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Archive for September, 2009

Now that I have this beautiful new camera, I need some nice photography gear to go along with it! I thought about what types of photography interest me the most (based on what I have photographed in the past and what I am most drawn to), and then read blogs and reviews about the most useful equipment to help me do that. The list of 11 things I have come up with is a mix of basic functional items most photography kits need and items I feel would be most useful to me. This wishlist for photographic equipment is also influenced by my small budget and the fact that I am still new to DSLR photography and have no intention of becoming a professional photographer (so pros and people with money would have a very different list!).

Hopefully you will find this list helpful too. Here is my current equipment wishlist, in no particular order:

  

1. Camera Bag

My camera is currently housed in my old padded camera bag that I got from kmart in my late teens. It does the job, but it doesn’t hold anything other than the camera with a lens attached. Plus, it looks pretty daggy. I want something that won’t look too much like a camera bag, will hold my camera plus a spare lens or two and other accessories, and is easy to carry and access. I have been considering the Tamrac Express 7 or the Tamrac Adventure Messenger 4, but I think the Express range looks a bit fancier for a girl 😉 

Tamrac Express 7 (left) and Tamrac Adventure Messenger 4 (right)

Tamrac Express 7 (left) and Tamrac Adventure Messenger 4 (right)

2. New Camera Strap

I want one that:
i) Is comfortable on my neck with better connected loops. The one that came with my camera scratches and digs into my neck and the loops that connect it to the camera are very awkward and often poke in front of the viewfinder.
ii) DOESN’T advertise the fact that I have a Canon DSLR. I don’t want my strap screaming out to everyone BEHIND me that I have a Canon DSLR!

3. A Spare Battery and/or Battery Grip

My camera takes the LP-E5 battery pack. I am also thinking the Battery Grip could also be very helpful for the portrait shots and extra battery power, but that is extra money so I will wait awhile for that. My camera requires the BG-E5 battery grip, which holds two battery packs (you can use it with just one though) or 6 AA batteries. 

Canon BG-E5 Battery Grip

Canon BG-E5 Battery Grip

4. Lens Hood/s

Shame on you Canon for not supplying them with your kit lens! I am not sure how often I would actually use them, but if I can find some third party ones for cheap I can experiment. The lens hood for both my Canon 18-55mm and 55-250mm lens is the EW-60C – which is pretty puny. Some reviews have said that the recommended hood is only useful at the wide angle end of my 18-55mm lens, so I’ll have to find a more useful hood for each.

5. Tripod

I love the Gorillapod I have for my little digital point and shoot, so I was thinking of getting another that is the right size for my DSLR. It would be handy to travel with and utilise in different places, and not too expensive. I also want another good tripod, but will need the moola for a nice quality one so it will have to wait (last thing I want is a cheap flimsy tripod falling over with a small gust of wind!).

6. Shutter Release Cable with Timer

A remote one would be nice, but alas no infrared receiver in my camera for the remote (unless I want a bulky attachment chucked on the hot shoe!). For my camera I need to get a third party brand to get the timer functions, but that makes it cheaper anyway. 

Third-party timer remote shutter release cables

Third-party timer remote shutter release cables

7. Good Camera Cleaning Kit

Not to clean the inside obviously (me try to clean the sensor? Ohh that would be a bad idea!), but just to clean the outside body and lenses. Nice cleaning cloth, brush, air blower, and possibly some gentle lens cleaner fluid.

 

Okay so those were the camera essentials for the general wellbeing of my camera. Now for the fun items!

8. A Nifty-Fifty: Canon 50mm Prime Lens

Ooh I hear so many good things about nifty-fifty lenses! The photos are always so gorgeous: beautiful quality and the great wide aperture for shallow depth of field creativity. Ideally I want the Canon 50mm f1.4 USM, but that is pricey (for me at this time of my life) considering all the other stuff I want too. So I might have to settle for the Canon 50mm f1.8 II – still great image quality apparently, although bokeh not quite as snazzy and it doesn’t have the fancy USM for focusing, but it will be fine for my amateur needs. One final bonus: it promotes exercise hahah. Need to zoom? Use your legs! 

Canon 50mm f1.8 lens

Canon 50mm f1.8 lens

9. A Super-Wide Angle Lens

Ideally the Canon 10-22mm f3.5-4.5 lens, but oh dear the money! I was considering the Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 but I am not sure about the limited range, and the price is still very close to the canon. I am thinking that the cheaper Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 lens will do the job just fine. I love the creativity of the super wide shots, and already find myself wishing my lens went a bit wider.

10. Fun filters

I have UV filters on my lens for protection, but I want to play around with both a polarising filter and a neutral density filter (not both at the same time obviously) I think they will be lots of fun especially when doing photography along the coast. My current lenses rotate when focusing, so adjusting the polarising filter to the correct angle for each shot will be…interesting. But I would love to see the improved effect of a polarising filter on the sky and ocean in photos. And I want to play around with the cool water movement shots along the coast, and apparently a neutral density filter will help stop the overexposure of long shutter times during the day.

11. External Flash

I have not really used my flash at all just yet, but I know there will be plenty of times in future when I will use it – and will benefit from the improved quality of an external flash. I am thinking the Speedlite 430 EX II would be just the thing for me – more features than the 270EX but not too expensive. If I do get it and choose to upgrade to the 580 EX II sometime further into the future, the 430 can act as a slave to the 580 master. 

Canon Speedlite Flash 430EX II

Canon Speedlite Flash 430EX II

  

 

Finally: Wishlist item #12 – Lots of money to afford all of this equipment!

Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for my gear list? Feel free to pop them in the comments below!

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What is a fantastic new hobby for a full-time university student to take up when she has 1) just quit her PhD (and therefore quit her scholarship), and 2) her only job is occasional research assistant work? How about the nice expensive hobby of DSLR photography?!

Well that is exactly what I have done. The desire to learn how to do photography properly (and not just with my old Canon  Ixus 40) and the travelling I will be doing once my masters is complete has led me to take the plunge and spend a grand on a DSLR camera. Eeek! Luckily for me, I received a nice payment for a journal article I helped write for my professor just when I was debating whether I could afford to get a DSLR.

My DSLR Camera

Now I would like to introduce you to my  new camera, a Canon EOS 1000D  – also known in other countries as the Canon Rebel XS or the Canon Kiss F.

My new camera! The unfortunate thing about taking photos of your new camera is that you have to use your old one to do it :P (in my case it is my 4+ year old Canon Ixus 40)

My new camera! The unfortunate thing about taking photos of your new camera is that you have to use your old one to do it 😛 (in my case it is my 4+ year old Canon Ixus 40)

The Canon 1000D is a 10.1 megapixel camera that came out mid 2008. As an entry-level DSLR, it is one of the cheapest out there but it gives me the option of upgrading to quality canon lenses. Reading the reviews led me to focus my search down to either a Canon or Nikon camera. I don’t have a particular allegiance to either, but I chose the Canon over a Nikon because: a) the quality is comparable between the two, and b) the Canon camera body and future lenses purchases are cheaper than comparable Nikon ones. 

Side view of my Canon 1000D

Side view of my Canon 1000D

Ohhh I love this camera! It is nice and light and curves just right in my girl-hands. At first I thought the plastic body of the camera was getting scratched by my nails when I was holding the camera – but it turns out my nails were just getting filed down by the camera surface, which is still nice and smooth.

Because I came from using a Canon digital, I found this camera very easy to pick up and use straight away. All the buttons are in reach of my right thumb and index finger when shooting, and the “menu” and “display” buttons (which aren’t used very often) can be easily reached with my left thumb. 

Back view of my Canon 1000D with shooting settings display. If you head over to my Flickr site you can find out what each button is.

Back view of my Canon 1000D with shooting settings display. If you head over to my Flickr site you can find out what each button is.

For those new to digital SLR photography, you will easily be able to pick this up and use intuitively. However, I do recommend working your way through the camera manual while playing with the camera. The manual is very easy to read and you will learn a lot of important functions – even if you aren’t ready to advance beyond the auto settings on the camera. 

My Lenses

I got my camera with the two kit lenses: the Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS, and the Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS. The Image Stabiliser kit lenses apparently have better image quality than the ordinary II kit lenses, plus they have the image stabiliser function. Both Canon and Nikon DSLRs have image stabiliser technology in some of their lenses, rather than in their camera bodies (unlike other camera brands). These lenses will give me a nice range to learn photography techniques and understand what future lens purchases will suit my style of photography best.  

Top down view of my Canon 1000D

Top down view of my Canon 1000D

If you want to find out more about my camera and lenses I would recommend reading some of the very thorough reviews online by professional photographers. I don’t have the photography experience to offer more detailed comments about specs than what I have.

 

More amateur photography adventures to come in future posts!

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