There are many cameras and lens to choose from. Most serious and professional photographers choose the high-end route to achieve their desired results. The type of photography you do will dictate the type of equipment you will need. Certain types of cameras are better suited for particular situations. For example, a 4×5″ Wista view camera is often used for products or landscapes, 2 1/4″ Mamyia maybe used for fashion or portraits and most wedding, photojournalists and pro sports and nature photographers use 35mm digital cameras. There is much crossover and there are few hard and fast rules on what camera to use. We can get into other options at a later date. For these purposes with this article, I will specifically be talking about Professional 35mm DSLR equipment.
While there are many camera system options, most serious photographers chose from either Canon or Nikon systems, although Leica and Sony (and others) have attractive offerings for some. The extensive families of lens and camera bodies available from Canon and Nikon is the primary reason. If one spends enough time looking at cameras, you can watch the ups and downs of various systems over the years. One day brand X is better with one feature and 18 months later brand Y is better. I highly recommend you look at both brands and hold them in hand and see how they feel, including were the buttons are. I have owned Canon equipment for years. I also know many professionals who use Nikon.
I have never had too may problems with Canon thus far. Some equipment has been new, some second hand from reliable sources and others have been refurbished by Canon USA and have a limited warranty. Due to warranty and repair issues I tend to shy away from grey market equipment. I have great reliable places and contacts to purchase equipment that I am happy to recommend to you at the bottom of this article.
First, if you are going to spend some serious money start with spending it on your lenses. They will hold their value much more than camera bodies. So get the best lens you can afford, then get the best body with what’s left. You will surely be updating your camera body in the coming years. The rapid improvements in digital imaging will take your breath away and the only way to take advantage is to upgrade your equipment. Skip a generation or buy one generation behind, but sooner or later you will find compelling reasons to get a new body, if you have a good lens, it will still perform well on the new body.
Secondly, Prime or Zoom lens? I prefer prime lens, but also use zooms for practical reasons. Anything f2.8 or lower is desired, but they will be big, bulky and cost more, but they will be fast, sharp and bright! In the long run you will be happier. If you ever have to sell or upgrade to something different you will have less of a problem liquidating these lens.
I suggest you buy two lenses at the start IF you can. This will cover you from low to high range. Here are a couple suggestion:
- Wide: Canon EF16- 35mm f2.8 L IS
- Intermediate: Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L all IS USM,
- or Canon EF24-105mm f4 L IS
- Long: Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS ll USM, or EF 100-400 f4.5-5.6L IS USM.
Canon has been furiously updating lens as they improve the features of their bodies. Fans have been looking for updates of the Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L and the EF 100-400 f4.5-5.6L IS USM for a while, but at this time there are only rumors.
These next lenses may totally break the bank. Telephoto Lens, 200mm f2L IS USM, new EF 300mm f2.8L IS ll USM w/ new Extender EF 1.4X lll, EF 400mm f.4 DO IS USM and we can keep on going but I think I’ll stop here. My suggestion today for a wildlife telephoto lens is the Canon EF 400 f5.6L USM. It’s a good lens, but it’s slower, not as bright, much older w no IS (image stability). On the other hand for birds in flight you don’t always need IS and the lightening fast focus and tack sharp lens make for an effective system when paired with a recent body such as the 7D. I would recommend to hold off If you can till next week and see what comes out at the Photo Plus Show in NYC.
Note, This not says that other lenses are not as good. They are, just different. They may not be as sharp or fast as the L series lens but then again it’s all what you are looking for and how your are going to use the lens and the pictures your trying to capture. If you are a pro or working up to being one, then you are going to want the best, sharpest and brightest lens you can afford to get. But IF, you are wanting to get good decent pictures but don’t want to take a loan out, then by all means look at the lens that are more in the range of F3.5, F4-F5.6. The main thing is to get out there and do what you love to do., Take photograph and keep on working at it. That’s what is all about!
Third, Camera body: Questions to ask yourself. Full frame or not? Fast, rugged, whether proof, or frames per second? Canon EOS-1D Mark lV, Can’t say enough great things about it., EOS-1D Mark lll, Full Framed EOS-1Ds Mark lll, EOS 7D, EOS 5D ll. I have heard great things about EOS 60D & 50D too, but I’m not not as familiar with them.
Note, Another big question involves weight and your style of photography ~ hand holding vs. tripod. This is going to make a huge impact on what decision you make on both your camera and lens. Also, do you have a bad back?
We have the EOS-1D Mark lV, EOS-1D Mark lll, and a Full frame EOS-1DS Mark ll. IF you are thinking of getting either the 1D Mark lV or 1D Mark lll? I would absolutely go for the 1D Mark lV instead if you can afford it. Newer technology system as a whole reacts much faster, fps and read/write rate is superb! Something to think about though is when a newer camera comes out you can then you get the older generation for a better price. The high-end cameras are not going to go to a bargain basement price but you will be able to justify spending more for a bit less than new.
Since new things are coming out and the biggest photo show in NYC PhotoPlus is almost upon us on Oct 28-30. I would highly recommend to go and see everything in hand. This way you will get to see and hold in hand all the levels of equipment you might want.
Note: I would also make a list of the camera’s and lens you are really most interested in beforehand and look at those things first and compare. This way you won’t get distracted. Then go see all the other cool stuff!
Here are a couple of places we have bought our equipment from below.
- Hunt Photos: Boston, MA 800-221-1830 or 781-462-2323
- Camera Wholesalers Inc.: Stamford, CT 203.357-0467 or 877-322-6372