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Camera Equipment, Buyer’s Mini Guide

~Original Article by Trompie van der Berg

~ Last Updated: 14 August 2017 by Shawn Marran

(Canon EOS 200D, Canon EOS 6D Mark II, Canon EOS 77D, Nikon D5600, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Nikon D3400, Canon EOS 1200D and 1300D, Canon EOS 750D and 760D, Nikon D5500, Canon EOS 80D, Nikon D7200, Nikon D500, Canon EOS 5DS and 5DSR, Canon EOS 1DX Mark II, Nikon D5, Fujifilm XT-1, Fujifilm X-Pro2)

 

Buy the right Camera when starting out

Just starting out with photography? Then don’t waste your hard earned cash by buying the wrong equipment, or ending up spending your lollies on unnecessary photographic stuff. Here are a few tips that will save you money! 

 

Tip no 1. Buy a DSLR camera rather than a compact/bridge camera

 

Advantages of DSLR cameras over small compact cameras

  1. Interchangeable lenses: You will be able to use specialised lenses such as ultra-wide angle lenses, extreme telephoto, fisheye etc. The potential to take better quality images is vastly increased as you are using a lens designed for the specific job at hand. It will also allow you to use wider lens apertures.
  2. Faster focus: This is even more apparent in low-light conditions.
  3. Manual zoom: Speed and precision of zoom is a factor when using manual zoom against the motorised version of a compact camera.
  4. Faster frame rates: This is the number of frames per second your camera is able to take. Some compacts have a pretty impressive “burst” mode, but they cannot compare to SLR cameras that have the ability to keep on re-focusing as the object moves.
  5. Quicker start-up speed: This is the time it takes the camera to switch on. For many of the modern SLR’s this action is almost instantaneous, so a must have if you want to capture the moment and not miss it.
  6. Larger sensors: This means better low-light capabilities, greater Dynamic Range, and shallower depth of field.
  7. Shutter lag: This is the time between the moment pressing the shutter button and the camera actually recording the image. Compact cameras suffer from shutter lag substantially while non-existent on SLR cameras.
  8. Superior video capture mode: Many independent film studios now use Digital SLR’s to create their movies because of the exceptional quality and wide array of lenses that lends that “movie feel” to video and also the depth of field advantages.
  9. Greater flexibility: Access to a much broader range of accessories, including powerful external flashes, alternate power sources, wireless transmitters, and remote triggering devices.
  10. Better and more intuitive handling: Some designs are better than others, but digital SLR’s tend to have an easily accessible thumb and forefinger wheels for exposure settings, discrete buttons for other critical features (exposure compensation, white balance), vertical position shutter releases, and just less menu surfing overall.

 

Tip no 2. Start small and build your system up

 

The bare minimum you should be looking at is…

  1. Digital SLR of your choice
  2. A good all-rounder zoom lens, 18-135mm/15-85mm etc. More about lenses later on!
  3. Sturdy and good quality carry case or bag for your camera. One that allows enough room for you to leave your lens on the camera frame.
  4. Good quality memory card, at least 8GB where possible

Remember. Buy the best kit you can afford at the time. If you have to wait a month to get the better lens, then that would be the better thing to do.

 

Tip no 3. Watch out for “Value for Money” kits/bundles

  1. Do not let cheap accessories included in a bundle fool you into a purchase!
  2. The tripods, memory cards, printers, flashes and all the rest is put together by the supplier and is included for “free” as they are inferior products and used to entice you into buying a certain product for whatever reason.
  3. See these additional “free” items as just that, your main consideration should be the camera and kit lens it comes with.
  4. There are a few fantastic kit lenses out there. The most important factors to look for here is a good zoom range, as well as acceptable aperture range.
  5. Image stabilisation is very important!
  6. The optimal option would off course be to buy the body only and then spend the money you save towards a professional lens of your choice.

 

Tip no 4. Do a Photography Course

If you are planning to do a photography course, wait until after the course before spending thousands on specialised kit. You will learn a lot about yourself and the type of photography genre that suits you during the course. What you perceive to be your style and passion, can be worlds apart from when you finish. When I started my course at DPC almost 5-years ago, I felt that I wanted to do Macro photography and was not really interested in other photography genres. I wanted to go out and buy the best and most expensive macro lens out there, but Danie advised me to wait it out. By the end of the course, I was hooked on people and portrait photography. I have not looked back ever since! Buying that super-duper Macro lens would have been a mistake and a waste. Instead, I was advised to buy an affordable, professional lens that has truly helped me grow in the field I now know is my passion and future.

 

Which Digital SLR Camera to buy?

The advice is to stick to the most popular and trusted brands like Canon or Nikon. Sony also made some serious inroads over the past few years, but perhaps not quite there when it comes to the availability of lenses, and accessories in South Africa. If you decide to go the mirrorless route, then we can recommend Fujifilm Cameras.

  • The major advantage of APS-C cameras is that lenses provide an increased reach over full frame cameras.

Ideal for Action, Wildlife and Sports with super-fast frame rates, weather sealing and superior focus tracking

Here’s a breakdown in terms of current models available. Please note that the prices are relative and it is best to shop around before taking our word for it:

 

Entry Level

  Nikon D3300 Nikon D3400 Canon 100D Canon 200D Canon 1300D
Megapixels 24 24 18 24 18
Low Light Performance Good Good Weak Average Average
Body Weight 410g 395g 407g 453g 485g
LCD Screen 3″ 3″ 3″ 3″ 3″
Top LCD Screen
Frames per Second 5 5 4 5 3
Focus Points 11 11 9 with 1 cross type at the centre 9 9 with 1 cross type at the centre
Alternative Back Focus Button Yes Yes Yes
ISO Range 100-12800
(extended to 25600)
100-25600 100-12800
(extended to 25600)
  100-6400
(extended to 12800)
Max Shutter Speed 1/4000 1/4000 1/4000 1/4000 1/4000
Memory Card(s) 1 SD card slot 1 SD card slot 1 SD card slot   1 SD card slot
Auto Exposure Bracketing 3 Shots 3 Shots 3 Shots
Pop-up Flash Yes Yes Yes   Yes
High-Speed Flash Sync  Yes Yes Yes
Built-in Wi-Fi Yes Yes
Built-in Bluetooth Yes Yes
Built-in GPS
Video  1080p @ 60FPS 1080p @ 60FPS 1080p @ 30FPS 1080p @ 50fps 1080p @ 30FPS
DPReview Score 77% Silver Award 78% Gold Award 73%
DXO Sensor Score (Image Quality)  82 86 63
Retail Price (Body + Lens) R 6 595 R9 595 R 5 695 R8 395 R 4 895

 

 

Advanced Entry Level

  Nikon D5300 Nikon D5500 Nikon D5600 Canon 700D Canon 750D Canon 760D
Megapixels 24 24 24 18 24 24
Low Light Performance Good Good Good Average Average Average
Body Weight 480g 420g 465g 580g 555g 565g
LCD Screen 3.2″ Fully Articulated 3.2″ Fully Articulated 3.2″ Fully Articulated 3.0″ Fully Articulated 3.0″ Fully Articulated 3.0″ Fully Articulated
Top LCD Screen Yes
Frames per Second 5 5 5 5 5 5
Focus Points 39
(9 of them Cross Type)
39 39 9 Cross Type 19 Cross Type 19 Cross Type
Alternative Back Focus Button Yes Yes Yes
ISO Range 100-12800
(expanded to 25600)
100-256000 100-25600 100-12800
(expanded to 25600)
100-12800
(expanded to 25600)
100-12800
(expanded to 25600)
Max Shutter Speed 1/4000 1/4000 1/4000 1/4000 1/4000 1/4000
Memory Card(s) 1 SD Card Slot 1 SD Card Slot 1 SD Card Slot 1 SD Card Slot 1 SD Card Slot 1 SD Card Slot
Auto Exposure Bracketing 3 Shots 3 Shots 3 Shots 3 Shots 3 Shots 3 Shots
Pop-up Flash Yes Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes
High-Speed Flash Sync  Yes Yes Yes Yes
Built-in Wi-Fi Yes Yes Yes Yes
Built-in GPS Yes
Video  1080p @ 60FPS 1080p @ 60FPS 1080p @ 60FPS 1080p @ 30FPS 1080p @ 30FPS 1080p @ 30FPS
DPReview Score 79% Silver Award 79% Silver Award 79% Silver Award 76% Silver Award 75% 77% Silver Award
DXO Sensor Score (Image Quality)  83 84 84 61 71 70
Retail Price (Body + Lens) R 8 995 R 9 995 R14 995 R 8 795 R 9 495 R 8 395 (Body Only)

 

 

 

Advanced APS-C

  Nikon D7100 Nikon D7200 Canon 70D Canon 77D Canon 80D
Megapixels 24 24 20 24 24
Low Light Performance Good Excellent Average Average Good
Body Weight 765g 675g 755g 499g 730g
Weather Sealing Yes Yes Yes No Yes
LCD Screen 3.2″ 3.2″ 3″ Articulated 3″ Articulated 3″ Articulated
Top LCD Screen Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Frames per Second 6 6 7 6 7
Focus Points 51 51 (15 of them Cross-Type) 19 Cross-Type 45 Cross-Type 45 Cross-Type
Alternative Back Focus Button Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ISO Range 100-6400     (expanded to 25600) 100-25600    (expanded to 102400) 100-12800 (expanded to 25600) 100-25600 (expanded to 51200) 100-16000 (expanded to 25600)
Max Shutter Speed 1/8000 1/8000 1/8000 1/4000 1/8000
Memory Card(s) 2 SD Card Slots 2 SD Card Slots 1 SD Card Slot 1 SD Card Slot 1 SD Card Slot
Auto Exposure Bracketing 5 Shots 9 Shots 7 Shots 3 Shots 7 Shots
Pop-up Flash Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
High Speed Flash Sync  Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Built-in Wi-Fi Yes Yes Yes Yes
Built-in GPS
Video  1080p @ 30FPS 1080p @ 60FPS 1080p @ 30FPS 1080p @60FPS 1080p @ 60FPS
DPReview Score 85% Gold Award 84% Silver Award 83% Gold Award 84% Silver Award
DXO Sensor Score (Image Quality)  83 87 68 79
Retail Price (Body + Lens) R 15 995 R 19 795 R 13 995 R12 295 R 17 895

 

Pro Mirrorless

  Fujifilm X-T1 Fujifilm X-Pro2 Fujifilm X-T2
Megapixels 16.7 24 24
Low Light Performance Average Average Excellent
Body Weight 440g 445g 457g
Weather Sealing Yes Yes Yes
LCD Screen 3.0″ Tilting 3″ 3″ Tilted
Top LCD Screen
Frames per Second 8 8 8, 11 with batterygrip
Focus Points N/A N/A N/A
Alternative Back Focus Button Yes Yes Yes
ISO Range 100-6400
(expanded to 51200)
200-12800
(expanded to 51200)
200-12800
(expanded to 51200)
Max Shutter Speed 1/4000 1/8000 1/8000
Memory Card(s) 1 SD Card Slot 2 SD Card Slots 2 SD Card Slots
Auto Exposure Bracketing 3 Shots 3 Shots 3 Shots
Pop-up Flash
High-Speed Flash Sync  Yes Yes
Built-in Wi-Fi Yes Yes Yes
Built-in GPS
Video  1080p @ 60FPS 1080p @ 60FPS 4K UHD @ 30FPS
DPReview Score 84% Gold Award 83% Silver Reward Not Rated
DXO Sensor Score (Image Quality)  Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested
Retail Price (Body + Lens) R 22 695 R 26 995 (Body Only) R28 995

 

Pro APS-C

  Nikon D500 Canon 7D Mark II
Megapixels 20 20
Low Light Performance Good Average
Body Weight 860g 910g
Weather Sealing Yes Yes
LCD Screen 3.2″ Tilting 3″
Top LCD Screen Yes Yes
Frames per Second 10 10
Focus Points 153 65
Alternative Back Focus Button Yes Yes
ISO Range 100-51200
(expanded to 1640000)
100-16000
(expanded to 51200)
Max Shutter Speed 1/8000 1/8000
Memory Card(s) 2 Card Slots
SD and XQD
2 Card Slots
SD and CompactFlash
Auto Exposure Bracketing 9 Shots 7 Shots
Pop-up Flash Yes
High-Speed Flash Sync  Yes Yes
Built-in Wi-Fi Yes
Built-in GPS Yes
Video  4K UHD @ 30FPS 1080p @ 60FPS
DPReview Score 91% Gold Award 84% Silver Award
Retail Price (Body + Lens) R 46 195 R 22 995 (Body Only)

 

 

Full Frame Entry Level

  Canon 6D Canon 6D Mark II
Megapixels 20 26
Low Light Performance Average Average
Body Weight 770g 765g
Weather Sealing Yes Yes
LCD Screen 3″ 3″
Top LCD Screen Yes Yes
Frames per Second 4.5 fps 6.5 fps
Focus Points 11 45
Alternative Back Focus Button Yes Yes
ISO Range 100-25600
(extended to 102400)

100-40000
(expands 50 – 102400)

Max Shutter Speed 1/4000 1/4000
Memory Card(s) 1 SD Card Slot 1 SD Card Slot
Auto Exposure Bracketing 7 Shots 7 Shots
Pop-up Flash
High-Speed Flash Sync  Yes Yes
Built-in Wi-Fi Yes Yes
Built-in GPS Yes Yes
Built-in Bluetooth Yes
Video  1080p @ 30fps 1080p @ 60fps
DPReview Score 83% Silver Reward 80% Score
DXO Sensor Score (Image Quality)  82 Not Tested
Retail Price (Body + Lens) R 29 595 R32 995

 

Advanced Full Frame 

  Nikon D750 Nikon D810 Canon 5D Mark III Canon 5D Mark IV Canon 5DS Canon 5DSR
Megapixels 24 36 22 30 51 51
Low Light Performance Excellent Excellent Good Great Good Good
Body Weight 750g 880g 860g 890g 845g 845g
Weather Sealing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
LCD Screen 3.2″ Tilting 3.2″ 3.2″ 1.04k 3.2″ 1.62k Touchscreen 3.2″ 1.04k 3.2″
Top LCD Screen Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Frames per Second 6.5 5 6 7 5 5
Focus Points 51 51 61 61 61 61
Alternative Back Focus Button Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ISO Range 100-12800
(expanded to 51200)
64-12800
(extended to 51200)
100-25600
(extended to 102400)

100-32000
(expandable to 102400)

100-6400
(expanded to 12800)
100-6400
(expanded to 12800)
Max Shutter Speed 1/4000 1/1800 1/8000 1/8000 1/8000 1/8000
Memory Card(s) 2 SD Card Slots 1 SD Card Slot
1 CompactFlash Slot
1 SD Card Slot
1 CompactFlash Slot
1SD Card Slot
1 CompactFlash Slot
1 SD Card Slot
1 CompactFlash Slot
1 SD Card Slot
1 CompactFlash Slot
Auto Exposure Bracketing 7 Shots 7 Shots 7 Shots 7 Shots 7 Shots 7 Shots
Pop-up Flash Yes Yes
High Speed Flash Sync  Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Built-in Wi-Fi Yes Yes
Built-in GPS Yes Yes
Video  1080p @ 60fps 1080p @ 60fps 1080p @ 30fps 4K Ultra HD @ 30fps 1080p @ 30fps 1080p @ 30fps
DPReview Score 90% Gold Reward 86% Gold Reward 82% Gold Reward 87% Gold Reward 83% Silver Reward 83% Silver Reward
DXO Sensor Score (Image Quality)  93 97 81 91 87 86
Retail Price (Body + Lens) R 39 495 R 44 995 (Body Only) R 45 695 (Body Only) R67 295 R 53 995 (Body Only) R 56 995 (Body Only)

 

 

Pro Full Frame

  Nikon D5 Canon 1DX Mark II
Megapixels 21 20
Low Light Performance Excellent Excellent
Body Weight 1405g 1340g
Weather Sealing Yes Yes
LCD Screen 3.2″ 3.2″
Top LCD Screen Yes Yes
Frames per Second 14 16
Focus Points 153 with 91 Cross Type 61 with 41 Cross Type
Alternative Back Focus Button Yes Yes
ISO Range 100-102400
(expanded to 3280000)
100-51200
(expanded to 409600)
Max Shutter Speed 1/8000 1/8000
Memory Card(s) 2 XQD Slots or
2 CompactFlash Slots
1 Compact Flash and
1 CompactFast Slots
Auto Exposure Bracketing 9 Shots 3 Shots
Pop-up Flash
High Speed Flash Sync  Yes Yes
Built-in Wi-Fi
Built-in GPS Yes
Video  4K UHD @ 30fps 4K UHD @ 60fps
DPReview Score 89% Gold Reward Not Scored
DXO Sensor Score (Image Quality)  88 88
Retail Price (Body Only) R 104 995 R 91 395

 

Explaining Camera Jargon

What is the difference between Full Frame and APS-C Size cameras?

This is simple. Full frame cameras have larger sensors than APS-C cameras. Here’s a quick breakdown of the advantages of both:

 

Advantages of Full Frame sensor size camera:

  1. Full Frame cameras have superior image quality, noise handling, and colour differentiation because they have larger pixels which gather more light and information.
  2. Better large-format printing capabilities.
  3. Full frame cameras excel in landscape, portrait, and macro photography and provide more detail, allowing for impressive large-format prints.

 

Advantages of APS-C sensor size camera:

  1. Less expensive than full frame
  2. Greater zoom. With a crop factor of approximately 1.6 x it means that a 300mm lens on a full frame will render a 450mm field of view on a full frame camera. So, in other words, you get more zoom out of it. This is especially handy if you are a wildlife or sports photographer and don’t want to spend a fortune on super telephotos.
  3. Does not obtain the same shallow depth of field than full-frame cameras
    • Nikon APS-C Cameras: D3300, D3200, D5500, D5300, D5200, D7200, D7100
    • Canon APS-C Cameras: 100D, 1300D, 700D, 750D, 70D, 80D, 7D Mark II

 

Which Lenses to buy?

It is better to start with a single general use lens and then later add on extra lenses. So if buying a camera that includes a kit lens, make sure it is of a good quality. It should have a large zoom range, something in the region of 18-105mm, 15-85, 24-70 and have a large aperture. Go for the more expensive kit lens bundle rather than the “2, or 3-lens bundles” as they normally include inferior lenses. Also, look for image stabilization on the kit lens which will help you a great deal in the early days. If buying a body only camera and you need to decide between the myriad of lenses out there, have a look at the suggestions below.

The type of lenses and the difference between them: 

The General Zoom Lens

These are the lenses with variable focal lengths, i.e. an 18-105mm can be used at either end of the focal range and everything in between.
They also have variable apertures meaning that if you’re zoomed out at the wide angle, the maximum aperture is f/3.5.
If you’re zoomed into the telephoto side of the zoom, the maximum available aperture is f/5.6. They are good walk around lenses, for everyday general use.

Pro’s

  • Cheaper
  • Lighter, smaller and more user-friendly

Con’s

  • Smaller apertures when zoomed in causes slow shutter speeds. In low light, you have to pack up or use a tripod.
  • Slower focus
  • Dimmer viewfinders

 

The Prime Lens

Prime lenses have no zoom but normally comes with wide apertures which means shallow depth of field and better low light capabilities.
Since prime lenses have no zoom it means they have fewer lens elements and “normally” offers better image quality, sharpness and colour than zooms.
These lenses are generally used for high-quality portrait and studio work.

Pro’s

  • Offers great quality and good “corner-to-corner” sharpness
  • Normally offers wide apertures which mean fast focus and bright viewfinders
  • Some offerings are really affordable

Con’s

  • Has no zoom which means a fixed angle of view and a fixed set of achievable photographic properties possible with this lens.
  • Some offerings like the 200mm F.2, the 85mm F1.4, and 50mm F1.2 are very expensive.

 

The Constant/Fixed Aperture Zoom Lens

These lenses are generally used to take photographs from a distance.
Has large “fixed” aperture i.e. 70-200mm F2.8 which means that whether you are zoomed out at the widest focal range (70mm) or at the longest zoom (200mm) the maximum available aperture remains F2.8

Pro’s

  • Also called fast/money lenses for its capability to work in low light
  • Larger apertures allow you to keep on working in low light (ensures faster shutter speeds)
  • Faster focus
  • Brighter viewfinders

Con’s

  • More expensive
  • Larger and heavier

 

Specialist Lenses

The Wide Angle and Ultra-Wide angle Lens

This allows you to take shots with a very wide perspective.
These lenses are mainly used for landscape and architectural photography.
The Fisheye lens also falls into this category and can be used very creatively.

Pro’s

  • The lens is great for panorama style shots
  • These lenses can fit wider images into the same focal length
  • You can get nice and close to your subject and still fit the whole scene in
  • A lot of these lenses also come with zoom capability

Con’s

  • There is a possibility for image distortion around the sides of the image
  • They are generally more expensive than prime lenses
  • Because of their construction, they are quite heavy for their size
  • Not a versatile everyday use lens, and not ideal for shooting portraits and people

 

The Macro Lens

The lens is designed to do close-up photography like flower, insects etc.
Many lenses come with a “macro” setting but true Macro lenses produce images that are life size and that enable you to get in very close to the subject you are shooting.

Pro’s

  • Magnification ratio of 1:1
  • Greater depth of field to throw subject behind the object out of focus
  • Generally, bright and fast lenses which mean they can be used in low light conditions

Con’s

  • Lens is designed to photograph subjects at extremely close range
  • They are not very versatile lenses
  • Some of these lenses are quite expensive.
  • They are normally quite big lenses so are bulky and not always easy to handle

 

About third party lenses

There is a lot of opinions and urban legend when it comes to third party lenses. Some third party lenses are better than “real deal” offerings and most of the time, third party lenses are more affordable. Most professional photographers are of the opinion that if money is no object, buy the real deal and do not go for third party lenses. However, there are many professional photographers who swear by professional third party lenses.

Pro’s

  • They are generally much cheaper than the camera manufacturer lenses like Nikon or Canon, especially when it comes to the professional series lenses. Many of these lenses are known for their excellent image quality compared to the price you pay, in some cases even outdoing the manufacturer lenses. Sometimes you can buy a generic brand lens that isn’t available in the manufacturer models like the Sigma 70mm Macro for Nikon.

Con’s

  • Third party lenses are optimized for the price so optical quality is normally not as good as Nikon or Canon.
  • Third party lenses do not hold their price as well for Nikon or Canon lenses for resale.
  • Some of the options like Canon’s USM for fast focusing are not found on these lenses.

Some advice:

Use the right lens for the job, which is why you bought an SLR for its ability to change lenses. I know that we cannot all have an array of lenses for every situation but know the limits as well as the aesthetics, or compositional options that each of your lenses offers.

 

Additional equipment that all photographers should think of:

Which Tripod to buy?

Use the heaviest tripod you can afford, financially and physically. A good tripod will ensure sharp and consistent images on long exposures and when bracketing. A good and sturdy tripod will also be worth its weight in gold when you find yourself in a difficult location where the ground is uneven and the wind is blowing for instance. DPC offer some excellent discounted prices on Tripods, Wait for your course

 

A word of advice about Tripods

Do not be like the typical golfer who spends thousands of Rand on the best driver out there, but when it comes to his putter he buys the cheapest one out there, even though he uses it 5 times more than any other club in his bag. You are possibly going to be putting tens of thousands or rands of equipment on your tripod, make sure you buy the best where possible. Do not let that R20 000 camera and R15 000 lens sit on something that you picked up from your local retailer on special for R899. Furthermore, a sturdy and good tripod will open the door of long exposures and HDR’s for you, it is as much an investment as your lens.

 

What to do with Reflectors?

Reflectors are an excellent and cheap way to achieve a professional lighting effect without professional equipment. It can be used as a fill light reflecting any available light onto your subject. Some reflectors also include a diffuser which you can use on a very sunny day to diffuse the light on your subject.

 

Choosing the right Memory Card

Always check your manufacturer documentation for approved and tested memory cards and try to stick to these. About memory cards…

  • Compact Flash (CF): This is the standard for high-end DSLR cameras. Because of DSLR’s faster-shooting capability (burst mode), you should look for high-speed CF cards to ensure top performance.
  • Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC): This format is used in many of today’s newer DSLRs. To achieve maximum performance from your DSLR, use a high-speed SDHC card.
  • Eye-Fi Memory Cards: Eye-Fi Wireless Secure Digital Media Cards allow you to wirelessly upload photos to your computer. This means you can back up your photographs as you walk into your office without having to remove the card and connect it physically to a computer. This is especially handy when doing a Studio shoot and shooting tethered via Lightroom. They are compatible with most digital cameras with a Secure Digital (SD) memory card slot, and they are both PC- and Mac-compatible.

 

A word of advice about Memory Cards

“As with the tripod, buy the fastest memory card you can afford. You have spent all that money on a camera that can take 8fps, now you skimped on the memory card and cannot even use that super fast function to its fullest extent”

 

 

Which Camera Bags and Cases?

  1. The main things to focus on when deciding on a bag/rucksack is firstly how much protection it provides your equipment and secondly how comfortable it is to carry for hours on end.
  2. When you start going on jobs you will soon start to curse that uncomfortable bag you bought because it looks good. It needs to absolutely be practical. Easy and quick to access and easy to carry.
  3. If you are an outdoor photographer and are likely to spend long hours walking with your camera, a backpack style bag is the answer. If you are a wedding photographer where you need access to your lenses often and quickly then look at a shoulder or sling bag.

 

A word of advice about Camera Bags

“It is very important to find the right bag that works for you and the type of photography you do. If you are a wedding photographer or someone that has to quickly change lenses all the time, do not even look at a backpack. If you will be spending a lot of time walking around with the one lens then get a backpack, a shoulder bag will slowly and mercilessly kill you”

 

Recommended brands…

  • Vanguard 
  • Lowepro
  • Tamrac
  • Think Tank

 

A last word of advice when buying a camera

Our advice would be that, if you are planning to make photography anything more than a hobby, do not go for anything less than a Midrange model. However, if you are cash strapped, then buy an advanced entry-level, since image quality is pretty much on par with most mid-range models. 

“As a final word of advice, Do NOT listen to the salesperson at the retailer shop, unless you have done your own research. A good place to read more about camera equipment, that will also provide you with well researched, in-depth reviews are DPREVIEW.COM. As a final step, after you’ve done your research, go to your local camera shop, or if a friend has the same you’re interested in, then try “on” the camera / equipment you’re after. Hold it in your own hands. See if you really like the look, feel and ergonomics before you commit your fortune. If you’re intending to do a photography course with us, feel free to contact the DPC office for advice. 

 

 

About the Author:

Trompie van der Berg
I am a professional wedding and portrait photographer and Photography Teacher, based in Gauteng. I am infatuated with creating interesting and dramatic light using mainly small flashes. I have at any given time got at least six Speedlights and associated gadgets with me and I get them out every chance I get. I love creating and shaping light and solving all the problems associated with mixing flash with ambient on location. It is a skill not many photographers possess and allows me to capture vivid, three dimensional images that is not otherwise possible with natural light photography. My work has a fashion look and feel and adhere to the principle of Chiaroscuro - the artistic distribution of light and dark in a picture. Using small flashes I can create near perfect light anywhere and in any situation and it allows me to create striking images in even the dullest and most difficult setting. I come from an IT background so my second passion is technology and gadgets. I try to stay on top of all the latest trends and releases out there and love helping people make informed decisions on what equipment to invest in.

49 Comments

  1. Debbie Shah 2017/03/29 at 09:46

    This is so helpful, a great write up that is helping me narrow down the long list of possibilities. My challenge is that I, as the photographer am the moving object, taking pictures from the backseat of a motorcycle often in tricky, rough terrain – sometimes of other riders, sometimes scenery and track surface. So I need super stability, fast focus, durability and good quality, sharp results. Ease of function is important as most shots are taken one handed. I usually don’t use any (or very little) zoom in these conditions, but a nice wide angle would be good. Am I asking the impossible?

  2. Thando 2017/03/03 at 15:32

    This is very helpful and in due time I’ll give you a call and join your classes.
    Thanks a mil.

  3. Shawn Marran
    Shawn Marran 2017/01/09 at 11:53

    Good day, Lauren.
    Please give Danie Bester a call at 072 608 3345 and he will assist you 🙂
    All the best.

  4. Lauren Rogers 2017/01/09 at 08:47

    Good day. my daughter is going to enrol for the course and is interested in wildlife photography. Which camera would you recommend to start off that we can build on as she gains more experience ? Thank you

  5. Lucky 2016/08/08 at 16:45

    Good day

    I just read your article and I would like to find out if Canon 1100D is a bad start for someone who is on an entry level photographer? I would like know because there is someone who is offering it to me at an affordable price and I don’t want to make a wrong choice.

    regards

    Lucky

  6. Danie Bester
    Danie Bester 2016/05/19 at 09:18

    Hi Magda, we can definitely help you; the Nikon Coolpix P900 is fine for a course. Also note that our Basic – Intermediate Photography Course is more than just a Camera Course. It is a full-blown Photography Course, where you learn to use your specific camera, and any camera you might upgrade to in future. You are welcome to phone me directly to discuss your needs. I have emailed you my details 🙂

  7. Magda 2016/05/16 at 13:57

    Goeie dag julle,

    Net voor ons op vakansie gegaan het in Maart, het ons besluit om ‘n kamera te koop sodat ons mooi fotos kon terug bring huistoe. Ek is nog nuut in die fotografie bedryf en sal graag meer wil leer. Probleem wat ek het is, die kamera wat ons gekoop het is ‘n Nikon Coolpix P900. Hy het 83x optical zoom en dit is wow. Ek wil graag leer hoe om die Aperture, Iso en Shutter speed manually te gebruik. Al wat vir my sleg is van die P900 is dat hy nie RAW neem nie, maar Jpeg wat dit nogal ‘n uitdaging maak wanneer dit kom by editing. Weet julle enigiets van die P900? Sal julle kursus my help op enige manier? of gaan ek net my tyd mors?

    Vriendelike groete,
    Magda.

  8. Danie Bester
    Danie Bester 2015/11/23 at 11:20

    It really depends on what you want to do. The Nikon D5500 is a fine camera, but I won’t buy it with both the kit lenses. I would rather buy the body only, and add a 50mm f/1.8 prime lens [the “nifty-fifty”] and then save the money towards a decent / pro quality zoom lens for later. The Nikon D5500 and 50mm combination will be fine for doing the Basic-Intermediate course where after we can help you making the right choices for your specific needs. Feel free to contact my office if you would like to talk it through

  9. Corne 2015/11/22 at 17:13

    I am a beginner and would like to do the course next year. I don’t have a camera yet, should I first do the course and then buy or do I need to have a camera to start with? Currently looking at Nikon D5500 – either twin lens bundle R9900 (18-55mm and 55-200mm) or body only R6800 and Sigma lens R4400 (18-250mm)

  10. Danie Bester
    Danie Bester 2015/11/10 at 05:17

    I suggest trying out orms.co.za, or studio22.co.za

  11. Jillian 2015/11/06 at 18:34

    Thanks so much for the guidance!!!so I am ready to upgrade my existing camera to a Canon 700D… Any guidance in terms of where I can get the most competitive pricing. I have been quoted R12000 with the 18-135 stabiliser lens …do I go for it??

  12. Ritzva Seelane 2015/06/11 at 14:12

    I’m really looking forward to attend ur information is great thanks

  13. Benny 2015/04/26 at 13:43

    Thanks for the informative guidelines. Do you have any info for a photography course in Durban?

  14. Letitia Van der Westhuizen 2014/07/28 at 20:40

    Trompie

    Jy is nie dalk weer lus om so mini guide te publiseer met die nuutste Canon/ Nikon produkte op die mark nie?

  15. Marko 2013/08/25 at 23:59

    Really good…
    Thanks a bunch for the info on the resource Camera Equipment, Buyer

  16. Danie Bester
    Danie Bester 2012/12/17 at 21:02

    You’re right Robbie. Been playing around with the Alpha 77 some time back and quite impressive. Still find the focus system and EVF a little bit “weird” though. The image quality formidable though! We will work on that as soon as we can. Thanks for pointing it out..

  17. Robbie 2012/12/17 at 19:48

    A very well written and comprehensive guide. I just wonder why you have no Sony equipment listed. The Sony A99 has recently been overall rated higher than the Nikon D800 and Canon MK lll and maybe your readers should be made aware that there is a 3rd player in the market.

  18. move to south africa 2012/12/16 at 16:22

    Thoroughly well-researched write-up on Camera Equipment, Buyer

  19. Danie Bester
    Danie Bester 2012/11/21 at 17:57

    Daleen, the 7D is a potent camera and I guess your choice of lenses will be the most important aspect. We always recommend a large aperture lens as one of the greatest tools i.e. a 50mm f/1.4, or even the much more affordable f/1.8 lenses. Then also the 85mm f/1.8 for head and shoulders. If you really want to break the piggy bank, then you may also look at buying a serious zoom lens, like the Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L and 70-200 f/2.8 L. The ability to throw the fore-and-background out of focus will immediately set you apart from the casual photographers out there.

  20. Daleen 2012/11/21 at 09:56

    Hallo Trompie, jou mini guide is goeie riglyne. Ek wil wel weet as mens besluit jy wil kinders afneem as fotografie keuse wat sal jy voorstel is die basiese benodighede. Ek het ‘n Canon 7d kamera. Ek het al julle kursus gedoen verlede jaar.
    groete

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  22. Trompie
    Trompie 2012/11/13 at 13:14

    Hi Mariska. Jy het ‘n paar opsies om na te kyk as dit by die wide angles kom. Daar is die Nikon 10-24mm F3.5-4.5. Hierdie lens is die duurste een van die drie opsies, maar nie noodwendig die beste nie. Hy gaan vir so net onder die R10 000. Ek het na hom gekyk toe ek wide angle koop en ek moet met jou eerlik wees ek dink die Sigma was net so goed en beter vir minder geld. Die Sigma is ook a fiexed apperture lens. So regdeur die zoom range kan jy op F3.5 skiet waar dit nie met die Nikon die geval is nie. Die Sigma wat ek het is die 10-20mm F3.5. Jy kan hom nou optel vir so net onder die R8000. Dan is die derde opsie ook ‘n Sigma, dis die Sigma 10-20mm F4.-5.6 en hy gaan vir so net onder die R6000. Ek moet met jou eerlik wees, ek het nie eers na die ene gekyk nie so ek kan nie op hom comment nie. Ek wil die lens met die laagste apperture kapasiteit koop en dit is die Sigma F3.5. Ek kan maar net vir jou se dat ek nou al so twee jaar skiet met die Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 en die lens is fantasties. Ek neem tot portraits met hom…:-) Laat weet gerus as jy nog vrae het hoor. DPC Groete. Trompie

  23. Dusan Mitana 2012/11/13 at 13:01

    Good guide, but I now have a SLR and kit but am now looking for a small “travel” camera. Any suggestions? I have used my wife’s Canon IXUS and previous Sony point and shoot but find them too slow and the photo quality a bit soft. So basically I am looking for a camera the size of a PAS but the quality of a DSLR.

  24. Mariska 2012/11/13 at 01:00

    Hi Trompie!

    Dis altyd so nice om te weet ek kan gou op jou mini guide kom inloer as ek iets wil weet!
    ek het gewonder of jy nie asb vir my bietjie raad kan gee interme van wide angle lense nie?
    Dit is nou my volgende stappie en onthou ek het die een sondag aand joune uit getoets by sandton, ek soek either n nikon of sigma maar ek wil ook nou nie my hele kers bonus op n lens spandeer nie.
    ons het nou nice tripods gekry so volgende is dit nou die speedlights, sien baie uit!

    Groete
    Mariska

  25. Danie Bester
    Danie Bester 2012/07/19 at 11:55

    Morne, the Canon 600D, is a great camera, and really user friendly. In regards to the lenses… It is always difficult to provide advice in this regard. It is really “horses for courses”. My answer will depend on where you’re planning to go with it. For casual “hobbyists” these lenses will serve you well. Planning to go serious, rather not buy the kit lenses, but maybe an 15-85, or even the 24-105 F/4 L IS. For general (Swiss-army-knife stuff) photography, I personally would go for a body and a single super-zoom, i.e 18-200 Canon IS, or I would even consider the Tamron 18-270, or Sigma 18-250, which is just more versatile. Make sure you get one with an Image Stabilizer though…

  26. Morne 2012/07/18 at 16:12

    Very informative guide, Thank you!
    I’m considering buying my first DSLR camera, but not for professional use. I have more or less decided on the Canon 600D, as I will most likely not use the camera for anything more than a hobby. A deal that caught my eye was the 600D with twin lens bundle (18-55 IS and 55-250mm IS). After reading this article and your views on ‘bundle lenses’, I am however concerned about the quality of lenses offered in the bundle. Do you have any specific views on the Canon lenses sold as a bundle with the 600D? Dankie!

  27. Trompie 2012/07/10 at 20:35

    Hi Sybil,

    I can personally vouch for the Dell U2412M as I ordered plenty of these for the graphic engineers at my old company who swore by it’s quality. It also won’t break the bank and I rate Dell service very highly. In my opinion it is a great option for the price. IPS technology ensures vivid and clear pictures as well as accurate and consistent color from all viewing angles. I am in the market myself for one of these shortly. Please let us know what you decide and how you get on.

    DPC greetings.
    Trompie

  28. Trompie 2012/07/10 at 20:26

    Hi Elmien,

    Die D3200 is Nikon se entry level kamera en as jy net gaan fotos neem vir ‘n hobby is dit ‘n goeie keuse. Sou jy later besluit om fotografie dalk vir meer as net ‘n hobby aan te wend gaan jy dalk tekort skiet in die langduur. Dit gaan ook vir die lens wat saam met hom kom. As jy die geld het sou ek eerder gaan vir die 18-200mm maar dit gaan jou ‘n ekstra R7800 uit die sak uit jaag ten minste. Die kit lense is verseker nie die beste van lense nie maar as jy dit net vir die plesier gaan gebruik behoort dit jou goeie myle te gee. Ek dink die besluit wat jy moet neem is of fotografie vir jou net ‘n stokperdjie gaan wees of meer. As dit meer gaan wees moet jy dalk kyk na iets wat jou nie gaan terug hou van groei nie.

    Vriendelike DPC groete.
    Trompie

  29. Sybil Young 2012/07/03 at 10:25

    Hi Trompie. Thank you for the comprehensive guide. I am looking for a monitor. I have searched the web and also spoken to an IT person. The web recommends we purchase an IPS screen and the Dell U2412M is one of the recommended screens. I can afford the Dell but cannot afford the other makes. What is your recommendation? Thanks

  30. Elmien 2012/06/28 at 21:14

    Hi daar,
    Bbaie dankie vir n baie goeie artikel. Ek het toevallig (en gelukkig) op jul website afgekom.
    Ek dog ek is die enigste beginner daar buite wat sukkel om n kamera te koop.
    Die probleem is dat n mens so onkundig is in die gebied wat heeltemal nuut (en soos grieks klink), maar
    ek wil graag begin! Wil graag n ordentlike kamera koop die eerste keer om te verhoed om later weer te moet koop.
    Ons gaan oor n maand vir die eerste keer oorsee, en ek het nou hierdie idee in my kop om mooi fotos te neem (van landskappe en portraits etc) en dit dan te vergroot op canvasses (bv1m x 0.5m)en in my huis te hang . Ek het sover nog net n mik en druk gehad, en besef dat mens n beter gehalte kamera nodig het…maar watter een!! Dis vir my so frustrerend, want elke salesperson wil net goed aan my verkoop, sonder om te probeer verstaan wat ek nodig het en ek is bang hul buit my onkunde uit.
    Ek besef ook nou dat mens nie net n goeie kamera nodig het nie maar ook n goeie lens.
    Kan u my asseblief help om n meer ingeligde besluit te neem? Ek wou eers nie soveel spandeer het nie maar besef ek sal dalk meer moet uithaal… Die kit wat aan my voorgestel is is die Nikon D3200 en hy kom met n VR lens (55-85mm) Moet ek eerder net die kamera koop en n addisionele lens daarby (en later nog lense) of is die kit voldoende vir my behoeftes? Het ek regtig n ekstra lens nodig?
    Ek besef ek sal moet klasse kry om te leer hoe hy werk…
    Die kit gaan my R7300 kos.
    Ek sal u raad baie waardeer!
    Groete

  31. Trompie
    Trompie 2012/05/08 at 14:20

    Hi Bibi, welkom op DPC! Ons het ‘n groot verskeidenheid van kursusse wat ons aanbied. Jy kan in die link hieronder die lys van klasse asook datums en waar die kursus aangebied word sien. Laat weet gerus as ons verder kan help. https://digitalphotographycourses.co.za/photography-courses/

  32. Bibi 2012/04/27 at 18:32

    Hey,

    Ek is nou so 3 maande in JHB en wil bittergraag ‘n kursus doen in fotografie. Kan julle asseblief vir my die nodige inligting mail.

    Dankie

  33. Brian Savel 2012/02/07 at 21:42

    Thanks very much Trompie for a most comprehensive “mini” guide.
    It took me forever to decide between Nikon and Canon,but with the help of the this article my accessory future purchases should be easier and WILL save me money. (finally decided on Nikon)

  34. Melanie van der Merwe 2012/01/29 at 21:28

    Naand Trompie/Danie, ek is ‘n absolute beginner, maar stel baie belang in fotografie en kan nie wag om te begin nie. Ek wil graag die regte kamera koop om mee te begin, maar ook nie te vinnig te “maklik” gaan raak nie…is daar enige spesifieke kameras wat jul kan voorstel? Is daar enige nuwe tegnologie om voor te wag?

    Dankie!
    melanie

  35. Danie Bester
    Danie Bester 2011/09/08 at 10:37

    Keith. I agree. Pentax makes great cameras and offers great value. Just that only bout 2-3 percent of course attendees use Pentax and out 95% use Canon and Nikon. We will most certainly look at including Pentax with our next update..

  36. Keith Hyslop 2011/09/07 at 12:09

    Good info in a compact format to enable one to make a choice of digital SLR photgraphic equipment.
    Just an observation, no mention of Pentax products. Maybe I am brand loyal, but had an old Pentax SP500 35mm and a year ago went for a Pentax k-x with 18-55 and 50-200mm kit lenses. IMO a good entry level camera with some useful features.

    Your comments?

  37. Rob White 2011/07/10 at 10:27

    Hi Trompie, Fantastic article which certainly answers many questions for me. I have spent a fortune on gear, some of which i haven’t even used. (My wife thinks Im obsessed). Anyway, before i go and rush out on spending on studio lighting equipment, can you recommend what light kits i should consider buying? This is purely for home portraiture. Im using canon 7D and 5D MarkII. Lenses are 70-200 f2.8 II, 24-105 L, 24-70 f2.8L, 85mm f1.8, 100mm f2.8L Macro, and 2 x 580 exII. many thnaks and once again, great article!!

  38. Anastacia 2011/06/02 at 09:43

    You think this is a ‘mini guide”, this is so comprehensive my broer!. After reading this, I knew things I had never even thought of. This has helped me- not just a bit, but a lot in preparing for my basic photography course. Thanks Man!

  39. Danie Bester
    Danie Bester 2011/05/18 at 18:11

    Hallo Johan. Probeer B&H Photo Video. Ek nou al ‘n paar keer by hulle gekoop. Prys en diens is uitstekend!

  40. Johan 2011/05/18 at 17:47

    Hi Trompie. Ek komplimenteer jou rondom die hele scope en praktiesgerigtheid van jou aanbieding op hierdie bladsy. Dankbaar daar is mense wat ons beginners wil help. Ek het sommer gou agtergekom jy is ‘n Nikon man met tweede keuse Canon. Ek darenteen is weer ‘n Olympus man. Ons ouens wat nie hoër kan gaan as R4000-00 oppe kamera nie vind Olympus se verskeidenheid van kameras en toebehore baie nuttig en veral die kwaliteit wat jy kry vir wat jy betaal be-indruk my, asook hulle na verkoopsdiens en internet kursusse en foto-kompetisies. Wat is jou opinie rondom Olympus produkte? “n laaste vraag. Hoekom kry ek maar nêrens gepoliraseerde (poliroid) filters vir my kamera lens beskikbaar nie. In hierdie area waar ek woon is die lug besonder besoedel en deinserig en al wat sal help vir duidelike helder fotos is so filter. Maar waar? Hier innie Vuildriehoek is daar nie mense wat weet wat dit is of wat dit aanhou in hulle winkels nie. Hoop nie my brief is te lank nie. Groetnis — Johan.

  41. Frans Botha 2011/04/17 at 20:20

    Hi Trompie, Ek het by die Strobis kursus met jou gepraat ek soek ernstig na daardie stelletjie gels wat op die speed lite pas. Hoe gaan ek te werk om dit te bestel, te betaal en te bekom.
    Groete
    Frans Botha

  42. Trompie 2011/04/01 at 17:15

    Caroline, net om dit vir jou nog verder in perspektief te stel, as jy die 60D (die opvolg en nuwer model bo die 50D) en die 18-200mm lens splinternuut saam koop, dan gaan dit jou R14605 kos! In my opinie vat hulle ‘n vet kans met daai prys wat hulle jou vra. Vir interessantheid, wat is die extras wat hulle ook in die deal gooi?

  43. Trompie 2011/04/01 at 17:00

    Hi Caroline,

    Ek dink glad nie dit is ‘n goeie koop nie!!. Jy kan die nuwer 60D (Body ONLY), insluitend 8GB memory card en addisionele battery koop vir R9835 by Sacamera.co.za. Die 18-200 gaan jou ‘n verdere R5405 uit die sak jaag en dan het jy die nuutse Canon model kamera, dieselfde lens, 8GB memory card en addisionele battery vir R15204. En al die equipment is splinternuut en onder waarborg! As jy daai 50D met alles saam vir onder R10000 kan kry dan sal ek se dis miskien ‘n goeie koop. Maar jy is alreeds bereid om R15000 te spandeer so gaan vir die nuwe kit vir die ekstra R250! As jy meer wil discuss email my op trompie@digitalphotographycourses.co.za/

    Groete

  44. Gail Zaaiman 2011/04/01 at 13:05

    Wow, thank you for the info. This makes my shopping so much easier. Well done.

  45. Yalezwa 2011/04/01 at 12:58

    Thanks very much Trompie. This is very informative and comprehensive, and an easy read in simple language. It’s helping me a lot as I’m looking at doing a course on photography. Now I can’t wait!!!

  46. Caroline 2011/03/31 at 23:06

    Hallo Trompie,

    Dankie vir die inligting, dit is nogal gepaste tyd vir die artikel (vir my)!

    Ek het nou die geleentheid om die Canon 50D met ‘n 18-200mm lens te koop (saam ‘n paar extras) vir R15 000.00. Hy is wel 2de hands maar ek ken die mense en weet dat die kamera skaars 2 of 3 vakansies gewerk het.

    Is die prys gepas? Ek het gaan rondsnuffel op die web, maar dit is moeilik om 2de handse equipment te vergelyk!

  47. Caroline 2011/03/31 at 23:06

    Hallo Trompie,

    Dankie vir die inligting, dit is nogal gepaste tyd vir die artikel (vir my)!

    Ek het nou die geleentheid om die Canon 50D met ‘n 18-200mm lens te koop (saam ‘n paar extras) vir R15 000.00. Hy is wel 2de hands maar ek ken die mense en weet dat die kamera skaars 2 of 3 vakansies gewerk het.

    Is die prys gepas? Ek het gaan rondsnuffel op die web, maar dit is moeilik om 2de handse equipment te vergelyk!

  48. Corne Lourens 2011/03/31 at 19:36

    Thanks Trompie. You did your homework. Dit is nogal al die inligting waarna mens altyd soek in een stuk. Baie dankie. Mens wil maar altyd seker maak watter lens kan jy waar gebruik, en as mens so na jou lys van lense kyk, het jy dit vir ons baie goed opgesom, watter lens kan ons waar gebruik (as riglyn). Dankie.

  49. Johnny Yiannakis 2011/03/31 at 17:56

    Excellent info, for a mini guide this pretty good & comprehensive. Well done.

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