Deciding on Camera Gear

When you're new to photography it can be confusing to know what you need and where to get it. You know you need a good camera, but what does that really mean? There are multiple brands to choose from: Sony, Cannon, Nikon, Fuji, and each has a multitude of camera bodies and lens series. I'm not sure how most people actually decide which brand to choose from. (Renting before buying is highly recommended!) With a little research and talking to other photographers, I learned that Sony is known to be the least user-friendly due to having a complicated menu, although longtime users rave over their cameras. Cannon is widely used and known for the colors they produce. Nikon offers some great lenses, like the 35 mm for dx dslr's, at an obtainable price point.

Personally, my first camera was a Nikon because a friend let me borrow hers and it was easy to use. So I went on Ebay and bought a Nikon d70 and two lenses, (one of which was a 35 mm 1.8), all together, for around $300. It was the bottom of the line as far as a camera that is usable for professional photography, but it served me well and made me money! It lasted a couple of years with heavy use. When it died I had stopped using it since I had entered nursing school, and my teenage son had taken it over.

Fast forward 6 years. I finished nursing school and had worked for a few years establishing my career and decided I needed a new camera so I could restart my photography business on the side. Once again, I had to decide which camera body to purchase. Change is hard, so even though I was tempted by Cannon, I went with Nikon. I researched the different Nikon cameras and I learned that the d750 is an affordable body that is popular with wedding and portrait photographers due to it's ability to well handle low-light situations. A friend recommended I check out, a website that sells used equipment. She had bought her gear there and felt it was a great buy. So I checked it out and found that they rate their gear and disclose how many shutter clicks camera bodies have. This made me feel safe and I purchased my camera body and a 50 mm 2.8 lens for around $1200.

In addition to researching camera bodies, I also researched lenses. The 16-24 lens can be used for weddings. It is a wide angle lens and can create interesting dance floor images. The 24-70 is a very flexible zoom lens and is popular for weddings. The 35 mm is a prime, wide angle lens that is great for small spaces, but can cause distortion. It can be used at weddings, for portraits, and newborn photos. The 50 mm is also a prime lens and is often used by newborn, portrait, and wedding photographers. The 85 mm is great for portraits and is often used for weddings. It has great compression. The 70-200 mm 2.8 is popular for weddings because you can zoom in from a distance, which is handy during the ceremony. However, it is a beast of a lens and weighs a ton!

Btw, have you heard of Club House? Check out my website page "For Photographers" to learn more about it. Suffice it to say that on Club House I have met many amazing photographers that have taught me about all aspects of photography. One of those photographers is Mike Moon. He recommends that for outdoor sessions, particularly weddings, the 70-200 mm 4.0 lens is much lighter than the 2.8, and performs well in the daylight. So I rented one and used it at a wedding recently and I LOVED it. Mike was right! It worked beautifully, and it was much lighter than the 2.8 I had rented months prior and put back in the box immediately. and never used it because it was so damn heavy I would've likely developed carpal tunnel overnight!

Now that I have had my camera for nearly a year, I find myself wanting a mirrorless camera. I scroll Facebook and Instagram often, admiring other photographer's work and I frequently ask what camera body and lens they are using. Usually, the sharpest, crispest, and smoothest images are from mirrorless cameras, and most often I have found that they are Cannons. This tempts me to switch. However, I have also found that many of the prettiest photos I have seen are taken with the Cannon 5d Mark IV and I am tempted by it as well!

Talk to a room of photographers and they will tell you that the camera body doesn't matter as much as the photographer's skills. They will also say that investing in a good lens is more important than the body, when you are using a professional grade dslr. One last thing I learned from the togs on Club House- when I decide to take the plunge and upgrade, buying my gear on a Best Buy credit card is a great deal because they don't charge interest for the first year. For now, I'm holding onto my Best Buy credit card and focusing on perfecting my use of the settings triad, (aperture, shutter speed and ISO), and I'm determined to learn how to utilize the highly touted back button focus.