Recommend a Sweet Set-Up

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by thebiggoose, Sep 25, 2007.

  1. thebiggoose macrumors 6502


    Jun 17, 2006
    Disregarding the circumstances, someone I know has up to $8000 to spend on a new photography set-up. They are going into college for photography. They are getting rid of their current set-up and totally redoing it. They'll need a body, lenses, and whatever else a photog might need. She does general photography; portraits, nature, action. Basically everything.

    Thanks and please don't talk about how she is spoiled and such. She just wants recommendations and I know my MacRumorians would come through.
  2. §HAMU§ macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2006
    raleigh, nc
    i'm going to suggest canon, since i'm more familiar with that brand, but i'm sure there's an equally comparable setup with nikon.

    canon 40d (body only): 1300
    1: canon ef-s 10-22 f3.5-4.5 usm: 675
    2: sigma 30mm f/1.4: 430
    3: canon ef 50mm f/1.4 usm: 310
    4: canon 85mm f/1.8 usm: 340
    5: canon 70-200 f/2.8 is usm: 1700
    6: canon ef 24-70 f/2.8 usm: 1140
    memory cards and filters: can range depending on quality and how much storage. i'd set aside a few hundred for that, atleast.
    add in costs for backup solution, depending on how comprehensive, a few hundred to a thousand dollars.
    backpack to carry it all: 100-300
    sales tax on at least that: probably around 400 assuming 7%

    you could probably swap in a 1ds body or 5d body, change the 10-22 for the 16-35L, remove the sigma 30mm which would give her full frame if she wanted it. which would increase the price by a few thousand dollars, and may cut into other needed things (backup, filters, accessories). one thing to note, if she gets either of these bodies, she'll pretty much want only good primes, or L glass. these bodies are unforgiving on cheaper consumer lenses.

    you can get student discounts for software (creative suite, photoshop, lightroom/aperture (mac)) that will vary depending on which setup, probably between 250 and 580

    this is all assuming she has a good computer for doing post processing. if not, she'll need to add that in as well. and a nice big display.

    1: wonderful wide angle lens for landscape architecture
    2: i've heard this is a great walk around lens for crop bodies.
    3: good portrait lens on crop bodies, good walk around lens on full frame
    4: great portrait lens for either bodies
    5: top notch telephoto for either body
    6: very good walkaround lens on either body
  3. epicwelshman macrumors 6502a


    Apr 6, 2006
    Nassau, Bahamas
    What's her current setup like? I.e., is there anything (bodies, lenses, flashes) that she could keep? Why does she have to dump EVERYTHING?

    I'm not challenging, I'm just wondering.

    Edit: §HAMU§'s advice is very very good.
  4. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    Something she might want to consider is the Leica M8.

    Leica cameras are not for everyone, but to those who love the Rangefinders (myself included, as well as many of the greatest photojournalists and artists in the world), nothing else will do.

    A Leica M8 will get her involved with the justifiably famous Leica M-series lens system, arguably the best lenses in the world.

    A Rangefinder is a fanstastic experience, and an altogether different way of taking pictures. If your friend is going to spend $8,000 on a camera and setup, I really encourage you to have her look at the Leica (and work produced with Leicas) before going the conventional Nikon/Canon route. Nothing against either the Nikon or Canon system, but Leicas offer a unique and different approach to capturing images, and if Leicas suit her, they are creative tools without compare.
  5. M@lew macrumors 68000


    Nov 18, 2006
    Melbourne, Australia
    I reckon she should go with a 5D and get the 24-105 and 16-35 f/2.8. Some nice "general" lense right there. :D
  6. epicwelshman macrumors 6502a


    Apr 6, 2006
    Nassau, Bahamas
    Seeing as you've obviously used the Rangefinders, how would they stack up when doing conventional photography courses? I know very little about the Leica system, other than it offers some unique challenges, but would it be worthwhile for everyday photography?
  7. baby duck monge macrumors 68000

    baby duck monge

    Feb 16, 2003
    Memphis, TN
    I think this information would be very good to know. Even if all it meant was she could have a backup body. While it may not be as important as in event photography, if you're going to be a photography student and you find yourself without camera, that could be a big issue.

    Also, two things that were missing from§HAMU§'s otherwise quite comprehensive list are: (1) a flash, and (2) a good tripod. Figure in somewhere between $600 and $1500 for the two of them together. I'm not so good at the maths, but I'm fairly sure there's still room in her budget even if you bought everything suggested.
  8. §HAMU§ macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2006
    raleigh, nc
    thanks for pointing that out, i forgot about those 2 items.

    you could also add onto my list a macro lens. this would give her an all around setup to shoot pretty much anything she'd ever want in most situations (landscapes, portraits, photojournalism, sports, limited wildlife (she'll need some super telephotos for that, which can up the cost fast), low light, flowers/bugs/anything macro)
  9. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    I don't know American prices, and I'm too lazy to check, so I'm going to take a wild stab at the dark with regards to pricing....because I lovez me a challenge. Feel free to tell me how accurate my guessing was. ;) :p

    Nikon D300 ($1800)

    Tokina 12-24 mm f/4 ($500)
    Tamron 17-50 mm f/2.8 ($400)
    Sigma 30 mm f/1.4 ($450)

    Nikon 85 mm f/1.8 ($350)
    Nikon 18-200 mm ($750)
    Nikon 70-200 mm f/2.8 VR ($1500)

    That's a total of around $5750 so far.

    Lowepro Slingshot 200 AW camera bag = Best camera-bag ever for general use. $75
    A large camera backpack for carrying everything. ($150)
    Memory Cards = two 4 GB cards ($200)
    Nikon SB600 external flash ($250)

    That's around $6375 total....."so far".

    If she really wants to use up the entire $8000, here is some stuff you can throw on top:

    MacBook Pro (with edu discount) + an extra 2 GB stick of RAM = $2000
    Dell 20" WPF = $400 (or find a Dell coupon somewhere)
    Backup hard-drive = $150
    Photoshop Elements = $100

    Manfrotto tripod (legs and all) = $250
    ND Gradient Filter = $50
  10. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    I'd suggest she also considers getting an extender for sports and nature photography, a grip (for the respective body) and not invest her money into a fullframe body (yet). With this budget, she should focus on lenses and other equipment. Both, the D300 and the 40D are capable cameras that should be `good enough' (understatement of the year).

    Since I assume, she's a photographer already, she should pick the brand she is more familiar with/feels more comfortable with.
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    $8K is not to much to spend. Tuition will likely be more. But don't buy it all at once.

    Also, can she take advantage of the resources at the college -- ask the instructors for advice. They might even have specific requirements on the equipment. For example almost every "Photo 101" class uses black and white film and will allow either 35mm or 120 size film. If this is the case the first thing to buy is a 35mm film body for about $100 and a 50mm f/1.4 lens to go with it. Save the $7900.00 untill after you are 1/2 way through "Photo 101". With 1/2 a semester's worth of education you will now more than 99% of the people out there shopping for camera gear.

    In short.
    1) Buy the minimum kit required for the first class. (Ask what that is)
    2) While in class talk to instructors and students and
    learn all you can about equipment
    3) Put off the temptation to buy stuff as you will know
    100 times more and make a better decision AFTER the first class.

    Everyone here is basically recommending whatever they own. But how many here are full time photography students? How many are commercial photographers? The needs are different.

    It may very well be that she will need a professional medium format system. Maybe she will go into fashion, advertising or fine art photography.

    I can say with certainty that her needs and tastes in gear will be very different four years from now, maybe even two years from now. That is after all the whole point going to school.
  12. Grimace macrumors 68040


    Feb 17, 2003
    with Hamburglar.
    $2500 - Canon 5D
    $1400 - 16-35mm f/2.8L II
    $1200 - 24-70mm f/2.8L
    $1600 - 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS

    $300 - 430EX Flash
    $100 - gear bag
    $200 - 4GB and 8GB fast CF cards
    $300 - tripod
    $100 - monopod

    + 5% sales tax
  13. milozauckerman macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2005
    Depending on where she's going, she may well be shooting more film than using digital, particularly in her introductory classes.

    We'd really need a lot more information about where she's attending and what the program is like.

    In all likelihood her studies will never require her to own an enormous telephoto or macro lens. BFA programs don't spend much time on sports or taking pictures of bugs/flowers. Will they want her to use a view camera at all? Expert her to learn to shoot a medium-format SLR in a studio setting?

    If she's intent on spending some cash, then I'd say:
    Nikon FE2+50/1.8 manual focus body and lens - odds are Photo 101 is going to have her use this and all the black and white film she can shoot. Figure $400, tops, from a reputable online dealer like KEH.

    Canon EOS 3 - EX+ from KEH, $350ish
    Canon 5D - matches the film body, no need to worry about lens compatibility - $2500
    Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens - buy it new, ~$400

    $3750 total, plus shipping. Put $4250 into a 5% yield money market account until she finds out what she's going to focus on in school - she might desire a Hasselblad kit, or she might find out she's interested in large-format portraiture and wants a view camera and lenses, or she might find out both.
  14. milozauckerman macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2005
    Throw in another $200-400 for a good Sekonic incident/flash meter. Even if she's using her school's lighting and larger-format cameras for studio work, she will want something reliable and modern rather than whatever the school has available (unless we're talking the Art Institute of Chicago or something).

    I like my L-408 - incident/5-degree spot/flash capable, small enough to fit in my pocket if I want to wander around with a meterless camera. I paid $200 on Ebay.
  15. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    She should look at her course requirements and buy the minimum necessary and put the rest of the money into something interest-bearing. When she's done a year, she'll know if she wants to spend money on lights or lenses. She may find that she's shooting more and more of one type of thing or another after a year or two, and getting one of the middle-end digital bodies is a mistake if she decides to go full-on in some aspect where an pro body is necessary- or if she decides that she wants a particular thing that fits her style as it emerges. After a year or two, the $7000 or so she's left with will buy more camera, and she'll know exactly what she wants, it could be that she ends up spending $5000 on lighting.

    She'll also get more out of it if she's challenged, not if she's got a full range of lenses- because photography really isn't about the camera...
  16. wmmk macrumors 68020


    Mar 28, 2006
    The Library.
    If she's studying photography, not photojournalism (BIG difference there), screw digital.

    A Leica M3, Sekonic flash meter, some nice Leica primes or Zeiss M42 lenses with adapters, a minifridge, and tons of film to fill it with (I like Kodak Portra for color and anything Ilford for B&W), she'll do well. A PC cord and shoe mount flash would be nice, too.

    By the way, can you show us some of her work? I find it hard to believe that someone going to art school still hasn't found a certain niche that they're most interested in.
  17. libertyterran macrumors member

    Apr 12, 2007
    A fullframe camera like canon 5D is a must with that budget.
  18. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    If she's serious about shooting from a tripod, $250 won't even get a good ball head, and a $250 leg set won't be very stable. If you don't mind off-brand legs, $800 is about right for a pretty reasonable tripod/head/plate set-up.

    Teleconverters don't work well for sports/nature unless there's a lot of light. Typically you can just about get away with a 1.4x on a constant f/2.8 lens if it's (a) mid-day (b) a slow sport and (c) a reasonable focal length to start with. But a school with a photography program might have lenses students can check out, in which case it'd be moot.

    Indeed, and most manufacturers have student discounts, so if she waits until she's enrolled and got some idea of what she needs, that money will go a lot further than if she blows it all up front on things that she might not use at all in school.
  19. milozauckerman macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2005
    You're joking, right?

    I've gone out in the wind with a 4x5 field camera and a $90 Slik tripod/tilt-pan setup, and it works just fine. It's also light and easy to carry. I wouldn't use it with a larger view camera, or any kind of 40-pound 750mm telephoto, but that's a very small percentage of tripod usage.

    For the average 3 to 4-pound body/lens combo, there are a million tripods that will work just fine and most will come in under $150.

    My $500 Manfrotto-Bogen setup, pretty much stays at home because it weighs a ton and I've yet to encounter a situation where the old Slik couldn't cut it with any of my cameras, from 35mm to 6x6 to 4x5.
  20. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    About 98% of my photography is off a tripod. I'm very picky about platform stability, and I'm also very pick about ball heads, having spent way too much money on cheap heads over the years. Every Slik tripod I've tried in a store sucked under test loads, and even the heavier than Slik Bogen/Manfrotto 3021 aluminum legs wouldn't hold my 4x5 or 5x7's to my satisfaction in a moderate wind.

    Every ball head I've used (including Gitzo) that wasn't at least $300 has started to lose its ability to lock down under load after 12-18 months.

    Maybe your requirements for sturdy platform differ from mine, maybe you evaluate things differently- but I'll stick to what works for me.

    Thom Hogan's Maxim #2 states: "You can spend US$1700 to buy a good tripod and head, or you can spend US$1000 and do the same thing. (Corollary: eventually you'll do one or the other.)"

    I think the availability of good knock-offs reduces that by $200 or so, but not too much more.

    I tend to not leave my tripod/head at home though- my leg set is a Gitzo 1548 (6.75lbs,) with an Acratech leveling base (1.00lbs,) and a Wimberly II (3.25lbs)- so that's 11lbs of support. Maybe you should just sell the OP your other tripod?
  21. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    The best set up so far. Going FF on a 5D and spending almost $3000 on the body alone for an initial setup is a bit much. She may have the money but she should try to get as much quality stuff as she can. Blowing half of it on the body is a bit overkill. This setup works best since it has the machine for photo editing and back up in it as well. I would trade the SB600 for an SB800 though, since the price difference is about $100.

    Not that the 5D or any Canon setup wouldn't have worked. If she wanted to she could even go with Pentax and get two bodies if she wanted.

    p.s. Your guesses were right on.
  22. milozauckerman macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2005
    Thom Hogan's statements are key for a subset of photographers that require hard-use ballheads and top-shelf legs for fast action in low light with long telephotos - sports and wilderness, for instance.

    They don't bear as much weight when it comes to art, product, editorial or portrait photographers (etc.). (for instance, the ideal large-format tripod is wood - they dampen vibration better than carbon fiber)

    Which is where I take issue with your statement about cost - I have some idea of the basic program for an 'art school' photography education, and it's going to involve very little that requires a ballhead or carbon fiber tripod.
  23. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Actually, Thom's tripod statements are made for the general audience (hence the 101 designation,) but if you don't actually schlep your tripod around much then the build parts of them won't really apply- after all if it's sitting at home, you're not likely to find it inadequate. If you're always in the studio, then you can get away with about anything- but if you're going afield, then even with a relatively light setup like a Maymia C330 TLR or M645, I see a lot of stability differences and longevity issues with the cheaper leg sets.

    I don't find any vibration difference between my Berlebach wooden tripod and my 1548 on my 5x7- or on my D2x with the 400 and a 1.4x converter, despite the fact that the CF leg set has more structural rigidity- in-lens shutters really don't cause much resonance if you have a sturdy enough platform.

    Finally, the OP said their friend enjoys action and nature photography- buying once is better than Thom's path of buying multiple times. Plus art students tend to play a fair bit with long exposures, light painting, etc.- all places where rock-solid support makes a significant difference.

    Like I said, most of my photography is on a tripod (I've shot some stock model stuff off the tripod in the studio- and the occasional grab shot but that's about it,) even if I'm using a wide angle lens- and I haven't found the light/cheap tripods to be stable enough in most shooting conditions- but my image evaluation criteria are a lot more stringent than most people's (at least judging by the prints lots of folks show me when we're shooting the same locations.)
  24. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    I have had about four cheap ($70 - $100) tripods that have been nothing but trouble. The biggest problem I have with them is their changing in size from cold or warm weather, then they jam up on me or break. I am now looking for a good Manfrotto Carbon Fiber tripod and a good head. I expect to spend about $500 on the low end.

    For a good tripod... expect to spend around $700 and up.
  25. milozauckerman macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2005
    You seem to misunderstand - I don't leave the tripod at home when one might be called for: I leave the heavy 'better' tripod at home and haul along the Slik. It's been out and about for seven years, mounted everything up to 4x5 and so far I haven't encountered any kind of damage to it. No bent legs, still tightens up just fine.

    What I read, for the entirety of Maxim 1 and 2, deal with worries about telephoto zooms and other heavy lenses hanging off the front. A normal lens in any format is going to bring the center of gravity right down in the middle of the tripod.

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