I’m a novice photography who has been using a DSLR since spring 2011. When starting out, I was lucky to have a couple of coworkers give me some advice that helped me choose my equipment. Below is what I am using now. In some cases, I know there might have been ‘better’ choices, but ultimately I chose equipment that I thought would be useful and still affordable. As I add equipment, I’ll update this page.
I chose Nikon over Cannon for no particular reason other than it’s what many of my friends shoot and I figured they’d be able to help me if I ran into any issues. The D3100 was the newest release and based on input for my semiprofessional photography friends the reviews seemed better than its predecessor. It included the standard 18-55mm lens as well as a 55-200mm and a carrying case.
I use this camera for my underwater photos and as a backup in case something ever happens to my Nikon while on vacation. I purchased the Nikon COOLPIX AW100 because I liked the quality and several of it’s features, but one of the main reasons is because you can chose a camera setting (i.e. underwater) and when the camera is turned on and off it remembers the last camera setting. When I was in the Galapagos, but previous underwater camera required that I chose “underwater” every time I turned it one which was a waste of time as a sea lion was swimming towards me.
Nikkor 18-55mm Lens
This is the lens that came with my camera when I purchased it. It also came with a 55-200mm lens, but I’ve since given that lens away.
After shooting for a while it became crystal clear to me that I do not have the patience to change lenses all the time. Again, I called my semiprofessional photography friends to get advice on the type of lens to purchase. One of them recommended this street lens which gives me the flexibility of shooting close up and far away. I have not regretted this purchase at all…it caters to my lazy genes.
I actually bought this lens used from a great camera local camera shop (Kenmore Camera). I really wanted a wider angle lens since I take a lot of landscape photos. This is my first departure from Nikkor lenses and I’m very happy with the results so far.
Camera Bag and Accessories
Lowepro Photo Sport 200 AW – I’ve gone through many, many camera bags. It wasn’t until I purchased this bag that I was completely happy. The biggest problem I had was finding something that is comfortable for hiking and traveling. It needed to be able to hold water for hiking (it has an area for a water bladder…bought separately) and it needed to be able to hold my laptop and other items when traveling. I also didn’t want a huge bulky and heavy pack (there are plenty of those out there). The Lowepro Photo Sport is perfect for me.
I broke down and bought a flash even though most of my photography is outdoors. I realized that there are times I want to take photographs inside or of people. I decided to get a higher end flash, so this one has features that my current camera does not support. It can act as either a master or slave, so when I upgrade my camera body I’ll be able to use multiple flashes if I want to.
Benro A-1690T Tripod – This was the second tripod I purchased; the first one had limitation that I didn’t care for. This one collapses to 15.5 inches, but extends to a height of nearly 5 feet. I also love some other features like the quick release system, the level, and its ability to adjust nearly flat for different photo angles.
Manfrotto 498RC2 Tripod Head – While I like the compact nature of my Benro tripod, I’ve hated the ball-head that came with it. I went into Kenmore Cameras expecting to leave with a new tripod head that didn’t have a “ball”. Turns out I just wanted more flexibility. This Manfrotto head has been working great and is less “floppy” than the Benro head that only had one adjustment.
UV Filter – I didn’t really understand why I needed this at first, but a photography instructor told me the least it does is protect your actual lens. When I found out it would cost $30-40 I wasn’t sure, but I recently visited Tikal and my camera slipped off my lap. I definitely realized how important it was after that.
Polarizing Filter – This is a new purchase, so I haven’t used it yet. My hope is that future photos taken on clear days, with bright blue skies, will be better exposed.
Hoya 1-8 Stops ND Filter – I haven’t used this filter yet, but I’m excited to try it when I want to use a slower shutter speed, but there is too much light. I highly recommend the circular version that has multiple stops instead of purchasing several different ND filters.
72mm to 82mm Adapter Ring – When I purchased my new lens (82mm), I thought I would have to purchase filters to fit it and my zoom lens (72mm). Instead I bought an adapter ring and now all my 82mm filters will fit both. The adapter doesn’t cost much and will save a ton of money for filters.
Vivitar Shutter Release Remote -I opted to purchase a Vivitar shutter release remote. It was more affordable than the Nikon remote. The Vivitar remote comes with both wired and wireless options (Nikon is two different purchases). This is a new purchase, so I haven’t used it yet.
Spare Battery – I cannot express enough that having a spare battery can “save” your travels/events/photographic adventure. I was just in a workshop and someone accidentally came with a dead battery. They were more than happy that my spare fit their camera.
SD Cards – Currently I have two 16gig SD memory cards. I’ve heard repeatedly that I should use several smaller cards. For now I’ll go with what I have, but I will take the advice into account when I purchase additional memory cards.
Software and Books
Adobe Photoshop Elements – I use Photoshop Elements (v11). I shoot all my photos in JPEG Fine and RAW.
Nikon D3100 for Dummies – Before anyone judges this purchase…I used to think that ‘for dummies’ books were ridiculous, but after giving in and purchasing one a few years ago (on another topic) I was sold. They really do break things down into easily digestible pieces. This book was just what I needed to get started.