Photography Gear Worth Saving For

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Whether you’ve been photographing for a while now or just got your shiny new camera there are a few things you’re going to want to save up for.  Unfortunately photography can be quite an expensive hobby.  If you’re not independently wealthy, or selling your organs, you may have to take some time to accumulate the cash to purchase the equipment you’ll need want.  Here are a few things worth saving up for and in the order in which I’d add them to my gear (I’m going to assume you’ve got a camera already).

Tripod

If you didn’t purchase this when you bought your camera then this should be your very next purchase, they should come with cameras right from the factory.  Once you acquire a tripod the hours you can photograph more than doubles, no more packing up your gear when the sun starts to go down.  No more blurry photographs either.  It’s a must.  If you are an avid enthusiast and feel as though the tripod is overrated I’d challenge you to use it for a month and compare the quality of photographs you get to the plethora of images you already had.  The tripod images will be sharper.

Articles about tripods:
The Most Versatile Camera Tripod
How to Take Sharper Photographs

Camera Bag

Well, if you are anything like myself this will be on the bottom of your list.  Not because I have a hatred for camera bags but because I figured I could re-purpose one of my many backpacks I had lying around the house.  I’ll save you the time and energy… don’t.  Your camera gear costs way to much to let it flop around in the bottom of your old backpack rubbing up against lenses, filters, batteries, camera bodies, and skittles (in the off-chance you may want to taste the rainbow).  Move “Camera Bag” back up your list and purchase a bag that has specific place holders for your camera body and it’s lenses.

It’s important you keep your gear in tip-top shape, you want to upgrade camera gear and selling your old gear is a great way to off set the cost.

Article about a camera bag:
Camera Backpack for the Active Photographer

Lens Filters

There are three filters you should either go out and buy right now or put on the short list.  Polarizer, Graduated Neutral Density, and Neutral Density filter.  DON’T SKIMP!  You can skimp on the tripod if you’d like, you can skimp on the camera bag too, you can even skimp a little on the camera, but if you skimp on the lens filters then all that other stuff is worthless.  You could have the most expensive camera in the world mounted on a solid gold tripod that you carried up the mountain in your camera bag made of baby seal skins and stitched together by Rumpelstiltskin herself and you’d still have crappy images if you use a cheap lens filter.  Expect to spend between $90 and $190 for a good quality lens filter (B+W Filters are the best I’ve found).

But John, what about a UV filter?  I have to get a UV filter to protect my lens!  Honestly, if you’re careless enough to smack the end of your lens into your doorknob then a UV filter is not what I’d suggest.  Put your lens cap on your lens when you are not looking through it, that simple.  Everything you put in front of your lens will affect the image, UV filters (even the most expensive) slightly decrease the quality of your image.

Articles about lens filters:
Camera Lens Filter Guide
How to Use Your Circular Polarizer Filter
Graduated Neutral Density Filters
How to Use a Ten Stop Neutral Density Filter in Five Steps

Remote Shutter Release

I didn’t put remote trigger up with tripod because they normally cost around $20 or $30 and most cameras have shutter delay settings built in for free.  If you want to take a photograph at slow shutter speeds and avoid camera shake then either use a remote trigger or the delay.  I prefer the remote trigger because my only on camera delay choices are 2 sec or 12 sec (2 seconds is too fast and 12 seconds is too long).  You can get either a wired or wireless remote when shopping around but I’d opt for the wireless.  If you’re holding the wired remote and the wind picks up it can grab the wire and introduce small amounts of shake to your camera (and then the image), negating the whole reason you used it.

Better Lenses

Here is a fun fact, the lenses you own will outlast your camera.  When you are shopping for a lens it is far better to save and save and save until you have enough to buy the best lens you can afford, this will make all the difference in the world.  Most folks will buy a new camera thinking that is what they need to get better images, when in fact the lens they own is all that is holding them back.  The glass you shoot through has the largest impact on the quality of the image you are able to capture.  That doesn’t mean you can duct tape a $3,000 dollar lens to your iPhone camera, your camera does play a role in your ability to capture crisp, clean images.  However, most people outgrow their lenses long before they outgrow their cameras.  This should be your largest investment, a great camera body can be had for sub $2000 these days but you’ll find yourself spending more than that over time collecting the lenses you want.

Articles about camera lenses:
Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 – Best Lens for the OMD EM5
The Only Canon Lens You’d Need
Best Nikon Lens for 2013
Best Inexpensive DX Lens for Your Nikon

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