Essential Camera Gear

Posted 2009.08.10 9.09 in Hobbies, Photography by Stephanie

So comparing this weekend’s visit to Loafers Lake to last weekend’s trip to Belfountain, I felt there was a huge difference in the experience for me. The difference was in how I took the photos, how I felt about the camera, and how I feel about the photos themselves – and ultimately, reminding me what can be accomplished with the simple combination of a good camera, a good lens, and a good eye.

Tim Lake

Tim Lake

At Belfountain, I took my whole camera bag, with all my lenses and accessories. It was cumbersome and heavy, and I felt awkward changing lenses – partially from not being fully used to my new camera yet, but partially because the way the lens release works is not as natural it was on my 20 year old 35mm gear. On the other hand, whenever I wanted to go from a wide to a telephoto shot, it only took a minute or so to switch the lens out so I did have every focal length I could possibly need.

This weekend when I went to Loafers Lake, I took only my camera and a “prime” lens (fixed focal length). The lens I chose is my 30mm f/1.4 – the sensor on my camera is an APS-C size (smaller than a 35mm / full frame sensor) so the 30mm focal length on this camera is equivalent of a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera – in other words, it is a “normal” perspective lens. Without having the heavy, awkward camera bag I felt a lot less encumbered, and rather than having to worry about what would look good on what lens, the only thing I had to think about was what would look good, period. Sure there might have been some opportunities missed, due to not having a telephoto or a wide-angle, but ultimately you can have every lens in the world and still not have the perfect lens for every moment.

As for the results? Well it’s all subjective of course, but personally I am pleased with both. The shots from Belfountain were nice, and the shots from Loafers Lake were nice too. The difference is, I think I had a bit more fun taking the Loafers Lake ones, I feel a bit more proud of them because I didn’t have a bag of lenses to ‘cheat’ with, and it was definately more relaxing.

Now I’m not saying that all the other lenses and gear is a waste of money – there’s always going to be occasions where you do need special lenses for specific work. For example, last week my parents asked me to take some photos around their house so they could add them to their online listing (they are trying to sell their house) and for that work, it was exclusively wide-angle time. For sports or nature, a telephoto or zoom telephoto is probably going to be necessary. And sometimes you want a wide-to-tele zoom, so you have a good range covered without having to swap lenses.

For me though, for now, as I try to get my eye back into the habit of seeing and framing good pictures, the normal prime lens is the one I’ll be using most. And this is what the experts recommend for someone just getting started too – the most important gear you can get to start with:

  • The camera body
  • A fast prime normal perspective lens
  • Your eyes, and your mind

That’s the essential gear.

Algonquin Sunshine

Algonquin Sunshine

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