Don’t let your gear limit your creativity!

I recently lost my A7 (theives), and had been without a camera for a little over a month.  Fortunately a friend and fellow photographer offered me his Canon 70D for a really good deal.  Haven’t had much work without a camera in 6 weeks, so I was only able to purchase the body along with 3 lenses he had for it already:

  • 50mm f1.8
  • 18-55mm IS STM f3.5-5.6 (ie. kit lens)
  • 40mm f2.8 STM

Nothing else other than a 32gb SD card I got on sale at Fry’s Electronics.  Now I’ve never had a lot of gear, usually just 2-3 lenses to cover the majority of what I do.  I wish I could be one of those hobbyists with a 6-figure day job, or kids whose parents give them 20-grand to support their hobby…but I’m not.  I’m simply a freelancer doing the most with what is available to me.  I’ve been fairly lucky to have decent glass though, and at the very least a variety of accessories and whatnot.  So while I was happy to have a camera again I was admittedly concerned about not having “pro” lenses or L glass to get the most out of my photos.

The last time I used Canon it was a 7D and 5DII, with a 24-70mm f2.8L I, 40mm f2.8 STM, 70-200mm f4L.  Not high-end stuff, but very nice none-the-less.  With Sony I had recently purchased the 35mm Zeiss for a steal on craigslist (best place ever to buy, selling not so much haha) as well as their kit zoom which was oddly enough sharper than the Zeiss version.  So you can see why I was a little worried about how well I’d be able to work with “consumer grade” lenses.

Then, instead of being pessimistic and drooling over a kit of lenses that will take me a couple months to save up for, I decided to just go out and shoot…and I quickly realized that while high end glass (in this case L lenses) can help you take “better” photos, it’s still possible to get usable results from the so called “cheap stuff”.  Yeah, there’s differences; for example the 18-55mm flares pretty bad, and doesn’t have as much contrast as something more expensive, but distortion isn’t bad, and the lens is pretty sharp.  The 50mm I won’t bother discussing as there’s tons of info on it being a good value despite being made from the same plastic as the average toys for sale at the 99 Cents Store.  Same goes for the 40mm (which on full frame was my favorite lens).

I went to the beach and got perfectly usable results, and then followed up with a quick impromptu beauty shoot.  The beauty shoot was a bit nerve-wracking leading up to it as I’ve never shot beauty on a Canon without the aide of my 70-200mm or a friend’s 135L….but after spending a day with the 18-55mm kit lens (albeit at 55mm, and pretty far back from the subject to avoid as much distortion as possible) I’m pretty pleased with the results:

Sara Beauty - Canon 70D & 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 STM @55mm  f10, 1/200, ISO100

Sara Beauty – Canon 70D & 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 STM @55mm f10, 1/200, ISO100 (please excuse the horrid compression here on WordPress, image looks much better before uploading here :/ )

Yeah, if I pixel peep I can see it’s not quite as sharp as the 70-200mm lens, and no on a commercial shoot I wouldn’t go out and bring this 18-55mm lens to a paid gig…but for just messing around and shooting stuff for my book it’s fine.

So my point is this:  unless you’re fairly wealthy there’s always going to be some gear that you want…kinda goes with the territory of being a photographer.  But until you can acquire said gear, go out and shoot with what you have…if you’ve got a good handle on what it is you want to accomplish you just might be surprised how capable what you already have is 😀

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