A few people have asked me for recommendations on cameras recently so I thought I would write a brief post on what to look for in camera gear.
First-off, let me say that buying expensive gear doesn’t necessarily mean that you will take good photos. Other things such as composition, subject, light, technique and post processing generally have more effect on the final image. Expensive gear does however, allow you take better quality photos that can be up-scaled and printed very large.
When looking for digital cameras (such as DSLRs) choose a camera model that is no older than a few years as sensor technology has improved significantly in recent times. DSLRs and mirror less cameras are split into two main categories: APS-C crop sensors and full frame sensors. Full frame DSLR sensors are bigger allowing for better quality images, however they are also significantly more expensive.
Good quality lenses are just as, if not more important than good quality cameras. You are likely to get better quality images with a cheap camera body and an expensive lens than if you used a cheap lens with an expensive body so make sure you include a good lens or two in your budget. Lenses come either as zooms (zoom-able focal lengths make them more convenient and flexible) or primes (fixed focal length, generally better quality and bigger maximum aperture for the price). Wide and ultra angle lenses (short focal lengths) are great for landscapes and buildings whereas standard to telephoto lenses with large apertures (small f-stop numbers) are great for portraits and events. Check out websites such as DXOMARK for reviews on cameras and lenses before you buy so that you know what optical quality to expect.
Then there are the camera accessories. A good quality tripod is a must for landscape photographers. Other accessories I use include lens filters, a wired shutter release, flashes for portraiture / events (auto or manual) and a bubble level gauge that attaches to the flash port (used to ensure the camera is straight in landscape and architectural photos). Most of these you can get off ebay for a reasonable price.
The other thing it may be worth spending money on is photo processing software. Pictures (particularly landscape photos) rarely look amazing straight out of a camera. Despite the negative belief that ‘Photoshoping’ a photo is cheating and making something from nothing, processing is actually very necessary to get a photo to look something like our eye sees. Camera film requires processing, and digital photos are no different. All digital cameras have the ability to process a photo on the spot (and output as a jpeg) but this will rarely give you as good a result if it is done manually in computer software. Take the feature image of this post for example ‘Awaken’. This was a combination of 3 photos taken to capture the entire width of the scene. The final processed photo required Lightroom, Photoshop and NIKs color efex pro and to me it looks much better than the RAW photos out of the camera.
So what do I use? As of the date of this post, I use the following:
*Nikon D5300 – This is a middle of the range APS-C crop sensor camera
*Samyang 14 mm 2.8 – I have used this single prime for almost all landscape photos
*Tokina 11-16 mm 2.8 – I have been using this borrowed lens recently to get some extra wide shots
*Nikon 50 mm 1.8g – good for portraits on a crop sensor
*Coman carbon fibre tripod
*3 stop and 10 stop ND filters
*Cable release and bubble level
*Yongnuo YN568EX auto flash – this is an excellent cheap flash
*Lightroom, Photoshop and NIKs plugins – you can currently get Photoshop and Lightroom on a plan for $10 a month which is a bargain
Well that’s it for now. If you want to stay up to date with my blog make sure you subscribe below: