Rule 2: Think beyond the Camera

This blog received its first comment the other day. (Thanks Claforet for the comment, and for inspiring this article.) His comments lead nicely to my second rule – Think beyond the camera.

This can even be an issue when buying a compact camera. My wife bought an Olympus compact camera and was then horrified by the price of XD cards compared to SD cards. Thankfully a microSD to XD adapter solved the problem.

It really is something to consider with an interchangeable lens camera.

When you buy an SLR or mirrorless system camera, the temptation is to think only of the camera, but if Photography has taught me anything, it is that photography is an expensive hobby. Choosing a camera is really only the start of the journey. There are lenses, flash, battery grips, memory cards, card readers, tripods, remotes, and camera bags. (Camera bags are a nightmare in themselves!) Then there’s software, printers, etc, etc, etc.

It doesn’t need to be expensive though (That’s my fourth rule). There are budget options and there are wise decisions that can save the photographer a lot of money in the long-run. For example, I always buy a cheap Chinese knock-off remote release instead of the exorbitant own brand ones. The Chinese copies aren’t that bad, and at that price, they can afford to be replaced when they break. (Having said that, I’ve never had one break on me yet.)

It becomes most important to ‘think beyond the camera’ when it comes to lenses, and this is what Claforet eluded to. It is more important to consider the lenses you put in front of the camera sensor that the sensor itself and there are several reasons why?

Firstly, there is no point splashing out on a pro-spec DSLR if you can only afford to put an old 28-80mm lens on it. You just won’t see the benefit of all those megapixels and all that extra processing power. In fact you’re better off buying an entry level camera and partnering it up with a more expensive lens. You’ll get better results.

Secondly, Camera manufacturers are trying to lock you into their brand, which is why the camera body is just the start. They want you to build up a collection of lenses and other accessories because they know it’s an expensive business changing brands. (I know, I’ve done it a couple of times.)

Thirdly, as Claforet pointed out, your lenses (if looked after) will outlast your camera. The better the lenses, the longer they will last. (Not always, but as a general rule, I’d say that was true.)

Lastly, lenses dictate what you can and cannot capture with your camera. I learned this the hard way at my first airshow. I’d only just started on my photographic journey and decided to take a Zenit 11, which was my favourite camera at the time, and because I had a couple of lenses for it while I only had a 50mm lens for my Ricoh. The trouble was, I didn’t have a telephoto lens long enough to capture the action going on before me and the Red Arrows were rendered as the red dots. I’d been so pre-occupied with collecting different cameras, that I’d neglected my lenses. Soon after I sold the Zenit and the lenses and spent the money building up a collection of lenses for my Ricoh.

Ever since then I’ve maintained a collection of lenses that take me from 24mm to 300mm with at least one prime at 35mm or 50mm. I rarely use the telephoto lens, but I always like to have it handy, just in case.

So think beyond the camera. It will save you a lot of bother in the long run.

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One thought on “Rule 2: Think beyond the Camera

  1. Very much on-point and thanks for the quote! It is such a critical part of convincing a “new” photographer to carefully look down the road before popping out a large sum on a camera. Well made decisions will pan out in totally unexpected ways…for example, I shoot today with a Nikon D-700 and use lenses that I have accumulated over time.

    A couple months ago, I decided to move into the the DSLR direction for filming and set my HD camcorder on the shelf. What I have discovered since then is that my prime and small-range zooms (e.g. 14mm, 24mm, 50mm, 85mm, and 35-70) Nikon lenses produce wonderful filmic images. With the price of a new camera body, I have been able to further leverage my lens investments over the past 20 years in a totally unexpected (and fruitful) way.

    This is true of other purchases one might make. For example, I only just recently gave up my Tamrac bag that lived with me for the last 18 years (and passed it on to my daughter – it is still in perfect condition) to replace it with a new Tamrac 614 (to accomodate two camera bodies). The old one grew perfectly with my growing needs over the years. The same is true of tripods, flashes, filters, and so on.

    So, camera bodies will come and go, but good lenses will continue to produce excellent images for quite some time.

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