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Beginners Kit

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Showing 1-25 of 40 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Feb 2012 23:10:25 GMT
At the moment I have got a Canon 600d with a kit lens, I have £250 to spend on new lenses. I know this is only going to get me the basic lenses but that' all I want, I was thinking about the Canon 70-300, the 50mm 1.8 and a third party battery grip. I think this is the most practical for everyday shooting in different situations. What's your opinion?

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Feb 2012 01:27:18 GMT
I'd want IS on a 300mm lens. Mind you I have a 300mm lens and I've only used the full range once. I generally use a 55mm to 200mm on my Sony.

Posted on 14 Feb 2012 12:50:56 GMT
Take a look at the Canon 55-250mm. It has IS for an extra £20-30 and the focal range is almost what you are looking for. Thoroughly reccommend the 50mm f1.8, the image quality is superb and you can get some great results with the shallow dof. As for the 3rd party grip, I got one to make my 550D easier to hold steady with my large hands, had it for over a year now and have had no problems whatsoever.
For your budget you've got a good selection of kit that should get you some great results

Posted on 14 Feb 2012 15:25:23 GMT
Last edited by the author on 14 Feb 2012 15:26:43 GMT
HP says:

1) £250 is considered nothing in the photography world for lenses. But a good amount to start on for beginners.
2) DO NOT get the Canon 70-300, it's not a "everyday range" for one. Also as Dr G Austin pointed out, you NEED IS at long focal ranges, unless you
have super steady hands.
3) Canon 50 1.8 is wonderful but I don't think it is worth getting for ONE BIG REASON, on a 600D a 50 mm becomes around 80 mm. This is far too long a focal
length for indoors or any other tight space. Let's just say 80 mm is more than an everyday focal length, good for portraits mind you.
4) Battery grip is not necessary, have you factored in the cost for SD cards/ Camera Bag/ Filters.

5) For a beginner I recommend a nice prime ( better picture quality) look into the canon 35 mm f 2, sigma 30 mm f 1.4 for canon etc.


I would get a nice SD card, camera bag and a Sigma 30 mm f 1.4. You get 8 aperture blades, so nice bokeh (blur), a big aperture, the ideal prime focal length and decent build quality.

Posted on 14 Feb 2012 18:09:43 GMT
X says:
Hari: Point 3 should refer to a change in the FOV, not in the focal length. With my sparse experience I reckon a 50mm focal length, whatever the FOV may be, is an uncomfortable minimum for portrait work and requires a lot of thought as to what the perspective will do to the subject. My "safe" guidelines for portraits are 80mm to 110mm, with which you can get the facial proportions correct from any angle. Less or more I start looking for a way to stand back from the subject and/or shooting a pose from three-quarter front to profile.

Folk who still use a real large format get to see the portrait nearer to the way it will work out when printed and can handle perspective distortion before the shot goes in the can. Fashion work isn't done on medium format film just to make the photographer look sexy and exciting; the bigger you see the better you see.

Posted on 2 Mar 2012 00:05:09 GMT
Hello, i'm new in the photography world and just bought a canon 7d to begin with but i don't know anything about photography and the camera, so i would appreciate if anyone could tell me the kinds of lenses to get for this venture. My interest in photography is taking shots of weddings and birthdays occasions. Really need kind advice.

Posted on 2 Mar 2012 13:53:43 GMT
X says:
Nsima: Welcome.

First: Don't add more kit until you've reached the limits of what you can do with what you have already. That will teach you to use your talent more than your hardware, and will show you exactly what extra kit you will use the most.

Second: Buy this book, read, read until you understand it. Don't be shy of asking here for items you do not understand, since enough of us also own it. Try to apply all the advice and thoughts the book contains to your own photography.

It's the best few pounds you will invest in as an amateur photographer:

Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera

What lens(es) do you have already?

Posted on 2 Mar 2012 18:29:39 GMT
Last edited by the author on 2 Mar 2012 18:34:09 GMT
Graham H says:
Why does everyone seem to think they need to buy more lenses??? If you're new, then stick to learning your stuff with the perfectly good kit lens that it comes with! Then, IF you find you need to take pictures which fall outside the parameters that the kit lens can handle, THEN it's time to look at more gear.

I have an 18-70 zoom, a 55-200 zoom and a 50mm prime. Which one do I use the most? The 50mm prime. The smallest, lightest and cheapest lens that Nikon make.
I can't even remember the last time I used the 55-200. And, true to form, it was the first "Extra" I bought after my camera. Like an idiot.

Posted on 2 Mar 2012 19:54:21 GMT
X says:
I bought a fish-eye, an ego-trip if ever there was one. In two years it never offered me a way of treating a subject better than the 24mm could offer. It has been for sale for over a year. Enquiries so far? None. Lesson expensively learned.

Posted on 2 Mar 2012 21:36:46 GMT
Last edited by the author on 2 Mar 2012 21:39:36 GMT
Graham H says:
A fish-eye! That's an unusual purchase. So, come on guys, what's the most useless bit of photography kit you've ever bought before you knew any better? Anyone beat X's fisheye? Anyone have one of those hotshoe-mounted spirit levels, for example?
Answers on a postcard please...

If you'll be taking pictures of social events and weddings, etc. you're in luck. The wide zoom that most likely came as a kit with your new Canon will be the most useful thing for the job. You only need more lenses if you're doing more specialised things. You'd need a huge zoom if you were doing wildlife. A huge and fast (ie: expensive!) zoom if indoor sports and theatre are your thing, etc. etc.

I would second X's advice and strongly recommend the book he links to above. I have it, and it's brilliant. My brother (who knows waaay more about photography than I ever will) kindly bought it for me a few years ago. It's far, far more useful than new gadgets. And I speak as a bloke who likes new gadgets. ;-)


Posted on 2 Mar 2012 22:14:19 GMT
Trying to decide between 50mm f1.8 Nikon lens 97.00 versus 213.00. Can't determine the difference in the two lens.

Posted on 2 Mar 2012 22:51:50 GMT
Graham H says:
The £97 one is the old AF-D autofocus lens. Focuses by means of a motor in the camera body turning a geared mechanism built into the lens. Was originally a film camera lens (still is) but will autofocus on medium-range and upwards digitals (D5100 and higher) Works on entry-level ones, but manual focus only.
The dearer '50 is an AF-S lens. Same optically, but has the AF motor built into the lens, so will autofocus on the lower-end cameras.

In terms of the pictures they produce there'll be no real difference. I prefer the cheaper one because I use film cameras as well as a Nikon D90, and this autofocuses fine on both. The old model has the advantage of an aperture ring, whereas the new one doesn't.
This will only be an issue on old film cameras though, whereby if you use the dearer lens you won't be able to use the film camera in "Aperture" or "Manual" modes.

Which one you go for all depends on which camera you're using. The pictures will be the same. Both are excellent!

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Mar 2012 21:47:47 GMT
Last edited by the author on 4 Mar 2012 09:21:47 GMT
I could happily "make do" with my f2.8 17mm to 50mm. I use it over 95% of the time.
Least used purchase: 11mm to 18mm lens jointly with 18mm to 250mm zoom. (they were cheap off Ebay). One day they wll have their moment I'm sure.
I'm glad I saved £300 by not buying an advanced flash gun. My old Mecablitz 360 works fine (with a little fiddling to get the initial exposure and set on manual).

Posted on 3 Mar 2012 22:23:07 GMT
X says:
I recently modernised my flash kit to one of those dimpled reflectors with a disposable blue bulb inside. A health and safety concern. It's very economical: I can't find any bulbs anywhere.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Mar 2012 08:47:21 GMT
Hi Ed
It'll be back to the Magnesium powder then?
I noted that you could still buy it from Wallace heaton in the early 50s.

Posted on 4 Mar 2012 09:12:32 GMT
Bill says:
Hi, I love this forum, its honest and a total contradiction to the manufacturers who want you to buy a bag full of kit. If you lot worked in such as Jessops you would be fired on the first day for being honest. i have a Fuji HS20 bought on the advice of a semi pro friend. It does what it says on the tin and I would have to spend a lot more money to get something better. My advisor warned me about the cost of DSLR lenses and he has proved right. I intend to get the book on Exposure and digest it. I am semi retired and every penny has to count, ill health prevents me from working any more than I do. If we all took notice of the ads we would spend thousands more than we have to.

Posted on 4 Mar 2012 09:59:11 GMT
Graham H says:
Oddly enough Kenneth, I did get "Fired" to all intents and purposes from a sales job in a certain mobile phone store. I told their "Mystery Shopper" quite truthfuly, that there was no point in upgrading from what they already had as it would just tie them into a longer contract for minimal benefit from the new model!
There is no longer any such thing as honesty in retail chains, no matter how much "Customer Cuddling" the big corporations spend money on.
I will happily pay a bit over the odds to support shops like "Grays Of Westminster" but big retail chains can suck my b***s.

Posted on 4 Mar 2012 11:12:07 GMT
X says:
Kenneth: Welcome! Please carry on reading, and contribute whenever you feel like it. No two photographers have exactly the same experience, and the more we all can read the better.

Posted on 4 Mar 2012 12:17:59 GMT
Graham H says:
You can still buy magnesium powder on Fleabay! Except that as it's prohibited, the listing is for an empty bottle that is ready-labelled and capable of holding 250g of magnesium powder. A little reading between the lines is called for there I think.
I wonder if Nikon's TTL system calculates the amount of powder needed for daylight fill flash? That's be clever!

Posted on 5 Mar 2012 18:32:43 GMT
Samdoha says:
Hello! I am looking for some advice about lenses for my new Canon 600D. I have the lens with which it came, however I am keen to have one with more zoom. I am considering the 18-200mm lens for its 'all in one' features (I previously had a Sony alpha with 2 lenses which I was constantly swapping over). My concern is that I enjoy taking pictures of sporting events and stage / theatre. Will the 18-200mm be able to handle these things? Is there another, more suitable lens? All advice is appreciated!

Posted on 5 Mar 2012 23:06:47 GMT
Hi, I just got a 550D and a 50mm 1.8 and I am loving it as for the most pointless accessory I got a dead cat for the onboard microphone cost me 50p but was essentially a cut up piece of fake beard, if you want a good cheep external flash I found that Oolong do great ones that are similar to the speed lights by canon and nikon at a 3rd of the price you might have to take a look elsewhere for them as I'm not sure amazon have any. It would be great if any of you knew of a cheep light metering system as I am about to do a lot of studio work.

Posted on 5 Mar 2012 23:25:49 GMT
X says:
Eh: Wise fellow, perfect lens choice. Enjoy...

Posted on 5 Mar 2012 23:34:18 GMT
Last edited by the author on 5 Mar 2012 23:35:02 GMT
Graham H says:
Apparently, there's what I believe the young people call an "App" for the iPhone that is a remarkably accurate light meter. Assuming of course that one already has an iPhone, otherwise it's not really all that cheap anymore.

And yes, another vote for the 50mm F/1.8 from me. Great lens design.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Mar 2012 10:28:14 GMT
Depends what you want to photograph.

Posted on 17 Mar 2012 12:52:39 GMT
Hi, I'm just getting started on product photography for my (upcoming) website. Spending a lot on the website so I need to save money by taking the product shots myself. I have a Canon 350D (old, but I love it). I need advice on a value-for-money kit including lights and set up suitable for photographing jewellery and books, etc. and also 1/2 mannequins (either top or bottom). Also can you help me with a choice of a reasonably cheap, yet effective, macro lens?

Thanks so much!
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Participants:  13
Total posts:  40
Initial post:  13 Feb 2012
Latest post:  19 Mar 2012

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