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Basic kit must haves

nic_kukaj 5 3
31 Oct 2012 2:14PM
I am pretty new to DSLR photography, no formal qualification or long term experience- just enjoy taking photos. I have recently had a Nikon D3000 brought for me (Its a starting point!) and am looking at trying to collect a bit of "kit"- but as a novice I am unsure of what I will actually need, which brands are better than others and what I shouldn't waste my money on!
I'm a stay at home mum, so money is probably the biggest factor in whether I buy something, though I am not adverse to saving up to get something which is a bit more "special". And I should also add that so far I am erring towards natural light and portraits... though not had much oppotunity to get out and about and practice other types of photography yet!
So basically, what items would you reccommend to have in my camera bag, which brands are worth investing in, and what isn't worth the time of day?

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User_Removed 8 4.6k 1 Scotland
31 Oct 2012 2:23PM
Lot's of folk here will give you lots of suggestions.

My first piece of advice would be: Don't buy anything until you find that the lack of it is holding you back.

Having said that, if you are determined to buy a new piece of kit, my suggestion would be a decent tripod.
Pete Plus
17 18.8k 97 England
31 Oct 2012 2:36PM
Welcome to ePHOTOzine Nic Smile Looking at your portfolio you appear to have a creative eye and I think a shallow focus would benefit. You can do this with a 50mm f/1.8 lens (second-hand if budget is tight). It makes a good portrait lens on the Nikon you're using and will, when shooting at f/1.8, give really out of focus backgrounds so the subject is the sharpest point. As it's a fixed lens you also have to think more about your compositions and that, in turn, can make you a better photographer.

The bigger aperture means you need less light too so you will be able to take photos in slightly darker conditions than you can currently. If you really want to splash out the 50mm f/1.4 is incredibly good for the Nikon, but is also costly and probably a luxury that you don't need right now.

A tripod will ensure your shots are sharper (less camera movement), but will get in the way of the spontaneity that I believe your photos show and won't stop your subject being blurred due to natural movement.

We have many tutorials on portrait photography here. Click the link for techniques in the left hand blue menu panel to view them from this link
scottishphototours 14 2.6k 2
31 Oct 2012 2:48PM
The tripod and 50mm are great suggeztions but for natural light and portraits I'd get a Nikkor 85mm f1.8 lens. This lens is ideal for kids portraits, long enough to enable you to do head and shoulders fron across the room to get some lovely, natural shots. I use mine every week, great lens...
mikehit 8 8.0k 13 United Kingdom
31 Oct 2012 2:55PM
Basic maintenance kit: lens brush and lens wipes (and upgrade is the 'lens pen'). I have inherited my mother-in-laws lipstick-style retractible make-up brush which is compact and soft.
Bit more advanced mantenance kit: sensor brush but you will probably not need that for severalk months, especially is most of your stuff is indoor work

Other kit: for natural light a reflector is very useful to bounce light into the shadows and avoid a high-contrast image. You can either buy them or make your own out of tinfoil, white card or white material
Cable release: you can buy them really cheap on ebay - so cheap I do not htink it is worth messing about with the sel-ftimer.
Tripod: these can be really cheap - if it is for use indoors use it does not need to be a strong one. I woudl say get one for 20-30 until you know (a) if you will use it and (b) what functionality is most important.

Lenses: I second Pete's recommendatio of 50mm f1.8 for portraits. You can add dioptre lenses to the front to play with macro work or get extension tubes.

If you google 'DIY camera gear' ort 'budget camera gear' you will get loads of hits.
crookymonsta Plus
10 837 10 England
31 Oct 2012 3:30PM
Another vote for the Nikon 50mm 1.8 - an alternative which is also good for portraits is the Sigma 105mm macro lens, double value as it does close ups too.
arhb Plus
10 3.4k 68 United Kingdom
31 Oct 2012 3:36PM
Based on your existing pf, I would agree with scottishphototours - I also think the 85mm focal length would be better for head shots.
User_Removed 14 3.3k 4 United Kingdom
31 Oct 2012 3:44PM
50mm lenses are a waste of time, you never use them. I had the respected and cheap as chips EF 50mm 1.8 which I later replaced with the EF 50mm 1.4. It never goes on the camera. I've got good zooms like a 24-70 2.8 and a 24-105 IS at my disposal and just always use them in preference.

My cheap Sigma 24-70 is a fab lens, sharp as anything, great bokeh, wide aperture here it is compared with my expensive 50
JJGEE 13 7.2k 18 England
31 Oct 2012 3:58PM

Quote:50mm lenses are a waste of time, you never use them.

Really ?

I used my Zuiko 50mm f 1.8 very frequently for over 25 years on my Olympus OM10, OM40 & OM4Ti and now still use a Sigma 50mm macro lens for the Sony A900 Wink
31 Oct 2012 4:12PM
Hi Nic,

I too have a D3000, lens wise, i've only bought a 55-300mm lens(purchased through the classified on here) which pretty much lives on it, but on my wish list is a 50mm and a macro lens, 105mm maybe. When i've eventually saved for them(could be a whileTongue) i'm thinking i might replace my 18-55mm kit lens, but with what as yet i don't know. In addition i have an archaic tripod, probably a good 30 years old, but for now it'll do.

The only other thing i can say, is enjoy your camera and taking pictures, it won't take long for you to work out what you need.

Good luck

nic_kukaj 5 3
31 Oct 2012 4:28PM
Thanks for all the advice so far- my next planned purchase was actually for the nikon 50mm f/1.8 which was reccommended by a friend- she does a lot of portrait photography and her pics are always lovely, though I will now be sure to look into the 85mm.
I have been tracking lots of items on ebay, but have always been a bit timid of bidding on compatible items such as Tamron and sigma lenses as not sure if they are as good as nikon ones? Do people usually use compatible lenses or is it generally reccommended to stick to one brand?
Another thing I have been in the market for is some sort of flash/speedlight. I have been looking at Yongnuo ones, basically due to budget, but see that they get varying reviews- so again, not sure whether it is best to stick to nikon?
mikehit 8 8.0k 13 United Kingdom
31 Oct 2012 4:30PM

Quote:50mm lenses are a waste of time, you never use them.
Really ?

I used my Zuiko 50mm f 1.8 very frequently for over 25 years on my Olympus OM10, OM40 & OM4Ti and now still use a Sigma 50mm macro lens for the Sony A900 Wink

Chris is one of those youngsters who grew up with zooms. Not like us old fogeys who had primes and moved our feet. Wink
miptog 12 3.6k 61 United Kingdom
31 Oct 2012 4:31PM
Assuming that you alreday seem to have an 18-55 and 55-200 (from your PF uploads), I suggest:

- A flash gun: Having the ability to use bounced and off camera flash techniques will give you greater creativity for your portraits
- Tripod and head: essential for situations where you have to shoot at below 1/15th sec or for several seconds if not minutes!
- 5 in 1 collapasable reflector: Can be used to diffuse light, as well as bounce it (silver, gold, white and black sides plus a central diffuser whcih reduces light by about 1 stop)
Paul Morgan 17 19.1k 6 England
31 Oct 2012 4:35PM

Quote:what items would you recommend to have in my camera bag, which brands are worth investing in, and what isn't worth the time of day?

Other than Camera + Lens.

1. A flash/light meter
2. A flash
2. A tripod

But some will claim that a light meter is not needed Smile
Pete Plus
17 18.8k 97 England
31 Oct 2012 4:43PM
I'm really interested by the number of recommendation for a tripod. Definitely an item to own for most kinds of photography but would you really use one for the type of photography that's currently in Nic's portfolio? I would say it would be far too restrictive.

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