Getting started with photography for under $600

What I would get if I wanted to get started in digital photography. Any used DSLR camera (right) with its kit lens, a 50mm lens (the one in the picture has a maximum aperture of f 1.8 and Adobe Lightroom (latest version is #4). Add your computer whatever platform it is . If your computer is too old to run version 4, get the one which will meet Adobe’s minimum specs.

The average camera owner tends to buy more camera than they need.

It’s only natural.

Who can pass up on a good deal?

So what if they don’t know what built-in HDR, Live View or Automatic White Balance bracketing means?

Those cameras look impressive especially if they spring for those white lenses or ones with a gold ring around the barrel.

Here are my suggestions if you’re toying with the idea of picking up photography as a hobby.

These suggestions also apply if you’ve bought a DSLR and are unhappy with your pictures.


Buy a used DSLR from a reputable online dealer

There are lots of deals out there especially on Ebay and Craigslist but unless you know what you’re doing, this can be risky but often very frustrating when you fall victim to the ol’ bait and switch routine.

I’ve had more than one student who shopped online comparing prices from retailers only to spend a month hassling with the folks they bought from to get a refund and return their purchases.

I am comfortable recommending a retailer like BHPhoto in New York because I buy 90% of my gear from them. If you plan on purchasing something, do follow the link and complete the purchase so I can retire from the affiliate fees they’ll be paying me. 😛

A used Canon 30D body can be bought from BHPhoto for around $300

Buy a 50mm lens if the DSLR you bought is not bundled with a kit lens 

Those kit lenses that typically ship with DSLRs are plastic and work for the most part.

The problem is they are ‘slow’ or have small aperture openings so you can’t do a lot except when shooting in bright conditions.

Pick up a used 50mm f1.8  lens say from Canon’s refurbished store for $100 and you will be so much happier.

Buy Adobe Lightroom

What’s the point of taking wonderful images everyday if you can’t find them after you’ve downloaded them to your computer?

Lightroom is a database, powerful organizer and very capable photo editor.

Lightroom is about $130 from BHPhoto  is cross-platform, meaning it works for both Windows and Mac.

The price above includes 4 hours of video training from Kelby Training.

If you’re the sort who is independent and can learn from books, I recommend Martin Evening’s latest edition. See the sidebar on the left for the link.

Sign up for a basic photography class

You can look up a lot of terms and definitions online but you would need someone to explain what those basic terms like ISO, file formats that cameras create and how to save your pictures.

If you live my area, you’re in luck because I teach such a class, so email me.

I can’t place a dollar amount on how much a class will cost since that will vary quite a bit.

My basic class is between $80 an $100 for about 4 hours of instruction.

Subscribe to this blog

On the top right of this page, you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address.

I answer questions when time allows, just ask away under comments.

I don’t claim to know all the answers.

If I don’t know it, I’ll at least point you in the right direction.

Subscribe to an online learning library

When I was preparing to leave the newspaper industry, I discovered

To say this company has changed how I learn is an understatement.

Presently there is a lot of competition amongst online learning libraries, Kelby Training specializes in photography and photoshop.

You can find a link to their website also in the left sidebar of this blog.

Online learning libraries are especially useful if you can’t find the time to take classes in the evenings or weekends.

Short of taking a class from a real person, live, this is a viable option especially after you’ve had a basic class.

Don’t forget to add memory cards and spare camera batteries.

Without those items, all you have is an ugly necklace.

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate of BHPhoto in New York. They don’t have the cheapest prices, but in over 20 years of buying gear from them, I have yet to be ‘stiffed’ by them.

Peter Phun Photography

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2 thoughts on “Getting started with photography for under $600”

  1. Hi DeeAnn,
    Buying used gear is always safer if the buyer knows what they’re doing. If they don’t, they should buy thru’ a reputable store.

    I had a student recently pay $200 for a used Canon 40D body. It sounds like a shady deal now because there was no battery and she didn’t even think to turn it on. After she found a battery, she’s discovered that the camera was locked by the previous owner with a password. By the time she sends it to Canon to have that reset, it may cost another $100.

    Meantime she’s behind with her assignments.

  2. Peter,
    B&H the way to go. They bought Photo-Fax (yes used equipment list faxed to The Hemet News) in the 90s.
    Will remember to ‘buy’ through you, but feel set with my gear for now.
    Too funny ‘…so I can retire from the affiliate fees they’ll be paying me. ‘

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