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Choosing and Using the Right Camera Equipment

Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Pentax, Sony and Olympus are just a few of the camera brands widely available today. Each of these companies has multiple models from which to choose.

With so many brands and models to choose from, with so much information and misinformation available, just how do I know what camera to buy? Should I go digital or stick with film? What kind of accessories and lenses will I need?

While you are contemplating a new camera purchase, it is a good idea to remember that each camera company has a marketing department, and it is their job to convince you, the consumer, of your dire need for the latest and greatest that they have to offer. I have found recommendations from friends and family are not always that helpful either. Of course, the brand they use is the best (no one wants to admit to a purchasing error)! Well then, what about the pros? Should I consider what they are using? Many pros have "deals" with manufactures, so the financial benefits rather then equipment benefits may motivate them in their brand preferences.

Laughing Gull, 28-105, handheldAs you begin the search for your new camera, temper your excitement about who has the "latest and greatest". Frequently camera manufactures leap frog each other technologically. The most important aspect of making the correct decision is figuring out what you want to do photographically and getting the right tool to accomplish your goals.

Once you have a good idea of what you want to accomplish with your photography, and you have a camera in mind, go try it out! The camera may have the specifications you want, but does it feel right in your hand? Are the ergonomics right for you?


Here are some questions you should ponder as you begin the camera selection process.

1. What do I wish to accomplish with my photography?

  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Relaxation/Stress Relief
  • Hobbyist
  • Teaching (About your subject)
  • Love of Nature
  • To Share Photos With Friends
  • Show Off
  • Personal Challenge
  • Professional Aspirations

2. What style of photography do I want to concentrate on?

  • LandscapeSunset on the Rocks, 17-35 tripod
  • Macro
  • Natural History
  • Animal Behavior
  • Ecological
  • Wild Animal Portraits
  • Artistic
  • General Nature

3. What do I want the final product to be?

  • Transparency / Slide
  • Print From Negative
  • Print from Digital File
  • Large Prints / 11X14 and Larger

4. What are some budgetary concerns?

  • Initial System Cost
  • Accessory Cost
  • Annual Frame Count (High or Low Volume Shooter)

5. Film or Digital?

Once you have answered for yourself the aforementioned questions, the search has just begun for your perfect camera. To at least point you in the right direction, the following chart takes into consideration your motivation, style, budget and equipment speed.

Lily Pads, 24-120 VR, tripodBefore considering the equipment chart, I would like to suggest that if you plan to shoot frequently (High Annual Frame Count) and do not need a transparency / slide as your final product, a digital system is your best value. If you are shooting infrequently, the initial cost of a film system is still much lower, although the gap between Digital and Film Cameras is getting narrower. If you need a transparency / slide as your final product or you are an infrequent shooter, IMO, a film camera will be your best value.






Budget to Intermediate Film Camera Kit
Landscape / General Photography Wildlife Photography
 Camera Bodies Camera Bodies
Nikon FE10 (Manual Focus) Nikon N80
Nikon N55 Nikon F100
Nikon N75 Canon Elan 7
Nikon N80 Canon EOS 3
Canon Rebel 2000  
Canon Elan 7  
Canon EOS 3  
Lenses Lenses
28-70mm Zoom 70-300mm Zoom
24-120VR / 28-135IS Zoom 80-400VR / 100-400IS Zoom
70-300mm Zoom 500 F4 / 500 F4.5
   
Accessories Accessories
Polarizing Filter Sturdy Tripod
Tripod TTL Flash
Hot Shoe Level Better Beamer
Cable Release 1.4x Teleconverter

Budget to Intermediate Digital Camera Kits

Landscape / General Photography Wildlife Photography
 Camera Bodies Camera Bodies
Canon PowerShot G5 (Point and Shoot) Nikon Coolpix 5400 (Point and Shoot)
Nikon Coolpix 5400 (Point and Shoot) Canon 10D
Canon Digital Rebel Nikon D100
Canon 10D  
Nikon D70  
Nikon D100  
Lenses Lenses
18-35mm Zoom 70-300mm Zoom
24-120VR / 28-135IS Zoom 80-400VR / 100-400IS Zoom
70-300mm Zoom 500 F4 / 500 F4.5
   
Accessories Accessories
Polarizing Filter Sturdy Tripod
Tripod TTL Flash
Hot Shoe Level Better Beamer
Cable Release 1.4x Teleconverter
Digital Media Digital Media

Advanced to Pro Level Film Camera Kits


Landscape / General Photography Wildlife Photography
 Camera Bodies Camera Bodies
Nikon F100 Nikon F5
Nikon F5 Nikon F100
Canon EOS 3 Canon EOS 3
Canon 1V Canon EOS 1VHS
Lenses Lenses
14mm 24-120VR / 28-135IS
17-35mm 80-400VR / 100-400IS Zoom
24-120VR / 28-135IS Zoom 500 or 600 F4
80-400VR / 100-400 IS  
Accessories Accessories
Polarizing Filter Very Sturdy Tripod
Tripod TTL Flash
Hot Shoe Level Better Beamer
Cable Release 1.4x Teleconverter
  2.0x Teleconverter
  Extension Tubes
  Wimberley Head
  Hot Shoe Level
  Off Camera Flash Cord

Advanced to Pro Level Digital Camera Kits

Landscape / General Photography Wildlife Photography
 Camera Bodies Camera Bodies
Canon 1Ds Canon 1D
Nikon D1X / D2X Canon 1Ds
  Nikon D1H / D2H
  Nikon D1X / D2X
Lenses Lenses
 10.5mm (Nikon)  24-120VR / 28-135IS
14mm  80-400VR / 100-400IS Zoom
12-24mm Zoom (Nikon)  500 or 600 F4
16-40 / 17-35mm  
24-120VR / 28-135IS Zoom  
80-400VR / 100-400 IS  
Accessories Accessories
Polarizing Filter Very Sturdy Tripod
Sturdy Tripod TTL Flash
Hot Shoe Level Better Beamer
Cable Release 1.4x Teleconverter
TTL Flash 2.0x Teleconverter
 Digital Media Extension Tubes
 Ball head Wimberley Head
  Hot Shoe Level
  Off Camera Flash Cord
  Digital Media

Skimmer Chick and Eggs, 600 with 2X , tripodDo your homework. Figure out what you want to accomplish with your photography. Find out what cameras are available that will most closely match your budget with the features and specifications you need. Narrow your search down to 2-4 cameras, head out to your local camera store and try them out.

The camera you choose will almost never be what separates poor and average photographs from above average and great photographs. You are!




My camera recommendation is to just use whatever camera you decide on. Take lots of pictures, practice makes perfect. If you do that, you will be happy with the camera you choose.

 
 
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