I know this is not surfing, but photography can have different levels of gear and so different height of waves you can surf on. Having the correct tools and gear helps you create better images for sure, but that does not mean everyone has to.
Nowadays good starting kits can help beginner photographers express their creativity. Personally, I believe there are now only actually 3 categories in Cameras: (4th one is dying fast);
- Mirrorless cameras, which are now replacing DSLR’s
- DSLRs (Digital Single Lens Reflex), which have mirrors, and now being replaced slowly with Mirrorless ones but still great to use and invest in for beginner photographers because they are becoming more affordable and still great. The awesome lenses that go along with it can be purchased a lot of times used, since more professionals are going full force with Mirrorless lenses.
- Point-and-shoot cameras, but they are becoming extinct, and I would rather use my Smartphone to shoot. I would not recommend investing in them any longer. The only ones I see Shutterbugs like me would buy would be more advanced ones for travel purposes if one likes to have a light and capable camera like Canon G7X Power Shot for instance.
I personally would recommend buying your photography gear from a professional source even if you are not a professional. You can get very good feedback by talking to them about what type of photography gear would be best suited for you but also have very reliable customer rating on their website where you can do your research extensively to see reliable reviews. I exclusively use B&H. They are in New York and used by photography and videography professionals all over the world. I visited New York once in my life a long time ago 23 years ago maybe, as I am not a big fan of large cities. I was not aware of them at that time. Believe it or not, it is now on my to-do list to stop by at their only store in New York next time when I am on a pilgrimage to NY!
For BEGINNERS, I would recommend buying a kit. A good DSLR with a good kit would do the trick. A decision has to be made to go with a full-frame (35mm) or a crop sensor (APS-C). I personally recommend going full-frame. You get more bang for the buck if you plan to do a lot of outdoor photography. If you like shooting sports and action and portraits and don’t care about landscape as much, a crop sensor is a good buy. Crop sensors in Canon have a 1.6 crop factor (magnification factor), which means if you put a 100mm lens on a crop sensor Canon DSLR you will have to multiply the focal length of the 100mm lens by a factor derived from the size differential of the sensor to calculate the 35mm equivalent focal length and you get 160mm. Crop sensor cameras are good for beginner action and bird photographers. I would like to highlight that my recommendation below is based on what I think will give you 7 years at least of awesome images where people do not feel they are behind the technology curve. One can get less expensive kits but I do not recommend it.
- Crop sensor recommended for beginner kit (Canon EOS 90D DSLR Camera with 18-135mm Lens).
- full-frame recommended for beginner kit (Canon EOS 6D Mark II DSLR Camera with 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Basic Kit)
For more ADVANCED and SERIOUS Shutterbugs I recommend investing the following camera bodies and a quality starting all-around lens with a wider range that can be used anywhere. Remember “Sky is the Limit” of how many lenses one should have for this or that scenario. I would recommend at this stage to go fully Mirrorless not stay behind the technology curve and these are my recommendations:
- Canon EOS R6 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 24-105mm f/4L This is a great gear for everyone who wants to take amazing pics but does not want to do large print as it only has limited but more than enough megapixel. I have this camera.
- Canon EOS R5 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 24-105mm f/4L Lens This is an amazing camera that is great for everything I said but also great for people who like to do large prints and bird photographers who need to crop their pictures with their zoom lenses frequently and still get the sharpest picture because it is a large megapixel camera and definitely a notch above R5.
- Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR Camera with 24-105mm f/4L II Lens, this is not Mirrorless but an absolutely amazing DSLR if one wants to stick with DSLRs.
- The much newer R3 is just announced but that is for ultimate professionals.
For most folks including myself 20-megapixel camera is more than enough. B&H has a large selection of used lenses, cameras, and gear as well. I would recommend checking that first in case you want to buy any gear.
Buying versus renting lenses, and protecting your investment
Last but not least, you should consider renting lenses to try before you spend all that cash on a lens you don’t know if you love or not. A great source I have used for many years is Lensrentals. Remember for the hardcore, photographers are all about our “Glass”, our lenses. It is a huge inventment for Shutterbugs like me and likely you since we don’t get sponsored. My last set of lenses I used for a good 10 years. I do take care of them, meaning cleaning frequently, using a UV Protector Filter immediately after I buy a lens (it comes in various sizes). I would recommend servicing your expensive lenses every few years and also your camera body as well.
Finally, I would recommend in protection care plans that companies like Canon offers and I am sure others do as well. Canon CarePAK PLUS Accidental Damage Protection for EOS DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras and lenses is a minimal expense in the grand scheme of things. If your camera slides from your hand and falls on the ground and gets destroyed, you have lost thousands of dollars but with CarePAK you get a replacement.
My Gear + Safety
I always have my MacBook Pro and iPad Pro with me if traveling for photography purposes with good portable iPhone Battery backup if I am hiking. I would also highly recommend having handheld satellite communicators like Garmin inReach Explorer®+ with you if you are hiking, in case you get lost. You should know how to use a compass and map. The satellite communicators are especially a MUST if you are going wild and want to explore and they can save your life.
Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R, this is an adapter I had to buy to retrofit the older EF lenses to RF (Mirrorless ones) to my Mirrorless camera. Inexpensive
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens, if you only afford one less expensive lens, it is this Zoom lens
Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens, my landscape lens
Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM Lens, Telephoto-Zoom lens
Neewer NW580 Wireless Flash Speedlite, when needed a flash. I almost never use flash. The last time I used flash was in brother’s wedding in 2009.
Neewer 2-Pack 2.4GHz LED Softbox Lighting Kit with Color Filter — 20” × 28” Softbox, 3200–5600K 48W Dimmable LED Light Head, 2.4GHz Remote, Light Stand & Red/Yellow/Blue Filter for Photo Studio Video, in my mini studio at home
Manfrotto 190go! Carbon Fiber M-Series Tripod, I am married to this one as well. and goes everywhere with my backpack with me!
Manfrotto 322RC2 Ball Head with 200PL-14 Quick Release Plate and 322RA Quick Release Adapter, light and sturdy. I do not have heavy lenses with me usually, since I have upgraded but older still amazing EF lenses, need a sturdier tripod. Remember those “Glasses” are your investment.
Manfrotto XPRO Magnesium Ball Head Kit with 200PL-14 and 200PL Quick Release Plates, I use this most of the time
So, which wave will you be riding?
Disclaimer: I do not receive any royalty of any kind or from any sites or companies I mentioned above. All opinions expressed above are my own.