Which Photography magazine is the best!

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I don’t currently have an annual subscription to any of these magazines but I am genuinely looking to start one so we’re exploring this together!

It’s a great feeling to be surprised by a magazine laying in your hallway, I love opening it and flicking through for the first time. I then come back and go through it in detail. Such fun!

I should mention that I am also making nothing from any of these promotions so please don’t think I’m biased in any way. I will present the best offers and give you a fair overview.

Bear in mind that although these are monthly magazines, what you can do is build up a great resource of inspiration and tips. There’s no reason why you couldn’t cut out articles and make up your own scrap book of what to do in each season, or catalogue issues and page numbers if you don’t fancy cutting them up. For instance I could put something in the diary for next October saying look in Issue 120 P25 for tips on photographing landscapes then go out and try it.

For those outside the UK I’m afraid that this is looking at UK magazines but hopefully you can see the trends and I’m sure there are similar levels of magazines in the states and elsewhere. If you do live outside the UK I’d love you to do a similar review on magazines that you subscribe to, either in the comments or by emails and we can feature that here too.

NOTE: The prices quoted are based on subscriptions at the time of writing and offers may vary from those stated.

Well in no particular order here we go…

Digital Photographer

Digital_photographer Review

This is a magazine I am currently receiving 3 copies from for £1. It’s an unmissable offer for any photographer and I’ll give you the link below.

Personally I find this pitched about right for me as a professional, but bear in mind I’m not a professional at Landscape, Wildlife, Creative photography, etc. I know how to use my camera and I have some really nice kit which means I can read about how the true Pros take a shot and stand a pretty good chance of recreating it.

There are great kit reviews and advice from Pros which I love to read. For some of you though, be warned it might leave you with a serious case of ‘Kit Envy’!
This magazine is always relevant too, for example at the moment the main article is about ‘winter wildlife’ and the encouragement is not to just hibernate for the winter but get out and explore the opportunities that are only available at this time of year. It’s also very practical in that it follows up with relevant features, for example this issue follows the winter wildlife article with some tips on wrapping up in the correct clothing.
Previous issues have included ’20 top tips for shooting sunsets’, ‘timeless baby portraits’ and ‘shooting the sky at night’. Now I can relate to all of these and will welcome any advice I can get.

To be honest, I regularly get this magazine in batches of 3 because I’m a cheapskate and only order it when it’s on ‘3 for £1’, sad I know.

Good Points:

  • Expert articles – I love to see what the Pros get up to and it inspires me to have a try.
  • All photos include the ‘shot details’ – This is a must for me, I don’t want to see nice photos if I can’t see the settings they shot them at. This is how I learn and seeing the zoom helps me know if I could achieve it with my own kit.

Bad Points:

Heck, you can’t complain about much really when it only cost £1 for 3 issues!

  • Aimed at Enthusiasts and Pros. I would say this may stretch you and if you aren’t interested in making a career out of your photography or wanting to spend out on some nice lenses you might get frustrated.

Annual subscription cost

£52 (13 issues)

 

Final thought

I wouldn’t pay for an annual subscription just yet, definitely try the 3 issues and see what you think. Do be sure to cancel your subscription early though else you’ll be paying for the full thing, which I’m sure is how they make their money back!

Subscribe for your 3 issues here

 

Digital SLR Photography

digital SLR Photography Review

This is another of those magazines that I get in batches of 3 but I have to pay an extortionate £3 for all 3! Shocking I know. I’m actually just going through magazines from 2012 and remembering that these are really good!
Now you know you are looking at more amateur users when the main articles are topics like ‘Learn everything you need to know about White Balance’. Not topics I’m personally interested in but perfect for many of you (although after reading my article you know a little more I hope).

I think this would sit better for many of you reading this post. The quality of photographs is at an expert level but I can see from the kit used in the ‘photo info’ these are not taken by professionals. I’ve just flicked through and seen a lovely photo taken by a reader On a 300D, that’s my 10 year old camera I wrote an article on.
In the cover photo above you can see articles on taking coastal landscape photos, taking photos of your pets and your children, and I guarantee you’ll learn skills from this magazine.

The lenses and other kit reviewed aren’t all aimed at Pros and serious photographers like they tend to be in Digital Photographer, here you’ll find reviews on less common brands and genuine thoughts on whether they compete with the big guns or not. You’ll see adverts for home studio lighting kits for £200 and some fantastic, quick photoshop tutorials on things like replacing skies in a dull photo.

This magazine in my opinion is a perfect fit for those of you I know. You’ll be inspirited, offered home quality kit to purchase, or in some cased shown how you can reproduce the effects without buying any kit.

I should point out that in the 3 copies I received, there were a couple of brief articles on photographing ladies… with not a lot on! One magazine has on the cover ‘how to shoot tasteful nudes and boudoir images’, and I would say they do a good job of covering the topic in a non offensive way. So don’t hear me wrong, I’ve seen nothing smutty and in most cases you couldn’t even see any naughty parts but I am just warning you that nudity may pop up and I don’t want to receive emails from ladies complaining!

Good Points:

  • Pitched spot on for beginner -> keen amateur SLR photographers.
  • Readers’ Showcase Guys like you sending in their photos, taking with average equipment that will encourage you about what you can achieve with what you own.
  • Expert critique – Readers send in their photos and the panel review them and usually show with a few tweaks they can take them from good to great images.
  • Most photos include the ‘shot details’ – Not every photo but most show you how the camera was set up.
  • Kit reviews I love buying gadgets and things that ‘i need’, or that’s what I tell Rachael my wife! The kit, clothing, accessories reviewed here will all be relevant and within you budget.
  • Seasonal content Like others, Digital SLR offer seasonal advice as well as projects you could try any time of year.
  • Relevant adverts Yes there are quite a few adverts but as I see them, they’re typically things I actually go off to the website and have a look at. Whoever picks the ads doses a really good job of keeping them relevant to their audience.

Bad Points:

Honestly, I’m struggling to think of any!
I guess the price point for subscriptions is a little higher than others but if you get the first 3 for £3 it falls nicely back in line.

 

Annual subscription cost 

£43 for 15 issues (including the £3 for 3 issues offer) + free gift

Final thought

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 10.29.25Do you know, I’ve actually surprised myself with how good this magazine is and I’ve just signed up for 3 copies at least and then I anticipate the next 6 months for £21.49. That’s a 17% saving on the shop price and it’s comes to your door.

I really do recommend you give this a go. You can order it as a gift for someone else too if you want to treat them this Christmas!

 

Subscribe for your 3 issues here (personally I’d go for the print only version but that’s up to you)

Subscribe for 6 months (21.49) or 12 months (£39.99) here

Note: With all these cheap intros they will want direct debit details and it’s up to you to remember to cancel them about 2.5 months in!

Bonus: If you order now you get a cool cleaning cloth, even on the 3 copies!!!

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Digital Photo

digital_photoReview

Wow, this magazine takes me back as it was the one I used to receive monthly for several years, in fact I only gave my collection away a couple of years ago. I like the way this magazine is put together, theres plenty of project ideas, articles from pros to enthuse you, but one thing I am spotting now, that wasn’t an issue then is that all the tutorials are for Photoshop and now I’m looking through your eyes I realise that may not be so helpful. In fact in this current issue 21 pages make up the ‘Photoshop Genius’ tutorials, so if you don’t have Photoshop that’s a serious chunk of your £4.99 investment wasted!
I’m afraid to say that I was rather disappointed with this magazine. My litmus test tends to be flicking through the pages and gauging how excited I am about jumping back into sections. Honestly, other than reading more about the ‘gear of the year’ reviews and a comparison of sub £400 DSLRs I probably won’t read anything else! The magazine comes packaged up with a CD containing ’92 minutes of expert advice’ but it’s all assuming you have Photoshop. There were also 4 ‘tip cards’ with December’s issue with 4 bullet points to consider when out in the field. Maybe you’d find this useful but mine will go in my bin I’m afraid.

Now I don’t want to totally write this magazine off, after all it is Britain’s best-selling photography magazine! The tips for shooting at night were again greatly inspiring and encouraging us to get out and make the most of the early dark nights (seasonally relevant). I guess if you put the projects into practice and get one great photo you’ll be glad of the investment. For me though it didn’t have the same substance as others in this review.

 

Good Points:

  • If you shop at Tesco like I do, you can use your club card points for this!
    £22 in Tesco Clubcard Vouchers gets you an annual subscription
    £10 in Tesco Clubcard Vouchers gets you a 6 month subscription
  • Great value subscription If you don’t use Tesco Points you can still save a whopping 50% on an annual subscription via direct debit! £32 for a year is a great deal and would make an excellent Christmas gift!
  • Pitched well for beginner – keen amateur SLR photographers although they focus on some high end kit too.
  • ‘Your Pictures’ Readers send in their photos, taking with average equipment that will encourage you about what you can achieve with what you own, then an expert shows how to tweak it and improve it. Sadly, mostly in Photoshop though.
  • Some photos include the ‘shot details’ – Not as many as I’d like but some show you how the camera was set up.
  • Gear Focus This was the highlight to me but I’m not sure if it’s usually this weighty or whether it’s due to the time of year.
  • Seasonal content Like others, Digital SLR offer seasonal advice as well as projects you could try any time of year.
  • Relevant adverts Again, the adverts are good and relevant. There are more shops advertising in the back than most but I like browsing though these, I like less the studios for hire etc that take up the last few pages but I guess they must be relevant for some.

Bad Points:

  • Not quite weighty enough for me. In my opinion they could do less projects/ideas and put a little more into the few they cover. I’m sure they would disagree though and tell me they’ve got the balance just right based on years of feedback, remember I’m only getting a snapshot of one issue.
  • Biased towards Photoshop, I know it’s the editor of choice but I’m asked all the time about alternatives for photographers who don’t have the budget for Photoshop. There are some excellent free web based alternatives which may have been reviewed in other issues but my impression is that if you don’t use photoshop you could be turned off by this and you’d certainly miss out on a good chunk of the content here (including the CD).

Annual subscription cost

£32 for 12 issues (50% discount!)

 

Final thought

As you may have gathered, this wouldn’t be top of my list but it’s still a great resource and better than nothing! A big part of where you’re at with your photography is being fed ideas and inspiration to get out and use your camera and this magazine will certainly do that. You may just find yourself googling the ideas in search of more help, which is no bad thing and where sites like SLR Coaching come in.
The discounted annual subscription makes this very attractive and the use of Tesco points ever more so.

Subscribe via Tesco for 12 months here

Subscribe via Tesco for 6 months here

Subscribe for 12 months here

 

 

Practical Photography

practical_photographyReview

Well this is the last in my review and another blast from the past for me. I must say the cover excited me with the ‘long exposure master class’, the free course titled ‘Shoot indoor portraits now!’ and the techniques tip to ‘turn your garden into a wildlife photo haven‘. All very relevant and interesting to me, but did it live up to the hype?
The opening pages feature some stunning images captured by pros / semi-pros and certainly sets the tone for the quality of this mag.
Next come 10 photo ideas and I’m already making notes, folding over pages and feeling the excitement build. Images like this would look great on canvas around the home and are easy to recreate, now that’s what I like!

Well the wildlife in the garden shots were interesting, although I’ve seen others that made it easier. I’d rather shoot through a window with my tea and biscuit next to me than sit outside with a camouflages sheet over my head for hours but then where’s the sense of achievement with that!
The long expose masterclass was great, with ideas for traffic trails, still life and blurred water (the filters they use will be featured in a few days).
Camera School looks like it’s just starting this month and the tutorial is excellent, the level of detail you’d expect to pay for online. They touch on prime lenses like the 50mm 1.8 that you’ll be hearing about in a few days too!

The Gear of the Year was the same as in Digital Photo as they are sister magazines but that’s possibly not typical.
Again more photoshop tutorials but far less than Digital Photo and you could transfer what you read here to other programmes anyway.

The gear review looked this month at wide angle lenses for landscapes and when they started in the £5-600 bracket I thought they seemed pitched high but their recommended model was chosen in part due to it’s low price tag so I was pleased about that.

 

Good Points:

  • If you shop and fill your car at Tesco like I do, you can use your club card points for this!
    £17.50 in Tesco Clubcard Vouchers gets you an annual subscription
    Just £8 in Tesco Clubcard Vouchers gets you a 6 month subscription!
  • Great value subscription If you don’t use Tesco Points you can still save a whopping 50% on an annual subscription via direct debit! £32 for a year is a great deal and would make an excellent Christmas gift!
  • Pitched spot on for beginner – keen amateur SLR photographers.
  • How to guides A big part of this magazine is devoted to ‘what t shoot and how to shoot it’ and that’s what a monthly magazine is all about for me, I want inspiring!
  • Kit reviews some good reviews although they’re the same as Digital Photo so don’t subscribe to both.
  • Relevant adverts As with the other mags there are some good, relevant adverts that will interest you.

 

Bad Points:

… None! Honestly I went into this review with no preconceived ideas and I haven’t picked up these last two magazines for some years but I really can’t fault this month’s copy of Practical Photography.

 

Annual subscription cost 

£32 for 12 issues (50% discount!)

Final thought

This was the last magazine I looked at but it will be the first one i go back to and will spend the longest time using. Do that say enough! I plan to go down the Tesco route and order myself a subscription to this magazine straight away, I’m truly impressed.
Subscribe via Tesco for 12 months here

Subscribe via Tesco for 6 months here

Subscribe for 12 months here

 

Overall Summary

Well I hope you’ve enjoyed this review, I’ve spent many hours putting it together as I genuinely believe magazines like these can keep you fresh and enjoting your photography, and that’s the purpose of this site. So which would I recommend?

First, there would be no harm getting 3 issues of Digital Photographer, as long as you remember to cancel the direct debit before they charge you for a year! This won’t be the most relevant magazine here but it’s all good inspiration.

Definitely order 3 months of Digital SLR Photography and you don’t have to commit to buy any more as long as you cancel the direct debit before the date they tell you. Like me, you may want to keep this running though as £3ish a month isn’t bad for the inspiration and advice this will give you.

Digital Photo doesn’t interest me but their sister magazine does, in fact it takes top place for me if we’re rating these. I love that I get it 50% cheaper if I subscribe and the Tesco points work out brilliantly.

So, SLR Coaching recommend ordering Practical Photography for 12 months and 3 issues of Digital SLR Photography for £3 so you get the cleaning cloth worth £10! Just don’t forget to cancel the subscription!!!
Please share it with others who you feel would benefit from it and of course “let us know how you get on!”

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  • Awesome collection of photography magazines. I am checking them out one by one. As a new photographer it’s pleasant to go check out some sites like this and get new ideas.

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  • OldBlokeUK

    I would say that most of the magazine are not bad, though they tend sometimes not to be aware of their audience market. This needs to be more balanced and stop focussing on expensive kit the majority of the time.

    What fails all these magazines are their websites. Most, especially PhotoAnswers http://www.photoanswers.co.uk is a terrible website, hard to find information and lacking in so many areas. The best website for tutorials imo is the The Digital Camera World, http://www.digitalcameraworld.com Horrible to look at but very informative and fantastic tutorials.

  • Yes, you’d think they would know to support their printed work with a great online presence.

  • Totally agree, look out for the introductory offers, they do some great deals, just remember to cancel!