Your Basic Beginner Photographer's Getup


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Jun 14, 2006
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Toronto, ON
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Alright, slight bit of opinion-asking here...

Within the next month or so, I'm going to be buying a new the moment, it's a Fujifilm Finepix S5200, but that could change...point is, I know it's not going to be the best camera ever, and I know my funds wouldn't allow it anyway, so what I'm looking for is something to get me in and last me a decent amount of time (several years, maybe?) to see if I'm really into it or not....though the past, I dunno, life has suggested I am ;).

Now, ignoring that, what would you recommend to any beginner photographer, if neccessary in the digital field, though I'd imagine it wouldn't really matter. Tripod? Different lenses (if the camera supports it), and what lenses should be first bought, generally speaking? Bags, filters, etc...what basic tools would you recommend for anyone buying their first decent getup on a relative budget?

Or you can just tell us what you got in your first 'package', or whatever...just to hear some opinions :)
Since you are on a tight budget and unsure if photography will float your boat. There are only two accessories that you really need…

1. A study tripod. It needn’t be an expensive one, just sturdy. A tripod will allow you to experiment with slower shutter speeds without the frustration of camera blur.
2. A circular polarizing filter. The circular polarizer is almost magical, allowing you to remove undesirable reflections from water/glass. It will help to saturate some colors, making the sky a deeper blue for example. It will also act as a neutral density filter, allowing you to s l o w your shutter speed down by several stops, a very handy feature when trying to capture long exposures when ambient light is too bright.

You might also consider picking up a copy of Bryan Peterson’s ‘Learning to See Creatively’. Just to help get the shutterbug juices flowing.
Well, I started off about a year ago with a cheap point and shoot digital, called Fujifilm Finepix A350. At that time, I figured out that a tripod could come (very) handy. Anyway, the A350 only awakened the photographer inside of me, and about two months later, I figured out that an SLR was needed.

In march, I finally got my first REAL camera. A Nikon D50 kit, which means I also got the 18-55mm lens along with. Since that, I have been shooting all the time, and the only thing I have been missing with my camera was a better zoom. Therefor, yesterday I bought a 70-300mm lens, which amaze me with it's zoom and sharpness.

The point is, I think your needs as a photographer will grow on you, and get bigger for every lens, 'pod, filter and flash you buy. I would recommend that you start off with a digital SLR kit, and that you take it from there. It worked for me, at least.

Hope this was helpful (at all). :)
I think it would help for you to post your current experience level with photography and what your goals are for the future. That will help determine what equipment you should start with. If you have not really been shooting with anything, you have no basis for what you actually will need/want/use in terms of features.

It's fairly evident that you are interested in photography, the question is, what do you want to do that a nice point and shoot won't afford you. (the Canon A-series is very nice for the money)

If you don't have any camera at all right now, just get something to shoot with. People have different needs, just because you're an enthusiast, doesn't mean you need a DSLR to start with (if at all). I've shot primarily point and shoots my whole life and i've taken some very nice pictures. (IMO) :D

Honestly, the tiny SD300 Elph point and shoot i carry with me everywhere gets better pics then the DSLR i don't carry with me everywhere, simply because i have it. There are obvious limitations to this, but having a camera at least gives you a chance to capture what your imagination sees. Having a camera that is too big for you to lug everywhere all the time detracts from the photographic experience IMO, since you regret not having it with you.

I'm currently in the market for a DSLR myself and some of the things that the DSLR will allow me to shoot is "soft" waterfalls (smaller aperture settings, above F8, allow for this). the other benefit for me, is zero shutter lag (the time it takes for the camera to take a picture once you've depressed the button). These were the biggest problems i had with the point and shoots... too much shutter lag and not enough adjustment in aperture settings (even in manual mode).

blah blah blah... good luck finding stuff that suits your needs :) btw, you can read reviews on your camera at and steve's camera review site (can't think of it right now). this will also help you compare various models etc.
Just to answer you quickly.

I have been impressed by the Canon Rebel XT 8 MP camera.
The photos are of good/decent quality, you can keep it after you upgrade in the future as a backup camera. Any lenses you buy can be used on an upgrade...etc. I am kind of doing this I had a "cheap" sony with manual options, upgraded to Canon 5d, and I am looking into getting a rebel as a backup. My assistant shoots with a rebel and really enjoys the ease of use and reliability of the camera. Also- he can use my lenses!

Aside from that - the Rebel will come with a "kit" lens - that will let you learn for a while without having to spend extra money. After that - if you are doing portraits I would suggest a 50 mm 1.8 or 1.4 (if you can budget that) I am very happy with my 1.8! Anyway... my other lens is a 24-70 2.8 L - which is quite expensive and I wouldn't recommend purchasing this until you know you are serious.

Anyway - thats my idea...oh yeah..if you get a rebel..try to get a black one (they come in black and silver).. the black looks more pro... imho

Message me if you have any questions!

For a beginner, on a tight budget, who is not "sure" he's into photography, you really shouldn't spend a whole bunch.

Try a used film SLR, and a 50mm f/1.8 lens. It's probably the cheapest thing you'll find, and you can run a few rolls of film through it to see if you really enjoy it. If so, take a photography class. You'll need the afore-mentioned equipment for the class, and it will give you a good solid foundation in photography.
Digital Matt said:
For a beginner, on a tight budget, who is not "sure" he's into photography, you really shouldn't spend a whole bunch.

Try a used film SLR, and a 50mm f/1.8 lens. It's probably the cheapest thing you'll find, and you can run a few rolls of film through it to see if you really enjoy it. If so, take a photography class. You'll need the afore-mentioned equipment for the class, and it will give you a good solid foundation in photography.
My thoughts exactly. Or a rangefinder like a Canon Canonet. People worry about being limited and want all sorts of fancy features, but Henri Cartier-Bresson shot just about everything on a Leica rangefinder which is the same thing only with a more rugged build and a sharper lens. (You can change the lens on the Leica, but he very rarely did.)
DepthAField - Yeah, a tripod is definately something I've come around to looking first, I figured I'd just be able to hold it as steady as possible, but I don't have the steadiest of hands anyway, and since I intend on using zoom, etc quite a bit....

Foffen - Yeah, I've been going through with a point-and-click for the past few years, and for every shot I took that I was happy with, I am sad to say that I didn't take 15-20, knowing that the camera wouldn't really do it same thing, a point-and-click's been keeping me going, but I'm at the point where, like you were, I just need something better

Meotter - I guess you could say I've been taking pictures as a whole my whole life, on vacations and whatnot, just for family terms of actual photographs, of landscapes, buildings, etc, then since I got my current camera, so about two years....not at the serious or enthusiast stage, but I always have it in my backpack with me, so if I do see something and figure it'd turn out alright, I snap away. I fully intend to keep carrying at least that around, if not whatever DSLR-type I get as well, simply for that functionality, but the more I saw and somewhat developed an eye for a shot (no matter how pourous an eye it is ;)), I've just gotten frustrated with the limitations of it.

bethany - Solid advice, but from that dpreview said of the prices, it's a fair bit out of my range for now :(

Digital Matt - I don't think it's so much a matter of if I'm 'sure' I'm into photography, because that I know I's just a question of, over the next couple years, if it'll stay at the level of a pseudo-casual amount of when I'm out and I see stuff, I snap, or if I go to going out for hours on end to snap....heh

Thanks to all
Any camera with manual controls will do.

Image quality doesn't really matter because you're not getting paid... and you can shoot all you want.

Don't think about it too much. Go to the nearest photostore and get the one that feels right.

The smaller it is, the better. You'll be able to take it with you more often and will get better pictures. Tripod is cool too, if you want to do "shoots" and "study composition"

There's no camera that can do it all. I've been shooting for 3 years and have different systems and different cameras for different styles of shooting. Sometimes I prefer one, sometimes the other. It's all very personal and you don't know if you need it or like it until you've actually experienced the equipment in action.

And even after you're not so sure. My preferences and dreams of a "perfect system" change every other month or so.
i use a canon 350D which i think is called Rebel in the US. it came with a twin lens kit 18-55mm f 3.5-5.6 and 75-300mm f4-5.6 and cost me $1420aus which i thought was pretty reasonable. unfortunately the twin lens kit only came with the silver camera - i really wanted black (like Bethany138 said -looks WAY more professional!) but decided that it was just an aesthetic thing really and wasnt going to effect the quality of my pics. I'm hoping that one day i will be grand enough for this to be my second camera, but for now i am loving every minute of my 350D. If your budget allows, i would HIGHLY recommend this machine! xx PS- very keen to buy my 50mm f1.8lens SOON!!!!! hope this helps
Wow, the H5 has gotten horrible reviews from what I've seen around the web, christ...

Another camera I was looking at was the Canon PowerShot S3IS, which was in the lead,'s frankly too another option is the Kodak Z650. Only problem with that one is, same as the Fujifilm, no Image I'm thinking I may have to go up into the $500-range for IS, which, having messed around with both kinds in the store yesterday, is definately a plus.....though with finances looking increasingly secure, the S3 is being a valid option...any opinions on it?
if you're stretching to $600 range, then you can get the rebel xt kit for $580 after rebate plus shipping & tax (if applicable) from dell... just need to keep your eyes open. they just sold out on that deal a few days ago.
Right...well, the US-Canadian import tax is absolutely massive, and the $600 range is about what I'm looking at to spend on a camera, card, case, rechargable batteries, Rebel's pushing it

Though I actually didn't know Dell sold cameras...the S5200's on sale at $341, and the comparable Kodak Z650 for $364, and possibly a Kodak P850 for $ atm, Dell's prices are sooolid, but the S5200 is still in the lead, unless I can find a comparatively priced one with a image stablisation and the same features

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