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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

How To Build Your Camera Kit


With all that is available in the line of accessories for your Digital SLR Camera, it can be quite confusing, even frustrating deciding which lenses to buy. Both Canon and Nikon have more than one hundred and fifty lenses to choose from. I have often seen people making the same mistake. First they buy themselves a SLR with its kit lens. They go off shooting. Not long and they're back for a "Big Zoom" and off they go again. Not much later, there they are, lamenting that they didn't get the wide angle instead. This is a pattern I have seen repeated over and over again during my time in photographic retail.
If you have lots of money lying around. If money is not an issue, somebody actually said that to me once, then went through all the options and took the cheapest camera we could find. If money is not a problem, then just go by what the salesman says. For the rest of us we need to think smart, and go about it carefully.
The solution is this.
First, get your SLR with it's standard lens. This will get you started. Learn to use the cameras features, get to understand them. Investigate all the features and try them out until you are instinctively turning knobs, scrolling and pressing buttons. Much like the way you drive a car. You are thinking about what's for dinner, while your feet are pressing pedals, and your hands are shifting gears and turning the steering wheel.
Next, get a 50mm f1.4 lens. Now, you have a bright lens, great for low light situations. If you don't have a full frame sensor camera, make it a 35mm lens. This is a standard lens, neither wide nor long. It closely matches the way you see the scene with your eyes, or at least as seen with one eye. The camera has one lens, if you want to see the way the camera sees, close one eye. The key point here is it's a fast lens. F1.4 lets in as much light as a lens can.
Next, get a wide angle zoom lens like a 17-40mm or a (10-22mm for non full frame) if you sit back and think carefully, you will find that most photos were taken within a close range. Ten to fifteen meters at the most. Most of the time you will be able to walk right up to whatever it is you want to photograph. The wide lenses will be especially useful indoors or in tight spaces like in between a bunch of your friends or in a crowd. It is also great for those scenery shots like at the beach or in the countryside.
Then, if you really need one, get yourself the big zoom. Like a 70-300mm (or 55-250 for non full frame) This lens, is great for taking longer distance photos, like from the side of the sports field so that you don't have to run out onto the field to get the shot of your kid, and be escorted away. Maybe you like to photograph lions, and you would like a good head start if he sets off after you. A longer lens also makes for nice portraits shots. The longer the lens, the blurrier the background.
Once you have put together this basic kit, then by now you will be in a better position and have a clearer understanding of your kind of photography. Now, you can set about choosing specialised lenses for your kind of photography. Now you can start investing in the fast alternatives to some your kit and the first of which should be a 24-70 f2.8 professional standard zoom lens.
You need to fully understand your camera and it's capabilities. We often feel that if we bought a new lens, then our photography will be much better. When you know your camera backwards, and come to a limitation that your existing kit can't overcome, then, buy the next "task specific" lens, or upgrade that specific lens for the brighter, faster, stabilised and more expensive option. The same applies to your SLR camera body. Just because they release a new, replacement model is not reason enough to run out and buy it. The camera you buy today, will remain as good as it is for the rest of it's life, provided that you don't bash it around. The only thing that might change will be your requirements. As your skills progress, and your requirements become more specific, and you start bumping your head against the limitations of your current kit, and then make your next purchase. Don't buy gear on a whim, or just because the salesman says you have got to get this shiny new idea. There are closets full of lonely, unused shiny new ideas. Get in touch with me if you like, and I will send you the perfect, step by step "kit building" "upgrade plan" based on years of experience both as a photographer and a photographic salesman.
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