This post is about cameras.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions on what kind of photography equipment I carried along the way, so here it is:
(Unfortunately, the camera that took this picture is not ON the picture.)
Why two cameras?
First of all, I wanted to use DSLR cameras, because I felt that they offered a maximum amount of control over the resulting pictures. There are three reasons why I chose to carry two cameras instead of just one:
1) I needed a wide lens and a long lens.
This is a typical wide-angle shot…
…while this one was taken with the telephoto lens:
In my opinion, from a usability and picture quality standpoint, a good lens can either be long (tele) or short (wide-angle), so if you want to shoot in both ranges, you are going to need at least two lenses. I chose 16-35mm and 70-200mm, giving up the thirty-five milimeters in between.
2) I wanted to avoid having to swap lenses on the road, because it steals time and can hurt your equipment. Digital camera bodies are especially sensitive to dust.
3) I felt that I needed a backup body in case something went wrong.
So what about the brandname?
It doesn’t really matter. There are some major camera manufacturers who offer a variety of good bodies and lenses. Professional photographers have been shooting amazing pictures using their products, so anyone who tells you to “only get brand x” because “brand y is crap” is basically an idiot.
You might have noticed that I like to tape up my cameras anyway, mainly because I want to give them a more rugged look, and also because I don’t want the brand to be too easily recognizable:
There is one simple rule when it comes to photo equipment though: always make sure to get good lenses!
DSLR bodies have a tendency to decrease in value, while lens prices usually don’t fluctuate too much. Additionally, your lens is probably going to stay with you much longer than the camera body ever will.
(If you don’t want to spend ridiculous amounts of money on your camera, get a cheap body and a good fixed focal length. This is an excellent way to get into photography.)
There are three things to keep in mind though:
1) In order to be able to shoot real wide-angle pictures, you are going to need a full-frame body, which is relatively expensive.
2) You have to feel comfortable with the camera body you use, so go out and try a couple before you buy one.
3) When it comes to lenses, the prices usually correlate with the aperture: the smaller the number, the brighter the lens – the more you are going to pay!
What else do I need to spend money on?
You definitely need good filters. Basically, you always want to keep a UV-filter on each and every one of your lenses for protection. Sometimes you might want to use a polarizer in order to enhance the contrast in certain scenarios:
So is there any way I can save money?
You don’t have to spend much on batteries. Get generic ones, they do the job just fine. I personally don’t like costly battery-grips either, they’re just heavy.
Also, you can save money on memory cards by getting a number of smaller ones instead of a few large ones. Should you lose a card or break it, then only a limited number of pictures will be lost.
I always get the cheapest tripod I can find. Expensive tripods offer better stability and handling, but they are usually heavier than the ones I like to buy. I have been getting some good pictures with a tripod for less than 15 bucks!
What about compact cameras?
I usually just try to make sure that the compact camera I am using is able to record decent video. I would probably not spend a lot of money on this kind of camera, because prices are always dropping anyway. One thing you need to make sure though is the white balance: most compact cameras take good pictures in bright daylight, but show their weaknesses in low-light indoor situations.
How do you carry your camera equipment?
I have always been a fan of holsters, even though I admit that they do look kinda geeky:
I like holster bags mainly because they offer protection and flexibility at the same time.
The downside is the weight: I think the larger one of my cameras weighs about 3,5kg, and the smaller one is just a bit lighter. This was never much of a problem because I was carrying the 20+ kg backpack anyway, which kind of levelled the weight out, but it was so tiring…
Later, when I got the caboose, I felt relieved of all that stupid heaviness:
With the cameras secured in their holsters for easy access, I figured that walking couldn’t get any better than this!
Oh, I almost forgot: I always shoot in RAW and try to archive my pictures in as many ways as I can. There is a lot of good software that allows you to manage your RAW-files, do adjustments and expose pictures with different settings:
Even though free software can probably do the job, I would suggest spending a bit of money on this. Good routines will make your life so much easier!
When all of the above is taken care of and nothing goes wrong, I think taking pictures can be a lot of fun.
One last thing that is important though: you have to appreciate a good camera…
…because it will allow you to see the world through different eyes.
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