To take photography seriously, it is not essential to have the best camera or the best equipment, but it will invariably produce better results. The kinds of results that will please our eye and those who might look at our work or even consider buying it.
So, whether you are an amateur or a professional weighing up a teleconverter vs extension tube, we should have some idea of just what is out there for us to produce the best results possible from our photography assignments.
A camera is of limited use without lenses that will bring its images closer. It does not end there, though, because we also require some background. So, this might be where a wide-angle lens comes in. We want to zoom in on a subject, but at the same time, not lose the context around it.
Think about telephoto lenses as the solution when you are wanting to capture subjects from a distance. These might be wild animals that you do not want to get too close to. This would spoil the picture if you were to spook them in their natural environment and rather defeat the object of capturing an animal in the environment nature intended for them.
Those into close-up photography will want a good macro lens. There is no way of avoiding blurring objects without such a lens. Its ability to work with short focusing distances is invaluable for obtaining a sharp image when it comes to small subjects. It is said that a true macro lens needs to have a magnification range of 1:1 or greater and be capable of a focusing distance of 30cm or less as a minimum requirement.
Flash units on cameras can be built-in or external. There is no doubt, though, that external flashes will provide more power than a built-in flash is ever likely to produce. For instance, the flash can be bounced off a wall or ceiling to create some indirect lighting in a photography situation. The advantage external flashes have is that they do not produce lens shadow. Another advantage attached to them is that when fitted to the hot shoe of a camera, as it is called in the trade, it will be sitting at a higher position. This can provide something extra to just taking shots.
Apart from flashes fitted to or installed in cameras, there are other ways that a photographer will alter the lighting. If you are a professional, you will consider lighting as the one thing that can ruin a photograph if not handled correctly. In terms of equipment, umbrellas can be used to deflect light. The shadow that is created, whether by sunlight or artificial light, can darken all the wrong parts of a photograph. You do not have to go with what you have when you can buy the means to deal with light. It is not always about lighting with a flash but sometimes controlling too much light. It is one thing wanting to give your model the limelight but quite another making it so bright for them that their complexion is paler than the location should suggest.
A good tripod serves two functions for a photographer. Firstly, it stabilizes a camera and so avoids a shaky image, and secondly, it provides some height for a camera. An adjustable tripod can take a shot above heads, for example.
Tripods will also allow nature photographers to lie in wait for their prey. Not to eat, but to photograph. It would simply be too tiring to keep holding onto a camera to have it ready or to even have it weighing you down at the neck. It is far better to take all that weight onto a tripod that is fixed into the right position. When fixed into position, there will still be control, through swivel movement that is possible, to capture an animal’s movements and obtain the photograph of it backing the most idyllic scenery. Then it can be something for a calendar. That is if you have used the right lenses capable of capturing a clear image that stays as clear when enlarged to the size desired. There is no substitute for a good lens.
In summary, think lenses, lighting, tripod in that order. A good lens produces the quality, lighting will avoid having to lighten an image post photographing it, and a tripod will provide that steady hand, not to mention give you that extra periscopic height.