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Help buying camera for outdoor lighting photos

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by JimLewis, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Hey guys. I am getting a little fed up with "professional" photographers dropping the ball. They say they're interested in taking photos for me but I have to chase them down to get them to do a photo shoot. I need to get more photos of my work up on our website before the new season starts - pronto! And I guess that means I'm going to have to take them myself.

    I am not an avid or good photographer, by any means. But I guess I need to become one - a little at least. And my current digital camera is nice but it doesn't have one of those settings where you can control how long the shutter stays open for. I know you need one of those to take decent outdoor lighting photos.

    So I am really not excited about spending too much money on another digital camera, considering I already own two that I am happy with. Is there any chance I could buy a decent digital camera that would allow me to take the nice quality photos I see some of you guys taking for under $500? Or am I dreaming? If not, what's the most affordable camera I could buy that would do the trick?

    I understand I'll also need to buy a tri-pod too. I don't expect those are too awful expensive. But I was hoping to get into the camera itself for less than $500 if possible.
  2. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Male, from Kingsland, Texas
    Messages: 2,214

    Jim, I use a Canon EOS Rebel XT. It may cost around $600 now because I paid around $900 when I bought mine and they have come down some. I would say that for the money, it's the way to go. It does have a night-time/no flash setting that works very well. I have not used my F Stop yet and I think my shots have been pretty good. One of these days I'll take the time to learn how to do it right though.

    Good luck,
  3. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    get your self a tripod. you will need it. I have a Kodak ez share z710. 7mp, 10x optical zoom. and full control over f-stop, shutter duration up to 30 seconds. get yourself a 1gb card, and you'll be good to go.

    i think it was $200 bucks... plus the z710 has options for filters, wide angle lenses and adapters, that way you can put star type filters or color shifting filters and such on the camera.....

    if you really want to go $$$ go with digital SLR but youre looking at 5 bills...
  4. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Paul's Advice is a great place to start. The Canon Rebel XTi will give you all the functionality you will need at first and you will be able to upgrade it with lenses and accessories as your talents increase. I would recommend you get a very good, heavy duty tripod (www.amvona.com is an excellent source of Manfrotto knock offs) {hmm I wonder what Joey will think of that advice... ??) and you will also benefit from a remote trigger release (stops camera shake on timed exposures).

    If the price of the Rebel is just too steep, then look at the Canon G9. It is an awesome prosumer grade "point and shoot". I built my entire portfolio using a Canon G3... It will work very well for most applications.

  5. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,186

    I have got the Nikon D40x. It is a DSLR. You may try ebay. you can always pick up a pretty good deal there. My nikon new with just the standard lense will run you around 600 or so. Pretty much like the canon which is also a very good camera. Jim I would recomend spending a little more and getting a DSLR. You will take much better pics, while having total control. Read some of Steve Parrots articles on lawnsite or the cast website on photography, those tips will help a ton. An excellent book I would recomend for a new photographer is "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. Very easy read with tons of pics showing the same picture using different exposure settings so you can really see first hand what all the shutter speeds and fstops will do to your pictures. You can get it at amazon.
  6. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    I had a cannon ae1 program (old school) and I ended up getting stuff from KEH that was refurbished. and always had good luck...you might be able to find a good digital slr on the cheap... and buy one good lens. I had a tamaron 28-300 ahsperical lens. it was a great multi purpose lens.

    I got away from the SLR thing as I was able to take better pics with a smaller digicams and not have to lug around a big camera and lenses plus I could hand the camera to the wife to take pics.
  7. SamIV

    SamIV LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 324

    There are DSLR offerings from Canon, Nikon, and Pentax in the 6 megapixel range. Just don't buy an expensive point and shoot because it has more megapixels. Make sure that the body you are buying will support all the lenses the company manufactures. All Pentax DSLR's will support all of the Pentax lenses ever produced. Most of these entry level DSLR's will come with an inexpensive kit lens, usually an 18-55mm. In the future you will need to invest in another lens for better results. The lens I use for night photography cost much more than my camera body. If you want specific models just PM me.

    Burt Wilson
    Accent Outdoor Lighting
  8. barefeetny

    barefeetny LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 533

    i got to agree with the canon rebel xti

    i own one and love it...

    you can get technical with it or just pick the pre set applications and point and shoot...

    if you can't get good photos with this... stay with a professional

    i paid about 1000 with an extra lense... but they can be found on e-bay in the 400-500 dollar range all day....Mine only had 2000 shutter movements when i got it...

    Jim... if you want i can send you a pic or two so you can see the quality
  9. The Lighting Geek

    The Lighting Geek LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 886

    You also need to decide wether you want to use Nikon or Cannon lenses when you buy camera body. I use a Fuji S3Pro with Nikon lenses. It is a 10 mp and I use it in manual mode on a sturdy tripod. I also use a trigger release when I don't have the patience to wait for the timer. Be sure to have lots of batteries, and extra cards available when you are shooting because stuff happens. That damn sun keeps going down even i am experiencing a hiccup. A level that fits into the flash shoe will help you with keeping your camera level, it can be difficult to do at night. Nothing worse than getting home and finding your shots are skewed a little because the camera is not level. I know you can fix stuff in software, but I don't have time for that. I only adjust contrast and crop. It just means you have to get better with your camera, and that comes with practice. Be sure to take alot of pictures at different settings and angles, you can always erase the ones you don't like. I generally take about 50-100 shots per job.
  10. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Tommy.... if you dont have the time or inclination to learn Photoshop, then at least download and install Picasa II from Google. (it is free) Post production is pretty much a must with digicams... You will find Picasa II to be very user friendly and super simple to learn and excel with. Then you might be encouraged to move on up to photoshop. Picasa has a very smooth set of standard touch up tools that make things like rotation, contrast and fill light balance, colour balance, and oh so important cropping a breeze.


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