We bought our Nikon in the early months of 2011, and all I did was shoot in auto for months. And months. I took a Nikon class with a friend of mine, and through that class I learned a couple of tricks like adjusting the white balance, messing with the ISO, and taking the camera into Program mode.
About a year later, I realized some of my favorite bloggers were shooting with 50 mm lenses, so I scooped out an inexpensive one and started shooting with that. I found I had much more luck shooting with the smaller lens. The 50 mm was less intimidating and let in lots of light, ideal for the indoor, low lighting situations I found myself in much of the time.
Once I started having some luck with the 50 mm, I got more adventurous and starting experimenting with Manual mode. And around the same time I had the opportunity to take a semi-private photography class. The instructor showed me how to read the information on the camera, the order I should adjust my settings, and some trouble shooting.
And the heavens opened. All it took was knowing some basic things about my camera, and suddenly it didn’t seem so intimidating.
I’ve probably discovered 1.8% of my camera’s abilities. But since learning some tricks, I take better pictures everyday. Plus, I’ve found some equipment that help me make the most of my camera.
Since I’ve had some friends recently purchase DSLR cameras and ask me about what products I’ve been using, I thought I’d share some of my favorite photography equipment. This is a beginners recommendation guide, of sorts, the sort of stuff I’d get if I was interested in shooting good pictures of my family, vacations, parties and the like.
This is a $1,000 camera. Don’t trust any old tripod to hold it up. And I don’t like to balance my camera on anything that seems less than sturdy. This tripod isn’t going to fall over. And it collapses and fits nicely into a carrying case, making it easy to walk around or travel with. Note: you will look like you’re carrying an assault riffle and might get weird looks.
I use this lighting kit for taking photos and shooting videos. For the price, you can’t beat it. Our house doesn’t have the best natural light, so this kit really brightens up the room. If you have a homemade shop and need to take pictures of your products, this would be great for you.
Again, I found myself frustrated with low light conditions, so I researched speedlites. And promptly felt frustrated at the price tags. But then around Christmas time, this inexpensive gem of a speedlite showed up on Amazon. I added it to my Wish List, and my in laws bought it for me for Christmas. I like it because it’s not too bulky and scary to use, and it made a huge difference in my indoor photos. It isn’t the fanciest (and doesn’t talk to your camera), but it’s a great way to practice shooting with this type of flash for a easy-to-swallow price tag.
This camera is considered a “pro-sumer” camera in that it’s more capable than the less expensive cameras but not quite as dynamic as the cameras that say the photographer at National Geographic uses. I love this camera because it feels substantial. If you’re interested in DSLRs, go to a store and handle them. Pick them up, press the buttons. Pick the one that feels good to you. I personally love this Nikon because there’s enough about it that can challenge me without being too overwhelming.
The gateway lens. I still love this 50 mm. I should break it out again and try some different shots. It’s also compact, which is great for when you’re out and about. And it probably gives greater flexibility over the 35 mm.
Okay, okay, I said the 50 mm really ramped up my love for photography. And that’s true. But my 35 mm? It’s my true love. Dan bought it for me for my birthday (that was in September), and I haven’t take it off. I love how compact it is – and how much light gets in. Ideal for low light conditions and portraits.
Again, you’re spending a couple hundred dollars on lenses, so get some UV filters. The filters are cheap and simple screw only the lenses. These filters also protect the lens from scratches from flying sand, dirt, rocks, small children, etc…
I’ve pretty much grown out of this bag now, but it’s great for when you’re starting out and only have a few lenses. I never worry about my camera when it’s in this bag. It’s got so much padding that if I accidentally dropped it, I know the camera and lenses would survive.
If you need/like to take pictures of yourself (or a group of people including you), then you need a remote. This remote is great and cheap. Since Dan’s not always around to take a photo of me, I prop up my camera and use the remote. It’s also good when I’m with the kids and want to get in the picture.
Any questions? Feel free to leave a question in the comments. Photographers, what would you add? What’s your favorite lens?