Photography on a Budget: Learn Your Equipment

So, you’re doing the first steps in going pro by buying a SLR camera. And you got it all ready. The fact is not yet. Photographers must have at least the essentials to not only be prepared but to have fun as a hobby or be more serious in the hard business of photography in an era of smartphones.

The Basics:

SLR or DSLR: It stands for Single Lens Reflex which uses a mirror and prism system (hence “reflex”, from the mirror’s reflection) that permits the photographer to view through the lens and see exactly what will be captured. There’s the Film Camera and the Digital Camera which is more accepted because of the ease of use.   DSLR comes with standard zoom lenses to make you start right away. Read the instructions first of it’s capabilities and usage.

Tip: If you have one camera and decided to get another one or upgrade use the same brand that you’re use to. It will save you money instead of buying a different brand of camera. Although there’s lens adapters to connect one brand of lenses to a different brand of camera it would damage the camera in the long run if you’re using cheap adapters.

Tripod: It has different types, colors and sizes and purposes other than carrying the camera. The monopod however is the most popular item photographers use because it goes closer to the camera and it’s less intrusive than using a tripod.

Tip: Before you buy make sure the weight of your camera handles it as some smaller tripods are designed for smartphones and point and shoot cameras.

Lenses: Different types, focal lengths and purpose to use with with camera. There’s several types of lenses:

  • Zoom Lenses or Telephoto Lens: Use from nature, to sports, to portraits. It’s the basic lens that comes with the purchase of your DSLR.
  • Prime Lenses: Their focal length is fixed, it is used for many purposes but the main is for low light conditions because their aperture are bigger than zoom lenses.
  • Wide Angle Lens: It is widely used for architectural, interior and landscape photography. Most production companies use wide angle lens because focal length is smaller than the focal length of a normal lens and it’s good for areal shots in films and shows.
  • Fisheye Lens: It create a visual distortion creating a panoramic image. It is used from portrait photography, to abstracts and architectures.
  • Macro Lens: It’s very widely used for macro photography which is extreme closeup of an object.

Tip: Zoom and Prime lenses are the norm, while the Wide and Fisheye lens are optional if you have the money to spend. For macro lens that have a hefty price tag there’s an alternative for that.

Lens Filters: These important small attachments to your lens have a lot of functions and purposes to make your photos enhanced with brilliant contrasts and colors. Some come in circular and others square to attach it to your lens. The basics are:

  • Polarizing: It enhance blue skies and clouds to stand out but also reducing reflections. Used mainly for landscape or portrait photography.
  • Natural Density: Reduces the amount of light entering the lens, decreasing camera shutter speed. Useful for situations where motion blur needs to be created (rivers, waterfalls, moving people) or large apertures must be used with flash to avoid overexposure. It’s used for landscapes.
  • UV: It avoid the rays from the sun, and elements of weather. It can be permanently attached to your camera.
  • Close-Up or Macro: These Filters are an life-saver alternative to do Macro Photography. It comes in sets of magnification strengths.

Tip: Start with a basic set of filters (Polarizing, UV, Macro) and get used to use it available on Again, you don’t have to spend hundreds on a single one when you can get sets at a fraction of the price and works as well as the expensive ones. Make sure it’s the right size for your lens before you buy. There’s a complete list on other filters you might interested you.

Flash: You can’t shoot in the plain dark if you don’t have one of these! It comes as a built-in with your camera, or dedicated camera flash that fits in the hot shoe of your DSLR, Macro Ring Flash for macro photography and Hammerhead Camera Flash that goes on the side of your camera (like the old days)

Tip: Before you put your Dedicated Camera Flash, Hammerhead or Macro Ring Flash you must turn your camera off to avoid functioning errors.

Camera Bag: Very important to carry your camera and accessories properly and securely without breaking it. It comes as backpack, shoulder or traveling case.

Tip: It’s more expensive than a regular bags, so get the backpack style for reliability and durability just in case you’re going to buy new accessories so you won’t have to buy another one for a good couple of years.

Now for the good part: The post-processing tools.

Many photographers who have cash to spend use Adobe Photoshop. But the software itself cost $700.00! Not every body have money for that! So, what’s the best if you’re starting on photography and wants your photos a work of art? It’s simple, not complicated to choose from alternatives.

Adobe Photoshop Elements: It basically the lite and easy version of Photoshop and it comes with the standalone version or with Premiere Elements which is for video editing. $80.00 – $120.00

Corel Paintshop: It’s biggest competitor to Photoshop is the most useful software for photo editing without the huge price tag, Corel Paintshop is an award winner software with ease, stability and reliability for the most experienced photographers. $99.00

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom: It’s a good software to correct or enhance your photos before you’re using Photoshop or Corel. $136.00

Tip: When you get your DSLR it comes with post-processing software too! Also, there’s free photo editing software like GIMP.

Don’t forget your Memory Cards, Cleaning Supplies such as LensPen and Sensor Cleaning Kit. Always, read the instructions before using your camera. And have fun shooting!

Note: If I miss something or have any comments please let me know.

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