The Wrong Gear: Photography equipment to invest in
Posted: 31 Mar 2017
Tom Mason is a photographer and journalist based in the UK, with a passion for nature, conservation and wild places. Tom’s stunning images captured the interest of all of us here at Fotospeed and like us, Tom shares a passion for turning his images into something tangible. That final print which turns the photo into that permanent memory which makes people stop and look.
You can find out more about Tom, at www.tommasonphoto.com
Photographers love their gear. It would be true to say I’ve gone through a lot of it over the last few years. Looking back, I’ll admit that I’ve often invested in the wrong gear, so here are a few quick tips on what photography equipment to invest in to help you avoid some of my mistakes!
- Buy a tripod – a good one – and use it.
I always knew I should have a tripod, but but I didn’t give much thought to what kind. This meant that I’ve gone through my fair share of tripods. I started off with one of those filmsy silver ones with a weak built in head, I then moved to a compact model with a weak and frustrating ball head that would flex once tightened. But because neither of these tripods worked very well, I never used them…
After a few years, I made the decision to properly invest and bought myself what I should have originally; a Gitzo 3 series Carbon Fibre tripod with a top of the range ball head. Yes, it cost over £800 (which was a lot aged 16!), but it was the best decision I’ve made and I still use it today. I’ve taken it all over the world; it’s been in salt water and fresh water, it’s been thrown on planes and trains, but it has never let me down. It’s solid, and works with even my longest lenses. A tripod is a photographer’s best friend, and one of the most useful pieces of photography equipment to invest in. Make sure you get a good one.
I shoot a lot of images. Keeping them means I have a need for lots of storage. Starting out, I had an okay system, using average drives which held my images and provided back up – but oh my, was it slow.
Fast forward 5 years and I now use the best drives I can lay my hands on. Investing in good storage means images load immediately, hugely improving my workflow speed and avoiding frustration. Working with Raid I have a live redundancy array and use multiple drives to securely back up of all of my data – something you NEED to do as a photographer. There’s nothing worse that losing all your years of hard work! I work with G-Tech drives, but whatever kind you decide on, upgrading your storage will be a huge boost to your efficiency!
Clothing might not be the first thing you think of when considering what photography equipment to invest in, but as an outdoor photographer, it’s vital. I spend a huge amounts of time outside, in all conditions and in a variety of habitats – there’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable in these places, especially when you’re trying to work. Lenses and cameras might be the ‘sexy’ things to buy, but in the freezing cold and wet, you won’t be sticking around for those perfect shots - no matter how good your camera is!
Buy into a good layering system of clothes. Start with some marine wool base layers, then a decent mid layer depending on the conditions, before a good shell to keep the elements out. I tend to buy mountaineering clothing for its excellent materials and weatherproofing to keep me warm and dry. One Item I would never be without is a micro down jacket. They’re small and lightweight, meaning they can be taken anywhere, but once on, they will keep you toasty in all but the worst conditions.
Don't forget your feet! Invest in some good hiking boots and socks. When you have long hikes to locations, or days standing in wet grass, you will be totally grateful for dry and comfy feet.
- Gaffers tape and Cable ties.
These don't really need an introduction. Buy some, leave them in your bag, and trust me …you’ll find a use for them.
- Print it out.
Until two years ago, I never really had a good printer. Instead, I thought it was enough to have all of my images on drives and on a screen. However, having had a professional printer for over a year now, I can honestly tell you that I wish I’d have got one sooner. It’s probably the most important piece of photography equipment to invest in.
It doesn't have to be an extremely expensive A2 printer – a good quality A3 will teach you so much. In learning to print, you’re forced to hone the rest of your skills. Printing makes you a harsher critic of your own work. If you’re investing in the process to create a physical final piece, you’ll want it looking its best. Knowing that an image will go to print, you’ll find yourself slowing down to be sure to get the best from every frame. You’ll find yourself paying more attention when selecting shutter speeds and apertures for optimum results, and of course carefully selecting the right paper with the right finish for a long-lasting print that will always look fantastic. Investing in these things means that that when your images edge their way out of the printer, they’re exactly what you wanted.
So there you go, the gear that will actually make a huge difference. I know, I know, fancy cameras and lenses will also help, but these are the things that I wish I would have bought sooner. For a reasonable investment, they will make a huge difference to your photography!
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