Will using a DSLR help develop/hone photg skills?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by steve123, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. steve123

    steve123 Mu-43 Rookie

    Dec 1, 2012
    I made the jump from cheapo-pocketable point-and-shoots to the PM1 and kind of have the photo bug now. Wondering if having say an Oly E-3 would in any way help develop my skills? I can see a practical benefit from having some additional lenses available then for my PEN then... Thoughts?
  2. ghetto

    ghetto Mu-43 Regular

    Keep in mind e3 lenses won't work on a pm1 with out an adapter and won't quite focus as fast. The pm1 lenses won't work on the e3 at all.

    In terms of a dslr. My opinion is no. As a matter of fact, most no photo geeks people probablly wouldn't know the difference between a mirrorless and dslr if you compare a panasonic g or gh camera to a sony slt to a nikon dslr.

    Having said that, cameras are always fun to play with, I suggest something cheaper than the e3, like a e420 or e410, they're still dslrs in every sense of the word.
  3. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Real Name:
    Sean Rastsmith
    What are you wanting out of the E3 that your PM1 doesn't give you? Does it come in any other m43 bodies, or accessories?
  4. atom

    atom Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 20, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Do you have a friend with a DSLR? Maybe they will let you borrow it for a weekend. It's a good way to get a feel before you make a purchase.

    A friend let me borrow his Pentax K7. I really enjoyed shooting with it, but also realized it was more camera than I wanted to carry. I had been seriously thinking of just buying a DSLR before.
  5. PaulGiz

    PaulGiz Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 3, 2013
    Rhode Island, USA
    No. Only you can develop your skills.

    If you really want to get good, you should get an old, fully manual film camera. Then you learn what exposure is, economy of shooting, zone focus, hyperfocal distance, framing, etc.

    If you want better pictures, get a better camera.

    If you want to be a better photographer, get an Exakta.


    • Like Like x 2
  6. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Buy an old sharp 50mm lens from an SLR (Pentax, Olympus OM, konica etc), buy the cheap adapter for it, mount that on your m4/3rds camera and HONE AWAY.
  7. AceAceBaby

    AceAceBaby Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 21, 2013
    I had a Canon 30D, now I have an E-PL5. Aside from the obvious physical differences, there is no difference at all in taking photos. In fact, I've been using non-native manual primes a lot more, which involves a lot more thinking and working than putting the camera in A mode. I'd got lazy with the Canon.
  8. steve123

    steve123 Mu-43 Rookie

    Dec 1, 2012
    Thanks for all the input. I do have access to an old Agfa (1960's) w/ several lenses that I completely forgot about... Film it is.
  9. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Nope. Getting something (DSLR, Mirrorless, Fixed lens, whatever) with a single prime lens you're comfortable with, and reasonably fast so you can shoot in a variety of lighting conditions, will probably do a lot for anyone who's reasonably new to photography. Getting comfortable with a single focal length and field of view will help you learn to see - to pre-visualize what will be in the frame and focus more on composition rather than "taking a picture OF something". And if you play around with aperture priority, manual, and maybe shutter priority, you'll learn the tradeoffs among the different exposure controls as well. Don't use auto-ISO for a while either.

    That kind of EXPERIENCE will hone your photographic skills and, more importantly, your EYE. The particular type of camera doesn't really matter. Once you get further into it, you may decide that one type of camera or another with a specific set of strengths and weaknesses (because they ALL have tradeoffs) will be better suited to the direction you're going with your photography, but to just hone your skills and figure out what you're doing, I wouldn't worry about it. Use what you've got and learn to take control of it.

  10. AceAceBaby

    AceAceBaby Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 21, 2013
    Eh, using film just means it will take a lot longer to see where you went wrong. You don't *have* to "chimp" with a digital but you can still review in batches as you go through the day. Even with a basic kit camera you have everything you need. Put it in manual mode, turn off the AF if you want to, and keep the zoom at the shortest focal length.
  11. Bob T

    Bob T Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 8, 2012
    Carol Stream, IL
    Ray is exactly correct.
    When I replaced my cheap P&S with a GH2, the pictures were sharper and the color was better, but the photos were just as bad...:redface:

    Practice, look at the photos of those that know what they are doing, practice, watch some of the on-line photography videos, practice, read pro photographer's blogs, and practice.
  12. fdifulco

    fdifulco Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 28, 2011
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    Real Name:
    going with DSLR will not increase or improve skill. it is with practice that we learn to see the picture that we want to take, not take of picture of what we see. the EPM1 will help with learning skill and using the non-auto mode. get a few primes and explore the parks, zoo's, nature walks, the city in your community. I went to m4/3 because my hands could not handle the weight any longer. with m4/3 i do not have hand fatigue/pain unless I work with the 4/3 50-200.
  13. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror!

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Real Name:
    Unless you need a weather sealed body...otherwise you're adding weight and bulk. Granted having thumb and finger dials are nice, as well as a OVF. I find it much easer to adjust settings on my E-5 than my EPM2...
  14. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Real Name:
    Sean Rastsmith
    • Like Like x 1
  15. JJJPhoto

    JJJPhoto Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    Cincinnati, OH
    Real Name:
    Jerry Jackson Jr
    I attended a workshop late last year where I and a group of photographers spent a day photographing models with various cameras and lighting equipment. Although I was using both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras at the workshop I found that 95 percent of my favorite photos from that day were the ones I took with the smaller mirrorless cameras.

    There were a couple of really nice shots that I took with a full frame DSLR that day, but when I view the full images on my monitor at screen resolution or view the 13x19 inch prints there really isn't a clear difference between the results from the DSLR and shots from the mirrorless compacts. In fact, the only way I can tell the difference is to view the EXIF.

    I think part of the reason I liked my mirrorless shots from that day more than the DSLR shots is that the mirrorless cameras are small and didn't "get in the way" between me and my subject. Also, since the cameras are so small and light I moved my body (and the camera) into different positions and got some creative perspectives and compositions. I didn't move into weird positions with the big DSLRs because my eye was stuck in the viewfinder and the camera/lens was so heavy I needed to keep it close to my center mass so I could steady my shots.

    Bottom line, unless there is a specific feature that a DSLR has that you "need" which your Pen lacks you won't capture better images (or become a better photographer) simply because you have a heavier or more expensive camera.
  16. steve123

    steve123 Mu-43 Rookie

    Dec 1, 2012
    Thanks everyone foryour input!

    Actually, this is why I thought a bigger, bulkier, setup might force me to somehow learn to be stealthier on the street and more cognizant of the photographic process so that I'd be handier with the little PEN. I remember being somewhat awestruck by a pro shooting for a local newspaper several years ago. He was taking pics at a local fair when I noticed myself stepping across his field of aim. I did a little, sorry jutter step and he shot me a quick look that said "dude, I'm a pro... no worries". I continued to watch him and I noticed just how transparent he made himself right in the midst of the crowd. And with all that gear... I thought with little PEN I'd be able to be somewhat more inconspicuous than with a bigger camera (part of why I chose the PEN over a dslr) but I feel like I stand out too much now.
  17. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Street photography is not about gear making you less conspicuous. If you feel conspicuous with your small camera, its just because of the mis-perception on your part that the gear would make you less conspicuous. Learning to actually BE less conspicuous (to yourself at least, which is at least 99% of the battle) will be just as easy and maybe very very slightly easier with your EPM1 than with a big DSLR. Then at least you'll just be self-conscious about yourself and not the camera. I shoot on the street with everything from the very small LX7 to the pretty large X-Pro 1 (not huge, but big enough) and the camera is never what makes me obnoxious if people find me obnoxious (or, more likely, if I find myself obnoxious)...

  18. rnagoda

    rnagoda Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 12, 2012
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Real Name:
    The main reason people point to DSLR and DSLR-like cameras (including the larger, more enthusiast oriented mirrorless bodies) for learning purposes is because they are often designed with some degree of ease of manual use in mind. Yes you can put them into auto or some form of auto, but when you have the mode dial at 'M' you also have the buttons and dials at the ready to make the changes you want to learn about making. The PM1 and it's ilk are quite the opposite, great cameras, but also making it a bit harder to access the manual functions in order to achieve a convenient size and small-ish form factor. I have a GX1, for example, and sometimes getting it to do what I want it to do quickly is a challenge whereas it is much easier with my GH2, and it's just a walk in the park with my full-frame camera.

    So - yeah - in short, I do think that having a camera with these manual control options available will be helpful in the learning process. Do you need them? No - this stuff is typically available via some menu or another, but I don't know what type of learner you are and for most people the tool with which you learn is very important to how and what you end up learning successfully. It doesn't need to be a DSLR, it can be an SLR, mirrorless - even some of those "bridge" cameras offer up a good bit of functionality, whatever, but the main thing would be having the ability to readily access those features you are trying to learn how to use.

    But to reiterate what everyone has said here - practice is the most important bit. More so than the camera you are using by a wide margin. But, yeah, the camera you are using can also help quite a bit.
  19. Talanis

    Talanis Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 15, 2012
    Sherbrooke, Canada
    Real Name:
    Eric Cote
    You want to get better? Look at a LOT of pictures and take a LOT of photos. That is the best way IMO. Buying gear won't help (although a viewfinder is nice).

    Read on the basic rules of photography, learn them until you don't even need to think about them. Then break them.

    Learn the technical side and repeat it until you don't need to think about it then you'll be free to do wathever you like with a camera without being distracted by asking yourself questions on the settings you need to make this photo.

    Learn to see the light. That is probably the most important thing. Photography means painting with light. Even if you don't have a camera with you, learn to see good light. When you see a photo you like, look at the light on this photo.

    Give yourself some challenges, take photos every single day, watch photos or paintings everyday... you will get a bit better everyday :)
  20. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin .

    Oct 9, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    Practice helps, but so does study (sorry). The internet is such a huge resource of material. Look at photos taken by others and work out what you like. Compare them with your own images to determine where you want to improve. Then you can practice, start to develop a feel for how the other photographers achieve what they do, and hopefully develop your own style along the way.

    I don't believe that modern cameras make you lazy, but you can choose to use them in a lazy manner or not. I'd argue that they are a better learning tool than an older manual camera because they are providing real-time feedback where you can see your successes and failures right away. Automation will allow to isolate functions of the camera and understand their effects.

    By all means try a DSLR if it interests you. It certainly won't hurt, but there is nothing about it that makes it easier to learn with than a mirrorless camera.