10 Habits to Better Photos: #2a Gear

As I started writing thoughts on Gear – #2 of the “1o Habits” series – the post naturally broke into two sections.  Here’s the first half.

Avoid Gear Envy

Billy-1I know I’m guilty of this: “Gee – if I only had…”.  Seriously, the best gear is the gear in your bag.  Know it and shoot it.  Figure out how to create compelling images with that $75 50mm f/1.8 glass.

David duChemin sums it up well:  Gear is good, vision is better.

Yes – there are some start up costs to photography (most hobbies have them) – but it’s not necessary to take out a second mortgage to fund it.

Let’s start with lenses.

Often times – there are some sweet spots in lenses that just offer more bang-for-buck value.  A little research through the forums – in places like PhotoZone or DPReview – can help find them.  In the Canon line, examples include the 85mm f/1.8 – or if you really must get that L glass – something like the 70-200mm f/4L might work well – instead of the extra money on the f/2.8.trailing phlox-1

Another thought – on quality glass – it can sometimes be less expensive to go with a fixed focal length lens instead of a zoom.  For example – in the L line – if the glass must be fast – skip the zoom and go straight to the fixed 200mm f/2.8L at less cost than the equivalent 70-200mm f/2.8L.

And while I’m on glass – and we’re talking bargains – check out the Sigmas and Tokinas, too.  There are some gems in there.

Also – look for alternatives to big gear purchases.  For example – macro photography.  Instead of opening the wallet for a new lens – pick up a set of extension tubes.  Much less expensive – and you’re still in the game.

As for gadgets – I really like the lower cost ones – see my 20 Photography Gifts Under $100 for a few examples.

Bottom line: It’s OK to scrutinize those big gear purchases – software, cameras, or lenses.  Sometimes the “plunge” can be reduced to a splash if you’re honest about what you’re really going to do with the gear, research your options, and understand the tradeoffs.


Photos: (1) Billy – with a 50mm f/1.8 – wide open and (2) trailing phlox – 50mm + extension tubes.

2 thoughts on “10 Habits to Better Photos: #2a Gear”

  1. Online lens rental has become so easy I rent lenses for comparison before purchasing. Comparing my $1200 Canon L to my similarly spec-ed $350 Tamron I found the Tamron had several areas where it out performed the Canon L lens, and these were more important for my photography than the areas in which the Canon L outperformed the Tamron.


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