Beginners Must Haves?


TPF Noob!
Sep 28, 2010
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Hey all. Just got my first DSLR about two weeks ago and am loving the tips, advice and feedback on the site. I am a novice in every sense of the word and am finding the learning process both fun and frustrating.

Anyway, I bought a Canon Rebel XS and have the standard 18-55 lens and also a 75-300mm. Bag, tripod and Speedlite 430ex II, check. Looking for opinions and suggestions from all of you more experienced peeps about what accessories/lenses, etc... are really the most helpful and needed at a beginner's level. One trip into my local camera shop and a very persuasive salesgirl convinced me I 'needed' $140 worth of filters. I would love to upgrade the lenses but not sure how to get the most bang for my buck. (Can't afford the lovely red ring yet)

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks all and glad I found this site!
Wireless triggers from the get-go. I wish I had.
Could you give a little information about what you want to shoot? What are you most interested in doing with photography?
If you do not know much about photography or if you do not know what a exposure is, get this book
Could you give a little information about what you want to shoot? What are you most interested in doing with photography?

By the way you already have much, as a beginner. Explore what you have (by taking pictures and pictures) so that you will find what you still miss.
If you do not know much about photography or if you do not know what a exposure is, get this book

^^ 1+ that book plus an idea of where you want to go.

What subjects do you enjoy taking photos of or what do you want to be able to take photos of that you feel you cant with you current gear. What photographically interests yourself. Even if its just a general idea of if you don't know yet - this is the question you need to ask yourself to find out what bits of gear will best be suited to yourself.

Otherwise we can all state little things that helped us, but they might be totally wrong for your areas of interest and shooting style.
Equipment is either "tools" or "toys". Knowledge, on the other hand, is power. Dao's recommendation is excellent. For composition and seeing, another of Byran Peterson's books "Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color & Composition in Photography (Updated Edition) " and Freeman Patterson's "Photography and the Art of Seeing: A Visual Perception Workshop for Film and Digital Photography" are excellent. The last two books will help you with the "what" and "why", and the first is "how".
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I must agree. The only way you'll find out what you need is to start taking lots and lots of pictures. There's no substitute for doing 'the work' -- you'll soon see exactly what you need, based on what you're doing with your camera.

High-speed sports? (long, fast lens) Kids' quick portraits? (short to normal zoom lens) Landscapes? (color and aperture settings/depth-of-field) Flowers? (macro hardware or settings) Architecture? Still life? Vacation? Mountains? (1A ultraviolet filter, which simply stays on your lens at all times. Without it, all your long, mountain shots will be hazy and fuzzy) Copying old photos? (small tripod, lighting) Stamps? (bellows) Sound-activated high-speed shots? Just take lots and lots of pictures. You'll figure it out.

Your most valuable tool is already in your camera. Color-balancing. Find it, learn how to use it (it's not difficult). This lets you match the camera to the available light to keep colors accurate. If you don't use them, all your photos will be orange under room lamps, green under fluorescent lamps, blue under street lights, etc. Some cameras even have multiple fluorescent settings (cool, medium, daylight). My Olympus lets me see the results in the LCD so I don't even need to know which setting I'm using -- I just match the LCD to the real colors.
You do not need anything else
Let me repeat....You do not need anything else
Say it with me.... I do not need anything else.

Seriously, you are good to go. While gear is an important factor for photography, knowledge is the key. There are WAY WAY WAY too many people that are sucked into the "must have xyz gear and 123 accessories" to produce good images.

Dont get me wrong, fast lenses, light tripods, off camera flash triggers, high tech remotes that allow timelapse, its all fine and dandy and great to play with.

When you are starting out, dont get too bogged by gear. Take what you have, learn it, master it, and then move on from there. You might not need filters. You might need $500 of filters... you dont know. Hell, you may need it 5 years from now but by the time you do need it, you can buy a newer version or the old one from 5 years ago for 60% of the price...

Dont let the sales people sell you things you dont need.
Dont let TPFers here tell you you need something.

You have a good entry level camera. You have lenses that can cover long ranges. They arent the best lenses, but they are great to learn with. You have a tripod...

As someone said, get the Understanding Exposure book by Bryan Peterson and start learning. :)

Best of luck
I would say you really do need a uv filter, its basically just a lens protector. I wouldn't use my lens's unless they had one on them! I also almost always use a polarizing filter :)
keep in mind that UV filters may reduce IQ and cause unwanted flares.
I would guess that 30% of the photographers I know dont use UV or clear filters. Any extra piece of glass between the sensor and the image is not a good idea. Out of those 30%, more are in the advanced or pro group than not.

If you do go with filters, do not get a cheap one. B+W or high end Hoya is the only ones I consider.
I agree with BT, a UV filter is unnecessary for lens protection. It only degrades the image.
i agree with most that you have a good start. im the same way i just started this last year and im just trying to learn to use the camera as best as i can. i drool over lenses and flashes and my buddies light setup. but i know at this point there won't be really used to there potential until i learn how to use what i allready have. just pick up the basics like an extra battery and some memory cards and go out and use your camera. by the time you get to where you have a good grasp on your camera you will be learning what you want to purchase down the road.
Microfiber lens cleaning cloth. Hot-shoe flash and off-camera cord of some type (unless your camera has wireless flash triggering). A good BOOK about photography.

If I had only one of those three things, it would be the good book.

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