Best tips on how to start your foray into the world of photography

A perfect guide on how to keep things on a budget while being a first-time buyer of photography gear.

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Welcome to the world of photography! Your photographic journey should begin with a smart purchase of the right gear, especially if you want to pursue photography as a profession or a hobby.

Photography is an art which helps you capture fleeting moments forever. Buying the right beginner’s gear is what you may want to look at first. The slight differences in the specifications really won’t make a huge difference for a hobbyist. Here is a brief guide to what you can afford on a budget:

Cameras

  • Basic requirements you need to look for while buying a good camera at are a crop (cheaper) or full sensor (costlier) format, a minimum 11-point Autofocus system,and a high ISO sensitivity at least 25600 which makes low light photography a little easier. A pull out viewfinder is an added bonus if it doesn’t break your wallet.
  • Do remember that a camera has a shorter lifecycle than a lens; as long as you take proper care of it, it will work fine. All the camera bodies currently available in the market are all great, but it is best to buy something that suits your need. If you are a beginner, go with a crop sensor and you can always upgrade to a full sensor later on.
  • Do your best not to get caught up in all the technical specifications such as “more megapixels” and “larger viewfinder” etc., the camera salesmen try to entice you with; take what fits your budget and seems easier to learn. A digital camera (point and shoot) with integrated autofocus will always be easier to operate as compared to a DSLR.

The camera which has aphysical shutter (like DSLR’s) will also be subject to wear and tear in the long run, so do not use burst shutter mode a lot to avoid increasing the shutter count. Periodically get the shutter serviced to keep its flip up and down mechanism working perfectly or else your sensor might get subjected to direct exposure to excessive sunlight for a longer time which can damage the sensor!

Lenses

  • Prime lenses have one focal length without a zoom function but offer amazing Depth of Field.
  • Zoom lenses have a zoom function, and the 18mm-55mm kit lens that usually comes with the camera will fall into the zoom lens category.

There’s no single perfect lens that will meet all your needs. However, there some prime lenses that we’d highly recommend.

  • Prime Lenses

Prime lenses are photographic lenses whose focal length is fixed, as opposed to a zoom lens. A prime lens or ‘unifocal’ lens is often made of superior optical quality glass, offers wider maximum aperture, is lighter in weight and most importantly because it has fewer moving parts, it offers better images since it has fewer problems of optical aberration. The larger maximum aperture (smaller f-number) allows better photography in lower light, and a shallower depth of field.

There are some quality prime lensesavailablein the market that are affordable. Two of ourfavorites are the 35mm and 50mm f1.8 forboth Canon and Nikon sensors.

  • Zoom Lenses

Zoom lenses offer bounties of focal length over the “Kit Lens”.  They help you get closer to your subject and make your images sharper with faint background blur (DOF), however, they are difficult to operate if you have shaky hands (the images will get blurred at the maximum focal length). You can always use a monopod/tripod to stabilize your image captures.

Make sure the lenses you purchase are for your camera brand and mount. Clean the lenses with microfiber cloth regularly to avoid dust settling on the lens’s glass elements and moisture developing inside the lens. Any kind of moisture can damage your lens and its zooming mechanism!

Memory Cards

  • We recommend loading up on multiple large size memory cards for event photography since you don’t want to run out of storage mid-event. Make sure to check whether your cameras uses a Secure Digital (SD) or Compact Flash (CF) card before purchasing.
  • Back up constantly to external hard drives avoid losing data.

Editing Software

Adobe Photoshop and Lightroomcan handle most of your photo processing needs. If you like using freeware software, Irfanview, PICNIC, Picasa, GIMP,and Inkscape are great options to take a look at.

Supplementary gear

  • A sturdy backpack and rain cover to hold everything and protect it from unforgiving weather.
  • A ‘directional bounce’ flash trigger.
  • A few close-up filters to practice macro techniques. You wouldn’t need them if you opt for prime lenses like 90mm f1.8.
  • A monopod if the scene demands stability, such as for taking fast-panning shots.

Things to keep in mind

  • Save some money and invest in a camera body that isn’t necessarily the latest, and focus on investing in a nice lens instead for your need. The lenses are the optics, the camera is just there to catch it. The latest and greatest, newest, expensive gear won’t make you a better photographer, your skills will.
  • Go for the cheapest and widely accepted gear when looking to learn the basics of photography. Invest in heavy gear later on in life, focus on your learning curve for now. Strive to excel someday with the skills you acquire every moment you learn something new.

No one rides a motorbike at first, they learn riding on a tricycle or bicycle first, similarly, take small steps that embed footprints in the path of your journey to photographic enlightenment.

All the best for your sojourn into photography!

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