Posted by: sawyerlaw | October 22, 2009

Camera Recommendations

**I am directing all future inquiries about my camera equipment/gear to this post for efficiency sake. I’ll try to keep this post current, so check back when you’re ready to buy something. [Updated 01/21/2010]

First of all, I’m flattered that you found one or more of my fantabulous photos to be so cool that you want to make the same kind of photos. You can! I know about the Nikon, Canon and Sony product lines…and that Costco has a great return policy, etc. I agree with the notion that “one’s camera is irrelevant” and just about any camera kit out there will be good enough to put you on your way to making great photos, but I do care about saving money without sacrificing quality.

You’re welcome to check out my gear, but here’s what I recommend for the beginner who wants room to grow and stuff that will last:

  • Nikon D40 Kit: ($400-425) includes the excellent 18-55mm kit lens and accessories. don’t be tempted by the inferior, but newer D40x, D60, D3000, or D5000.  Although this camera is sold as a kit, and not body-only, you can often find a refurbished model with or without the kit lens for $275-300
  • Nikon 35mm f/1.8 lens: ($199) this could be the only lens you need, it’s just that the D40 is sold as a kit only. Great for portraits and shooting indoor without a flash.
  • Nikon ML-L3 wireless remote control: ($15) Nikon should include this with basic accessories, but they don’t. Magically takes photos on timer mode or instant mode.
  • 2 Tiffen 52mm UV filters: ($5 each) one for each lens. never touch the lens glass and keep a filter on from day one.
  • 4GB SD memory card: ($12) Personally, I use a 4GB card. For $5, the 2GB is probably fine, too. If you plan to travel without your computer, you can buy a 16GB ($35) OR 32GB ($80) card before your trip.

So, for about $650, you’ll have a real quality setup. Heck, you’d be fine without the 35mm lens, too, but it’s really that good. If you have a bigger budget and/or want to make ultra-wide images, then take a look at Ken Rockwell’s DX Dream Team suggestions. Lenses hold their value and will depreciate about 10-20% over 10 years. Camera bodies depreciate much faster, at about 10-25% per year. Additionally, Ken’s camera recommendations page is worth reviewing before you buy.

Beware of gimmicks! Know the Megapixel Myth and don’t convince yourself that you need to buy a newer model because of it can record video. Video mode opens your camera’s sensor to dust and currently lacks normal autofocus (true for both Nikon and Canon cameras). For the additional money that a video-capable DSLR would cost, you could buy the excellent Flip mino HD ($130), or any other HD video camera and have much better results.


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