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Photography Question 

I'm just starting photography

I'm just starting photography and I have no idea what type of gear I should start off with. If you could give me some suggestions of cameras and other gear that I might need, that would be helpful.

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8/21/2006 7:48:50 AM

Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  Hi Megan and welcome to BP! You will find the people here to be very knowledgable and helpful. However, your question is so broad that it is next to impossible to answer. What type photography interests you? Do you see yourself learning how to photograph nature and landscape or studio and weddings? How much money do you have to spend and how much (if any) do you already have? Is this truly your first time with a camera or have you been using a point and shoot and are ready to move to the next level? Do you want digital or film; 35mm or medium/large format? These are just the first type questions that you need to ask yourself and then us. Come back with the answers and more details and let us help you make your decisions.


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8/21/2006 7:54:29 AM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  Irene, of course, has asked some good questions. But, you probably should focus on digital because it's here to stay, and whether you want a point and shoot, prosumer or SLR.

That being said, Nikon users will recommend Nikon, Canon users will recommend Canon, and so on. In other words, almost no one can tell you exactly what camera will be best for you.

That's because there really is no best camera - at a given price, models are fairly comparable. Your choice must depend on your pocketbook [first] and where you see your photography going in five years. If you think your going to want to do more than mere snapshots at family gatherings, you should think at a slightly higher price.

If you don't yet know some of the basics, like the difference between a
shortstop and and f-stop, like the way to increase depth of field, like what the impact of ISO changes will be, I'd wait a while to buy. I'd read a good photo book - several ["Scenic Photography 101" by Kerry Drager (I have it) and any book by Bryan Peterson (Ihave two), available in the BP store] come to mind.]

Borrow a camera to learn.

The reason I say this is that, if you buy a digital camera, you'll find that your start-up [capital] costs are very high. Sure, once you have everything, digital can be fairly inexpensive but the prices of digital cameras are ridiculous. You can buy an excellent 35 mm film SLR and two lenses for the price of a digital SLR body.

As I said earlier when you decide what you'd like, buy a camera with additional features, the ones that you feel that you "might" use down the road. You'll be glad you did.

One of the things that I laugh at when reading some of the BP threads are the questions about upgrading a one year old digital SLR. The best: The Nikon D70 was introduced in mid 2004 and voted Pop Photo's Camera of the Year in Deceember 2004. A member asked the upgrade question in May 2005 or so. Actually, in my opinion, there was and is no valid reason to upgrade the D70.

That being said, you need to check out the December and January issues of Pop Photo and Shutterbug Magazines. There, the myth of sensor size is defrocked. Authors of the articles are convincing when they argue that a 6 MP sensor may be better than a 10 MP sensor; it's all in the resolution. So, merely saying you want a Nikon D200 with its 12 MP chip or the Canon 1Ds Mark II with its 17 MP chip - that's not the whole story.

You also need to go to a reliable photo shop and handle the camera. Ergonomics are very important; if the camera doesn't feel good in your hands, you won't use it. If possible rent the camera you might buy. Try it out.

I like zoom lenses - there are reasons to buy a normal [+/- 50 mm fxed focal length] lens; however, zooms with a focal length range of 28-200 mm [17-130 mm in digital] generally provide all the "range" you'll ever need with some macro capability. The 18-55 mm kit lenses, while OK at wide angle are too short for me.

Finally, if you buy only one filter, it should be a circular polarizer. The cost ranges from about $50 to $150. There are good reasons for the price spread that I won't go into.

Don't buy a "Never Ready" Camera Case, do buy a good gadget bag [Domke and Tamrac come to mind.] Make certain the lens you buy has a hood, it will provide better protection than a Skylight filter. Buy a sturdy tripod [I have a 20-year old Slik S-200 that still perfect]and a dedicated flash [Guide No. 60 or higher.]

Hope this helps.


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12/22/2006 9:47:13 AM

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