Newbie getting into portrait photography - needs help on gear

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by curveshooter, Jul 16, 2012.

  1. samithphotography

    samithphotography TPF Noob!

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    Low light portrait photography is awesome and good luck. But first let me tell you that the money you spend on a low end camera with low end glass will = low end photos. Eventually you will buy the right stuff and wished you never bought the crap gear. Save your money and get something legitimate. I would reccomend something like the Nikon D90 or D7000, if you are looking to stay low cost but still do professional quality work. I would sugest nice fixed prime lenses for portrait photography ie 50mm or 85mm 1.8 or better. Buying used is great, ppl upgrade all the time and finding good used stuff is cool.

    your questions:
    1. no, 50mm 1.8 or 85mm 1.8 or better
    2. depends how dark the lighting is
    3. a 16 GB 10speed SD card holds about 4k pictures in fine/small jpeg format, perfect for 8x10 photos
    4. tripod is a must for low light along with a remote

    Hope this helps!


     
  2. samithphotography

    samithphotography TPF Noob!

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    That is outright insane... its all about the lens. Portraits are usually close up photos of people, headshots, sholders up, waist up, whole body etc. Using a crappy lens and a great flash is going to give you a poor quality picture. The human eyes sees in 50mm, roughly. Pick yourself up a prime 50mm 1.8 and it will teach you how to compose pictures by making you move around and think. you can always adjust for ISO, shutter speed and aperture to play with light, The on camera flash is not that bad if you know how to use it.
     
  3. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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    A servicable flash unit can be had for less than $75 - Yongnuo YN-560 Speedlight Flash for Canon and Nikon

    For making professional quality portraits you would need some stands and light modifiers too - Impact Digital Flash Umbrella Mount Kit

    Nikon entry-level DSLR's that have the screw drive auto focus system in the camera - D50, D70, D70x, D80, D90, D7000.

    Nikon entry-level DSLR's (compact) that do not have the screw drive auto focus system in the camera - D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D3100, D3200, D5000, D5100.

    Recommended reading - Light Science and Magic, Fourth Edition: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2012
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  4. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    No, portraits are all about PHOTOGRAPHY! That is, knowing how to control the situation and record the light reflecting off of the subjects to best possible effect. Between lens and flash, I would agree that the flash is far more important, since even the most basic kit lens when used with good lighting and optimal settings will produce good quality results. I don't agree however that you necessarily need to blow the budget on one flash.
     
  5. sovietdoc

    sovietdoc No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    What I am trying to say is: If you do indoor portraits, 50mm f/1.8 + a good flash will give you better results than 50mm f/1.2L with popup flash. No?

    Ah yes, I forgot about the knockoffs. That's definitely a way to go.
     
  6. AaronLLockhart

    AaronLLockhart TPF Noob!

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  7. curveshooter

    curveshooter TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all the responses.

    OK, I get that skill level is a lot more important than the particular camera. With that in mind, and without spending months researching camera gear (time better spent acquiring skill), would something like the following be sufficient for my stated goals?

    Nikon D3100 with 18-55mm kit lens; I'd start with this and then add:
    + Nikon 35mm f/1.8 (from a little reading, seems this is a good lens for full body and half body shots)
    + SB-400 flash

    As I mentioned I've got a 43" tripod, and I guess I'd need some kind of remote for low light - I assume this is to avoid touching the camera so it stays perfectly still.

    A bit over my budget, but I can pick up all this stuff used or refurbished.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2012
  8. rokvi

    rokvi TPF Noob!

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    I'd change the lens to a 50mm 1.8 rather than the 35mm.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2012
  9. AaronLLockhart

    AaronLLockhart TPF Noob!

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    I agree with this 110%. If you're going to be shooting portraits, 35mm will probably be too wide of an angle. I would suggest a 50mm 1.8 or 1.4... or even an 85mm 1.8.
     
  10. CCericola

    CCericola Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The 18-55, well it works but, it's not great. But I agree with the others. I would rather have a kit lens and better lighting and light modifiers. Since photography is the manipulation and recording of light. That doesn't mean it has to cost you a lot in the beginning. For portraits off camera flash beats on camera ALL the time. So get a cheap off brand flash and trigger. You can do amazing things with one light. You can also add in reflectors made out of poster board or a fat guy in a white t-shirt. :)
     
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  11. PapaMatt

    PapaMatt TPF Noob!

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    If anyone needs a Fat Guy with a white t-shirt, I work for food :mrgreen:

    It is 90% lighting, good luck to you. I would like to see you get a fast prime lens, 1.8 50mm ( around $100.00) or later 85mm 1.8 about 300.00 to 400.00
     
  12. cgipson1

    cgipson1 TPF Noob!

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    +2 on this.. unless you are trying to do caricatures! :) Get a 50mm or a 85mm. I wouldn't even bother picking up the 18-55. Get just the body... learn, then figure out what other lenses you need.

    The SB-400 is not worth the money.. very wimpy flash. You can get inexpensive 3rd party flashes that will do a better job (yongnuo 560, vivitar 283/285)
     

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