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Thread: Mistakes made as I learnt more about photography

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    Default Mistakes made as I learnt more about photography

    Hi guys, I have started to go more into photography since Dec 2013 and as I knew more about photography, I realised I made alot of silly mistakes along the way that I thought I should share with you guys (audience: newbies) so maybe you can learn from my mistakes and save some money!
    Along the way I will state the approximate prices of the items (for 2nd hand in brackets) so you can get a clearer idea of what and how I spent wrongly/wisely.
    I'm a Nikon user.
    It is a long story but it will be worthwhile to read.

    Beginning stage

    This was before I got into photography.
    I started with a Nikon D5100 with a 18-55mm kit lens bought from IT show for a price of $1099 back in Dec 2011. From then on, it felt much "cooler" as I was using a DSLR compared to my previous compact digital camera. However, I shot using auto mode all the time. Never knew how to use M,A,S&P and never bothered to learn. Thought I used DSLR so very good already.



    Subsequently, I started seeing people with big cameras and wanted to upgrade mine. I bought a battery grip and extra battery from Chinatown store which was spoilt when I bought and I never did an exchange cause I didn't bother about its functions because I just wanted the camera to look bigger. Got what I wanted. Now I wanted my lens to look bigger too. I didn't know nuts about aperture nor reviews and just got the Tamron 70-300 VC and bought it new at a price of $690. This was a big mistake. I didn't use this lens until I sold it off 2nd hand to fund for upgrades.

    Subsequently, I wanted to buy a flash. Didn't know the differences between the models but wanted something looking big and cool while not too expensive. Bought a SB-700 which is still with me until now. You can't go wrong buying good flashes, just make sure you know how to fully utilise them.

    Set up:
    D5100+18-55mm kit lens+grip ($550)
    Tamron 70-300 VC ($430)
    SB-700 flash ($300)

    Asset worth: $1280

    Lesson Learnt: Don't buy what looks good, but what you need. And what you need is not the best equipment in the market. What you need is what you cannot achieve with your current lenses and cameras.


    Enthusiastic stage

    This was about in Nov 2013, about 2 years since I had my D5100. By then, D5300 was coming out and I wanted to improve my photography skills. I started reading up on photography, borrowing books from libraries and watching YouTube channels to learn more about photography. I started to know the link between aperture, shutter speed and ISO and hence my first image I learnt to take differently was a long exposure shot of Singapore's cityscape (creating smooth silky water). I bought new Hoya filters of CIR-PL, ND8, ND400 for my shots but bought them at 52mm sizes. This was a big mistake afterwards which I regretted. I should have gotten a 77mm threads and step up my filter threads because later on, I could not use any of those 52mm filters because they were too small and ended up spending more money.

    I bought a 2nd hand D7100 and as usual, bought battery grip and extra battery. But this time, I know why I need my battery grip, for the better ergonomics grip and the weight balance for usage of heavier lens other than my 18-55mm kit lens. This proved quite a good choice as I read up on how to buy 2nd hand DSLRs and got myself quite a reasonably priced one with zero user marks.



    I started to spend alot on photography, buying the following based on lenses reviews, portraiture videos etc and these are what I bought. The good thing was I got most of lenses in 2nd hand so I did not lose a cent (in fact I earned some money) when I sold them again.

    Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX lens
    Wanted to create bokehs and here was a quality lens that was cheap, effective and highly reviewed on. Never regretted buying it.

    Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S VR DX lens
    Wanted an extension of my kit lens but didn't want the bulk of my heavy Tamron. Didn't want to get a 55-200 as I felt it was troublesome to change between the 2 lenses. Got this very cheap as I found a seller who didn't know prices. Offered him $300 and he negotiated to $325 and I bought it. I thought it was averagely priced but later on found out I earned quite a bit. After getting, I never used my kit lens again.

    Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 DX lens
    Wonderful wide angle lens that I got. Super effective and it became everything of my landscape shots. Got some sunset graduated filters, blue graduated filters etc to play with and created quite some nice photos. I never needed the aperture of 2.8 cause I rarely shoot in the dark, and even so, it is on a tripod. I like long exposure shots so wide open apertures are useless to me. I combined this with my 18-200mm for all my backpacking shoots.

    SB-700
    YES. I bought another SB700 but this time was 2nd hand as I wanted to learn about off-camera flashes. Value price for the item but in the end never used much. And for the effect, I spent quite some bit of the items below too

    YongNuo 560 Mark III flash
    Couldn't afford 3 SB 700 so got this, value price for the item but in the end never used much.

    YongNuo 622N wireless triggers (x4)
    Made me look like a professional when I wirelessly controlled 3 off camera flashes. Now then I start learning how to place my flashes so you can see I was pretty dumb to have anyhow bought things.

    Light stand, umbrella and flash holder, umbrella (x3)
    I bought 2 of these light stand combinations for my 3 flashes. Usually ending up to use one umbrella most of the time. Wasted money buying too much.

    Sirui Tripod T1005 with G20 ballhead
    One correct investment I did. My previous free tripod from the purchase of my D5100 in 2011 was too light and unstable. Spent $179 to get one stable and solid one from TKfoto and never regretted it.

    Home Portable Product Light Tent with 2 softbox strobe
    Saw this online on sale for only $110 so got it. Until now then start delivery so haven't use. But I think it will be one good purchase for I can start learning product photography and lighting set up.

    Lowepro Camera Backpack
    Good buy. Keeps all my things. Only regret should have gotten one with a tripod holder. Now I have to manually hold my tripod in one hand which is troublesome.

    Set up:
    D5100+18-55mm kit lens+grip ($550)
    Tamron 70-300 VC ($430)
    D7100+grip ($1250)
    Nikon 35mm f/1.8 ($220)
    Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 ($420)
    Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 ($530)
    SB-700 flash [x2] ($600)
    YongNuo 560III ($80)
    UV filters [x2] ($50)
    Colour filters ($25)
    52mm Hoya CIR-PL, ND8, ND400 ($75)
    Umbrella light stand kit [x3] ($100)
    Sirui Tripod ($150)
    Portable product studio kit ($100)
    Lowepro Camera Bag ($50)

    Asset worth: $4780 (jump of $3500)

    Lesson Learnt: Learn the skills and knowledge of each photography type you are interested in fully before you purchase what you need. Don't buy before you learn, thinking you'll learn along the way. You'll end up buying too much that is left in the storeroom rotting away.

    Now

    I sold my D5100 with 18-55 set, Tamron 70-300, Nikon 35mm f/1.8, Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, my 3 Hoya 52mm filters.
    I bought a 2nd hand D600 and a Nikon 24-70 f/2.8, bought B+W ND400 77mm filter, camera trolley bag and a 5-in-1 reflector.



    Now my D7100 is with my Nikon 18-200mm which can cover my walk around focal lengths I need and provide the marco shots by using 200m on a crop sensor and if necessary, use the 1.3x crop in D7100 to get focal length equivalent to 400mm on full frame cameras. Not entirely suited for macro due to the widest aperture being 5.6, but good enough because I wanna save money. For the bokeh it provides me, I'm satisfied. Cheap lens with quality VR, professional DX camera without OLPF giving me crisper shots for any photograpy. This is where budget meets acceptable image quality.

    My D600 is equipped with my 24-70 f/2.8, so I would usually use this. If I need portraiture for full body to half body, my D600 can provide almost all of it with exceptional quality. What happens if I need a head to shoulders shot? No, I'm not gonna use my 18-200. Simply use my 24-70 f/2.8 on my cropped sensor APS-C I'll get an equivalent focal length of 36-105mm at f/2.8 and this will be perfectly great too.

    Then you may ask, what happens to my landscape shot I usually use for my Tokina 11-16 f/2.8? Since the Tokina will give an effective 16.5-24mm focal length on a full frame camera since it is only for DX cameras, my 24-70 with D600 can fulfil my 24mm focal length. If I really need more, I'll just get the 17-35mm f/4 VR which is sharp and awesome. But why don't I get it? Because I don't need the extra wide angle focal length right now. At most stitch 2 or more photos using Panorama and I'll get a even better wide angle photo.

    Set up:
    D7100+grip ($1250)
    Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 ($400)
    D600+grip ($1750)
    Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 ($1850)
    SB-700 flash [x2] ($600)
    YongNuo 560III ($80)
    Colour filters ($30)
    B+W ND400 filter ($100)
    B+W UV XS Pro ($60)
    Umbrella light stand kit [x3] ($100)
    Sirui Tripod ($150)
    Portable product studio kit ($100)
    Lowepro Camera Bag ($50)
    Reflector 5-in-1 110cm ($40)
    Unbranded trolley Bag ($50)

    Asset worth: $6780 (jump of $2000)

    Lesson Learnt: You want cameras and lenses that can give you "wow" factor shots. You do not want every lens to cover your focal length from 1-1000 so that you can take all kind of shots. My biggest takeaway is don't take shots in large quantities, take a few quality shots.

    Hope I helped!

  2. #2

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    Quite lengthy (or is it me lazy to read) heee but definitely a good read. Thanks for sharing.
    Im sure most of people who started new in this hobby feels the same way too.

    Nevertheless, as times goes by we know what we need and separate it from what is 'cool' or 'trendy' .


  3. #3
    Moderator daredevil123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mistakes made as I learnt more about photography

    Makes me cringe... never did dare to do an total asset cost on my equipment. Better to leave it uncalculated.

    Welcome to FF. When are you going to jump to the serious enthusiast phase? I may have some gear to off load.

    BTW, you can use the Tokina on the D600. Mount it. You can shoot it at 16mm, and yes, it will clear with almost no vignetting. Also, it is the 16-35VR not 17. And no, stitching is a lot different from using a UWA.
    Last edited by daredevil123; 21st March 2014 at 06:29 PM.

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    Senior Member alwaysjerricky's Avatar
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    Default

    Really length but useful post. Better not spend too much when you don't why you need it should be a sticky to help newbies stay away from BBB virus!

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    Well written article.

    I guess we all will go through the gear acquiring syndrome on the starting phase, then weed out what works & what doesn't work as one goes along the long winding road of self discovery in the hobby of photography.

    Some will be more indulgent than others. Some will collect lenses, some will collect bodies during the passionate enthusiast phase.

    Spend time shooting, reviewing & contemplating the pictures taken, that will be a good antidote to acquiring more photo gear.
    Last edited by Light Machinery; 21st March 2014 at 07:08 PM.

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    Default Re: Mistakes made as I learnt more about photography

    A lengthy post, but a good read.

    There are many articles out there written as such for those who wants to make the jump into the DSLR world. But not sure how many took the time to read it. If they did, most of them won't end up BBBing without knowing what they want. But BBB is just part of the stages that many have to go thru at least once.

    But at the end, one learns along the way and (hopefully) becomes wiser as well.


    -----
    On the extreme end of things, some articles will tell you to go straight to FF and get the best stuffs to prevent buying and selling alot
    Last edited by SkyStrike; 21st March 2014 at 06:57 PM.
    Too many great equipments but too little quality photos. [My Flickr] | [My Blog]

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    Moderator daredevil123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mistakes made as I learnt more about photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Light Machinery View Post
    Spend time shooting, reviewing & contemplating the pictures taken, that will be a good antidote to acquiring more photo gear.
    Light Machinery bro said it the best.

    The road of photography is best evaluated with the pictures you shoot. Not the gear.

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    Moderator daredevil123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mistakes made as I learnt more about photography

    Quote Originally Posted by SkyStrike View Post
    On the extreme end of things, some articles will tell you to go straight to FF and get the best stuffs to prevent buying and selling alot
    Go for the best and forget the rest. That way, no more gear lust, no more excuses. Just concentrate on the craft of making great photos. Cannot blame equipment if pics suck. Not a bad strategy. I know someone who did this, and his works improved by leaps and bounds within a single year. And of course, he worked his butt off learning and shooting.

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    Default Re: Mistakes made as I learnt more about photography

    Quote Originally Posted by daredevil123 View Post
    Go for the best and forget the rest.
    Really like this quote.
    In the eyes of the beholder!

  10. #10

    Exclamation Re: Mistakes made as I learnt more about photography

    This is a good post. Photography starts of as a hobby but can become additive. I am in a similar boat but not the same. Yours is Nikon, mine is Canon. Situation! almost similar but you started in 2011. I started when you got serious, Dec 2013. So this post really is a wake up call for me.

    My gear:
    Canon 70D
    Lenses: 18-55, 55-250

    Got excited about flashing and got a 430EX

    Other accessories added within a space of few months:

    LED Video Light
    Flash Diffuser
    Sigma 18-35 Lens
    ND Filters from 0.3 to 8
    Sirui tripod

    Just made a purchase of a lightbox. Now am looking for lights for a lightbox.

    Things on my wish list
    Wide angle lens
    Fish-Eye lens
    Telephoto lens
    Extenders

    This all started as a hobby but after looking at the amount spent on equipment and looking at the equipment (my initial gear), I wanted to cover up the cost by getting some photography jobs. Most jobs required additional skill and equipments. Addiction starts when you buy the equipments you think you need and never use them. Worse is having the equipments and not having the skills to use them.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Mistakes made as I learnt more about photography

    Quote Originally Posted by undergrd View Post
    Really like this quote.
    Seriously, how do you differentiate the best from the rest?

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    Default Re: Mistakes made as I learnt more about photography

    I started with a D5100 about 2-3 years ago too, with 18-55

    Bought a Sigma 18-200, used it quite a lot at that time, now its untouched.

    Next stop was the Tokina 11-16... Currently it's on my camera for 90% of the time.

    And the 35 1.8 from Nikon. This lens is always on my camera for street/travel/low-light.

    Now just waiting for Nikon to release a 16-35 2.8 while I slowly start saving for it

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    Moderator daredevil123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mistakes made as I learnt more about photography

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkersNg View Post
    I started with a D5100 about 2-3 years ago too, with 18-55

    Bought a Sigma 18-200, used it quite a lot at that time, now its untouched.

    Next stop was the Tokina 11-16... Currently it's on my camera for 90% of the time.

    And the 35 1.8 from Nikon. This lens is always on my camera for street/travel/low-light.

    Now just waiting for Nikon to release a 16-35 2.8 while I slowly start saving for it
    Don't think they will release a 16-35/2.8 anytime soon in the next few years, if at all. Sigma has an excellent 18-35/1.8 though.

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    Default Re: Mistakes made as I learnt more about photography

    me too started photography last year..

    My gear:
    D5200
    18-55 kit lens
    nikon 35mm f2.8 (second hand)
    grip + extra battery
    hama traveller pro tripod
    cokin P filter full set (brought from ebay)
    vanguard up-rise 43 sling bag (second hand)

    so far did not regret the items i brought as i did research/advise and try out the equipment before buying

    wish list i had in mind
    SB910 (still thinking getting first hand or second hand)

    buying equipment is very addictive, same like gals buying clothing
    Last edited by William Ng; 24th March 2014 at 02:28 PM.

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    Get a SB700, new or used. Smaller ,lighter & cheaper.

    SB 700 works great on the DX body

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    Default Re: Mistakes made as I learnt more about photography

    interesting read though, i'm quite the reverse... i guess i'm spoiled to begin with...

    a note i think most might know: don't go out rushing to buy the best or told that its the best, if ever possible try to ask if anyone has it--try it then buy it.

    p/s: don't try everything that each and everyone tells you to... because it can be poisonous... :P
    Last edited by unclejosh; 22nd March 2014 at 01:27 PM.

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    Default Re: Mistakes made as I learnt more about photography

    Quote Originally Posted by daredevil123 View Post
    Don't think they will release a 16-35/2.8 anytime soon in the next few years, if at all. Sigma has an excellent 18-35/1.8 though.
    No point for them to kill off their 17-35 and the current 16-35 by launching a new 16-35...

    Being a student I still need many years to even save up that amount. Yes, the Sigma 18-35 is impressive, but sadly it can't shoot wide on FX... Looking more for a lens that can go wide
    Last edited by MarkersNg; 22nd March 2014 at 01:47 PM.

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    Moderator daredevil123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mistakes made as I learnt more about photography

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkersNg View Post
    No point for them to kill off their 17-35 and the current 16-35 by launching a new 16-35...

    Being a student I still need many years to even save up that amount. Yes, the Sigma 18-35 is impressive, but sadly it can't shoot wide on FX... Looking more for a lens that can go wide
    If you really need F2.8 on a UWA, there is the excellent 14-24. For landscape shooting 16-35 is more than enough actually.
    But F2.8 or F4 on UWA gives you nothing more than just ability to get 1 stop worth of higher shutter speed. DOF difference is not that great at such wide focal lengths.
    Many lash out at the inclusion of the VR on the 16-35, but I find it extremely useful.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Mistakes made as I learnt more about photography

    the more I know the less I try to spend. I buy old collectable lenses at reasonable price. in contrast to ordinary modern lenses, collectable lenses appreciate in value. they're fun to use too and train the photographic eye and anticipation skills, especially in full manual focus manual aperture lenses. I don't use them much on the occasional paid assignment.

    I had two flashguns - inexpensive Yongnuos. reliable and cheap. no light tent either. just need two umbrella two stand and mahjong paper. cheap and disposable, easily stored. I keep my dry cab trim except recently kena poison by bokeh monster.
    宁愿遇见丢失幼崽的母熊,也不愿碰上做蠢事的愚人

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    Default Re: Mistakes made as I learnt more about photography

    Quote Originally Posted by daredevil123 View Post
    If you really need F2.8 on a UWA, there is the excellent 14-24. For landscape shooting 16-35 is more than enough actually.
    But F2.8 or F4 on UWA gives you nothing more than just ability to get 1 stop worth of higher shutter speed. DOF difference is not that great at such wide focal lengths.
    Many lash out at the inclusion of the VR on the 16-35, but I find it extremely useful.
    If I could afford the 14-24, immediately buy liao

    I agree, the VR on the 16-35 is really useful, as it can compensate for the one stop of light, and for landscapes, most of the time tripod would be used, and VR can just be turned off...

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