Our camera choice for student and academic photographers

We do a lot of photography for departments, but we’ve got finite time resources so there’s plenty that we’re unable to photograph. For one department, we’ve started to ask their academic staff and students to photograph events that we’re unable to commit to.

As well as reducing the demand on our time, a student/academic photographer can often be a more suitable choice than our team or using a professional photographer. In many situations, the people being photographed will be more comfortable when the photographer is one of their peers.

When buying camera equipment for this, I chose the Canon 750D with a 50mm prime lens.

Canon 750D with 50mm lens

The decision to not buy a ‘kit’ zoom lens fixed 50mm lens is a very deliberate choice. When we loan cameras to non-photographers to document events, we have two problems that recur regularly:

  1. The photo is invariably very wide, with the actual subject of the photo very small in the centre of the image with lots of empty space around them.
  2. If taken indoors, the photo is blurred.

The fixed lens fixes both of these issues, taking away the option of taking the photo too wide, and fast enough to take a clear, sharp image in poor indoor lighting conditions.

The first student to use the camera setup produced a strong set of images from graduation, and we were able to use one of the images as the lead banner image on the departmental homepage:

Law School graduation

It’s very tempting when buying a camera for multiple amateur photographers to go for one with lots of flexibility, but this more restricted setup is an approach I’d recommend.

Billy

Billy

Web Manager for the College of Arts and Law at the University of Birmingham.

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