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Lenses and bodies and tech, oh my!

From: Photography 101

Video: Lenses and bodies and tech, oh my!

When it comes to buying camera gear, it's really easy to get carried away. It's an incredible hobby but it can also be a very expensive hobby. So, I want to talk a little bit about the equipment that I have in front of me here, some of the choices that you can make when you're spending your hard earned cash on your camera gear and just basically how to divide your money if you're starting from scratch. So let's actually start with that. Let's say that you have a budget of a grand. And that's what you're going to spend on a camera and a single lens. So how do you decide how to divide that budget? In general here's what I like to tell people. Spend about a third of your money on the camera body.

Lenses and bodies and tech, oh my!

When it comes to buying camera gear, it's really easy to get carried away. It's an incredible hobby but it can also be a very expensive hobby. So, I want to talk a little bit about the equipment that I have in front of me here, some of the choices that you can make when you're spending your hard earned cash on your camera gear and just basically how to divide your money if you're starting from scratch. So let's actually start with that. Let's say that you have a budget of a grand. And that's what you're going to spend on a camera and a single lens. So how do you decide how to divide that budget? In general here's what I like to tell people. Spend about a third of your money on the camera body.

And the other two thirds on a lens. And here's why. A camera lens will last your entire life. As long as you take really good care of it and you buy quality gear to begin with, this will never have to be replaced. The body, on the other hand, is something that you're likely to want to replace after just a number of years. So if you put all your money into the body, chances are you're not going to get the most out of your investment. Now let's just say that you decide you're going to start out with something like this. This is a Rebel series camera, which is a lower cost camera body, and it's a perfectly good body to start with. When you buy this camera, you can get the kit lens that comes with it, which is just a pretty cheap, kind of plasticy lens, or you can choose to buy the body on its own, and then choose a better, higher quality lens to go with it, and that's what I really think you should do because that lens will last you for a really long time.

Where as after a couple years, you're probably going to want to replace the body. When you're talking about the money that you're going to put into the camera body, something like this is going to cost you a couple hundred dollars. This range is going to cost you a couple thousand, and this range is going to cost you several thousand. So of course, unless you're a working professional photographer, you don't need a camera like this. If you've got the cash, this is a fantastic range of camera to buy. This kind of middle to upper range DSLR. It's a fantastic body, it'll last you for a really long time, and it's really good quality. But don't feel bad if you can't afford this. Because this type of camera, a lower end camera, is still really really good.

And again, what makes the difference is the lenses. So let's talk a little about the lenses themself. And a difference between a lower cost and a higher cost lens. The cheapest lenses, like the one on here. Are generally made of plastic. And aren't going to last very long. So again, you want to put a little bit more money into the lens. Let's start with these two lenses as an example. These are both 50 millimeter lenses. Now 50 mill is a really good all purpose lens to have This one costs about $125 retail which means you can actually get it cheaper on the streets. This one right here is also 50 millimeter and this costs over $1600 retail. So what's the difference.

Well first of all, this ones made of plastic and it's alsoINAUDIBLE 1.8 so it's not terribly fast. However, for the money this is the fastest lens that you can buy for very, very little cash. This lens, on the other hand, is an F1.2, and if I hold the two up side by side, you can clearly see the difference. A lot more glass goes into that F1.2 lens than goes into the 1.8. What this means is I can shoot in much lower light, and it also means that I'm going to have a much shallower depth of field. In fact with this lens, the depth of field can be so shallow, that if I get close to the subject, and focus on their eye, their eyelash might be out of focus.

Now it sounds a bit extreme, but it does allow you to get very shallow depth of field, from a distance, which is what lenses like this are for. Another lens that's a similar vain, is this one here, the 85 1.2. As you can see, this is just a swimming pool for light. It is a massive, massive piece of glass. It's a very expensive lens, but it also gives you that incredibly shallow depth of field that is ideal for portraits. This is a wedding photographer's dream lens. But you don't always have to spend this kind of money. Let's take a look at something else here. This is a telephoto lense, a telephoto zoom and it's a 70 to 200 F4. This is about a midrange lense.

You can buy a cheaper version of this lense and you can buy a much more expensive one as well. The 70 to 200 F2.8 is the photojournalist lense. It is an incredible piece of equipment. It's big, it's heavy, it's durable, it will last forever, and it is amazing. But this lens cost about a third as much. It's F4 so it's a little bit slower, but it's incredibly sharp. This is an absolutely beautiful lens to work with, and it'll save you a whole lot of money. If you don't need that 2.8, and chances are you really don't in a long telephoto, this lens will save you a lot of money and last you just as long. If you spend less than this, you can buy one that has a variable aperture. That's a lens that says for example it goes from, 70 to 200, and F5.6, to F8 maybe.

At 200 millimeter it's F8, at 70 it's F5.6. It's not really ideal, and that's definitely not the higher quality lens. If it's all you can get, then that's fine. But if you can, save your money and buy something like this. It will last you a lot longer, and the overall quality is a lot better. Now let's talk about some of the other toys that you can buy. There's lenses like this. This is a fisheye lens. You can see the curvature of the lens here, and this gives you a super, super wide field of view, and it distorts, dramatically around the edges. It's kind of a specialized lens but it's a lot of fun to shoot with.

This is a macro lens. This is a 100 millimeter macro, and this is designed for shooting very, very close photos. This is great for shooting flowers, or anything that you want to get super super close to. But here's another tip about this lens. This is one of the sharpest lenses that Canon makes. >> On the Nikon and Sony realm, you'll also find that their macro lenses are incredibly sharp. The relatively inexpensive compared to something like this 85 millimeter portrait lens here. And they're incredibly sharp, they're quite fast, and these make fantastic portrait lenses even though they're sold as macro lenses.

Now one of the cool thing about (no period) This is a macro ring light. This snaps onto the front, and now you have a flash on the front of your lens, that you can photograph flowers, and other things up close, without having a lot of available light. So this is another really cool accessory, if you're into shooting macros. Now here's the thing about all this gear. You don't have to buy the gear that your manufacturer makes. So this is all Canon gear here. So these are Canon cameras, and these are all Canon lenses. >> Here I've got a Nikon, here I've got a Sony. And here I have a lens made by a company called Tamron. Sigma is another manufacturer that makes third-party lenses that can go on any of these cameras.

So if you can't quite afford the really high-end 7200 lens from Canon for example, you might be able to afford the similar lens, or in some cases almost identical lens, from another manufacturer. Again, like Tamron or Sony. Sometimes these lenses aren't very good, but sometimes they're amazing. And in fact, sometimes the third party lenses actually get better reviews than the native lens, the lenses made by the original manufacturer. And the only way that you can know this, is to do your homework. And what I recommend you do, is go to a website called dpreview.com This website is incredible, they have very very good, very thorough, and very unbiased reviews that show you just how good the gear is.

You can read pages and pages of information about the gear before you make the buying decision. And you can find out exactly what you're getting into before you plunk down your hard earned cash. So that's basically what I reccommend that you do. Again is a summary. Whatever your budget is. If your starting out. Spend a third on the body. Two thirds on the lens. And go from there. Buy lenses that your going to use for the rest of your life. And buy a body that you know your going to replace within a couple years. Because that's just progress. These things change every year dramatically. These guys, really don't. The lenses that are coming out today, are virtually identical to the ones that came out a few years ago, five, and even ten years ago. The cameras are changing so much, every year, that you pretty much are guaranteed you're going to want to buy a new camera within a couple years anyway. So again, that's how I'd advise you to spend your money. Do your homework.

Make sure you're buying something that you're going to be happy with for a long time. And you're going to love your career in photography.

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Photography 101

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Joseph Linaschke
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