What a beginning photographer needs: equipment and accessories

What a beginning photographer needs: equipment and accessories

Photography has never been a cheap hobby. And the more prices rise every year, the less you want to make a mistake when choosing a camera, lens and necessary accessories. In this material we will try to help novice photographers decide on the purchase of their first set of photographic equipment.

The camera is the main tool

Choosing a camera for beginners is the most difficult and crucial moment. Even professionals spend a lot of time on forums looking at tests before making a purchase.
and comparisons. Using common misconceptions as an example, let’s try to figure out how to choose your first camera, lenses and accessories.

Brands

Beginners usually choose between Canon and Nikon brand cameras. But the world of photographic equipment is multipolar, so you cannot ignore Sony, Fujifilm, Panasonic. Manufacturers are constantly updating their model ranges, and each has succeeded more than others in something.

Camera brands

Canon is famous for its professional L-series lenses. They can be identified by their signature red ring. Photographers all over the world shoot with them, and competitors rely on this line when producing their own. But such models also have prices that are, to put it mildly, above average.

Nikon is valued for its unsurpassed sharpness, which is also typical for younger models. The manufacturer abandoned the low-pass filter on the matrix. Its task is to increase the accuracy of color reproduction and eliminate the aliasing effect (the appearance of patterns in the form of waves or rings on small textures during photography and video recording). At the same time, this filter steals up to 15% of the sharpness of the image.

Sony are known for their innovative approach. They were the first to rely on mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses. Now the company feels confident in the market, constantly introducing new models. It is impossible not to mention their professional series of G-Master optics.

Panasonic is chosen for its excellent video recording quality. Models DC-GH5S and DC-GH5 have long been the absolute leaders in this indicator. Now they are already 3 and 4 years old, respectively. Competitors have caught up, and Panasonic themselves have shown new cameras. However, the GH5 is still popular.

Fujifilm is the only manufacturer that does not have and, according to official statements, will not have full-frame cameras. But this does not prevent us from releasing interesting models. For example, the Fujifilm X-T3 has become unexpectedly successful for shooting video. And the stabilization in the X-T4 is capable of compensating up to 6.5 stops of exposure. This allows you to avoid blurry photos in low lighting conditions.

Read alsoImproving photos on a smartphone

Professionals use different cameras. This is evident in the chart showing the camera brands of the World Press Photo winners.

World Press Photo

Don't blindly give preference to any one brand. First, try to understand what you want from technology.

Price

The second criterion by which “young” photographers choose a camera. They determine for themselves the maximum amount they are willing to spend and choose from options around the limit.

The price of a camera with an interchangeable lens consists of the camera itself and the lens. The cost of ready-made kits is lower than the cost of a body and lens purchased separately. There are kits where, with one model of the body, there are several options for lenses with different focal lengths (or a double kit - an option with two lenses), but of the same basic quality.

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Such kits seem very profitable, but it’s not worth paying even a small amount for a second kit lens. The real value of such lenses can be concluded from ad sites - dozens of offers for next to nothing.

Characteristics

Another misconception is choosing a camera based on the number of megapixels. Marketers who instilled this idea back in the 2000s are partly to blame. Now the level of consumer literacy has increased. But, when faced with a controversial choice from two equivalent options, many still choose the one with better resolution.

High camera resolution gives you more framing options and better detail, but only if the sensor's capabilities match its resolution and high-quality optics are used. If the manufacturer has “overestimated” the matrix, high resolution will cause more harm: noise and loss of detail in the shadows, low working ISO, poor dynamic range.

Camera specifications

Consultants in stores will most likely recommend purchasing the latest model for your available budget. Indeed, why rack your brains with a choice when you can buy a new product with the latest technical solutions and flashy characteristics? Not everything is so simple with photographic equipment.

When changing generations, manufacturers often leave the matrix unwintered, improving other, secondary characteristics. For example, speeding up autofocus or increasing the memory buffer for burst shooting.

There are changes for the worse. For example, in the Sony RX100M6 model, compared to the RX100M5, the manufacturer reduced the lens aperture in favor of a wider range of focal lengths.

If you don't need the improved performance of the latest models, pay attention to the previous generation. As a rule, it does not disappear from the shelves for a very long time.

Lens selection

Most of the questions regarding the choice of lenses were covered in the article “What is focal length”. In order not to repeat ourselves, here we will consider only the untouched nuances.

The choice of lens should be treated no less responsibly than the choice of camera. Usually, beginners buy a camera complete with a lens (kit). This option is acceptable for the first time, but be prepared that the result will not be impressive - as a rule, kit lenses are made of cheap materials, have a low aperture ratio and do not correspond to the resolution of modern matrices.

In other words, when working with a kit lens, you will not get the maximum image quality that the camera is capable of.

Read also: What a beginner photographer needs to know: how to take compelling shots

When choosing equipment, you can go in two directions. Buy a set of an expensive camera and a “whale lens”, hoping to buy more expensive glass in the future. Or spend most of the budget on the lens, and use the remaining funds to look for a camera (body) with the prospect of replacing it with a more serious model a little later. Professional photographers often choose the second option: they create a set of necessary optics, and change cameras every few years.

The second approach has a number of advantages:

  1. cameras become obsolete much faster than lenses;
  2. unlike cameras, optics hardly depreciate over time.

If you don’t want to understand focal lengths, aperture ratio and other parameters, it’s better to take a premium compact camera. For not very much money you will get a good matrix, optics and many automatic modes in a compact body.

Necessary accessories

A memory card is a necessary element, without which you will not be able to use the camera for its intended purpose. For modern ones, it is better to choose a high-speed drive version of at least UHS-I (U1).

Case or photo bag. An important element that will allow you to maintain the “marketable” appearance of the equipment.

Accessories for cleaning optics. With active use of the camera, the outer lens of the lens becomes covered with dust particles over time. Therefore, it is important to clean the optics regularly. Using improvised materials, you can damage the outer coating of the lens. For cleaning, it is recommended to use special products that can be purchased individually or as a set. These include: a brush, a blower for blowing off dust, a cleaning spray, wipes for cleaning optics, a cleaning pencil.

Tripod. Will be needed to master many photography techniques. For example, when shooting a freezelight, creating an HDR photo, shooting a city at night or a starry sky.

Extra battery or battery grip. They will help out in long photo shoots when you need a charged camera for the whole day.

Lens filters. There are many different types, but not all have the same benefits.

Everyone should have in their arsenal:

  • UV filter - protects the outer lens from physical influences, the matrix - from ultraviolet radiation.
  • Circular polarizing filter - increases the saturation of the scene, removes glare and reflections.
  • A neutral gray filter is indispensable when recording video or working on a bright sunny day.

Let's summarize

When choosing a camera, determine your needs: high-quality video recording, natural color reproduction, excellent image sharpness, fast autofocus, high sensor resolution. There are models on the market that are strong in everything, but they are not cheap at all. When choosing your first camera, you will most likely have to make compromises.

Don't spend your entire budget just on the camera. Remember that you will need related products. At a minimum, a memory card and a photo bag.

Don't rush to buy the latest model. The photographic equipment market is not the most dynamic among consumer goods. Naturally, cameras become more advanced with each generation. But this is not always related to the quality of the resulting images. Lately, manufacturers have been focusing on autofocus and video recording performance.

Approach your camera purchase wisely and rationally. But, regardless of your choice, remember: the best camera is the one you have with you.

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Pavlo Ukrainets 1K
Sport is a possible source of self-improvement for everyone.

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