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Thread: Hello all..first time here - essential camera gear?

  1. #1
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    Hello all..first time here - essential camera gear?

    Howdy folks. I am brand new to photography. I am a returning army vet going to school on a GI Bill and I am at the end of my associate degree in business. They said I had to take a fine art course to graduate so I chose Intro to Photography. Worse mistake I have made in a long time! I am hooked. I have dumped $2k on camera equipment and spend all my time reading, researching, and learning all I can about photography. I guess its' a healthier hobby than others I have had over the years. Anyway, any help or advice at all would be greatly appreciated.

    I think I have enough gear to get me started. If I am missing something you might suggest as "essential" to starting out please throw me a reply. I purchased :

    Canon rebel Xsi w/ kit lens ( 18-55mm IS )
    Canon 55-250mm IS
    Sigma 10-20 DC wide angle
    a neutral density filter 58mm
    a circular polarizer 58mm
    and UV/haze in each size 58 and 77

    I have learned sooo much in the last 4 weeks that I cannot stand to even look at the pictures I have been taking over the years that are in my house lol.

    Thanks in advance for any help, and thanks for having me here.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 15th February 2009 at 11:41 PM. Reason: Keeping the "clean" in "clean and lean" :)

  2. #2
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    Re: Hello all..first time here - essential camera gear?

    Tripod might be a good purchase, depends on your needs really. What kind you choose is down to several things though, primarily price, weight (of the tripod), portability, ruggedness/ max supported weight and stability in breezy situations etc.

    I personally use a cheap velbon cx540 and it does me. It's light, compact and steady enough but wouldn't take a bashing by any stretch of the imagination and in moderate breeze it can shake due to light weight. Also I use a light point and shoot so unsure what kind of weight it can support, certainly not my body weight (see colins post on his gitzo 1548 tripod near bottom of page Best Tripod and head for stability ).

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    Re: Hello all..first time here - essential camera gear?

    Could be worse; you could have opted for a course in banking!

    My first thought was also a tripod; so my second suggestion, depending on what your subject material will be, is for a decent external flash unit. A proper unit will give more equal lighting and less problems with red eye.

    But if you are more interested in wildlife I would suggest saving for a good macro lens instead.

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    Re: Hello all..first time here - essential camera gear?

    Go out with your gear for a while and you will experience what is still missing.
    Indeed it might be a tripod, time will tell.
    It might be a spare battery as well, or a sensor-cleaning-kit.
    Or a comfortable bag to carry your gear.

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    Re: Hello all..first time here - essential camera gear?

    Zuni, welcome to the group.
    My advice as to gear, considering you are new to the field, is to wait a while. You will come across a shot that you can't get to your satisfaction because of a missing piece of gear, consider if this shot is a style or subject that you wish to pursue further, if so then consider the gear that you need for this style, that is the gear you should buy.

    Many people, and I've been guilty of it, buy a piece of equipment that ends up spending it's life in a cupboard, or never comes out of the bag. Money is hard to come by so only spend it on equipment that you need and will use.

    Basically what I'm saying is that time and experience will dictate what you should buy.

  6. #6

    Re: Hello all..first time here - essential camera gear?

    The most used piece of equipment in a landscape photographers bag it the tripod
    It sounds strange but it is true a modern camera body will be used for 2 to 4 years until
    The next upgrade. High quality lenses will last a lifetime if treated with care but not all photographs are taken with the same lens. Good quality tripod legs last forever and if you
    Need say a macro focus rail or a panohead they can be added at a later date. I also found this.
    "15 Truths about Photography

    1) All camera brands build great cameras.

    2) All camera brands build bad cameras.

    3) A good photographer will take great pictures with a poor camera. A bad photographer won’t take a good picture with any camera.

    4) Film is just as good as digital. It’s also just as bad.

    5) Expensive lenses don’t take better pictures than cheap ones; they simply let you take pictures in some circumstances where a cheap lens wouldn’t.

    6) Most cheap lenses are better than you or I are photographers.

    7) Don’t buy a new camera until you’ve hit all its limitations and have found your photography restricted by them for at least 3 months. Do this, and you may never have to buy another camera ever again.

    8)The grass is always sharper and its green channel displays increased tonal range on the other side of the fence. (Meaning: Everybody else’s pictures will always look better than yours, and everybody else’s camera will always seem better than yours.)

    9) There is no such thing as a photograph that isn’t post processed.

    10) You can tell how good a photographer is by the size of his waste-paper basket (or recycle bin the larger the better).

    11) Most of your pictures suck. So do everyone else’s.

    12) If somebody tells you that their camera is fantastic and every picture comes out perfect, they’re lying (see Truth #11).

    13) When you improve/upgrade your camera and lens system by 500%, you photographs increase in artistic quality by approximately 0%.

    14) The more you complain about your camera system, the worse your photos are.

    15) The artistic and technical quality of your latest photo is directly proportional to the number of activations on your shutter.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 22nd February 2009 at 09:20 AM.

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    Re: Hello all..first time here - essential camera gear?

    Thanks for all the support. I have another caveat to add to my original question. Photoshop. I have never used it before and there seems to be mulitple versions available. Whats the deal with photoshop ( and its various plug-ins) and what version should i get?

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Hello all..first time here - essential camera gear?

    Hi Zuni,

    I'm going to give you half an answer, confident that those that know a little more will dive in a fill in the gaps. I was looking into this myself a couple of nights ago, forgive me, but I am going to use GB Pounds rather than Utah dollars.

    I have the cheap Photoshop Elements package (now on V7), costs about GBP70, reasonably easy to use for beginners and not too limiting when you learn more, but obviously missing some features of proper PS.

    The proper PS, now on "CS4", is about GBP550 list, from memory, but there might be educational deals to be had for 'students' if you're still doing that degree. I gather it's can be a bit daunting at first, but probably nothing a good book on it won't be able to sort out for you.

    There is also a CS4 Extended, I think more for graphic artists, no doubt overkill for what you need, even more expensive.

    Another product to look into, especially if you shoot RAW is Lightroom, now on V2.2, which is about GBP210, but again it doesn't do everything CS4 does, but feeedback is popular on it.

    Over to the rest of the team for their input, signing off on this for now,

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    Re: Hello all..first time here - essential camera gear?

    One other point Zuni, you don't have to use Photoshop, there are a number of alternatives. Photoshop is the commonest programme and their top notch programmes are probably used by most pros but the full package can cost over 1,000, but it is cheaper in the US (like everything else).

    Which software is best for a beginner is difficult to advise. I tried some of the 'entry level' Photoshop versions like Elements 2 or 3 but just couldn't get on with it. Then I discovered the Serif Photo Plus programmes which, to me, seem far more logical. I'm currently using Serif PHP version 12 which does all that I need for a realistic price.

    A lot of people in the US appear to use the free Gimp and there are a number of other freebies to try. Most of them use a similar system to Photoshop so once you have mastered the basics it is relatively easy to change around until you discover what really suits you. So it may be worth trying several varieties of the free software until you find your ideal system. But remember the freebies are usually older or limited editions and the latest versions can do a lot more.

    It is difficult to give objective advice here. Like most photographic equipment, everybody thinks that what they are using is the best possible solution.

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    Re: Hello all..first time here - essential camera gear?

    I'm going with the GIMP at the moment. Not just from a cost point of view (I do intend to make a donation when next month's salary hits the bank), but also because of the community-owned nature of the product (which is also why I go with Mozilla for e-mail and browser as well).
    What I haven't found, despite searching, is the definitive - 'This is why you should invest in PS and stop wasting time with the GIMP'. Anyone got the answer?

    Donald

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    Re: Hello all..first time here - essential camera gear?

    Well I've tried a lot of programs and find that Lightroom 2.2 and The Gimp do the job for me. Lightroom does 99% of the work and I only need Gimp now and then.

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    Re: Hello all..first time here - essential camera gear?

    There is quite a lot of stuff photoshop can do that gimp cannot. The charity and education licensing from adobe is much much better than other firms however and you can get a huge discount (biggest I've seen, including on single license versions). The biggest problem I have though is on my home machine I use linux and ps doesn't run perfect in wine so I wish gimp was as good.

    The main reason I use pshop is it's intergration between Illustrator (and sometimes InDesign) since I have to work between these. It's colour management abilities, and especially syncing stuff through bridge makes life a lot easier. Ability to edit 16bit images, work on large files including printers spec pdf (which I need to do a lot) as well as normal formats is also a big plus for me. Also workflow wise and interface wise it's what I'm used to now and it does what i need well.

    However these are my personal needs and it doesn't make ps the best choice for everyone. In fact most my needs are nothing to do with photography, although it's great for that too not all the points I make about what it can do that gimp cannot are valid from that standpoint.

    My advice software wise would be to stick with something like gimp if it does what you want, if not get the appropriate version of pshop. Elements is cheap enough and suitable for many. Also CS3 is very cheap now (I still use that on an older machine, I usually use cs4 machines now) and as already said the education and charity licenses are heavily discounted (credit to adobe for not pulling a microsoft on that one, you have to buy their stuff full price still for a charity and then get a minor discount on multi license purchases on top of that). Also if there is any other software you need from adobe chances are you can get it in a pack (like ps, illus and indesign come in a pack that is much cheaper than stand alone purchases) which saves even more.

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    Re: Hello all..first time here - essential camera gear?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zuni View Post
    I chose Intro to Photography. Worse mistake I have made in a long time! I am hooked.
    Nice choice, I understand what you mean

    I'm beginning in the dslr field too and bought not long ago a XSI with a 50mm prime.

    recently acquired a 10-20 sigma as yours and can't wait to test it!

    First thing I experienced is I got totally lost in all the flow of information concerning digital photography... just look at this website's tutorial list.

    what I recommend is to start by the basics (even if you think you already know about photography's basics)
    then even if the internet is great... there are tons of incredible books out there that made, at least for me, a smooth start into photography instead of not knowing where to begin on the web.

    other than that, I guess it's just practice, getting to know your camera and eventually acquire some.. instinct you can say? Thankfully for digital age, I can't even imagine 'practicing' back in the film time

    Finally..... ask questions! You have found the place that has to be one of the most resourceful forums. Trust me; by asking one question, you'll receive answers far more complete than expected
    I guess that's when you start having further questions from the answers

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