I frequently get asked about which lenses, equipment, books, etc. to buy so I’ve decided to start a list to direct people to instead of digging up the links each time I answer. (I’ll be adding more as questions are answered.)
One of the easiest ways to waste money in photography is to buy a cheap tripod. Unless you’re spending $150 or more, you might as well be lighting that money on fire for all the good your flimsy tripod will do you. If you’re not ready to invest in a tripod, hold onto your money until you are. When you’re ready, these are the ones to look at:
- Manfrotto MK293A3-A0RC2 293 Aluminum Tripod Kit with Ball Head and Quick Release ~$150 – Lightweight, but sturdy. This is the minimum tripod you should get.
- Manfrotto Pro 055XPROB Tripod (Black) Outfit with 322RC2 Grip Action Head and MBAG80P Case ~$350 – Heavy, durable, pistol grip head and carrying case. This is the tripod that I use. I’ve put it through some incredible abuse and it keeps coming back for more.
- Gitzo GT2541EX Series 2 Carbon 6x 4 Section G-Lock Explorer Tripod – Replaces GT2540EX (Black) $560 (legs only) – If you’re looking for carbon fiber. This is a good place to start.
- Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras $220 – This lens is a little wider so it approximates a 50mm when used on a crop body.
- Nikon 40mm f/2.8G AF-S DX Micro $279 – The 40mm macro lens for crop body cameras.
- Nikon 60mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Micro-Nikkor Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras $550 – The 60mm macro lens for your crop-body camera. Also works great as a portrait lens!
- Tokina AT-X 116 Pro DX AF 11-16mm f/2.8 Lens For Nikon $699 – The budget wide-angle of choice. Better than the name-brand wide-angle DX lens in many regards.
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens $120 – The “fast” 50. This is the lens to get for shooting indoors and in low light.
- Canon EF 35mm f/2 Wide Angle Lens for Canon SLR Cameras $360 – This lens is a little wider so it approximates a 50mm when used on a crop body.
- Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX Digital Zoom Lens (for Canon EOS Cameras) $699 – The budget wide-angle of choice. Better than the name-brand wide-angle crop lens in many regards.
- LensPEN Lens Cleaning System $8 – Handy lens cleaner. Brush gets rid of dust and special pad removes smudges.
- Sensor Swab Plus Type 3 w/ Eclipse (4pk) $18 – This is what I use to clean my camera’s sensor (it’s not as scary as people have told you it is.) Easy to use and premoistened with exactly the right amount of cleaner. There are different sizes for different camera sensors, so check the reference to be sure you’re getting the right size for your camera (if you have a crop sensor you probably want this one.) Some of the reviews make it sound like a bad product, but my experience has been completely opposite. Easy to use, great results, and about a tenth of the cost of paying someone else to clean it for you.
- ColorMunki Photo – Monitor, Printer & Projector Profiler $450 – Tired of you prints coming out wildly different from what you saw on your monitor? Want to make sure you’re really seeing your photos? This is what you need.
- X-Rite i1Display 2 Color Calibrator for LCD, CRT, and Laptop Displays $180 – If the price tag on the ColorMunki is too much, this one will do a great job calibrating your monitors. (No printer calibration.)
- Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera $16
- The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos $18
Lightroom is the software for you to manage, edit, print, and share your photos.
- Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 $149
- Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Student and Teacher Edition $79 (Must submit proof of student/teacher status)
Full disclosure: if you buy something through one of these links I’ll get between a 4-10% kickback. I won’t be upset if you don’t buy through these links, but I’ll be very appreciative if you do.