So you got a new camera for Christmas

So you got a new camera for Christmas: what’s next?

The temptation is to go out and buy a crap load of accessories and at least one lens.

Before you do can I suggest a different approach?

The two most useful things for me is a spare battery and a spare memory card if you haven’t already got one. That bag full of lenses becomes a dead weight when you run out of power or memory.

If this is your first camera that you can change lenses on I’m assuming whoever got you the camera were also kind enough to get you a lens.

The usual kit lenses in the 18-55mm range are more than good enough to start. Use this lens for a while and see if you need wider, longer or if shooting in low light something with a larger maximum aperture. Despite what most people say there are only two real drawbacks of the ‘kit’ zoom. Build quality (they won’t take a lot of abuse) and the aperture range. Typically f3.5 to 5.6. This can be limiting in low or poor light.

After a couple of months of good use, you should be getting an idea of what lens you might want to think about next. Buy the best lens you can afford that will do what you need. Getting a f5.6 55-200mm zoom is a false economy if your shooting in poor light. Getting a 70-200mm 2.8 zoom is expensive and heavy. A 70-200mm f4 zoom could be the sweet spot in price, weight and performance.

On the other hand you might be looking at the other end of the scale with an ultra wide angle zoom or wide angle prime.

If your leaning towards getting closer to your subject you could consider a close up adapter or even a macro lens. If you decide on a specialised macro lens I would suggest looking at something with a focal length of at least 100mm. Anything shorter would be OK for still life but a bit too close for live insects. Think about how you feel when someone shoves a lens in your face.

Either way take a bit of time enjoying your new camera before rushing out to spend the crimbo money. Get a feel for how YOU use the camera.

Bear in mind everything is a compromise. Those big expensive lenses are also heavy. If your willing to carry around the weight – great. If your of an older persuasion you might appreciate lighter kit. In my gear I have compromised on price and performance for a lighter bag. I don’t do low light shooting so I can live with it. Were all different and need to figure what best fits our needs. As time goes by those needs could well change.

People producing long lists of ‘must have kit’ normally have some sort of vested interest 😉


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