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Buying your first DSLR - what else do you need?

This is a discussion on Buying your first DSLR - what else do you need? within the Camera equipment & accessories forums, part of the Education & Technical category; So what does your current gear setup look like (photos and any gear anecdotes appreciated )? Also, what items would ...

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    masp is offline Senior Member
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    Default Buying your first DSLR - what else do you need?

    So what does your current gear setup look like (photos and any gear anecdotes appreciated )? Also, what items would you recommend purchasing around the time you get your first DSLR?

    Here's a partial checklist I've put together from my own research and listening to the podcast. I'm sure I've probably left something important out here or there, so please let me know if you spot any omissions or useful things I should include. Astericks denote the stuff that is more important or cheap enough to buy first.

    A. CAMERA PROTECTION
    * 1. UV filter ($10 to 30 to $60?)
    * 2. Padded camera case
    3. Camera armor?
    * 4. LCD screen cover if not included. (Included for Nikons)
    * 5. Viewfinder cover and magnifier
    6. Fancy camera strap, like the Black Rapid straps?
    * 7. Lens hood for any lenses that lack one. (Also keeps stuff from banging into your lens)

    B. CLEANING
    * 1. Microfiber cloth and a "huff of breath" (Can't be more than a few bucks)
    2. Air blower. Marko says to buy from a camera store, but Ken Rockwell says a $5 air blower from a drug store may suffice. Any reason to disagree with Rockwell here? (I'm kinda cheap )
    * 3. Also consider a blower brush or lenspen. ($5-10)
    * 4. Silica gel (A few bucks)

    C. PHOTOGRAPHIC TOOLS
    1. Polarizer and ND filters
    * 2. Tripod ($50? - $140 No reason not to buy used though, I think)
    3. Maybe a monopod for portability, but a tripod seems more useful.
    4. Flash (consider buying the most expensive one)
    * 5. Reflectors maybe, or just a cheap piece of cardboard wearing white clothing.
    6. Light meter. Useful for studio work mainly.

    D. COMPUTER STUFF
    * 1. SD or CF reader. Can you go with a cheap one here? As long as is a high speed one, I *think* it's okay, but I'd hate to corrupt my data.
    2. Photo printer. Pictbridge?
    3. A decent monitor that isn't excessively blue, contrasty or bright (referring to calibration podcast)
    4. Monitor and printer color calibration tools.
    5. Photography software (I'm going to stick with what's free for now, but I suppose I'll eventually buy some software when I figure out what's most standard)
    6. Color calibration equipment ($400-$1400?). Some may be available for $200 or under. Consider buying one before you start doing a lot of editing.

    E. MISCELLANY
    1. Spare battery ($10 to $30 on Amazon, more for brand name)
    2. SD or CF card ($20 to $40 depending on desired size)
    3. Extra lens and body caps (losing the originals may lower the resale value of your gear?)
    4. Plastic trash bags to cover your gear bag if it's not waterproofed and it starts raining. White ones may double as reflectors if you don't mind looking unprofessional.
    5. Zip lock bags for holding your cleaning supplies and other stuff maybe.
    6. Baseball bat for when some guy on the street tries to grab your camera. J/K J/K I don't condone violence, except for the Three Stooges variety.

    So have I missed anything? Also, I'd love some buying advice particularly what to look for in terms of a good camera case, or any of the other camera protection items.

    I'm thinking of using some sort of compact, waterproof padded case that I can stuff in my backpack, rather than an obvious camera bag since I live in the city and don't want to carry a bag around that screams "steal me!"
    Last edited by masp; 03-22-2010 at 03:57 PM.

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    Oh you’re one of those guys…a list maker huh? LOL.

    Well, in my opinion you can ignore almost everything on it for now. Apart from basics like a bag, polarizer, tripod, memory cards and a computer my advice is to grow into your needs. Trying to anticipate them (like buying a printer) is just an exercise in wasting money (I have a paypal account if you still have the desire to empty yours). Get a camera and start using it. Use it a lot. Try different things. Experiment. Play. Be risky. Only that will show you what else you need to take the kinds of photos you want. Until you bump up against your limitations repeatedly, it’s hard to foretell what you will need. I’ve shot comfortably and rewardingly for 25 years without ½ of what’s on your list. Just relax, buy a camera and shoot. The rest will fall into place if you’re not busy analyzing things too much to have fun.
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    I agree, use your camera as much as you can and decide on what you need from limitations that you encounter. From my experiance buy (save up for and then buy) the flash, lense or bag that you really need not what you can afford now.Why buy stuff that you eventually won't want and end up buying what you really wanted. Buying an entry level flash will ( in time) make you wanting the higher end ( stuff like slave function etc) . Buy a bag that you feel comfortable carrying around ( this also depends on factors like what type of photography you will be doing). A small back pack will fill up relatively fast. If you're going out on an all day excursion get a bigger one that will allow for extra storage for items like a jacket or your lunch. Remember to pack like a camper. The extra weight will wear you down. A tripod is good for long exposures and some wildlife photography and also making panoramic shots. As for the rest...... thats your preference. Buying all that stuff all at once will only make the salesman happy.

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    GREAT list masp

    Can I blog it?

    In terms of the blower brush - a 5 dollar pharmacy blower might do the trick. I'd be curious to see the Nozzle though..... The pro one I bought was 12 bucks new.

    In terms of cleaning - I tried the lenspen for the first time about 2 months ago...gotta say - i love it.

    You missed lens shades or lens hoods - very important imo.

    A light meter is also still very handy especially for studio work with multiple lights.

    I'll post more if I think of more

    thx!

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    masp is offline Senior Member
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    Ah, lens hoods, good idea!

    Hmm, do you use the brush part of the your blower brush much? On the one hand, I'd worry that the brush would scratch the lens, but on the other hand, the brush could be handy for cleaning the exterior of the body... if there's some way to clean the brush off afterwards. Anyway, I'll check out this Lenspen too. Can the Lenspen be cleaned or does it need to be thrown away when it gets too dirty? The one Rockwell recommends is just an ear syringe: Amazon.com: Goodhealth Fautless Ear Syringe - 1 ea: Health & Personal Care Rockwell wrote: "I spent $5 on a blower bulb (not brush) and it's all I've ever needed these past 5 years to keep all my cameras clean."

    Maybe it's better to spend a few extra bucks to protect my investment in the camera. Just wanted to make the stuff I'm buying is actually useful. Cheers.
    Last edited by masp; 03-22-2010 at 01:54 PM.

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    You have missed out lens. No point getting D-SLR unless your going to change lens. They are big clumsy lumps now too big to have Eveready cases and unless you intend to change the lens why carry around an advert to mug me I'm rich device?
    OK there are other advantages but so much of the cost of an SLR hinges around to ability to change the lens.

    To me the big problem is a D-SLR has a 18-55mm lens and the compact has a 10x lens and it is not easy to compare. √(18²x10) = 56.921 so the two lenses do about same zoom but since 10x does not give starting point not a direct comparison but the compact as name implies is smaller.

    Yes the CCD on a D-SLR is likely bigger and it likely can take pictures in RAW and has built in histogram to tell you have your doing. However that then takes one to next level is computer software and to read RAW files either you use the bundled software and have to know how to do tone mapping or buy something like Photoshop CS4.

    I have spent the last 6 months 5 hours a week learning how to use my D-SLR and I love it. Best thing I could have done and I really enjoy the hobby. However unless you are willing to spend the time to learn how to use the camera then its a lot of money for very little gain.

    I use a slide copier, bellows, 400mm fixed lens, and reversing rings and to use all these one needs to be able to remove the lens. But I see nothing on your list which needs one to remove the lens to use.

    Not trying to put you off, as I say I love my D-SLR but do consider if it's the best option for you?

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    I can think of a million reasons not to trust Ken Rockwell. He's just telling lies right there...
    I know a photographer who completely destroyed her new D2X by wiping it carefully with a swab that accidentally had picked up a microscopic bit of dirt.
    The filter in front of the sensor (you can't actually touch the sensor, there is always something in front of it) is basically a piece of glass. I'd like to see Ken try and "destroy" a piece of glass using only a swab and a "microscopic bit of dirt". Good luck Ken!

    You'll have a hard time damaging the sensor. It's not as fragile as people tend to think. You'll still want to be very carefull with it, but Ken just doesn't know what he's talking about. Seems to be a common theme along his website...
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    Some of the stuff on your list comes with the camera. For instance the D300 has a LCD cover and every Nikon lens I have ever purchased has a lens hood. You will pretty much see what you need as you go along. I would purchase a tripod before a flash and when you do buy the flash get the best one for you camera. For Nikon it's the SB900. It will pay off in the long run. You can get away with using white foam board or those reflective car sunshades as reflectors at first. If you find yourself using them a lot you might want a 3 in 1 reflector. They fold up quite small.

    Back to the tripod- invaluable if you want to do HDR photos, scenics or portraits. You can set up a nice portrait session with just window light and a reflector of some sort.

    If you like to do macros or close up photography you definitely need a tripod as well as for city lights at night.

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    masp is offline Senior Member
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    ericmark: Well I don't know what to say. I assumed that lenses would be so obvious as not warrant mentioning.

    42: Thanks for the tip. I try to take Rockwell with a grain of salt usually.

    JAS: Do you think this Flashpoint 1128 Carbon Fiber Tripod is overkill? It's $140 at Adorama and weighs, 2.64 pounds. I think there are cheaper and heavier aluminium ones too, but there are also aluminium ones in the same price range that weigh twice as much.

    marko: Oh yeah, feel free to blog the list. I'm going to make a few changes based on the great input I've gotten so far. Also, how useful is a light meter outside of the studio? I guess I could use it to train my eyes to calculate manual exposures.
    Last edited by masp; 03-22-2010 at 03:40 PM.

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    Thx masp! I'll likely blog it tomorrow so if you edit today it'll be fresh
    Wow I'm hearing lots of anti-ken lately, but I have to admit that the $4.19 cent ear syringe does look like it would do the same job as my 12 dollar blower. Can't possibly know if it's identical in performance but I gotta say, it's also giving me a chuckle...ear syringe

    The lens pen seems pretty durable for sure. The lens cleaning nib thing looks like it would take a long long time to wear out and turning the cap a bit after each use is supposed to refresh the nib thing. The brush thing is cool cuz it retracts into the pen after use. You can just shake the bristles on something to get rid of the dust you remove. I've only been using it a short while so I can't talk long term but so far seems like a good product.

    Light meters for normal (non multiple lights) outdoor use are rarely needed anymore IMO. Looking at the exposure on screen plus the use of the histogram is plenty.
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