keh Photography Articles

13 Lenses That Photographers Use Most for Portraits

iStock 455809281

Like all types of photography, portraiture is a fun way to interact with friends and family. And, if you have designs on becoming a professional photographer, there are plenty of opportunities to hone your craft and practice things like lighting, composition, posing, and so on.

Something else that will help you develop your portraiture skills more thoroughly is equipping yourself with a lens that’s suited to that kind of photography. But, the list of portrait lenses runs the gamut from primes to zooms and short to long focal lengths, and includes a wide variety of manufacturers (and prices!) as well.

In this issue of our Lens Mastery Series, we help clarify what lenses should be at the top of your list and break down 13 lenses that fit the bill for portraiture. But first, let’s address a few essential questions.

Zoom or Prime?

The great debate regarding portrait lenses is whether you should equip yourself with a zoom or a prime. On the one hand, zooms give you a greater degree of flexibility due to their range of focal lengths. Zooms also allow you to tackle a variety of portraits, from tightly framed close-ups to wider environmental shots without moving your position or swapping out lenses. On the other hand, prime lenses offer better image quality with images that are clearer and sharper. Primes are usually smaller and more lightweight, and therefore easier to carry around.

When making your decision regarding a zoom or a prime, consider the qualities listed above, the types of photos you wish to take, and the gear you already have. For example, if you’ve got an 85mm f/1.2 prime lens, then perhaps a zoom lens is in order. Budget will also be an important consideration, and the lenses on our list address a variety price ranges.

What Camera Do You Have?

iStock 628664838

As we’ve discussed throughout our Lens Mastery Series, it’s important to note what kind of camera you have when looking for a portrait lens. Remember, the same lens will act differently depending on if it’s used on a full frame or a crop sensor camera. Remember as well that if you have a Canon body that you’ll either need to invest in a Canon lens or a third-party lens like Sigma, that’s specially made to fit a Canon body.

Where Will You Be Shooting?

If you shoot in a small indoor space a wider lens, like a 35mm, will be necessary simply because of the lack of room. Conversely, if most of your portraits will be taken outside, something like a 70-200mm lens will work great because you’ll have the elbow room you need to move around. The number of people in the portrait will also be a factor in terms of the focal length you get. Larger groups require a shorter focal length while individuals and couples can easily be photographed with longer focal length lenses.

Canon Portrait Lenses

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

71OGr7S4p2L. SL1000

The Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM is far and away one of the most popular portraiture lenses out there. This “L” series lens is pricey, but well worth it because of it’s enormous f/1.2 maximum aperture that allows you to shoot in all sorts of lighting conditions. What’s more, this lens is known for creating excellent bokeh in the background while keeping your subject nice and sharp. The USM motor is fast and quiet too. With just the right compression to make flattering portraits and enough focal length on full frame and crop sensor cameras that allows you to shoot from afar, this is the top choice of many portrait photographers that shoot with a Canon camera.

Canon 50mm F/1.4 USM EF Mount Lens

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If you want a solid Canon prime lens that’s great for portraits but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the 50mm f/1.4 USM lens is an excellent choice. The 50mm focal length is ideal for portraiture on full frame cameras, and with a Canon crop sensor body, it has an effective focal length of about 80mm, which is also in the sweet spot for portraiture. Images taken with this lens have excellent clarity and sharpness, and gorgeous blur as well. Better still, if you already have a zoom lens, this is a good addition to your bag without breaking the bank or taking up too much room either.

Canon 100mm F/2.8 Macro L IS USM EF Mount Lens

121684613 2SZ

An interesting alternative for Canon shooters interested in portraiture is the Canon 100mm F/2.8 Macro L IS USM EF Mount Lens. You can shoot wide open with accurate results, getting incredible sharpness for headshots, shots of the waist up, and full body shots as well. With image stabilization, you can shoot handheld with greater confidence that your images will be sharp, and its superb autofocus performance is an added bonus. Granted, at f/2.8 it’s not as fast as other lenses on our list, but with 1:1 image reproduction, you can really get in close for tightly framed shots if need be, with just a hint more compression as you’d get shooting with the 85mm lens above.

Canon 135mm F/2 L USM EF Mount Lens

81o16qSrtL. SL1500

The Canon 135mm F/2 L USM EF Mount Lens gets overlooked sometimes given the other Canon lenses with which it has to compete, but it’s nevertheless a solid option for portraiture for shooters that need to bridge the gap between a shorter prime lens and a zoom lens. At f/2, this lens can collect plenty of light and get you soft, buttery backgrounds that are often used in portraiture. Better still, if you want to be able to put some distance between you and your subject, this lens will allow for that, giving you (and the subject) more freedom of movement. At 135mm, compression is noticeable as well, flattening out facial features more so than the 85mm lens, but still resulting in a very pleasing look.

Canon 24-70mm F/2.8 L II USM EF Mount Lens

10366148 2

The Canon 24-70mm F/2.8 L II USM EF Mount Lens is an ideal choice for the portrait photographer that values a highly versatile focal range. Get everything from tight close-ups to environmental portraits without having to switch lenses. Work indoors and out, in good lighting and in bad, and get pleasing results. With “L” series glass, this lens has the top-of-the-line Canon optics, so the resulting images are clear and sharp. Like other Canon lenses on our list, the USM motor means quiet operation, and a fast autofocus system means you can take action portraits without issue.

Canon 70-200mm F/2.8 L USM EF Mount Lens

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If range is what you’re looking for, then the Canon 70-200mm F/2.8 L USM EF Mount Lens is the choice for you. At this focal length (with a full frame or crop sensor body), you can easily isolate your subject in the frame for intimate portraits, even from a good distance away. Like the 85mm lens above, the 70-200mm lens produces gorgeous bokeh for nice, blurry backgrounds for your portraits. Again, the USM motor is fast and quiet, making this a top lens choice for wedding photographers that need to stay under the radar during the ceremony. And, with a maximum aperture of f/2.8, you can shoot indoors in less-than-ideal lighting situations without having to use an extremely high ISO.

Nikon Portrait Lenses

Nikon Nikkor 85mm F/1.4 G AF-S Autofocus Lens

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Like its Canon counterpart above, the Nikon Nikkor 85mm F/1.4 G AF-S Autofocus Lens is the top choice for many Nikon shooters because of the sharpness, gorgeously shallow depth of field, and large maximum aperture that gives you the flexibility to shoot in a variety of conditions. With unparalleled optics, you get images with fewer reflections but with enhanced color and contrast. The focal length is just right for getting slight compression in your portraits, and is long enough that you can work with a subject without being right in their face. It’s ideal for couples portraits when the subjects just need a little space to relax.

Nikon Nikkor 50mm F/1.8 G AF-S Autofocus Lens

image 538ce60ee087c328c3a56718

The most affordable entrant on the Nikon portion of the list, the 50mm F/1.8 G AF-S Autofocus Lens will be a solid addition to any Nikon shooter’s camera bag. As a prime, you know you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck, with outstanding optics, a virtually silent motor, and a small, lightweight package that doesn't occupy too much real estate in your camera bag. This lens doesn’t have the same build quality as higher-end Nikon lenses, nor is it weather sealed, but those are two minor issues compared to the list of benefits this lens provides to portrait photographers.

Nikon Nikkor 24-70mm F/2.8 G ED IF AF-S Aspherical Autofocus Lens

1750 G 1452455006659

Nikon shooters love the Nikkor 24-70mm F/2.8 G ED IF AF-S Aspherical Autofocus Lens for a variety of reasons. First, it’s got excellent optics that result in images that are crisp, clear, and sharp. Second, the versatility of the 24-70mm focal range means it can be used for 90 percent of portraits over the course of a shoot, meaning less time switching lenses and more time actually taking photos. Third, this lens is known as a true workhorse, something that will work under a host of conditions, from indoors to out, bright to dim lighting, and with subjects that are both near and far. Better still, it has been optimized for use with DX and FX format cameras, so either way, you get top-notch performance out of your lens.

Nikon Nikkor 70-200mm F/2.8 G ED IF AF-S VR II Autofocus Lens

LD0000716400

Whether you want to have incredible focal range or you simply want some of the best image quality available in a Nikon lens, the Nikkor 70-200mm F/2.8 G ED IF AF-S VR II Autofocus Lens should be at the top of your list, provided that you have the budget to afford one. Yes, it’s pricey, but it is certainly worth it when you consider that it is a pro-level lens, and acts like it. In addition to being weather sealed to stand up to the elements when you’re shooting outdoors, this lens also has Nikon’s vibration reduction, so you can shoot handheld in a greater variety of situations. Beyond that, you can get sharp, beautifully compressed images of your subjects at varying focal lengths.

Sony Portrait Lenses

Sony 50mm F/1.8 E OSS Autofocus Lens

362672 img 8847 470x470

The exceptional Sony 50mm F/1.8 E OSS lens for Sony’s APS-C cameras offers a roughly 75mm focal that’s ideal for portraiture of many types. Get in close for close-ups of your subject’s face or hang back a bit for an environmental type portrait. Like other 50mm lenses, this one is small and compact, making it the perfect accompaniment to a longer prime or zoom lens. Better still, because of its small stature, you can get in close to your subjects without them feeling overwhelmed by a large lens in their space. As is typical of lenses this speed, the Sony 50mm gives you a great shallow depth of field with beautiful bokeh.

Sigma 24-70mm F/2.8 IF EX DG HSM Lens

352843 img 7971 470x470

As noted earlier, the beauty of having a 24-70mm lens is that you can frame up such a wide range of shots. Get in close for intimate portraits or compose a documentary portrait from afar, all without having to switch lenses. The Sigma 24-70mm F/2.8 IF EX DG HSM Lens is a solid choice for Sony shooters with an alpha mount camera that gives you flexibility of focal range, but comes at a good price. At f/2.8, it’s not the fastest lens available, but it still has good low-light performance and gets you decent bokeh for good separation between your subject and the background. Better still, the 24-70mm lens from Sigma can serve you well for other purposes, from landscapes to weddings and everything in between.

Sony 70-200mm F/4.0 G OSS FE E Mount Lens

61Lo7mYodWL. SL1320

The expanded focal range of the Sony 70-200mm F/4.0 G OSS FE E Mount Lens gives you even more flexibility than the 24-70mm lens described above. You can create gorgeous portraits that are flattering for all body types, and do so up close or from a good distance away. Either way, you’ll get tack-sharp images, even when hand holding it in many situations. Like all good portrait lenses, the 70-200mm gets you gloriously blurred backgrounds, and, even though its maximum aperture is f/4, the lens is surprisingly fast. Better still, it’s got a smaller body, so you can more easily carry it in your bag, leaving room for an additional lens.

Up Next…

As we’ve shown here, there are plenty of excellent options for portraiture whether you shoot with a Sony, Nikon, or Canon camera. In addition to narrowing down which lens is best for your needs, it’s also imperative that you buy your lens from a trusted source like KEH Camera. They’ve got an enormous inventory of high-quality used lenses, so not only can you get a solid piece of glass, you can do so while saving money at the same time. That’s not a bad deal!

Next up in our final installment of the Lens Mastery Series, we’ll explore the best lenses for photographers that need to keep an eye on their budget.

iStock 455809281

Like all types of photography, portraiture is a fun way to interact with friends and family. And, if you have designs on becoming a professional photographer, there are plenty of opportunities to hone your craft and practice things like lighting, composition, posing, and so on.

Something else that will help you develop your portraiture skills more thoroughly is equipping yourself with a lens that’s suited to that kind of photography. But, the list of portrait lenses runs the gamut from primes to zooms and short to long focal lengths, and includes a wide variety of manufacturers (and prices!) as well.

In this issue of our Lens Mastery Series, we help clarify what lenses should be at the top of your list and break down 13 lenses that fit the bill for portraiture. But first, let’s address a few essential questions.

Zoom or Prime?

The great debate regarding portrait lenses is whether you should equip yourself with a zoom or a prime. On the one hand, zooms give you a greater degree of flexibility due to their range of focal lengths. Zooms also allow you to tackle a variety of portraits, from tightly framed close-ups to wider environmental shots without moving your position or swapping out lenses. On the other hand, prime lenses offer better image quality with images that are clearer and sharper. Primes are usually smaller and more lightweight, and therefore easier to carry around.

When making your decision regarding a zoom or a prime, consider the qualities listed above, the types of photos you wish to take, and the gear you already have. For example, if you’ve got an 85mm f/1.2 prime lens, then perhaps a zoom lens is in order. Budget will also be an important consideration, and the lenses on our list address a variety price ranges.

What Camera Do You Have?

iStock 628664838

As we’ve discussed throughout our Lens Mastery Series, it’s important to note what kind of camera you have when looking for a portrait lens. Remember, the same lens will act differently depending on if it’s used on a full frame or a crop sensor camera. Remember as well that if you have a Canon body that you’ll either need to invest in a Canon lens or a third-party lens like Sigma, that’s specially made to fit a Canon body.

Where Will You Be Shooting?

If you shoot in a small indoor space a wider lens, like a 35mm, will be necessary simply because of the lack of room. Conversely, if most of your portraits will be taken outside, something like a 70-200mm lens will work great because you’ll have the elbow room you need to move around. The number of people in the portrait will also be a factor in terms of the focal length you get. Larger groups require a shorter focal length while individuals and couples can easily be photographed with longer focal length lenses.

Canon Portrait Lenses

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

71OGr7S4p2L. SL1000

The Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM is far and away one of the most popular portraiture lenses out there. This “L” series lens is pricey, but well worth it because of it’s enormous f/1.2 maximum aperture that allows you to shoot in all sorts of lighting conditions. What’s more, this lens is known for creating excellent bokeh in the background while keeping your subject nice and sharp. The USM motor is fast and quiet too. With just the right compression to make flattering portraits and enough focal length on full frame and crop sensor cameras that allows you to shoot from afar, this is the top choice of many portrait photographers that shoot with a Canon camera.

Canon 50mm F/1.4 USM EF Mount Lens

12140

If you want a solid Canon prime lens that’s great for portraits but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the 50mm f/1.4 USM lens is an excellent choice. The 50mm focal length is ideal for portraiture on full frame cameras, and with a Canon crop sensor body, it has an effective focal length of about 80mm, which is also in the sweet spot for portraiture. Images taken with this lens have excellent clarity and sharpness, and gorgeous blur as well. Better still, if you already have a zoom lens, this is a good addition to your bag without breaking the bank or taking up too much room either.

Canon 100mm F/2.8 Macro L IS USM EF Mount Lens

121684613 2SZ

An interesting alternative for Canon shooters interested in portraiture is the Canon 100mm F/2.8 Macro L IS USM EF Mount Lens. You can shoot wide open with accurate results, getting incredible sharpness for headshots, shots of the waist up, and full body shots as well. With image stabilization, you can shoot handheld with greater confidence that your images will be sharp, and its superb autofocus performance is an added bonus. Granted, at f/2.8 it’s not as fast as other lenses on our list, but with 1:1 image reproduction, you can really get in close for tightly framed shots if need be, with just a hint more compression as you’d get shooting with the 85mm lens above.

Canon 135mm F/2 L USM EF Mount Lens

81o16qSrtL. SL1500

The Canon 135mm F/2 L USM EF Mount Lens gets overlooked sometimes given the other Canon lenses with which it has to compete, but it’s nevertheless a solid option for portraiture for shooters that need to bridge the gap between a shorter prime lens and a zoom lens. At f/2, this lens can collect plenty of light and get you soft, buttery backgrounds that are often used in portraiture. Better still, if you want to be able to put some distance between you and your subject, this lens will allow for that, giving you (and the subject) more freedom of movement. At 135mm, compression is noticeable as well, flattening out facial features more so than the 85mm lens, but still resulting in a very pleasing look.

Canon 24-70mm F/2.8 L II USM EF Mount Lens

10366148 2

The Canon 24-70mm F/2.8 L II USM EF Mount Lens is an ideal choice for the portrait photographer that values a highly versatile focal range. Get everything from tight close-ups to environmental portraits without having to switch lenses. Work indoors and out, in good lighting and in bad, and get pleasing results. With “L” series glass, this lens has the top-of-the-line Canon optics, so the resulting images are clear and sharp. Like other Canon lenses on our list, the USM motor means quiet operation, and a fast autofocus system means you can take action portraits without issue.

Canon 70-200mm F/2.8 L USM EF Mount Lens

ebmvf8gagq2

If range is what you’re looking for, then the Canon 70-200mm F/2.8 L USM EF Mount Lens is the choice for you. At this focal length (with a full frame or crop sensor body), you can easily isolate your subject in the frame for intimate portraits, even from a good distance away. Like the 85mm lens above, the 70-200mm lens produces gorgeous bokeh for nice, blurry backgrounds for your portraits. Again, the USM motor is fast and quiet, making this a top lens choice for wedding photographers that need to stay under the radar during the ceremony. And, with a maximum aperture of f/2.8, you can shoot indoors in less-than-ideal lighting situations without having to use an extremely high ISO.

Nikon Portrait Lenses

Nikon Nikkor 85mm F/1.4 G AF-S Autofocus Lens

1750 G 1452455006659

Like its Canon counterpart above, the Nikon Nikkor 85mm F/1.4 G AF-S Autofocus Lens is the top choice for many Nikon shooters because of the sharpness, gorgeously shallow depth of field, and large maximum aperture that gives you the flexibility to shoot in a variety of conditions. With unparalleled optics, you get images with fewer reflections but with enhanced color and contrast. The focal length is just right for getting slight compression in your portraits, and is long enough that you can work with a subject without being right in their face. It’s ideal for couples portraits when the subjects just need a little space to relax.

Nikon Nikkor 50mm F/1.8 G AF-S Autofocus Lens

image 538ce60ee087c328c3a56718

The most affordable entrant on the Nikon portion of the list, the 50mm F/1.8 G AF-S Autofocus Lens will be a solid addition to any Nikon shooter’s camera bag. As a prime, you know you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck, with outstanding optics, a virtually silent motor, and a small, lightweight package that doesn't occupy too much real estate in your camera bag. This lens doesn’t have the same build quality as higher-end Nikon lenses, nor is it weather sealed, but those are two minor issues compared to the list of benefits this lens provides to portrait photographers.

Nikon Nikkor 24-70mm F/2.8 G ED IF AF-S Aspherical Autofocus Lens

1750 G 1452455006659

Nikon shooters love the Nikkor 24-70mm F/2.8 G ED IF AF-S Aspherical Autofocus Lens for a variety of reasons. First, it’s got excellent optics that result in images that are crisp, clear, and sharp. Second, the versatility of the 24-70mm focal range means it can be used for 90 percent of portraits over the course of a shoot, meaning less time switching lenses and more time actually taking photos. Third, this lens is known as a true workhorse, something that will work under a host of conditions, from indoors to out, bright to dim lighting, and with subjects that are both near and far. Better still, it has been optimized for use with DX and FX format cameras, so either way, you get top-notch performance out of your lens.

Nikon Nikkor 70-200mm F/2.8 G ED IF AF-S VR II Autofocus Lens

LD0000716400

Whether you want to have incredible focal range or you simply want some of the best image quality available in a Nikon lens, the Nikkor 70-200mm F/2.8 G ED IF AF-S VR II Autofocus Lens should be at the top of your list, provided that you have the budget to afford one. Yes, it’s pricey, but it is certainly worth it when you consider that it is a pro-level lens, and acts like it. In addition to being weather sealed to stand up to the elements when you’re shooting outdoors, this lens also has Nikon’s vibration reduction, so you can shoot handheld in a greater variety of situations. Beyond that, you can get sharp, beautifully compressed images of your subjects at varying focal lengths.

Sony Portrait Lenses

Sony 50mm F/1.8 E OSS Autofocus Lens

362672 img 8847 470x470

The exceptional Sony 50mm F/1.8 E OSS lens for Sony’s APS-C cameras offers a roughly 75mm focal that’s ideal for portraiture of many types. Get in close for close-ups of your subject’s face or hang back a bit for an environmental type portrait. Like other 50mm lenses, this one is small and compact, making it the perfect accompaniment to a longer prime or zoom lens. Better still, because of its small stature, you can get in close to your subjects without them feeling overwhelmed by a large lens in their space. As is typical of lenses this speed, the Sony 50mm gives you a great shallow depth of field with beautiful bokeh.

Sigma 24-70mm F/2.8 IF EX DG HSM Lens

352843 img 7971 470x470

As noted earlier, the beauty of having a 24-70mm lens is that you can frame up such a wide range of shots. Get in close for intimate portraits or compose a documentary portrait from afar, all without having to switch lenses. The Sigma 24-70mm F/2.8 IF EX DG HSM Lens is a solid choice for Sony shooters with an alpha mount camera that gives you flexibility of focal range, but comes at a good price. At f/2.8, it’s not the fastest lens available, but it still has good low-light performance and gets you decent bokeh for good separation between your subject and the background. Better still, the 24-70mm lens from Sigma can serve you well for other purposes, from landscapes to weddings and everything in between.

Sony 70-200mm F/4.0 G OSS FE E Mount Lens

61Lo7mYodWL. SL1320

The expanded focal range of the Sony 70-200mm F/4.0 G OSS FE E Mount Lens gives you even more flexibility than the 24-70mm lens described above. You can create gorgeous portraits that are flattering for all body types, and do so up close or from a good distance away. Either way, you’ll get tack-sharp images, even when hand holding it in many situations. Like all good portrait lenses, the 70-200mm gets you gloriously blurred backgrounds, and, even though its maximum aperture is f/4, the lens is surprisingly fast. Better still, it’s got a smaller body, so you can more easily carry it in your bag, leaving room for an additional lens.

Up Next…

As we’ve shown here, there are plenty of excellent options for portraiture whether you shoot with a Sony, Nikon, or Canon camera. In addition to narrowing down which lens is best for your needs, it’s also imperative that you buy your lens from a trusted source like KEH Camera. They’ve got an enormous inventory of high-quality used lenses, so not only can you get a solid piece of glass, you can do so while saving money at the same time. That’s not a bad deal!

Next up in our final installment of the Lens Mastery Series, we’ll explore the best lenses for photographers that need to keep an eye on their budget.







4 Settings You Need to Master on Your Nikon Camera

iStock-528717892.jpg

Tell me if this sounds familiar...

You've just bought a Nikon camera, and you couldn't be more excited to test it out.

But you quickly realize that there are WAY more modes, buttons, dials, and menus than you're used to.

That might make you wonder if getting yourself a bigger, better camera was the right move.

Though it might seem a little daunting now, believe me when I say that it's easier than you think to master all those controls.

There are some that are more critical than others, that's for sure. So let's review five of the most essential settings you need to learn on your Nikon camera.

Exposure Compensation

iStock-586923288.jpg

One of the keys to taking better photos with any camera, not just a Nikon, is an understanding of how to control exposure.

Naturally, that means understanding the exposure triangle and taking control of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

If you aren't quite ready to jump into controlling those settings in manual mode, an easier way to exert more control over exposure is to use exposure compensation.

When shooting in a semi-automatic mode like aperture priority, shutter priority, or program, you can use exposure compensation to lighten or darken your photos.

This is particularly helpful because even the advanced 3D Matrix Metering II system found on cameras like the Nikon D7100 can be tricked into thinking a scene is lighter or darker than it really is.

For example, if you're taking a portrait and the background of the shot is much brighter (like above) or darker than your subject, the metering system will tend to underexpose or overexpose the shot.

That's where exposure compensation comes in.

nikond7100top min

To use the exposure compensation feature on a Nikon, simply press the +/- button on the camera body, as seen on the top of the camera body in the image above.

Then, using the dial on the back of the camera, determine how much exposure compensation you want to apply.

The camera will then adjust one of the exposure settings to brighten or darken the photo as you've instructed it to do.

If you're in aperture priority mode, the camera will adjust the shutter speed; if you're in shutter priority mode, the camera will adjust the aperture.

So, rather than fooling around with adjusting all three exposure settings in manual mode, you can press a button and use a dial to determine how much brighter or darker you want the image.

Naturally, to brighten an image, you dial in positive exposure compensation. To darken an image you dial in negative exposure compensation.

Focus Lock

iStock-626367626.jpg

No matter if you bought an entry-level Nikon like the D3400 or a higher-end model like the D750, there will be times that its autofocus system just isn't up to the task to get your subject in focus.

That's when learning to take more control over focusing comes in handy.

Let's say you're taking a portrait of your kids and you want to shift them to the left or right of center to adhere to the rule of thirds and create a more interesting and balanced composition.

To do so, you need to help the Nikon understand that the focus point shouldn't be in the middle of the shot, but offset, just like your subject.

So long as your subject isn't on the move, focus lock is one of the easiest ways to do this. Get a quick overview of focus lock and other focusing techniques on the D3400 in the video below by Maarten Heilbron:

In a nutshell, all you have to do for focus lock is place your camera in single shot autofocus mode, frame up the shot so that the subject is in the middle of the frame, and depress the shutter button halfway.

Then, recompose the shot so that the image is composed how you like, being careful not to alter the distance from you to the subject. Once you're satisfied with the composition, depress the shutter all the way to take the photo.

This technique is more important on lower-end Nikon models like the D3400 because it only has 11 autofocus points. The fewer the autofocus points, the fewer areas you can focus on in the shot.

By using this technique, you can use one of the focus points to acquire focus, but then once that focus is locked, you can place the subject anywhere in the frame you like. In short, it gives you far more flexibility regarding composition so you can create more interesting photos.

Burst Mode

iStock-511666220.jpg

Not all your subjects will be perfectly still, so having the ability to take a series of rapid-fire shots will help you to get photos of subjects on the move.

This requires an understanding of your Nikon's burst shooting mode.

Let's say you have a Nikon D5500. You have three drive mode options with that camera - single shot, continuous high, and continuous low.

In single shot, every press of the shutter button results in one image. In continuous mode, however, you get a burst of images.

That means you increase the likelihood that you get "the shot" as the action plays out. Granted, your timing and framing will influence the quality of the photo too, but burst mode will still increase your chances of getting the shot you want.

All you have to do is set your camera to continuous drive mode and press the shutter button.

However, be aware that just because you can hold the shutter button down for long periods of time in burst mode, you don't need to do so.

A better plan of action is to use burst mode in short bursts - 3-5 shots at a time. This is advantageous as it will help prevent duplicating very similar shots and will help keep the camera's buffer (and memory card) from filling up as fast.

If you aren't familiar with how to set your Nikon to burst mode, check out the video above from Robert McMillen.

White Balance

nikond5

Our eyes naturally and rapidly adjust to differing colors of light. In fact, it's such a smooth process that we don't even notice it.

Our cameras, even sophisticated ones like the Nikon D5 shown above, cannot automatically make those adjustments.

Instead, you have to help your camera out by taking control over white balance.

Many photographers choose to adjust white balance in post-processing, especially if they shoot in RAW (which you should do too).

However, adjusting white balance in-camera allows you to get accurate colors in the field. For example, notice in the image below how the models' teeth are perfectly white. This might not have been the case had the photographer not adjusted the white balance.

iStock-186534921.jpg

That means that, one, you don't have to spend time in post-processing correcting colors, and two, the colors are recorded correctly from the outset.

The default white balance on your Nikon is auto white balance, and it does a good job of getting colors that are correct - or close to it - in many situations.

But taking control of white balance yourself means getting more consistent results from one shot to the next.

Your camera has a variety of white balance settings that help correct for all kinds of light, from daylight or shade to fluorescent or tungsten artificial light.

Get an overview of white balance and color temperature in the video below from LensProToGo:

Final Thoughts

Nikon is known for building high-quality cameras with all sorts of features throughout a range of price points.

But no matter if you get an entry-level DSLR or a professional-grade Nikon, sometimes, leaving the camera to its own devices won't get you as good of a result as if you take control of some of the camera settings.

This isn't an exhaustive list of settings and controls you need to know on your Nikon...

However, these four settings will certainly get you on your way to taking more control and getting better images as a result!



We Recommend


5 Reasons why the Canon 5D MkII Is Still A Great Choice Pros

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Have a Canon 5D MKII you want to sell?  Get a free quote HERE.

Let's start with the facts. Few cameras have been so influential in the history of digital photography like the Canon 5D MK II. A lot of today's technology would have been introduced a lot later if it hadn't been for the good old MkII and that's not something that can be said for a lot of cameras. By today's standards, it’s definitely not the latest technology. It was discontinued in 2012, yet there still are a lot of pros out there who are using it. We're revisiting this legendary camera, seven long years after it was introduced to see if it can still hold up against today's impressive full frame cameras. We were positively impressed with this retired legend and so we made a list of five good reasons why you should get one.

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1. The price

The 5D MkII comes from a time when owning a full frame DSLR was really expensive. It isn't anymore, yet today's affordable models leave a lot to be desired. This was built as a pro camera and the fact that you can now get a good condition one for less than $1,300 might make it a better option than something like a 6D.

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2. It still has it

Despite not being the latest technology, the MkII still produces image quality that rises up to today's standards. Yes, the high ISO is not top notch compared to most of today's cameras, but other than that it still is a very capable machine. The 21 MP resolution is still up to date and the photos can be easily compared to something produced by a present day camera. Not that much has changed since it ruled the market. If you could shoot a pro studio session or do a wedding with it back then, with impeccable results, why couldn't you do it now?

3. It's industry standard for video

The Canon 5D MkII was the first DSLR to actually break into the world of video. It wasn't the first to shoot video (anyone remember the D90?) but it quickly became industry standard. Everyone in the film industry knows how to work with it and it's one of the cheapest cameras to buy or rent for large scale productions that require a large number of cameras.

View inventory and current pricing of the Canon 5D MkII

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4. Build quality

Unlike other cameras in the price range of a used MkII, this is still a pro body. It was built like a tank and that means you don't have to worry about treating it badly. Mine is five years old and it has taken so much abuse, I'm almost sorry for it. Yet it still performs like it did on day one. I doubt you will say that about your prosumer DSLR in the next five years.

5. It's a great backup

If you're worried about your 5D III or 5Ds seeing too much action, get a used MkII as a back-up. You can still throw pretty much anything at it and it will perform almost just as good as its younger brothers.

So if you manage to get passed the whole age thing, this really is a great deal, especially if you're an amateur looking to enter the world of full frame without breaking the bank or if you're looking for a reliable second camera. The trusty 5D MkII can still run with the big boys of today, and although it's obsolete by most of today's standards, it still packs a punch.

Click here for some of the best deals on the Canon 5D MK II.







6 Reasons Why the Canon Rebel t5i is a Great Camera for Beginner Photographers

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Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You’ve taken up photography and found that it’s a little more difficult than you thought.

There’s A LOT to learn, not just about photography itself, but about all the gear that you need to buy to start building the skills you need to take improved photos.

The problem with photography gear is twofold: first, there’s a ton of choice, which can be extremely overwhelming, and two, it can be expensive.

So, in addition to mastering things like lighting and composition, one of the tasks of a beginning photographer is to find a camera that will grow along with you without breaking the bank.

I’d like to recommend the Canon Rebel T5i as one of the best cameras for beginning photographers.

Here’s why.

First, A few Specifications

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Before we dive into the benefits of this camera, let’s explore a few of it’s primary specs:

The Canon T5i comes equipped with an 18 megapixel CMOS sensor, which is a bit of an old sensor but still gets the job done. Paired with Canon’s excellent DIGIC 5 image processor, the T5i creates solid images both quickly and efficiently. The camera’s ISO range extends from 100-12800, though when in H mode that range extends to 25600 for expanded low-light shooting capabilities, though ISO 800 is about the max before noise starts to become an issue.

This camera has a Hybrid CMOS AF system that enables fast and relatively accurate autofocus shooting. It’s quite silent too, so you can shoot sensitive subjects without disturbing them with a lot of noise. However, the phase detection autofocus system with 9 cross-type points is beginning to show its age. The fact that the AF points are extremely small in the viewfinder and difficult to see only complicates the issue.

Equipped with a 3-inch Vari-Angle Touchscreen with Clear View LCD technology, the camera gives you live view capabilities in many different lighting situations and shooting angles, ideal for creating more dynamic images and videos.

What’s more, with live view features and seven on-the-fly photo filters built in, you can get really creative with how you present your subjects. Being relatively small and lightweight (coming in at under 28 ounces with a battery and lens installed), the T5i is easy to maneuver to get the shots you want.

Super Simple User Interface

Far and away, one of the best features of the T5i is the manner in which you can manipulate the camera’s settings.

The touchscreen-based user interface is clean, well-organized, and simple to use - something that older menu-based systems can’t claim.

Everything from adjusting exposure settings to switching from one focus point to the next can be controlled with the touchscreen in short order, making it a highly intuitive method of navigating the camera’s essential settings.

What that means is that you can more quickly learn how to actually use the camera and spend more time taking photos than trying to remember what functions are in what menus! Blue Crane Digital shows us just how simple it is to use the T5i in the video above.

Great Features for Video

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Something that some new photographers don’t understand at the outset is that by creating videos, you can help develop your creative eye for still photos.

After all, you still have to pay attention to things like lighting, framing, and composition when shooting video, and building those skills in that context will help you improve your still photos.

The Canon T5i has several features that make shooting video an easier task.

For starters, switching from stills to video is quick and simple, so, again, there’s no fumbling through multiple menus or fiddling with clunky buttons to try to change the shooting mode. It’s a simple matter of making the adjustment on the camera’s main control knob, which is easily reachable with your thumb as you have the camera gripped in your hand.

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Additionally, the T5i has an articulating LCD, so you can frame up videos (and stills) from a very low perspective to capitalize on foreground interest or from a very high perspective to give viewers an alternative interpretation of the subject. The LCD is bright and easy to see, even when shooting in harsh lighting conditions, which furthers your ability to frame up the video or still shot with ease.

And though the T5i doesn’t have the frame rate as other models in the beginner space, it can shoot 1080p at 30 frames per second, which is more than sufficient for a budding photographer.

 

Editor Tip: See full specs and pre-owned pricing 

 

Real-Time Image Preview

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A very handy feature that beginners are sure to appreciate is the fact that the T5i gives you real-time image preview.

That’s significant because one of the hurdles of becoming a more skilled photographer is being able to understand how the manipulations you make to exposure settings (aperture, ISO, shutter speed) change the photo.

But with the T5i, understanding how those changes impact the image is simple because you get an immediate preview of what the photo looks like.

That makes the T5i an excellent learning partner for beginners!

Great Kit Lens

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One of the best features of consumer-level DSLRs like the T5i is that you can buy them bundled with a kit lens.

Sometimes, those kit lenses aren’t the best in the world.

With the T5i, however, you get an EF-S 18-55 IS STM lens that offers extremely smooth autofocus performance both when shooting stills and videos. For video shooting, the lens’s autofocus performance is especially nice because it is virtually silent, meaning it won’t cause overwhelming background noise as it adjusts the focus while you shoot the video.

The lens also has built-in image stabilization which is a great feature for a beginner that’s handholding the camera as they shoot. You can get up to four additional f-stops of shooting range without image degradation, which will better enable you to get well-exposed images.

Now, this isn’t to say that this lens is the best one out there, but it’s a great piece of glass for a beginning photographer and offers plenty of reasons to enjoy your kit lens. What’s more, the T5i is compatible with EF and EF-S lenses, meaning it will work with all modern Canon lenses. Since Canon has an extensive line of lenses, that means you can easily pick up a new lens as your photography needs change.

Fast Operation

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The T5i takes less than a second to power on, focus, and shoot. That’s a great time for an entry-level camera, and one that allows you to react quickly when a shot presents itself.

The benefit of this quick performance is that you can concentrate more on things like framing and composition and worry less about your camera getting itself ready to do what you want.

Just consider these numbers: if shooting in JPEG mode, you can fire off two images in just .3 seconds, and with a flash you can still get two shots in less than 1 second. In burst mode, the camera can operate at nearly 8 frames per second without any lag.

That’s a great benefit for a beginner that’s learning how to track and photograph subjects that are on the move, such as wildlife or even a kid’s sporting event. Again, because the camera doesn’t get in your way, you can work on building the skills to get the shot and worry less about what the camera is or isn’t doing.

Price

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When it comes down to it, price is an overriding feature for many photographers, particularly those that are just starting out.

In that regard, to make your dollar stretch further, you can find used T5i camera bodies for well under $500. Then, you can use the money you save on the camera body to invest in other necessary accessories like a larger memory card, a camera bag, a nicer tripod, and so forth.

Additionally, since there are a plethora of lenses available for this camera, you can use the money you save to invest in a better lens, or get a second lens to complement the T5i’s kit lens.

In summary, there is plenty to like about the Canon T5i as a beginning photographer. The price is right, the selection of lenses is excellent, and the user interface is simple and easy to use and will help you learn to use the advanced functions of the camera.

 

Editor Tip: See full specs and pre-owned pricing 

 

No matter if you want to shoot stills or shoot video, the T5i will be a good introductory camera for you. As stated above, though there are some drawbacks to this camera, its benefits outweigh those disadvantages for a photographer that’s looking for a camera to use to learn the ropes.







8 Ugly Truths About Photography

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I love photography, and I'm guessing if you're reading this that you love photography, too.

But it can be a love-hate relationship, right?

There are good days when you find an incredible deal on the lens you wanted or snag a great shot.

But there are also bad days when your memory card fails or you plan a photo shoot and it goes all wrong.

Such is the nature of the beast!

Eric Rossi's video, "8 Ugly Truths About Photography," reveals a few qualities about this hobby and profession we all love that we might not realize at first.

Check out the video above, and for a play-by-play of some of my favorite ugly truths, check the text below.

Every Camera Manufacturer Makes a Bad Camera

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When you're on the hunt for a camera, doing your research is absolutely critical.

Just because you're looking at a Nikon or a Canon or another major brand doesn't mean that it's automatically a good camera. More to the point, it might not be a good camera for you.

For example, the Nikon D810 is a fantastic camera and one of the best available on the market today.

But it's a full frame, professional camera with a big price tag...

That makes it great for a professional photographer, but if you're just starting out in photography, it's not a good idea for you.

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By that same token, be sure you don't underbuy, either.

A compact point-and-shoot might be great for having something tucked away in your pocket or your purse, but many point-and-shoots lack manual controls, RAW shooting, and low-light performance that are critical for a developing photographer to be able to utilize.

Before you buy, read up on the camera you're considering. Check out reviews from actual customers. Watch YouTube videos of people using them. Find out what it does well and doesn't do well to see if it fits into your workflow.

Learn More:

Your Pictures Will Suck Until You Learn How to Shoot

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It's hard not to get discouraged when you're just starting out in photography.

As Eric explains in the video, your first photo will suck. So will your second. And there will be many more after that!

But the thing is, it's not just your photos that will suck - everyone has photos that fall short. That includes the pros!

The quality of your images will certainly improve as you learn how to shoot, compose your images, work with lighting, process your images, and so forth.

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But even then, you will have the occasional clunker, and that's okay!

The key is to learn the ins and outs of photography, that way if something goes awry with an image, you know what you need to do to fix it.

Yes, that takes a lot of time and patience, but no one ever said getting good at something doesn't take a lot of hard work!

Learn More:

It's the Shooter - Not the Gear - That Makes the Image

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Something that a lot of beginner photographers seem to think is that if they get really great photography gear that they will be able to take better photos.

Unfortunately for them, that's just not the case...

The truth of the matter is that it's the shooter - not the gear - that makes the image.

You can give the most inexperienced photographer the best camera on the market - a Canon 5D Mark IV or a Sony a7R II, for example - and they will still take photos that look like they were made by a beginner.

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Conversely, you can give a professional photographer a simple, entry-level camera like the Canon EOS Rebel t2i, and they can create magazine-worthy photos.

Just bear that in mind when thinking about the previous two tips - do your research when buying camera gear, bear in mind that your photos won't be that great until you develop the requisite photography skills, and for goodness sake, the gear doesn't make the shot - you do!

Learn More:

Photography is Expensive - Get Over It!

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Yes, photography is expensive. That's true whether you're a hobbyist or a professional!

It's just part of the game because you need quite a bit of gear - most of which isn't all that cheap - to fill out a good photography kit.

That includes a camera body, a couple of good lenses, a tripod, a set of filters, a camera remote...you get the picture.

In other words, know that you'll need a lot of gear, and don't be surprised when it costs a good deal of money!

There are ways to ease the impact on your pocketbook, however.

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First, don't just buy new gear for the sake of buying it. If you have a hand-me-down APS-C camera that works fine, stick with it until your skills exceed its capabilities.

Second, if you're to the point where you need a new camera, lens, or another photography accessory, consider buying used gear.

There's a lot of good used gear out there - gear that has been well cared for, inspected, and vetted for quality - that you can get at a hugely discounted price.

Outfits like KEH Camera, for example, have over 50,000 cameras, lenses, and other pieces of photography gear, each of which has been thoroughly inspected and graded for quality.

What's more, they have a 6-month warranty on their gear, so you get a great price and peace of mind, too.

It's just the smart way to buy gear and take some of the sting out of the expense of being a photographer.

Learn More:

Wrapping It Up

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The point of Eric's video isn't to poo-poo photography.

Instead, I think he just wants people to be realistic about what to expect when venturing into the world of photography.

Though by looking at portfolios and websites of photographers it might look like they all take amazing photos all the time, the reality is that there are plenty of trials and tribulations along the way.

What sets a professional apart from an amateur is simply knowing how to overcome those obstacles and fix mistakes.

Be sure to watch Eric's video for more ugly truths!



We Recommend


Best Camera Stores: 15 Best Places to Buy a Camera

15 Best Places to Buy a Camera

photo by sergeyryzhov via iStock

"Camera store near me"...

Raise your hand if you have Googled this exact phrase. While looking for the closest camera store near you, you might notice that many smaller camera stores have closed during the last 10 years.

Heck, even a few larger stores who have been around for a very long time have packed their bags and turned off the lights!

So, what camera stores are still here, and which ones are the best?

This list is meant to shine a light on a number of camera stores that are standing tall and adapting to changing markets. The next time you feel the urge to search for the camera store nearest you, we hope this list will be of help.

Table of Contents

“Camera Store Near Me”: Things to Consider 

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When you Google “camera store near me,” you shouldn’t necessarily go to the one that’s at the top of the list.

Instead, there’s a few things you should consider when comparing the results when you make this all-important search:

  • Return policy. Scope out the returns information on each store’s website before you buy. You’ll be surprised how much variation there is.
  • Consider the location. I live in California, so Samy’s, which is based here, can probably get gear to me faster than MPB, which is based in New York City. If you find similarly priced items at multiple stores, the speed with which you get your order could be the determining factor for which “camera store near me” is your best bet.
  • Beware of taxes. If I buy from a retailer in California, I have to pay sales tax. That can add up to a pretty penny if you’re buying something like a Nikon Z7. In some cases, you can avoid paying sales tax, depending on where the store is based.
  • Study up on selection. While most of the camera stores on this list have substantial inventories, some have better than others. What’s more, if you’re looking for something specific, the best camera store near you might be the only one that has what you need!
  • You get what you pay for. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Many camera stores sell gray market gear - cameras, lenses, and the like that are for another market. So, that super cheap full frame camera you find at your favorite camera store might have a French owners manual and battery charger with a European plug. Worse still, gray market gear does not come with a manufacturer’s warranty. The retailers below are good about identifying gray market goods, so just keep your eyes peeled.

There's also a number of things to consider about the camera itself.

In the video above, I go over some of the most common mistakes people make when buying a camera.

Without further ado, here’s our picks for the best camera stores, in no particular order.

Adorama

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Adorama is one of the most popular camera stores both in New York City (where their brick-and-mortar store is located) but also online.

That’s due in part to their enormous selection of camera gear, TVs, computers, and all sorts of other electronics.

For nearly 40 years, Adorama has been serving the photography community and doing so with excellent customer service. It’s no wonder that Adorama gets such rave reviews from their customers and from publications like Consumer Reports.

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photo byEXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER via iStock

If you aren’t quite ready to pull the trigger and buy brand-new gear, Adorama also has used gear for sale (you can sell or trade in your old gear, too). There’s also a rental program so you can test drive a particular camera or lens before you buy.

Adorama often has coupons that make your purchase a little easier on the wallet, a 30-day money-back guarantee on most items, and they even have their own credit card that gets you perks like no interest on large purchases.

Our Adorama review gives you a deeper picture of whether it should be the best “camera store near me.”

Recommended Photography Books:

B&H Photo Video 

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Another top choice for the best camera store is B&H Photo Video.

Opened way back in 1973 by Blime and Herman (thus, the B&H), the store had humble beginnings in Tribeca, New York. Today, though, it’s one of the top camera stores in the country and has its massive home base in Midtown Manhattan.

Like Adorama, B&H has a huge selection of camera gear as well as all kinds of other electronics. Whether you need a camera body, a video camera, a computer or computer software, or something in between, chances are B&H will have it in stock.

For those of us in the United States, B&H has free 7-10 day shipping on the bulk of their inventory. If you place an order over $49, you can get free expedited shipping that cuts delivery time to 3-7 days.

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photo by EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER via iStock

 If you desire, you can become a B&H rewards member and earn points on purchases. Those points can be redeemed later for discounts, though points expire after six months.

Purchases that don’t work out can be returned within 30 days, provided the item is still in brand-new condition in its new, unaltered box.

B&H prides itself on education, and has an Explora section where you can read free articles, watch videos, and listen to podcasts on all things photography. If you’re in the New York area, you can also go to the store and participate in photography presentations, often free of charge.

Paul’s Photo

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If you’re on the west coast like me, and in particular, in the Los Angeles area, Paul’s Photo is a top choice for the best “camera store near me.”

Unlike some of the other options on this list, Paul’s Photo is a small, family-run business. That means that they actually get to know you as a customer rather than you just being another dude in line.

But don’t think that because they’re a small outfit that they can’t deliver the photography goods you need. You can shop online or at their store, where they have a great selection of the latest gear and gizmos you might need for creating photos and videos.

Something else worth mentioning is that Paul’s Photos is basically a one-stop shop for photographers.

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 photo by EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER via iStock

You can buy or rent gear, have your photos printed, take a photography class, or sign up for a photography adventure to places like Vietnam, Tuscany, and Africa. 

I also really appreciate how much Paul’s Photo focuses on education. They aren’t just there to sell you stuff; instead, they genuinely want to help you better understand your gear and how to use it to take great photos.

I recently wrote an in-depth Paul’s Photo review. Check it out to learn more about one of the best camera stores in L.A.!

Roberts Camera

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Like Paul’s Photo, Roberts Camera is a small, family-owned business that started out as a little mom and pop shop that sold everything from fishing gear to jewelry. In the late 1960s, owners Robert and Rose Pallman decided to start selling cameras as well.

Based in Indiana, Roberts Camera has since grown into an excellent source of photography gear both for locals and those of us far and wide that need to buy gear online.

From cameras and lenses to video equipment to TVs and other electronics, Roberts Camera has just about anything you could want or need for your photo and video adventures.

If you just need a particular lens or camera body for a few days, you can rent one, or if you’re a new photographer and you want to learn some new skills, you can head over to Roberts Camera and participate in their educational events.

And since it’s a smaller operation, you get that down-home, friendly customer service you’d expect. In fact, they consistently have some of the best-reviewed customer service in the industry!

KEH Camera

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It’s been about four decades since KEH opened their doors, and in that time they’ve become the largest pre-owned camera store in the world.

In some cases, you can find deals up to 40 percent off the retail price when you buy used cameras, lenses, and other gear. That obviously represents a significant savings over buying brand-new stuff.

What’s nice about KEH is the process by which they rate their inventory. It’s not a matter of a simple visual inspection - instead, they have an industry-leading 10-point rating system that ensures each item they list for sale is accurately described.

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 photo by EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER via iStock 

Items are graded on a wide scale, from new at the top to “as-is” at the bottom. In between, there are highly specified grades such as “like new” and “like new minus” so you get a pinpoint idea of just how good of shape the item is in.

There’s a 180-day warranty on the used items you purchase, and a 14-day return policy for peace of mind as well.

Of course, if you have gear you aren’t using anymore, KEH will buy it from you. You can go online and get an instant quote to see what it’s worth and start the process of unloading some of your old, unused gear.

MPB

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Another worthwhile option for the best “camera store near me,” particularly for used gear, is MPB.

What started as one of the largest used retailers in Europe, MPB expanded over here to the U.S. several years ago with operations based in the New York City area.

Since then, their inventory has grown by leaps and bounds, and you can find just about any type of camera, lens or other photography accessory you might need in their collection of used gear.

Like KEH, MPB grades the used gear they buy based on several factors, including its level of functionality, cosmetic appearance, and its physical condition. Furthermore, items are valued based on their current market value and the level of demand for the item.

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 photo by ArisSu via iStock

If you decide to sell or trade your old gear to MPB, they’ll even pick up the tab for shipping!

If you’re a buyer, you can rely on the grading system MPB has developed to determine the exact condition of the item before you buy. Their product specialists painstakingly inspect every single item in their inventory, that way you’re assured that the condition of the item you look at online is the condition of the item that arrives at your doorstep.

When you buy an item, you can choose from all kinds of shipping options, from next-day priority for situations in which you need your gear fast to No Hurry Deliver that takes up to a week in the lower 48 states.

Items you purchase have a six-month warranty, and there’s a seven-day return policy on most items.

Be sure to learn more about MPB by reading our detailed MPB review.

Unique Photo

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Based in New Jersey, Unique Photo might not have the name recognition of Adorama or B&H, but they’re still one of the top options for the “best camera store near me.”

Unique Photo was founded more than 50 years ago in Brooklyn, and while it’s become a worldwide leader in photographic equipment, the company’s workers haven’t forgotten what it means to have humble beginnings.

As such, this family-owned business provides incredible customer service that gets high marks from customers far and wide.

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  photo by EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER via iStock 

Like many of the other options on this list, Unique Photo isn’t just a camera store. You can buy and sell all kinds of gear, rent photography equipment, have your photos printed, and even buy darkroom supplies. 

Unique Photo also has a Unique University, where you can participate in classes and workshops to refine your photography skills.

Additionally, Unique Photo has gear repair services, 0% financing for 12-months, and a VIP rewards program that allows you to earn points towards money you can spend in the store.

Samy’s Camera

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Samy’s CameraSamy’s Camera is a California-based company that I’ve personally used before to buy a couple of different rigs.

The first was a Nikon D800 back in the day. I actually drove across L.A. specifically to go to Samy’s to get that camera. The drive was awful, but the experience of working with the fine folks at Samy’s made it worth it.

I was so happy with my experience there that I returned a few years later to pick up a Sony a6300, which I still use to this day. Again, their customer service experience was top-notch.

Of course, Samy’s is a full-service store with all kinds of photography goodies, gear for video making, studio supplies, drones, and much more.

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photo by electravk via iStock 

Over the last four decades, Samy’s has developed a reputation as having a friendly, knowledgeable staff that helps walk you through your purchase so you feel comfortable with what you’re buying. There’s even educational programs to help you develop your skills even further!

Samy’s has a used and trade-in program as well, so if you’re a little short on cash for that new camera you’ve been eyeing, you can sell or trade in your old stuff to help offset the cost.

Add in guaranteed 1-3 day shipping on purchases of $49 or more, leasing options, a rewards program, and more, and you have the makings of one of the best camera stores around!

Amazon

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Obviously, Amazon needs no introduction given that it’s the largest company on the planet.

And while it isn’t exactly your local mom-and-pop camera store that you can run to and handle the gear before you buy, it would be silly not to include Amazon on a list of places where you can get photography gear.

Since Jeff Bezos has a hunger for market dominance, Amazon is honestly the most likely candidate for the closest “camera store near me” for most people in the world.

As noted earlier in this article, some retailers on this list sell gray market items. And while most of these companies clearly identify their gray market goods, sometimes Amazon isn’t so great about it.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t shop at Amazon for photography gear. Quite the contrary - it’d be hard to match their inventory of cameras, lenses, and other photo gear. Just be careful when placing an order that you’re not getting gray market equipment if you don’t want it.

Abe’s of Maine

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Like numerous other camera stores on this list, Abe’s of Maine started as a small mom-and-pop shop.

Founded in 1979 in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, Abe’s has since grown to be one of the most popular camera stores in the United States and is one of the best places to buy a camera online.

In addition to a state-of-the-art showroom and warehouse in New Jersey, Abe’s of Maine has a huge online inventory of photography gear and other necessities.

Unsurprisingly, Abe’s humble beginnings mean that its commitment to customer service is second-to-none. In fact, the company’s mantra is to meet your needs and exceed your expectations every day. 

Abe’s is known for having great sales on its merchandise, so consistently checking in with them to see what’s on sale could be hugely beneficial for you. They offer 12 months no interest financing, too.

When you buy online, you can typically get free ground shipping in the United States. Once you get the item, if it doesn’t quite work out, you can return it within a 14-day period.

Best Buy

best online camera store best buy

Perhaps aside from Amazon, Best Buy likely has the best name recognition among the greater public than any other camera store on this list.

What Best Buy brings to the table that none of these other companies does is that they have hundreds of brick-and-mortar stores across the country. Chances are there’s one in your town, or at least within a couple of hours of where you live.

That’s nice from an “I need to see it and touch it before I buy it” perspective.

15 Best Places to Buy a Camera 1

 photo by Sakkawokkie via iStock

Of course, you can also buy camera gear from Best Buy online, which is a much better option if you’re looking for a greater selection of gear. To be honest, Best Buy’s stores do not have a good selection of cameras and lenses at all, so before you hop in the car and drive to one, you better check that store’s inventory online.

Another potential issue is that most of what Best Buy has in stock in their stores is geared towards beginner photographers. If you’re an enthusiast, and certainly if you’re a professional, this is not your best option.

However, with a 15-day return policy, free shipping on many items, and door-busting sales throughout the year, Best Buy is one of the best online camera stores for beginner photographers.

Hunt’s Photo

camera store near me hunts photo

Hunt’s PhotoHunt’s Photo is based in New England and has been doing business there for about 70 years.

In that time, the fine folks at Hunt’s have garnered a reputation as being some of the most friendly, knowledgeable folks in the industry.

Today, Hunt’s is still family-owned, but they’ve expanded their footprint well beyond New England with a robust online retail store. 

You’ll find excellent prices at Hunt’s, and with a 30-day return policy, you have ample time to test-drive your purchases to determine whether they’re the right fit for you. 

camera store near me 1

  photo by EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER via iStock 

If you live in New England, you can join the Hunt’s team for educational courses, photo walks, and the like, where you can learn new skills and meet other photography enthusiasts.

From audio and video gear to used gear to binoculars, lighting, and gear rentals, Hunt’s is definitely a full-service photography store that’s worth checking out. Particularly if you’re in New England, Hunt’s is one of the top “camera stores near me” for sure!

National Camera Exchange

best camera store near me national camera exchange

Yet another option for the “best camera store near me” started as a regional business. National Camera Exchange has been in business in the Minneapolis area since 1914, and has been going strong ever since.

With both new and used gear for sale, you can likely find precisely what you need at National Camera Exchange. If your order is over $50, you get free shipping, and there’s a 30-day return policy to go along with that (though a restocking fee applies on purchases over $1,500).

In addition to a wide selection of DSLRs, mirrorless, and point-and-shoot cameras, National Camera Exchange also has a nice selection of lenses, video equipment, lighting gear, camera bags, tripods, memory cards, and just about any other goodie you might need for your kit.

best camera store near me 1 2

   photo by EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER via iStock 

You’d do well to keep tabs on their sale items and clearance items, as you can save quite a bit of money on new gear. National Camera Exchange also has deep discounts on refurbished and outlet items.

There’s printing services, a cleaning and repair department, archiving services, and much, much more, too. There’s a reason why people in the upper midwest turn to National Camera Exchange - they have excellent services, good prices, and a knowledgeable staff.

Mike’s Camera

best camera store near me mikes camera 

Mike’s CameraMike’s Camera is a regional photography supplier based in Colorado and Northern California. If you’ve never heard of them, you’re missing out!

Not only is Mike’s a great place to buy a new camera or other new photography gear, but it’s also a prime choice for having your photos printed. And that’s not just paper prints - you can get all sorts of items from metal prints to custom frames to mugs to calendars when you work with Mike’s.

Mike’s also has a gear rental service and an extensive repair shop as well. And no matter what you need Mike’s to do for you, you’ll get excellent customer service throughout the process.

In fact, Mike’s has won tons of photography industry awards thanks to their commitment to the customer. That includes the Best Camera Store Award by Photo Trade News.

Precision Camera & Video

best camera store near me precision camera

Austin, Texas-based Precision Camera & Video is yet another regional camera store that has deep roots locally, but a wide net thanks to a robust online store.

Specializing in both new and used equipment, Precision Camera likely has just what you’re looking for no matter your budget.

In addition to selling photo gear, they also have rental and repair services, an on-site photo lab, and they offer educational courses for folks that live in the Austin area.

Interestingly, Precision camera uses their classroom space as a studio as well, so if you’re in Austin and need a studio, Precision can accommodate!

If you’re not in Texas, you benefit from not having to pay sales tax, and with free ground shipping on orders of more than $200, you can end up saving a pretty penny.

 



We Recommend


Best Film Cameras You Can Buy on the Cheap

Best Film Cameras You Can Buy

Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

I remember learning photography on a Canon AE-1 35mm film camera that my dad picked up in the late 70s. 

It was a fun camera to use, and since it was the mid-90s when I first started taking photos, I also learned how to develop film. The whole thing was a fun and awesome process that I wish more people would partake in today. 

So that got me thinking… 

If I were to recommend some classic film cameras you can buy, which ones would I choose?

Editor’s Tip: Film cameras are great tools for learning photography because many of them offer simple, straightforward controls that are very easy to use. Likewise, with a limited number of exposures, shooting on film forces you to think more purposefully about how you compose your photos, which helps you develop your creative eye. If you don’t want one of the cameras listed below, there are plenty other models you can choose from.

Best Film Cameras: Canon AE-1 

 best film cameras canon ae 1

I want to start with my old camera from back in the day, the Canon AE-1.

Not only is the AE-1 one of Canon’s most successful film cameras, but it is also one of the best 35mm film cameras ever made.

The camera body was built like a tank, so it offers years and years of reliable service. It sturdiness is matched by the quality of the Canon FD lenses that are used with it - those lenses are legendary for their sharpness and image quality.

best film cameras canon ae 1 2 

The AE-1 is a manual focus camera and has a built-in meter, full manual controls, and great viewfinder. The viewfinder even has a split-image and focus aids. Nice! 

But the AE-1 is perhaps best known for making photography affordable for beginners and enthusiasts. For the first time, many regular people could get their hands on a high-quality camera that had tons of features, like Shutter Priority AE exposure mode, which helps when photographing action shots. 

Best of all, you can find Canon AE-1 cameras in great condition for around $80! 

Learn more about the Canon AE-1.

Learn More:

 Best Film Cameras: Pentax K1000 

best film cameras 2019 pentax k1000

As durable and reliable as the Canon AE-1 is, the crown for the camera that’s most “built like a tank” has to go to the Pentax K1000.

Honestly, you have to work really hard to destroy one of these things...they are that well made.

The all-metal construction makes it a heavy rig, but if you’re accident-prone like me, it’s a great camera to consider.

best film cameras 2019 pentax k1000 2

In fact, this is one of the best film cameras for beginners because of its durability and because it has simple, easy-to-use controls that make learning photography easier (and fun!).

Though the K1000 doesn’t have any high-end features or special shooting modes, it does have full manual controls which is helpful when learning about things like aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and the exposure triangle.

Plus, you can find these things in great numbers, often well below $100.

Learn more about the Pentax K1000

Editor’s Tip: Since there is such a hot market for film cameras, if you have one you no longer use, you can easily sell it or trade it in. Doing so gives you a little cash in your pocket to use for upgrading to a more capable film camera, or you can use the proceeds to help finance a DSLR or mirrorless rig. The possibilities are endless! See how much your camera is worth.

Best Film Cameras: Olympus OM-1

best film cameras olympus om 1

My next pick for the best film cameras of 2019 is the Olympus OM-1 shown above. 

These cameras have a long-standing reputation for outstanding quality. They have small, lightweight bodies that make them an excellent choice for a walkaround film camera (they make perfect travel photography cameras as well).

This is a beautiful camera, too. The minimalist design of Yoshihisa Maitani is absolutely gorgeous (he designed the Pen and Pen F cameras as well), and while how a camera looks isn’t all that important, it doesn’t hurt that this thing is easy on the eyes.

best film cameras olympus om 1 2

In terms of quality, it’s hard to beat the OM-1. In fact, it’s often referred to as the Poor Man’s Leica because it produced such excellent results.  Add to that the fact that these cameras work with the impeccable Zuiko lenses, utilize a center-weighted metering system (that can be turned on and off), and a nice, large viewfinder, and you have a recipe for an excellent film camera.

It’s also a cheap film camera - about $65 is all you need to pick one up.

Learn more about the Olympus OM-1.

Learn More:

Best Film Cameras: Minolta X-700 

best film cameras 2019 minolta x 700

There are plenty of Minolta 35mm film cameras that could have made this list, but in the end, I went with the X-700 because it is hands-down the best Minolta film camera ever made. 

This rig was designed and built specifically for beginner and enthusiast photographers, and as such, had a major hand in making photography a hobby that was accessible to the masses.

The enormous and bright viewfinder gives you a prime view of the subject. With fully automatic modes, you can jump right in and begin taking photos, or, if you have a little more practice and photography knowledge, you can use the cameras full manual mode as well.

best film cameras 2019 minolta x 700 2

This camera has auto exposure capabilities, an electronic self-timer, an electronically timed shutter, and TTL flash metering as well.

Granted, there aren’t as many lenses out there that you can use with this camera as you might find with the other cameras on this list.

However, as far as cheap film cameras go, the X-700 should definitely be on your radar at around $140.

Learn more about the Minolta X-700.

 



We Recommend


Best Second Hand Canon Cameras and Lenses

Best Second Hand Canon Cameras and Lenses

Photo by Banter Snaps on Unsplash

There’s no mistaking that photography is an expensive undertaking. I mean, by the time you buy a camera body, a couple of good lenses, a tripod, lens filters, and all the other necessities, you’re easily in it for a few thousand bucks. 

That makes finding ways to save money on gear of the utmost importance. 

I quit buying used gear many years ago after I bought my first brand-new camera. A buddy of mine saw my shiny new camera and wondered why I didn’t buy a better, used camera.

Yeah, good question!

So, if you want to upgrade your kit but don’t want to pay full price, here’s a few of the best second hand canon cameras and lenses to consider.

Best Second Hand Canon Cameras

best second hand canon cameras introPhoto by Oli Dale on Unsplash

When looking for a camera, there are certain features that are important to consider.

For each of the cameras below, I've outlined a few of these essential specifications for your information.

If you are unfamiliar with some of these features, use the outline below to learn more:

  • Sensor megapixels: Megapixels is a term used to measure a sensor's resolution. Therefore, sensors with more megapixels are more resolute. That means that, all else being equal, a camera with a 25-megapixel sensor will produce better-quality images than one with a 12-megapixel sensor. However, sensor size (see below) is a more important factor.
  • Sensor size: Though many people get caught up in the number of megapixels a sensor has, sensor size is the more important feature. The larger the sensor, the larger the pixels it produces and the greater its ability to capture better quality images, especially in low light. This is why professional cameras have full frame sensors, which are roughly equal to the size of 35mm film (about 36x24mm). Comparatively, APS-C or "crop sensor" cameras have smaller sensors, roughly 22x15mm in size. Learn more about camera sensor sizes.
  • Autofocus: A camera's autofocus system detects the subject and focuses the lens on that subject automatically. Cameras rely on autofocus (AF) points to acquire the subject, and the number of AF points varies greatly from one camera to the next. More AF points are beneficial as it gives the camera more "eyes" to acquire and focus on the subject. If you plan to take a lot of action shots, look for a camera with more AF points. Learn more about camera autofocus systems.
  • ISO: ISO controls the sensitivity of the camera's sensor to light. As the ISO value increases, so too does the sensor's sensitivity. If you intend to do a lot of shooting in low-light situations, cameras with higher maximum ISOs can be beneficial. Learn more about ISO.
  • Continuous shooting speed: Also known as burst shooting speed, this feature is measured in frames per second (fps). The higher the fps, the more photos that can be taken per second.
  • Video frame rates: Cameras that shoot video can do so in a range of video frame rates, which is also measured in fps. TV shows and movies in the U.S. are at 24 fps, though many cameras offer 25 fps, 30 fps, 60 fps, and higher as recording options. The higher the fps, the smoother the video will appear. Learn more about video frame rates.
  • LCD: The Liquid Crystal Display on the back of the camera is utilized to access the cameras menu, make adjustments to camera settings, review images, and on touch-enabled cameras, it can also be used to set focus points. Some cameras have LCDs that swing outward and tilt up and down, which can be beneficial for getting low-angle or high-angle shots and selfies.

Canon EOS Rebel T4i

t4i 1

Key Specs:

  • 18-megapixel APS-C sensor
  • 9-point autofocus system
  • Hybrid CMOS autofocus system
  • ISO range up to 12800
  • 5 fps continuous shooting
  • Full HD video at 24p, 25p, or 30p
  • 3-inch tilting, touch-enabled LCD
  • Uses all Canon EF and EF-S lenses
  • Used prices start at $248.00

t4i 2

The Canon EOS Rebel T4i is an ideal option for a beginner photographer that wants to upgrade from a smartphone or compact camera to something with more capabilities. 

Though this camera is firmly in the entry-level category, it has some nice features like full manual controls, a large touch-enabled LCD, good ISO range, and full HD video recording.

And because the T4i is compatible with any Canon EF or EF-S mount lens, you can easily find a good, used lens to go with your camera.

Best of all, this is a camera that you can learn and grow with thanks to its full manual controls for exposure, metering, white balance, and more.

Get a full review of the T4i in the video above by The Verge.

Learn more about the Canon EOS Rebel T4i

Canon EOS 5D Classic 

 5d 1

Key Specs:

  • 12.8-megapixel full frame CMOS sensor
  • 9-point autofocus system
  • ISO range of 50-3200
  • 3 fps continuous shooting
  • 2.5-inch fixed LCD
  • Uses all Canon EF lenses
  • Weather-sealed body
  • Pro-level camera
  • Used prices start at $289.00

5d 2 

If I could go back in time, I would have bought a used Canon EOS 5D like the one shown above rather than a brand-new Canon EOS Rebel T2i.

Don’t get me wrong - the T2i did just fine back in the day.

But what’s great about buying used gear is that you can get pro-level stuff for entry-level prices.

The 5D might be 14 years old, but it’s still a solid camera with a tried-and-true 12.8-megapixel full frame sensor.

It’s weather-sealed, too, which is great for landscape photography enthusiasts that need gear that can stand up to a little rain, snow, cold, and so forth.

This camera doesn’t have modern features like Wi-Fi, GPS, 4K video, or a touchscreen LCD, but a full frame camera under $300.00 is nothing to complain about!

See why the EOS 5D is still a great camera today in the video above by Jamie Windsor.

Learn more about the Canon EOS 5D Classic

Canon EOS 7D Mark II

7d mk ii 1

Key Specs:

  • 20.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 65-point autofocus system
  • ISO range of 100-16000
  • 10 fps continuous shooting
  • Full 1080p video
  • 3-inch fixed LCD
  • Uses all Canon EF and EF-S lenses
  • Weather-sealed body
  • Pro-level camera
  • Used prices start at $822.00

 7d mk ii 2

If you want a camera that’s a little newer than the others listed above, the Canon EOS 7D Mark II is a solid choice. 

Released in 2014, the 7D Mark II has the most resolute sensor, the best ISO performance, the best continuous shooting speed, and the best autofocus system of the three.

In fact, the 7D Mark II is a great action camera, with its 10 fps continuous shooting speed, max shutter speed of 1/8000 seconds, and 65-point autofocus system with all cross-type AF points. The autofocus points are spread over a large area as well, which enables the camera to focus faster regardless of where the subject is located or how fast it’s moving.

The 7D Mark II’s weather-sealed body is a big bonus, too. Its rugged construction means it can be put through its paces and keep on working!

See the 7D Mark II in action in the video above by James Watts.

Learn more about the Canon EOS 7D Mark II

The great thing is that if you currently have a camera and need to get rid of it, you can easily sell your old gear.

The used gear market is hot right now, so selling the gear you already have to finance an upgrade makes perfect sense.

For example, if you have a Canon EOS 6D Mark II and you want to upgrade to the Canon EOS R, you can see what it's worth and apply its value to the purchase of the EOS R. Not bad, right?

Best Second Hand Canon Lenses

best second hand canon lenses introPhoto by William Thomas on Unsplash

When it comes to investing in gear, you need to put as much money towards good lenses as possible.

Lenses are much more important for image quality than the camera - you can create better photos with an entry-level camera and a pro lens than you can with a pro camera and an entry-level lens.

That being the case, I’ve got three L-series (pro-level) Canon lens suggestions below.

When looking at the features of these lenses, bear the following in mind:

  • Focal length: This is the basic description of a lens and is measured in millimeters. The longer the focal length, the narrower the lens's angle of view. Additionally, the longer the focal length, the greater the magnification. Therefore, a very long telephoto lens (i.e., 300mm) has the ability to capture far-off details much better than a very short wide-angle lens like the 14mm lens described below. Learn more about focal length.
  • Aperture: The aperture of a lens is the hole through which light enters the lens body. Aperture is measured in f-stops, where a smaller f-stop number (i.e., f/1.4) refers to a very large aperture and a large f-stop number (i.e., f/22) refers to a very small aperture. Learn more about aperture.
  • USM: Some Canon lenses have an Ultra Sonic Motor (USM) built-in, which means faster autofocusing. This is advantageous in situations in which you're photographing a moving subject.
  • EF & EF-S: Canon EF lenses are designed for use on full frame cameras, though they can also be used on Canon crop sensor cameras. EF-S lenses are specifically designed for crop sensor cameras and cannot be used on full frame Canon cameras.

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM

 14mm f2.8 1

Designed for Canon’s full frame cameras (like the EOS 5D discussed earlier), this 14mm/ f/2.8L II USM lens is a perfect choice for landscape photography enthusiasts thanks to its 114-degree diagonal view.

This lens has upgraded optics over the original EF f/2.8, including two high-precision aspherical elements and dual UD-glass elements. The result of that is improved sharpness, particularly around the edges, and better contrast as well.

14mm f2.8 2 

Revised electronics in the lens allow for faster and more responsive autofocusing, and with full-time manual focus override, you can take full control of the lens to fine-tune the focusing.

Used prices start at $1,079.00, which compared to the MSRP of $2,100.00 is quite the bargain.

Learn more about the Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM

 24mm f1.4

Another pro-grade, wide-angle lens to consider is the 24mm f/1.4L II USM shown above.

With an 84-degree diagonal angle view, it’s another fine option for landscape photographers that want to capture sweeping shots of landscapes.

Over the years, this lens has developed a reputation as being ultrasharp while producing high-quality lenses. That’s due in large part to the two ultra-low dispersion elements and two high-precision aspherical elements with sub-wavelength coating that minimizes ghosting and flare.

The circular 8-blade aperture creates beautiful bokeh while the minimum focusing distance of .82 feet allows you to get up close to your subjects.

This lens is dust and weather-resistant as well, so you can stay out shooting, even if the weather isn’t all that great. 

Brand-new, this lens costs $1,549.00, so the current used prices that start at $1,079.00 represent a good deal.

See a complete hands-on review of this lens in the video above by Christopher Frost Photography.

Learn more about the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

 70 200mm f4

If a zoom lens is more commensurate with your needs, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM is one of the best budget-friendly lenses you can find.

This lens’s best feature is arguably its focal range. Many photographers count the 70-200mm as a must-have lens because it’s so versatile.

Shoot at 70mm for portraits, 200mm for wildlife or sports photography, and all sorts of other subjects at points in between

As an L-series lens, this rig has upgraded optics and heavy-duty construction that makes it a durable and reliable lens for shooters of all skill levels.

With 16 elements in 13 groups, two ultra-low dispersion glass elements, and one Fluorite glass element, this lens was designed to produce sharp, clear images with beautiful contrast and color reproduction.

The MSRP on this lens is $649.00, but used versions start at $432.00.

See this lens in action in the video above by Christopher Frost Photography.

Learn more about the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

Just like with the cameras discussed earlier, if you currently have a lens or two that you no longer need, sell it to finance the purchase of one of the lenses described above.

Let's say you have a Canon 10-18mm EF-S f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens but you want the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 II USM instead. Well, just hop online, see what your lens is worth, and use the proceeds to offset the cost of a new-to-you lens.

It's a win-win!



We Recommend


Best Used Nikon Prime Lenses

Best Used Nikon Prime Lenses

Photo by FilterGrade on Unsplash

Over its long and storied history, Nikon has put out some absolutely incredible prime lenses. And with their ever-expanding lineup, it can be difficult to decipher which ones should be on your radar for purchase.

So that got me thinking…

Which Nikon prime lenses would I be after if I needed one?

Below, I’ve outlined the specs and features of three used Nikon lenses I’d snatch up in a second.

Editor’s note: If you missed it, I recently reviewed the top pre-owned Nikon cameras for every budget. Have a look at that if you’re in the market for a new-to-you Nikon camera!

Best Used Nikon Prime Lenses: Nikon Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED AF-S

nikon 24mm 1

If you shoot with a Nikon FX camera, the Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED should be a prime target for you to purchase. 

Not only is this a super fast lens with its wide f/1.4 aperture, but it also has outstanding optics that result in sharp images that have beautiful color, contrast, and minimal aberrations.

That’s thanks to the lens design, which includes two aspherical elements and two extra low dispersion elements that enhance sharpness and contrast, even when shooting at f/1.4. The lens also has Nano Crystal Coating, which reduces lens flare and ghosting that are so common in wide-angle lenses.

nikon 24mm 2

The build quality of this lens is top-notch as well. The metal construction means this lens is highly durable and can take a few lumps while you’re out working.

Additionally, the lens features Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor (SWM), which enables lightning-fast focusing that’s also virtually silent. See a detailed hands-on review of this lens in the video below by createthis

Given its small size, this lens is a perfect choice for street photography. Likewise, landscape photographers, nature photographers, and architecture photographers will find it to be a useful addition to their camera bag.

Best of all, buying used can save you hundreds of dollars. The MSRP for this lens is $2,000.00, but you can pick up a used one in excellent-plus condition for about half that price.

Learn more about the Nikon Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED AF-S lens

Best Used Nikon Prime Lenses: Nikon Nikkor 50mm F/1.4 D 

nikon 50mm 1

No list of the best used Nikon lenses would be complete without the old standard nifty fifty.

Nikon’s Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 D is an incredibly versatile lens thanks to its superb optics, small form factor, and ability to shoot high-quality photos of all kinds. 

When used on a full frame camera, this lens creates a classic angle of view that closely resembles that of the human eye. As a result, images taken with this lens have a familiar feel. 

nikon 50mm 2

At f/1.4, this lens has the same large aperture as the previous lens, and gives you excellent color rendition and top-quality sharpness from edge to edge. Sharpness is a hallmark of this lens as well. 

With a super integrated coating on each element in the lens, you’ll find that lens flare and ghosting are both minimized while contrast is boosted. Additionally, the seven-blade rounded diaphragm renders beautiful, high-quality bokeh for separating your subject from the background.

At 50mm, you get an even more versatile lens than the 24mm lens discussed earlier.

From landscapes to portraits, street photography to travel photography, and points in between, this lens is a great companion for photographers of all skill levels and areas of interest.

Perhaps the greatest asset of this lens is its price. Brand-new, it’ll run you about $330.00, but, again, you can save a significant amount of money if you buy used.

For example, a used version of this lens in excellent condition is currently going for about $220.00. 

Learn more about the Nikon Nikkor 50mm F/1.4 D lens

Best Used Nikon Lenses: Nikon Nikkor 85mm F/1.8 D

nikon 85mm

A final used Nikon lens you should keep an eye out for - especially if you shoot portraits - is the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D.

Though it doesn’t have quite as large of a maximum aperture as the other lenses, f/1.8 is nothing to be upset about.

Images taken with this lens have beautiful contrast, which is due in large part to the super integrated coating, which reduces glare, minimizes reflections, and boosts contrast.

nikon 85mm 2

Meanwhile, the f/1.8 aperture offers a gorgeously shallow depth of field that you want for portraits while also providing you with the light-collecting abilities needed for indoor and low-light shooting situations.

This lens is particularly well-suited for headshots and upper-body portraits thanks to its 28°30’ angle of view, but it is by no means a one-trick pony.

In addition to traditional portraiture, you can utilize this lens for wildlife photography (particularly when used on a DX camera), sports photography, and photojournalistic pursuits as well. Get more details on this lens in the video below by tombo1bo.

This is also an excellent lens choice for video recording.

It’s compact and lightweight, so you don’t feel like you’re carrying a super-heavy kit around as you record. The aforementioned f/1.8 aperture gives you the ability to shoot in dim lighting with great success as well.

Additionally, since this lens has manual aperture control, you can make on-the-fly depth of field adjustments as you shoot in live view. The result is a gorgeous transition from focusing on foreground to background elements, or vice versa.

Though this lens is now discontinued and you can’t purchase new ones, there are loads of used versions available. For one in excellent condition, expect to spend about $300.00. That’s not bad at all considering the excellent optics and build quality of this lens.

Learn more about the Nikon Nikkor 85mm F/1.8 D lens



We Recommend


Canon EOS 6D Mark II: A Full Frame on the Cheap

iStock 186831841 min

When I started out in photography, I wanted nothing more than a full frame camera.

I didn't understand at the time that it was lenses that I needed to prioritize on my purchase list, but that's a different article for a different time.

The point is that full frame cameras were simply out of my reach from a financial standpoint.

Years later, Canon released the EOS 6D, which became sort of the standard bearer of "cheap" full frame cameras.

Naturally, the price point that justifies the moniker of "cheap" is in the eye of the beholder, but the EOS 6D was certainly less expensive than most full frames.

Now, Canon has released the EOS 6D Mark II, an even better version that still won't break the bank.

Revisiting the Canon EOS 6D

canoneos6dbody min

The original EOS 6D debuted way back in 2012 at Photokina to much fanfare.

It was developed as a midrange option nestled between the EOS 5D Mark III and the EOS 7D.

As an entry-level full frame camera, the EOS 6D was outfitted with some of the bells and whistles of the higher-end 5D Mark III, like in-camera HDR, a silent shutter mode, and various exposure modes for JPEGs.

canoneod6dside

However, the EOS 6D was priced about $1,500 less than the 5D Mark III, placing it closer in price to its crop sensor siblings.

At the time, Canon left out some features that would have been nice, and which appeared on lesser cameras, like the EOS Rebel T4i. This included an articulating touch screen LCD and on-chip phase detection for autofocus in live view.

Nevertheless, the EOS 6D came with GPS and Wi-Fi and had a weather-resistant body as well, great features for a budget full frame camera body.

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It had decent specs, too:

  • 20.2-megapixel full frame sensor
  • DIGIC 5+ image processor
  • 1/4000 maximum shutter speed
  • 11-point autofocus system
  • ISO range 100-25600 (extended to 102400)
  • 4.5fps continuous shooting
  • Full HD video at 30fps
  • 3-inch LCD with 1.04 million dots

For a camera that originally cost around $2,000, that's not a bad list of features.

But, the original EOS 6D was getting long in the tooth and an update was sorely needed.

That update dropped just last week in the EOS 6D Mark II, the latest in the long line of Canon EOS cameras.

Reviewing the EOS 6D Mark II

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Rumors swirled around the EOS 6D Mark II for quite some time, and now that the real thing is actually here, we know which rumors ended up being legitimate.

Many people figured the EOS 6D Mark II would get a new sensor, and they were right.

Just like the EOS 6D got an all-new sensor, the Mark II sports a brand new 26.2-megapixel full frame sensor.

Canon's thinking with the new sensor is multi-faceted.

On the one hand, the 20.2-megapixel sensor it replaced was showing its age, and a refresh with higher resolution was needed.

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On the other hand, the new sensor allows for a much wider dynamic range.

That means you can get deeper shadows and brighter highlights, all the while having a higher standard ISO that ranges to 40000. The extended ISO still goes to 102400.

Something else Canon incorporated into the EOS 6D Mark II is a new vari-angle touch screen LCD, something Canon shooters sorely wanted.

The LCD is bright, has an excellent touch interface, and greatly improves the functionality and performance of the camera.

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Metering capabilities are improved in the 6D Mark II, with Canon's 560-pixel RGB+IR sensor that offers +/-5 EV exposure compensation and four metering modes: partial, spot, center-weighted, and evaluative.

Also upgraded on the Mark II is the image processing engine.

Where the EOS 6D sported the DIGIC 5+ processor, the EOS 6D Mark II gets Canon's latest DIGIC 7 engine.

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With the beefier processing power, the Mark II is capable of 6.5fps burst shooting (an increase of 2fps). With built-in five-axis image stabilization, that means you can get sharper photos and videos, too.

That endeavor is also helped by a 45-point autofocus system with all cross-type points (just like the one found in the EOS 80D).

Add to that Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus system, and you have the makings of a camera that can give you top-quality continuous focus when you're shooting still photos in live view or recording video.

Speaking of video...what's missing - and it's a big miss - is 4K video.

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Why Canon put out a camera in 2017 without 4K video is a mystery that has all of the internet in an uproar. The EOS 6D Mark II has a built-in intervalometer and 4K timelapse functionalities, though, which makes the lack of 4K video even more strange.

In its place is full HD video at 60fps, which is an upgrade from the EOS 6D's 30fps HD video.

But perhaps one of the biggest upgrades was behind the scenes in the 6D Mark II's battery life.

Where the original EOS 6D's battery could only muster 670 shots per charge, the 6D Mark II's battery can get you up to 1,200 shots.

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There were some holdovers from the EOS 6D that make an appearance on its predecessor, too.

Wi-Fi and GPS are still built-in but now are joined by NFC and Bluetooth.

The weather-resistant construction is a holdover as well, making the 6D Mark II resistant to dust, water, and other environmental elements.

Final Thoughts

Canon shooters will approve of many of these upgrades, particularly the improved battery life, new sensor, and vastly improved autofocus system.

As noted earlier, though, the lack of 4K video is completely puzzling.

Nevertheless, the 6D Mark II has made great strides in improving upon the solid offerings of its predecessor.

And now that it's out, you can get even better deals than before on used Canon EOS 6D bodies and accessories!

See the EOS 6D Mark II in action (and get a comparison with the EOS 6D) in the video above from DigiDIRECT.



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Canon EOS 7D Mark II: The Best Action Rig for the Money?

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Tell me if this sounds familiar...

You're out taking photos, and a scene unfolds in front of you that requires lightning-fast shooting and shutter speed. Unfortunately, your camera just doesn't have the chops to keep up with the action, and the photos you take are either blurry, or you miss the shot altogether because your camera couldn't keep up.

It happens to many photographers whose cameras don't have an action photography pedigree.

The problem in the past is that there wasn't much in the way of a capable action camera without spending thousands and thousands of dollars.

However, Canon changed all that when they released the EOS 7D Mark II in the fall of 2014.

As we'll explore in the review below, the 7D Mark II gave everyday consumers a less expensive, yet fully featured pro-level APS-C camera that could garner improved action shots, be that at a professional sporting event, out in the wilds photographing wildlife, or taking photos of your kids playing soccer.

Tracing the Lineage

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The original Canon 7D was released to wide acclaim in 2009. With 18-megapixels, dual DIGIC-4 image processors, and an expandable ISO range to 12800, the 7D offers plenty of features for amateur and professional photographers alike. In fact, the 7D is the first EOS camera to sport dual processors outside the realm of the professional-grade 1D line.

The 7D has a phase-detection autofocus system with 19 cross-type AF points for solid focusing and tracking of moving subjects. But what really raised people's eyebrows is the 7D's astonishing 1/8000 second maximum shutter speed. That means that you can freeze the movement of just about any subject without any motion blur at all.

Combined with the 8fps shooting speed, a buffer that could handle 22 JPEGs, and a .4 second startup time, the 7D has plenty of pop for photographers that needed to shoot fast.

As a result, the EOS 7D became a fast favorite among action photographers.

And then the EOS 7D Mark II came along...

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Essential Specs

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As good as the original 7D was in the performance department, the 7D Mark II improved upon it in just about every conceivable way. Have a look at the basic specs:

  • 20-megapixel CMOS sensor
  • Dual DIGIC 6 processors
  • 1/8000 second maximum shutter speed
  • 10fps continuous shooting
  • 65 cross-type AF points
  • Upgraded weather sealing
  • Larger battery capacity
  • Built-in GPS
  • Shutter rating up to 200,000 cycles

By 2017 standards, these features aren't groundbreaking. But when the 7D Mark II was released in 2014, many of its features were unspeakably good - and remain so today.

You'll notice that the maximum shutter speed remains the same from the 7D, a feature certainly worthy of holding over.

However, the shooting speed gets a boost to 10fps, and combined with the upgrade to dual DIGIC 6 processors, the 7D Mark II enjoys shorter cycle times with an improved buffer.

For example, where the 7D can accommodate 22 JPEGs in burst mode, the 7D Mark II can handle 103 JPEGs. The buffer for RAW files expanded from 16 to 26 as well.

Add to that the 7D Mark II's cross-type 65-point AF system that works seamlessly with the camera's new 150,000-pixel RGB + IR metering sensor, and you've got the tracking and recognition abilities of the EOS-1D X in a much less expensive package.

Is the 7D Mark II Just for Action Photographers?

Though this camera has the chops to tackle action photography, it's not just a one-trick pony.

The Dual Pixel AF system means the 7D Mark II is able to ascertain details related to the subject's position and their distance from the camera when the mirror is up. By using its sensor to derive that information, the 7D Mark II offers improved autofocus and subject tracking not just for still images, but for video as well.

The 7D Mark II is capable of shooting 1080p video at frame rates of 60/50/30/25/24, with three compression options to suit your needs (IPB, IPB-Lite, and AII-I).

What's more, with the dual DIGIC 6 Processors, the camera allows real-time usage of lens correction features while shooting video so long as you're using a Canon-supported lens. That means less vignetting and distortion if you shoot part of the video with one lens and another part of the video with another lens.

Though the 7D Mark II lacks 4K shooting capabilities, it's certainly no slouch in the video department despite being a couple of years old. Just take a look at the video above from TheCameraStoreTV, which reviews the 7D Mark II (and was shot entirely on a 7D Mark II as well!) to see what I mean.

A Comfortable Shooting Experience

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Regardless of whether you're shooting stills or videos, the EOS 7D Mark II has a familiar Canon feel with a chunky grip and buttons that are placed intuitively for smooth, quick adjustments. In fact, the build and layout of the 7D Mark II is based on the 5D Mark III, a more expensive, pro-level camera.

In your hand, the camera feels robust but not overly heavy. It weighs 49 with a kit lens and batteries, which isn't bad at all.

The 1.04M dot 3-inch LCD has improved performance to reduce reflections so you can check your images, histogram, and the like without worrying about reflections. There's improved contrast as well, furthering the usefulness of the LCD.

The viewfinder is a positive feature too, featuring 100 percent coverage with 1.0x magnification.

Even if you're out in not-so-good weather, the 7D Mark II will perform well for you. It's got beefed up weather sealing so that rain and snow won't find its way inside your camera.

The Drawbacks

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Of course, no camera is perfect.

Many of today's cameras have NFC, Wi-Fi, and touch screens, features that the 7D Mark II lacks. They will no doubt be featured on whatever model comes next, likely the 7D Mark III.

Another problem is that when shooting in live view, the screen blacks out for what seems like an eternity. If you can't see the screen, framing up the subject is obviously a taller task.

Canon has a history of poor dynamic range at base ISO when shooting in RAW, and that's an issue this camera has. What's more, although the 7D Mark II features the second generation iTR, it's ability to track moving subjects - though good - still doesn't match the likes of Nikon.

Though the camera produces sharp stills, videos can be a bit soft, and neither stills or video are all that much improved in the quality department over those captured with an eight-year-old 7D. 

That means that if you just want quality images with an ability to capture super-fast action, the original 7D will perform just as well as the 7D Mark II on many fronts. Sure, the 7D Mark II has a faster shooting speed, better image processing, and a much better buffer, but how often do most of us need the capability of having a buffer that holds 103 JPEGs?

In the end, the 7D Mark II is more evolutionary than revolutionary. It's got many excellent features that more than two years after its debut are still quite good. But as quickly as the market is changing, and as many models that have been introduced in the last couple of years to compete with the 7D Mark II, Canon should be thinking very strongly about a big update to this budget-friendly, pro-style crop sensor camera.

On the plus side, since it's been out for a couple of years, you can find great deals on used 7D Mark II camera bodies. Just be sure you buy from a reputable retailer!

Get more details, specs, reviews, and videos on the EOS 7D Mark II in our in-depth review.



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Canon Telephoto Lenses for Every Budget

Canon Telephoto Lenses for Every Budget

photo bydan_prat via iStock

Whether you’re a relative newcomer to the world of telephoto photography or you’re a seasoned pro, there’s always room for upgrading your glass to something a little better with more features and capabilities.

Of course, brand-new Canon telephoto lenses can be very, very pricey. So the question of “where to buy cheap Canon lenses?” is likely on your mind.

In this Canon lens guide, we’ll review four Canon telephoto lenses for every budget that perform well, have tons of features, and are highly rated by Canon shooters. 

Let’s get to it!

Editor’s Tip: The lenses you use are the most important gear you have - more important than even your camera. When shopping for lenses, buy the best lens you can afford. You can stretch your budget if you buy used, which means you can get a better lens for less money. Each of the lenses listed below have links to used versions for you to check out.

Best Budget Telephoto Lens for Canon: Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD

best budget telephoto lens for canon 

Lens mount: Canon EF

Autofocus type: Ultrasonic

Stabilized: Yes

Weight: 2 lbs., 8 oz.

Top pro: Great price

Top con: Slow aperture at 400mm

Used price: $648.00 in Like New condition

When you’re looking for the best budget telephoto lens for Canon, you can’t discount the value of a Tamron lens.

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Not only is this lens relatively lightweight at 2 lbs., 8 oz., but it has a huge reach at up to 400mm. If you’re on the fence about this lens or a 70-200mm, having twice the reach with less weight could be an important determining factor.

Like its counterpart discussed below, this 100-400mm lens offers an excellently fast autofocus system. Add to that a 4-stop stabilizing system and you have the makings of a top performer on a budget.

But just because this is a cheap Canon lens doesn’t mean it’s cheaply made. The lens feels solid and sturdy in your hand and it has weather sealing to keep the elements out. What’s more, if you compare the image quality of this lens to Canon’s own 100-400mm lens, the differences are virtually indistinguishable.

And at less than $650.00 for a used lens in like-new condition, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better lens at this price point!

Get a detailed look at this lens in the video above by Dustin Abbott.

 

 

Best Mid-Range Telephoto Lens for Canon: Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 SP Di VC USD G2 

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Lens mount: Canon EF

Autofocus type: Ultrasonic

Stabilized: Yes

Weight: 3 lbs., 5 oz.

Top pro: Blazing-fast autofocus

Top con: Very heavy

Used price: $1,199.00 in Like New condition

With a name with that many acronyms, this has to be a good lens, right?

Though Tamron might have been looked down upon in years past, they’re now responsible for some of the best third-party lenses for Canon on the market today.

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Their 70-200mm f/2.8 offers better performance than Canon’s own 70-200mm version. In fact, this lens has best-in-class image stabilization (offering 5-stops) and its autofocus system is absurdly fast thanks to dual microprocessors that speed up its performance.

This lens has three different modes for various types of photos. On the one hand, there’s a mode for panning shots and another for static shots.

On the other hand, the lens also has a special mode that applies image stabilization only during the exposure, therefore the viewfinder image is not affected. This is advantageous as it aids in tracking moving subjects, particularly those that are moving erratically.

Best of all, this lens is pennies on the dollar compared to its Canon counterpart!

Get a detailed review of this lens in the video above by Christopher Frost Photography.

 

 

Best Professional Telephoto Lens for Canon: Canon 200-400mm f/4 L IS USM with Built-In 1.4x 

 best professional telephoto lens for canon

Lens mount: Canon EF

Autofocus type: Ultrasonic

Stabilized: Yes

Weight: 8 lbs.

Top pro: Built-in teleconverter

Top con: Major price tag

Used price: $8,399.00 in Excellent condition

If you need a do-anything telephoto lens, look no further.

Canon’s EF 200-400mm f/4L is not a small lens by any measure, so if you haven’t been to the gym lately, you might want to reactivate your membership before investing in this lens.

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Though it’s big and heavy (which you should expect of a lens like this), it’s sharpness is simply off the charts. The built-in teleconverter (which reaches 280-560mm at f/5.6) is a huge bonus as well, giving you extra reach without having to switch to a longer lens.

With the teleconverter, this lens is ideal for sports and wildlife photography. Its reach and sharpness are ideally suited to either pursuit, though with an f/4 maximum aperture, you’ll encounter issues when light is not plentiful.

Nevertheless, that f/4 aperture is huge for a lens like this, and its depth of field control is simply wonderful.

This is not a Canon telephoto lens for the faint of heart, but if you have the arm strength and the budget, it’s hard to beat this lens for long-range photography. See this lens in action in the video above by Canon Imaging Plaza

Speaking of budget, if this lens is too rich for your blood, you can always sell your old lenses and use the proceeds to finance this bad boy. 

Outfits like KEH are always on the lookout for good used lenses to buy (like the Canon 28-300mm F/3.5-5.6 L IS USM and the Canon 600mm F/4 L IS II USM), so if you have something like that and you no longer need it, sell it!

 

 



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Canon vs. Nikon DSLR Comparison: Which is Best For You?

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When it comes down to it, Canon and Nikon are the big boys in the camera market.

Sure, Sony, Panasonic, FujiFilm, and many other manufacturers make some really stellar cameras.

But none match the market share that Canon and Nikon enjoy.

Both companies are constantly updating their cameras or coming out with completely new models.

That can make for some confusing shopping...

Additionally, with so many new functions and features coming out with every wave of new models, Canon and Nikon are tempting photographers from the other side to ditch their current systems and give their latest, greatest models a try.

No matter if you're a beginner looking for your first camera or an advanced photographer in need of a full frame camera, we've got the head-to-head battles between Canon and Nikon to help inform your purchasing decisions.

Without further ado, let's get to it!

Table of Contents:

Canon vs Nikon: Beginner Cameras

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Let me preface this by saying that there are two facets to the label of "beginner DSLR" that I've used to categorize the following cameras as such.

First, for these purposes, a beginner DSLR is one that can be purchased for less than $500-$600, complete with a kit lens.

Though there are certainly other options for beginners, I've opted to go with a lower price point.

Secondly, this list includes DSLRs that don't have the same functions and features as higher-end cameras.

Again, they are easy to use and have plenty of functionality, but not so much that a beginner would be totally overwhelmed.

There are four top models in this category: The Canon EOS Rebel SL1, the Canon EOS Rebel T6, the Nikon D3300, and its close cousin, the Nikon D3400.

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Again, each of these cameras comes in at less than $500, making any of them an excellent buy.

The Canon EOS SL1 is a tiny thing, which might be a draw for younger photographers with smaller hands or for new photographers that don't want to carry a heavy camera around.

The EOS Rebel T6 has Wi-Fi and NFC capabilities to its credit, as well as an upgraded LCD with nearly 1 million dots of resolution.

Both of these Rebel models have an 18-megapixel sensor, which is fine, but when compared to the 24-megapixel sensor in the Nikon D3300 and D3400, the Canons lag behind.

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Additionally, the Nikons have faster continuous shooting by a margin of 2fps, as well as a more refined autofocus system with 11 autofocus points (as compared to just 9 points for the Canons).

Granted, these are relatively minor differences that likely won't make a huge difference for many beginner photographers.

But down the road when you have more photography understanding and skills at your disposal, it might be worth investing in a camera that has more potential to grow along with you.

The Verdict: The Nikons offer more in the way of features, including a more sophisticated sensor. Since the D3400 is newer and really doesn't have much in the way of significant new features, the best bet here is likely the Nikon D3300.

Read more: The Best DSLRs for Beginners in 2017

Canon vs Nikon: Mid-Level Cameras

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Mid-level cameras fall squarely in between the beginner models discussed above and the more advanced models discussed below.

These cameras require a bit more of a budget but come with many more features than a standard entry-level camera.

As a result, if you have a bit of time under your belt as a photographer and find that your current camera just can't do everything you need it to do, consider a Canon EOS Rebel T6i, a Canon EOS Rebel T6s, a Nikon D5500, or a Nikon D5600.

The Canon models are very similar. In fact, the only major difference between the two is that the T6s has a top LCD panel and a rear thumbwheel that give it extra versatility.

What both Canons share is a 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor that sports Canon's DIGIC-6 processor.

That means both models are significantly faster than their junior counterparts discussed earlier. What's more, they produce much higher resolution images with this sensor than with the 18-megapixel sensor in the introductory Canon cameras.

With Wi-Fi, NFC, a tilting touch screen LCD, 5fps continuous shooting, and an ISO range to 25600, the Canons have plenty of features to satisfy your photography needs.

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Don't count out the Nikons, however.

Like the Canons, the Nikon D5500 and D5600 are virtually identical. 

Like the Canons, they also sport a 24.2-megapixel sensor, though the Nikons produce images with better detail. Both Nikons also sport a 39-point autofocus system that works well for mid-range action photography.

Both Nikons are also well built. That's not to say that the Canons aren't well built, but when holding the Nikons, they feel great in your hand and have a button and dial layout that makes sense.

The only major difference between the D5500 and D5600 is that the latter has Nikon's new SnapBridge technology, which allows you to connect your camera to a smart device via Bluetooth.

The Verdict: Though the Nikons produce more detailed images and feel better in your hand, the Canons have the Nikons beat in terms of features and pricing. It's a tough call, but the Canon EOS Rebel T6s is the best bet of the bunch for most advanced beginner photographers.

Read More: Canon's EOS Line is 30 Years Old and Still Going Strong

Canon vs Nikon: Enthusiast Cameras

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The next step up in our sequence is enthusiast cameras, models that offer even more in the way of features, but which also have much higher price tags than many of those found in the entry-level and mid-range segments.

Enthusiast cameras come in many shapes and sizes from both Canon and Nikon. And though there are plenty of choices, for me, the best of this group are the Canon EOS 80D, the Nikon D7200, the Canon EOS 7D Mark II, and the Nikon D500.

Let's examine the 80D and D7200 first.

Both of these cameras pack plenty of punch from a technical standpoint.

The 80D has an articulating touch screen LCD that makes taking photos in Live View a great experience. It also features an advanced Dual Pixel CMOS AF system that offers outstanding focus for both still photos and videos. Helping that cause is a 45-point autofocus system in which all 45 AF points are of the cross-type variety.

Add to that 7fps continuous shooting, a top LCD panel, and an upgraded shutter mechanism that reduces vibrations, and you've got a recipe for a solid enthusiast camera.

The question is, how does it stack up to the competition, the Nikon D7200?

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With a 24.2-megapixel DX-format sensor, the D7200 has the same resolution as the 80D, though test images are consistently more detailed due to the absence of an anti-aliasing filter.

The D7200 has plenty of features too, including Wi-Fi, an excellent buffer, improved battery life over its predecessors, and a robust 51-point autofocus system that gives you better low-light shooting capabilities than comparable models.

The new EXPEED-4 processor is worth mentioning as well because it gives the D7200 faster performance that an enthusiast-level photographer will appreciate.

The Verdict: This one's a draw. Both the Canon EOS 80D and the Nikon D7200 have excellent features for the money. If you're a Canon shooter, stick with Canon. Likewise, if you're a Nikon shooter stick with Nikon.

Read More: Nikon D7100 vs. Nikon D7200 vs. Nikon D7300

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A bit of a step up, yet still in the enthusiast segment are two more cameras, the Canon EOS 7D Mark II and the Nikon D500.

Like other head-to-head matchups between Canon and Nikon, we have two well-matched cameras in the 7D Mark II and the Nikon D500.

Both offer advanced features like 10fps continuous shooting, lightning-fast processors, and expanded ISO ranges that give them improved low-light shooting performance, even over the enthusiast models outlined earlier.

Both of these cameras have similar sensors as well, with the Canon's 20.2-megapixel sensor slightly underperforming the Nikon's 20.9-megapixel sensor.

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And while the Canon has a 65-point autofocus system with all cross-type AF points, the Nikon's has 153-points, 99 of which are cross-type.

What's more, where the Canon offers 31 frames of RAW at 10fps, the Nikon promises an astounding 200 RAW frames.

Throw in better resolution, a tilting touch screen, and 4K video, and the Nikon becomes something that offers many more features than the Canon.

The Verdict: Again, this has to be a draw. The Canon represents a much better value at this point, but the Nikon offers more robust features that make it a camera that is more likely to handle future growth.

Read More: Canon EOS 7D Mark II: The Best Action Rig for the Money?

Canon vs Nikon: Top-of-the-Line Cameras

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If money is no object (wouldn't that be nice?!), a full frame camera is the way to go.

Like the other tiers of cameras, full frame models run the gamut from "entry-level" to full on pro-spec models.

At the lower end of these top-of-the-line cameras are the Canon EOS 6D and the Nikon D610.

Though these cameras are priced very closely to one another, the D610 sports a better sensor (24.3-megapixel versus 20.2-megapixel).

The Nikon has a better autofocus system as well, with 39-autofocus points compared to just 11 points on the EOS 6D.

The EOS 6D has nice add-ons like GPS and Wi-Fi and has better low-light performance than the Nikon due to its slightly wider range of ISO.

The Verdict: Another tie. Given that these cameras are priced so closely together, and their features match up very well, this one is simply a matter of taste for Canon or Nikon.

Read More: Is the Nikon D610 the Best Value Full Frame Camera?

Check out a head-to-head comparison of the EOS 6D, the D610, and several other cameras from this list in the video below by Jared Polin:

When it comes down to it, no matter which camera you choose from this list, these Canon and Nikon models offer excellent features for all experience levels. Better yet, you can find any of these cameras for an excellent price when you shop used.

If you're looking to get your first camera or need an upgrade, why not get something that someone else enjoyed while saving yourself some money at the same time? It's the best of both worlds if you ask me!



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Canon's EOS Line is 30 Years Old and Still Going Strong

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Let me start by saying that I'm a Nikon shooter.

But that doesn't mean that I don't admire and respect what Canon has accomplished over the years.

In fact, I might argue that their EOS line of cameras is one of the most significant - if not the most significant in the history of photography.

It's amazing that it's been 30 years now since the first EOS camera came out.

My how far we've come...

The EOS line started in the days of film, made the transition to digital along with the rest of the world, and continues to provide photographers with innovative products to this day.

Let's take a walk down memory lane and have a look at the history of the EOS system, from its beginning in March 1987 right through to 2017.

EOS 650 - Where It All Began

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In March 1987, Canon revolutionized the photography world by introducing the EOS 650.

It was a film camera, so there was nothing new there. But it was also the first camera to use the EF (Electro-Focus) lens mount, which not only meant that every EOS camera made since then can use the same lenses, but it also meant that the mechanical connections used by previous cameras were now gone.

In their place was a completely electronic functionality - a gamble, to say the least, back in the analog days of the 1980s.

These new EF lenses had other revolutionary features as well...

For one, they had a huge internal mount size (54mm in diameter), which meant Canon could make lenses with enormous apertures.

Secondly, the EF lenses introduced along with the EOS 650 had an Ultrasonic Motor (USM), which made autofocusing faster, more accurate, and all but silent.

EOS-1 - Setting the Stage for Digital

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It was only September of 1989 - just 2 1/2 years since the EOS line was first launched.

But already, Canon was thinking ahead and figuring out how to lay the foundation for a move to digital photography.

It would be a number of years before that happened in earnest with the development of the Canon CMOS sensor, but the groundwork was laid with the EOS-1 camera.

The EOS-1 had what Canon called a Cross-Type BASIS (Base-Stored Image Sensor) sensor that gave it the ability to autofocus on a subject with accuracy that to that point had been unachievable. This accuracy was due to the camera's ability to "see" on both the vertical and horizontal planes, giving it much-improved capabilities for tracking all sorts of subjects.

Not to be overshadowed, the EOS-1 debuted with a couple of new lenses, both of which represented Canon's first L-series glass: the EF 50mm f/1.0L USM and the EF 80-200mm f/2.8L USM.

EOS-RT - The Fixed Mirror Arrives

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Unlike every other SLR camera made at the time, the EOS-RT, which debuted in October 1989, had a different sort of mirror.

Where traditional SLRs had a mirror that moved within the camera body when a photo was taken, the EOS-RT had a fixed pellicle mirror.

That meant that the mirror stayed put during the exposure, which resulted in a lighting-fast shutter delay of 0.008 seconds.

With such fast performance, it's no wonder that the EOS-RT became a quick favorite of photographers in the wildlife and sports circuits.

EOS 1000 - The BUdget-Friendly SLR

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When it launched in October 1990, the EOS 1000 represented one of the best buys a photographer could find with a price of less than $1,000.

With that budget-friendly price tag, Canon jumped squarely into the "prosumer" realm with a camera that had many of the features of its higher-end predecessors.

The EOS 1000 also sported Al Servo and One-Shot AF Modes, making it a favorite of photographers that wanted fast and accurate autofocus.

Because it was targeted toward enthusiast photographers and not just professionals, the EOS 1000 opened photography up to a new generation of hobbyist photographers and ushered in an era in which even beginning photographers could afford a feature-packed SLR camera.

EOS DCS 3 - Digital Arrives

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By Rama - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0 fr, Link

In July 1995, Canon jumped into the future with the introduction of the EOS DCS 3, Canon's first digital EOS camera.

The DCS 3 had a "huge" 1.3-megapixel sensor that nevertheless produced images that were ready to go right out of the camera. It was a game changer for photographers of all ilks, but particularly for photojournalists who could have their images ready for print right then and there.

But that digital technology came with a hefty price tag - nearly $13,000 by today's standards.

It certainly wasn't as big of a seller as the comparatively dirt-cheap EOS 1000, but it represented a major shift in the EOS line and in all of photography for that matter.

EOS 50E - Advanced Light Metering Debuts

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Just two months after Canon unveiled the DCS 3, the EOS 50E/Elan IIE came out.EOS 50E/Elan IIE came out.

The 50E's claim to fame was a new E-TTL (Evaluative Through-the-Lens) light metering system that replaced Canon's A TTL meter.

E-TTL used the same evaluative metering sensor for measuring ambient light. However, because it metered through the lens, it had much better performance and accuracy. In fact, the E-TTL system was much less likely to be fooled by reflected light.

The solid performance of the E-TTL system laid the foundation for future light metering systems for Canon's EOS cameras.

EOS 3 - Autofocus Performance Gets a Boost

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In November 1998, Canon released the EOS-3, a camera whose claim to face was a 45-point autofocus system.

Those 45 AF points were clustered into a circular area that covered nearly a quarter of the viewfinder. That meant photographers could enjoy a completely new level of accurate focus and speed of acquiring a subject.

EOS 300 - The Beginner's EOS Camera

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In April 1999, Canon released the EOS 300 as a camera for the everyday photographer.

Like the EOS 1000, the EOS 300 was budget-friendly (about $400 by today's standards). But it also had a number of features intended to make taking a quality photo an easier task.

It's best feature was a 7-point autofocus system with Advanced Integrated Multipoint metering that linked the exposure to seven AF points. That resulted in a photo with more precise results than a beginner photographer could have achieved before.

It was an analog camera, but the price point helped introduce the EOS line to a whole new generation of photography buffs and made the EOS 300 one of the top selling analog cameras of the EOS line.

EOS D30 - The CMOS Sensor Debuts

Canon EOS D30By Valtteri Vuorikoski - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2680090

Today, CMOS sensors are a ubiquitous part of the Canon ecosystem. But it got its debut in October 2000 in the EOS D30.

The 3.11-megapixel CMOS sensor was the first use of CMOS technology for imaging (it had previously been used for metering and autofocus sensors).

Additionally, the EOS D30 represented the first digital EOS camera in which all of its major components were built by Canon.

When it came out, the D30 impressed with excellent dynamic range, low noise, and excellent battery life. As well, the CMOS sensor would go on to become the basis for all future EOS cameras, including those manufactured today.

EOS-1D - The 1 Series is Born

Today, Canon's EOS 1 Series represents the cream of the crop for DSLRs.

It got its start in December 2001 with the EOS-1D, a camera that had a 4-megapixel sensor and a 55-millisecond shutter release lag time.

Not only did it produce the best images to date, but the 1D could also handle 8fps shooting, which made it a prime choice for sports photographers.

Canon has lost some ground in the sports photography market in recent years, but you'll still see plenty of 1-series Canons on the sidelines of today's sporting events.

EOS-1Ds - A Full Frame EOS Camera

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A lot of photographers today would likely consider the EOS-1Ds the first modern DSLR.

Debuting in November 2002, the 1Ds had an 11.1-megapixel CMOS full frame sensor, giving it more sensitivity and dynamic range than any EOS camera before it.

Additionally, the 1Ds had the best noise performance to date, allowing photographers to shoot in low light conditions without digital noise.

There was also something familiar about the 1Ds for film photographers, given that its full frame sensor was the same size as a 35mm frame of film. That comfort level allowed some holdovers from the film days to make an easier transition into the digital world.

EOS 10D - DIGIC Processing Revealed

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When the EOS 10D came out in March 2003, it was the first EOS camera to use Canon's DIGIC image processing.

Today, DIGIC processing is right up there with CMOS sensors in terms of being hallmark features of Canon cameras.

The beauty of DIGIC processing is that it made the EOS 10D a fast camera with little buffer time that gave photographers an expanded range of shooting speed.

What's more, DIGIC processing allowed photographers to simultaneously take JPEG and RAW files, making it the first EOS camera to give photographers that degree of flexibility and post-processing options.

EOS 300D - A Consumer Level DSLR

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Once September 2003 rolled around, Canon released the EOS 300D to wide acclaim.

At less than $1,000, the EOS 300D was another budget-friendly camera, this time offering a 6.3-megapixel sensor and a new lens mount in the EF-S system, where S referred to "short-back focus."

With the new smaller, lighter, and less expensive EF-S lenses, the 300D was the first truly consumer-level DSLR. Not only was the camera less expensive, but it also had a growing line of EF-S lenses so budget-conscious photographers could develop a kit much more easily. Of course, the 300D was compatible with the already huge line of EF lenses too.

EOS-1D Mark II - The 1D, Upgraded

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When the EOS-1D Mark II came out in April 2004, it represented a huge step forward even over its predecessor, the 1D.

With continuous shooting of 8.5fps, the camera had lightning-fast speed that would still be considered good in 2017.

What's more, the 1D Mark II sported an upgraded DIGIC II processor, giving the camera much greater ability to handle the data collected by its 8.2-megapixel sensor.

Another new feature to the 1D Mark II was the E-TTL flash metering system, which added lens distance information to its algorithms. That meant it could better determine the level of flash output.

The metering system was also no longer linked just to the autofocus system, meaning it could compare the pre-flash and ambient light levels to get a more precise location on the subject. That also introduced the ability to lock focus on the subject and recompose the shot without causing the metering system all sorts of confusion.

EOS-1Ds Mark II - A New Level of Image Quality

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In November 2004, the EOS-1Ds Mark II set a new level of image quality for the EOS line with a whopping 16.7-megapixel full frame CMOS sensor.

That sensor could produce files that converted to 24-bit TIFF files, which was the standard that most photo agencies required.

With continuous shooting at 4fps, it wasn't the fastest EOS camera, but it could sustain that speed for up to 32 frames. The camera's DIGIC II processor made that possible.

The quality of the images produced with this camera is worth mentioning. Not only was the sensor huge for the day, but it was argued by many photographers at the time that its images were of higher quality than 35mm film. Because of that, the EOS-1D Mark II is often considered the camera that redefined the level of performance that a digital camera could achieve.

EOS 350D - Expanded Capabilities for a Consumer Camera

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By Nebrot - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Canon had long seen the value in offering high-quality cameras to beginner and hobbyist photographers. The EOS 350D represented a continuation of that thinking.

For the first time, a consumer-level camera had an 8-megapixel sensor, DIGIC II processing, and E-TTL II flash exposure capabilities.

What's more, the 350D was compatible with five dozen EF-S and EF lenses, giving everyday people the chance to have a fully-functioning, professional-level camera at their fingertips.

But all those features weren't the only calling card of the 350D - it was also priced aggressively. With so many features and a good price, the 350D became one of the fastest-selling DSLRs to date.

EOS 5D - A Smaller Full Frame Body

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When Canon introduced the full frame CMOS sensor in a smaller body in October 2005, a new type of camera was born.

Dubbed the EOS 5D, the camera had a 12.8-megapixel sensor that provided photographers with excellent full frame images without all the bulk of a traditional full frame body.

In fact, the 5D weighed in at just 810 grams, making it an ideal choice for photographers on the go, like those in the travel and photojournalism sectors. Its successors have proven to be just as valuable, making the 5D line among the very best.

EOS-1D Mark III - 20 Years of EOS Cameras

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In February 2007, Canon released the EOS-1D Mark III as a way to celebrate two decades of the EOS line.

This camera put everything Canon had learned into one body, with a 10.1-megapixel CMOS sensor and an astonishing 10fps shooting capability.

Canon wanted the 1D Mark III to be the fastest DSLR available, and they achieved that mark easily.

The camera also offered excellent shutter speeds, from 30 seconds to 1/8000th seconds. Canon's new self-cleaning system and live view technology rounded out some of its best features.

EOS-1Ds Mark III - Dual DIGIC Processing

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In August 2007, Canon kept the innovation going when they introduced the EOS-1Ds Mark III.

Like its predecessor, it was developed with professional photographers in mind. As a result, the 1Ds Mark III came with a 21.1-megapixel CMOS sensor, a three-inch LCD display with Live View capabilities, and two DIGIC III processors that gave it the capability of capturing images at 5fps.

The 1Ds Mark III also carried over from the 1D Mark III, including the 63-point exposure metering system, a 19-point autofocus system, and a shutter speed range of 30 seconds to 1/8000th seconds.

EOS Rebel T1i - The Rebel Series Begins

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In May 2009, Canon changed the DSLR market yet again with the introduction of the Rebel T1i.

This new entry-level camera gave beginner photographers many new features that made better photos possible.

This included a 15.1-megapixel sensor that was far and away more resolution than ever offered at this price point before. What's more, it had a native ISO range up to 3200, making it a good low-light performer as well, although by today's standards there was a high degree of noise.

The T1i was also capable of recording HD video - one of the first DSLRs to do so.

EOS 7D - A Top-End Crop Sensor

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In September 2009, Canon unveiled the EOS 7D, a high-end crop-sensor camera with an 18-megapixel CMOS sensor.

With 8fps shooting, the camera offered fast performance for photographers that work with fast-moving subjects. Like the T1i before it, it also had full-HD video recording capabilities.

The 7D featured a viewfinder with 100% coverage and 1.0X magnification and a 19-point AF system as well.

These features made the 7D a venerable part of the EOS lineup, as evidenced by its five-year-long lifecycle before being replaced by the 7D Mark II in 2014.

EOS Rebel T3 - Another Consumer-Level Gem

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By 2011, the consumer-level DSLR market was hotter than ever, and Canon tapped into that with its newest in the Rebel line, the T3.

With a 12-megapixel sensor and 3fps shooting, the T3 certainly didn't blow anyone away with its features.

However, as an entry-level camera, the T3 gave beginner photographers plenty of punch to pursue more advanced photography.

The biggest draw of the T3 was certainly the price - about $600 with a kit lens.

Though it's not known for having lots of bells and whistles or producing the best images, it certainly has its place among the cameras that helped beginners find a way into the DSLR market.

EOS 1D X - Canon's New Flagship

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In March 2012, the EOS 1D X became Canon's new flagship professional DSLR, replacing the older EOS-1DS Mark III and the EOS-1D Mark IV.

The 1D X came with a 61-point autofocus system with face detection that also rotated as you changed the orientation of the camera.

It also had an expanded ISO range to 51200, giving photographers a much greater ability to shoot in low-light situations. The camera integrated HD video capabilities, including manual audio controls as well, making it a solid choice for videographers and photographers alike.

Best of all, the 1D X achieved one of the best camera sensor ratings for a Canon camera by DxO Labs - a score of 82 out of 100.

EOS 5D Mark III - Full Frame Glory

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To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the EOS line, Canon released the 5D Mark III.

And celebrate in style is what Canon did.

The 5D Mark III was intended to be a supercharged camera, with features that knocked the socks off of the market.

That included a 22.3-megapixel full frame CMOS sensor, a DIGIC 5+ image processor, and expanded ISO range to 25600.

What's more, the 5D Mark III had a brand new 61-point autofocus system for improved subject tracking. That was made possible by 41 cross-type points and five dual cross-type points, both of which were major upgrades over the 5D Mark II.

In fact, the 5D Mark III was the first EOS camera to get this top-of-the-line autofocus system outside of the 1-series EOS cameras.

EOS M - The First Canon Mirrorless Camera

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By 35mm - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28863868

Canon was admittedly a little late to the mirrorless party, introducing their first one, the EOS M, in 2012.

With a 3-inch touch screen that supports smartphone-like gestures like pinching to zoom, the M came with tons of fancy, connected features.

With an 18-megapixel CMOS sensor and DIGIC 5 processing, it produced good photos, and fast.

Like its DSLR EOS cameras, the M accepted Canon EF-S and EF lenses (with an adapter). M-specific lenses were also released, numbering just four at the time.

EOS 70D - Revolutionary Autofocus

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Announced in July 2013, the EOS 70D represented a huge leap forward in the autofocus department, despite the fact that the 70D is a mid-tier APS-C camera.

The hubbub with the 70D's AF system, dubbed the Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus, is that it had vastly improved focusing speed not just for still photos, but for video too, and while using live view. This was especially the case when shooting at a large aperture.

Beyond that, the 70D offered 7fps shooting, an articulated 3-inch LCD with touch screen capabilities, and HD video capabilities at 1080p.

Add in Wi-Fi, weather-sealing, and a price tag under $1,200, and Canon had a winner on its hands with the 70D.

EOS 7D Mark II - A Long Awaited Update

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After a five year wait, 7D shooters finally got the update they were looking for in the EOS 7D Mark II.

After all that time, the 7D series needed a boost, and it certainly got it.

The 7D Mark II bumped up the sensor resolution to 20-megapixels and the shutter life to 200,000 shots. The burst rate was increased as well, from 8fps in the 7D to 10fps in the 7D Mark II.

Perhaps the biggest change was in the autofocus system.

The 7D Mark II has 65 autofocus points, all of which are cross-type. The center point is double-cross-type and can focus with lenses as slow as f/8 and down to -3 EV. That makes the 7D Mark II a beast of a camera when needing to shoot in low-light situations.

EOS 5DS & EOS 5DSR - Crazy Resolution

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The EOS 5DS and 5DSR were announced in 2015 to much fanfare because they represented the highest resolution sensors to date.

At an astounding 50.6-megapixels, these cameras have unparalleled image quality. And that quality is paired with exceptional speed too, as they sport Dual DIGIC 6 processors with 14-bit processing.

The 5DS and 5DSR have excellent autofocus and metering abilities as well. That's thanks to a 61-point AF system with 41 cross-type points and a new EOS Scene Detection System that has a 150,000-pixel RGB + IR metering sensor.

In short, if you want photos that are clear, sharp, and have finely tuned exposure levels, these cameras are a good choice.

EOS 80D - New Features to Aid in Better Photos

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The EOS 80D wasn't a groundbreaking camera, per se, but it included a variety of upgrades over its predecessor, the 70D, that make it a vast improvement.

Not only did the 80D get a better sensor - a dual-pixel 24.2-megapixel CMOS - but it also got an upgraded autofocus system with 45 cross-type AF points, a full 29 more than the 70D.

Additionally, the 80D benefitted from the inclusion of the DIGIC 6 processor for lightning-fast speed, and a new 7560-pixel RGB + IR metering sensor for improved autofocus performance.

Add to that a new shutter mechanism that reduced vibrations and camera shake, and you've got a recipe for a user-friendly camera that takes better photos than models that came before it.

EOS-1DX Mark II - The Flagship Redefined

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By Harrison Jones - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50920089 

Released at virtually the same time as the 80D, the EOS-1DX Mark II improved upon the original 1DX in a variety of ways.

To begin, it featured full HD video capabilities, including DCI 4K recording at up to 60fps.

With a continuous shooting rate of 14fps, it offered a new realm of lighting-fast performance. Paired with an autofocus system in which all AF points work to a maximum aperture of f/8, and you have a camera that performs well in all sorts of situations.

Beyond that, the 1DX Mark II has an extended ISO range to a whopping 409600, making it a prime target for low-light shooters.

With a touch screen-enabled LCD, anti-flicker features, built-in GPS, and Wi-Fi, this is truly a modern, 21st-century camera.

EOS Rebel T7i - The First Rebel With Dual-Pixel Live View AF

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With a release date that's still a couple of weeks away as of writing, the EOS T7i is the newest addition to the EOS lineup and represents what the EOS lineup has been all about the last 30 years.

It's got the innovative Dual-Pixel CMOS Autofocus system, the first Rebel to do so. Paired with 45 cross-type AF points and the newest iteration of the DIGIC processor - the DIGIC 7 - this camera is sure to be both accurate and fast.

For an APS-C camera, it's got tons of other features to be excited about, including 6fps shooting, a standard ISO to 25600, and 1080p video recording. It's even got built-in HDR and time-lapse recording capabilities.

There's also Bluetooth and built-in NFC that makes this a modern, connected camera. See more of the T7i's features in the video below from Canon USA:

Again, the T7i represents all the best parts of the EOS line of cameras. It's packed with features, user-friendly, and priced well.

Just like its predecessors have done, I imagine the T7i will invite a new generation of photographers to get into DSLR photography and open up a whole new world of photo-taking.

Knowing what they have in store for the T7i, I'd say the future is bright for Canon and the EOS line, and I for one can't wait to see what they come up with next!



We Recommend


Dirt Cheap DSLRs for Beginner Photographers

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It shouldn't come as a shock that photography is expensive. And that's true whether you're a beginner or a pro.

But that doesn't mean that there aren't good buys out there...

That's true a couple of ways, too. There are some excellent dirt cheap cameras available that are great for first-time buyers. There are also ways you can find those dirt cheap cameras for even cheaper, particularly if you buy pre-owned rigs from a reputable seller.

With that in mind, here's my picks for the three best budget-friendly DSLRs available today.

Canon EOS Rebel T7i

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Quick Specs:

  • 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC 7 image processor
  • 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen LCD with 1.04-million dots
  • 45-point autofocus system with Live View AF
  • ISO range to 51,200
  • 1080p video capabilities

Though the Canon EOS Rebel T7i is a couple of years old now, it's still a great camera for beginner photographers.

Its 24.2-megapixel sensor was a massive upgrade over its predecessors and produces great image quality at this price point.

The DIGIC 7 image processor means faster autofocus performance and better high-ISO performance, particularly for an entry-level camera.

Perhaps the T7i's best feature, though, is its 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen LCD.

Not only does the LCD have a robust 1.04-million dots that make it clear, sharp, and easy to view, but it also offers shooters a much easier way to navigate through menus.

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What's more, the touchscreen LCD can be used for autofocusing in Live View, which, with the camera's updated 45-point autofocus system, means you have pinpoint control over where the focus point is placed.

The LCD flips outward and angles up and down as well, so you can get creative with interesting shooting angles that result in more eye-catching photos.

On the downside, the body of the T7i has a plasticky finish that feels cheap in your hands. And though it offers 1080p video, with the prevalence of 4K video, 1080p is a bit of a disappointment.

That said, this camera's sensor, LCD, and Live View AF more than make up for its shortcomings. And at less than $700 for a pre-owned camera (at the time of writing), that's not a bad deal at all.

Learn More:

Nikon D3300

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Quick Specs:

  • 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • EXPEED 4 Processor
  • 3-inch LCD with 921,000 dots
  • 11-point autofocus system
  • ISO range to 25,600
  • 1080p video capabilities

Though the Nikon D3300 doesn't have the same flashy features as the Canon EOS Rebel T79 (namely, a touchscreen or live view AF), it's still a top vote-getter for one of the best dirt-cheap DSLRs.

For starters, this little Nikon has a sensor that's every bit as good as the Canon's. In fact, the D3300 doesn't have a low-pass filter, which improves image sharpness. That means you can get even sharper images with this camera.

The LCD is fixed and is not touchscreen enabled, which is a bit of a bummer, but the display is still clear and bright.

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The D3300 has good low-light performance with a native ISO range to 12,800 which is extendable to 25,600.

The 11-point autofocus system is fast and accurate and allows beginners to dive into action photography, at least at a novice level.

Perhaps the best feature of the D3300 is its ease of use. Its controls, dials, and buttons are laid out well, and its menu system is logically organized.

Add to that the fact that there are an incredible array of lenses and other accessories for this camera, and you've got a winning recipe, especially considering you can snag a pre-owned D3300 camera body for less than $320 at the time of writing.

Learn More:

Canon EOS Rebel T6

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Quick Specs:

  • 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC 4+ Processor
  • 3-inch LCD with 920,000 dots
  • 9-point autofocus system
  • ISO range to 12,800
  • 1080p video capabilities
  • Built-In Wi-FI and NFC

In looking at the specs above, you can immediately see that of the three cameras on this list, the EOS Rebel T6 has the fewest bells and whistles.

However, that doesn't mean that this isn't a solid camera for beginners.

The 18-megapixel sensor provides good image quality, and the 9-point autofocus system is more than sufficient for novice photographers that want to capture the occasional action.

With 1080p video capabilities, you can also foray into videography if you choose.

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Though this camera doesn't offer the same quickness, resolution, or ISO performance of the other two cameras on this list, it does offer built-in Wi-Fi and NFC for fast and easy sharing of images, an easy-to-use interface, and a wealth of lens choices from ultra wide-angles to telephotos.

This rig is priced well, too. Really well, in fact.

At the time of writing, you can pick up a pre-owned T6 in like-new condition for just over $300.

That leaves you plenty of money to pick up a lens or two while you're at it!

Learn More:



We Recommend


DSLR History: The D300 Collectible or still usable?

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Have a Nikon D300 you want to sell?  Get a free quote HERE.

Some of the people reading this weren't even interested in photography when the D300 was introduced. Yes, it's old and yes we're still talking about it. The D300 comes from a time when full frame cameras were very expensive and the next best thing you could buy was a pro APS-C body like this. A lot of people like to call the D300 a semi-pro camera, but the truth is it was nothing short of a professional camera. It didn't have to be a full frame camera to live up to high expectations.

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Nevertheless, it's part of Nikon history and the saddest part about it is that it all ended with the D300s. But that's another story.

You can pick up a used D300 today for less than $300. At this the price, I personally think it's a steal, but let's be practical about it and do an in-depth analysis.

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The best way to see if buying a D300 in 2015 is a good idea is to see what else you can get in that price range. At best, you're looking at a used D3200. That's right, an entry level camera versus a pro body. Let's look closer.

The D300 was built to be good enough and work flawlessly in very nasty conditions. We're talking war zones, extreme weather and places that are uncomfortable even for trained professionals. The D3200 was designed to be a family camera.

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The D300 has 51 AF points, the D3200 has 11. The D300 can do sports, the D3200 can't.

You can't help noticing the huge differences that come from the fact that these two cameras originate from different worlds.

So would I buy one today? If I were a young aspiring photographer with very little money to spare for gear, then yes, no questions asked. I would get this and a 35mm f/1.8G and I would start rocking. I'd also get it as a dad for my kid's soccer practice (or other sports activities) because it's a fast camera that can do sports very well for less than a used iPhone 5s costs.

I would buy it if I were a mountain hiker looking for an expandable camera that can take a lot of abuse and I would definitely go for it as a cheap backup because it can still perform very well at weddings if you put a good lens and a flash on it. Oh, it's also a great tool for beginner bird watchers. If you put a 70-300mm lens on it, it instantly becomes a 105-450mm lens and that's pretty awesome.

The D300 is a photographer's camera. It has nothing to do with video or any other fancy stuff. It was made to last and despite being old technology it can still take amazing photos if it falls into the right hands.

KEH camera has some great deals on the D300. Click here for details.







How to Sell Your Photography Gear

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From time to time, you either buy new gear and need to sell your old stuff, or you have old gear that has just been collecting dust over the years.

Either way, there's a need to get rid of it rather than having it continue to sit around unused.

The goal, of course, isn't just to get rid of stuff but to recoup some of the money you spent buying your old gear in the first place.

That means finding ways to sell that gear in a way that gets you some green stuff in your pocket while ensuring that the transaction is safe both for you and whoever decides to buy your gear.

Let's have a look at three methods you can use to sell your gear, each of which has its pros and cons.

eBay

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The beauty of eBay is that anything that you put up for sale will have worldwide exposure. That's something that not all platforms can say.

Naturally, the more eyes that see your old photography gear, the more likely you are to find someone that's willing to buy it.

That exposure comes at a cost, though.

For example, if you sell an older camera body like a Canon 5D Mark II that can still fetch over $1,000, eBay will charge you 8 percent on the first $50 of the sales price in addition to another 5 percent fee on the remaining sale balance.

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That means that if you sell your camera for $1,000, eBay keeps $51.50. Ouch.

There's also the issue of bidders that end up not paying you for the item.

Though eBay has protections built in to protect sellers, if someone places the winning bid on your item, and then you have to spend several days trying to get them to pay you, that's several days your gear isn't active on eBay for someone to actually buy.

So, in the end, eBay is great for getting exposure on your item, but at the same time, the monetary and time expense involved brings it into serious question as a fruitful platform for selling used camera gear.

Craigslist

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On the other end of the spectrum from eBay is Craigslist.

Where eBay can cost you an arm and a leg, Craigslist is completely free to list.

That means that whatever proceeds you make from the sale of your old gear, you get it all.

Granted, listing on Craigslist doesn't have the worldwide exposure that eBay does, however, you're more likely to connect with someone in your area that's looking to buy used gear.

Unfortunately, the issue with Craigslist is that there aren't any seller protections.

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For example, let's say you have a Nikon D7000 body you want to unload for $400. You're contacted by someone that's interested, and they seem legit. But seeming legit and being legit are two totally different things.

You might have a buyer that gives you a fake payment. When you go to meet the buyer, you might even get mugged.

That's not to say that if you post on Craigslist that you'll get ripped off or physically assaulted, but it's certainly more likely than if you use another means of selling your gear.

What's more, Craigslist is full of spammers and low-ballers that not only waste your time but will frustrate you to no end. So while listing your stuff for free is great, all the issues that come afterward make Craigslist even more useless than eBay for selling your used camera gear.

KEH Camera

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A final option for selling your old photography equipment - and the best choice of the bunch - is to go through KEH Camera.

KEH has been in the business of buying and selling used camera gear for 35 years, and in that time they've built a stellar reputation as having an excellent program for sellers that want to get rid of their old gear and make some money at the same time.

Selling your equipment with KEH is a simple, hassle-free process.

Better still, where you incur a lot of risk with Craigslist and even eBay, with KEH Camera, that's just not the case.

Here's how it works:

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In just four steps, you can get your old gear out of your hair and get some money in your pocket too.

Just find your gear, tell KEH about it and its condition, and they'll give you a fast, online quote. Then just pack up your stuff and ship it to KEH for free using the provided shipping label. Once they get the package, they handle the rest from inspecting the gear to processing your payment.

As long as your characterization of your gear is accurate, KEH will process payment, which you can choose to get via check or through PayPal. The latter option gets you your money within 24 hours.

On top of that, unlike eBay, KEH Camera has no hidden fees. And unlike both eBay and Craigslist, with KEH you don't have to wait for a buyer. Since KEH buys directly from you, you already have a buyer on the hook.

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And don't think KEH will lowball you like Craigslist buyers, either.

KEH is the industry leader when it comes to giving you the top market value for your gear. That means you get a hassle-free experience and you get top dollar.

That sounds like an ideal situation to me!

Now, I'll admit that you might not get as much from KEH as you would from a private party buying your gear on eBay or Craigslist.

But as I've outlined above, when you factor in eBay's high fees and the dangers of selling your gear on Craigslist, the difference in price becomes negligible.

If you're ready to sell your old gear (or if you want to pick up some new-to-you gear), head over to KEH and start the process.



We Recommend


Is the Nikon D610 the Best Value Full Frame Camera?

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I know that for the budget-minded photographer, “value” and “full frame” aren’t often found together in the same sentence.

Sure, there are lots of full frame cameras available, but there are certainly more that fit into the “expensive” category than there are that fit into a more budget-friendly classification.

With a few exceptions…

The Nikon D610 is one such exception.

Is it a perfect camera? No.

But does it have a reputation as being a solid camera that produces excellent results? Absolutely!

And with Nikon, you have a familiar set of features and build quality that gets rave reviews.

The question is, does the Nikon D610 stand at the top of the heap as the best value full frame camera?

The D610’s Roots

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The heritage of the D610 comes from the Nikon D600, which curiously, was introduced just a year prior to the D610 in 2012.

Essentially, the two cameras are exactly the same, except for a few added bells and whistles that make the D610 a little more functional. More on that in a bit.

The D600 has a reputation as an excellent camera, with photo quality that gets raves and video recording capabilities that, at the time, were among the best on the market. Additionally, D600 customers appreciate the body that it well-built, with intuitively placed buttons and a nice, solid grip that makes the camera feel stable in your hand.

So, why was it just a year before the D600 was replaced?

Though Nikon has never really admitted it, it’s customers feel strongly that the D610 came along so quickly because so many D600’s had an issue with oil collecting on the sensor.

The D610’s Specs

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In 2013 - less than a year after the D600 launched - the D610 was born.

As noted above, the two cameras are virtually identical, sharing the following specifications:

  • 24.3MP FX-format CMOS sensor
  • ISO range of 100-6400; expanded to 50-25600
  • 39-point autofocus system with 9 cross-type AF points
  • 3.2-inch, 927k-dot LCD
  • 2 SD card slots
  • 1080p/30 HD video

Where the D610 improves upon the D600 is in the performance of the shooting mechanism and the auto white balance system.

The D600 sports a maximum continuous shooting of 5.5fps. The D610 is slightly faster a 6fps. That’s paired with a new Quiet Continuous Mode that allows for 3fps shooting, but with drastically reduced noise.

As far as the auto white balance system goes, the D610 benefits from updates that allow for more accurate color representation when shooting under artificial lighting conditions. The result is skin tones that appear more life-like.

The question is, why is the D610 such a great value full frame camera?

Let’s explore a few reasons why.

The Sensor

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The D610 retains the D600’s 24.3-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor, and that’s a good thing. This sensor has a reputation for producing superb image quality in both JPEG and RAW formats. Plus, the D610 allows you to shoot in DX crop mode for both stills and video.

In fact, even though the D610 has an AA filter, its sensor delivers images that have very nice detail, even when those images are taken in low-light situations. Particularly when shooting RAW, the D610 gets enough detail out of the scene that you can be comfortable shooting in the expanded ISO range.

Perhaps the best part is that the D610’s sensor produces images that are on-par with its big brother, the D800. That’s saying something since the D800 is a professional-grade camera.

Excellent Performance

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It’s not like the D600 is a slouch when it comes to performance, but the D610 is certainly a better camera in several ways.

First, it’s new shutter mechanism only adds .5fps, yet that tiny improvement gives the D610 better continuous shooting than even the highly regarded D800. That means you have an improved ability to capture images of fast-moving subjects like athletes at a sporting event or wildlife, though because the AF system groups its points in the middle of the frame, that might give some sport and wildlife photographers pause.

Second, the D610’s AF system performs well in virtually all situations. Low-light performance is less robust than in typical lighting situations, but often it’s still good enough that you don’t have to make drastic changes to your exposure settings.

Third, when shooting within the standard ISO range of 100-6400, the D610 produces excellent results. That’s not to say that its performance in the extended ISO range is terrible, though. The sensor works admirably to retain the small details of the shot at higher ISOs with reduced levels of noise and chroma.

Get a look at the D610’s features (and a few gripes about it) in the video from CNET below:

Quiet Continuous Shooting

Quiet Mode is a nice feature that Nikon was able to incorporate due to the new shutter mechanism in the D610.

Basically, quiet mode separates the sounds produced by the shutter such that they are more drawn out, thus they are less noticeable. Though this function isn’t as quiet as other, more expensive cameras, it is quieter than the Silent Mode found on the comparable Canon EOS 6D.

Quiet Mode isn’t just available for continuous shooting, either. In fact, single-shot Quiet Mode might be even more beneficial to D610 shooters because it delays the lowering of the mirror until the shutter button has been released. That means you can control when the shutter sound is heard, which is useful for situations in which you have a subject (i.e. a bird) that might be fearful of sounds.

Video Performance

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As noted in the spec list above, the D610 can record video at 1080p at 30 frames per second. With integrated headphone and stereo mic inputs with manual audio controls, the D610 is a good choice for videographers that are on a budget. That’s especially true these video features come from the higher-end D800.

With the D610, you get the option of shooting at 30, 25, or 24 frames per second. With B-frame data compression, the motion capture is improved while keeping the file sizes at a reasonable size.

Also of note is that unlike the D600, the D610 sports 1920x1080 video output via HDMI. That’s something that the D600 could only do after a Nikon firmware update.

Additionally, the D610 has a built-in intervalometer, which is a nice touch for a value-priced full frame camera. That means you can create timelapse videos simply by accessing the Shooting Menu and selecting the desired interval between each image. Better still, each image in the sequence is processed in camera, with a single .MOV file created from the images that’s ready for export.

You can check out some sample images and a timelapse video shot on the D610 in the video above by Emrrado Photography.

Build Quality

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The D610 feels solid in your hands, and it’s smaller size than pro-level DSLRs is nice for shooters that want a full frame camera with a little less bulk to carry around.

But though it’s more petite doesn’t mean it isn’t well-built. The D610 is weather-sealed like higher-end cameras, giving you the flexibility to work in adverse weather conditions without worry of what will happen to your camera.

What’s more, the buttons and dials feel crisp and responsive - as is usually the case with Nikons - and the layout of the buttons and dials is intuitive and in keeping with typical Nikon design.

In short, if you’ve shot with a Nikon before, the D610 will feel familiar and like an old friend.

Final Thoughts

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Though D600 owners aren’t likely to trade their cameras in for a D610 any time soon, for a shooter that’s looking to get into the full frame market, there are few cameras that represent such good value as the D610.

As noted above, this camera produces excellent image quality, offers flexible video shooting options, and has a solid AF system for most situations. Low-light shooting performance is good and the new Quiet Mode is a nice touch for situations when you need to be wary of scaring off a subject.

Add in the excellent reputation of Nikon to build high-quality bodies that stand up to the abuses of daily shooting, and you’ve got a recipe for a solid camera at a good price.

Speaking of prices, since the D610 is now over three years old, you can find excellent buys, particularly on used bodies, and get into a full frame camera for even less money.

Considering photography is such an expensive endeavor, a well-priced D610 is hard to pass up!



We Recommend


KEH Camera Review: What You Need to Know

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Photo by EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER via iStock

KEH Camera is one of the oldest camera resale websites out there.

Does KEH Camera live up to the hype? Is it the place to beat for buying used gear? And should you sell your used camera gear on KEH? 

Let's find out in this KEH Camera review!

KEH Camera Review

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Some of you might know that I actually bought my first 70-200mm lens from KEH Camera before I founded PhotographyTalk. 

KEH was under different ownership at that time, however this started my journey with these folks. I have, over the years, picked up a number of lenses from these guys and I will say their rating system is spot on.

I was always pleasantly surprised by the quality of the gear that I bought. While I never sold anything with them (mainly because I could sell my gear on Craigslist and retain more of my asking price), if I was trying to sell gear today I think I would (if only because Craigslist is flooded with scammers now).

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KEH Camera takes a fair percentage of any sales, although if you're planning on selling with KEH you would be doing so for the ease and not to make the absolute most you can.

Unlike other camera resale sites, KEH buys your used camera gear directly and then resells it which allows them to retain more of the money from the sale. 

However, where there are weaknesses there are also strengths.

KEH Camera is also one of the easiest sites to use to buy used camera gear because they accept PayPal, Stripe, or Affirm (which is an interest-free way to pay for your used camera gear over a period of a few months). 

Where is KEH Camera located?

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KEH Camera is located in Smyrna, Georgia, where they accept in-person drop-offs and pick-ups during regular business hours Monday through Friday. 

However, with the way the KEH Camera website is built, it is clear to see that they do most of their business online and over the phone.

As an example, you can get a quote for your used camera gear from KEH either over the phone, through email, or through their website. 

KEH Camera Warranty

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Photo by William Bayreuther on Unsplash

Don't purchase used camera gear from any resale website that doesn't provide you a warranty.

KEH Camera provides a 6-month warranty on almost all of the gear they sell.

However, they do sell some collectible items without a warranty, and none of their as-is gear is covered.

Nevertheless, as this KEH Camera review has pointed out, having a warranty on your the used items you purchase is a huge benefit.

Learn More:

KEH Camera Alternatives

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Photo by Joshua Newton on Unsplash

Once upon a time, KEH was the only platform for used camera gear and if you wanted to sell or buy used, they were it.

But, today there are a number of examples where you can buy or sell used camera gear. For example, a company that is headquartered out of London with offices in New York called MPB is one of my favorite sites for used gear these days.

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MPB's grading system is equally as good as KEH Camera's, but MPB is an international company and works with photographers across both the United States and the European Union, so they often have a greater selection of used gear.

Plus, since MPB is a large, international company, they know they need to compete with other large, international companies (like Amazon) and provide fast shipping and superb customer service you'd expect. 

Another KEH Camera alternative is the DIY route. Gear Focus is one company that allows you to list your used camera gear yourself. 

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The benefits of Gear Focus are that their fees are just 3.5%, which is much less than other options, and it's free for you to list your gear. 

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As you can see from the chart above, the added effort you put into selling your gear on Gear Focus could mean hundreds of dollars more in your pocket. 

How to Sell Your Camera Gear With KEH Camera

As Dan Bullman Photography points out, KEH camera allows you to sell your used camera gear in a variety of ways.

Firstly, you can always use their online "instant quote," page for the fastest response. While this isn't a guaranteed offer since they need to be sure your camera is in the condition you listed it as, it is a good option to figure out about how much your gear is worth on their site.

Additionally, you can call their purchasing staff at 800-342-5534 Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 9 pm ET. 

A third way to sell your used camera gear on KEH is to email their purchasing department at [email protected]. They will need your name, address, phone number and a list of the equipment you're ready to sell. They'll get back to you within one business day.

Finally, you can attend one of their in-person buying events if you are a Georgia or California local since this is where almost all of their buying events are held. 

Does KEH Camera Price Match?

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Photo by Brian Kraus on Unsplash 

If the price of your camera changes within 14 days of your sale, KEH Camera does price match.

In addition to their six-month warranty on most of their gear, this is excellent peace of mind for you when you buy a new-to-you camera or lens.

Learn More:

 



We Recommend


Lens Mastery Series - 14 Best Lenses for Photographing Landscapes

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Without a doubt, one of the most popular subjects for photographers of all skill levels is landscapes. After all, beautiful landscapes abound, with easy access to breathtaking scenes, making it an easy and fun subject with which to work.

With that in mind, we take our lens mastery series into the realm of landscapes. In this edition, we explore our list of the 14 best landscape lenses on the market today. We’ve grouped the lenses by type: wide-angle, standard, and telephoto.

Wide-Angle Lenses

No matter what kind of camera system you have, be that Canon, Nikon, Sony, or otherwise, a top choice for many landscape photography enthusiasts is a wide-angle or ultra wide-angle lens. These lenses enable you to capture more of the scene, providing viewers with an extensive view of the landscape before you. Many of these lenses are zooms, offering you added flexibility in terms of focal length as well. Others are primes, which tend to have greater optical quality that results in tack-sharp images.

These lenses are also multifunctional in that they aren’t limited to landscape photography duties. Head into the city to take some architectural shots. Take it to a family reunion to take photos of large groups. In some cases, you could even use your wide-angle lens indoors for shots of your home or your loved ones.

If you have a budget that only allows for one lens, a wide-angle is an excellent choice.

Canon 17-40mm F/4 L USM EF Mount Lens

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Canon’s L-series lenses are renowned for quality and precision. That quality usually comes at a higher cost, but that isn’t the case with the Canon 17-40mm F/4 L USM EF Mount Lens. As L-series lenses go, this one is highly affordable.

This lens can focus as close as 11 inches, giving you opportunities for highlighting small vignettes within a large landscape, but with a focal range of 17-40mm, you also have the capability of capturing the larger scene from foreground to background. With a ring type USM motor, you get silent (and fast) autofocusing. Even better, this lens is weather resistant, so you can still go out and shoot even when the weather isn’t at its best. Great sharpness across the focal range and images with excellent contrast make this a top choice of many Canon shooters.

Sigma 14mm F/2.8 Aspherical EX HSM Lens For Canon EF Mount

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For Canon owners that want a prime wide-angle lens that offers excellent optical quality, look no further than the Sigma 14mm F/2.8 Aspherical EX HSM Lens For Canon EF Mount. Though the lens is in the ultra-wide range, it offers the flexibility of close-up shooting with a minimum focusing distance of just .18 meters. That means you can frame up shots up close with a wonderful blurry background, or take a step back and compose more traditional wide-angle shots of the larger landscape. The ultrasonic motor is quiet as well, so you’re sure that it won’t disturb any wildlife nearby.

Nikon Nikkor 28mm F/1.8 G AF-S Autofocus Lens

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If you have a Nikon camera body, the Nikon Nikkor 28mm F/1.8 G AF-S Autofocus Lens is a solid choice for landscape photography. This prime lens offers superior image quality in a small package. Ghosting and flare are all but eliminated with Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coat, so your landscape images have better clarity and improved contrast. Better yet, the large f/1.8 maximum aperture means you can document landscapes from sunrise to sunset and on overcast days without worrying about whether you have enough lighting. And, if you’re a video enthusiast, use this lens to create dramatic wide-angle video as well.

Nikon Nikkor 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 G Aspherical ED IF DX SWM AF-S Autofocus Lens

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If you’d rather have the flexibility of a zoom for your Nikon APS-C sensor camera, the Nikon Nikkor 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 G Aspherical ED IF DX SWM AF-S Autofocus Lens is a solid choice that gives you exceptional coverage in the ultra wide-angle realm. At 10mm, this lens has a 109-degree angle of view, so you can create images that have nearly a fisheye look to them. Otherwise, the ultra wide-angle view affords you many creative opportunities to create images with dramatic perspectives. This lens is also quite compact, so you can easily carry it around as you hunt for the best landscapes to shoot.

Tamron 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 DI II SP IF Aspherical Lens

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An excellent budget option for shooters with a Sony Alpha Mount camera system is the Tamron 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 DI II SP IF Aspherical Lens. Its focal range takes you from ultra wide-angle to wide-angle, opening up plenty of framing possibilities. The lens has 12 elements in 9 groups, including a high-precision glass-molded aspherical element and three hybrid aspherical elements. Combined with two low dispersion elements and a high-refractive glass element, that means that the images you shoot will have minimal aberrations and vignetting, reduced flare, and increased sharpness. The landscape details you most want to come out in your photos will do so with this lens.

Sony 11-18mm F/4.5-5.6 DT Alpha Mount Autofocus Lens

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Another option for Sony users is the Sony 11-18mm F/4.5-5.6 DT Alpha Mount Autofocus Lens. This lens is considered a wide zoom, offering a focal range from super-wide-angle to wide-angle, which, like other lenses in this range, gives you a host of options in terms of composition and framing. Its construction is ideal for creating images that are crisp, sharp, and have good contrast. What’s more, the lens has lightning fast focusing, so you have greater flexibility regarding capturing any action you happen upon as you’re out photographing your favorite landscapes.

Standard Lenses

A standard lens generates images that closely resemble what we see with the naked eye. As a result, landscape images taken with a standard lens have a natural look and feel. Remember, on a full frame camera, 50mm is considered standard; on a crop sensor camera, a 35mm lens would be considered standard.

Usually, standard lenses are quite fast, meaning, they are ideal for low-light shooting at dusk and dawn. Non-zoom standard lenses can also be found for a budget-friendly price as well, making them highly attractive for beginning landscape photographers. What’s more, prime standard lenses offer excellent image quality because they have fewer optical elements, meaning you can often find an inexpensive, yet high-performing standard lens.

It is also important to note that there tends to be less distortion and vignetting in standard lenses. That means you can still get a nice, wide angle of view of the landscape before you, without the degraded image quality that can be a problem for other classes of lenses. Additionally, standard lenses allow you to get up close to individual elements in a landscape, then pull back and frame a shot in which the foreground and background are more compressed than what can be done with a wide-angle lens.

Nikon Nikkor 24-70mm F/2.8 G ED IF AF-S Aspherical Autofocus Lens

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If you’re a Nikon photographer and you want to forego carrying multiple lenses, you might consider the Nikon Nikkor 24-70mm F/2.8 G ED IF AF-S Aspherical Autofocus Lens. With a focal range that touches wide-angle and extends into the standard range, it’s a versatile option for photographing many different kinds of landscapes. Get a sweeping view of a wide valley at 24mm, then zoom in and highlight a waterfall at 70mm. It can be used with an FX or DX Nikon camera, so whether you have a full frame or crop sensor camera body, this lens will perform well for your landscape adventures.

Nikon Nikkor 50mm F/1.8 G AF-S Autofocus Lens

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Nikon shooters that are on a budget but don’t want to sacrifice quality should look into the Nikon Nikkor 50mm F/1.8 G AF-S Autofocus Lens. The beauty of this lens is that you can get quality landscape images without breaking the bank. What’s more, it’s a versatile lens, so you can use it for other pursuits, like portraiture, making it an even more valuable lens in your camera bag. Whatever the subject, the 50mm f/1.8G offers excellent optical performance, generating images that are high in contrast. With a fast autofocus system, you can capture wildlife in your landscape images, and with a large maximum aperture of f/1.8, you can shoot in a wide variety of lighting conditions.

Canon 15-85mm F/3.5-5.6 IS USM EF-S Lens

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Perhaps more than any other Canon lens on our list, the 15-85mm F/3.5-5.6 IS USM EF-S Lens offers exceptional versatility for the landscape photographer. Optimized for APS-C cameras, the lens has an equivalent focal length of 24-136mm, meaning you not only cover standard focal lengths but can shoot in the wide-angle and telephoto realms as well. Additionally, the lens has high-grade elements that limit aberrations and result in impressive image quality from wide-angle to telephoto. Another feature landscape photographers appreciate is it’s size: at just 3.5 inches long and weighing in at 1.25 pounds, it packs a lot of punch in an easy-to-carry package.

Canon 50mm F/1.8 II

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The Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 II lens isn’t just a great all-around lens that’s highly affordable. It’s a fast lens, and like other f/1.8 lenses on our list, that means you can shoot in poor lighting conditions with a faster shutter speed, thus avoiding camera shake. It weighs less than 5 oz, so you can easily pack it along for a long landscape photography outing. And while some budget-friendly lenses produce so-so results, that isn’t the case with this lens. Get sharp results that highlight the landscape as you see it with your own eyes. Without a zoom, you’ll need to zoom with your feet, but when you’re out photographing nature’s beauty, a little movement could very well help you find an even better shot!

Sony 28-75mm F/2.8 SAM Alpha Mount Autofocus Lens

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Sony shooters that want an award-winning standard lens should give a good, hard look at the  28-75mm F/2.8 SAM Alpha Mount Autofocus Lens. Known for producing results that are bright, balanced, and of supreme quality, this lens will help you document your favorite landscapes with great precision and control. What’s more, you can shoot all day long and into twilight with the bright f/2.8 aperture. The 75-degree angle of view gets you images that have some compression - but not to the level of a telephoto lens - while also retaining the ability to shoot across a range of focal lengths, from wide-angle to short telephoto.

Telephoto Lenses

Perhaps the most non-traditional choice of the bunch, telephoto lenses nonetheless provide landscape photographers with many benefits. Aside from their ability to compress landscapes and minimize distance from foreground to background, their zooming capabilities also offer you an opportunity to highlight landscape elements that would be small, if not invisible, with a shorter focal length. That means you can select individual elements in the landscape to serve as your subject - a single tree in a forest, the very top of a mountain peak, or a distant waterfall, to name a few.

Sony 70-200mm F/4.0 G OSS FE E Mount Lens

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For Sony’s E-Mount cameras, there are few better telephoto choices than the venerable 70-200mm F/4.0 G OSS FE E Mount Lens. Though it’s a telephoto, it’s relatively small size means that this lens gives you great focal length without getting in your way. It’s weather-sealed to resist moisture and dust, so you can take photos in even the harshest of landscapes. It also comes equipped with Sony’s Optical SteadyShot image stabilization so you can shoot handheld with less worry about blur. The three double-sided aspherical elements mean you get images with less aberration, and with Nano AR coating, your images will have excellent contrast and clarity as well.

Canon 55-250mm F/4-5.6 IS STM EF-S Lens

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Canon shooters that want to try their hand at telephoto landscape photography need not break the bank to do so. The Canon 55-250mm F/4-5.6 IS STM EF-S Lens offers an incredible amount of versatility with a focal range that extends from standard up to telephoto. With Canon Image Stabilizer technology, you can take photos that are clear and crisp, even when handholding your camera. And, for a telephoto lens, it’s compact and lightweight, so you don’t have to worry about lugging around a heavy rig all day long. With one UD lens element inside, you can rest assured that your images won’t suffer from chromatic aberration, resulting in high-resolution landscape images with excellent color and contrast.

Nikon Nikkor 80-400mm F/4.5-5.6 D ED VR Autofocus Lens

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For a versatile telephoto zoom that can handle a wide range of landscape photography, Nikon owners should consider the Nikkor 80-400mm F/4.5-5.6 D ED VR Autofocus Lens. At 80mm, you can compose short telephoto landscapes with slight compression. But zoom out to 400mm and you’ve got the capability of creating tightly framed images of individual landscape elements. One of this lens’s best features is Nikon’s Vibration Reduction technology, which effectively allows you to shoot with a shutter speed that’s three f-stops faster. With high-grade lens glass, the images you capture will be high in contrast and high-resolution for top-notch results.

Up Next...

Regardless of the type of lens you choose to purchase, any of the lenses listed here will perform well for you as you photograph your favorite landscapes. And, all of these lenses can be found at online retailers like KEH Camera in excellent used condition and for a lot less than what you’d pay for a brand new lens. Why not get a great used lens and save a little money at the same time?

Now that you’ve got the inside scoop on some of the best landscape images available today, we’ll be shifting gears to some of the best lenses for portraiture in our next installment of our Lens Mastery Series.







Lens Mastery Series - Buying Used Lenses vs. New

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Buying a new lens is like buying a new car. There’s the excitement of having something that’s never been someone else’s before. It’s fun to get to know your new purchase, checking out all its bells and whistles. And, of course, putting your new purchase to the test is the height of fun.

But, again, just like buying a new car, buying a new lens can be financially draining. If you’ve ever looked at a high-quality new lens, you know that they cost a pretty penny. In fact, a lot of lenses cost every bit as much as a camera body, and often, quite a bit more.

So, although having that “new car smell” moment when you pull a brand new lens out of its perfectly new box is exhilarating, in many cases, you can find a used lens that has been well taken care of, performs perfectly, and is a fraction of the cost. Sure, you don’t get to be the one to use it for the very first time, but is that feeling really worth the extra money you’ll pay for a brand new piece of glass?

As you might have guessed, this second installment of our Lens Mastery Series focuses on the benefits of buying used lenses. Let’s explore a few of these advantages in more detail.

It’s Less Expensive

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As we spoke of in the introduction, the biggest benefit of buying a used lens is the cost savings. Now, high-end lenses - even used ones - will still be a big investment, but certainly not as big of an investment as a brand new piece of glass. For example, the Sony 135mm F/2.8 STF Alpha Mount Autofocus Lens pictured above typically runs around $1,400 brand new, but you can find it used for under $1,000 and in excellent condition. That means that with the money you save on a used lens, you can afford to buy other pieces of gear for your kit - a filter, a new travel tripod, a lens hood, or perhaps even another used lens! In short, a used lens is like having extra money in your pocket that can help build your kit even further.

Good Used Glass is Easy to Find

Buying a used lens is advantageous from the standpoint that there are a ton of great, used lenses out there for consumers to snatch up. Thousands and thousands of photographers like you, who take great care of their gear, put their lenses up for sale in the hopes that their beloved lens finds a quality home. Searching for good used lenses, then, is a pretty straightforward and productive process, assuming you use the right channels (more on that later!).

You Can Still Get a Warranty

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Getting a warranty on a used product isn’t always possible, but, again, if you go through the right channels, you can not only find a great used lens, but you can also get one with a warranty. This gives you the peace of mind that the used lens you buy is of a high enough quality that it deserves a warranty in the first place.

What’s more, it gives you a chance to test out your new-to-you lens and trust that your used purchase will indeed offer you the sharp, clear, beautiful images that you want your lens to create. Better still, some sellers even offer return policies, so if after a few days you just don’t think your used lens is up to par, you can return it.

The question is, where can you easily find well-priced, well cared for lenses with a warranty?

Use the Right Retailer

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Unfortunately, many of our photography colleagues try to find the “deal of the century” on used lenses by going to websites like Craigslist, only to find that the lens that’s been advertised is not descriptive of the lens they get. The problem with Craigslist is that there is no guarantee that you’ll get what you pay for. In other words, you assume all the risk of the transaction - you trust that the person on the other end of the deal is honest and that the great deal you’ve found is legit.

Sure, sometimes there are great deals on Craigslist, but a lot of times, they’re just smoke and mirrors.

Our partner for this Lens Mastery Series is KEH, and hands down, they are the best outfit to find quality used lenses. As noted above, it’s important to be able to find the gear you want quickly and easily, and KEH provides that. Their website has a catalog of hundreds of lenses for dozens of camera systems and manufacturers. All you have to do is type in what you want in the search bar, and KEH will present you with lenses that match. Or, if you want to get really specific, you can search for a lens based on its type, its mount, its price, and a number of other crucial criteria.

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And what about a warranty?

KEH gives you a six-month warranty on your lens purchase, so you can rest easy knowing that you’re covered as you get to know your used lens. Better still, you have 14 days to take your lens for a test run. If you decide it’s not the lens for you, just send it back to KEH, no questions asked. But, as you’ll find, the return policy won’t be a factor because every used lens KEH sells is put through a rigorous inspection. Before the lens is ever listed on their site, KEH technicians go over it with a fine-toothed comb, using a 10-point grading system to grade the quality of the lens. That means you know whether the lens is in like-new, excellent, or ugly condition before you ever hand over any money. In short, their grading system is the industry standard, so you can have the peace of mind that you know exactly what you’re getting.

All of these benefits offered to consumers is why KEH has been in the business for decades. In fact, they are the largest used camera dealer on earth, so you know that they know exactly what they’re doing. Heck, you can even trade in your current lens and upgrade to a new or used lens using the money you get for your current gear. Save money, save time, and get a great used lens that will serve you well. There isn’t a better way to buy a used lens than that!

Up Next…

Next in our Lens Mastery series, we explore the best lenses for beginner photographers with Nikon, Canon, and Sony camera systems.







Lens Mastery Series - The Best Lenses for Beginner Photographers

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One of the most important tasks for beginning photographers is to fill out their kit - a camera, a tripod, filters, accessories, and, of course, lenses. In this installment of our lens mastery series, we take a look at 15 of the top lenses for beginner photographers - five each for Canon, Nikon, and Sony camera systems.

Building off of what we discussed in the first article in this series, we present lenses of various types so that you have a wide variety from which to choose. So, without further delay, let’s start exploring a few lens options that will help you jump into the world of photography!

Canon Lenses

Canon 50mm F/1.8 II

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Likely the first lens purchase you should make is a solid prime lens. The Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 II lens fits the bill perfectly and won’t break the bank either. With a maximum aperture of f/1.8, this lens is fast, giving you plenty of options for shooting indoors and out, and in poor lighting conditions. Use it wide open at f/1.8 for portraiture with a nice, blurry background. Bring it along for landscape photography adventures as it weighs just 4.6 oz and won’t weigh you down. With Gaussian optics that offer sharp delineation at all focusing distances, this is a top-notch choice for an all-around lens for your full frame or APS-C camera. Note that the effective focal length of this lens on an APS-C camera is approximately 80mm.

Canon 10-22mm F/3.5-4.5 USM EF-S

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A great addition to your kit is a wide-angle lens that allows you to capture more of the scene before you. The Canon 10-22mm F/3.5-4.5 USM EF-S (16-35mm equivalent on APS-C cameras) gets rave reviews for excellent performance and solid optics. It contains three aspherical lens elements, as well as a Super-UD element, so you’re assured of image quality. Use it for landscape photography when you need to highlight the foreground, midground, and background with a wide-angle view. It also works well for architectural photography when you need to fit large buildings into the frame. Given that it’s a zoom, you have a little more leeway in the manner in which you frame your shots, no matter the subject.

Canon 24mm F/2.8 STM EF-S

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If you’re an avid traveler or sightseer, an excellent option for your Canon camera is the 24mm F/2.8 STM EF-S lens. With a 38mm equivalent focal length for APS-C cameras, this little lens, affectionately known as a “pancake” lens due to its flat, thin shape, is ideal for long days when you don’t want to lug around a lot of heavy camera gear. At just 4.4 ounces and 1-inch thick, this lens is small and lightweight, yet gets exceptionally sharp results. It’s a great lens for video shooting as well due to its silent STM motor that allows for smooth focus tracking. At f/2.8, the lens is fast, and with advanced AF and excellent optics, it’ll perform for a variety of photography pursuits, from everyday shooting around the house to documenting your travels around the world.

Canon EF 85mm F/1.8 USM

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If you’re looking for a solid portrait lens, it’s hard to go wrong with the Canon EF 85mm F/1.8 USM. Like the 50mm lens reviewed above, this lens has a wide maximum aperture that allows you to take photos in low light situations without having to slow your shutter as much. The lens creates great depth of field for portraits, and at 85mm on a full frame camera, you don’t have to be in your subject’s face to get a tightly framed shot. That makes this lens a go-to for many wedding and photographers. With images that are clear and sharp at all apertures and a price tag that’s hard to beat, this is an excellent choice for one of your first lenses.

Canon 100mm F/2.8 Macro USM

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For macro photography, your best bet is to invest in a specialized lens, like the Canon 100mm F/2.8 Macro USM. At 100mm, you can take up close shots of insects, flowers, and other small subjects without being so close that you scare off the insect or cast a shadow on the subject. With excellent optical performance throughout its focus range, and a wide f/2.8 maximum aperture, you can handle low-light situations with ease. With a focusing distance of .31 meters and 1:1 magnification, you can fill the frame with your subject to create impressive macro images, whether itkeh’s of a bug, a baby’s feet, miniature toys, and so on.

Nikon Lenses

Nikon Nikkor 35mm F/1.8 G DX AF-S

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The Nikon Nikkor 35mm F/1.8 G DX AF-S is an ideal first lens purchase for beginning Nikon photographers with an APS-C camera because it’s a small and affordable lens, but one that produces excellent image quality, especially for the price. At f/1.8, the lens works wonders in low-light situations. And, because of that wide maximum aperture, the lens is well-suited to portrait photography as you can achieve nicely blurred backgrounds. Also use it for landscapes and general shooting from day-to-day. And, because the lens reproduces images that closely mimics our eyesight, you can take photos that look a lot like what we see naturally.

Sigma 10-20mm F/4-5.6 DC EX HSM

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The Sigma 10-20mm F/4-5.6 DC EX HSM is an excellent third-party option for your Nikon APS-C camera because it offers both wide-angle and short telephoto options. That means you can take one lens with you and photograph landscapes during the day, shots of your family indoors in the evening, and everything in between. Like other wide-angle zooms, at the wide end, this lens allows you to work the foreground into the shot to improve the visual interest of the photo. And, with a 102-degree angle of view, you can easily incorporate various aspects of the scene into a single frame.

Nikon Nikkor 85mm F/1.8 G AF-S

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For portrait enthusiasts, the Nikon Nikkor 85mm F/1.8 G AF-S is an excellent buy. It’s fast, allowing you to shoot in all sorts of lighting conditions, including indoors, at shutter speeds that help prevent camera shake. The focal length is ideal for an APS-C camera because it allows you to fill the frame with the subject’s head and shoulders, even from a number of feet away. Better still, this lens has a reputation as being incredibly sharp, and weighing in at less than a pound, it’s easy to carry around without weighing you down. If you find that you’re in a wet or dusty environment, no worries - the 85mm F/1.8 is sealed against moisture and dust!

Nikon Nikkor 18-140mm F/3.5-5.6 G ED DX AF-S VR

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A great lens for a beginning photographer is something that you can mount to your camera and perform for you in just about any situation. The Nikon Nikkor 18-140mm F/3.5-5.6 G ED DX AF-S VR is certainly one such lens for Nikon’s APS-C cameras. With a range from 18mm to 140mm, you can take wide-angle shots of landscapes, move to taking outdoor portraits of your friends and family at standard focal lengths, then use the same lens to take photos of nature and wildlife at a telephoto focal length, all on the same day with the same lens. And, with image stabilization, you can get sharper photos without a tripod, even when shooting in lower light situations. Better yet, this versatile lens is relatively compact and lightweight for easy carrying.

Nikon Nikkor 16-85mm F/3.5-5.6 G Aspherical ED IF DX AF-S VR

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Another good all-around option for beginning Nikon users is the Nikon Nikkor 16-85mm F/3.5-5.6 G Aspherical ED IF DX AF-S VR lens. With a 5.3x zoom range, this lens affords you the ability to take photos in all manner of situations from wide-angle to short telephoto. With a reputation for sharpness and a compact lens body that makes it easy to carry, this is a lens that you can put on your camera and just go. Nikon’s vibration reduction image stabilization helps ward off camera shake whether you use the lens for still images or video. Use it to photograph your favorite landscape, your kids playing in the yard, or take it with you on a photowalk around the city as a great walkaround lens.

Sony Lenses

Sony 35mm F/1.8 DT SAM Alpha Mount

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If you have a Sony camera with an Alpha mount, the Sony 35mm F/1.8 DT SAM Alpha Mount Autofocus Lens is an optimal choice for getting a perspective that’s close to what we see with our own eyes. The result is images that look highly pleasing, be they a portrait of a stranger on the street or a waterfall in your favorite national park. With a large maximum aperture, you can hold your camera in your hand with less worry of camera shake. And, because the lens is compact and lightweight, you get a lens that’s easy to carry around for hours-long adventures.

Sony 24-240mm F/3.5-6.3 OSS FE

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If you have a Sony camera with an E-mount, a great all-in-one option for you is the Sony 24-240mm F/3.5-6.3 OSS FE. Considered a super zoom, this lens will suit your needs whether you’re photographing a large landscape or need to get in close to take a photo of wildlife. With image stabilization, you’re able to use a slower shutter to compensate for the aperture range, which doesn’t open up as wide as other lenses on our list. It’s lens elements are designed to reduce spherical and chromatic aberration, the result of which is sharper images that you and the viewers of your images are sure to appreciate.

Sony 50mm F/1.4

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An excellent choice for a beginner photographer with a Sony alpha mount system, the Sony 50mm F/1.4 offers exceptional clarity and contrast. Images are sharp from corner to corner, and the large maximum aperture opens up possibilities for shooting in low-light situations. Use it for portraits with a smooth, blurry background or simply mount it to your camera to use an everyday lens to capture snapshots of your loved ones. And with Super SteadyShot image stabilization, you can take photos knowing that shaky hands won’t have as much of an effect on the image.

Sony 28-75mm F/2.8 SAM

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On an alpha mount camera, the Sony 28-75mm F/2.8 SAM Alpha Mount Autofocus Lens offers you excellent zoom range for images of all kinds, as well as sharp, bright images that are sure to please. With a constant aperture of f/2.8, you can shoot with confidence at all focal lengths, even in low-light situations. Better still, this lens is compact, so it’s easy to take with you on photowalks or when you travel. And, with a focal range of 28-75mm, it’s versatile enough to act as your go-to everyday lens for everything from snapshots of the family pets to sunsets at the beach to street scenes at night.

Sony 20mm F/2.8

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For wide-angle shots, the Sony 20mm F/2.8 alpha mount lens will become your go-to piece of glass. This lens offers superb depth of field with sharpness and accuracy that will allow you to capture the essence of the scene before you with precision. The lens corrects against aberrations, and offers the ability to get smooth bokeh backgrounds with its wide f/2.8 aperture. The lens is compact as well, making it easy to work with and carry. And with elements that have a multi-coated finish, you’re sure to snap photos that have minimal glare and ghosting.

Up Next...

With that, Canon, Nikon, and Sony camera owners have a variety of lenses from which to choose. Being a beginner often means being not so sure about what lens to buy to supplement your kit lens. But in the case of the lenses listed here, you can find just about anything to suit your needs, from wide-angles to zooms, macro lenses to telephoto. Whatever type of lens you decide to buy, be sure to do your due diligence to ensure that it’s the right lens for you. Be sure to visit a retailer with a solid reputation, such as KEH Camera, for quality gear at a good price, that way you can rest assured that you’ve made a solid purchase.

Next in the series, we’ll tackle the best lenses for landscape photography.







Lens Mastery Series - Understanding Lenses

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Have you ever wondered what all the markings on your lens mean? Do the different types of mounts confuse you? Are you overwhelmed by talk of primes and zooms?

Rest easy, because we’ve put together a Lens Mastery Series to help take the confusion out of lenses. In partnership with KEH Camera, we’ll explore everything there is to know about lenses over the course of the series. Included in the series is a new vs. used buying guide, an overview of the best lenses for landscapes, and budget-friendly lenses as well.

But in this lesson, we start off by addressing the basics of lenses - everything from the different types of lenses that are available to an explanation of focal length and everything in between. Let’s start by examining how lenses are named.

It’s All in the Name

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For many photographers, one of the most confusing aspects of understanding lenses is deciphering their long names. But, if we break it down into individual parts, a lens’ name begins to make more sense. There are six primary components revealed in the name of a lens:

Focal length defines the angle of view. The smaller the number, the wider the angle of view. So, a lens with a focal length of 18mm would be a wide-angle lens. One with a focal length of 135mm, like the Canon 135mm F/2 L USM EF shown above, would be considered a telephoto lens. Zoom lenses have two numbers, like 18-55mm. This simply indicates the lens’ range of focal length, with 18mm representing its widest angle of view and 55mm representing its narrowest angle of view.

Aperture explains how much light the lens can gather. Depending on the manufacturer of the lens, aperture might be denoted as f/2.8, F2.8, or 1:2.8. Though this increases confusion among consumers, each of these denotations mean the exact same thing. Regardless of how aperture is expressed on the lens, the smaller the number, the larger the lens aperture is capable of opening.

That means that a lens with a maximum aperture of f/2, like the lens shown above, can collect more light than a lens with a maximum aperture of f/5.6. As a result, the larger the aperture, the better it will perform in low-light situations, such as indoors with a flash. Larger apertures also decrease the depth of field, which refers to the area of the photo that’s in sharp focus. Portraits, for example, often benefit from a shallower depth of field, which can be more easily achieved with a lens with a large aperture.

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Image stabilization is an option found on some lenses that helps prevent blurriness due to camera shake. Though that concept is straightforward, how the various manufacturers denote it in the lens name is a little confusing:

  • Canon - Image Stabilization (IS)

  • Nikon - Vibration Reduction (VR) (Seen above in the Nikon Nikkor 55-200mm F/4-5.6 G ED DX AF-S VR II)

  • Sigma - Optical Stabilization (OS)

  • Pentax - Shake Reduction (SR)

  • Tamron - Vibration Compensation (VC)

  • Sony - Optical Steady Shot (OSS), Steady Shot (SS) Super Steady Shot (SSS)

Format details the size of the camera sensor for which the lens was built. Cameras come with different sizes of sensor, from full frame cameras with sensors that are roughly equivalent in size to a 35mm negative to APS-C sensors that offer varying degrees of cropping, from 1.3x to 1.6x for many cameras. When purchasing a lens, you have to be sure you’re buying one that is optimized for the camera that you own. Although lenses that are made to work on full frame cameras will work on APS-C cameras, the inverse is not true.

Like the confusion that arises out of the different monikers for image stabilization, lens manufacturers also have a variety of designators for lenses. The list below provides a guide to some common APS-C format lenses:

  • Canon - EF-S

  • Nikon - DX

  • Pentax - DA

  • Sony - DT

  • Sigma - DC

  • Tamron - Di II

  • Tokina - DX

Mount indicates the type of camera to which the lens will attach. Lenses from major manufacturers are not interchangeable, so if you have a Nikon camera, a Canon lens will not fit. However, third-party companies like Sigma make the same lenses with various mounts so they can be used with various brands of camera.

Motor type is often denoted in a lens name as well. For example, on Canon lenses, USM refers to an ultrasonic motor and STM refers to a stepper motor. Sigma lenses with a hypersonic motor have the HSM designation. On Nikon lenses, some will have the designation AF-S which is similar to Canon’s USM motor. In both cases, the autofocus motor is located in the lens.

Lens Markings

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If you look at the end of a lens, you’ll see a series of markings - various letters and numbers that at first might seem like gibberish. However, these markings indicate some important features of the lens:

  • Lens ratio - On some lenses, you might see 1:2.8, as seen on the lens pictured above. This means that the lens will maintain an aperture of f/2.8 throughout its zoom range. Other lenses will have a marking like this: 1:3.5-5.6. This means that as the zoom changes, so too does the aperture. For example, if using an 18-55mm kit lens, at 18mm the maximum aperture is f/3.5, but at 55mm, the maximum aperture is f/5.6.

  • Focal range - The marking 28mm or 18-55mm indicates how wide or narrow the lens’ angle of view is. This same number often appears on the barrel of the lens as well. If there is just one number, as is the case on the lens above, it’s a prime lens with a fixed focal length. If there are two numbers, like 18-55mm, that indicates the lens is a zoom lens.

  • Lens ring size - A marking like Ø77 indicates the size of the lens for the purposes of buying filters and other accessories that attach to the end of the lens.

The format of a lens (discussed above) also often appears on the end of a lens. For example, if you have a Canon APS-C lens, EF-S would be noted.

Types of Lenses

There are two primary types of lenses: primes and zooms. Though there are many differences between the two, the major separation is that prime lenses have a fixed focal length (i.e. 22mm, 50mm or 85mm) whereas zoom lenses have a variable focal length (i.e. 18-55mm, 70-200mm).

Apart from that, because prime lenses are fixed, they have less moving parts and tend to produce a better image quality. What’s more, prime lenses typically have a larger maximum aperture, which, as noted above, is beneficial for shooting in poor lighting and for making portraits with a shallow depth of field. On the other hand, zoom lenses offer greater versatility for attacking different kinds of photography with just one lens. For example, with a 70-200mm, lens you can take portraits, compose some landscapes, and take photos of wildlife as well. That’s not something you could do well with a 22mm prime lens.

Beyond that, there are a wide variety of lens types. Let’s dive into a few of the most popular.

Wide-Angle Lens

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Wide-angle lenses get their name because they offer a wide-angle view. These lenses, like the Canon 20mm F/2.8 USM EF shown above, are popular for landscape photography for that reason. On a full frame camera, lenses with a focal length of 35mm and below are considered wide-angle. On an APS-C camera, a wide-angle is considered roughly 22mm and wider.

Standard Lens

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Also known as “normal” lenses, standard lenses create images that are similar to what we see with our own eyes. Standard lenses, like the Sigma 50mm F/1.4 EX DG HSM Autofocus Lens For Nikon above, are the go-to for many types of photography, including portraiture, but they can be used effectively for landscapes, street photography, and other genres as well. On a full frame body, a 50mm lens is considered normal. On an APS-C body, a lens in the 28-35mm range would be considered normal.

Telephoto Lens

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Telephoto lenses, like the Canon 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 L IS USM shown above, offer the narrowest angle of view. These lenses compress the distance in a scene, making far-off subjects seem closer. What’s more, telephoto lenses can be used to frame close up shots of anything from a person to an animal to a mountain peak. On a full frame camera, a telephoto lens is considered anything above 100mm. However, on APS-C cameras, you can get short telephoto range with a 50mm lens.

Macro Lens

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Macro lenses, like this Tamron 90mm F/2.8 Macro SP DI (272E) 1:1 Lens For Sony Alpha, are designed to get you extremely close to your subject without sacrificing color or sharpness. Life-sized images of small insects, for example, can be created with a macro lens. Macro lenses are available in a wide variety of focal lengths, from as short as 50mm to as long as 200mm.

Fisheye Lenses and Tilt-Shift Lense

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On the specialty end of the spectrum, a fisheye lens, like the Rokinon 8mm F/3.5 Aspherical CS Fisheye for Nikon cameras pictured above, is a wide-angle lens that offers an extremely wide angle of view. Fisheye lenses distort the scene significantly, so lines that are perfectly straight in real life appear as curves in the photo. Usually, fisheye lenses are in the 7-16mm range and can produce convex, oval, or circular images.

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A tilt-shift lens, like the Nikon Nikkor 24mm F/3.5 D PC-E ED pictured above, allows you to alter the perspective of an image by manipulating vanishing points. For example when photographing a street scene, you can change the perspective such that parallel lines do not converge as they would when using a traditional lens. These lenses also allow you to focus on a specific area of the image and have areas within the same focal plane appear in focus and other areas appear out of focus.

Up Next…

With that, you have a clearer understanding of some of the most common types of lenses, their markings, and all the features that are indicated in their name. Armed with this information, you should have a deeper understanding of the type of lens you currently have and be able to make a more informed decision about any new or used lenses you wish to purchase.

Next up in our Lens Mastery Series is an examination of why buying used lenses is a smart decision - so long as you buy from a reputable retailer.







Looking for a Compact Camera? Here's 3 Top Options

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These days, there seems to be a lot of hubbub about mirrorless cameras and full frame DSLRs.

But not all photographers need all that firepower. In fact, a small compact camera system will do the trick for a lot of folks.

Fortunately, the compact camera market has improved drastically over the years, and now you can get a fully-featured, yet petite camera that offers plenty of resolution, manual controls, and other features that allow you to fine-tune the images you take.

What's more, there's a compact camera for every budget.

Here are a few top choices to consider in the budget, mid-range, and high-end compact camera market.

Keep in mind, though, that regardless of your budget, you can stretch it even further by buying a pre-owned compact camera system.

The Best Budget Compact Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

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This nice-looking little camera sports a 12.8-megapixel micro four-thirds sensor with a Leica DC Vario-Summilux f/1.7-f/2.8 lens.

Though the megapixel count isn't what you find in full-size digital cameras, it's still got plenty of juice to produce detailed images. That's especially true with the large maximum aperture of its built-in lens.

The lens has a 24-75mm focal range, giving you the ability to photograph all sorts of subjects, from wide-angle shots of landscapes to close-up portraits.

The 2.764-million-dot electronic viewfinder is bright, clear, and accurate, helping you to compose images as you see fit.

The three-inch 921,000-dot LCD screen is also clear and bright for accessing the camera's menu system and reviewing your images.

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This camera has many handy features that extend its capabilities, too.

It's got 4K Ultra High Definition video capabilities at 24fps or 30fps. You can also shoot full HD video at 60fps.

There's built-in Wi-Fi and NFC for easy photo sharing, 22 onboard photo filters for adding an artistic touch to your images, and manual control rings and dials for precise adjustments to camera settings.

Learn More:

The Best Mid-Range Compact Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC-RX10 III

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If you're in the market for something a little more capable, the Sony Cybershot DSC-RX10 III is a great choice.

It has a 20.1-megapixel 1-inch CMOS sensor paired with a built-in zoom lens with a focal range of 24mm to a whopping 600mm. That certainly gives you more than enough range for a varied day of shooting with the ability to photograph extreme close-ups of things like wildlife to wide-angle shots of large landscapes.

With an aperture range of f/2.4-f/4, it doesn't offer the same wide-open capabilities as the Panasonic, but it's certainly nothing to thumb your nose at, either.

The 2.36-million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder is gorgeous, and the three-inch 1.228-million-dot LCD offers sharp resolution for inspecting images and taking shots in live view. It helps that the LCD also tilts for low-angle shots.

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Like the Panasonic, this little Sony sports Ultra High Definition 4K video as well as full HD 1080p video.

There's also built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, optical SteadyShot image stabilization, 14fps continuous shooting capabilities, and an ISO range up to 12800 for enhanced low-light shooting.

What's more, this camera is a little larger than the Panasonic and feels more like a DSLR in your hand if you like that chunkier, heavier feel when you're shooting.

Learn More:

The Best High-End Compact Camera: Leica Q TYP 116

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As compact cameras go, it's hard to beat the Leica Q.

With a 24.2-megapixel full frame CMOS sensor, it's every bit as capable of taking highly resolute images as the Nikon D810s and Canon 5D Mark IIIs of the world.

The built-in Leica Summilux 28mm lens has a constant aperture of f/1.7, making it ideal for low-light shooting and getting wide-angle shots of subjects. Of course, it's fixed at 28mm, so it doesn't have the astounding focal range of the Sony.

The contrast-detect autofocus systems and Leica Maestro II Image Processor aid in taking photos of moving subjects in quick fashion as well.

Like the other camera on this list, the Leica has a beautiful electronic viewfinder, though, with 3.68-megapixels of resolution, it's by far the most detailed of the bunch.

The three-inch 1.040-million-dot touchscreen LCD is also a step up from the Panasonic and Sony options.

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This camera has built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, full HD 1080p video up to 60fps (though no 4K video), 10fps continuous shooting, and an aluminum and magnesium alloy body that looks good and is highly durable.

Its mechanical shutter is a gem as well, supporting speeds that range from 30 seconds to 1/2000 seconds. The electronic shutter extends the shutter speed range up to 1/6000 seconds.

With manual controls, aperture priority and shutter priority modes, and selectable exposure compensation from -3 EV to +3 EV, this camera is as fully featured as they come.

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Nikon D3500 vs Canon T7

nikon d3500 vs canon t7

In this review, we will compare the Canon T7 and Nikon D3500.

These two DSLR models were released in 2018 and are aimed at those who are looking for a camera that packs semi-professional features at an affordable price (especially if you buy used).

Without a doubt, both of these models are good performers. And since they are among the cheapest photography cameras on the market (with a price below $500), they represent excellent value as well.

Which one does a better job for you? Find an answer in Nikon D3500 vs Canon T7 head-to-head matchup.

Table of Contents

Nikon D3500 vs Canon EOS Rebel T7: Primary Specs 

nikon d3500 Primary Specs

At first glance, the specifications of the Canon T7 and Nikon D3500 may seem very similar, but if we dig a little bit deeper, there are many differences between them.

The Nikon D3500 and Canon EOS Rebel T7 revolve around an APS-C sensor and offer the same amount of resolution (24 megapixels). However, the Nikon 3500 has a bigger sensor which means that it has larger individual pixels that are capable of gathering more light.

Because of its larger sensor, the Nikon D3500 allows much more flexibility in low-light conditions. This camera offers a native sensitivity range of ISO 100-25600 (without boost), while the Canon T7 offers a native sensitivity range of ISO 100-6400 (expandable to ISO 100-12800). Both cameras have a flash that is useful for shooting images at night, while you also have an option to attach an external one through a hot shoe.

canon t7 Primary Specs

Another feature that represents a difference between these cameras is that Nikon’s model lacks anti-aliasing filter. As a result, it produces sharper images than the Canon T7. On the other hand, the anti-aliasing filter that’s found in the T7 does a good job of reducing moiré in images.

Besides larger sensor, the Nikon D3500 also has an advantage over the Canon T7 when it comes to other specifications such as burst shooting and video capabilities.

Both cameras are capable of shooting Full HD video, but the D3500 does it at 60p, while the Canon T7 maxes out at only 30p.

The Canon T7 allows burst shooting speed of only 3 frames per second which is not enough if you are into sports or wildlife photography. On the other hand, the Nikon D3500 allows a continuous shooting rate of 5.1 frames per second. This is not a mind-blowing feature either, but it can be much more practical and useful than the burst shooting speed offered by Canon’s camera. The only advantage of the Canon T7 in terms of continuous shooting is that it has a bigger buffer size (150 vs 100 shots).

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Nikon D3500 vs Canon EOS Rebel T7: Body & Design 

 Nikon D3500 Body Design

The Nikon D3500 and Canon EOS Rebel T7 are both very compact and lightweight if we compare them with other DSLR cameras. This makes these two models ideal for those who are looking for a camera that can be carried around easily.

The Canon T7 is a bit heavier and larger than the Nikon D3500 since it weighs 23.8 oz and measures 5.1 x 4.0 x 3.1 inches. The corresponding weight of the Nikon’s model is 12.8 oz and it has dimensions of 4.88 x 3.82 x 2.76 inches. Bear in mind these measurements are for the body only, so both of these cameras will get larger and heavier with a lens attached.

Both models feature an optical viewfinder that can be useful for framing subjects during the bright day. Although they offer the same field of view (95%), the Nikon D3500 has a viewfinder with 0.57x magnification, while the Canon EOS Rebel T7 offers a bit smaller magnification (0.50x).

There are no big differences between the Nikon D3500 and Canon T7 when it comes to the LCD display. Both cameras feature a 3.0" fixed LCD screen without touchscreen technology. There is a slightly bigger resolution in the Nikon D3500 (921k vs 920k dots), although the difference is so small that it will be barely noticeable in reality.

Which camera is better, Nikon or Canon? Find an answer in the video above by Jared Polin.

 

 

Nikon D3500 vs Canon EOS Rebel T7: Build & Handling

canon t7 Build Handling

Since they were made for photography-lovers who are transitioning from using a smartphone and point-and-shoot camera to a more capable choice, the Nikon D3500 and Canon T7 are very easy to handle.

Because of their low price, you can’t expect them to have a build quality as good as more expensive DSLR models. With this being said, be careful when using these cameras in tough weather conditions as neither one are weather-sealed.

Nikon D3500 Build Handling Nikon D3500

The Nikon D3500 has a much longer battery life than the Canon EOS Rebel T7 - it can take around 1500 shots before exhausting its battery. In comparison, on a full charge, the Canon T7 can take only around 500 shots.

In spite of Nikon’s model being superior in many areas, the Canon T7 seems to have relatively better connectivity options. This camera has built-in WiFi and NFC, while on the other hand, it lacks Bluetooth technology that can be found in the Nikon D3500. 

Some photographers prefer Wi-Fi, while others prefer Bluetooth connection, so in the end, both cameras have their own advantages and disadvantages in terms of connectivity.

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Nikon D3500 vs Canon EOS Rebel T7: Video Performance 

canon t7 Video Performance 

As I briefly touched upon above, the cameras being reviewed in this article are both capable of capturing 1080p (Full HD) video. However, the Nikon D3500 shoots video at up to 60 fps, while the Canon T7 allows only 30 fps. While you will barely notice this difference if your videos are static, the addition of 30 fps can mean a lot if there is a lot of movement in the videos you make.

Generally, you shouldn’t expect a lot from the Nikon D3500 and Canon EOS Rebel T7 when it comes to video capabilities. It is good to know there is an option to record important moments with both of these cameras, but they are not a perfect choice for those who are primarily into shooting videos.

Nikon D3500

Videographers are usually looking for a camera that has a tilt-swivel screen, touchscreen technology, in-camera stabilization, microphone port, headphone jack, and double card slot, among other features. Since none neither of these cameras have these features, they are not flexible enough for taking videos as much as they are for taking still photos.

Both cameras have a faster autofocus system if you are using an optical viewfinder. For recording videos, you can only use a rear LCD screen which means that it will take more time to focus on subjects. Moreover, since they both lack touchscreen technology, it will take some time to reposition the autofocus area.

 

 

Nikon D3500 vs Canon EOS Rebel T7: Lenses

Nikon D3500 Lenses

Now let’s see how these two cameras compare with respect to the choice of available lenses.

The Nikon D3500 uses a Nikon F-mount which was introduced in 1959. Because of this, you shouldn’t have a problem finding lenses that will suit your needs. This camera usually comes with an AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens which is good for portraits, landscapes, and videos.

On the other hand, Nikon also suggests you try the AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED lens if you are into sports, concerts, or nature photography.

The Canon EOS Rebel T7 uses a Canon EF lens mount which was introduced in 1987. There is also a wide offer of lenses to choose for this camera, but Canon recommends you to start with an EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II lens. If you are into sports, portraits, and wildlife, you should also check out the EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 lens. 

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Nikon D3500 vs Canon EOS Rebel T7: Price 

nikon d3500 Price 

The best thing about the Nikon D3500 and Canon EOS Rebel T7 is their very affordable price.

The Nikon D3500 comes with an 18-55mm lens for a brand-new price of around $400.00. Although this camera already has a consumer-friendly price, you can save a few bucks for lenses and accessories if you buy a used one on platforms like KEH.

Since KEH buys and sells a ton of cameras and lenses, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on their inventory so you can snatch up a D3500 on the cheap.

canon t7 Price

The Canon EOS Rebel T7 has a similar price range. You can get a new camera with an 18-55mm lens and other accessories for just $399.00. But, again, you can stretch your budget further if you buy used.

What’s more, if you already have a camera that you no longer need or want, why not sell it or trade it in? Doing so helps you put some cash in your pocket to put towards an upgraded camera while giving another photographer an opportunity to put your old gear to use.

Whether it’s buying, selling, or trading in, KEH is my top choice for used gear. Give it a try today and experience the KEH difference. 

 



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Nikon D7100 vs. D7200 vs. D7300

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When Nikon introduced the D7100 as the D7000 replacement back in 2013, Nikon shooters rejoiced - and rightfully so.

The D7100 became one of the most popular high-end DSLRs on the market.

So, when the Nikon D7200 came out in the spring of 2015, it had big shoes to fill.

And though the D7200 wasn’t as big of an improvement as the D7100 was, it still offers plenty of features that make it a highly sought-after camera for advanced amateurs, enthusiasts, and many pros.

Now that the traditional two-year upgrade cycle is drawing near, we can expect to see the newest version in this line - the D7300 - within a matter of weeks, at least according to all the latest rumors.

The question is, will the D7300 continue to make the necessary improvements to keep this line of cameras relevant?

In this article, we explore the features, pros, and cons of the D7100 and D7200, and offer up some tantalizing details of what could be coming with the D7300.

D7100

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When the Nikon D7100 came out in February 2013, it was a home run right out of the gate because it combined the best features of its predecessor, the D7000, and some higher end features borrowed from Nikon’s professional grade D4.

As a top-end APS-C camera, the D7100 offers features that enthusiast photographers can appreciate:

  • 24.1MP CMOS sensor
  • Expeed 3 processing
  • ISO range of 100-6400, up to 25600 expanded
  • 6 fps continuous shooting in DX mode, 7fps in 1.3X crop mode
  • 51 point AF system with 15 cross type AF sensors
  • 1080 60i/30p video recording
  • 3.2", 1.2m-dot LCD screen
  • Front and rear IR receivers
  • Water and dust resistant body

Get the low-down on the D7100’s features and performance in the video above, as Dan Watson gives us an overview of his field test.

Of note is the fact that the 24.1MP CMOS sensor comes without the optical low-pass filter, the first Nikon DSLR to omit it. The result is higher resolution from the sensor, particularly when the camera is paired with a top-end lens.

The D7100’s AF system is another bright spot. With 51 AF points, of which 15 are cross-type, and focusing algorithms from the excellent Nikon D4, the D7100 has top-notch low-light focusing ability, all the way down to -2EV. On the downside, when shooting video or shooting stills in live view, the AF system is painfully slow.

The camera also comes with an Auto ISO feature from the Nikon D800 lets you set the desired minimum shutter speed based on the focal length of the lens, meaning you can select among five settings that shift the ISO towards slower of faster speeds. ISO performance is very good through ISO 1600, and potentially to ISO 6400, especially if shooting in RAW.

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The upgraded LCD panel allows you to see the photos you take better as well. The 3.2-inch screen has 1.2 million dots and includes an RGBW display. The addition of white dots means the screen is much brighter for easier use in daytime shooting. It also means the D7100’s LCD can be used at lower power without sacrificing the ability to see the screen well.

With the addition of Wi-Fi capabilities via Nikon’s WU-1a Wi-Fi unit, D7100 owners can easily transfer images to a laptop, tablet, or smartphone for quick sharing or post-processing. The Wi-Fi unit also means users can control the camera using a smartphone.

The D7100 doesn’t just have upgrades for still photographers, either. The video capabilities are greatly expanded, offering 30p, 25p, and 24p recording modes. Furthermore, the D7100 has a built-in stereo microphone with jacks for an external microphone and audio monitoring. Video output is on the soft side, however.

Also for video and still shooters alike is the option to switch out of DX mode and shoot in 1.3x crop mode. Not only does this double the effective focal length of the lens being used, but it allows for 50/60i video recording and 7fps continuous shooting for still photos at 15MP. It’s important to note, however, that the D7100 has a relatively small image buffer which reduces the camera’s burst abilities when shooting in RAW.

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Image quality with the D7100 gets good, but not great marks. The images are sharper than the D7100’s less expensive cousin, the D5200, but ultimately the image quality of both cameras is quite similar. However, when in matrix-metering mode, the D7100 creates exposures that are about ⅔ of a stop brighter than the D5200. Focusing is better as well as a result of the improved AF system noted above.

In the end, the upgrades seen in the D7100 make it a great choice for enthusiast photographers. It’s built well, is ergonomically sound, has dual memory card slots, in-camera RAW processing, and 100% viewfinder coverage, among other practical features. With many things in common with Nikon’s full frame cameras, it’s no surprise that the D7100 has been a big hit.

Pros: Excellent sensor, superb low-light performance, weather sealing, and good video shooting capabilities. You can also easily find quality, used D7100 bodies for an excellent price.

Cons: Small image buffer, slow AF in live view and video mode, and soft video output.

The final verdict: This is a great camera for landscape and portrait photographers that need excellent low-light shooting capabilities. However, if you have designs on shooting high-quality video or need to shoot in burst mode in RAW, this camera will disappoint.

D7200

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The replacement for the D7100, the Nikon D7200, came out in March, 2015 to much fanfare. Like its predecessor, the D7200 had a lot to live up to given the excellent performance of the D7100 and the D7000 before that.

The D7200 isn’t an enormous departure from the D7100, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing given the quality of the D7100 and it’s robust set of features. That said, the D7200 offered some nice additions to the already high-quality features of the D7100:

  • 24.2MP CMOS sensor
  • Expeed 4 processing
  • ISO 100-25,600, expanded to ISO 51,200 and 102,400
  • 6 fps continuous shooting with improved buffering
  • 51-point AF system, sensitive to -3EV
  • 1080/60p video (1.3x crop only)
  • 3.2", 1.2M dot RGBW LCD display
  • Wi-Fi with NFC
  • Magnesium alloy weather-sealed body

For a review of the D7200’s features and how they compare to the D7100, check out the video above with Chris Niccolls of the Camera Store TV.

The D7200’s 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor is just slightly different than its predecessor. In this case, the sensor has a slightly larger pixel count and shows an improved dynamic range as well, with better image quality in the shadowed areas of the image.

When it comes to the D7200’s AF system, it’s a noted improvement over the D7100. It’s a Multi-CAM 3500DX II system with 51 AF points and 15 cross-type like the D7100’s, however, each AF point is sensitive to -3EV compared to -2EV for the D7100. It’s got better subject tracking capabilities as well, making this an improved camera for action shooters, though it still isn’t an ideal camera for sports, wildlife, and other fast shooting genres.

Sensitivity to -3EV means that as good as the D7100 is in low-light shooting situations, the D7200 is even better. In fact, focusing is easier throughout the entire frame because each AF point has improved low-light focusing capabilities.

ISO performance is also expanded, though with a bit of an asterisk. Where the D7100 had an expanded range to ISO 25600, the D7200 lets you go as high as 51200 or 102400. However, those values are for black and white shooting only, considering there is so little color detail at those values.

D7200 18 140 left.high

One feature that’s unchanged from the D7100 is the LCD. Again, we see a 3.2-inch, 1.2M dot RGBW screen with excellent brightness and the capability of functioning at low power.

Wi-Fi capabilities get an upgrade in the D7200 as well. Rather than relying on an external unit as was the case in the D7100, the D7200 has built-in Wi-Fi as well as NFC capabilities. Nikon also incorporates SnapBridge, a wireless image transfer program that also gives you remote control over the camera. 

Video gets a boost in the D7200 as well, with 60p shooting now available, if only in the 1.3x crop shooting mode. Though that’s an improvement over the D7100, other models from competing brands offer much more in the way of video capabilities. For example, the AF system isn’t as quick when shooting video when compared to the D7200’s competitors like the Canon 70D.

As good as the preceding features are, the biggest improvement of the D7200 over the D7100 is the buffer. As noted in the D7100 review, the buffer is tiny, preventing shoots from continuously shooting with much speed, especially in RAW.

Now, that issue has been resolved with a much-improved buffer: Shoot over 100 JPEGs or 27 12-bit compressed RAW images quickly and easily. The frame rate stands at 6fps, though that can be extended to 7fps when shooting in 1.3x crop mode.

D7200 DoubleSlot.high

When it comes to image quality, the D7200 performs as you’d expect based on the results of images taken with the D7100 and the D7000 before that. Whether you shoot in JPEG or RAW, you’ll find little noise, an excellent dynamic range, and superb details.

Like the D7100, the D7200 is a feature-packed camera ideal for enthusiast photographers. D7100 owners will appreciate the familiar build and ergonomics, but enjoy the many upgrades over previous models, most notably the improved buffer, better AF performance, and expanded weatherproofing.

Pros: Top-of-the-line image quality, fantastic ISO performance, much-improved battery life, and an image buffer that far outpaces the D7100’s.

Cons: Still lags in the video department, poor live view AF performance, and no ability to control aperture when shooting in live view.

The final verdict: The D7200 isn’t a groundbreaking camera by any means, but the improvements made to it continue the tradition of the D7000 and D7100 as being a prime choice for still shooters that seek superb low-light performance. Though video capabilities are improved, the D7200 still lags behind other similarly priced cameras.

D7300

Judging from the release schedule of previous models (spring 2013, spring 2015), we can reasonably assume that the D7300 will be released this spring (although some rumors point to a 2018 release date).

That’s just conjecture, however, as there is no firm word from Nikon on a release date just yet.

Bearing that in mind, the rumor mill is certainly in full swing with the D7300. Based on past decisions by Nikon and current features on the D7200, it’s assumed that the D7300 will have features similar to those listed below:

  • 24 MP CMOS Sensor
  • EXPEED 5 Image Processor
  • ISO up to 1 million
  • 153-Point AF System
  • 7 fps Shooting
  • 4K Video Recording at 30 fps
  • Built-In Wi-Fi, as well as Bluetooth and NFC capabilities

Many of these specs are reasonable to assume based on what’s currently available in the D7200.

Take the sensor, for instance. The D7200’s 24.2MP CMOS sensor will likely be a hold over for the D7300 at the very least, but Nikon might elect to opt for a whole new sensor, which it’s safe to say would have a larger megapixel count.

As far as image processing goes, the D7200’s Expeed 4 processor should see an upgrade to Expeed 5, which would allow for the better ISO performance and 4K video capabilities noted above.

1559 D500 front

Another interesting possibility is the notion that the D7300 might inherit a few features from the Nikon D500 (shown above).

This includes its amazing 153-point AF system (although there is some argument about this). The Multi-CAM 20K AF system would be a good improvement for this line of cameras, though the D7200’s AF system, which is a Multi-CAM 3500 II DX with 51 AF points, is outstanding. In the video above, Matt from the Art of the Image explores these and other D500 specs that might find their way into the D7300.

Given that the D7100 and D7200 are about the same size, we can assume that the D7300 will be similarly sized with the same excellent ergonomics as its predecessors.

Based on these rumored specs, I’d say that Nikon is setting the D7300 up to be a phenomenal camera that continues the excellent performance of this prosumer line of cameras.

We’ll just have to wait and see what Nikon’s official word is on this camera, which will hopefully be in the very near future!







Possibly the Best Focal Length for Landscape Photography?

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If you’re a landscape photography enthusiast like me, you’re constantly trying to find new approaches and even new gear that will help you capture the beauty before you with more pleasing results.

I’ve experimented with various focal lengths for my landscapes - everything from ultra-wide-angle to shooting landscapes with a telephoto.

I’ve gotten great results across the spectrum of focal lengths, but one in particular stands out to me as better than the rest: 24mm.

There’s a ton of reasons why 24mm is my favorite focal length for landscapes, which I’ll get into in just a minute.

But perhaps most important of all, there’s a 24mm lens out there for virtually any camera body and every manufacturer. Better still, you can find quality 24mm lenses for a wide range of prices to fit just about any budget.

That makes the 24mm lens not just highly useful for landscape photographers, but also highly accessible.

So, without further ado, let’s explore a few benefits of the 24mm lens for landscape photography.

It’s Wide (But Not Too Wide)

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There are plenty of photographers that can create gorgeous landscape images with impossibly short focal lengths like 14mm.

I’m not one of them. I simply prefer the look of 24mm over 14mm.

Why?

There’s less distortion. The narrower angle of view also allows me to frame up slightly more intimate shots in which the subject is highlighted in a more purposeful manner. And I can do that while still benefitting from the wide-angle view that allows me to capture a good deal of the scene before me.

What’s more, my 24mm prime is sharp and gives me excellent image quality. That’s not to say that other focal lengths can’t do the same; I’m just impressed with the results I get with my 24mm lens, and I think you would be too.

It Makes You Think

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Like any prime lens, the 24mm forces you to think about your compositions before firing the shutter.

Without the benefit of zoom, you have to use your feet to adjust the framing of the shot such that you maximize its impact and minimize distractions.

That means you spend more time engaged with your gear and with the landscape, which, if you ask me, is a good recipe for getting improved results while getting the most out of your lens.

Now, that’s not to say that using a 24mm lens will automatically make you a better photographer just by virtue of the fact that you have to put more thought into the process.

But what it will do is prevent those “lazy moments” when you might feel like hopping out of the car, using your zoom lens to frame up a shot, and start firing away.

Instead, the 24mm will compel you to move around, check your framing and composition, and take measures to improve what you see through the lens.

It’s Versatile

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Not only is 24mm a great focal length for landscapes, but it’s also a great focal length for other photography pursuits.

Use it for astrophotography (with the same sharp results I mentioned above), cityscapes, event photography, and even portraiture - especially group portraits in which you need a wider angle of view but don’t want tons of perspective distortion.

What’s more, as I mentioned in the introduction, there are a plethora of 24mm lenses on the market. That means that no matter what system you shoot with, you’ll be able to find a 24mm prime lens.

We all know how expensive photography can be. Why not have a lens that’s both versatile in terms of the types of camera systems for which they are made and the types of photos you can take with them?

Low-Light Performance is On Point

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Whether you’re a daytime shooter or you venture out at night for some astrophotography landscapes, a 24mm prime can handle it.

I especially like the results I get when shooting at dusk or at night with my 24mm lens. Most lenses at this focal length have maximum apertures of f/2 or wider, giving you all sorts of options for low light shooting without necessarily having to push the ISO to make a shot possible.

What’s more, you can use that wide aperture to get the shots you want without needing an ultra-slow shutter speed. In fact, you’ll likely find many occasions - landscapes and portraits to name a couple - when shooting wide open even allows you to handhold your camera (perhaps with a boost in ISO).

That means you can work lean and mean, and leave your tripod behind in favor of moving fast, just you, your camera, and your awesome 24mm lens, and maybe a stunning sunset or two along the way.

With the central benefits of the 24mm prime out of the way, let’s have a look at a few excellent examples you might consider adding to your kit.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED Lens

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Compatible with both Nikon DX and FX format lenses, the NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED gives you precise results with a natural-looking angle of view.

The large f/1.4 maximum aperture gives you greater possibilities for low-light shooting, and also ensures you’ve got a range of control over depth of field with aperture values that extend to f/16.

The lens features 12 elements in 10 groups, including two aspherical lenses and two extra-low dispersion lenses that give you excellent contrast with minimal aberration. The silent wave motor gives you accurate results quickly, but while being nearly silent as well. And with rear focusing, you get fast autofocus response and smooth action while minimizing barrel rotation and lens extension.

For a hands-on look at this lens, watch the video above by Damian Brown.

Other features include:

  • Nano crystal coating to reduce flare and ghosting
  • Manual focus override for quickly switching from auto to manual
  • Rounded 9-blade diaphragm for smooth bokeh

Search Pre-Owned Nikon Lenses.

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Lens

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This L-series lens from Canon means it’s their top offering that features all sorts of goodies for landscape photographers.

Aside from being weather and dust-sealed, the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 II offers professional-level results, including outstanding sharpness throughout the aperture range.

The circular aperture gives you the power to create wonderful background blur at larger apertures while smaller apertures offer sharpness from foreground to background. This is aided by high-precision aspherical elements that minimize distortion and aberration. See this lens in action in the video below by Chris Winter:

This lens takes sharpness a step further by incorporating two UD lenses, which help improve detail from corner to corner with little ghosting or flare. Paired with Canon’s venerable ultrasonic motor, you get quick autofocus but have the option of manual override whenever you like.

Other features include:

  • Floating internal focus system to improve image quality
  • Aperture range of f/1.4-f/22
  • Minimum focus distance of just 3-inches
  • Sub-wavelength lens coating to minimize flare and ghosting

Search Pre-Owned Canon Lenses.

Sony 24mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss Wide-Angle Lens

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For Sony shooters, it doesn’t get much better than the 24mm f/2 Carl Zeiss lens.

Carl Zeiss has a reputation for excellent lenses, and this one certainly follows suit. The nine blade diaphragm gives you great bokeh and also allows you to work in low-light situations. Get wide shots of the greater landscape or get up close with the 7.6-inch minimum focusing distance.

Like the Sigma 24mm lens discussed below, the Sony benefits from incredibly quiet and smooth operation. This is due to the built-in supersonic wave motor that gives you quick response, which is aided by quick and easy switching between auto and manual focus.

The lens has a metal lens barrel that not only ensures durability and high performance, but it also looks great!

Other features include:

  • An aperture range of f/2-f/22
  • Extra-low dispersion glass
  • Aspheric glass elements
  • Compatible with Sony Alpha and Minolta DSLRs

Search Pre-Owned Sony Lenses.

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens

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Available for Canon EF and Nikon F mount camera systems, the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 is wide, fast, and has excellent optical construction that results in beautifully sharp images.

The Sigma has three F Low Dispersion elements, that, when combined with four Special Low Dispersion elements, results in images with a significant reduction in chromatic aberration. Overall, the lens has 15 elements in 11 groups that give you results that are bright with high contrast and good color fidelity, but reduced instances of ghosting and flare.

The hypersonic motor gives you lightning quick performance that’s also smooth and virtually silent. Nine diaphragm blades give you beautiful bokeh while the full-time manual focus override makes it easy for you to take control of focusing simply by rotating the focus ring. See more about this lens in the video below by Christopher Frost:

Other features include:

  • Aperture Range: f/1.4 to f/16
  • Thermally Stable Composite construction
  • Brass bayonet mount for added durability
  • Compatible with full frame and crop sensor Canon and Nikon bodies

If you’re looking for a high-quality 24mm lens that’s got tons of features but without a huge price tag, it’s hard to beat this little Sigma.

Search Pre-Owned Sigma Lenses.

Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC Wide-Angle Lens

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Even if you’re on a budget, you can still find a good 24mm prime lens for your Canon or Nikon camera.

As far as budget 24mm lenses go, the Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC lens is an excellent option that gives you sharp images with reduced flare and ghosting.

That’s a result of four low-dispersion elements and two aspheric elements that work together to give you pleasing views whether you’re shooting a wide landscape or a close-up.

Light transmission in the Rokinon is on point with a multi-layered UMC coating that prevents reflections. Paired with an automatic chip that confirms your focus settings, aperture, and other important settings, you’ve got the makings of a solid partner for your camera.

Other features include:

  • Versatile usage for shooting landscapes, street scenes, group photos, and more
  • Hybrid aspherical lenses offer well-defined and sharp images
  • Get close-up shots with a minimum focusing distance of 9.84 inches
  • Compatible with full frame and crop sensor Canon and Nikon bodies

Search Pre-Owned Rokinon Lenses.

Whether you need a lens for your Canon, Nikon, Sony, or another brand of camera, you can find a great 24mm prime to add to your kit. The examples above are some of the best on the market right now, and I think you’ll find they give you a fresh and exciting perspective on your landscape photography that will have you agreeing with me that 24mm is the best focal length for landscapes.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Find a great deal on a 24mm prime lens today, and see how much you like the results!



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The Best Budget Full Frame Cameras of 2017

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I'll be the first to admit that not every photographer needs a full frame camera.

Beginner photographers, for example, don't need all those bells and whistles when they're just learning how to use a camera in the first place.

But for intermediate and enthusiast photographers that have outgrown their crop sensor rigs, the prospect of moving up to a full frame is pretty exciting.

That is, until they see the price tag...

Yes, most full frames are expensive, but there are some good bargains out there, especially if you pick up a good pre-owned camera body that allows you to stretch your budget.

With that in mind, here are a few of my top picks for the best budget full frame cameras available today.

But First...

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Before diving into my list of budget-friendly full frame cameras, I want to quickly review what a full frame camera is and why they're so attractive.

Full frame refers to the size of the camera's sensor. A full frame sensor is the equivalent of a 35mm piece of film, meaning it has a 1:1 crop factor. Crop sensor cameras, on the other hand, have smaller sensors, and depending on their type and the manufacturer, they might have a crop factor of 1.3x, 1.5x, 1.6x, or even 2x.

Because of their larger sensors, full frame cameras offer several advantages.

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First, they have a larger field of view, meaning they can fit more into the image than a crop sensor. This is especially advantageous for wide-angle photography.

Second, full frame sensors have larger pixels, which means better resolution. If you want to print images in large format, a full frame camera is the way to go.

Full frame sensors are also better performers in low light, like taking photos of the night sky as seen above. Because the sensor is larger, they can gather more light, allowing you to shoot in more varied lighting conditions without using a flash or boosting the ISO.

There are other advantages of full frame cameras, too. Check the Learn More link below for more details.

Learn More:

Nikon D610

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Nikon's entry-level full frame camera was built specifically for the intermediate photography market. Though it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of a higher-end Nikon offering, it's certainly got the chops to represent a nice upgrade over a beginner crop sensor camera.

It's got a 24.3-megapixel sensor that offers good resolution and low-light performance. Dynamic range is good as well. That gives the D610 nice image quality, especially for an entry-level model.

The large viewfinder is nice for composing top-notch shots, and the ultra-quiet continuous shooting mode is appreciated for situations in which you need to work quickly but without making tons of noise.

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The weather-sealed magnesium alloy body means you can work in adverse weather conditions without concern that your camera will suffer damage.

The 39-point autofocus system is fast and accurate, with 9 cross-type points that help you track moving subjects. The D610 also features 6fps burst shooting for quick action shots.

Add in 1080p video recording, a 3.2-inch LCD with 921,000 pixels, and an expandable ISO range of 50-25600, and you have the makings of a highly capable full frame camera.

Best of all, this camera was released in 2013, so you can find excellent deals on pre-owned bodies, making them an even more affordable option for first-time full frame camera buyers.

Watch a quick overview of the D610 in the video above by KEH Camera.

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Canon 6D

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Another prime offering among the best budget full frame camera segment is the Canon 6D.

Like the Nikon D610, the 6D was purpose-built to be a consumer-grade full frame camera that's affordable.

Unsurprisingly, this little full frame rig offers the same performance features of other entry-level full frames.

It's got great low-light performance, an ISO range of 100-25600, and silent shooting mode with a low vibration shutter.

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The 6D produces quality images as well, with a 20.2-megapixel CMOS sensor that's paired with a 63-zone iFCL dual-layering metering sensor with 11 AF points.

This camera also features a cross-type center AF point that offers you up to -3 EV of additional exposure.

It's built well, too, with solid construction and ergonomic handling that helps it feel good in your hand.

Add in Wi-Fi, GPS, an electronic level, and a 3-inch LCD with 1.04 million dots, and you can see why this is such a popular entry-level full frame camera! And since Canon has released the Mark II version of this camera, that means you can find even better deals on the 6D.

Watch an in-depth tutorial on the Canon 6D in the video above by Tony and Chelsea Northrup.

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Sony Alpha A7R

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Like the other cameras on this list, the Sony A7R is an older model, but certainly still a killer entry-level full frame camera.

It was one of the first mirrorless full frames, and as such, brought many changes to the world of photography.

For starters, it's a smaller, lighter, and more compact body, making it much easier to carry around on long days of shooting than the DSLRs outlined above.

It also has an electronic viewfinder that absolutely blows away the optical viewfinders that are more typically found in DSLR bodies.

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This camera also produces highly resolute images with its 36.4-megapixel CMOS sensor. In fact, the image quality derived from the A7R is tops on this list.

It has a tilting 3-inch LCD screen with 1.23-million dots that makes it easier to compose shots at odd angles, good video capabilities, and an ever-expanding stable of E-mount lenses that give this camera excellent range and versatility.

It's certainly not for action shooters, though - it only shoots at 4fps.

It's also only got a 300-shot battery life, which is definitely a major drawback.

But otherwise, this is a nice all-around camera, especially for the budget-conscious buyer.

Watch a hands-on review of the Sony A7R in the video above by Maarten Heilbron.

Learn More:



We Recommend


The Best Budget Mirrorless Cameras for Beginner Photographers

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When you're just starting out in photography, there's a lot of questions you need answered.

From "How do I compose a good photo?" to "How do I control exposure?" to "What photography gear do I need?" you have a lot on your mind.

Something else that beginner photographers question is the price of photography gear.

In a word, it's expensive.

But that doesn't mean that you can't find great deals on gear, especially gear that's used but in excellent condition.

Why Mirrorless?

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Choosing a mirrorless camera as your first camera is a good bet all the way around.

There has been a shift toward mirrorless design in recent years, and companies like Sony, Fuji, Olympus, and Panasonic have focused much of their efforts on making innovations to mirrorless cameras.

What's more, due to the lack of an internal mirror, mirrorless cameras are smaller, more compact, and lighter weight. That makes carrying them a breeze compared to their larger DSLR counterparts.

Many mirrorless cameras also have many of the same features as beginner DSLR cameras, giving you something that can grow with you as you acquire more photography knowledge and improved skills.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, mirrorless cameras tend to be less expensive than DSLRs. That's a great thing for the budget-conscious beginner.

With that in mind, let's examine a few mirrorless cameras that have a budget-friendly price, but come with a host of features that will help you learn photography.

Sony Alpha a5000

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Key Specifications:

  • 20.1-megapixel APS-C sensor
  • Max shutter speed: 1/4000 seconds
  • Max ISO: 16000
  • Display: 3-inch LCD with 460,800 dots
  • HD video: 1080p
  • Weight: 269g

Don't let the small appearance of the Sony Alpha a5000 fool you. This is one capable camera.

The 20.1-megapixel APS-C Exmor sensor captures images with excellent detail, bright colors, and good sharpness.

The autofocus system is quick and efficient too, allowing you to take improved shots of moving subjects. See it in action in the video below by ReviewLamp.

The camera sports modern conveniences like Wi-Fi and NFC, which makes sharing the photos you take much easier.

Most importantly, the a5000 is extremely easy to learn with. It's menu settings are well organized and intuitive, and the controls on the camera body are positioned in a way that makes sense.

If you're looking for a powerful camera that offers you more in the way of features and functions than your smartphone, the Sony Alpha a5000 might just be it.

Learn more about the Sony Alpha a5000.

Canon EOS M3

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Key Specifications:

  • 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor
  • Max shutter speed: 1/4000 seconds
  • Max ISO: 25600
  • Display: 3-inch tilting LCD with 1.04 million dots
  • HD video: 1080p
  • Weight: 366g

Though well known for their DSLR cameras, Canon hasn't jumped into the mirrorless market with as much gusto as Sony, Fuji, Olympus, and Panasonic.

But their EOS M3 camera is nonetheless a solid choice for beginner photographers because it offers many of the same features as the Sony Alpha a5000 and then some.

The EOS M3 sports a high-resolution sensor with 24.2-megapixels that gives you highly-detailed images and videos as well.

To help you in composing your shots, the EOS M3 has a tilting LCD that's nearly double the resolution of the one found on the Sony Alpha a5000. See this and other features of the EOS M3 in the video above by Gordon Laing.

As you advance in your skillset, you can purchase an add-on electronic viewfinder for an even better viewing experience to compose your shots.

The EOS M3 has a higher maximum ISO value too - meaning you can shoot more effectively in poor lighting conditions without using a flash.

This camera weighs more than the Sony (366 grams vs 269 grams), but that's a small price to pay for the added functionalities of the Canon.

Learn more about the Canon EOS M3.

Olympus Pen E-PL7

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Key Specifications:

  • 16.1-megapixel micro fourth-thirds sensor
  • Max shutter speed: 1/4000 seconds
  • Max ISO: 25600
  • Display: 3-inch tilting LCD with 1.037 million dots
  • HD video: 1080p
  • Weight: 357g

As noted earlier, Olympus has fully adopted mirrorless technology and offers a complete line of mirrorless cameras, including the E-PL7 shown above.

This mid-range model is perhaps a little more advanced than the previous cameras on this list, but don't let that scare you.

It's still a very viable option for brand new photographers but with the functionalities that will allow you to continue to use it as your skills advance. Learn more about this camera in the in-depth review below from Micromatic:

What's great about the Pen E-PL7 is that it is built like a tank, so it can take a few bumps and bruises that are sure to come as you figure out this whole photography thing.

Pair that with great image and video quality, a tilting 3-inch LCD that has the highest resolution of any camera on this list, and built-in effects you can add to your images, and you have a good all-around setup for taking better photos.

The Pen E-PL7 also sports customizable functions, meaning as you gain skills and confidence, you can tailor some of the camera's features to your specific tastes and workflow. 

Learn more about the Olympus Pen E-PL7.

Wrapping It Up

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When buying a camera, there's a lot to consider.

Price will certainly be at the top of the list, and each of these cameras will fit into any budget-conscious buyer's agenda.

In fact, you can buy any of these cameras for less than many DSLR lenses, particularly if you opt for a used camera that's in great shape.

Beyond price, also consider the type of camera system you want.

By that I mean each manufacturer is a little different and provides photographers with options that vary.

When buying your first camera, this is an important decision to make because once you start buying gear, you want to be able to use it with future cameras.

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Naturally, you'll want to investigate the features that cameras offer to you. If you're into video, for example, look for the budget camera that offers the best in the way of HD video recording.

In the end, your first camera doesn't have to be the best camera you'll ever own, nor should it.

Simply find something that's in your budget, has most of the features you want, and use it to become the photographer you want to be!



We Recommend


The Best Budget Portrait Lenses for 2017

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Personally, I love taking portraits.

For me, it's not just being able to create an image for someone that they will (hopefully) cherish for a long time, but it's also about the challenge of directing the person to get the best shot.

It's kind of like a puzzle - How can I pose this person (or, alternatively, let them be more natural) to make them look their best? How can I use lighting to add drama? How can I frame the shot to get the most impact?

Of course, there's also decisions to be made about the type of lens you use as well.

There are a ton of options out there for taking portraits. But for me, there's one focal length that's better than all the others for portraits: 85mm.

Awhile back, I wrote an article about the best portrait lens money can buy, the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 ART.

And though it's a fantastic lens, it also has a fantastically high price.

But you don't have to shell out a ton of money to get a great lens.

In fact, there are plenty of budget-friendly options that will give you a lot of bang for your buck. Let's have a look at a few favorites.

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM

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At a Glance:

  • Available for Nikon FX, Canon EF, Pentax K, Sigma SA, and Sony A Mounts
  • Aperture range: f/1.4-f/16
  • Minimum focusing distance: 0.85m
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9
  • Construction: 11 elements in 8 groups

Though this lens isn't as good as the Sigma f/1.4 ART I mentioned above, it's still a fantastic portrait lens for a much smaller price tag.

This is an older lens, but still has special low dispersion and aspherical elements that give it the ability to produce sharp images. That's especially true for the center of the image where sharpness is absolutely superb.

Get an in-depth review of this lens in the video below by DigitalRev TV:

Add to that a nine-blade aperture that produces nicely-shaped bokeh and a ghosting and flare-reducing multi-layer coating, and you have the recipe for pleasing portraits at a bargain price.

Additionally, the lens has an ultrasonic autofocus system, so it's quiet (and fast, too). That means you can use it to take portraits of a sleeping newborn without worrying that your lens will wake it up. You can also capture some action-based portraits as well.

It's not a perfect lens, though. There's no weather sealing, although you're unlikely to be out in inclement weather taking portraits anyway.

And while sharpness is excellent in the center of the frame, near the edges that's not the case. But, again, that's not a huge deal for portraiture.

Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G

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At a Glance:

  • Available for Nikon FX
  • Aperture range: f/1.8-f/16
  • Minimum focusing distance: 0.82m
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 7
  • Construction: 9 elements in 8 groups

If you're a Nikon shooter, it's tough to beat their AF-S 85mm f/1.8G. It's got good autofocus speed, though if you want to shoot with manual focus, the action is incredibly smooth. There's also full-time override of the focus that you can adjust using this lens's delightfully large focus ring.

When it comes to sharpness, this lens really delivers. That's true throughout the aperture range, even at its maximum f/1.8 aperture. Contrast is good as well, again, throughout the aperture range. Get a review of the lens in the video below by Alex's Photo and Video:

Additionally, the rounded 7-blade diaphragm delivers dreamy bokeh, which is ideal for portraiture. And with minimal distortion and virtually no color fringing, you get images that are true to form that's hard to beat at this price point.

On the downside, the lens does produce more chromatic aberration than comparable lenses, but it's certainly not a deal-breaker. This is an all-around excellent lens!

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

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At a Glance:

  • Available for Canon EF
  • Aperture range: f/1.8-f/22
  • Minimum focusing distance: 0.85m
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 8
  • Construction: 9 elements in 7 groups

Canon shooters on a budget should give the 85mm f/1.8 USM lens a good, hard look.

It's got an excellent aperture range that allows you to get a minute depth of field at f/1.8 for portraits, and a huge depth of field at f/22 if you want to tackle a few landscape shots too.

The lens produces excellent bokeh with an eight-blade diaphragm, and the ring-type autofocus system is virtually silent - and fast. See the lens in action in the video below by Christopher Frost Photography:

Another benefit of this lens is that it's quite compact. That allows you to carry it with greater ease, and it will put your portrait subjects at ease because you can shoot from a greater distance away, but without a giant lens attached to your camera.

Because the front element of the lens isn't recessed, you'll need to buy a lens hood, though that isn't a huge expense. Of greater concern is that this lens is getting long in the tooth. There are newer options available that are better, but of course, more expensive too.

Nevertheless, if you want a lens that performs very well for portraiture, this one is tough to beat.

Putting It All Together

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As you've no doubt heard before, you get what you pay for when you buy a lens.

That's why it's often recommended to save your money and buy the best lens you can afford.

There are, of course, exceptions to that rule, including the three lenses reviewed above.

Each provides sharp results with pleasing bokeh that's great for portraits.

And at 85mm, you can get good close-up shots without having to be right in the model's face - that's especially true if you use a crop sensor camera because it will extend the effective focal length even further.

When choosing your ideal portrait lens, also consider if it's compatible with your camera system - some lenses only work with a specific manufacturer's camera, and still others only work with certain models of camera.

There are a lot of other portrait lenses out there, but if you use these guidelines and explore the lenses outlined above, and you'll be able to find a great lens that produces pleasing results, all without breaking the bank.



We Recommend


The Best Entry-Level DSLRs for Beginners in 2018

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It’s not always easy to start using a completely new camera system, and if you’re thinking of upgrading from something simpler, like a point and shoot, the leap to DSLR can feel a little intimidating.

But the fact of the matter is no other camera system will help you learn photography faster or better than a DSLR. Mirrorless camera systems can be added to that as well.

The best entry-level DSLR can be your new best friend if you learn how to use it properly. One of the main reasons is, of course, the incredible flexibility it can provide you.

The lens choices available make this “traditional” system stand out in front of the mirrorless new kids on the block that don't offer as many lenses.

But perhaps the coolest feature of most beginner DSLRs is their amazing image quality. Even the low-end models of today are capable of results that would put professional cameras from a few years back to shame.

With that in mind, we've compiled our top ten picks for best entry-level DSLRs of 2018. Here they are in no specific order.

Pentax K-70

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It's definitely not one of the most affordable models on our list, but the K-70, like most Pentax cameras, packs a lot of punch for the money.

Probably the first feature that makes it stand out from the crowd is the dust and weather sealing. This camera is made for the outdoors, and if you pair it with a weather resistant lens, you get a system that can you can be fully confident will handle tough conditions easily.

It’s powered by a 24.2 MP APS-C sensor, and it has a continuous shooting speed of 6fps and a high precision hybrid AF system that is known for its accuracy.

You can pick up a brand new Pentax K-70 body for around $600 as of this writing.

Get a complete hands-on review of the K-70 in the video above by The Camera Store TV.

Canon EOS 700D/Rebel T5i

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It might not be the youngest member of the group, but the Rebel T5i still packs a punch.

If you’re looking for something easy to use, very good image quality, and a body design that is still very much up-to-date, look no further.

It has an 18 MP sensor, a very nice 1,040,000 dot articulated 3-inch display, and very good ergonomics.

But perhaps the best thing about the T5i is its price. It’s one of the most affordable cameras on this list at just $540 for the camera and a kit lens, and that makes it a terrific option for beginners looking for the best entry-level DSLR.

Editor's Tip: For even more capability without busting your budget, you might consider the Canon EOS Rebel T7i. It's four years newer than the T5i and packs more technology and capabilities for a price that's around $850 for the camera and a kit lens.

Nikon D5600

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The newest addition to the D5000 family is this little powerhouse with a great set of specs and capabilities.

With a 24.2MP APS-C sensor, 5fps continuous shooting mode, and a very nice 39-point AF system, it is a camera for the more ambitious beginner who wants a tool that won't limit you a few years down the road.

As you would expect from any camera in this family, the D5600 has great ergonomics, a well-thought-out control layout, and a very nice 3.2-inch articulating screen with a resolution of 1,040,000 dots.

It also comes with full HD 1080p video recording (at 60 fps), Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC, and Nikon's SnapBridge technology.

See all this camera has to offer in the video above by Chris Winter.

Canon EOS 100D/ Rebel SL2

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The EOS Rebel SL2 is one of Canon's smallest DSLRs, making it an ideal camera for younger photographers with smaller hands or older photographers that simply don't want to carry a big, bulky camera.

The camera body weighs just over 14 ounces, and is less than 5-inches wide.

It features the same 24.2 MP APS-C CMOS sensor from the more robust EOS Rebel T7i, offering excellent performance for a smaller price tag.

What's more, the SL2 is outfitted with Canon's DIGIC 7 processor, which can process 14 times more data than the DIGIC 6 processor found in older Canon cameras.

In other words, this little camera is a workhorse, and with a price that's less than $650 for the camera and a kit lens, it's one of the best entry-level DSLRs on the market today.

Learn More:

Nikon D5300

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This is another smart choice for Nikon fans who don’t want to make a huge initial investment in an entry-level DSLR camera system.

The Nikon D5300 became very popular after it was introduced in 2013, and its success is largely attributed to the 24.2MP sensor that was later inherited by the D5500.

Together with the EXPEED-4 image processor, the D5300’s chip produces very impressive images, and the 39-point AF system lets you capture fast action accurately.

Again, this isn’t a new model, but it’s one of those deals that is just too good to pass up with a price tag well under $600 for the camera and a kit lens.

Learn more about this great little camera in the video above by Newpix.

Nikon D3300

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The great thing about the D3300 is that it’s almost identical to its younger sibling, the D3400.

Besides the excellent 24.2 MP sensor, it’s a very simple-to-use camera that will help ease your transition from a compact or bridge camera to shooting with an entry-level DSLR.

It's got a decent autofocus system with 11 autofocus points and 3D tracking capabilities to help you keep a moving subject in focus.

And with an ISO range that's expandable to 25600, this camera is a great option for taking photos in low-light situations, like indoors with dim lighting or outdoors at dusk.

The absence of an anti-aliasing filter means it will extract maximum detail, too. Sure, you won’t be getting built-in Wi-Fi or an articulated screen, but if it’s something you’re prepared to live with, the D3300 is a great first DSLR.

Editor's Tip:The Nikon D3300 is one of the least expensive cameras on this list at less than $400 for a camera body and kit lens.

Canon EOS 750D/Rebel T6i

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The Canon EOS Rebel T6i has always been a great deal, but when its replacement, the EOS Rebel T7i was released, prices on the T6i dropped. In fact, you can pick up a camera and kit lens for around $650!

The image quality that comes out of the T6i is nothing short of amazing. It’s definitely a mid- to long-term investment in this regard.

All this is made possible by the 24.2 MP sensor, and if you’re willing to spend a little more on an “L” lens, you will be blown away with the quality of the images you can capture.

Wi-Fi and NFC pairing are of course primary features of this beginner DSLR, which is to be expected from a camera that is still relatively new on the market.

The articulated screen is also touch sensitive, which has also become a standard that shooters of all capabilities enjoy.

See the T7i at work in the video above by Jims Review Room.

Canon EOS 760D/Rebel T6s

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As you would expect, there are very few differences between the Rebel T6s and the T6i. In fact, it was an upgrade that had a lot of Canon fans confused.

With that in mind, the T6s does have a few features that help it stand out...

It has an additional rear thumbwheel that is familiar to photographers who use enthusiast models like the 80D. There’s also an extra top panel LCD for settings and information which makes it easier to quickly check and adjust camera settings.

Obviously, the image quality is identical to the T6i, and that means it is superb.

Other shared features between the two cameras include an expandable ISO range to 25600, a 3-inch fully articulated LCD, 5 fps continuous shooting, and built-in wireless.

Learn More:

Nikon D3400

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Like the Nikon D3300 reviewed earlier, the Nikon D3400 has a 24 MP APS-C CMOS sensor that lacks an anti-aliasing filter for sharper images.

And while these two cameras share many commonalities, the D3400 has a higher ISO range (up to 25600), an improved battery life, and Bluetooth and smartphone controls.

Even though the D3400 is two years newer than the D3300, it's still priced very well at less than $500.

That makes the D3400 an excellent all-around buy for photographers that want a beginner DSLR camera.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Nikon D3300 and D3400 in the video above by Chris Winter.

Canon EOS 1300D/Rebel T6

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The Rebel T6 is equipped with the same 18MP sensor as its predecessor, the T5, but it has an upgraded processing engine that produces better results, although major differences should not be expected.

It does, however, include Wi-Fi and NFC, which for a lot of people are very important features. It also has improved ISO performance for low-light shooting.

The screen has been updated from an obsolete 406,000 dots to a 920,000 dots unit that makes it easier to review your shots. The 9-point autofocus system is certainly not the most modern, but for beginner photographers that are just learning the ropes with an entry-level DSLR, this is a good option.

Editor's Tip:When considering the best entry-level DSLRs, don't just look at the price. Also inspect a camera's specifications like the number of megapixels, continuous shooting speed, video capabilities, and ISO performance. Also consider whether the camera comes by itself or if it is packaged with a kit lens or other accessories.



We Recommend


The Best Portrait Lenses For a Budget Price

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Imagine this scenario…

You want a nice lens to use for portraits of your friends and family.

So, you hop online, search “best portrait lenses” for your particular type of camera, and boom - you’re presented with a lineup of really expensive glass.

Then the sadness sets in.

As a casual shooter, you don’t want (or need) to spend $1,500 on a professional-grade portrait lens. That means you’re out of luck, right?

Wrong!

There are plenty of excellent lenses available today that get you good results without forcing you to choose between paying for groceries or paying for your new lens.

It’s just a question of finding them!

What Makes a Great Portrait Lens, Anyway?

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There are a lot of factors at play regarding what makes a lens great as opposed to just serviceable.

One of the first things to consider is the focal length.

If you shoot with a full frame camera like the Canon 5DS R, the ideal focal length for portraiture will be different than if you shoot with a crop sensor camera like the Nikon D5300. Looking at the graphic above, you can see how a cropped sensor camera records less data from the scene.

What this means is this: the effective focal length of a lens changes as the crop factor changes. So, where a 50mm lens operates as a 50mm lens on a full frame camera, on a crop sensor camera with a 1.5x crop factor, that same 50mm lens behaves like a 75mm lens.

Now that we have that out of the way...

When shooting full frame, 85mm is a great focal length because you can use it to get close-ups if need be, without being right up in the model’s face. Additionally, at that focal length you can compose upper body or full body portraits from a decent distance away.

But why is that important?

Often, people aren’t all that comfortable in front of the camera, so the more distance you can put between your subject and your lens, the more likely they are to be comfortable. And, the more comfortable they are, the better they’ll look in your photos.

Bonus feature: What’s more, an 85mm lens on a full frame camera has a slight amount of compression, which helps minimize the appearance of larger facial features, like noses, that help make the photo that much more pleasing.

If you shoot with a crop sensor camera, you might consider a 50mm lens. Depending on the crop factor, a 50mm lens might operate in the 65-80mm range. That means you can get similar results as with the 85mm lens and full frame camera combination discussed above.

Alternatively, you could decide to opt for the 85mm with your crop sensor camera and work at an effective focal length of about 110mm to 136mm. That means that standing side-by-side to a photographer with the same lens and a full frame camera, you can get close-ups of the model’s head and shoulders where the full frame shooter might have a view wide enough to be upper body.

Prime or Zoom?

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One consideration to make is whether you want a zoom or a prime lens.

With a prime, you typically get larger maximum apertures, meaning you can shoot in lower lighting conditions than you can with a zoom. A larger aperture also gives you more leeway in terms of controlling depth of field, so you can more easily blur out the background to draw more attention to your subject.

Additionally, primes usually have better image quality for the simple fact that there are fewer elements for the light to pass through. The fewer the elements, the sharper the image.

On the flip side, zooms can be more versatile, giving you a range of focal lengths to work with in one package. You can shoot wide-angle to telephoto with some lenses, which could come in handy if you want a variety of portraits without having to swap lenses.

The fewer lens changes you have, the faster you can work, which your subjects are likely to appreciate. The downside is that zooms can be quite pricey and often exceed the budget of photographers that are looking to score a good lens without dropping a ton of money.

That said, let’s take a look at five prime lenses for various camera systems that are excellent options for portraiture.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

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For many Canon shooters, there isn’t a better choice for a budget portrait lens than the 85mm f/1.8 USM. It’s not a new lens, but its build quality means that it has stood the test of time and still represents a solid lens for photographers of all levels and abilities.

One of the lens’s best features is its lightning fast autofocus system. The system is virtually silent as well, which comes in handy if you’re taking portraits of sensitive subjects, like a sleeping baby.

What’s more, with eight diaphragm blades, you get very pleasing bokeh and gorgeously blurred backgrounds. It’s compact too, so it will easily fit in your camera bag without taking up a ton of space.

Pros & Cons:

  • Wonderfully fast autofocus
  • Compact, tough design
  • It’s old (introduced in 2007)
  • Noticeable loss of sharpness at max aperture

Quick specs:

Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G

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The beauty of this lens - apart from it’s phenomenal price - is that it produces sharp results with excellent contrast, even when you push the aperture to its widest value at f/1.8.

The lens has minimal distortion, which is handy for any type of photo, but especially for portraiture. The colors of the scene stay true, with little color fringing. Its bokeh is eye-catching as well, which is a consequence of the rounded shape of the lens’s seven diaphragm blades.

Pros & Cons:

  • Excellent sharpness
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Sluggish autofocus speed
  • Chromatic aberration can appear more often than in comparable lenses

Quick specs:

Canon 50mm F/1.4 USM

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Though there is a cheaper Canon 50mm option, the 50mm f/1.4 USM is a better lens (for about double the price). Whether you shoot on a full frame or a crop sensor camera, this little lens will give you great results up close and at a distance.

This lens is well known for its sharpness and clarity. It offers delightful background blur as well. Like the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM reviewed earlier, this lens is small and compact, meaning you can easily add it to your camera bag without removing other lenses or gear.

Pros & Cons:

  • Short 1.5 ft minimum focusing distance
  • Huge f/1.4 maximum aperture
  • It’s old (introduced in 2007)
  • Soft edges when at max aperture

Quick specs:

Rokinon 85MAF-N 85mm F1.4 Aspherical Lens for Nikon

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Though we’ve chosen to highlight the model of this lens that is compatible with Nikon cameras, there is actually a wide-ranging line of lenses for Canon, Fuji, Sony, Olympus, and other major brands.

Regardless of the camera system you use, this lens offers superb optics that result in sharp portraits. Focusing is quick and easy as well. However, the minimum focusing distance is a bit long at 3.3 feet and it has manual focus, which can be hard to master. However, that’s a worthy trade-off for the exceptional quality of the images that result.

Pros & Cons:

  • Superb sharpness
  • Various models for different camera systems
  • Manual focus only
  • Heavier than other comparable lenses

Quick specs:

  • Max aperture: f/1.4
  • Min aperture: f/22
  • Number of elements: 14 (in 7 groups)
  • Focal length: 85mm fixed
  • Min focus distance: 3.3 feet
  • Compatible cameras: Canon, Nikon, Sony E Mount, Sony A Mount, Olympus, Pentax, FujiFilm X-Mount
  • Currently $329.00 at Amazon
  • See used price here.

Sony NEX 50mm f1.8 OSS

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If you’re one of the fast-growing number of Sony shooters, you’ll want to pick up your own Sony NEX 50mm f1.8 OSS. It has unparalleled sharpness with virtually no distortion or vignetting. The result is clear, sharp portraits that are a joy to view.

Additionally, the lens is able to create sharp results even when shooting wide open. As far as bokeh goes, it is buttery smooth. Speaking of smooth, the lens has Sony’s venerable Optical Steady Shot stabilization system, which means your lens will help you take portraits that will be sharper.

Pros & Cons:

  • Incredible sharpness, even at wide apertures
  • Sony’s OSS system
  • Best used with a camera equipped with an electronic viewfinder
  • Chromatic aberration can be an issue at wider apertures

Quick specs:

Any of the lenses reviewed here will serve you well as you seek to take more (and better) portraits. Give each one a more thorough inspection, and select a lens that works with your current camera system. Get some practice with your new lens, and before long, you’ll likely see a vast improvement in the quality of your portraits, all without spending a huge amount of money on a new portrait lens.







The Canon 50mm f/1.8 II - Does the new version live up to the legend?

 Canon 50mm

Have a Canon 50mm lens you want to sell?  Get a free quote HERE.

Cheap lenses generally offer poor image quality. That’s a fact of life that hasn’t changed a lot since the early days of 35mm film. Yet there’s always going to be an exception, and this nifty fifty by Canon is by far the most outstanding. You get a perspective which is very close to that of the human eye. The f/1.8 maximum aperture makes it bright enough to use it in the lowest lighting conditions. The sharpness and details make the photos you take with it look like they were taken with something ten times more expensive.

This lens is the best piece of glass you can get on a small budget. The secret behind the success of the Canon 50mm f/1.8II lies in its design. It is virtually unchanged because it’s highly effective and very cost effective to build.

Canon 50mm

Canon’s original EF 50mm f/1.8 is probably in the bag of every amateur and enthusiast photographer. Some use it daily; others take it out on rare occasions when the light commands it.

It’s a classic by all means, but as with other very popular Canon lenses; the new version has brought significant improvements. If you take a close look at it, it looks a lot like the first version. When you pick it up however, you quickly notice the difference in the quality of materials. The newer version feels a little better, and although it’s still made of plastic, it loses that “I’m cheap” feeling.

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Another real difference is when you use it; everyone who used the old lens remembers the annoying sound it made while focusing. It sounded a lot like trapping a mouse under your shoe. The 50mm f/1.8 II has finally improved the autofocus in terms of both speed and silence. It is a lens much better suited for street photography and just about any other situation where you don’t want people to be distracted by the noise of the lens focusing.

Image quality is pretty much the same, and that’s a good thing. Other than the actual optics, everything else has changed for the better.

The new version is built better; it’s faster and more silent. All of these might not make any difference in the studio, but when you take it outdoors for real life use, you’ll definitely notice it’s a much better lens.

Our friends at KEH Camera have got some great prices on the Canon 50mm f/1.8 II.







The Canon 7D is Still a Competitor

Canon 7D

Have a Canon 7D you want to sell?  Get a free quote HERE.

Throughout the early days of my career, one healthy principle kept me out of trouble, especially considering the less than generous budget I had for gear: make the most of what you have. In other words, I would often search for weeks comparing items and making sure my precious money would go into the best possible option.

If you’re shopping for a new camera and you’re on a tight budget, you definitely know what I’m talking about here. One thing that hasn’t changed with the evolution of technology is the very little control you get with a beginner camera. Today’s entry-level DSRLs offer impressive image quality, but it’s usually at the cost of durability, image control and speed. If you’re after a solid camera that was made for professional use and you have a tight budget, your hands are usually pretty tied, unless of course we’re talking about a 7D.

Canon 7D

The Canon 7D is one of the most loved digital cameras of all time. It is so successful that many photographers who bought the 7D MK II kept the original model as a backup.

You can buy a very good condition 7Din the $600 range. Sure, you can get a brand new entry-level DSLR, but that’s like comparing a new scooter to a chopper.

What does buying a used 7D in 2015 get you? It wasn’t a camera ahead of its time, yet the 18MP resolution is higher than some cameras still in production today. The 1/8000s maximum shutter speed and the 8fps burst mode are definitely some of the features that make his camera so popular. It also has an ideal body for sports, wildlife and bird photography.

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You know a camera’s design is awesome when the successor looks almost exactly the same. The design and build quality of the Canon 7D make it feel like a pro’s camera that was designed last year. It’s rugged and solid like a tank. If you’re an outdoor photographer, it’s hard to get anything new or old that’s better built.

It was also a favorite for video shooters and although we now have 4k video, it can still throw a good punch. But as you would expect, it’s not all milk and honey with this one. The ISO performance is well behind current models. In fact, this is the department that has seen the biggest improvements in the industry these last 5 years. The 7D can pull off good quality between ISO 1000 and 1600. Anything beyond that will probably look a little too noisy for large prints. This is its Achilles’ heel. If you aren’t shooting in low light though, the 7D is one of the best deals out there. If you’re an aspiring sports or wildlife photographer on a budget, do yourself a favor and buy a 7D and a good lens. You’ll thank yourself.

Our friends at KEH Camera have great deals on the Canon 7D. Check them out here.







The Nikon D300: The Perfect DSLR for Learning Photography

Nikon D300

The Nikon D300 is part of the same generation as the well-respected D700 and D3. At the time, it was Nikon’s flagship crop sensor camera. It quickly became a favorite for many enthusiasts and professionals, and the camera has aged well. You can pick one up today in excellent condition for very little money. However, with all these new affordable beginner cameras, the question remains whether the D300 is still a purchase worth considering.

Nikon D300

Have a Nikon D3000 you want to sell?  Get a free quote HERE.

Without any question, this was a camera made to live up to the expectations of professional photojournalists who took it to some of the most hostile places in the world. The 12 MP resolution is not unheard of in today’s cameras, with flagships like the Sony A7s pulling out about the same pixel count. The shutter speed range is between 30s-1/8000 sec, which is quite uncommon for beginner and mid-level cameras. This is great for high speed shooting as well as for situations where you want to use wide aperture like f/1.4 in harsh sunlight. The AF system has 15 points, which is still good by today’s standard. However, the Canon 5D Mark II and 6D which are still in use by pros around the world only have 11 points.

It’s the ideal camera for anyone who wants to photograph more than family snapshots. This is a camera for young photography students and anyone considering a long term relationship with photography.

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One of the potential drawbacks of the D300 is the lackluster ISO. It’s clean up to 800, good at 1200 and usable at 1600. This is something to consider if you take a lot of photos at night or in low light situations.

By far my favorite feature of the D300 is the integrated CLS system. Nikon’s Creative Lighting System was revolutionary and it is the reason why many generations of photographers made a career in studio photography. It is the favorite of many strobists who love to light their photos creatively using small, affordable flashes. No triggers, no receivers, no cables, all you need is the D300 and a Nikon Speedlight. It works with the latest flashes as well as the older ones, which can be found at very good prices in great condition.

At the end of the day we’re talking about a camera in the $300 range that was created with professional features. Apart from the lackluster ISO performance, which is something you can easily live without if you’re into studio and flash photography, this really is a fantastic camera for learning advanced photography. The Nikon D300 has professional controls and features at an amazingly affordable price.

Our friends at KEH Camera have got some great deals on the Nikon D300. Check them out here.







The Nikon D90 A Legend Revisited

Those of us who purchased this camera a short time after it came out can’t help looking back with nostalgia. The Nikon D90 is by far one of the most important landmarks in DSLR history. It was the first ever DSLR that could shoot video and it was also the first camera that introduced that awesome cinematic look to the general public. Before the D90, if you wanted the “film look” you had to rent gear that had a five figure price tag.

Even by today's standards, at HD 720p, the D90 produces acceptable video quality. If it has a weakness in this department, it may be in somewhat sub-par audio, but a little tweaking there is a  small price to pay.

Speaking of small prices, you can pick up a good condition Nikon D90 for under $300. I think personally believe it’s a steal. But let’s take a closer look.

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Have a Nikon D90 you want to sell?  Get a free quote HERE.

For this modest price tag you get a camera body that actually feels professional. It has comfortable grip, it’s not too big and certainly no tiny toy and it is overall very well built. You can see Nikon’s tradition of making reliable cameras for serious amateurs and enthusiasts that certainly sets it apart from entry level models.

The 12.3MP sensor is, in fact, a very good one that can get the job done admirably. Unless you want to make gigantic prints on photographic paper, 12 MP is actually enough for most needs.

You get a camera with a built in autofocus motor that lets you put on older Nikon lenses with superb glass and still enjoy AF. This will allow you to build an affordable system capable of delivering very good image quality. In fact, it just might do a better job for you than an entry-level DSLR and a couple of kit lenses.

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With a burst rate of 4.5fps it certainly won't win any prizes for speed, yet the results looked just fine when I took it to the basketball court to shoot several games.

The D90 is overall a very versatile camera and yes, I’m saying it in 2015. It’s not going to be the first choice of a professional, but it is an ideal learner’s camera. The simple argument of paying less than $300 for a camera that gives you so much control, a great body, the Creative Lighting System and a sensor that can still get the job done should be enough.

If for whatever reason your budget revolves around this figure, don’t make the mistake of buying a compact or an entry level camera. Get a Nikon D90, because it will serve you well as a solid, highly capable still camera.

Our friends at KEH Camera have got a great deal on the Nikon D90.







The Pitfalls of Buying Used Camera Gear

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I know there are some photographers out there that feel like they have to have new gear.

I'm not one of them.

Sure, it's nice to have that new camera smell or new lens feel when you unbox your brand new piece of equipment.

But I think we can all agree that buying new usually means shelling out big bucks.

Personally, I'd rather put that extra money towards buying used gear and building a more robust kit than having a few brand new things.

I'll be the first to admit that sometimes, buying used can be an adventure.

And I don't mean a good adventure, either...

With that said, let's explore a few pitfalls of buying used gear as well as a couple of distinct advantages you can enjoy if you opt to buy quality used gear.

Pitfall #1: You Don't Know What You're Getting

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Sure, the ad for the "like new" Nikon D810 body on Craigslist looks appealing, especially with the $1,000 asking price.

The photos on the listing might even look compelling.

The description of the camera might include flowery adjectives that make it sound like the deal of the century.

The problem is that you have no idea if the camera pictured and described is the one that you'll actually get your hands on. The condition they claim could very well be way off the mark because there's no "accuracy police" to ensure each listing is telling the truth.

That means the "like new" camera might end up being dinged, dented, or scratched. It could have an impossibly high shutter count or a cracked LCD. The mirror might be broken or the sensor might need repair. You just have no idea.

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Worse yet, you don't know who you might be meeting in some desolate parking lot somewhere to check out the camera.

In that regard, buying used gear from places like Craigslist puts you in a vulnerable position, both in terms of the financial risk and the potential risk to personal safety.

Now, I'm not saying that Craigslist is a hotbed of criminal activity or that if you buy something off there that you'll be met with bodily harm. I'm just saying there are better places to find good deals on gear.

Pitfall #2: Is It Stolen?

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I know a few people that have bought gear from places like eBay that have been pleased with the deal they got.

I also know a few people that have ended up with stolen merchandise. Believe me, that's not a fun position to be in.

While eBay has some protections to offer consumers after the fact, it still doesn't keep you from potentially having to deal with a seller that completely misrepresents the item they have listed.

Much like Craigslist, a seller can put whatever they want in the listing, but eBay will only get involved once you get the item and find that it's far from what was described.

That means you might get a pile of junk in the mail or even gear that, come to find out, has been stolen.

Then you have to deal with the process of notifying eBay, sending the item back, waiting for the resolution team to do its thing, and so on.

In other words, not only is there a possibility of getting gear with a history that's unknown to you (and a potentially shady one at that) but you're also out the time and effort to rectify the situation.

Pitfall #3: You Assume All the Risk

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As the examples above illustrate, when you opt to buy gear through outlets like Craigslist, eBay, or some random person in your life, you assume all the risk of the transaction. You have to trust the other person that the item they describe is the one they have and that they have given you an accurate account of the condition of the camera, lens, or whatever the item might be.

I don't have to tell you that assuming all that risk is not a fun place to be in.

All too often, people are drawn in by promises of gear that's super cheap and in fantastic condition. But that's the whole point of conning someone, right?

Make the deal sound amazing and slap a low enough price on it, and someone is bound to give it a shot.

But, as the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Buy Used Gear the Right Way

Now that some of the major downsides of buying used gear are out of the way, let's focus on the smart way to buy used gear.

Some Used Gear is Actually a Good Deal

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While that Nikon D810 for $1,000 on Craigslist is undoubtedly a scam, that doesn't mean that you can't get high-quality used camera gear that's offered for a great price.

KEH Camera has a vast inventory of cameras, lenses, and related gear at excellent prices.

That means that you can get something like a used Nikon D810 body in excellent condition for about $2,200.

Sure, it's not the $1,000 the guy on Craigslist wants, but, of course, the camera you get from KEH will actually be worth the $2,200 price tag.

Like I mentioned earlier, buying used can save you hundreds of dollars on a single piece of kit, and that's money you can then use towards getting something else you need.

Even better, you can sell your current gear to KEH and use the proceeds towards the purchase of new-to-you gear. You can also opt to have your earnings sent to you via PayPal or check. See how quick and easy the process is by checking out the video above.

So, with KEH you can get a great deal on used gear and get top dollar for the gear you already have without the hassle of haggling or even paying for shipping. Now that's what I call a deal!

Some Used Gear is Graded for Condition & Warrantied

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Unlike our friend on Craigslist, the folks at KEH inspect every single piece of gear they have in their inventory and use their industry standard 10-point grading system to evaluate it.

That means that you know exactly what you're getting at the point of purchase. There is no surprise junk arriving in the mail from these guys because everything is inspected, graded, and certified, with the grade displayed right there on the listing page for the gear. If it says "like new," that's exactly what you get.

Because KEH is so confident in their grading and inspecting system, they offer a 14-day return policy, so if you don't like what you get, you can simply send it right back.

Even better, KEH has a 180-day warranty on everything they sell. That is great peace of mind that you just can't get by shopping on Craigslist, eBay, and other such places.

Reputation Matters When It Comes to Selling Used Photography Equipment

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Sure, there are plenty of retailers out there that sell used gear, but none matches the reputation that KEH Camera has built.

Over the last 35 years, KEH has grown into the largest pre-owned camera store in the world.

You don't operate for decades with an outstanding reputation if you don't know what you're doing.

Ask any photographer that's bought used gear, and if they bought it from KEH, I'm betting they had an experience so good that they have been a repeat customer.

I know I am!

I've bought some camera bodies and lenses over the years from KEH, and I've never been disappointed.

If you need photography gear, don't automatically buy something brand new. Give KEH Camera a try and see just how much money you can save on top-notch gear at prices that will knock your socks off!



We Recommend


The Sony a99 II, a Home Run or a Strikeout?

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The Sony a99 II debuted late last year to a lot of fanfare.

With a considerable stable of new features, not the least of which is the addition of the 42MP BSI-CMOS sensor from the a7R II, that fanfare is probably well deserved.

Or is it?

Yes, the a99 II represents a nice upgrade over its predecessor, the a99. But the question is, does it do enough to compete with the “big boys” from Nikon and Canon?

Only an examination of the a99 II’s specs and performance will tell us!

The a99

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The original Sony a99 was released in December 2012 as a semi-professional DSLR that replaced the aging Sony Alpha A900.

The specs on the a99 were quite impressive for the time, and in many regards are still impressive today:

  • 24MP full frame CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100 - 25600
  • Sensor-shift image stabilization
  • 2.3 million dot electronic viewfinder
  • 3″ fully articulated screen
  • 6 fps continuous shooting
  • 1920 x 1080 video resolution
  • Built-in GPS
  • Weather-sealed body

These features made the a99 a hit with all sorts of photographers. The high-quality built-in electronic viewfinder was noted as a plus by portrait photographers, landscape photographers, and street photographers alike. Sports photographers appreciated the a99’s 1/8000 second maximum shutter speed and excellent low-light performance. Built-in image stabilization was a bonus for all genres of photographer as well.

The primary complaint of the a99, however, was its large, heavy body. Weighing in at 812 grams, it was heavier than the average DSLR body by about 36 grams. The a99 was bulkier too, with about 2 centimeters of extra thickness over the average DSLR.

That said, the a99 was embraced by many, and with the a99 II now on store shelves, a used a99 is also quite cheap.

So, with that said, how does the a99 II stack up to its predecessor?

Head to Head: The a99 vs. a99 II

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Announced in September 2016, the Sony a99 II has quite a few new features that make it a significant upgrade over the a99. Consider the following specifications:

  • 42MP full frame BSI-CMOS sensor
  • ISO 50 - 102400
  • Sensor-shift Image Stabilization
  • 2.3 million dot electronic viewfinder
  • 3″ Fully articulated Screen
  • 12.0 fps continuous shooting
  • 3840 x 2160 video resolution
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC
  • Smartphone remote capabilities
  • Weather-sealed body

For a look at the a99 II in action, check out the video below from Kai W, in which he puts the camera to the test:

Let’s examine a few of these features in more detail.

The Sensor

As noted earlier, one of the best upgrades is in the sensor department. The a99 II sports a 42MP full frame BSI-CMOS sensor that has 75 percent more pixels than the a99’s 24MP sensor.

More impressive is the quality of the images created by the a99 II’s sensor.

Remember, the sensor in the a99 II (a DSLR) comes from the Sony a7R II (a mirrorless). Some questioned the ability of the mirror-based system to utilize the sensor to its fullest.

As it turns out, those concerns were unwarranted because the a99 II creates images that are as nearly as good at the a7R II and which are certainly of a higher quality than the a99.

In fact, when shooting in RAW with a low ISO, there is virtually no difference in quality between images taken on an a99 II and an a7R II - the only hiccups, and they are small ones, is slightly more noise and a one-third reduction in EV due to the mirror in the a99 II.

Additionally, the a99 II does not have an anti-alias filter, meaning it produces images that have improved sharpness and greater detail than those produced by the a99.

The winner: a99 II

The Autofocus System

The a99’s autofocus system is nothing to frown about - it has 19 AF points, 11 of which are of the cross-type variety.

But compared to the a99 II’s Hybrid Phase Detection system with the 399 AF point (79 cross-type) on-sensor PDAF system from the a7R II, the a99’s system seems positively quaint.

All those extra AF points means the a99 II is a superior camera for action photographers - sports, wildlife, and so forth. Add in the a99 II’s 1/8000 second maximum shutter speed and 12fps continuous shooting (compared to just 6fps for the a99), and you’ve got a recipe for a camera that can tackle even the fastest of action photography.

What’s more, the a99 II is the first full frame camera to have a 4D predictive focus feature, that when combined with the AF system makes this one of the best focus tracking DSLRs on the market.

See more features of the a99 II in the video from Sony above.

The winner: a99 II

Video Capabilities

The a99 II represents a significant leap forward in video capabilities over its predecessor, as is put on full display in the video from Sony above.

Where the a99 had 1920 x 1080 video resolution, the a99 II ups its game to 3840 x 2160 with full 4K UHD resolution.

But that’s not the only improvement.

With the a99 II, you can shoot as fast as 120fps for extreme slow motion video and as slow as 1fps for timelapse video. Add in the capability of S-Gamut and S-Log shooting, headphone and microphone input, continuous video autofocus, and zebra mode, and you’ve got a highly capable camera for videographers.

Another neat feature added to the a99 II is that you can capture still photos from video - when shooting in 4k, create separate 8-megapixel images that are stored separately.

The winner: a99 II

Modern Connectivity

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When it comes to connectivity, there is no comparison between the a99 and a99 II.

When the a99 came out in 2012, things like NFC, Wi-Fi, and smartphone controls weren’t common, but now they are, and the a99 II has each.

The benefits of this kind of connectivity are obvious - share images quickly and easily with compatible devices, upload your images to the web, and use your smartphone as a camera remote for those occasions when you need to minimize camera shake or want to take a selfie.

What the a99 II does not have is GPS, which was a feature of the a99, though location data can be generated by your phone and embedded to your images via Bluetooth.

The winner: a99 II

So, the a99 II is clearly the winner in the head-to-head matchup with its predecessor. But what about the a99 II’s own benefits and detriments?

The Good Stuff

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One of this camera’s best features is its in-body 5-axis image stabilization that was designed based on the a7 II’s system.

Built specifically for the a-mount, the 5-axis image stabilization helps ensure that the camera can fully utilize all the resolution of its 42MP sensor. This is done, in part, through a series of gyroscopic sensors that help the camera detect every camera motion.

The result of the system is up to 4 ½ stops of extra shutter speed when handholding the camera. Better still, the system works not just for still, but for video shooting as well.

The a99 II also shines in low-light situations. In fact, it offers accurate autofocus to EV-4, which is on part with the incredible a7S and a7S II. With an expanded ISO range from 50-102400, you can shoot in all sorts of lighting conditions and have reliable autofocus, even when it’s near darkness.

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From a practical standpoint, the a99 II shines in other ways. It allows you to fully customize many of its buttons to your liking, without restriction on what button can be used for what purpose, which was a complaint of the a99. It also allows you to add your copyright notice into each image’s metadata, that way you don’t forget to do it later on.

The a99 II also gets an upgrade in the viewfinder department, with the XGA OLED viewfinder from the a7R II and the a7S II.

Other holdover features from the a99 are much appreciated. The weather-sealed body is well-constructed and will stand up to all kinds of elements. The magnificent articulating LCD from the a99 remains too. Face detection focus remains, which helps in acquiring tack-sharp focus on portrait subjects, has also been carried over. Who can forget that there’s an excellent range of a-mount lenses ready to be used with this camera as well.

The Problems

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Though a99 II is an excellent camera, some issues persist.

For starters, it’s still a big camera compared to the competition, sharing the same weight and bulk problems of the a99. In fact, the weight issue is an even bigger problem because the a99 II weighs 37 grams more than the a99. Add accessories like a battery grip (shown above) and it’s even heavier...and that’s without a lens!

Another issue is the a99 II’s trouble with color. Yellows often have a green tint to them, with greens that tend to be on the cool side as well. This has been a problem for Sony for quite some time, and they clearly still haven’t figured out how to fix the problem.

Some shooters will also note that the a99 II has a slightly less robust battery too. On average, you can get about 490 shots on a single charge, which is about 10 less than you can get on average with an a99.

The Verdict

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In the end, the a99 II is an excellent camera. It’s taken the best features of the a99 and held them over while also adding incredible new functionalities that make it a huge leap forward from its predecessor. In a head-to-head matchup, the a99 II is a better camera than the a99 in just about every way.

And that’s how it should be. Each new iteration of a camera should see improvements that make it easier to use, more productive and functional, and expand its capabilities.

It’s also a great competitor for similar Canon and Nikon models, like the 5D Mark IV and the Nikon D810. Whether it can lure die-hard Canon and Nikon shooters to the Sony side remains to be seen. That will be the real test for the a99 II.

But, for now, based on its specs and performance, I’d say Sony has hit another one out of the park!



We Recommend


This is What Makes the Nikon D5600 a Perfect Camera For Beginners

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Nikon D5600 Camera

When getting started in photography, one thing that most aspiring photographers experience is sticker shock.

Outfitting yourself with a camera, a lens, a tripod, and other basic photography essentials can easily run you into the hundreds - if not thousands - of dollars.

But there are some smart moves you can make to make your dollar stretch further, including buying a camera that's well-priced so you can make your dollar stretch a little further.

Once such camera is the Nikon D5600...

Now, I'm not saying that this is a beginner-only camera because it's not. If you're an intermediate shooter, this rig will work just fine.

But part of its appeal for beginners is that you can pick up a like-new body for just over $600. When it comes to cameras, that's not a bad deal at all!

Let's explore a few more characteristics of this camera that prove to be helpful for beginners.

It's Fully Featured

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Making an investment in a camera - even if at a discounted price - is something you want to last you awhile.

The Nikon D5600 will do just that, allowing you to learn and grow as a photographer without outgrowing your camera in a few months.

As far as the specifications go, it's fully featured:

  • 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 39-point autofocus system
  • 5fps continuous shooting
  • 1080/60p video shooting
  • Time-lapse movie setting
  • SnapBridge Bluetooth & Wi-Fi communication

Nikon has a history of making cameras with great sensors, and this one is no exception.

At 24-megapixels you get all the resolution you need to take detailed photos that can be turned into large prints, especially given that the sensor produces images with great colors and excellent contrast.

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What's more, if you want to take photos of your kids playing soccer or your dog running around in the backyard, the D5600's 39-point autofocus sensor will help. Aiding in that is a 2,016-pixel RGB sensor with autofocus tracking and metering.

The result is that you can let the camera find the target and it'll do a great job of keeping focus on the subject. Though the autofocus system isn't the most sophisticated, it's surprisingly fast and certainly outperforms many of the autofocus systems from the D5600's competitors.

In other words, this camera makes it easier for you to get crisp action shots that are well-exposed.

Add in HD video capabilities and a built-in time-lapse movie setting, and you have the makings of a camera that'll expand your capabilities into the video realm too.

It's Compact

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In a world in which we depend so heavily on our small, lightweight smartphones, lugging around a full-sized DSLR can be a bit of an inconvenience.

Because the D5600 is a crop sensor camera - meaning, it has a smaller sensor than a traditional full frame camera - it has a smaller camera body.

And as crop sensor cameras go, this one is among the smallest available today.

That's handy for a beginner for a couple of reasons.

First, being so small and relatively lightweight means you don't feel like you're lifting a kettle ball every time you want to take a photo. What's more, the smaller the camera, the more likely you are to take it with you when you head out because it's not a huge inconvenience to carry it.

The second reason is closely related - the more you have your camera, the more you will practice taking photos, and the more photos you take, the better you will get.

Since this is a camera that you can easily carry around, it will help you get the practice you need to improve your craft.

It's Got a Flip-Out Touchscreen

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Even though the D5600 is a svelte little camera, it's got a sizeable 3.2-inch touchscreen LCD.

The touchscreen alone is a handy feature for beginners because it makes it much easier to navigate the camera's menu system (which you can bring up with a single touch) and for focusing when shooting in live view.

Speaking of live view, the camera has a handy "live view" lever on the top of the body, that way you can quickly access that feature.

Additionally, the screen articulates, so you can more easily compose images from a very low perspective or a very high perspective, which helps in the creativity department.

The Ergonomics are Nice

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This might not seem like a big deal, but the way that the camera feels in your hand is an important consideration to make.

Some smaller cameras feel a little cheap in the hand, but that's not the case with the D5600.

The grip is fairly robust, especially for a camera with such a small body. You feel as though it's solid in your hand, which goes a long way in feeling confident about getting sharp photos.

What's more, the layout of the buttons and dials is intuitive, so you don't have to spend hours and hours trying to figure out the lay of the land, so to speak.

Instead, a few minutes of practicing reaching each button and dial, and you should be good to go.

SnapBridge Makes Sharing Easy

Today, we're more connected than ever with smartphones in our pockets, virtual assistants to play our music, and intelligent home systems to turn on our air conditioning and turn off the lights.

It makes sense, then, that cameras are becoming more and more connected, and the Nikon D5600 is no exception.

The camera comes with SnapBridge technology that allows you to more quickly and easily share the photos you take.

Using Bluetooth, the D5600 will transfer a 2MB copy of the images you take directly to your smartphone.

That means that if you're on vacation and want to share your photos with family and friends on social media, you don't have to rely on the less powerful smartphone camera in your pocket.

Instead, take all the photos you want with the D5600, watch as each one is sent directly to your phone, and share them from there.

There's another handy feature of SnapBridge, too...

Using Wi-Fi, you can transfer video files to a smart device. You can also use Wi-Fi for remote live view. That means you can set up your camera for a shot, go sit in the car, and see what the camera sees from your smartphone.

Unfortunately, remote live view doesn't let you change any settings, but you can at least see what you'll be photographing before remotely firing the shutter.

Catch a quick introduction to SnapBridge in the video above from Nikon.

Wrapping It Up

When it comes down to it, the Nikon D5600 isn't the most expensive or fancy camera out there, but it certainly is a homerun for beginner photographers that want something that can grow with them as their skills expand.

As noted above, this little camera has plenty to offer - a great sensor, good image quality, fantastic ergonomics, and modern-day connectivity we all want.

It's also got excellent battery life, an easy-to-use and effective autofocus system, and a touchscreen for easy menu navigation and focusing. The price is great too.

And though there are some things that aren't as good about the D5600 - SnapBridge is more difficult on iOS devices, autofocus for video isn't all it could be, and the touchpad function is really only useful for right-eyed shooters - there is much more to like about this camera than dislike.

If you want something that's got great features and produces clean, sharp images, I'd consider the Nikon D5600 any day of the week! Check out a complete tutorial and overview of the D5600 in the video above by Tony and Chelsea Northrup.



We Recommend


Top 10 Gifts for Photographers Under $100 - 2017 Edition

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The great thing about shopping for a photographer is that there is no lack of awesome gear from which to choose.

From camera bags to tripods, camera remotes to photo prints, you can find just about anything for any photographer.

Better still, there's a wide selection of gifts for photographers that come in with a price under $100.

Here's a list of ten of the best photography gifts you can find with a budget of $100.

Vanguard ALTA Rise 43 Sling Bag

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For the photographer on your holiday shopping list that wants a versatile bag that can carry a ton of gear, the ALTA Rise 43 Sling Bag should be on your radar.

Built to hold a professional DSLR body, 4-5 lenses, a flash and other photography accessories as well as a tablet or small laptop, this bag has plenty of space for all of your favorite photographer’s necessities.

Carrying the bag is a breeze with its Air System back, padded sling strap, and securing strap to keep the load evenly distributed on the body. The bag is protected with padding all the way around, too, so gear will be safe from bumps and bruises along the way.

When it’s time to take a photo, this bag has quick access with side zippers that make reaching gear incredibly easy. The brightly colored interior further makes for ease of use, as your favorite photographer won’t have to dig around in a dark bag to find what they need. And since it’s a sling bag, it’s quick and easy to take on and off, too.

In short, this bag is feature-rich, comfortable to carry, and priced right at under $100!

Learn more about the Vanguard ALTA Rise 43 Sling Bag.

Syrp Product Turntable

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If you’ve got someone on your holiday list this year that’s got a thing for product photography, there’s no better gift to give them than Syrp’s Product Turntable.

The Product Turntable allows you to automate the process of product photography. Paired with the Syrp Genie Mini, the Product Turntable gives you the ability to rotate products to create incredibly smooth rotating video and even interactive 360-degree images of products, too.

And since you use the Product Turntable with the Genie Mini, that means you can use your smartphone to control the turntable via the Genie Mini app.

The Product Turntable comes with all sorts of goodies, too, including an 8-inch turntable platform, black and white cardboard background disks, and a downloadable template so you can make your own DIY mounting setup.

If that doesn’t make your loved one a product photography genius, I don’t know what will!

Learn more about the Syrp Product Turntable.

Sirui 3T-35 Aluminum Tabletop Tripod

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Available in sleek red, shown above, and black, the Sirui 3T-35 Tabletop Tripod is a perfect gift for photographers in your life that need an ultra-compact, flexible, and portable tripod. 

It’s got a center column that can raise the tripod’s height to 13.5 inches tall. And even when extended to that height, the tripod is stable with its large legs providing excellent stability. When it’s time to pack up, the legs fold up for easy storage. For low-angle shots, you can remove the center column and attach the included ball head right to the base.

In other words, this little guy packs a punch, offering you all sorts of options for working with your camera. And at a price under $65, it’s a great buy, too!

Learn more about the Sirui 3T-35 Aluminum Tabletop Tripod.

Artbeat Studios HD Metal Print

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This holiday season, you can give the gift of a stunning HD Metal Print to the photography fans on your list, and do so without spending a huge sum of money, either.

Artbeat Studios offers a wide range of HD Metal Prints for well under $100, but they look like a million bucks.

That's because Artbeat Studios gives you tons of options for customizing the look of the print, from the surface and finish to the type of wall mount and wall hanger.

Their HD Metal Prints have incredible colors that are color checked to color calibrated monitors before printing commences to ensure the best look.

What's more, these prints are heat infused into a specially coated aluminum sheet. The result is a scratch-resistant, UV-resistant, and water-resistant metal print.

That means that for less than $100, you can give the gift of a vibrant, durable, gorgeous metal print that your loved one will cherish for decades to come!

Learn more about Artbeat Studios HD Metal Prints.

Alpine Labs Pulse

If you have a person to buy for this holiday and they love photography and gadgets, the Alpine Labs Pulse is the gift for them.

Pulse might be a little thing, but it packs a mighty punch as a camera remote on steroids...

Not only does Pulse allow photographers to control their cameras via a smartphone app, but it enables them to take traditional still photos, long exposures, real-time videos, and time-lapse videos.

And Pulse does all that by sitting on the camera's hot-shoe mount and plugging into the camera's USB port!

Using Bluetooth, Pulse talks to smartphones and delivers the ability to change exposure settings, start and stop video, review thumbnails and histograms, and so much more.

But the best part is that once Pulse has its commands, your phone doesn't have to stay connected - Pulse will take it from there.

Learn more about Pulse by Alpine Labs.

Canon 50mm f/1.8 II EF Mount Lens

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Ask any experienced photographer, and they'll likely tell you that the first lens new photographers should buy is a "Nifty Fifty."

If you're shopping for a Canon shooter this year, give them a great little lens in the Canon 50mm f/1.8 II.

With a large maximum aperture of f/1.8, this lens offers excellent low-light performance. It's sharp lens as well, producing clear, bright, detailed images.

At 50mm, this is an ideal normal lens on a full frame camera and a short telephoto lens on a crop sensor camera, so no matter which system your loved one uses, they'll find all sorts of uses for this lens.

It's also super lightweight - coming in at just 4.6 ounces - so it won't make your favorite photographer feel like they're carrying around a tank!

And if you by pre-owned, you can get a great deal, too!

Learn more about the Canon 50mm f/1.8 II EF Mount Lens from KEH Camera.

Formatt-Hitech Firecrest Circular Polarizing Filter

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For landscape photographers, the number one filter to use is a polarizer.

That's because it's so versatile and offers photographers so many benefits.

That includes reducing glare off of shiny surfaces like water and helping to reduce atmospheric haze for landscape photos that are clear and crisp.

Polarizers also boost the contrast in the sky, deepening the color of the sky and making clouds appear whiter for more visual impact.

One of the best polarizers around is the Formatt-Hitech Circular Polarizing Filter shown above.

It has a Formatt-Hitech's superb Firecrest anti-reflective multi-coating, so the images your loved one takes will have gorgeous color fidelity and contrast.

The filter glass is housed in a precision-milled SuperSlim or UltraSlim mount, too, meaning they stay out of the way of the lens to do its job.

If you have a loved one that loves landscape photography, this is the filter to get them!

Learn more about the Formatt-Hitech Firecrest Circular Polarizing Filter.

4V Design Ergo Wrist Strap

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If you have a photographer on your holiday list that likes to shoot lean and mean, a wrist strap for carrying their camera is an ideal gift.

But not all wrist straps are made alike...

Give them the gift of a highly functional and durable strap that also looks incredible by giving them the 4V Design Ergo Wrist strap.

It's got a unique curved design with inner padding that helps distribute the weight and pressure of the camera more evenly around the wrist. The special way that the strap is cut also helps prevent the strap from sliding off, too.

It's length adjustable to accommodate various sized wrists and has a reinforced, stitched, and folded attachment end for additional safety.

This thing even has hand-painted edges for a custom look that's sure to knock the socks off of your loved one when they open it.

Learn more about the 4V Design Ergo Wrist Strap.

Sirui Mobile Phone Lens

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Sirui has built a reputation for making some of the best tripods in the world, and now they've expanded their product line into the mobile phone market.

That means that for this holiday season, you can surprise that photography lover on your list with one of Sirui's mobile phone lenses.

With three different lenses to choose from - a portrait lens, a wide-angle/macro combo lens, or a fisheye lens - you can help your loved one create their artistic vision with their mobile phone.

Each lens has a multi-layer anti-reflection coating that allows for high light transmission. What's more, they produce images that have precise color rendition, reduced vignetting, and minimal distortion for a 4K professional image quality.

They're easy to mount, too, as they attach to a mobile phone case or lens mount adapter (sold separately).

Learn more about Sirui Mobile Phone Lenses.

Sew Trendy Elsa Crown

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If you have a photographer on your list that works with young ladies (or if you have a young lady to buy for), you might consider the Sew Trendy Elsa Crown as a top choice this holiday season.

This stunning, free-flowing crown is adorned with acrylic crystals that give it all sorts of sparkle.

It can be worn for various occasions, from holiday-themed photo shoots to princess parties.

At approximately 6-inches in diameter, it's large enough to command attention but not so large that it's weighty or overwhelming for a young lady to wear.

Looking at the image above, you can see just how gorgeous this crown is!

Learn more about the Sew Trendy Elsa Crown.



We Recommend


Top 14 Budget-Friendly Lenses

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If you’ve been into photography for any length of time, you understand two things about lenses: First, you get what you pay for, so finding a high-quality lens that produces sharp results is of the utmost importance, and, second, lenses are usually very expensive.

The expense of good lenses is a reflection of their quality. The better the optics, the better the results you will get. That’s why it’s important to use what budget you have to gear up with the best lenses you can afford.

Of course, there are a couple of ways that you can stretch your lens-buying budget - you can buy high-quality used gear and you can buy a lens that performs well, but doesn’t reach the price point of the best lenses on the market.

So, with that said, we’ve put together a list of 14 of the best budget-friendly lenses money can buy. Note, however that “budget-friendly” is a relative term. Some of these lenses might not seem all that inexpensive, but at least compared to top-shelf professional lenses, the ones listed here are a comparative steal.

Nikon Nikkor 24mm F/2.8 D Autofocus Lens

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The claim to fame for the Nikon Nikkor 24mm F/2.8 D Autofocus Lens (aside from its low price) is its incredible autofocus system. The lens never seems to struggle to find the subject, acquiring focus quickly and precisely. Better still, the fast autofocus works equally well indoors and out, allowing you to get the photos you need fast and move on to the next shot. What’s more, this lens has a large viewing angle so you can compose gorgeous shots of large subjects, like landscapes or large groups of people. It’s lightweight, compact design is a bonus for photographers that are on the go as well.

Nikon Nikkor 35mm F/1.8 G DX AF-S

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The Nikon Nikkor 35mm F/1.8 G DX AF-S is one of the least expensive lenses on our list. Despite that, it comes with a lot of features photographers of all ability levels will appreciate. It’s small, meaning you can use it in tight situations such as indoor portraits or on the street photographing strangers in a busy cityscape. Either way, the optics are top-notch, and the large f/1.8 aperture generates decent bokeh and allows you to keep shooting even when the lighting isn’t ideal. Use it for portraits, landscapes, and anything in between. It’s a great all-around lens that you can attach to your camera in the morning and continue to use throughout the day without even thinking about a lens change.

Nikon Nikkor 40mm F/2.8 G Micro DX AF-S Autofocus Lens For APS-C Sensor DSLRS

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If you’ve got a crop sensor Nikon camera body, the Nikon Nikkor 40mm F/2.8 G Micro DX AF-S Autofocus Lens is a budget-friendly option that will likely become your go-to everyday lens because it’s small enough to take just about anywhere. With a minimum focusing distance of just about 6 inches, you can get 1:1 reproduction of interesting objects you find on your photo adventures and easily highlight their details. It’s easy to operate, making it a solid choice if you’re a beginner, and the optical quality of the lens gives beginners to pros a good option for taking tack-sharp photos and high-resolution HD movies too.

Nikon Nikkor 50mm F/1.8 G AF-S Autofocus Lens

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Like its Canon 50mm counterpart (discussed later in this list), the Nikon Nikkor 50mm F/1.8 G AF-S Autofocus Lens is highly affordable yet is packed with tons of features. It’s got excellent optics that give you sharp results and a large maximum aperture of f/1.8 that allows you to shoot in even the poorest of lighting conditions. It works on both full frame and crop sensor Nikon bodies, giving it even more flexibility in terms of how it’s used. The lens isn’t weather sealed, so it’s probably not the best choice for landscape photographers in harsh climates, but for all-around shooting, especially indoors, this is a great choice.

Nikon Nikkor 18-140mm F/3.5-5.6 G ED DX AF-S VR Autofocus Lens For APS-C Sensor DSLRS

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If you’re looking for a good zoom lens with tons of range but don’t want to break the bank, the Nikon Nikkor 18-140mm F/3.5-5.6 G ED DX AF-S VR should be at the top of your list. Like the 40mm f/2.8 reviewed above, this 18-140mm lens is designed especially for Nikon’s crop sensor line of camera bodies. You can take this lens to virtually any kind of photo shoot, whether it’s a landscape scene, a wedding, or a portrait session. Though the lens isn’t the fastest on our list, it will get the job done both indoors and out. It’s equipped with Nikon’s vibration reduction system as well, so you can shoot handheld at slower shutter speeds. As if that’s not enough, it’s lightweight for a zoom lens, so you can carry it around with ease.

Tamron 28-75mm F/2.8 XR Aspherical Macro DI IF LD (A09) Lens For Canon EF Mount

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You might not have heard of Tamron before, and if that’s the case, you’re missing out on good lenses that are a fraction of the price of similar lenses by Canon. The 28-75mm F/2.8 XR Aspherical Macro DI IF LD Lens is perhaps Tamron’s best lens. It has exceptional sharpness - very nearly comparable to the much, much more expensive Canon 24-70mm lens. Don’t let the fact that it’s a macro lens scare you - it’s a solid choice for other types of photography, portraiture included. Better still, this lens is small and lightweight, which means whatever your photographic pursuits, you can go lean and mean, and the f/2.8 aperture is constant, so you can get exceptional background blur throughout its focal range.

Canon 50mm F/1.8 II

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As we noted in an earlier article in our Lens Mastery Series, for Canon shooters, the EF 50mm F/1.8 II is perhaps the first lens you should purchase. It’s one of the least expensive Canon lenses available, but that is not indicative of the quality of this lens. It’s fast, small, and well-built. It’s got excellent optics that result in sharp subjects at virtually any focusing distance. On a crop sensor camera, it’s effective focal length is 80mm, meaning you can enter the realm of short telephoto work without spending an exorbitant amount of money. Better still, it’s an excellent all-around lens that you can use in many different applications and lighting conditions.

Canon EF 85mm F/1.8 USM

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Great for various applications from portraits to landscapes to weddings, the Canon EF 85mm F/1.8 USM is a favorite for Canon shooters not just because of its great price but because of its large maximum aperture. Create gorgeous portraits with beautiful bokeh and shoot in poor lighting conditions without having to use an enormous ISO. You can also frame up shots of your subjects without having to be right in their lap because at 85mm on a full frame camera (about 136mm on a crop sensor body), you can still get intimate photos from a decent distance away. And, with a USM motor, you can rest easy knowing that its actions are quiet, which is ideal for shooting weddings or photographing wildlife.

Canon 100mm F/2 USM EF Mount Lens

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Virtually identical to the Canon 85mm f/1.8 described above, the Canon 100mm f/2 USM Lens offers exceptional sharpness, outstanding build quality, and a price that’s tough to beat, along with an added 15mm of focal length. This lens is a perfect focal length and has a large enough aperture that make it ideal for indoor subjects. You can get close enough to get close-ups of distant subjects, such as athletes playing tennis, basketball, or other indoor sports, and it has a large enough aperture that you can freeze their movement as well. That isn’t to say this lens is limited to indoor work - take it outside and compose highly flattering portraits and close-ups of nature too.

Canon 70-200mm F/4 L USM EF Mount Lens

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Most telephoto lenses are extremely expensive simply because of their size and the complexity of their components. However, the Canon 70-200mm F/4 L USM EF Mount Lens is a budget-friendly option that is a good first telephoto lens for just about any shooter.

Though the f/4 aperture isn’t all that large and it doesn’t have image stabilization, this lens does offer excellent image quality because of its professional-grade “L” series glass. It also comes in a package that weighs a good bit less than its f/2.8 cousin, which, if you’ve never lugged telephoto lenses around before, will be much appreciated. Use it for weddings, nature and wildlife photography, or even sporting events. In any case, you’ll get a great lens for a much lower price.

Sigma 19mm F/2.8 DN A (Art) Autofocus Lens For Sony Micro Four Thirds System

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For Sony photographers that want a small, compact lens on the cheap, look no further than the Sigma 19mm F/2.8 DN A (Art) Autofocus Lens. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a lens with a smaller profile, and weighing in at just 4.9 ounces, you won’t find a lighter weight lens for your Sony micro four-thirds system either. If you have an e-mount system, you can use this lens as well! The lens has excellent image quality with elements that reduce distortion and aberrations.It has a fast autofocus system too, so you’re sure to get the shots you want, even if the subject is in motion.

Sony 30mm F/3.5 E Macro E Mount Autofocus Lens

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If macro work is your favorite, an affordable lens to get your start is the Sony 30mm F/3.5 E Macro E Mount Autofocus Lens pictured above. Designed for e-mount systems, the lens can get you as close as 2.4 cm from your subject with sharp results. The f/3.5 maximum aperture isn’t the best, but it still performs well in low-light situations. It’s a versatile lens as well, with 1:1 image recreation, Optical SteadyShot technology to help reduce the effect of camera shake, reduced chromatic aberration, and high-quality contrast. It’s also a great lens for shooting video because it has a rear-focusing design and an internal stepping motor.

Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 DI III VC Sony E Mount Autofocus Lens

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Sony shooters that want a solid zoom option should look no further than the Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 DI III VC Sony E Mount Autofocus Lens. Perhaps a bit more expensive than what some would consider “budget-friendly,” this lens nevertheless offers great versatility in terms of what it can be used for. Shoot from wide-angle to telephoto, capturing sharp stills and crisp video too. The contrast-detection AF system works like a charm, and because the lens has a motor built in, it’s faster to respond while also being quieter. It’s an all-in-one lens that will get you improved images over your kit lens.

Sony 55-210mm F/4.5-6.3 OSS E Mount Autofocus Lens

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Another inexpensive zoom lens for Sony e-mount cameras is the Sony 55-210mm F/4.5-6.3 OSS Lens. Like the 30mm lens reviewed earlier, this lens has Sony’s Optical SteadyShot so you can take photos while minimizing blur due to camera shake. The lens’ design ensures that the aperture remains circular, so you can shoot wide open or several stops down for more natural defocusing. The lens also has aspherical and dispersion elements which reduce both chromatic aberration and spherical aberration. The result is images that are clear and sharp whether you shoot indoors or out.

Final Thoughts

With that, we conclude our Lens Mastery Series. From portraits to landscapes, beginning photographers to pros, you’ve now got a better understanding of the different types of lenses that are available. With that knowledge, you can now make a more informed purchase when getting a new lens.

As we’ve mentioned throughout this series, buying a high-quality lens will do more for the quality of your images than any other piece of gear. But as we’ve seen in this article, finding a great lens doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. It’s a simple matter of finding well-maintained used gear for a great price.

To do that, visit KEH Camera. Each of the lenses listed here are available from KEH for a price that can’t be beat. KEH puts their used gear through the paces, so you know exactly what you’re getting when you check out. In fact, KEH’s grading system is the industry standard, so if they say the lens is like new, it’s like new! Check out their complete inventory for great deals on lenses, cameras, and other photo accessories.







Top 5 Reasons Why You Need a 35mm Lens

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In the sea of lens options that are out there for your camera, there's certainly a lot that grabs your attention.

On the one hand, wide-angle lenses are great for landscapes. On the other hand, telephoto lenses are nice to have for sports or wildlife photography.

There's plenty to appreciate about a good 50mm lens too, as they are often quite inexpensive, but offer plenty of versatility for everything from portraiture to macro work.

But there's another lens - an old standard - that you should consider as being a great addition to your camera bag: the 35mm.

Let's go over a few of the best reasons why you need a 35mm lens.

They're Familiar

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Viewing a scene through an ultra wide-angle lens like a 12mm or a super telephoto lens like a 400mm renders a scene that's not familiar to the naked eye. In the former, we see a much wider angle of view; in the latter, a much narrower angle of view.

But with a 35mm lens, you get a result that closely mimics what you see with your own eyes.

Think about it - many movies are shot on 35mm film because it gives the audience a familar and realistic point of view.

The same is true of photography...

A 35mm prime lens like the Nikon Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G AF-S shown above will get you realistic-looking results in the images you create.

What's more, because it's a fixed focal length lens, or a prime lens, that means if you want to change the composition, you don't get to rely on zoom. Instead, you have to move your feet to change the composition, which challenges you to be a more creative photographer. That's a good thing!

They Have Big Apertures

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By and large, 35mm lenses - whether you use them on your DSLR or mirrorless camera - have large maximum apertures.

This, of course, means a couple of important things.

For starters, the large maximum aperture makes it easier to get nice, blurry backgrounds for portraits. Since the size of the aperture influences the depth of field, the bigger the aperture of your lens, the easier it will be for you to get a nice bokeh-filled background.

Perhaps more importantly, though, is that a big aperture allows you to shoot in challenging lighting conditions without sacrificing as much shutter speed.

Open your 35mm lens up to f/2, f/1.8, or f/1.4, and allow it to collect the light you need to get stunning low-light portraits like the one shown above, all while being able to use faster shutter speeds while handholding your camera.

And with those big apertures, you also have more leeway with your ISO setting. Keep the ISO low to avoid digital noise, or if you want to add grain to the shot, bump up the ISO and increase the shutter speed even further.

They're Compact

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Most 35mm lenses, like the Zeiss 35mm f/2 Distagon ZE T shown above, are small and compact, making them much easier to carry than heavier, longer lenses, particularly telephotos.

If you have a long day of shooting ahead of you, the last thing you want is to lumber around with a big, heavy lens attached to your camera.

Granted, sometimes you need a big, heavy lens, but more often than not, a small 35mm lens will get you what you need (more on versatility next).

That small size and feathery weight make the 35mm lens an ideal choice for a daily walk around lens or travel photography lens.

You might even find that after buying a 35mm lens that it becomes your default lens!

Versatility

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Like it's cousin the 50mm lens, a 35mm lens is known for having excellent versatility.

Use it on a full frame camera to get a standard view of a landscape. Pop one onto your crop sensor camera for a longer effective focal length for portraits.

You can even use a 35mm lens for street photography, architecture, product photography, and macro photography as well. Heck, use it for weddings too, like the one shown above.

That means with just one lens, you can tackle virtually any subject that doesn't require a telephoto focal length.

And, in case you haven't noticed, photography is a pretty expensive hobby, so being able to do a bunch of different things with a single lens is a good thing. It's even better when you can find a good used 35mm lens for a great price.

They're a Perfect Bridge Between Wide-Angle and Standard

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If you shoot with a wide-angle lens, you can be somewhat restricted in terms of the subject matter.

Landscapes look great, but portraits can be distorted because of the wide-angle view.

On the other hand, a standard lens, like a 50mm, is great for a lot of things, but in tight spaces - especially if mounted to a crop sensor camera - a 50mm can be too narrow of a view.

The 35mm lens is an ideal compromise between the two.

As noted earlier, a 35mm lens creates an image that's pleasing to view because it closely resembles our own field of vision.

But beyond that, you can take portraits without the wide-angle distortion of a true wide-angle lens, and you can take photos of all manner and sort in tight spaces without sacrificing a lot of the scene, as would happen with a 50mm lens.

In other words, the 35mm lens is simply a well-rounded, versatile, and dependable piece of glass.

Can it do everything? No...

But can it do a whole lot of things well? You bet! Find out more about why you need a 35mm lens in the video above by DigitalRev TV.



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Top Pre-Owned Nikon Cameras for Every Budget

Top Pre Owned Nikon Cameras for Every Budget

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

It’s no secret that buying used gear rather than brand-new gear can easily save you hundreds of dollars.

That’s true whether you’re looking for a professional level full frame Nikon camera, an entry-level rig, or something in between.

And the best part? Today, there is more selection of quality used cameras than ever before.

The toughest part is simply deciding what used camera is best for you and your budget. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite pre-owned Nikon cameras.

Ready to up your photography game? Shop for a new-to-you Nikon camera now.

Top Pre-Owned Nikon Cameras: Nikon D810

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Key Specs:

  • 36.3-megapixel full frame CMOS sensor
  • 51-point autofocus system
  • ISO range of 64-12,800, expandable to 32-51,200
  • 5 fps continuous shooting
  • 1080p HD video capture at 60p, 30p, & 24p
  • Fixed 3.2-inch LCD monitor with 1.227 million dots
  • Used prices start at $1,259.00

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If you’ve been at this photography thing for a while now and you’ve outgrown your crop sensor camera, an upgrade to a full frame body might be in order.

The Nikon D810 should be at the top of your list as a potential addition to your camera bag.

I know the $1,259 starting price for a used camera might seem steep, but bear in mind this is a professional camera that sold for upwards of $3,000 when it was new.

Besides, you can offset the cost of a new-to-you-camera like this by selling your current rig.

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For example, there’s a strong market for Nikon D7200s right now, so chances are you can get a good price for it and apply that money towards a D810 upgrade.

And believe me, a Nikon D810 is an upgrade from a D7200!

I have a D810, and though I’ve since replaced it with a Nikon D850, it still gets a lot of use.

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The D810 has a fantastic 36.3-megapixel sensor that has won wide acclaim for its image quality.

There is a level of sharpness and detail in images taken with a D810 that is truly impressive, especially from a tonality and dynamic range standpoint. It helps that there’s no low-pass filter, which helps improve the detail and definition of the images you take even further.

The 51-point autofocus system is quick and responsive, and paired with the 5 fps continuous shooting speed (which extends to 7 fps with an optional battery grip), this camera is more than capable of being your go-to for action, sports, and wildlife photography.

The D810 might be five years old, but it can still perform with the best cameras on the market today. If you’ve been lusting after a D850, the D810 is a very close second and much cheaper to boot.

Get a detailed hands-on review of the Nikon D810 in the video above by TheSnapChick

Learn more about the Nikon D810

Top Pre-Owned Nikon Cameras: Nikon D5500 

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Key Specs:

  • 24.1-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 39-point autofocus system
  • ISO range of 100-25600
  • 5 fps continuous shooting1080p HD video capture at 60p, 30p, 25p, 24p, 60i & 50i
  • 3.2-inch flip-out tilting touchscreen LCD monitor with 1.0368 million dots
  • Used prices start at $432.00

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If you’re not quite ready to upgrade your kit to a full frame camera, or if you simply don’t have the budget to spring for something like the Nikon D810, the Nikon D5500 is an excellent option.

Armed with a 24.1-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, the D5500 is capable of recording images that have gorgeous details and vibrant colors. 

Like the D810, this camera lacks a low-pass filter, giving it an even greater ability to capture fine details.

The D5500 has a highly capable autofocus system as well. 

There are 39 AF points that give you a fast, accurate, and responsive means of capturing images of fast-moving subjects. The camera also has 3D subject tracking and a 2,016-pixel light meter that enables quick lock-on of the subject.

You can see the Nikon D5500 at work in the video above by The Hybrid Shooter.

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Also like the D810, the D5500 offers 5 fps shooting, 1080p HD video capture, and a big, bright LCD, though, in this case, the LCD is both tilting and touch-enabled.

Other modern features include GPS, which allows you to tag your photos with location information, and Wi-Fi, which enables you to quickly share images or control the camera using a smartphone.

With used prices starting at just $432.00, this is an ideal camera for an intermediate photographer with a moderate budget.

Learn more about the Nikon D5500

Top Pre-Owned Nikon Cameras: Nikon D5100

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Key Specs:

  • 16.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 11-point autofocus system
  • ISO range of 100-6400, expandable to 25600
  • 4 fps continuous shooting
  • 1
  • 080p HD video capture at 30p, 25p & 24p
  • 3-inch flip-out LCD monitor with 921,000 dots
  • Used prices start at $149.00

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This is a good camera for learning the ropes of photography as well. 

It comes with 16 Scene Modes that help you capture landscapes, portraits, sports, and other specific types of images without having to worry about dialing in the appropriate camera settings yourself.

However, with advanced camera controls, including manual mode, this camera can grow with you as you learn more about photography and acquire more skills. Get more details on the D5100 in the video below by Science Studio.

As a crop sensor camera, the D5100 is compatible with dozens of Nikon lenses, both those specifically designed for APS-C cameras and full frame cameras.

With a wide array of potential lenses for this camera, you can mix and match lenses to fit your specific needs, all the while staying true to a small budget.

That means that if you currently shoot with a Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G and decide you want a longer lens, you can sell the 50mm and put that money towards buying something like a Nikon Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D, and be all set!

Learn more about the Nikon D5100



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Understanding Camera Specs: What's the Most Important for You?

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When shopping for a camera, you can easily get overwhelmed with information.

There's talk of resolution and megapixels, sensor size and ISO range, and burst rate and aspect ratio.

And that's just the beginning...

The question is, what do all these specifications mean, and which ones are the most important?

Let's try to sort it out.

Sensor Type

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There are several different types of sensors in digital cameras, with APS-C and full frame being the most popular types.

Higher-end cameras for enthusiast and professional photographers, like the Sony A7R II shown above, typically have a full frame sensor.

It gets its name from the fact that the sensor is roughly the same size as 35mm film, which measures 36mm x 24mm.

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Conversely, an APS-C camera - often referred to as a "crop sensor," has a sensor that's much smaller, typically around 22mm x 15mm, though its size depends on the camera manufacturer. For example, the Pentax K-3 shown above has an APS-C sensor that measures 23.5mm x 15.6mm.

That's where "crop sensor" comes from - the sensor is a smaller version of a full frame.

This difference in sensor size means that these cameras offer a different field of view, too.

Here's what I mean...

If I have a full frame camera and I stand side-by-side with you as you shoot with an APS-C camera, the images we take will look different, even if we use the same lens and shoot from the same distance.

A full frame camera will show more of the scene because it has a larger sensor. Comparatively, the APS-C camera will show less of the scene with the edges of the image cropped out giving it an almost zoomed in effect.

Get more details on sensor size in the video below by Matt Granger:

As a result of this cropped look, APS-C cameras impact the effective focal length of the lens used.

That is, on a full frame camera, a 50mm lens behaves like a 50mm lens. However, on an APS-C camera, a 50mm lens might behave like a 75mm lens or an 80mm lens, depending on the size of the camera's sensor.

Learn More:

Megapixel Count

The number of megapixels a camera's sensor has determines, in part, the resolution of the images it creates.

The more megapixels, the higher the resolution, and the higher the resolution, the larger the prints you can make.

What constitutes a good enough megapixel count depends on the photographer.

A professional, for example, would prefer something like the Nikon D810 pictured above because it has 36-megapixel full frame sensor that offers excellent resolution for prints of all sizes.

Heck, there's even cameras with better resolution, like the Canon EOS 5D S, which has a 50-megapixel full frame sensor.

Of course, these cameras are a pretty penny, though you can find great deals on used camera bodies if you know where to look.

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For most shooters, an entry-level full frame camera like the Canon EOS 6D shown above has more than enough resolution at 20.2-megapixels. And even though it's a full frame camera, it's far less expensive than the full frame cameras noted earlier.

An even more budget-friendly option is an APS-C camera like the Nikon D3300, which has a 24.2-megapixel crop sensor. Though you can't print images from an APS-C camera as large as those from a full frame camera, for most photographers, an APS-C camera will provide more than enough resolution for typical-sized prints.

Learn More:

Aspect Ratio and Image Area

Aspect ratio refers to the shape of the images that a camera can create.

An aspect ratio of 1:1 refers to a perfectly square image, where as an aspect ratio of 16:9 refers to a wide rectangular image.

Cameras that shoot at a 4:3 ratio produce images that are slightly wider than they are tall. Full frame cameras shoot at a 3:2 ratio.

Get more details on aspect ratios in the video above by NeverCenter.

Referring to image area, that specification tells you the size of the image that a camera can create in pixels.

For example, an image that's 4000x3000 pixels is larger than one that's 2000x1500 pixels.

Learn More:

Other Specs to Look For

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There are plenty of other specs that are important to be aware of when shopping for a camera.

Look at the ISO range, as that determines how well the camera performs in low-light situations.

Mid-range cameras like the FujiFilm X100T shown above range from ISO 100-51200, giving it good low-light performance. Compare that with the ISO range of the entry-level Canon EOS Rebel T3i, which extends from 100-6400, and you can easily identify which camera has the better ability to get shots in low-light situations like the one seen below.

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Shutter speed is another specification to look for.

If you shoot moving subjects like birds, wildlife, or sporting events, you want a camera with a fast maximum shutter speed, like 1/8000 seconds, so you can more easily freeze movement.

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Likewise, the number of autofocus points is an important feature.

The more autofocus points a camera has, the more likely it is to capture the subject in sharp detail. What's more, the more autofocus points, the better able the camera will be to track a moving subject.

Ultra-high-end cameras have more autofocus points, like the Sony a9, which has a whopping 693. Compare that to the 39 points the Nikon D5500 (shown above) offers.

Now, that doesn't mean that the D5500 is a bad camera. Quite the contrary. It just means that the Sony a9 has a much more sophisticated autofocus system.

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Also be on the lookout for continuous shooting speed or burst rate.

Some cameras offer lighting-fast burst shooting at speeds of more than 10 frames per second. That's advantageous if you're in the business of photographing fast-moving action.

However, if you tend to take photos of landscapes or portraits of still subjects, the burst rate won't be as big of an issue for you.

Learn More:

What Camera Specs are the Most Important?

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This question falls into the "it depends" category.

Truly - what you need out of your camera will depend on a wide variety of factors, not the least of which is your budget.

The fact of the matter is that higher-end features like a big full frame sensor, top-notch ISO performance, and high burst rate come in cameras that cost more money.

But not all shooters need those features and will be able to achieve their goals with an entry-level or mid-range APS-C camera.

The point is that you need to inspect the specifications of cameras to see which ones best suit your needs.

If you need to shoot in low-light situations more often than not, look for a camera with a wide ISO range.

If you shoot subjects that are on the move, a camera with a good continuous shooting speed and a lot of autofocus points might be more important.

You get the point...

Now it's time to go shopping and find a camera with the specifications that are right for you!