Gear for the aspiring pros


JasonB

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#1
I wish to touch on gear and equipment for the aspiring pro.

So that you don't anyhow buy and waste money. Its too easy to fall into that trap. What you really need as tools and what are luxury and toys.

And it doesn't matter Canon or Nikon.

24-70 f2.8 - bread and butter lens, will get you thru all kinds of genre, and enable you to see anything, shoot anything. I know some people sing the all primes lens ship, but that is specialization for a genre, ie weddings and portraits, which will severely limit your versatility to take on other assignments. A fast good zoom like the 24-70 is the best money you will ever spend.

Another cheapo zoom for backup, that is the kit lens if you are on DX format, or an old film era cheapo zoom if you are on FX. It doesnt matter which one, any one, important its got 1) general zoom range from wide to tele, 2) its light and 3) its reasonably sharp at f5.6 to 8. Truth be told when I need to shoot in a suit and tie, thats the setup I go, the lightest and smallest.

2 flashes, any flagship models from the brand you are in. Not necessary need to be the current flagship model and old ones are actually better and cheaper. For 'Ambient only shooters', again that is specialization and not knowing flash will limit your versatility in taking on assignments. 'Ambience only' shooting is denial to reality and an unwillingness to learn and explore possibilities. All good photographers knows flash, whether they use it or not doesn't matter to you or me. Important is do you know flash and how can it help you?

A flash batt pack if you are in events and weddings. Third party ones will do well enough. Flash triggers if you are advanced enough and use OCF. Flash modifiers, stick to one and learn that one.

2 bodies, preferably same model, otherwise is ok. FX if you can afford, otherwise DX is fine. A FX/DX hybrid is hard to mix but in this case I will keep all lenses FX for the eventual switch to fully FX. Avoid buying the latest flagship models, those are for rich hobbyists like lawyers, doctors and pilots. For the working pro, you want to stretch your dollar and diversify your risks. Two units of $3000 cameras is better than one unit of $6000 camera. Your best bang is the flagship model BEFORE the current one, or the current best semi-pro, all pre-owned. Buy once do not upgrade anymore until it gets really obsolete. Having 2 units enhance your ability and speed on the field, and for backup.

Specialization lens, you add this as soon as you are able, for this will get you the money pics. 14-24 if you are in interiors and architectural, 105 macro for food and products, 85 1.4 for portraits and weddings, 70-200 for events specialists. Based on experience, other than the 24-70mm, these are the money generating lenses. Buy for your genre and do not waste money lusting after things you don't need.

A full prime lens specialization is an expensive one if you go 1.4, if you don't go 1.4, its a waste of time coz a good 2.8 is not too far behind from the 1.8 and 2.0s.

Best bags are the rollers, and a smaller backpack. Shoulder bags and sling bags hurt your body.

Lots of memory cards so that you do not have to format one too soon and take risks.

Buy most of the stuff pre-owned. Only hobbyists buy new and still smile.

Any money you save, goes to marketing materials, advertising, a haircut and presentable clothes.

Added on 16/07/2013:

On studio lights and studio space - RENT

Unless you have established yourself as a known name in that particular genre with steady stream of clients all lined up Mon to Fri for such shoots, AND you are charging enough for it - RENT.

The less depreciating assets you hold, the less recurring cost (property lease on studio space); the more you earn and keep. And in actual fact your gear always 'stays updated' because the job (and cost) of keeping those equipment updated lies with the people you rent from and they bear the cost of depreciation and maintenance, not you.

Further read on depreciation of equipment: Link
 

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catchlights

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#2
Thanks for sharing, agree with JasonB, don't any how buy gears, buy what you need, not what you want.

I only use two lenses most of the time.

a 24-70 and a 70-200, both are my money lenses, previously the 17-55 was my money lens.

when I shoot events, 24-70 get 95% percent of the shots, 70-200 is 5%.

when I shoot portrait, 70-200 get 95%, some time 100% of the shots, using 24-70 once in a while.

so when you are very familiar with your gears, you will able to work very fast and very accurate.

and be prepare to set aside a large sum of money for maintenance, pro grade gears are very expensive, so are the repairing cost.
 

Agetan

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Dec 31, 2004
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#4
Agree that 24-70 f2.8 is a versatile lens on a full frame dslr and depending on what you do, it should suffice for most occasion.

The understanding of light is very important, using flash is always a good knowledge to have as it will give you more control. However, please don't limit yourself even if you don't have the flash. Think around the issue and move around it.

If the expensive zoom is beyond your budget, a good second hand 50mm f1.4 works really well if you shoot people related images such as portrait, wedding, etc.

If you can't afford much in the beginning, consider renting and build the cost of renting the lens into the job quotation.

ONLY buy what you WANT[ when you have establish yourself and if this is a strong motivation to do well, make it that way. Don't get me wrong, it is fun to buy a great equipment that you really want and make you want to do more. However, this has to be balance with the income.

Spend more money on business side but not the gear.

Buy second hand when you first started is also good to elevate the entry price. The old Sony A900, may be old, but it is dirt cheap ($1600-$1800 used) while give you the quality needed.

My main work tool is a900 plus cz24-70 and use 70-200 when I shoot outdoor. This is pretty much what I carry most of the time. I do have small flashes but i don't use it that much but as what bro Jason is saying, it is good to have when your budget allow.

I buy a good quality lowepro bag second hand too. Actually, to think of it, most of my gear are second hand except a handful of gear, I purchase brand new because I need it urgently and can't wait or doesn't justify buying second hand.

Cards, buy many and good brand and brand new cards will be great. Ideally, have enough to shoot and only delete those you have finish editing. But it is not necessary if you verify the images are all ok and back it up before deleting the images on the card.

In short, keep your equipment simple when you start but buy and use the best when you become establish and money is no longer an issue as you need it to further your company's brand image.

Wish you all the best.

Hart
 

Zeisser

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Jul 12, 2008
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#5
Agree with all the bros here. Mine was the 28-85mm and 100mm F2 during film days now it's the 24-85mm + 50mm 1.4.
The camera bag was with me since the 90s and is still lugging it around. Simplicity is the best.
 

May 6, 2008
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#6
Now ..where is the like button for this post ...

Thanks for the advice JasonB
 

JasonB

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#7
Dual Purposes:

Fans of Zack Arias might know this, that a major difference between him (and also in the same fashion; David Hobby) and Joe McNally is that they don't have a lot of sponsors and have to DIY or ghetto many things. Every piece of gear in Arias' studio has got 2 or 3 purposes. Buying a piece of gear for only one single purpose is a luxury. Do more with less and creativity will be pushed.

Hollywood reowned celebrity wedding photog Joe Buissink's reflector is not a lastolite, nor even a china made eBay clone. But a white pillow from the brides house. When he needs to cut light with a black reflector, he uses his black suit jacket. Conventional photography teaches the theory, real field work is another matter. Just like no kicking below the belt in martial arts, but in a street fight defending your life...

Flash modifers; spending $100 on a supposedly 'magic' flash disfusser is just crazy. Know that many of the best events photogrs are shooting bare straight flash or most with the built in bounce card only.

Roller bags are expensive for starters, on eBay you can find foam inserts for common size carry on roller luggages for cheap, plus a cheap luggage roller bag you probably already have, it cost less than $100. A mere fraction from a $450 think tank.

By all means indulge in a Leica or zeiss lenses when you made money, reward yourself but not before. :)
 

Agetan

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Dec 31, 2004
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#8
Dual Purposes:

Fans of Zack Arias might know this, that a major difference between him (and also in the same fashion; David Hobby) and Joe McNally is that they don't have a lot of sponsors and have to DIY or ghetto many things. Every piece of gear in Arias' studio has got 2 or 3 purposes. Buying a piece of gear for only one single purpose is a luxury. Do more with less and creativity will be pushed.

Hollywood reowned celebrity wedding photog Joe Buissink's reflector is not a lastolite, nor even a china made eBay clone. But a white pillow from the brides house. When he needs to cut light with a black reflector, he uses his black suit jacket. Conventional photography teaches the theory, real field work is another matter. Just like no kicking below the belt in martial arts, but in a street fight defending your life...

Flash modifers; spending $100 on a supposedly 'magic' flash disfusser is just crazy. Know that many of the best events photogrs are shooting bare straight flash or most with the built in bounce card only.

Roller bags are expensive for starters, on eBay you can find foam inserts for common size carry on roller luggages for cheap, plus a cheap luggage roller bag you probably already have, it cost less than $100. A mere fraction from a $450 think tank.

By all means indulge in a Leica or zeiss lenses when you made money, reward yourself but not before. :)
That;s the way to do it in the beginning.

Save every penny on things that matters and don't spend on unnecessary thing... spending time learning on youtube and practice on what you have is always good start. Think outside the box.

Regards,

Hart
 

TWmilkteaTW

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May 30, 2011
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#9
Hmm 1 thing i dont understand. Why do some people always reformat their memory cards? Any specific reason behind it? Or just personal preferences.
 

Agetan

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#10
Hmm 1 thing i dont understand. Why do some people always reformat their memory cards? Any specific reason behind it? Or just personal preferences.
reformat is safer way of erasing the data. Basically make it like fresh again. Correct me if I am wrong.
Hart
 

Kirei

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Feb 22, 2007
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#11
reformat is safer way of erasing the data. Basically make it like fresh again. Correct me if I am wrong.
Hart
Second that. Especially when you switch your card around different camera's. Best is reformat the card using the camera's reformat function. so as to prevent any form of data integrity issue
 

Oct 5, 2012
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#12
reformat is safer way of erasing the data. Basically make it like fresh again. Correct me if I am wrong.
Hart
That makes recovery more difficult since it re-creates the file-system index - probably reduces index corruption risks as well.

But... don't give away your SSD media if there is sensitive info within. Sure 99% of people probably don't know how to recover it but there's a risk.
Read: Flash drives dangerously hard to purge of sensitive data • The Register
 

Jan 26, 2002
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#13
aywy-s said:
That makes recovery more difficult since it re-creates the file-system index - probably reduces index corruption risks as well.

But... don't give away your SSD media if there is sensitive info within. Sure 99% of people probably don't know how to recover it but there's a risk.
Read: Flash drives dangerously hard to purge of sensitive data • The Register
If Pros then they would have backed up their files before formating. So its an non-issue about recovery from cards.
 

Octarine

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#14
reformat is safer way of erasing the data. Basically make it like fresh again. Correct me if I am wrong.
Not really like fresh. Any recovery tool can still get all the data back (see other posting). The issue is the age old FAT file system used on most memory cards and its tendency for fragmentation of files. By formatting the card (regardless whether in camera or in computer, actually) the file system index (File Allocation Table) is clean and data are written in a straight line without fragmentation.
Those people using Magic Lantern must not forget to write back the ML files and directories, though.
 

Agetan

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#15
Not really like fresh. Any recovery tool can still get all the data back (see other posting). The issue is the age old FAT file system used on most memory cards and its tendency for fragmentation of files. By formatting the card (regardless whether in camera or in computer, actually) the file system index (File Allocation Table) is clean and data are written in a straight line without fragmentation.
Those people using Magic Lantern must not forget to write back the ML files and directories, though.
Alamak... so chim...

All I know is reformat and shoot!!!
 

Octarine

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#16
But... don't give away your SSD media if there is sensitive info within. Sure 99% of people probably don't know how to recover it but there's a risk.
Read: Flash drives dangerously hard to purge of sensitive data • The Register
That's going to be interesting for corporate IT. Usually, for passing ISAE 3402 and other audits the control sets also want to have a verification of data deletion when media (disks, tapes etc.) are discarded. With SSD it looks as if the proof will be a bit more challenging. But then again, it also depends on whether the auditors are aware of this. Some are still in the 90s with their mind and questions ..
 

JasonB

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#17
Derailing to unrelated memory card technicalities...

Software:

Lightroom is king. Aperture is fine alternative. And Lightroom is not expensive either, one of the best money spend to manage your files and work process. Anything you need for photo editing it can do, save for the very specialized image alternation, you need Photoshop.

Photoshop latest versions, expensive ****, don't buy it at beginning stages. Instead, CS2 is now free (sort of, reader discretion needed)

Any effects, filters, actions, etc, for both LR4 and PS, don't waste money buying those, don't download the free ones either. Why? They just slow you down and distract you from what is real photography. Very often those 'effects looks' gets out of fashion easily and what looks cool today will looks like puke tomorrow. Too many photographers stuck in letting a mass-downloaded, mass-sold effects define their photography. That is why they are mediocre, lacks depth and creativity. You can't buy or download creativity. You are just copying people and very often, copying people's mistakes.

And of course, if you are doing photography professionally, buy authentic real copies. For a small amount of money on Lightroom you get constant upgrades and support. Versus the hassle and risk of illegal downloads, which may one day come back to haunt you.

Have plenty of of Hard Disk space and a tidy file system.
 

catchlights

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#18
Yes, buy the genuine copy of photoshop, lightroom and other softwares, you will get supports, patch update regularly and saving on upgrading to the newer version of software, and also save you from worries of using illegal stuffs.
 

Shizuma

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Mar 19, 2012
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#19
Yes, buy the genuine copy of photoshop, lightroom and other softwares, you will get supports, patch update regularly and saving on upgrading to the newer version of software, and also save you from worries of using illegal stuffs.
i am probably not qualified to comment as I am not a pro or even a good shooter
there is free software that is licensed for free use

like Ubuntu and GIMP, (ubuntu already has GIMP on board, free) . it is open source and may be different to use but will also do the same things...mostly.

Virus free and free free. :)
 

sjackal

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Jul 9, 2008
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#20
i am probably not qualified to comment as I am not a pro or even a good shooter
there is free software that is licensed for free use

like Ubuntu and GIMP, (ubuntu already has GIMP on board, free) . it is open source and may be different to use but will also do the same things...mostly.

Virus free and free free. :)
Issue is speed, versatility and support - not just from program companies but community of users. Like you got a problem with an image you do not know how to solve, there are endless tutorials articles and youtube vidz, will it be the same from non-industry-standard programs? Also it is more likely you will be able to work off another pro's laptop out on the field because of same knowledge and installation of common photo programs but if you are grounded in an uncommon software, Adobe is going to feel strange to you, especially as Photoshop is a very complex program.
 

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