This post answers the question “What camera do you use?“, plus much more. It’s been a long time coming because, frankly, I don’t use that much equipment, and equipment I currently use is not that high end.
This is good news for you if you’re just starting out cause it means you don’t have to break the bank on equipment and still get results like mine and better.
You’ll find links throughout this article that ease you finding products I’m talking about. If you buy things through these links, I might make a small percentage of that without costing you anything extra. I hope this is fine with you, these are here to help you ease your search.
I started with my dad’s compact Sony DSC something and experimenting with manual mode and long exposure. That lasted one summer but dad was hesitant to let me use his camera. So, long story short, getting my own camera.
After a long and tedious search and comparison, based on my desired photography genre and budget I had, I decided on Nikon D5100.
So far, D5100 has proved to be an excellent camera with sensor size of 23.6 x 15.6 mm, 16.2 effective megapixels, 14 bit raw image, ISO 100 to 6400 (up to 25600 equivalent) and a lot of other goodies. There are some deficiencies I’m overcoming with accessories and tricks. Like triggering a remote speedlight.
I bought the camera with the kit lens, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S. It’s a great general purpose lens for the money. I like using 18mm side at f11 to f22 on tripod for landscapes and 55mm side at f5.6 for food and people photos. There are many exceptions to these rules of thumb but this describes the possible uses quite well.
Nikkor 18-300mm would be another awesome (better) general purpose lens, though more expensive. I’ve also missed a wide-angle lens often when shooting interesting places, so Nikkor 10-24mm would be awesome to help as well. I do a lot of food photography and sometimes people photos so 50mm prime lens you can open wide to get a shallow depth of field is also a nice thing to have.
I’ve put everything that isn’t camera or lens in this section.
Nikon SB700 is a great addition to the arsenal for food photography and people photography. I even used it to light-paint some landscapes and when I was shooting club scenes (night-life). It’s possible to remote trigger it with on-board flash on D5100, even though the camera itself doesn’t have those remote triggering features. I’ll explain how to in some later post and link it here. Remind me if I don’t 😉
Samsung S3 is currently my main phone and a secondary camera. I use it often when I don’t have my Nikon with me. It has pretty good camera on it, but the low light performance could be a lot better. I’ve also used it to remote control D5100 instead of a remote shutter controler. I’ll explain that too.
Nexus 7 is a tablet I keep handy when going for a shoot, or often when I’m making videos with the Nikon. It’s possible to pair it wirelessly with Samsung S3 which is connected to camera using USB OTG cable and then have live preview and camera controls on it. I also use it to edit photos taken with S3 since Snapseed is currently stalling when processing photos on S3. No idea why.
To be fair, 2012 version gets super slow and frustrating sometimes since the Android 5.0 update. 2013 is said to have that resolved. If I wait it out, it starts working snappier again. Also, reboot works as a fix for a while. Advice from the community is get something with more RAM.
Rechargeable AA batteries for the speedlight is a must, 2 packs of 4 preferably, if not more. Chargers for the AA batteries and camera battery.
I have a $9 tripod I borrowed from my dad and never returned it. He doesn’t use it anyway. Hopefully not because he can’t get to it 🙂
I should get a sturdy tripod with a ball head and carbon legs. That would help a lot with positioning the camera.
I also have a small Manfrotto tripod I got as a present and use it for those cool, low angle shots, and a lot of other times for placing it on furniture, walls and similar when shooting video or food photos.
HP ProBook 4540s with Intel i7 CPU and 8 GiB of RAM and 750 GB HDD. Also an external, 1TB ADATA USB 3.0 HDD for backup. I use it not only for editing but also for software development, web development and mobile apps development. It’s my main tool for work when I’m not shooting. Running Linux Mageia and it’s super snappy.
All this stuff has to fit somewhere so it can be carried around on shoots and trips. I was lucky enough to get Vanguard Up-Rise 43 sling bag as a gift. Sling is good because the camera is easily accessible and it takes only a few seconds to get it out and shoot if you pre-set the camera settings. It’s got a lot of handy pockets and compartments, including a rain cover, who’s usefulness caught me by surprise when I needed it most.
With all this in it, it can get a little heavy on the side on long walks because of uneven weight distribution. That’s something I haven’t anticipated, but I do walk a lot. For walks like hour or two should be fine. For anything longer, I’d go for a normal backpack with camera out and on the strap if you are sight-seeing. That’s probably what I’ll go for next.
Now you know.
My bag is still not full and there are some things on my wish-list. If you are starting out, did this encourage you to get out and start shooting even with your smartphone?
What’s in your bag? What’s the basic you cannot go without?