If you’re anything like me, taking better, more meaningful photos of the family (and then actually doing something with those photos) is an ongoing goal. I’m still working on it at my house but I will say that I made some serious progress once I finally committed to purchasing my first (and so far only) DSLR camera 4 years ago.
It was a scary move – a big purchase for someone who had absolutely no idea what I was doing with such a fancy piece of equipment. But eventually I taught myself a few things and the special moments I’m able to capture now during ballet recitals, holidays, and even just trips to the park make it SO worth it.
In case your New Year’s resolution is to finally make the upgrade to DSLR (or you’ve got a little holiday money burning a hole in your pocket), I’ve asked one of our professional photographers on staff, Kristen, to round up her must-have equipment for DSLR newbies.
Here’s her list…
Whether you’ve always loved photography, or just want to take better photos of your kids before they’re grown and gone, maybe this is the year you’re ready to take the plunge and buy your first DSLR camera.
Having a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera will open up a whole new world of possibilities for your creative side. Your phone or your point and shoot can only go so far.
Before I was a professional photographer, I started with a point and shoot and could never get the look I was going for. I wanted creamy skin tones and blurred out backgrounds. But, the fact that the point and shoot (or camera phone) shoots at such a high aperture, it’s impossible to get that look.
I invested in my first DSLR and it was life-changing! I read the manual back to front and just kept practicing. It’s been 7 years since I bought my first DSLR and today I want to share some of my favorite accessories that I’ve bought along the way.
This is the newest version of the Canon Rebel, which is what I first purchased (and what Steph uses for all of her MPMK photos as well). It’s an EXCELLENT choice for the DSLR novice.
I currently own the Canon 5D Mark III, but the Rebel was what I learned on. The nice thing about Canon is that it’s easy to upgrade to the next camera. Everything stays fairly similar in the interface, so there’s not a huge learning curve and you don’t have to buy all new accessories.
When I bought the Rebel, it came with a lens kit, but I also bought the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens – commonly referred to as “the nifty fifty” and loved the world over for it’s great photos and super cheap price tag.
It allows you to really lower the aperture and play with the blurry background look. The standard lens kit that comes with the Rebel only goes down to a 4.5 aperture. This is a beginner lens, but definitely the best bang for your buck and definitely worth the additional investment.
As you start to collect your favorite lenses, you’ll want to have a safe place to put them that’s easy to get to. I personally love the ShootSac. It’s a neoprene bag that’s made specifically for carrying lenses.
If you prefer to house your camera and lenses together in a bigger bag, I also love the Crumpler Bags. I own this bag and it’s great because the inside pieces velcro, so you can configure them around the equipment that you own.
Some of the little things I feel it’s important to invest in include good memory cards, like the SanDisk Ultra CompactFlash Memory Card and a good lens cleaning kit. It’s SUPER important to clean your camera and lenses regularly and this kit is currently on sale for less than $10!
As you start taking more photos, your computer may get bogged down. I like to back my photos up on external hard drives. My favorite brand is the LaCie rugged hard drive. I’ve used this brand for years and have never had a problem.
Once you’ve got your equipment, you’ve got to figure out how to use it!
For that, I highly recommend the Scott Kelby Digital Photography Book. He has a 5 part series where he breaks down photography into a language that everyone can understand. The books are so helpful! (Steph actually taught herself to use her DSLR camera with only Kelby’s books.)
Last but not least, if you really want to bring your photos up a notch then you’ll want to experiment with some photo editing. For that, Photoshop Elements is a very beginner friendly (not nearly as overwhelming as the full scale photoshop) and there’s a Scott Kelby Photoshop Element’s book to teach yourself how to use it too!
I hope this list inspires you to finally take the leap into DSLR photography – here’s to fabulous photos this year!
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