better? Jérôme kindly offered me two lessons so I could honestly review him for you. Each lesson was about 2 ½ hours long, which positively whizzed by, and spaced out with a couple of weeks gap in between so I had time to practice.
The first lesson was theory. I have to confess, I was initially just really keen to get outside with my camera and start taking some guided photographs. When I'm excited by something I'm a jump-in-feet-first kind of gal and trust in my "on my feet" judgment (it's the barrister in me!) BUT the words of my driving instructor, many moons ago, still lurk in my memory when he offered to teach me the mechanics of the engine etc in my first lesson... I declined, in my hurry to get driving. I should have said "yes", to understand what was going on beneath the bonnet. It is effectively the same with my camera. I am pleased to report that whilst regrettably I am older, I am also wiser now! This time I unquestioningly started in the classroom... it was absolutely worth it and Jérôme's approach in this regard is spot on. In fact, having now done it, the other way around that some teachers use seems utterly back to front. So, if you are not based in Paris but are looking for a photography teacher, a tip from me would be to keep an eye out for this approach.
Jérôme is based in Carrières-sur-Seine, very close to Paris. I went to his home for my lessons. To be honest, in advance I wasn't sure how this would work out. In fact, however, it makes for a charming and relaxed learning environment where I was warmly welcomed by Jérôme and his wife Caroline. We had the lesson at the kitchen table where he had set up his computer, with cups of tea in hand (and even some gingerbread biscuits made by my kids). Jérôme is very flexible though, and can tailor the venue and locations to suit you as required. The lesson was structured, and we covered a lot of ground, with me taking notes, and coming away with 2 incredibly handy photograph charts as visual aids (which I have referred back to countless times since). All my questions were answered fully and comprehensively. I learnt about ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture, and the histogram (little graph) that is produced with every photograph you take to analyse it. These things were all also basically related to my camera and its specific functions. I learnt about the importance of lighting in photography, and some tips for editing. We covered a lot of ground and I took a few shots under Jérôme's tutelage to demonstrate what he was explaining. I was full of conversation that evening with my husband, and eagerly awaiting the next day to practice!
And practice I did, whenever I got the chance (taking the time to experiment when looking after 2 toddlers wasn't as easy as I had hoped!). My next lesson started at Jérôme's house, he had found answers to some questions I had sent him between the lessons (referencing the manual for my camera for some) and was ready with some recommendations of products and editing software. Swiftly though, we headed outside and spent a couple of hours walking around Carrières-sur-Seine with our cameras. Rather than suggesting things I should photograph, he very much left it to me to choose what caught my eye and inspired me. I even took a few photographs at one point in full "Manual" mode. This was great! Particularly after my tricky practice attempts with the kids, it felt really indulgent to take the time I needed to shoot photographs, ask all the questions I wanted and seek guidance as to which were the optimal settings for the desired effect. I came away from the morning feeling more confident in using my cameras functions, and with a smashing collection of photographs as well, some of which you can see below:
Obviously in 2 lessons, I only really scratched the surface of potential photography skills. But Jérôme's teaching provided me with the perfect beginners introduction, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend him.
Jérôme's has now launched his photography classes, for small groups or individuals. Here is the link to his website containing lots more information, and through which you can contact him directly.
To end, here is a little bit about Jérôme: He is a Franco-American professional photographer based in the Paris area. Photography runs in the family: his great-grandfather was also a pro, his grandfather and father avid hobbyists. Born into an artistic family, Jérôme grew up as an inquisitive child with a deep affinity for nature and its beauty. Being exposed to many countries and cultures from an early age also shaped his artistic inclinations. Between 2002 and 2011, he made New York his home, where he spent time building innovative startups and exhibiting his fine art photography – natural and urban landscapes. He also started shooting events, including weddings. Fast forward to 2015, Jérôme is living with his wife and two daughters in the charming old village of Carrières-sur-Seine, just 11 minutes from Paris. Besides fine art, he is now a full time commercial photographer catering to businesses large and small, but also families and individuals. His specialties: real estate and architecture, events and portraiture. Always aiming to provide additional services to his clients, he is launching photography classes today.
P.s. and here are a few more photos taken on my Canon Powershot G7X mark II recently, because I can't resist. Enjoy!
*This review contains affiliate and collaborative links but the views are, as always, honest and my own*