WHAT TYPE OF PHOTOGRAPHER ARE YOU?
The question on what camera equipment to bring often hinges on what LEVEL OF PHOTOGRAPHER you are. Professionals and serious amateurs will bring a variety of camera bodies, lenses, filters, flashes, tripods and sturdy rain/dust protected bags whilst a beginner will bring only their point and shoot digital camera.
The only thing you REALLY NEED IS YOUR CAMERA and perhaps a NOTEBOOK to record names and detail you might forget later. Any more equipment depends on what you feel best suits your needs and here we explain some of the choices.
DSLR VS POINT & SHOOT DIGITAL CAMERA
This will depend on what you wish to achieve with your photography. Basically any digital camera bought 2016 onwards is going to be good regardless of type, including smart phones, with the popularity of Instagram we’ve even been getting request for phone only photo tours! So answering this question is no longer so simple as options are PLENTIFUL!
If you are not a professional photographer the biggest considerations are weight and costs. In this regard the all in one camera’s may be the best option if however you are wanting to take your photography more seriously, then a DSLR or mirrorless camera is best as you have more options for creative control.
There are a vast number of camera choices that are forever upgrading for detailed reviews of hundreds of models look at www.dpreview.com
THE RIGHT LENS
This will DEPEND ON WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO PHOTOGRAPH. For wildlife photography a TELEPHOTO LENS work best as they enable you to get closer to the subject but often these lens are heavy and bulky making them hard to carry in the field but they are perfect if shooting from a vehicle.
WIDE ANGLE LENSES give fantastic panoramic views and are very useful in landscape and city photography.
MACRO LENSES are ideal for close up detail of insects, flowers, shells and abstract images.
And STANDARD LENGTH LENSES are perfect for buildings, people and landscapes. So which lens to bring is the question as it is not easy to carry them all!
The answer is to bring ZOOM LENSES to cover a wide range of focal lengths such as these below.
For landscapes a 17-35mm wide angle lens or even 12-24mm super wide angle
For people and cities a 35-120mm standard length
And wildlife and nature a 100-400mm telephoto lens
The thing with photography is that ALL THOSE LENSES CAN BE USED IN ALL THOSE FIELDS but on average they are more used for the given purposes. These three will cover a very wide focal range from 17mm to 400mm, if you can fit them and afford them all then fantastic, if not then decide what you are going to shot the most and make a decision from there.
When buying lens it is very important to look not only at focal length but also at the F-STOP. This translates as to the amount of light the lens can open up and use, the lower the number i.e. F2.8 the more light it can let in and thus the quicker the image can be taken. Also bear in mind the lower the F-stop the more expensive the lenses are.
In my opinion if you’re serious about photography BUT THE MOST EXPENSIVE LENS YOU CAN AFFORD as the lenses make the photo, you cannot get a professional quality looking image without a professional quality lens!
For a macro it is possible not to bring a macro lens but instead to use an extension tube which fits between the lens and the camera. As these tubes have no optics an inexpensive one purchased from independent manufacture should work just fine. Make sure however that it is matched to your camera so that the fully automatic systems are maintained.
Filters are an essential tool for some photographers and understandable so. However as technology progresses in editing software, many filters can easily be recreated in post. That said there are a few filters that we highly recommend that are not so easy to impossible to recreate in post.
SKYLIGHT/UV FILTER: These clear filters help protect your lens, there are some who argue why put a cheap piece of glass over an expensive one but we say buy the best clear filter you can afford and use it, it’s much better than replacing a scratched or damaged lens.
ND FILTER: These dark filters hold back the light and are fantastic additions for long exposure imagery. Lee Big and small stoppers are fantastic.
ND GRAD FILTERS: Though handy to darken skies it is possibly to bracket images and blend in post
CIRCULAR POLARISED FILTER: Though there are options such as Nik software to recreate this filter but nothing looks as good as the original.
These are often invaluable to the nature/cultural photographer. Apart from facilitating night photography a flash can IMPROVE THE LOOK OF IMAGES TAKEN IN HARSH OR POOR LIGHT.
Many cameras have built in flashes and these will function adequately for family photographs but it you want to take your photography to a new level a powerful flash system is essential.
Best buys are flash units that have the TTL SYSTEM (thru the lens), that is they operate by making automatic exposures utilizing the camera’s metering system, making life much easy than trying to manually work this out in non TTL systems.
Flash units are calibrated with a manufacturer’s guide number, which gives an indication of the units power and thus the distance it can illuminate. Often these claims are for indoor use and thus NOT AS EFFECTIVE OUTDOORS where there is little to reflect the light.
I would recommend a flash system with a guide number of at least 45. And another usually accessory is an OFF CAMERA CABLE RELEASE which will allow the flash to be positioned a short distance from the lens thus eliminating the red eye affect so often seen in family photos.
This is one accessory that is a NECESSITY as you must AVOID CAMERA SHAKE at all costs as a blurred image is a ruined image.You can also avoid camera shake by increasing the ISO (film speed) but this can produce grainer images.
The easiest support accessory from within a vehicle is the humble BEAN BAG, which can’t be praised enough. Its simple you fill a bag with beans, rice or sand and then lean it the on the window which provides a stable support structure. You can easily transport an empty bag in your luggage and then fill it with rice, beans or such bought in the required location. Also you can have different bag sizes for different lens sizes.
But a tripod or at the very least a monopod will be necessary when away from a vehicle. A medium weight tripod will suffice as any larger will be uncomfortable to carry for long distances. It is possible to use a light weight tripod but ensure it gets handled with care so it doesn’t get damaged!
Camera accessories are at times vital but when travelling it is possible to ‘make do’ with less equipment for the simple reason that less is easier to carry, easier to manage and less to concern over in regards to safety.
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