As promised we’re going to take a look at my gear today. It won’t be a comprehensive review or anything, just some likes and don’t likes and some recommendations based on my experience. Lets begin.
Choosing your gear can be a tricky and, especially if you’re just starting out, daunting task. There’s just so much to choose from, so many brands, so many different ways of doing things, so many new terms you don’t understand – it’s almost like learning a new language. I’m the kind of person who, when introduced to a new interest, research everything. I’m sure I knew most of the settings on my camera before I even got it. My best advice when you’re looking for new gear is to know what you want and why you want it. Why are you getting a new piece of gear? What will it let you do that you can’t already do? I haven’t been at this for very long but already my lens choices has changed drastically compared to the plans I had from the start. The reason is that I now know more about what kind of photography I want to do and how I can get quality gear to accomplish that while still being as gentle as possible to the wallet (my poor poor wallet).
Lets take a look at what I’m shooting: portraits, food and…well, that’s pretty much it, so far at least. I’m hoping to add some landscape or street shots to my repertoire with our upcoming trip to Indonesia, my wife’s home country. I still don’t have my dream lens for that type of photography but I’ll get by with the ones I do have. For the record, my dream lens for that would be an ultra wide, which currently means the 10-24mm (though I’m hoping Nikon will release a 12 or 14mm prime instead, would be much nicer to the wallet). Btw, if nothing else is mentioned, it’s Nikon I’m talking about. If you’re shooting with something else (but why would you do that when Nikon is so good? Just kidding…mostly) it should be easy enough to find your brand’s counter part.
Portraits and food, actually food started getting more serious pretty recently when my wife got obsessed with cake decoration (best…hobby…ever). So the first lens I got was the 35mm f1.8, a perfect and very cheap all round lens. If you’re a Nikon shooter and on a tight budget, this is a no brainer, it completely replaced the kit lens (18-55mm) for me and got me hooked on prime lenses, didn’t miss the zoom at all. The f1.8 was a real eye opener as well (get it? Eye opener, wide open aperture…no? Never mind…), especially since this was before I started using flash.
My second lens was the 85mm f3.5, another prime and a macro lens to boot. Why a macro? Well, my original intention was to first get that ultra wide lens I wanted but after thinking it through I realized that this lens would probably be used more, at least at home. It’s great for detailed shots of my wife’s cupcakes, works fairly well as a portrait lens and gives you some reach as a short tele. Another reason that factored in when deciding was the No cropping zone. That got me fascinated by macro photography and hopefully that’s something I can share here as well, now that the bugs are finally starting to wake up. Never thought I would want there to be more bugs around…
Currently those are the only two lenses I own. Once I’ve added a wide angle I feel I’m pretty much done. Of course you can always have more lenses but with those three I’ll be able to shoot pretty much everything I’m interested in shooting. It will be a nice, fairly compact kit that won’t break the bank. I’m still not getting the cheapest ones out there though, since quality is important and as far as lenses are concerned, I’m sticking with Nikon. Of course, my choice of lenses won’t be the best choice for everyone, it’s all about what you want to shoot. Don’t be too quick with upgrading to the newest, shiniest, most expensive lens. Shoot a lot and figure out what you want to do, that way you won’t waste money on something that will just sit around and collect dust.
So what do I put my lenses on, I hear you ask. I’m using a lowly D3000. It was the cheapest entry level model when I bought it and it’s already been replaced by the D3100. It’s a good camera but I do feel I’ve outgrown it – that’s what happens when you get obsessed with something. The biggest issue with this camera is the iso performance, I could definitely use a couple of stops better performance there. Of course that’s not really an issue if you’re using flash though, since you’ll be staying at a lower iso setting anyway. For now though, it’s more important for me to build the rest of the kit than to upgrade the camera body, it affects the results a lot more. Camera bodies get upgraded constantly and they don’t keep their value nearly as well as a lens will. The camera will be the last thing I upgrade after I’ve assembled the rest of my kit.
This gear business is turning out to be lengthier than I thought it would be so I’ve decided to split it into two posts. In the next one we’ll be covering everything flash related: stands, modifiers, you name it.
To be continued. Part 2