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I got my first DSLR (Canon 600D) with the 18-55 EF-S lens, now I'm considering to go a further step and buy stuff for my gear but I really can't decide what to buy first. There are a lot of choices but I think that some are more important than others. For example, I believe that the cleaning accessories with a decent tripod and a head are more important than an extra lens, also a prime lens would be nice, lens accessories like hood, filters, converters too. And an external flash is good to have too. But I'm confused what should I pick first. What is the most important things to buy after getting a dslr.

I'm interested in all photography categories except maybe sports

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You can't go wrong with a good book. It is cheap, it will never be "outdated". Plus, it makes you able to use your camera to its full potential, maximizing the value of your gear. –  Gapton Dec 13 '11 at 10:57

4 Answers 4

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I suggest you should observe how limitations of your existing gear keep you from getting photos that you want, and make your purchase decisions based on that. It's very personal, so there's no single roadmap that applies to everybody. But they key to avoid wasting money is: whenever you're going to purchase something, have at least couple of images in mind that you want to take, and some vision on how you could use that in future.

There's one basic accessory that can be useful to almost any camera owner - a battery that dies in the middle of a shoot could mean no more photos that night, so you might want to have a spare one in case that happens.

You don't mention any limitations in your question, so it might very well be that all you need to do now is use your gear to get to know where you'd need something extra.

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I like the phrase "I suggest you should observe how limitations of your existing gear keep you from getting photos that you want, and make your purchase decisions based on that." –  akram Dec 12 '11 at 17:10
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I must say that in years of shooting, I never had the situation of dead buttery - if I took the time to charge it before the trip. It did happen once on an occasional shoot where I was just lazy to charge it and thought that the juice will be enough. –  ysap Dec 12 '11 at 21:40

You will need to tell us what it is you want to do with your camera.

Yes cleaning is important for all the bits, but these can be found around the house, any microfiber cloth will be OK, perhaps you have one from some glasses?

Now here is where your genre of photography will affect your choice.

  • Portraits - a flash unit will be a massive advantage
  • Weddings/people - again a flash will give you the most benefit
  • Sports - A 300 or 200mm lens
  • Landscape, a Wider angle lens, and yes a tripod, and some filters.

Other things you will need to think about

  1. Spare battery
  2. Storage bag
  3. Extra Memory
  4. Insurance
  5. Software (Lightroom/Photoshop)
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What do you mean by if lenses do not come with a lens hood, they do not need one? As I see it, Canon kit lenses come without hood because it's cheaper that way, not because they are optically so superb and mechanically so sturdy that a lens hood would make no difference. Yes, having a lens hood is not vital, but that's the same for any lenses, not only the ones that come without. –  Imre Dec 12 '11 at 16:50
    
Yes the kit lenses do not have one, but most of these kit lenses do not have the clips to even attach a hood. The prime lenses do not need hoods and do not come with one. The kit lenses on the lower end models are not exactly the best lenses and are worth moving away from as soon as possible. –  Graeme Hutchison Dec 12 '11 at 16:56
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@GraemeHutchison - what you wrote is just incorrect. Canon's kit lenses do have hoods. Many, if not all, Canon's prime lenses have hoods as well. –  ysap Dec 12 '11 at 21:37
    
@ysap sorry that is incorrect, many primes under 50mm do not have hoods. My 300mm does have a hood and needs it. I have removed the statement. –  Graeme Hutchison Dec 12 '11 at 21:39
    
+1 for software –  user1207217 Apr 23 '13 at 11:09

I would suggest a 50mm prime lens. No photographer should be without one and it will improve your photography no end. Perhaps not in the way you expect though. Let me explain:

  • 50mm (on full frame at least) is about the same as what the human eye sees. On a crop it's equivalent to 80mm, which makes for a great portrait and every-day lens.

  • There is no zoom. You cannot be lazy and just rotate the dial to zoom in or out. You zoom with your feet!

  • Because of the limitation of the fixed focal length, you will often need to think more about the shot. You will need to think about how you are positioned, how your subject is positioned, how it is lit...

  • The optics in a fixed focal length lens are optimised for that focal length, reducing chromatic abberations, distortion, etc. So you physically get a better picture quality.

  • Fixed focal lengths can go down to stupidly wide apertures. The fastest zoom you're likely to find will be an f/2.8 probably. Canon do their 50mm in f/1.8, f/1.4, and f/1.2! This allows for faster shutter speeds in low light, crazy shallow depth of field, and an immense creative ability you would not be able to achieve with slower lenses.

I noted on the weekend that the 50mm f/1.8 is now just £74 on Amazon (I dont know why the prices seem to be dropping!!). So well worth picking one up at that price... That said, I have the f/1.4 version and it is FANTASTIC. So if your budget allows for £275-£300, then get that one instead, but if not the 1.8 is great.

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I consider the lens to be 2/3 of the equipment equation with everything else being the other 1/3. Camera bodies, lights and modifiers, tripods, monopods, gear bags, etc. are worthless if the light in front of the lens can't reach the sensor at the back of the lens reasonably intact.

Having said that, I think your first priority is to concentrate on the space behind your camera's viewfinder. The most important piece of "equipment" involved in the making of a photograph is the mind of the photographer. Since you are a college student, consider using some of your electives to take an introductory photography course. Not only will you learn the fundamentals of photography in a structured environment, but the basic gear list required by the professor will probably go a long way towards establishing a basic kit. Exposure, composition, and post processing should all figure prominently in the curriculum.

If taking a class is not an option, then read some good sources on your own. This question and this one contain a wealth of information about where to go to learn the basics. I think you will discover as you work through some of the exercises and suggestions in these resources you will see some types of gear mentioned repeatedly. Which leads us to just what is the basic gear you need to learn photography?

Here is a list of what I consider essential gear:

  • A sharp, fast lens. For Canon the old standby is the EF 50mm f/1.8. For the money there's probably not a better lens around in the EOS mount. That's not to say it is perfect, but you can take a lot of quality photos with it. Other good "budget" lenses in the "normal" focal range that perform well are the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 Di II, and the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM. The EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS is a good starter telephoto zoom lens (Avoid any version of the EF 75-300!). If you can spend a little more the EF 70-200mm f/4L will introduce you the Canon "L" series. WARNING! You can become addicted to "L" lenses!
  • A stable platform. Tripods are a lot like lenses - you usually get what you pay for. If you are careful though, you can sometimes find a bargain. Don't expect to be happy with a $20 tripod designed for a 6 oz. video camera, though. One of the best values I've found was a Ravelli I bought a few years back. It even included a decent pistol grip head for around 100 bucks. It is not quite as good as my Manfrotto legs, but it is vastly superior to any consumer grade video tripod you'll find at mass retailers. If the head has a quick release plate, buy a couple of extras. You'll thank yourself down the road.
  • A manageable source of off axis light. You need a flash unit that can be manually controlled and used without being directly connected to the hot shoe on your camera. Ideally you want one that can also work with your camera through E-TTL, which is Canon's name for automatic flash control. If a unit like the 430EX II is more than you can justify, YongNuo makes some very affordable units. Some are E-TTL compatible with Canon. To control it off the hot shoe you can use a simple radio flash trigger that will only cost $20-30, or you can use an off shoe flash cord that costs about the same and comes in varying lengths up to about 10'. With the cheap radio flash triggers you loose E-TTL, but using the off shoe cord allows you to still use it if your flash is E-TTL compatible. What you shoot will determine what kinds of reflectors and other modifiers you may need, but you can make a lot of them yourself fairly inexpensively. See this site for ideas on DIY light modifiers and stands.
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