I just composed this little email for our local camera club, but thought it worth sharing, some of my favourite things for photography. So, if you’re thinking of Easter presents for yourself, here are some ideas :
The ‘Nifty Fifty’
The 50mm f1.8 lenses, gives really good results from – and visibly so much better than the 18-55 kit lenses.
The 50mm will give an effective focal length of 80mm on Canon cameras, and 75mm on Nikons (unless you have a full-frame camera, when it’s obviously 50mm) – ideal focal lengths for portraits. The maximum aperture of f1.8 gives you the control to easily drop backgrounds out of focus – getting a lens with this sort of aperture is not possible on most other lenses for less than £500. They are easily the best value lenses in the Canon and Nikon ranges.
Anyone with an SLR should have one of these lenses in their kit.
I use Topaz labs filters with Photoshop and Lightroom, but Nik Effects are more popular – available at and now a lot cheaper since they were bought by Google. There’s a discount code DZISER that if you use at the checkout, brings the price down to $126. The Topaz labs bundle is arguably more ‘funky’, but more than double the price at $299. Both are great for adding contrast,black and white and many other effects to your pictures to give them more ‘wow’ factor. My Gecko image depended on Topaz labs for that!
Cambridge In Colour
Something for free – The Cambridge In Colour forum is great. Looks like it can be a good place to sanity check images before entering for competition, as well as there being a community of photographers there for chat and questions. I used to use a similar forum a few years ago, they are very useful.
The unfortunately named “R-Strap” (say it out loud) is a great alternative to the neck strap. I find neckstraps a complete pain, they always get in the way, and the R-strap allows the camera to hang by your side, out of the way and raising it up when you want to use it. Way more comfortable, and less obtrusive too. Works with small cameras all the way through to heavy combinations. I use them a lot. Lets you use your camera like a gunslinger.
Lensbaby Creative Lens
Lastly, the Lensbaby. For Nikon or Canon – these allow for some great creative effects, a bit like a poor man’s tilt-shift lens (well, tilt, anyway) with a soft focus edge. For the creative (or brave) photographer. See the main Lensbaby website http://lensbaby.com for ideas. I have one of these, and don’t use it enough!
Happy Easter, hope I haven’t cost you too much money, but have fun!