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I want to buy a body DSLR and custom lens but I'm quite new to photography and I do not know if it's enough or I have to buy something else too (just to make it work and do photos). I know body kits come with everything you need, but I do not know if it's the same when you buy body-only and separated lens.

I was thinking of Nikon D5200 and Nikkor AF-S DX 35mm f1.8G. Are they a good match? Also, I have seen that D3200 is cheaper and that would allow me to increase budget for lenses but I do not know other lenses that might fit.

The lens I want should be ideal for portraits (mostly 2/3 of the body, only few 1/3) and landscapes. I want them prime, not zoom

14 Answers 14

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You will need a memory card — and to just get started, that's basically it.

Sometimes a memory card is included in a camera store bundle, but such bundles are usually a bad deal (see Does it make sense getting any of these "extra" lens packages?). As far as I know, a memory card is never included with an interchangeable lens camera or official camera + lens kit. And, DSLR and interchangeable lens cameras don't come with built-in flash memory for saving without a memory card. So, you'll need to add that.

Personally, I like to have several memory cards, and not of the largest possible capacity, because I don't like to have all my eggs in one basket — and choosing a small card helps me with the discipline of uploading to "safe" storage often rather than letting them pile up.

Other things are useful, but more personal: more batteries are nice, especially if you use live view heavily on a DSLR or have a mirrorless camera which always works that way — these eat batteries like crazy. And there's a whole world of accessories for all kinds of different shooting — but I would suggest not pre-buying these. Wait until you have a specific need, and then you'll be better equipped to shop for something to fill it. To some people, a tripod is vital; to other people, a flash with wireless control. Or both — or neither.

Since we are talking digital, you'll probably want software for photo organization and editing, and possibly for conversion from RAW to JPEG. However, this isn't a strict purchase need either; your operating system may have some basic tools built in, and many (in fact, most) cameras come with their own software. I've never heard of anyone loving that bundled software, but it does mean that buying something now isn't required. Adobe's Lightroom is indisputably the popular hheavyweight for both organization and RAW development, but other options are good too, including open source Darktable or RawTherapee.

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    I guess I'd add that under optional. For many people, the creative process is effectively done when they press the shutter. That's not wrong; just a different approach. I know that I strive to make it that way with my photographs, setting up the lighting and camera settings beforehand. Everyone (probably) also needs some way to store, organize, and display photographs, too — but the different ways of doing that are so disparate that it's hard to identify anything specific as a need. – mattdm Jul 27 '15 at 12:52
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    And I'd also dispute that the free software options are "woeful". If you're thinking of the days when UFRaw was the state of the art, yeah, but take another look at DarkTable or Rawthereapee these days. – mattdm Jul 27 '15 at 12:53
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    Oh, and also worth noting that many/most cameras come with their own software, and I've never heard of anyone loving that, it does mean that extra purchases aren't strictly required. – mattdm Jul 27 '15 at 16:24
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The single best thing you can get after a body, lens and cards is a nice bag. The best camera in the world is no use to anyone on a shelf at home.

Steer clear of any that come free with the camera, they're universally ugly and poorly made.

Go to some shops and have a play with what's there. Bags are quite a personal item, but you're looking for something comfy, easy access and, if you care, suits your wardrobe.

I prefer wide flat shoulder bags that I can easily get in and out of, nothing on top of anything else, some people like backpack style bags, they're more comfy for carrying a lot of gear. Some people like synthetic fabric, some canvas or similar. Some people like a camera bag that says camera bag, some people like them a bit more discrete.

Once you've carried your camera around for a little while you'll probably have a better idea of what's missing from the rest of your arsenal. More lenses? Flashes? Tripod? Light stands and modifiers? The rest really depends on what you want to shoot.

  • I think this is a top idea, I've had a camera for a while but I'm not that happy with the bags I have so far. I have a normal cheap messenger bag (single shoulder strap with no padding) that's ok for short trips. I also have a Lowepro camera backpack that I can comfortably carry for a long time but it's big and bulky. – Kioshiki Aug 10 '15 at 19:09
  • Do you have a link to some photos of 'wide flat shoulder' bags? I curious to see what you mean. – Kioshiki Aug 10 '15 at 19:12
  • My current favourite bag is my Domke F2, very wide and about the depth of most of my lenses end down. I previously use a Crumpler, that was far too deep and narrow for me and I always had to bury things down the bottom. The Crumpler was much easier to thread through crowds though, the Domke does OK at this as it's quite floppy, but I have noticed the difference. Then there's an array of old LowePros and other bags scattered around my home that see varying amounts of use. But they're the two I use a lot and are pretty good examples of what I mean. – alex Aug 11 '15 at 0:23
  • Thanks Alex, that's gives me something to look into. I see what you mean about wide with the Domke where some have a section with dividers making 4 sections for lenses or other things to sit side by side. – Kioshiki Aug 14 '15 at 15:27
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What you'll need depends on what/how you plan to shoot, so waiting until you've had the camera for a while before thinking about buying more stuff for it is probably worth trying. But the things every digital shooter wants in addition to a body/lens or kit to get started is a relatively short list:

  • a computer of some kind. Because, otherwise, how are you going to use your photos?

  • memory card(s) (the camera may come with one, but without one, you can't save any photos you take)

  • spare battery (because without power, your camera just becomes an expensive brick). This way, you can have one battery in the charger, and the other in the camera, and when the battery in the camera is depleted, you don't have to wait to recharge. Or you can shoot for twice as long out in the field.

  • card reader (hopefully built into your computer) So you don't run down the battery on the camera just to transfer your files. Or remain limited to USB2 speeds.

  • post-processing/cataloging software. Can be free and as simple as Picasa or Photos, or as elaborate as Adobe's Photoshop and/or Lightroom. But you need some way to organize your photos so you can find them again, and you'll probably want to be able to tweak them.

That's pretty much it. All the rest of it depends on what/how you want to shoot and where your main focus is going to be and what budget you have. Asking for specific product recommendations here on SE is discouraged (although if you don't know what type of gear can solve a particular problem, we can help with that), but if you head for a messageboard for advice, always state what you need the gear for and how much you have to spend, before asking for recommendations, and keep in mind that most folks will tell you what works for them. You are not them. Everybody's different. And free advice is often worth what you paid for it. :)

Also, I would say don't limit your thinking to lenses and camera bodies. Remember there's also support gear, lighting gear, filters, etc. But that your money, as a beginner, is probably really best spent on a book, class, or workshop. Your biggest enemy to getting what you need, right now, (vs. what you think you want) is what you don't know. Getting sharper images may be about technique, and not the lens.

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Here are some suggestions (with sample price from Amazon; look to B&H Photo, as well).

You certainly will need memory card(s), and probably a spare battery or two.

You also should get a case or protective bag, if you do not have one.

A tripod is useful for close-ups, night photography and studio work. There are many types, from inexpensive ones that fit a pocket, to motor-driven extravaganzas costing thousands of dollars, but get one that you can carry and use.

Another suggested purchase would be a set of filters, such as:

  1. UV filter (it has insignificant effect on exposure, but helps protect the lens)

  2. Circular polarizer (CPL), to reduce reflection from glass and water (or emphasize them) and to accentuate sky saturation.

  3. Neutral density filter (ND), to decrease light for longer exposures to intentionally blur moving water or to catch multiple fireworks bursts.

If you buy lenses that take different filter sizes, get filters for the largest lens and reducer rings to fit the others. A starter set of filters can run ~US$13.

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    I wouldn't suggest spending money on a UV filter. More here (and in a chain of linked questions), but the bottom line is that the protection is questionable, while in exchange, we get questions here relatively often about artifacts which turn out to be the result of a UV filter. – mattdm Jul 27 '15 at 2:20
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    Particularly if you buy a set of filters for $13. One of the main reasons expensive filters are expensive is because they have hi tech coatings to cut down artifacts. – Philip Kendall Jul 27 '15 at 6:34
  • Or take it off when taking pictures, screw it back on when done. – Count Iblis Jul 27 '15 at 16:50
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    @CountIblis That's called a lens cap! – Philip Kendall Jul 27 '15 at 17:16
  • @PhilipKendall I'm still glad that I use both the UV filter and an ordinary lens cap. Last year when taking pictures the lens cap fell off in windy weather, I didn't notice it happening. But I still had the UV filter and I put a microfiber cloth over that and fastened it with an elastic band. I bought a replacement lens cap a few days later. – Count Iblis Jul 28 '15 at 3:21
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What you'll need will depend on what you want to shoot.

For portraits, you're gonna need ways to control the light. Just about everything you'll need to get started on lighting can be found on Strobist.

Landscapes can be improved with a good tripod. Get one that's good and stable because you don't want it falling down and breaking your camera. You'll also need filters, which can end up costing more than a good lens once you've added them all up.

And then you're gonna need a bag to carry all of your gear. If you want a bag you can shoot out of, consider a messenger or a sling. Easy access to your gear but all the weight is placed on one shoulder. A backpack is more suited for transport. You'll probably need to take off your bag completely if you need to get anything inside but it's easier to carry around.

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You don't need anything beyond a lens, body, and a memory card/film.

If you are looking to buy more things, look beyond equipment and invest in learning the craft. Books, in person training, and 1 on 1 sessions with more experienced photographers are well worth the price.

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As mentioned you will need a memory card and thats about it. It is worth it to make sure that your body only comes with a battery (It should but if its used or a strange deal there is always a chance it may not). For a DSLR all you really need is the body, a lens, a battery and a memory card.

Yes that pairing is great. I have the D3300 (a great camera). You may want to look at the kit lens (18-55) as well. Its just as sharp as the prime for most work and you get the range it offers. The only problem with it is the low light performance. If you plan to work a lot in low light the prime 35mm is going to be better but for all around shooting the 18-55 is well worth it. I have the 50mm 1.2 full manual lens (the fastest lens nikon ever made) and its great but I still use the 18-55 most of the time for its versatility. When light is low I use a flash.

Cheap Safety: You may want to get a cheap UV filter for the lens. Optically this does just about nothing but it will protect your lens from scratches and potential damage. Its way simpler to swap a scratched or broken filter than a full lens.

Other things you dont really need (i.e. the black hole of toys)...

  • Filters (there are loads out there) but it may be worth it to pick up a polarizer if you are shooting out doors

  • A tripod. This is not really needed since Nikon lenses now have VR which works really well. But if you are taking a lot of portraits it will keep your arms from getting tired.

  • An external flash. The D3200,5300,3300 etc, have solid built in flashes but you can get a lot of versatility with an external flash as well.

  • Bag: there are hundreds out there pick one you like they all do just about the same thing. In reality, until you really learn how to use the gear (and have enough to carry around) all you really need is the camera.

  • I would suggest that you should get a good UV filter. Some cheap filters can create serious glare problems and other artifacts that ruin shots. petapixel.com/2012/07/25/… – dgatwood Oct 1 '16 at 6:21
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If you consider buying a tripod as many have suggested here, then you should also consider buying a wireless remote control for your camera. The tripod is used to eliminate camera movement to allow for long exposure shots or to allow images to be aligned more accurately for doing image processing involving multiple images (e.g. making HDR pictures or doing focus stacking). But simply touching the camera during the exposure leads to vibrations. You can deal with this problem by using the camera timer, after a few seconds the vibrations will have dissipated. But in practice you may want to take your shot at exactly the right moment, there may be people walking in the field of view, there may be wind gusts causing the tripod to shake.

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My tip would be to buy a external flash with a remote trigger.

If you can afford a TTL one, fine, if not a manual one. I also bought 2 sets of rechargeable batteries.

This will open you to the world of controlled illumination.

Then, if you want, you can evolve into this path. If not, at least you have some basic gear for portraits (as a main light or fill light).

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My short but sweet answer? You need a body, battery, and lens. The rest is all up to you, your feet, your creativity and determination. Photography is a fantastic creative outlet. It is about you and how you can convey your view of the world through photography. Cameras and lenses are only a tool. The best advice I received when starting out was to buy the best prime lens one can afford. I was given a 'nifty fifty' as my first lens and instructed to shoot ONLY with the 50mm until I could clearly verbalize a reason to need another length. Turned out to be great advice. A 50mm is a great length when starting out. A 35-mm lens on a full-frame sensor most closely mimics the field of view of typical human vision. A 50-mm on a crop sensor is the equivalent. It is so easy to get caught up in the discussions of different sensors, bodies, equipment, etc. Photography attracts the gear nerd in all of us. Just buy a "fast" prime, preferably a 50mm, the best glass you can afford, and then go out and shoot... a lot. Fall in love with the art and act of photography, take pictures of everything. When you can explicitly and clearly state "why" you need a specific piece of equipment, then you know you need it! Have fun and enjoy! I hope you learn to love photography as much as I do. It will bring you great joy.

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What you need to start is camera, lens , memory card and case. I buy from B&H, almost all body only come with SD card, extra battery and a case. The camera will come with some kind of software to at lease get you started. You need DX lens sense your camera is a crop camera. You won't find a 35mm 1.8 in DX. I would recommend the 18-55 to get you started. you can get flashes later don't spend all kind of money till you know what you want or need. Looks like B&H has the best deal on the D3200 http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/856049-REG/Nikon_25492_D3200_DSLR_Camera_With.html Good Luck

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If landscape photography is something that interest you, i would suggest getting a wide-angle lens (canon17-40) and some neutral density filters to help with long exposure. but if you are an everyday lifestyle shooter, a 50mm 1.8 is a fantastic lens (both for nikkon and canon) for canon it is about $90 and nikkon is about $200(?) but it is well worth the investment!! also consider purchasing at least 2 SD card, a camera bag, and extra batteries are always helpful!

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You're going to need a memory card. Beyond that you don't need anything but will probably want some stuff.

Bag, Tripod, Batteries and Post-Processing Software are the main things.

But then unlike some of the other answers you might also consider books, workshops, or just travel funds. A weekend session with a portrait photographer will jump start your portfolio, networking, and knowledge base and get you from the "I'm a person that spent money on a nice camera" to the "I'm an amateur photographer" phase a lot quicker. Even some basic lessons from a book or website on composition and such will go a long ways.

A 35mm is a perfect lens to start with and certainly the only one you might ever need. Its often shown to be the most used lens of landscape, street, portrait, and documentary photographers. Its that versatile. Eventually will you want others? Probably. But that's a great lens to begin with and I wouldn't spend money on any others until you get really, really comfortable with that one. You could shoot it for years before mastering it and needing to move on to anything else.

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Definitely purchase a UV filter to protect your lens. It's much easier to replace a damaged filter than to have to replace your lens. A UV filter, as opposed to a plain glass "protector" filter, has the added benefit of filtering out UV light, which will help reduce haze in outdoor shots.

And, DON'T buy a cheap filter. Most of the "starter" filter sets are junk. Don't pay good money for a quality camera and lens, only to slap a piece of junk on the front of it. A quality UV filter means you won't have to contend with artifacts in your images. "Store-brand" filters, like Promaster, may not be of sufficient quality, and many times are overpriced.

I recommend a Hoya multi-coated filter. As an example, Adorama sells a 52mm one (a common size) for a great price. http://www.adorama.com/HY52UVM.html

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