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How to best spend ~$600? Lens or monitor?
I definitely count myself in the beginner category for DSLR shooting (I've had my 400D for about a year), but I'm looking to improve. My question is, which will help improve my photographic talent/knowledge/skill/etc: a new lens or a better monitor? Before people jump all over me, I understand and accept that neither will make me a better photographer in some senses. No gear will turn me into Ansel Adams. Let me explain what I mean by analogy: I added the 50 1.8 to the kit lens, and I feel that exploring the possibilities that this lens opened up really spurred me to be more creative, to learn more, and so forth..

For about $600, I could pick up the EF-S 10-22mm and explore wide angle shooting or the 70-300mm IS and learn about telephoto photography (just two examples). I often bump into both ends of the kit lens, so either would help me. OR, I could spend the money on a good S-IPS monitor (NEC, Apple, eg). I can see this helping me improve my judgment of exposure, color, etc, and my digital darkroom skills..

What do people think? If you have a third option, that's fine. These are just the two I thought of. What helped you improve?.

CaribouMan..

Comments (11)

You'll get the maximum value from your shots in prints, not on the screen. Hands-down go for one of the lenses. If you don't have good lighting or support, those may help even more, especially fill-flash..

Paulhttp://PaulDRobertson.imagekind.com..

Comment #1

Unless your current monitor is awful, I'd vote for a new lens..

Lenses let you create photographs and monitors let you process photographs..

While many photographers have known and loved their darkroom technicians, most have spent their lives taking picutres..

But I used to have a television with no green, and I watched football games on mauve fields and it was awful. So, under some circumstances, the monitor wins..

You might also think about a flash they open up lots of new photo opportunities, too..

BAK..

Comment #2

Thanks for the replies guys. Very helpful. I had not even considered a tripod (I assume that's what you meant by "support", forgive my ignorance of terminology). I'll definitely look into that instead. A bonus, it won't eat up my whole budget, leaving some left over for more stuff!.

Thanks guys..

CaribouMan..

Comment #3

Another not so expensive item that is good to have is monitor calibration device, Especially if you post process for prints. You can pick up a cheap one like a Pantone Huey for under $100 usd and it will calibrate and correct your monitors colors and even adjust your screen colors for room lighting. It's not a lot of fun, but can increase the quality of the pictures you print. Another item you may find valuable if you don't already have one is a cirular polarizing filter, esp. if you take a lot of pictures around water or other highly reflective surfaces. MilanNikon D50w/ Tamron 28-75 f2.8, Nikon 28-200 f3.5-5.6 and Sigma 135-400 f4.5-5.6Cannon S2isOlympus Stylus 720swGallery: http://etherialone.zenfolio.com/..

Comment #4

I have a six year old CRT Monitor so next invest will be the monitor....

How old is your system??? (computer/monitor???).

WAB.

You will never learn anything when all you can hear is the sound of your own voice...My Father.....

Comment #5

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

Comment #6

Monitor is a fantastic buy. I got a 22" wide screen flatpanel from dell.com for $300. When I go to my photographer friends house and use her tiny 15" I am in agony to view websites, but also to do anything photography..

She's spent thousands of dollars on camera equipment but is out of hard drive space, has a tiny monitor, uses a handful of 1gb flash cards, always out of RAM and still runs win98. Her photos are amazing but the road she drives to get there is ridiculous! Oh and she's never going to be happy with the camera she has. She's saving up now for a better lens now..

So monitor for $300. Then start looking for lenses in the $300 range and you can get both. The sigma/tamron 70-300mm lens (without IS) is only $160...

Comment #7

If you don't mind me asking, what monitor do you have? I came up with the figure of ~$600 based partly on my budget, but also partly on the cost of a S-IPS LCD panel. Maybe I've read the forums here too much, but every thread I could find about monitors was practically a chorus of IPS or nothing. The cheapest I saw recommended was the 20" NEC at about $450. I can't afford anything in the Eizo/Lacie range. I refuse to buy Dell after the last monitor I bought from them was defective. And so was the replacement they sent me.

And so was the replacement for that one. Ugh..

My problem is definitely not an old monitor, as WAB has, or one that has no green (sorry BAK!), but more a small, poor quality monitor similar to what your friend has. I'm using a MacBook (not Pro). It is plenty computationally capable enough, but the screen leaves a lot to be desired. My understanding is that it's not really possible to well calibrate the screen, as it's small, glossy, and TN..

I really like the idea of a cheaper monitor, leaving cash left for other lenses, tripod, etc, I just couldn't find one. I definitely like Milan's idea of a filter (CP or ND). I've shied away from that so far as I don't have a tripod (for ND), and I didn't feel like I had enough experience to need any filters..

CaribouMan..

Comment #8

Yumology wrote:.

Monitor is a fantastic buy. I got a 22" wide screen flatpanel fromdell.com for $300. When I go to my photographer friends house and useher tiny 15" I am in agony to view websites, but also to do anythingphotography.She's spent thousands of dollars on camera equipment but is out ofhard drive space, has a tiny monitor, uses a handful of 1gb flashcards, always out of RAM and still runs win98. Her photos are amazingbut the road she drives to get there is ridiculous! Oh and she'snever going to be happy with the camera she has. She's saving up nowfor a better lens now..

So monitor for $300. Then start looking for lenses in the $300 rangeand you can get both. The sigma/tamron 70-300mm lens (without IS) isonly $160..

This actually sounds like a good reason to buy the lens. Yumology's friend may have a tiny screen and an old OS - but her photographs are "amazing". Assuming you're in it for the photos, not for the gear, the choice seems pretty clear..

Others have mentioned some small things that would be useful, and I think that's where you might get the most bang for your buck if you don't have a lot a accessory gear around. Get a color calibrator for your monitor if your prints don't match what you see on the screen. Get a decent tripod and try some night photography. Get a polarizing filter to put some contrast in the sky. Get a neutral density filter and use it with the tripod to do 'silky water' pics. Get a panorama-stitching software and use it to fake super-wide landscape photography.



If you've already got these kinds of things covered, then it's worth it to start spending more serious money on the lenses. But if you don't, you can get a whole lot more milage out of your kit lens just by adding some relatively cheap accessories...

Comment #9

Get a decent tripod and try some night photography. Get a polarizingfilter to put some contrast in the sky. Get a neutral density filterand use it with the tripod to do 'silky water' pics....you can get a whole lot more milage out of your kit lens justby adding some relatively cheap accessories..

Thanks. I think I'll definitely do this. Like you say, it'll give me a lot more options to explore at relatively low investment..

Very helpful everyone!..

Comment #10

Right now you can get excellent used CRT monitors for next to nothing because businesses are replacing them with LCD's. One of my clients gave away close to 100 22-inchers. These things were $600-$1000 new. Many people would say they're better for photographic work...

Comment #11

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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