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Beginner camera 'kit' essentials on limited budget
Hi,.

I am a total beginner and plan on getting a dSLR this month. I will be doing some outdoor photography (some nature, some cityscapes) as well as trying my hand at some portrait type photos. I don't want to spend a ton of $$$ either, I can spend maybe $2500 including the dslr..

I know I need to get a tripod and head, light, lenses, filters, etc... With all the choices out there I am not sure what I need to start with. I know this is a vague question, but I guess I am looking for a beginner "kit" of essentials... I will do the research once I know what I should be looking for, but I need a little direction. I am trying to make a list of Must-Haves and Nice-To-Haves..

Should I start off with 2-3 lenses? What general focal lengths should I start off with? Can I use 1 external flash to begin or do I need an additional filler/strobe/continuous light right away? If so, how many lights/flash are a good number to start with? Are polarizing and gradient filters something I should have as a general rule or is there something else I should be looking at?.

Any advice I could get would help!..

Comments (17)

Don't buy anything new. Buy used, from reputable sellers. You'll save a bundle of cash (maybe even a bundle and a half!), and you can put that money toward something else, or if you prefer, another lense..

Here's what I would start out with, which will give you room to grow and will be cost effective..

1-DSLR - used, your choice. Think $300-$700 for the body.2-lenses, covering 28-300mm, or thereabouts1-UV filter, if you so choose1-4GB CF card - don't buy it on ebay1-extra battery.

This is generally a good starter kit. Then consider:1-flash1-tripod1-polarizing filter.

Tim'Be the change you wish to see in the world.' -Mahatma Gandhihttp://www.flickr.com/photos/timskis6/..

Comment #1

Since you are new to SLR's I would suggest keeping it simple until you have more experience. Once you shoot for a while you will realize what your kit is missing or where it needs upgrading..

Since I only know Canon, that's what I will recomend...however you should research and find the system that works for you. I would suggest the following for a good starter kit: All prices $US new from B&H..

XTi with EF-S 18-55 lens ~$66070-300 f/4.5-5.6 IS ~$55050 1.8 ~$ 75430 EX flash ~$23558mm Cir. Pol. filter ~$1002x sandisk Ex. III 2GB ~$ 90Bag ~$50-100.

Total: ~$1800.

You will be able to shoot just about anything with this kit with decent image quality. Learn exposure and how your equipment works. After a while you will know when you need something else..

You may want to include a ND filter for landscapes...but I would wait on that as well..

Let us know what you get...and then post images...a great way to learn.

Don..

Comment #2

Also, if you are interested in close up work, think about getting a set of good quality supplementary closeup lenses ("closeup filters") sized to fit your longer lens. B&W for choice, or Hoya if budget is a bit more constrained. Get coated, preferably multicoated, if you can afford it. These will give you a start in closeup work for a tiny fraction of the cost of a macro lens. The resultant pictures will be nowhere near as good as those from a good macro lens, but non-photographers won't notice the difference and it's a cheap entre to the world of macro..

WillWill PrattBarrick Museum, UNLV..

Comment #3

I always think it is very difficult to buy used if you are new to DSLR photography particularly as you will not know where fault lies if lens and camera are bought separately..

If you have a reliable friend who you trust to help you the situation might be different. A manufacturer's reconditioned camera, however is a reliable way to save a little money..

I would suggest you spend as little as possible new get to know that which you have bought then thereafter buy used lenses etc..

Given your stated intended use I have to disagree strongly with one element of your first reply. You will need a good wide angle lens to take cityscapes. You will not be able to back up further to make up for the lack of a wide enough angle if your shoulder blades are already pressed against the building behind you..

So an 18-xxx lens..

My experience is Nikon (and before that Olympus) so I would invite you to consider their 18-135 kit lens and stop there, make some use of that and spend more wisely based upon how you find your needs are from there. The 18-135 has a good zoom reach and therefore will give you enough to be going on with. I don't think there is really an equivalent in the Canon range or others but I may be wrong..

Your nature photography might have you shooting birds in which case you are going to want a really good long lens (300m or more) with IS. Or maybe your bent would be towards flowers etc in which case you might need a lens with decent macro facilities rather than along telepho zoom. If you are photographing animals moving at speed you may need a good low light lens to keep the speed up. That will be expensive so keep the cash in the bank until you are sure of your needs. Find out where the 18-135 is cramping your style and buy accordingly to fill the gap..

What else should you buy?.

A couple of fastish 2GB cardsA rocket blowerA lens pen..

I would either buy a cheap and cheerful used camera bag or keep the kit in a small freezer bag for a few weeks until you have identified your true need. You will pay a fortune for a good bag only to discover it is not big enough or functional enough a couple of months later..

If you buy a used bag off Ebay it will cost you a fraction of the new price and you can sell on. I planned to swap bags a few times via Ebay when looking for a larger bag recently but struck lucky first time out. I got a decent pro bag with space for a flash two bodies and 4 lenses for 27.00 that suited me perfectly!.

You will probably want to get a decent flash but again keep the money in the bank until you have learned how to make use of the equpment you have..

The same applies to tripods etc. There is no use buying twice because you did not understand your true needs first time out..

Hope that helps!.

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #4

As other posters have said, start out small until you know more. any of the dslr's are going to give you good results. Start out with which ever one you like the looks of and a basic kit lens. I found some control layouts better than others but a lot has to do with the size of your hands and personal preference. After a few hundred photos you'll find yourself always wishing you had more reach, or a wider view, or closer focus or more light and you will know what to get next..

Something like the nikon d40 or canon rebel xt, and a 18-55 zoom. a basic 50mm f1.8 lens is a good way to learn about depth of field and would work well for portraits on a 1.6x body...

Comment #5

I'm curious, as a total beginner, why do you want to start out with a DSLR?.

As a fellow total beginner, I'm thinking of starting out with a good, inexpensive point and shoot with manual controls, like the Canon a570IS...

Comment #6

Thanks for all the helpful hints. I think I have a good idea of what I need to start with. I like the idea of starting small and adding as I take more photos so that I'll know what I need..

I want to start with a dslr because I want to learn on a camera that I am going to use and keep for a while... so I don't want to spend money on incrementally better and better cameras. I think I'd end up spending a fortune. Some of the dslr are not that bad in price - like the Canon Rebel....

I'll let you all know what I end up with and even post some shots once I get started... I'm sure I'll have a lot of questions about angles and lighting and such in a few weeks..

Thanks!!!..

Comment #7

AndyfromVA wrote:.

I'm curious, as a total beginner, why do you want to start out with aDSLR?.

As a fellow total beginner, I'm thinking of starting out with a good,inexpensive point and shoot with manual controls, like the Canona570IS..

I think this is very good advice. Circuit City was selling the SONY DSC-H2 a while back for an amazingly cheap $199.00. Zeiss native lens, full auto, full manual and everything in between. You can pick up SONY tele, macro and wide-angle conversion lenses at very good prices and the glass is very good. The camera takes excellent photos and 6MP is just right for a lot of folks...DSLR users included..

I received one for Xmas this year and was a total newbie to photography. I've taken over 10,000 photos and have learned a tremendous amount. I have also learned another important thing...I enjoy photography and want to continue taking pictures. My next camera will be a DSLR, but by no means do I feel I have outgrown my current camera. I learn every time I use it. And it will continue to be used.



To think that entering as a novice and buying a DSLR is going to save you $$ in the long run might be a mistake. As cameras evolve, you'll want the next model with whatever improvements come with it. Realize that you won't take better pictures because you have an expensive camera..

There are many digicams out there that will take pictures with IQ every bit as impressive as many DSLRs. As a novice, why spend a lot of $$ on a hobby that you may find isn't to your liking after a while? The real investment here should be in time, not money. Spend time learning how to take good pictures. Forget about extra lenses and whatever...for now. Decide if photography is for you, and at what level you wish to pursue it. You can do that on a $200.00 camera..

Just my $.02:).

Geoff.

Ham-fisted button-pusher..

Comment #8

MadisonB wrote:.

Thanks for all the helpful hints. I think I have a good idea of whatI need to start with. I like the idea of starting small and addingas I take more photos so that I'll know what I need..

I want to start with a dslr because I want to learn on a camera thatI am going to use and keep for a while... so I don't want to spendmoney on incrementally better and better cameras..

You will whether you want to or not. Some people upgrade every year. In my case my first one I used for 5 years... but you get to a point where you need to move up. So while lenses can last a lifetime, think of cameras as temporary..

That said, I too think a DSLR is a bit extreme for a first camera. I liken it to learning how to drive on a manual transmission - just too much to focus on at once. Learn to drive on an auto, then when you're comfortable move on to the stick shift...

Comment #9

MadisonB wrote:.

Should I start off with 2-3 lenses? What general focal lengthsshould I start off with? Can I use 1 external flash to begin or do Ineed an additional filler/strobe/continuous light right away? If so,how many lights/flash are a good number to start with? Arepolarizing and gradient filters something I should have as a generalrule or is there something else I should be looking at?.

I bought into a DSLR system a few months ago. I have a DSLR, two zoom lenses (short and long), a bag and a memory card all for less than $1000. I think an external flash is fairly important, but I won't get around to it for a while. I'm having a blast learning about photography - you're gonna love it..

There's a lot you can get with your budget. All you really have to do is figure out what you're going to shoot (you already have), what brand/system you want to buy into, and what focal range you think is most important (wide might suit you better). From there you'll tweak your gear based on experience..

Hardware is fun and all, but don't forget about software. I find that post-processing is essential for a picture to reach it's full potential...

Comment #10

Lower budget kit:Nikon D40x, 18-200VR, Hoya HMC UV, SB-400 flash.And possibly a 50 f/1.4 for low-lights, in-doors etc..

Higher budget kit:EOS 40D, 17-40 f/4L, 50 f/1.4, 70-200 f/4L IS, Hoya HMC UV's, 430EX flash..

Possibly replacing 17-40 and 50 with a EF-S 17-55IS if you have no future FF-sensor body upgrade plans..

Anders..

Comment #11

Anders Eriksson wrote:.

Lower budget kit:Nikon D40x, 18-200VR, Hoya HMC UV, SB-400 flash.And possibly a 50 f/1.4 for low-lights, in-doors etc..

You regard an 18-200mm VR lenses costing 450 in the UK as low budget? Surely the 18-135 at circa 160 and which is available as a kit lens is more realsitic as a budget lens?.

The 50 f/1.4 is an AF lens and will not autofocus on the D40x. If you did not know that you should not be making recommendations to others. If you did you should inform the OP. A manual focus lens as a=part of a budget kit for a newbie is a nonsense..

Higher budget kit:EOS 40D, 17-40 f/4L, 50 f/1.4, 70-200 f/4L IS, Hoya HMC UV's, 430EXflash.Possibly replacing 17-40 and 50 with a EF-S 17-55IS if you have nofuture FF-sensor body upgrade plans..

I cannot comment..

If he is doing wildlife photography he will need a 300mm lens. That does not appear in either proposal..

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #12

My advice: hoping you'd be able to spend more in the future, don't buy el cheapo lenses. Because sooner or later you'd want to replace them with something better, after which you would neither want to use them, nor would be able to sell them for a decent price, so if you buy them now it would turn into a waste of money later..

Http://lordofthelens.smugmug.com/..

Comment #13

Funny you should say that because I did learn to drive on a stick shift!..

Comment #14

-Medium grade DSLR (Canon 40D, Nikon D80/D200, Pentax K10D, Sony A700, etc.) I personally just don't care for entry level DSLRs, they feel plasticy and tiny to me..

-Wildlife lens either 100-400 or 70-200 2.8 with good teleconverter. I would suggest the later for flexibility..

-good normal zoom. personally, I prefer 3rd party 2.8 over Canon or Nikon low end as their 2.8s are too expensive for your budget, exception might be Pentax who's 16-45 4.0 and 16-50 2.8 are good affordable lenses.- 50mm 1.8 because they are cheap, tiny and critically sharp..

- Good flash. Nikon SB800 is great. If you go Canon, go Metz. I have gone through and seen colleagues go through Canon 550/580EX Speedlights. IMO they are junk in terms of exposure and durability and everyone I know who has replaced with Metz 58 is very happy with change. I know nothing of Pentax, Sony or Olympus flash.-extra batteries and of course memory cards...

Comment #15

I am so sorry Chris, I totally f*#!* up here. Took for granted that Nikon had at least one 50mm AF-I/AF-S lens in their line up. Reminds me why I love my EOS 40D and EF lenses..

Still think the D40X + 18-200VR and SB-400 is an excellent beginners kit. My experience is that what ever you start with, you will soon upgrade to something else and I guess this kit will hold value well when that day comes..

As to no 300mm I think a "total beginner and plan on getting a dSLR this month" person could live with 200mm + 1.5x crop body for some time. Get some 1000s of shots of experience and then decide what else to buy. Or sell. And buy again. To sell...

Comment #16

Get one general ok zoom lens in the medium range. For example 18-70 or a bit more..

But one UV filter on for protection..

Get the bet body you can afford..

Buy a light meter..

Make as many photos as you can and learn about, Exposure, Focusing, Depth of Field, Lighting, Art including posing humans and learning to "see".

Part one.

Part two - when you are consistent, add a wider lens and then maybe a longer one..

Get a pro quality raw processing program like DxO & an editing program like photoshop..

Keep learning..

Peter.

Persuasive Marketing Systems -inc Copywriting, Design & Photography..

Comment #17

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