EQUIPMENT – PROGRAMS AND ALL THAT JAZZ …
Choice of equipment is the second largest amount of inquiries I receive, after the number one – event information. A lens, flash or an entire outfit is being considered by someone every minute – but is it the right equipment for your needs?
The first few questions you need to ask yourself before buying equipment are:
1. What are my real interests in photography?
2. Could this change in the foreseeable future? That is, make sure you have set yourself goals to help direct your photography.
3. Will this new equipment make a difference to your work?
4. How much can you buy it for?
5. Will it fit in with the rest of your kit? For example, can it fit in your camera bag?
Finally, are you buying it because you think you need it, or it will fill an important role. I suggest that you do not rush. Ask experts and then make the final purchase. I am happy for you to email myself for help.
WARNING – general chat on the internet is dangerous! Often negatives are bias and from people offering a lack of experience and the right technical skills to give such information. Nothing is worse than spending several hundred, or thousands of dollars, only to find that you use the piece of ‘must have’ equipment once a year. Personally, I like to keep my kit light in weight and hence mobile. Generally, all my gear fits in a backpack (Tamrac Expedition 7x) with power cords etc in a smaller bag in the main travel bag. Yes, two bags only! If it does not fit or is too heavy – it does not go!
You get what you pay for …
I rarely buy ‘the best’, as deemed by its expense. Yes a 500mm f4 lens is a great working tool! As a good friend says – ‘its a great chick magnet‘ – but does it do the job I require? I have owned Canon 600mm f4.5, 400mm f4 and similar such lenses – but all are sold in time because they are inflexible for my shoot needs, weigh too much and are too large for travel. So I stick to a focal range around 100-500mm or similar. However, if a specific shoot requires a special lens, I will consider it. What I am saying is that you need to balance out your needs and sometimes compromise.
The Right Tripod …
I can not stress enough how important this is. I do not use a tripod often, but when I do, it is invaluable. I see so many enthusiasts talked into a cheap tripod at the camera store. Often it is too small, flimsy and has a terrible head for the camera. If you want a good tripod, start with the Manfrotto 190 series for shorter photographers. I currently use the graphite 55 series as I am tall. I highly recommend the Manfrotto 327 head. The right tripod will last you many years and importantly help you get ‘that unique’ image in low light.
My Current Kit … (Early 2013)
* Canon 5D III body – 35mm sensor, 22MP.
* Canon 6D body – 35mm sensor, 20MP – back up body.
* Canon 16-35mm f2.8L super wide lens.
* Canon 100mm f2.8 IS macro lens – A key creative lens!
* Sigma 50-500mm telephoto – Great for people/wildlife/landscape. Amazing value for money.
* Canon 70-200mm f2.8 lens – for specialised low light work like gorillas shoots, or for cultural locations like France or Turkey.
* Canon Mark III 2X Converter – for cultural trips only when I do not want to take a longer tele lens.
* Canon 50mm f1.4 lens – exclusively for landscape shoots. Fills the gap after the 16-35mm lens.
* EX 430 flash – Key to good light in tough lighting conditions.
* Laptop computer – With Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop, work tools.
* 2 X 1TB mini drives for back up.
* Manfrotto 55CXPRO4 tripod with Manfrotto 327 head – A must.
* Hoya Polarising & 400 ND filters.
* Tamrac Expedition 7x backpack fits all this except the tripod – A must.
* Other Bits – Cheap poncho rain cover – in case of tropical downpour – Shower cap – great for rain forest and wet days over camera – Extra batteries, memory cards and air blower/lens cloth.
* LED Lenser P7 torch.
Software & Computers
Yes, Adobe is a WPA partner, but I have to say that either way, I would be using Adobe products. Why? Because they work very well and have a broad use and backup service in the photo world. My key program today is Lightroom. This fantastic tool allows me to use my K.I.S (Keep It Simple) principle and be a photographer, rather than a digital whiz. I still use Photoshop, however this is for more creative use after Lightroom, especially in Layers.
I also use Adobe Indesign – a lot! I am not an expert with it, but I do find it easy to use. It covers everything from our annual brochure, to day to day letters. It is far more creative than Word or similar. To allow others to view, I simply export as a PDF.
On Computers, I have been a MAC person since 1994. I tried PC twice and both times – well … Some say it is like driving a Holden to a Ford. Maybe … A simple tip is to compare Apples with Apples … (Sorry) That is, if you are going to compare a MAC to a PC, then compare it to something like a Sony PC. Top tips – Buy the most up to date version, with maximum speed, RAM, hard drive space and graphics card. You get what you pay for …
I hope this information helps. DARRAN