FAQ: Starter Cameras + Lenses

This is my first FAQ post and I have to admit, I’m a little nervous about posting it, mostly because I am in no way considered an expert in photography stuff. But, I’ve received this question quite a few times, so I thought I’d address how I got started and how I recommend going about experimenting in the big world of photography.

“Hi! I’m really interested in photography and want to buy my first nice camera. What would you recommend getting? Thanks!”

The quick answer, if you don’t want to continue reading, is a Canon Rebel + 50mm lens. I’d also recommend purchasing the book Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. It will teach you all about how cameras function, and how to use the different aspects of exposure (shutter speed, aperture, ISO) to create the effect you want in your photos.

When I decided I wanted to pursue a photography business, I had been following a couple photographers (Michelle Moore and Jasmine Star) for a few months. They both shot Canon, so that’s what I bought. I saved my pennies from my part-time college job, and purchased a Canon Rebel Xsi with the kit lens. I was beyond excited when the UPS man dropped it off, and started photographing my roommates right away.

What I quickly realized, however, was that the kit lens wasn’t producing the results that I wanted. So after less than a month of owning my camera, I purchased the 50mm f/1.8 lens. The kit lens, with its f/3.5-5.6 aperture, didn’t allow me to really explore and experiment with wide apertures, which create the creamy, out-of-focus backgrounds that everyone loves. The 50mm let me practice all of the things my Understanding Exposure book was teaching me. I learned how to get the clean, classic look that I so admired in Michelle and Jasmine’s images. I couldn’t have achieved that look using the kit lens.

My Rebel treated me very, very well (aside from weddings). I’d actually recommend the 50mm f/1.4 over the f/1.8, and here’s why, but the f/1.8 is still a good starter lens. Here are some of my favorite images made with my Rebel+50mm:

I hope this post helps, and if not, maybe I’ll try again some other time!

XOXO
Rachel

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