Let's face it. We’re all gear-junkies and tech-geeks whether we choose to admit it or not. Chances are that many of us have made hundreds of purchases related to photography over the years, but I’d venture to say that not all of those purchases have been as impactful as others. Here are five purchases that I certainly don’t regret.
DX to FX
I’ll spare you the boredom that would soon follow reading the list of my first digital cameras – It’s just not impressive or special by any means. Instead, I’ll start at when I upgraded from DX format Nikon bodies to FX format; something that I certainly consider monumental in terms of the purchases I’ve made thus far.
I should note that there’s nothing wrong with DX format cameras. In fact, my D7000 still sees plenty of use by my son. The decision to purchase a FX format Nikon D600, which later became a D610 (thanks Nikon!) due to an issue with dust spots on the sensor, was largely influenced by my lust for a few FX Nikon lenses, particularly the holy trinity – the 14-24 mm, 24-70 mm, and 70-200 mm. I didn’t want to invest in high quality lenses for a DX format body when upgrading to FX felt inevitable.
I now shoot mostly with a Nikon D810, but my D610 remains a solid back-up.
70-200mm 2.8 VR II
It wasn’t long after purchasing my first FX format camera that I was able to justify spending a large chunk of cash on my first professional Nikon lens, the 70-200 f/2.8 VRII. I was in love with this lens before I ever even held it in my hands and had done a ton of research, which ultimately led to being able to mount one on my own cameras.
Since making the purchase, I’ve completed my collection of the holy trinity and I've added a few quality prime lenses to my kit as well, but none give me the feeling, or can quite produce the images that my beloved 70-200 does (Insert argument for the latest and greatest here).
Sometime around 2013 I became really interested in images being created by photographers that were proficient in the use of off camera lighting. I fooled around with a few different, inexpensive constant lighting options, before concluding that they were obviously better suited to a studio photographer, and not quite what I was after.
After more research, it became evident that speedlights would fit my needs nicely. I chose to stick with Nikon, since I hadn’t been let down yet, and purchased my first Speedlight, a SB-700. There was a serious learning curve here for me, and looking back on things, I probably shouldn't have been so thrilled with the results I was getting. I was triggering the flash with my camera’s pop up flash, which if you’ve ever relied on, you quickly find the limits of that method. I was also using a bare flash, often over powered, and had zero understanding of the purpose of light modifiers such as my go-to, an 18” octabox.
I can remember my first shoot using a set of Pocket Wizards and the relief I felt once I realized I could now fire my speedlights from just about anywhere and didn’t need to depend on the location of the little, oddly placed, optical slave. It was then that I really began to dial in my off-camera lighting skill set.
Here’s where I might catch some flack, considering Apple fanboys are beginning to bite the hand that has fed them for the last 20 years or so. I was never an Apple fanboy. In fact, I was quite the opposite. I used their product’s high price point and the fact that I really didn’t know how to operate the OS, as a means to leverage my argument for PC’s. The fact was, I had never had a PC that just worked the way I needed it too, and if it did, the celebration was never long-lived.
After a Samsung laptop of mine decided to kick the bucket at a most inopportune time, I decided it was time to make the switch, only I did so hesitantly. I found a used 2015 13” Macbook Book Pro on craigslist for sale for seven hundred dollars from a guy with grey dreadlocks wearing a Hawaiian shirt, claiming to be revolting against technology. Upon inspecting the computer and seeing that he had just received it as a gift weeks before with gift receipt included, I figured I could do worse and made the purchase. I can’t say anything about the benefits of using a Macbook Pro for photo work that hasn’t already been written about a hundred times before. They just work – and that’s golden.
As you piece together your photography kit, you're bound to make purchases that are less than ideal. Hopefully sharing my most appreciated purchases with you may help steer you in a direction you're happy with. Have there been any photography related purchases that you've made over the years that you'd make again? Share in the comments below.