Calvin writes: “Just watched you video on your new Rebel XTi. Congrats! I remember when I made the jump and it was great. As a hobby photograph,I used point and shoot cameras for a while. I thought I’d suggest 5 things that I found helpful as a DSLR owner.”
- Additional lenses I’m not being specific here, because every “eye” is different. I like landscape shots, so my wide angle lens hogs my Canon body a lot. It always helps to carry more than one lens at a time, you never know when you need that Telephoto moment or that wide angle when you just can’t step back any further. Assuming you’re gonna stick with Canon lenses, be mindful of the difference between EF and EF-S lenses. EF-S is for the cropped sensor models e.g. Rebel XTi, whereas EF are usually for the full frame sensor models e.g. 5D. You can fit EF lenses on an EF-S body, but you can’t fit EF-S lenses on a full frame body. So if further down the line you trade that Rebel XTi in for a full frame model those EF-S lenses won’t work! Also, Canon don’t ship lens hoods with their lenses that aren’t part of the L range (argh!) so you’re gonna have to buy a separate lens hood for that lens if it’s not an L “Luxury” model. IS (Image Stabilization) is another feature to look out on lenses for if you find out you have more shaky hands then you realize. Since the body doesn’t have this technology and any IS you get will be from the lenses, the benefit of this that you can see the IS effects through the viewfinder.
- Battery Grip Picture the scene, your baby is in Ponzi’s arms and is about to yawn for the first time. You reach out for your camera in attempt to snap this amazing moment…. only to find out the battery is dead. Not that this has happened to me, but you can imagine you’d be pretty livid if this were to happen, regardless of how organized you are with batteries. Which is why I recommend a battery grip for your Rebel XTi. Not only can you store 2 batteries worth of power within the grip, but it also allows you to hold your camera vertically much easier and has additional controls when holding it in that position. The official Canon model is the BG-E3, but if you find that too pricey, there are some other ones out there which are basically the same but don’t sport the Canon name.
- Flashgun + diffuser Whilst the flash is acceptable on the camera itself, it can never fully compare to a proper flashgun. With one, you can adjust its angle so you can bounce the flash off walls or ceiling for a less direct flash. Or even better, use an off-shoe camera cord and manually control the direction of the flash with your hand off-camera. Take a look at the offerings from Canon’s Speedlite range, they’re sure to get you going a bit. I also recommend getting a flash diffuser. Basically its a small device which softens the flash from the flash gun, which is especially useful if you need that direct flash but don’t want the harsh shadows that go with it.
- Tripods/Monopods Tripods are fantastic if you want to take shots which just aren’t possible handheld. I have a bit of a soft spot for long exposure shots, but that’s just me! I recommend something from the Giottos and Velbon range. Again, I won’t name specifics because everyone has their own tastes so I suggest you get down to the store and have a feel, tug at its joints and play around with it. A monopod isn’t a must, but if you feel the need to reduce the camera shake in those moments but don’t have the time to setup the full Tripod, it may come in handy.
- Camera bag You’ve got the equipment, now you need a container. I have several camera bags, namely a backpack if I want to carry a tripod, laptop and a few lenses for a long trip or a small messenger bag for just the camera and another lens. Unfortunately, I find most camera bags look too much like camera bags and are begging to be swiped. I recommend Crumpler. It’s not cheap, but they do make attractive bags. And whilst now thieves have caught on that Crumpler bags are what more and more photographers are using, for the most part they disguise themselves pretty well as being passed off as just “a bag”. They make a large range of backpacks and messenger bags for photographers so do check them out. If you don’t mind that obvious camera bag look, check out bags made by Lowepro. Their sling bags are a favorite for photographers, and their range is very respectable.
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