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Thread: The best photography gear buying general advice.

  1. #1
    rob marshall

    The best photography gear buying general advice.

    I don't know about you, but I find all the posted threads on camera/photo websites asking for advice on buying gear rather problematic. I can see that some people new to photography have difficulty making informed choices, but really, there is so much gear out there it's difficult to say anything with any certainty. A further problem is that how are forum members supposed to know what uses the buyer is going to put it to?

    I thought, therefore, it might be more useful to make a list of general points to consider when buying gear/software. Below are the categories. Just post what you think are suitable points (please state what category you are referring to) and I will edit them into the list below, if they are suitable. I've started a few to get it going. If you disagree with any points then please make your case.

    GENERAL POINTS FOR ALL GEAR

    1. Camera gear and software manufacturer's are not in business to provide you with nice photography gear to take great pictures. They are in business to make money - as are all manufacturers and service providers. There's nothing essentially wrong with that - after all, we live in a capitalist society. But it's very easy to be led to a place you might not really need to go to. Consumer psychologists and ad-men can be very clever people.

    2. Buy the best that you can afford, provided you really do need it and will get good use from it.

    3. Always keep the original boxes and accessories. For some reason used equipment fetches a higher price when trading in. especially from dealers.

    4. When you are out and about you will see other photographers with cameras/lenses different to yours. Make a point of asking them (most are keen to show off their stuff) what they think of them. Are there any problems? What are the strengths?

    5. When you have decided on a specific piece of equipment to buy, go to Google and key in the make and model, then click 'shopping'. It will list all the offers. You may not want to go for the cheapest - you also need to consider shipping charges, and perhaps a difference in warranty.

    CAMERAS

    1. Make a list of the types of photography you are interested in, or may be interested in at a later date, and decide between a crop-factor camera or full-frame. If you buy a crop-factor and crop factor lenses you won't be able to use the lenses if you get a full-frame camera at a later date.

    2. If you shoot mostly landscapes and live in a wet area, or you shoot a lot of outdoor sports where you don't have control over when you shoot, then consider getting a pro-level camera that has weather-proofing. For all other instances weather-proofing may be nice-to-have, but it certainly isn't essential. In which case and entry-level or mid-range camera will suffice.

    3. Always try any camera before you buy it. The technical aspects of a camera may be important, but so too are the ergonomics - the 'feel' of it. Go to a camera shop and try one. Take your own memory card and lens, and take a few test shots. If you have a friend who has the camera you want, ask if you can go out with them for a few hours and try their camera.

    LENSES

    1. Don't buy a lens just because everyone else seems to be getting it.

    2. Consider the used/second hand lens market from reputable retailers or other photographers. Good glass at reduced prices can be had. Try to get a warranty for the used kit.

    3. Use the lens you do have for a good while to determine what you like about it and what features you wish it had. Look at what type of photography you gravitate toward and use this information to inform your future lens purchases.

    TRIPODS

    1. If you don't have one - why? Go out and get one.

    2. Do you need to carry your tripod a lot (for landscapes etc). If so consider a lightweight version such as carbon-fibre. Dragging a heavy tripod about can put you off photography!

    LIGHTING GEAR (FLASH GUNS AND STUDIO FLASH)

    1. Carefully consider what power levels you need for lighting. For flash guns (also called strobes, or speedlites) the maximum distance range is indicated by its guide number (GN). Studio lights are rated in watts (200W is low, 1,000W is high) A cheap flashgun with a low GN won't light up a church, and a 100-200W studio system is adequate for table-top/still life and head&shoulder shots, but not much else.

    MISCELLANEOUS GEAR

    1. If you need to buy an expensive polarizing filter, buy a big one together with an adaptor ring, rather than having to buy several screw in ones to fit all of your lenses..

    2. Output. If you are new to photography, how do you plan to print images? You can print without a computer directly to a printer, in which the only post processing you can do is in-camera, but you will be very restricted doing that. Do you also need to buy a printer? Or will you use on-line printing services? You need to budget for that.

    3. If you are new to photography, do you have the right computer equipment? If you are doing a lot of processing you will need a machine with a reasonable specification. If you are moving from film to digital or just taking up photography and going straight into digital you may need to buy a PC.

    EDITING SOFTWARE

    1. Do you really need Photoshop CS5 at 700? Will the basic version serve you well enough?
    Last edited by rob marshall; 31st January 2011 at 08:01 AM.

  2. #2
    Hans's Avatar
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    Pete

    Re: The best photography gear buying general advice.

    Nice idea, Rob.
    Great tip about deciding early about what sensor size camera to buy before buying lenses. I fully agree with you, though it can be difficult in the early stages to make that choice in an informed way. Not sure how to get around that.

    LENSES
    Don't ignore the used/second hand lens market from reputable retailers or other photographers. Good glass at reduced prices can be had (Only one of the four lenses I own was bought new).
    Use the lens you do have for a good while to determine what you like about it and what features you wish it had. Look at what type of photography you gravitate toward and the environments you find yourself in. Use this information to inform your future lens purchases.

    That's all I can think of with this tired fuzzy brain at the moment....

  3. #3
    rob marshall

    Re: The best photography gear buying general advice.

    Hans

    Thanks for those. I've included them.

  4. #4
    rob marshall

    Re: The best photography gear buying general advice.

    General - I'll say this one twice. Always keep the original boxes and accessories. Always keep the original boxes and accessories. For some reason used equipment fetches a higher price when trading in. especially from dealers.

  5. #5
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: The best photography gear buying general advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by rob marshall View Post
    Hans

    Thanks for those. I've included them.
    Let's not forget output. How do you plan to view/share the images. Are you going the electronic route only, do you have the right computer equipment. Or you can print without a computer directly to a printer, in which the only post processing you can do is in-camera.

    I'm mentioning printers and computers because I used the costs associated with both to help me decide if it was economical to switch from film to digital. Granted, I already had a computer and printer when I made the switch, but the cost of printer ink and photo paper (over having the film developed) should be considered when making the decision to go digital.

  6. #6

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    Re: The best photography gear buying general advice.

    As an engineer, I truly appreciate these guidelines, but would add some non-technical issues to go along with yours:
    1. White colored lenses attract more girls than black. So the premium for "L-glass" is really an advantage.
    2. Long heavy lenses attract even prettier females. So the 500mm is really an investment in quality.
    3. Hanging two cameras from your shoulders could get you into a high class swingers club.


  7. #7

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    Peter

    Re: The best photography gear buying general advice.

    If you need to buy an expensive polarizing filter, buy a big one together with an adaptor ring.

    Peter.

  8. #8
    rob marshall

    Re: The best photography gear buying general advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by bmpress View Post
    As an engineer, I truly appreciate these guidelines, but would add some non-technical issues to go along with yours:
    1. White colored lenses attract more girls than black. So the premium for "L-glass" is really an advantage.
    2. Long heavy lenses attract even prettier females. So the 500mm is really an investment in quality.
    3. Hanging two cameras from your shoulders could get you into a high class swingers club.

    It might also get you a medical condition, and if you are in the US that may be a considerable financial burden.

  9. #9
    rob marshall

    Re: The best photography gear buying general advice.

    Peter/John. Thanks, I put those in, but reworded them a bit.

    Barry, you need to get out more - but not with the 500mm!

  10. #10
    rob marshall

    Re: The best photography gear buying general advice.

    General -

    When you are out and about you will see other photographers with cameras/lenses different to yours. Make a point of asking them (most are keen to show off their stuff) what they think of them. Are there any problems? What are the strengths?

    When you have decided on a specific piece of equipment to buy, go to Google and key in the make and model, then click 'shopping'. It will list all the offers. You may not want to go for the cheapest - you also need to consider shipping charges, and perhaps a difference in warranty.


    Cameras -

    If you shoot mostly landscapes and live in a wet area, or you shoot a lot of outdoor sports where you don't have control over when you shoot, then consider getting a pro-level camera that has weather-proofing. For all other instances weather-proofing may be nice-to-have, but it certainly isn't essential. In which case and entry-level or mid-range camera will suffice.

    Always try any camera before you buy it. The technical aspects of a camera may be important, but so too are the ergonomics - the 'feel' of it. Go to a camera shop and try one. Take your own memory card and lens, and take a few test shots. If you have a friend who has the camera you want, ask if you can go out with them for a few hours and try their camera.

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