Friday, December 7, 2012

Our Camera Equipment and Entry-Level DSLR Buying Guide

I'm often asked what camera I use, how I edit my photos, etc... All I usually know to say is, "The big camera. It's a Canon", and "I use that program that came free with the laptop. You know the one" which never really feels like enough. As I've said many, many times before, I don't really know what I'm doing with the Big Camera. Cory has shown me the basics and after a few years of practicing and trial-and-error, I can pretty much do what I want to do, but that's not saying a lot and I definitely can't talk about it because I don't know the lingo. Please don't ever try to talk to me about white balance or shutter speed or I might fly into a fitful rage. Or so I've been told.

 


 

Cory, on the other hand, is a self-taught prodigy. He watches youtube videos in his free time of Asian men talking camera in British accents. He reads all of the reviews when new stuff comes out. He sometimes cares more about the other tourists' cameras on vacation than he does the vacation itself.
Now and then, he tries to get all fancy, telling me about sensor size or something weird like that and all it does is make me mad (see above).

But we both know, at the end of the day, that he's the boss of all-things-camera around here. He was a semi-finalist in P-Dub's photo contests not once, but twice. You just can't get more official than that.







So all of this to say, it's okay if you're a big geek like Cory and want to really learn everything you can about the wild world of photography; but it's also okay if you're like me and just want to be able to take a decent picture. No matter where you are on the spectrum, if taking beautiful pictures is something you love to do, if it brings you joy, then it's probably worth springing for a DSLR camera. I've asked Cory to share some of his top picks, covering a range of abilities and budgets.

A camera is the gift that keeps on giving, man.

Take it away, CMB!

 

Right now I'm shooting with a Canon 7D  using a 50mm 1.4 lens. I use this lens 90% of the time. This is a prime lens, meaning it doesn't zoom. Trading the convenience of a zoom for the light gathering capabilities of a fast prime is a trade I'd make any day. I also have a 60mm 2.8 that I use on rare occasions and the lens my camera came with which is a 28-135mm. I can't remember the last time I used it.

I chose the Canon 7D over the Nikon D7000 for one primary reason....it fit better in my hand. It is a solid camera with good weather sealing and logical button/control layout. When two cameras compete so closely on specs, the one determining factor for me was how it felt. The Canon felt better.

Quick side note: I came to the realization too late that lens selection is so much more critical than camera selection. If I had it to do all over again I would have saved money on the camera body and put it toward a good lens.
 

If was just starting out in photography and was interested in an entry level, budget setup to take pictures of my kids and family I would purchase the following:
Canon Rebel T3i (camera body only) with the Canon 50mm 1.8

I know it goes against every instinct of a photography newcomer to NOT purchase a zoom lens, but you'll have to trust me on this one. You'll be much happier with the pictures you can get from a fast prime. You can still zoom.....it just requires moving your feet forward or backward.
 

**

There you have it, your first brush with the infamous CMB, also known as Cory.

Since I'm already here bragging on my man, I thought I'd show you some of my favorite photos from a few of his recent shoots, including his first and last wedding.  (One of the wedding shots was taken by his second shooter - moi! Hint: It's the one that doesn't include faces.)

Got any questions? We're all ears. Literally. Well, one of us.


*All links are Amazon affiliate links


29 comments:

  1. you guys ROCK!
    i'm scared silly to buy a dslr, but i want one so bad!
    help me.
    oh, wait, you JUST did! :)
    thanks, guys.
    i'm going to pass this info on to my hubby...because Christmas is right around the corner! *wink*
    xo

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  2. Sensai...I shoot the nikon d7000 and I lurv my 50 1.4, so dearly. I recently caved to peer pressure and shelled out some serious coin for the 24-70 2.8 and.....I hate it.! It's so flipping heavy! Thus, I think I'll sell it and get me a 35 prime and maybe an 85...whatcha think? If you could buy ANY lens what would we find in your bag next?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The 24-70 is a NICE lens! If I was in the market for a fast zoom, Canon makes a 17-55 2.8 that I would purchase. On a cropped sensor camera it would serve as a 24-70.
      If I could have any lens it would be a 35 1.4. I'd have little reason to ever take it off my camera.
      I'm finding that I would rather live with the inconvenience of switching lenses than walking around with a big, heavy lens.

      Delete
  3. I had to wrestle the computer away from the hubs just now and pulled him away from watching a youtube video on how to make some sort of view finder lens using a baby powder bottle. When he asked me, "How do you get the top off the bottle?" I answered, "Outside."
    We bought our DSLR to take awesome photos. I take almost decent ones with it (we've had it a month) as focusing is more of a science than it seems at first and my hubby has already edited his first video from it. And it was bangin'. Rock on Martins!

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  4. Cory is very talented. I agree with the advice to purchase the camera body and then the lenses. The kit is so tempting for first time buyers. It's hard to know exactly what you'll need. I fell into the kit pit. I did buy a 50mm 1.8, though and have never regretted that decision. What photo editing software does he use?

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  5. All of this information was extremely helpful and just what I needed. My favorite party? The last line about your ears:) You always have a great sense of humor! Keep doin' what you're doin'!!

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  6. Dear Lord, please forgive me for coveting the Martin's 7D and their talent and Cory's capacity for learning these things that make my head feel like it might explode. Amen.

    Gorgeous photos! I couldn't possibly pick a fav. But if I did it would be that little girl in red with the perfect backlighting! Or any of the wedding ones (especially the shoes on the piano) or the close up of the gorgeous brown-eyed girl. If I just had to.

    This is excellent advice. I am a camera novice/wannabe-not-a-novice and I took some similar advice a few years back, scoring a 30D body (half off!) and the thrifty fifty for what I would've paid for a Rebel kit at the time. I have never regretted it! That 50mm lens is one of the greatest things that's ever happened to me. Well, I mean, within reason. Wait, nope, still one of the greatest.

    I did recently get a kit lens just for taking photos of everyday events without having to back out of the room to get the whole scene. But now I'm wondering why I didn't just beg for a 28 or 35 mm fixed lens?! Why?! There's always next Christmas...

    Great post. Can your next one please be "How to Get Your Husband to Take Up Photography"? Please?

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  7. P.S. I see that I wrote Martin's instead of Martins'...and I hesitate to even mention that, because you know this one will contain an error also, and will require another ps. And before you know it, its Swingers all over again.

    "Its not you, its me. I'm sorry. ... This is Mike."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "...This is Mike." HahahahaHA! That is my favorite part. I think.

      Delete
  8. My very favorite lens is my little 50mm 1.8. Down with the zoom!

    Cory does a great job!

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  9. Those photos--beautiful! We just got our very first DSLR camera this week and I'm living your camera story. ;) Totally just thankful to have a device to capture life moments. :)

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  10. Beautiful photos! I have a DSLR but just use the basics and not too well. My goal for the next year is to try to focus (haha focus) on trying to learn a bit more. We see a lot of dark, rainy days around here so light is a premium and that is a hard one. Thanks for the tips : )

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  11. Cory and my hubs would be bff's I'm certain. Scott watches the Asian British guy too. Makes me giggle. Scott's coveting "glass" at the moment. He loves playing with his camera, even setting up a shoot with our daughter's American Girl doll. But, shh don't tell. :) He recently went on a photowalk in Birmingham and loved being around other nerdy tech picture taker guys.

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  12. Fabulous photos, y'all! While I love a good camera, I think the most important piece of "equipment" needed, in order to be a great photographer is a good eye. I have friends who've spent a boatload of money on a great camera, but their photographs still pretty much stink. They just don't have a "photographer's eye," for composition. :(

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  13. I almost got the 7D (awesome, AWESOME camera) but decided to go with the 5D MarkII (after starting out with the Rebel xti, then moving up to the 50D). Tell Cory that once you go full-frame, you never go back :D

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  14. Met up with a photographer at a birthday party and we talked lenses. The 50mm 1.8 is on my Christmas wish list. I've been a very good girl this year. I promise.

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  15. CMB NEVER disappoints! I've been dreaming of a new lens. Now I just have to see if my feet are willing to cooperate.

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  16. Well, I hesitate to even post a question/comment here because I feel so intimidated by all the pro-photographers and the lingo. But, I've been trying to figure out what I need and who to ask, so it seemed like an "open door." So, moving on to the question. Well, background first: I would say I'm somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, or closer to "just want a decent picture;" I scrapbook, good pics are important. Both of my boys play soccer and I need something I can take action shots from a distance (dim light as well). I don't know if I need a DSLR or a point & shoot. (I'm worried I won't like the bulk of the DSLR.) Any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Dena

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For dim light action photography, a point and shoot will absolutely not work! The will be grainy, blurry and you'll miss most shots due to your slow auto focus. I hate to be the bearer of bad/good news, but it
      sounds like you'll be making an investment in a DSLR!
      -Cory

      Delete
  17. Two utterly exciting news items to tell you:

    1. after dithering for a period akin to the late Jurassic, last year I finally bought my first dslr ....drum roll..... Canon Rebel t3i with......double drum roll......50mmf/1.8 lens!!! Feeling so smug and get me-ish!

    2. I made the crack bark. Blimey, what a deliciously lethal concoction, suddenly mummy's blogging has been utterly worthwhile from my kids' point of view.

    That's it. Much love to you F.P.Farm girl. Bxx

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  18. This makes me laugh! Let me be the one to tell you, some of us pour over the "photos for dummies books" and "youtube" videos and still have half the talent you do! I bought the Canon T1i with the 18-55mm as a kit a couple of years ago and really struggled to get the clarity and depth in my photos!
    Enter 50mm/1.8...hello gorgeous! purchased it 3 months ago and i'm addicted!

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  19. I would dearly love to have the 50 mm lens for Christmas...What's the difference in the 1.4 and 1.8????? I have a Canon T3 and I have the lens it came with and a telephoto lens....love both but I know the 50mm would be better...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The 1.4 is 3x more expensive!....but is also built much better and lets in more light. Practically speaking, I don't think you'll see much difference in the end results. I've owned both lenses and for my purposes I'm not sure spending the extra money is worth it. The 1.8 is the least expensive lens that Canon's makes and it takes great pictures.
      -Cory

      Delete
    2. THANKS! I was wondering how much difference I would really notice in the photos. I'm proud to say I have been using the full manual mode on my T3 and have been able to successfully take some photos! There is so much good info out there....I enjoy learning how to use all the capabilities I PAID for on our camera :)

      Delete
  20. Cory, you've got some mad photo taking skills!! And a wedding?! High fives on that one. I would faint from the pressure.

    I'm thinking CMB needs his own blog now...

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  21. This is great info! Thanks for all great pics!!! We are also in the market for a DSLR and I was wondering if there is a site where you can find them pre-loved for people who have traded up?! The point and shoot just isn't cutting the mustard for our active family! Thanks!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For used equipment I would to go: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/.
      -Cory

      Delete
  22. I know you guys posted about this ages ago, but I’m just catching up. Forgive me. Cory, if you chose the route of less expensive body (than the 7D) and went with better lenses…what body would you choose? I have been drooling over the 7D and find it somewhat cost prohibitive, however, I am ready to move on from my Rebel. Second question…wide angle lens, which one?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you're already invested in Canon lenses then I would look at the 60D or the T4i. I like the 60D better and it's a good upgrade for less than $100 more than the T4i. As for wide angle lenses....I'm not the one to ask as I've never effectively used one. I had a Tokina 12-24 for a while and didn't use it enough so I sold it. Build quality was great but I wasn't thrilled with the sharpness. Sorry I can't offer more on wide angles!

      Delete

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