I'm just starting up and would like some opinions on equipment options.

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Katy Brooks, Jun 20, 2019.

  1. Katy Brooks

    Katy Brooks TPF Noob!

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    Hi everyone, I'm new to this site and the industry, but I've always been intrigued by photography and rather good at it considering my equipment limitations. Currently I take mainly outdoor photos of all my kids. I have the s10+ which has a pretty good camera and the live focus option on it. Everyone on my social media loves my pictures and I've been asked several times to take pictures of other peoples children, and also have been told to start up a business. So here I am. I've done some short research on cameras,lenses, filters, and flashes. I'm obviously looking to do this on a professional capacity. I live in a small town, so not alot of fancy photographers around here. Personal opinions on good-great cameras to start up with? I'm not looking to start up with a $2000 camera, so something on more of a budget and if this goes somewhere I will eventually upgrade. I found a kit with a canon t6 and another kit with a Nikon d3500 that are reasonably priced. Are these good options or are there better camera out there that would suit my needs or that are better recommended. They each come with different lenses and filters. I'd play around with the camera/practice before purchasing additional filters or flashes. I will be doing mainly outdoor photographing with kids and families, maybe some weddings. There are so many shots I wish I could get on my phone, and I'm looking for a camera with better focusing and quality!


     
  2. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think this $699.99 factory refurbished EOS 80D bundle (with 2 lenses) directly from Canon USA is a good start if you are in USA. (1 year warranty from Canon USA)

    Canon Refurbished EOS 80D EF-S 18-55 & EF-S 55-250 IS STM Bundle | Canon Online Store|Canon Online Store

    Lenses that bundle with the camera are not the best, but great for learning and able to produce good images.


    Of course, any of the DSLR or mirrorless cameras from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Pantex etc should be good. Keep in mind that you are buy into a system. So if you choose Canon, then the lenses, flashes and stuff will need to be compatible with Canon. Same thing with other brands as well.
     
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  3. Soocom1

    Soocom1 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    One thing that I would very seriously consider is looking at the local book stores and grabbing a few books on portrait, kids and lighting.

    Each aspect will allow you to fill in the photos with alot more professionalism overall.
    Not being either derogatory or otherwise defrocking, but the real focus will be in the quality of the photo int he end.

    The various APS cameras are fine and I would also look at KEH.com at the good to Like New selection rating cameras.

    figure which brand and stick to it.

    But practice heavily on kid photography and the techniques used for kids (they dont sit still), and especially lighting.

    if you have any business background, now is the time to use it.
    Also figure that if a business, you need to consider contracts, etc.

    The camera brand and type really is going to be secondary at this point.

    Eventually if you continue with it, the move to larger and more expansive cameras will come to play.

    Also be ready to have solid backup capabilities. (Exterior hard-drive, hard copies, etc.)
     
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  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Online one of the best video presenters that I have found is a guy who goes by the handle of Michael the maven on YouTube. Occasionally he compares cameras between Canon and Nikon. Any "real camera" Will be quite a bit different Than your phone camera.

    I personally think the Nikon D 3500 would make a good beginning camera, although I am a little bit more partial to what are called full frame cameras like the Nikon D 750 or the Canon 6D which is now available as the 6D Mark II.

    My preference for full frame cameras is so that you can more easily get a blurred background, and sharp people in normal rooms, and at normal shooting distances.

    Whatever you decide it is really up to you. Your budget will determine what camera you can afford, but one thing I would suggest is learning about how best to pose people,especially in family groups.

    As you have probably discovered already, it is not the camera that is the important thing, it is your rapport with the people in front of your camera.

    I would second the suggestion above about getting some books. While there is a lot of instruction available on YouTube in video form, a lot of it has been put together by people who are not very good at what they do. There are exceptions of course, and Mark Wallace is one of the best video presenters in educational lighting techniques on the Adorama TV channel.

    One of the best things about photography books is that they are organized and edited, whereas YouTube is pretty much a scattergun approach, and it is easily possible to miss out on important fundamental issues, which would certainly have been covered in a good book.
     
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  5. Soocom1

    Soocom1 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Tripods.. Dont forget Tripods!
     
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  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    You might wonder why you need to tripod? Well, I used to work every day as a family photographer, and when you have a Family group in front of you, when the camera is on a tripod and the photo is all framed up and composed, it is a simple matter to entertain the family and get all of their eyes focused in one spot, and then with the remote control to press the button.

    By using a remote control to trigger the shutter, You can keep your eyes on the family, and can eliminate blinking people who typically watch your finger on the shutter, And these people habitually blink whenever a picture of them is taken. They are out there, and they're almost all men, and sometimes these people are really bad.

    When you are free from squinting through the camera, and the camera is just sitting there on the tripod, you are much more able to "work the group" and you can literally see each face Eye to Eye, without squinting through a tiny little viewfinder. I personally think that group photos should be shot from a tripod or stand.

    Believe me a tripod also adds gravitas to the situation, and helps control larger groups. Only a professional uses a tripod, right?. A handheld camera suggests quickness and informality, while a tripod mounted camera suggests professional photography.in family situations with small children, often the parents will glance down toward the kids, and the parents ruin many photos. When the camera is fixed on the tripod, you can pay much more attention to the people, and get better photos than you can get crouched down, And squinting thru the camera.

    One tip would be to work at fixed distances, such as no closer than 7 feet on individual people, in large groups at 20 feet, with the lens set to a long focal length setting
     
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  7. Katy Brooks

    Katy Brooks TPF Noob!

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    I already have a ton of practice with kids. I have 4 children of my own, and I regularly use them to get some practice on my poses, angles, etc. I'm all about lighting as it is. I've had physical cameras before, I've just never shelled out the money for a super expensive professional cameras. Just from experience I feel like I have a good handle on different poses, props, set ups, etc. Pretty good at figuring out the lighting, but I'm moving into a new ballpark with purchasing different flashes and lighting. I've looked a few and cant decide what would be best to purchase. Thanks for the input! I plan on definitely exploring and expanding my education on photography
     
  8. Katy Brooks

    Katy Brooks TPF Noob!

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    Thank you. This is very good advice!
     
  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    There is a big difference between looking at people, and looking through a camera at people. When you are looking directly at the faces of the people you're photographing, with your camera firmly mounted on a good tripod or on a camera stand, you can literally establish a relationship with the people

    When you are looking through the camera. The people are relating more to the camera, and also it is much more difficult to see four or five or six or even seven faces

    This is a very real difference between snap shooting and family photography. Also, the correct height for a lot of family photography is fairly low,well below eye-level. You will probably find that many family groups of a mom and dad and one or two or three kids are best done with the vast majority of the people sitting down either on stools, or on the ground, or on benches, or on props like logs, or whatever is around. Making a good-looking family group is both a science, and an art. There are well known principles underlying how to pose people, and how to organize groups for a pleasant and harmonious appearance. For example, a descending ladder of heads has each head height precisely adjusted by either posing, or by sitting or elevating seats or standing platforms. There are adjustable posing stools, apple boxes, and all sorts of tools that have been designed to get the best pictures with the least amount of effort, and with out Resorting to unsafe devices.

    Photographing your own kids is easier, and generally more-productive than photographing other peoples' kids.
     
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  10. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Hi, and welcome! I apologize in advance in case I offend you, but I'm going to assume your level of photography skill is about at the "informed beginner" stage.

    As someone who needs to get up to speed, I will advise you to get something better. Not just to spend more money, but since you have a plan to exceed a beginner-level kit (eventually) you should aim for something more at the "professional" level. Get a real camera and at least one good lens. You're also going to need a decent speedlight and some way to fire it off camera (at least a few feet, anyway). As mentioned above; a tripod and a light stand and a white umbrella. At least one, anyway, to start.

    So how do you acquire a professional kit with a budget of $2000? Easy; you get a used camera and lens, and with careful shopping, you can get both for that $2000. Speedlights can range in price from $50 to $500, so if you start out with a cheapie, bear in mind that you may wish to upgrade at some point in the future. Figure also used (but good) tripod, light stand, speedlight bracket, and a new umbrella (because they are cheap as it is).

    Consult with your business planning advisor on how you assemble your kit and write it off on your income taxes. Since you are planning to be in business, write out a business plan that includes investing in equipment, insurance, legal fees, office expense, etc. and make sure you plan on making a profit. You might not right away, but you should at least have income with which to pay your expenses.

    Don't forget to develop your marketing and pricing plan and write it all down very specifically. If something needs adjusting later, then make your adjustments as required.

    When you get your camera and lens, start learning how to use your camera, as well as your flash, flash modifiers, and how to pose people.

    If you have questions about which specific camera and lens, ask on here again, and include a link to the deal(s) you are considering.

    BTW: TPF has a mentor program, so do a search on who is willing to serve as your mentor.

    Good luck!
     
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  11. Soocom1

    Soocom1 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Now with respect to you, keep in mind a couple of things.
    With kids, using your own, is all fine and good for the composure side.
    But remember that your dealing with someone else's kids who probably dont want to be there and dont know you. (trust me, I have been down that road a few times.)

    For equipment that you originally asked:
    Getting into decent portrait cameras now is not super expensive and the somewhat older pro end stuff is selling pretty cheap now.
    this is really a good time to explore those arenas.
    The reason is because the pro end stuff from ten or twelve years ago (2006-2013) were pretty high quality and still are.
    Just super cheap now.

    getting into Med. Format portrait is one place to explore and not overtly expensive either. Full Frame (5D, 1Ds MkII or such) or any of the Nikon stuff will work just fine.

    The real crux is now getting the environment set properly.
    Which begs the question... where?
    This will heavily impact equipment choice later. Will you go to events or do they come to you?

    Get to understand the DoF ratings, and the diff. FD numbers.
    A 100mm lens for a DSLR is fine, but don't go the $50 rout unless you know exactly what your buying. You will have to spend some money on the glass.

    Most lenses between the 60-135 mm range for typical DSLRs is where you want to focus and look to primes, because the image quality and such things like Chromatic Aberration (CA) and the like is greatly affected by the type of lens.


    It sounds like you have the motivation. Now comes learning the specific tools.
    Its sorta like using a claw hammer to build a house frame over a pneumatic nail gun. Yes you can do it, but why?


    Most importantly... KEEP ASKING!!!
    The people here have about a gazillion years of combined experience and can guide you well....
     
  12. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Well a speed light is fine, but I think for family portraiture a plug-in AC powered strobe system that has modeling lamps does a few important things. First of all it impresses clients who realize that you are offering professional quality equipment, and that they are being photographed by someone who has equipment that they do not have, and secondly it provides a modeling light for better focusing, and for constricting peoples' pupils, and it gives you a preview of what the light is doing.

    One of the most important parts of professional people photography is getting good light indoors and out. Because of this outdoor need for flash, many people today are going with mono lights that offer both AC and DC battery power options. These lights are no longer dreadfully expensive, and some of them even allow you to do high-speed flash synchronization.

    Speaking of high-speed flash synchronization,that is a feature which is not achievable with the Nikon 3000- and 5000- series cameras. Low end Nikons do not allow you to use a flash outdoors in bright light above 1/250 of a second. Also, your flash must offer a high-speed synchronization. Many low-end flashes do not offer this feature, so in the April through October part of the year when the weather is typically nice and there is a lot of sun,it becomes difficult to get really good modern style high-speed sync flash photography unless one has medium to high end equipment.

    In the last few years, a new style of shooting at f/2.8 with flash, outdoors, has greatly improved the look possible.

    Nikon calls high speed flash synchronization FP sync . In my opinion, a mono light flash of 150 Watt-seconds of power is a good starting point, and is better in terms of the results than most camera speed lights.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2019

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