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Cameras and Photo Equipment

Cameras and photo equipment are available in affordable and professional grade models.

Obtaining the cameras and photo equipment necessary for a quality shoot can be quite an expense. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Obtaining the cameras and photo equipment necessary for a quality shoot can be quite an expense.

Cameras and Photo Equipment

In order to be a serious photographer, having the right cameras and photo equipment makes all the difference. Under optimal conditions, little equipment is needed to take a good photograph; however, in challenging situations or when creating photographic art, having specialized equipment becomes more important. Camera tripods serve a variety of purposes, while camera lenses, flashes and external lights allow a wider range of photographic effects.

Camera Tripods

A tripod is necessary when the photographer wants to be in the picture; however, it is mainly used to steady the camera to achieve sharper pictures. Under low-light conditions in particular, a photographer must use a long exposure that is likely to take a blurry picture without a tripod. Tripods also allow photographers to precisely frame a shot, and then lock the tripod so many shots can be taken without moving the camera.

Stability and adjustable height are two important characteristics of a tripod. A good tripod should remain stable even when the legs are fully expended and pressure is applied to the top. According to Digital Photography School, weight can also be an important part of tripod stability. Lightweight tripods are great for transporting, but a heavy camera needs a heavy tripod to support it. A tripod should also expand and contract to various heights. For example, a tall photographer may need an especially tall tripod, while a photographer interested in macro photography needs a tripod that contracts to a short size. Lightweight basic tripods can cost as little as $20. Heavy tripods with long legs, removable heads and special features can cost over $100.

Camera Lenses

Owners of compact cameras can purchase add-on lenses which work in conjunction with the primary camera lens. Single-lens-reflex cameras will need single-lens-reflex lenses which replace the existing lens on the camera. A set of add-on lenses costs about $100 for most compact cameras. Single lens reflex lenses start at approximately $100 each, but can cost thousands of dollars.

There are four basic add-on lenses a photographer can get for a compact camera: wide-angle lenses, telephoto lenses, macro lenses and fisheye lenses. A wide-angle lens widens the field of vision and is good for landscape photography. Telephoto lenses bring objects closer in pictures, and produce a similar result to a zoom lens. A 2X telephoto lens essentially doubles the zoom power of a compact camera. A macro lens has a short focal length and, therefore, allows photographers to take sharp close-up pictures. A fisheye lens distorts pictures, giving them a curved and convex look. The effect is similar to looking through the peephole in a door.

Wide angle, telephoto, macro and fisheye lenses are also available for single-lens reflex cameras. In addition, single-lens reflex lenses come in varying focal lengths and apertures which help photographers perfect their pictures. According to Macworld, the focal length of a lens determines the field of view of a picture. A shorter focal length creates a wider field of view that can capture more of a scene. Higher focal lengths capture a smaller portion of a scene and are ideal for more close-up photography. Aperture is the amount of light which is allowed to pass through a lens. Lenses have a range of apertures and are labeled by their maximum aperture. Low-range aperture lenses let in more light and are suitable for low-light environments. High-range aperture lenses let in less light and, therefore, are used in high-light environments.

Flashes and Lights

When there is not enough natural light in a scene, flashes and external lights become an essential component of camera and photo equipment. External flashes have several advantages over built-in flashes that come with the camera, including:

  • Providing more illumination
  • The ability to change the angle without moving the camera to achieve just the right lighting effect
  • Recharging much faster, so pictures can be taken at a faster rate
  • Eliminating red eye because subjects do not have to look directly into the flash

According to PopPhoto.com, strobe lights, tungsten and daylight-balanced fluorescent (DBF) studio lights are the most popular off-camera lights and worthwhile investments. Strobe lights allow infinitely more creative possibilities, especially for indoor shots when a lot of light is needed or when shooting action shots. Battery-powered strobe lights are essential for on-location shoots that are not close to an electrical outlet. Tungsten lights are less expensive than strobe lights and create a continuous light source ideal for portrait shots. DBF lights are not as bright as strobe lights, but use less power and are closer to natural light.

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