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Thread: all the gear and no idea

  1. #1
    New Member blackhuey's Avatar
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    all the gear and no idea

    Hi all,

    I've just purchased a Canon 550D and am after a recommendation for what else you believe a beginning photo/videographer needs in their bag. So far I have:

    - 18-55 IS kit lens
    - a nifty fifty 50mm f/1.8 prime
    - MC UV filters for both lenses
    - an 8GB class 6 SD card
    - a photographer's bag
    - a monopod
    - a nice solid Manfrotto fluid head tripod

    So... I think I need a blower (I've had the Giottos Rocket blower recommended)... and what else?

    My primary reason for buying it was to upgrade my old PAL resolution miniDV camcorder, but obviously it will be good for stills too. Video will be a lot of amateur music video / podcasty type stuff in my garage bluescreen studio, as well as the occasional indoor/outdoor location work. Of course, I also want to expand my budding interest in stills.

    Are there any "must have" bits you'd recommend?

    Cheers

  2. #2

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    Re: all the gear and no idea

    Quote Originally Posted by blackhuey View Post
    Are there any "must have" bits you'd recommend?
    A lot of people seem to spend a lot of money on equipment, but not very much on training to use it - so my recommendation would be to consider investing in some training materials to help improve image capture and processing.

    Happy to recommend some if this helps.

  3. #3
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: all the gear and no idea

    As Colin stated:

    Training materials (field guide for your camera), a creative workflow guide, and of course joining a group such as this one. You may also need, if you don't already have it, a photo printer, although you could use an online printing service. Welcome to the group.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: all the gear and no idea

    Like the others have suggested, my comment would be 'STOP buying kit now ....... until you've got a sense of what it is you want to do/achieve as a stills photographer'. Once that starts to develop, then you'll start to be better infromed about what additional gear you might need/want. It's very likely that your range of interests will change or evolve, as you begin to realise the potential offered by what you've got, added to your own level of enthusiasm, commitment and skill.

    And part of developing that sense of vision for yourself is linked to the knowledge and skills you can acquire through training (which can take many forms - doesn't have to be dedicated college courses). I call looking at the work of others, 'training'. Get into your library and grab everything on photography, look on here, you can even (occasionally) look at other web sites. But just study and you will see images that you think 'Wow, I want to do that'. Find out what gets you excited ... and why? All the technical stuff can slot into place once the passion is established.

  5. #5
    New Member blackhuey's Avatar
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    Re: all the gear and no idea

    Thanks all, wise cautionary tales much appreciated I was hoping I hadn't done the equivalent of buying a computer without a mouse, but it seems like that's not the case and I can bravely venture forth.

    (oh, and only the first 4 items in my list are new, the rest are well worn from lugging the old camcorder around on shoots).

    I have been collecting books on cinematography for a while, and look forward to applying that knowledge to a new form. Shooting with a proper SLR is certainly a step up from a camcorder or compact, and it's all fascinating.

    Colin: I have Freeman's "Photographing People" and Hinkel et al "Photoshop CS3 Photographer's Handbook" as well as a couple on video lighting. Any other definitive recommendation would be welcome.
    Shadowman: I have both A4 and A3 colour printers - though only consumer ones, they still do the job well enough.
    Donald: I have a great bookshop underneath my office with stacks of photography books. I often browse there, enduring the dirty looks of the proprietors

    Now: my camera manual. That should keep me busy for a week or so!

    Thanks again
    Last edited by blackhuey; 24th May 2010 at 01:03 PM.

  6. #6
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: all the gear and no idea

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Like the others have suggested, my comment would be 'STOP buying kit now ......
    Although ...

    I think the rocket blower is a good idea, and far preferable for removing dust than a bit of spit and a fluffy hanky

    More seriously, the advice given here is certainly valid for stills photography.

    I am not familiar with the Canon 550D, I just hope that for video use, it doesn't prove a disappointment over a dedicated camcorder.
    Many DSLRs cannot zoom and/or auto-focus while recording video, sound maybe limited to monaural and an external mic socket may not be available, but maybe I am being overly pessimistic. If you are also the performer/presenter and the camera is recording unattended, much of that won't matter.

    You seem to be tackling it very sensibly, so I'm sure with some help, you will succeed.

    The zoom lens chioce for example is, although the default, actually quite well suited in terms of angle of view for what you want to do, at least by my reckoning for the limited space in a garage.

    One thing I predict being of value would be a remote control to start/stop video recording and take stills, preferably a wireless type to save getting tangled in cables and perhaps ideally a radio (RF) one, as IR ones require line of sight to the receptor, which is usually on the front of the camera, not much help if you're behind it.

    So, continue with the plan to get to know how to use the camera blindfold, when you start taking stills, post here for critique and we'll advise constructively on how to improve.

    All the best,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 26th May 2010 at 12:13 PM. Reason: correct typo

  7. #7
    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: all the gear and no idea

    Having a 5DII I have done some research on shooting video with a DSLR.If your plans are for shooting stationary video,no panning or zooming tripod mounted,you should be able to produce some good video.Your 18-55 will do.
    If you plan on hand holding,panning and zooming,it's a different ball game to get good results.No real experience here,but I've read a lot about this subject.
    Here's a site that will give you some information on shooting video with a DSLR.
    http://www.cinema5d.com/index.php
    Good luck.

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    Re: all the gear and no idea

    A quick look at the 550D manual online suggests that custom white balance applies to video: do you already have a gray card or WhiBal card? I would think you'd always want custom white balance for video rather than correcting in post-processing.

    There's also the hybrid style, stop-motion animation, you could explore, that uses concepts from still and video. Might fit well for other-than-live-people music videos.

    Cheers,
    Rick

  9. #9

    Re: all the gear and no idea

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    A lot of people seem to spend a lot of money on equipment, but not very much on training to use it - so my recommendation would be to consider investing in some training materials to help improve image capture and processing.
    That piece of advice should be nailed up on every tree in Photography Land - wherever that is.

  10. #10
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    Re: all the gear and no idea

    Quote Originally Posted by carregwen View Post
    That piece of advice should be nailed up on every tree in Photography Land - wherever that is.
    agree, I really regret the numerous very-expensive-equipment-based-but-very-poor-photography-knowledge-and-skills-based photographers.

  11. #11

    Re: all the gear and no idea

    so my recommendation would be to consider investing in some training materials to help improve image capture and processing.
    Oh no, does that mean I have to start again? Seriously though I wish I had done this. I am one of those people who waits until I have a tub of screws and a drawer front left before I consult the IKEA manual. Get a solid grounding in the theory but above all shoot, shoot , shoot.

    I really regret the numerous very-expensive-equipment-based-but-very-poor-photography-knowledge-and-skills-based photographers.
    I really regret being a very cheap equipment based but very poor photography knowledge and skills based photographer...but I persevere and haven't lost interest yet. So do all of the above but remember it should be an art form not preparation for an advanced driving test. Otherwise you will produce highly technically picture perfect snapshots and you can do that with a compact...no really you can. Train yourself to look at absolutely everything with an eye for the final image. That includes preemptive brain powered PP. Think in b/w (thats a hard one...I might need to read a manual for that), think in high contrast, high key, low key even when you are not carrying a camera, in fact more so.

    As for books I have Simon Shama's Landscape and Memory. Nothing to do with photography but it really makes me look at things around me differently.

    You will be fine with the kit listed. You will quickly suss what you are short of when you push the limits

    Steve

  12. #12
    Klickit's Avatar
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    Re: all the gear and no idea

    Quote Originally Posted by Wirefox View Post
    I really regret being a very cheap equipment based but very poor photography knowledge and skills based photographer...Steve
    Steve, I really feel you do yourself an injustice here. You have a very developed style that is eye-catching and different. I can't comment on the technical side, because I don't know enough to do so, but artistically, you are right up there.

  13. #13
    New Member blackhuey's Avatar
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    Re: all the gear and no idea

    Dave, thanks. I agonised over the 550D vs the HF S20, but in the end the faint promise of cinematic DOF and the flexibility in lenses won out. The sound is sorted, I have a Zoom H2 and some mixing equipment, as well as XLR mics. Zooming and manual focus while shooting video is definitely possible, I'll need more quality time with the manual to find out about autofocus.

    I'm stuck in a hotel and didn't have much to hand, but I attached a couple of shots just for funsies. A banana, a minifig and a sugar packet. I love the 550D!

    Rick: I have an 18% gray lens cloth for WB, but in the studio I just balance for tungsten so the daylight flouros pop the bluescreen.

    Thanks again all
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Re: all the gear and no idea

    Two more items...
    I'd get a spare battery and also a spare CF card. It doesn'thave to be as large as your first card but, a 2G or 4G would be a good back-up.

  15. #15
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: all the gear and no idea

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Two more items...
    I'd get a spare battery and also a spare CF card. It doesn'thave to be as large as your first card but, a 2G or 4G would be a good back-up.
    Good advice, If something starts mis-bahving with a memory card in the field, stop using it and deal with it later, or what you've shot so far may be at risk.

    and of course, flat battery; no shooting, fullstop.

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