the complete camera kit

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Someone was asking me, so I love 35mm and love photography, but if I’m jumping in as a serious photographer, how do I really get started. Well, here’s a quick guide if you’ve got the bucks for the best price/performance today:

# Nikon D300. Just reviewed in Popular Photography, it is expensive at $1800 or so, but is the camera that has finally hit state of the art at a reasonable price. It is a 12 megapixel camera, but most importantly, it has the one feature that all digital cameras have a terrible time with, that is the equivalent of fast film. It can take amazingly good photos at ISO 1600 and 3200. That is 8 times faster than film at ASA 400. It means that all lenses just got 4-8 times faster and you can finally take decent shots in available light just about everywhere. Of course, I’m stuck as I’ve got only Canon lenses, but if I were starting over and I cared about great quality, I’d get this one. If you are just starting out, then the Nikon D40x at $600 is an amazing buy. It isn’t as fast, but at the price, you can learn if you love it.
# Nikon 18-200 VR F/3.5-5.6. After years and years, optics have really matured. It is the only lense that most people will need. It is the equivalent of a 25mm wide angle lense in 35mm film land all the way up to a 300mm telephoto and the photo quality is amazing. The optical quality is first rate. It is expensive at $1500, but it will really last a lifetime. The main issue used to be that it was too slow for fast indoor shots at F/3.5, but paired with the D300, its not really a problem.
# Macbook Air. I’m using it now and I have to say, you it is really a dream machine because it is just sooo light. Otherwise, the Macbook is just fine. I can’t remember if you have a Macbook, but if you don’t, there is a model refresh happening this coming month, so hold off buying a month or so. The Air is $1800 and the standard Macbook is $1300 or so.
# Time Capsule. This isn’t really getting the play that it should. It is a 1 terabyte (wow!) server that is also a Wifi access point. Most importantly, it backs up every Mac in your home network every hour so you’ll never lost anything. It is also a great place to put all those photos you take (I have 50GBs of photos right now after 18 months of shooting, digital really let’s you take and keep more and experiment more). It also lets you connect all your computers to a really nice photo printer.
# Canon Pro9000 Photo Printer. They are so amazingly cheap right now, but you can print your own 13×19″ shots right now with all the quality of a professional. The Canon Pro9000 is $500 and the Epson R2400 is the same. The two compete head to head and no one knows which is better. I have the older i9900 and the Pro9000 and they are just amazing. The main thing is not to skimp on the quality of the paper. Getting Canon paper is expensive, but if you just print it once, then what’s the big deal.
# Datavision Spyder3Pro. This sounds crazy, but another important thing is getting your computer monitor calibrated. Most LCDs are way too blue and you’ll go nuts trying to get what you see on the screen to match what actually comes out. There is a little gizmo that actually calibrates the monitor so red is really red and blue is really blue. It’s the last piece to eliminate frustration. While seemingly expensive at $300, it does reduce frustration. Or, since you only really need for fifteen minutes, you can always borrow mine and do the calibration 🙂

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