Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Q&A: Camera gear

From Amanda:
"what kind of camera/lens do you have? Where did you learn photography?"

I currently own a Nikon D80 and a Nikon D70, with a f/2.8 70-200 zoom lens, f/4.5-5.6 70-300 zoom lens, and a f/3.4-5.6 18-80 lens.

As far as where I learned...
I've done a lot of reading and study on my own. I also took a week long photography course in Dallas, Texas through the
Institute of Photographic Studies. (And if you are hoping to learn more about photography, I can't recommend this highly enough! Outstanding courses taught by photographers who not only excel at their work, but are sold out for God, too.)

If you don't have extensive amounts of time or resources to invest, I'd recommend these free online photography courses. A lot of basics are covered, but it is excellent material. A few of their courses are entitled:
Beyond the Basics
Camera Composition
Digital Photography

from MB:

"what cameras do you recommend? Just say, not too professional, but nice quality?"

A lot of money can be spent on cameras, gear, and accessories.
And Nikon, Canon, and all the other camera companies seem to keep coming out with new models all the time!

If you are serious about photography, you'll want to do some research and buy a camera with manual settings. Often times a point and shoot camera will pre-set everything for you and leave you with very little room to learn and experiment. Make sure you can change the aperture and shutter speed and control whether the flash is on or off. I'll mention, too, that
whenever I'm trying to research cameras, I check out www.dpreview.com
They have all the latest specs and info, as well as costumer reviews.

And if you can't afford a professional D-SLR camera, keep working with what you have! Develop your eye and work at being creative and doing the best with what you have. The following story makes me smile every time I read it:
An amateur photographer was invited to dinner with friends and he took along a few pictures to show to them. The hostess looked at the photos and commented, "These are very good! You must have a good camera." The photographer didn't make any comment, but as he was leaving to go home, he said, "That was a really delicious meal! You must have some very good pots." [smile]

For my readers who enjoy photography -- what camera and equipment do you use? Do you have any advice you could share for someone who is camera shopping?


Johan said...

I use a Canon 40D & 10D, with Canon f/2.8 lenses: 16-35L, 28-70L, 70-200L, and 100 Macro. Also a 50/1.8 and some flashes.

My best advice for those who are shopping for a camera is to check Craigslist regularly. Through Craigslist, I paid $80 for my 28-70L lens, which is currently worth about $750. :-)

Sarah said...

Great post!

I have a Canon Rebel T1i and a BG-E5 battery grip. I recommend the XSi, T1i, or T2i for anyone who is wanting to go into photography. All three shoot HD video as well. Great cameras!

I shoot with the following. Most of them are my brother's.

Canon 70-200 f/2.8
Canon 28-105 f/4-5.6
Canon 50mm f/1.8
Canon 75-300 f/4-5.6
Tokina 12-24 f/4


Elliot said...

1. Used to use our family's Rebel + an old film 28-200 Tamron lens and the kit 18-55. Now I use a $200 Panasonic point-and-shoot.

2. Don't obsess about pixels. More pixels isn't always better. http://www.dpreview.com/articles/compactcamerahighiso/

3. If you're buying a SLR and don't have loads of cash to spend, get the cheapest body you can find, and spend the balance on a better lens (or two good lenses).

4. http://www.getpaint.net/

Sarah said...

I forgot about the flash I use... I think it's the 580 EX II. Very nice. :D

I agree with Johan... check Craigslist, and also eBay. I bought mine from eBay for a great price.

Bethany said...

I love photography and all I have to work with right now is a Polaroid i733. I am working on saving for a Sony α290 DSLR. I love photography, capturing God's amazing creation on camera, it amazes me the beauty of it all.


Keshet said...

I just got a Canon Rebel (the best I DSLR I could realistically afford right now) and a 1.8 mm lens. I can't wait to get started!

Unknown said...


Nikon d80, SB-600 flash, 70-300mm and 18-200mm lenses. And LightRoom3!! =)

My favorite thing to (always) use is my attachable flash.I always use it when inside. And it continues to amaze me. And it's all thanks to you, my dear Bethany :)

Curious, what do you use to edit and organize pictures?

Charity U said...

I have a Fujifilm Finepix Z37, which is a cheap little digital camera. $70. I love it though. For my purposes, it's perfect. One girl from CYIA, Angela Turack, had a terrific camera that I got to use. She's trying to sell it on her blog, http://angelaturack.blogspot.com
I had a lot of fun using it. (-: But unfortunately, I'm not rich enough to buy it.

Meagan said...

I shoot with a Canon 20D and the 18-55mm lens, as well as the Tamron 75-300mm zoom lens. For flash, I use the Canon Speedlite 580EXII. I would say get a good body, but spend most of your money on your lenses. Check out http://www.the-digital-picture.com/ for a review of Canon products. I would also echo Bethany's advice...Attend IPS!!! I attended PWP I & II in San Antonio this year. I learned a ton of practical information and the instructors are fabulous! =)


Anonymous said...

I have a Rebel Xsi but I don't think it has video (as Sarah mentioned)
I just have the standard 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens right now but will be purchasing the fixed lens 50mm f/1.8 in the near future.

I'd also like to get the 70-300mm eventually. Or a 70-200 would work.
Hmm, and maybe a 16-85 would be nice... :)

And yes, Craigslist is a great place to shop! That's where I got my Xsi for a really good deal.

No flashes yet but haven't needed them either...

Thank you for the advice, Bethany! I would love to take a course some day; sooner than later :)

I love the quote about cooking and pots!
I know this to be true because I had a point and shoot A530 for years and I learned so much with it. I used it to the best of its ability (I think) and a lot of people came up to me and were amazed at the pictures I obtained with it. I didn't always think they were the greatest, but they did :)
It had some manual settings and that is how I really got into photography and learned all about zoom, f stops, ISO, shutter speed etc..

Photography books/manuals are invaluable. Don't be afraid to read and try things out as you go along!


(My website just has photos taken with the point and shoot but now that I have my Xsi, I am thinking of doing a different site!)

Hannah said...

I use an Olympus Evolt E-520. My current lenses are:

Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6
Zuiko 40-150mm f/4-5.6
Zuiko 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6
Opteka 58mm 10x Macro

Some of my accessories include:

Opteka Wireless Remote Control
Targus Camera Tripod
Lowepro Fastpack 200
22″ Silver/White Reflector

My photo printer is a Canon Selphy CP510.

If I could only give one tip to someone who was starting photography, it would be:

Turn off your flash.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this tip. Over- using the flash on a camera is like waving a big red flag over your head that says "I'm an amature!". In all the photos I've taken (which is about 20 thousand), I have used the flash for less than a dozen pictures.

I hope this has been helpful. Thanks for the post, Bethany! I enjoyed it.


Hannah said...

I just recently bought a Canon Rebel XS with an 18-55mm lens, and also a 55-250 mm lens (both have image stabilization, which is so important!). So far I really have liked it, and I think if you're looking for a DSLR camera for a beginner (like me!) this is a GREAT one to start out with!! Like Bethany said, though, you don't have to have a really nice camera to take great pictures!! :-)

Yes, you can get good deals on Craigslist and Ebay, but you can't always return the product if it doesn't work, and you don't know for sure if you can trust the seller. But for some people that may be the way to go!! I've bought my camera and most of the accessories from B&H Photo and I've been very pleased with their service. www.bhphotovideo.com

Anonymous said...

I use a Nikon P100. I have just recently gotten into photography. I have a Great Uncle who is a professional and this is what he suggested for beginners. For those of you who don't want to spend allot on your first camera this is it.

I agree with Hannah. You can get good deals on Ebay, but you can't always know for sure if you can trust the seller. The nice thing about Craigslist is that you can go and look at it for yourself. I bought my camera from Amazon.

This is a site I just found.

Sisters of Grace said...

Thanks for this post Bethany!!
I would say definitly check out ebay. I was able to get a canon
30d for half the price as it was new! As for lens the only one I have "yet" is the 50mm 1:8. I love it. It is so fun!!


Hannah said...

Oh, I forgot to mention that I buy all my equipment from B&H Photo. They are wonderful to work with and I would definitely recommend them to someone looking for a trustworthy place to buy camera equipment. They have very reasonable shipping prices and your item usually arives in four days! I also love their "live chat" where you can get questions answered right then and there instead of waiting for an e-mail. After buying many expensive items from them, I still don't have any complaints.


Kaylene Elise said...

I'm headed to IPS in Portland next week! I couldn't be more excited-- I've wanted to take the course for SO long!

I shoot with a Canon 40D w/ battery grip. My current favorite lens is my 50mm but I just ordered the L series 24-70 and I can't WAIT to get it in my hands :)

My advice would be, save for the good lenses instead of starting a collection of cheap ones. I made that mistake and if you're into photography for the long haul, its more costly.

Josh Champagne said...

I shoot with a Nikon D90 + 18-200 VR lens 75% of the time with a SB-600 flash. When I don't want to carry the big gun, I pack a Canon S90 (notice the preference for the number 90?). It is the best low-light point and shoot camera I've used. Ditto to finding equipment on eBay and Craigslist. Refurbished off of Amazon is usually a good deal as well.

Lily said...

THANK YOU so much, Bethany!

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for the great advice, Bethany!
I use an Olympus SP-590 for all my photography.
I've just started using the manual settings after being caught up in Auto-It's been a little difficult figuring it out, but it's getting better!
Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I'm debating whether the get a Canon 40D, Canon Rebel t2i, or a Nikon D90. Does anyone have recommendations? :D I really don't know what to do.


Johan said...

@ Charity: They are all excellent cameras. The 40D and D90 are higher-end cameras than the T2i, but the T2i is a very nice camera as well. If I recall correctly, the T2i has 18 megapixels (MP). For most people, that is overkill, and fills up hard drives faster than necessary. The 40D is 10 MP and the D90 is 12MP, which is an excellent all-around resolution.

The D90 and T2i also have HD video, but the 40D has a much faster burst rate--thus, it is better for sports.

So it really depends on what you want your camera to do. They are all excellent choices, though.

Sarah said...

The T2i would probably be the least expensive, and would be especially awesome if you want to do video stuff with it.

But if you get the D90 or 40D (I'd say get the 40D), those would be better as far as durability, and you wouldn't need to upgrade as soon.

Anonymous said...

I know some of you are using film camera lenses with your digital cameras--what about mixing the namebrands--like using a Nikon lens on a Canon? Does that work okay? And what about "off brands"--for instance, I just found one for sale that says it's a Quantaray. Anybody had any experience using an "off brand" lens?


I use a Canon Rebel XS with the Canon lenses 28-55, 55-80, and my favorite, the 75-300. :) I just got the camera (and lenses) a couple of weeks ago and have been having SO much fun with them!

David Kent said...

Canon Powershot S2-IS

and Sony Mavica CD1000.

In the past (quit using with the demise of Kodachrome):
Minolta 35mm XD-11 SLR with
Minolta 28 mm, F 2.8
Minolta 50 mm, F 1.4
Minolta 135 mm, F 2.8
Sears 35 - 200 mm zoom, F 3.5
3X Telephoto Converter Lens (Tele-Extender)

I'll concur on B&H Photo, an excellent company that is honest and reliable and has been for decades. They are also good for places like Alaska since they still can ship via USPS... UPS and Fedex fees to Alaska are atrocious.

One tip in buying a non-DSLR camera... make sure to check the quality of the electronic viewfinder and the ability to view the scene either through it or the LCD on a bright sunny day or when part of the scene is very bright and the other part dark.

Johan said...

@ Morgan, Nikon and Canon lenses and cameras are not compatible with each other. Adapters are available which allow a Nikon lens to be used on a Canon, but the lens uses all automatic functions, such as electronic aperture control, AF, distance reporting, MF confirmation, etc. No adapters are available for Canon to Nikon, since the sensor-to-lensmount distance is such that it would be impossible for a Canon lens to focus to infinity on a Nikon camera. The reason a Nikon lens to Canon camera adapter is possible is because the Canon lensmount is closer to the sensor than in the Nikon, thus allowing an adapter to place the Nikon lens at the proper distance from the sensor. I'm sorry if that is rather confusing. :(

Regarding 3rd party lenses: you get what you pay for. Quantaray makes "budget" lenses, which are likely of similar quality to Canon and Nikon's budget lenses (18-55, 55-200, 75-300, etc.). I hope this helps.

Johan said...

"uses all automatic functions" should be "loses all automatic functions"

damselnolongerdistressed said...

Thanks so much for the great post! Your little dinner stroy has become my favorite! :) Do you edit your photos? If so what program do you use? Today I have spent hours trying to figure out what all I want out of a program, and what programs offer what things. And I'm still not sure what all I need in a program. So all the advice I can get is much needed !:)
Deborah Isabel.