Breaking into photography and want to go pro

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by michelle_bennett|1, Jun 3, 2008.

  1. Hiya everyone,
    I used to study photography at the height of the digital age. I still have my old Canon SLR. However I am looking to get back into it and take it more seriously. I am also planing to go to school for a MA in photojournalism. But First of all I need to invest in new equipment. I know I want to go with Nikon lens and cameras. I do like to shoot black and white film. My first thought is to buy an digital SLR. I have been looking at the nikon d300. I know it is still a consumer level camera but the full frame sensor D3 is a bit out of my price range. ( I would have to wait months before I could afford it) Is the d300 still a good semi-pro option? Also what film cameras would be great? The nikon F6 looks great however are there more budget friendly cameras in the semi-pro category? Also some recommendations on digital/film lens would be great. I planning to go the professional route and would rather invest in quality gear now. many thanks, michelle
  2. I shoot weddings with D300s and find it is plenty of camera. If I were shooting lots of sports, especially professional sports that are faster, I would use a D3.

    I would ask potential employers or your chosen school what you need.

    When was "the height of the digital age"? Are we on a downslope where the peak has already passed?

  3. I think it's the person behind the camera that makes it "pro" gear.
  4. I planning to go the professional route and would rather invest in quality gear now.
    Talk to an accountant and check up on local business taxation requirements. You may not be able to (immediately) treat your new gear as an investment and qualify for depreciation.
  5. "I used to study photography at the height of the digital age" ???

    Can you explain what you meant by that? Thanks.
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    As a moderator for this forum, may I request everybody to answer Michelle's main question rather than focusing on the exact meaning of her opening sentence? I don't think that is important to the context.
    It is not helpful to go off a tangent.
  7. Many if not most of the people I see working for newspapers do not have very expensive gear. They have older pro class gear. The idea is to spend as little as they have to, and yet get the job done. I know of two guys still using a Nikon D1!

    Kent in SD
  8. In answering your question proper, you'll find the biggest difference, on lenses, will be the build quality. Depending on what you want to take a picture of, this either will, or will not make a difference. <P> Full frame has its place, but I must confess, I prefer the 1.5x sensor. Again, depends on your use. <P> In learning, I'd suggest that you go with a totally manual camera. You might find some interesting medium format cameras for film. A bit bigger negative is nicer to work with. You might even consider a 4x5. I really miss mine. Makes you really think about what you are doing. <P> On digital bodies, find one you are ergometrically comfortable with. How big are your hands? My wife will use a D40x, but I find it a bit small to manipulate. <P> As far as more specific recommendations, again, Landscape? Portraits? Sports? Products? Fashion? The world is your oyster...<P> My conclusion would be to buy something of a basic kit D300, 10-20mm sigma, 30 1.4 Sigma, 50 1.8 Nikon and either the 80-200 or 70-200. SB-800 flash or 2, Tripod, Lots of batteries, memory cards and a pretty good computer, maybe with 2 monitors. PS3 &/or Lightroom b/u hard drives....etc...etc...Hang onto the rest of your money and build on your kit as you need to. There really is no correct kit. What does you school suggest?<P> Not to sound like a jerk, but it really will be you that will make or break the image, depending upon how well you use the equipment you have. I had a "junky" 9 dollar lens from e*ay and used it for city scapes. I get 400-800 dollars for a print. I've never sold a print from my 70-200mm lens. <P>Warren
  9. As a film camera, i would suggest an F100, it's well built and just plain old works. The D200 and D300 are built around the same design (ergonomically) as the F100, lots of similarities in how the cameras perform and work. Flawless transition from an F100 to a D200/300 is superb.
  10. Depends on your budget as much as anything. The D300 would be a good bet and should remain suitable for years to come.

    Assuming you can find 'em cheaper, a good used D2X or D2Xs might be suitable if you prefer the few specific advantages they may offer.

    Another option is a pair of D2H or D2Hs bodies. For PJ work a backup is usually a must, tho' not necessarily for all assignments. But you could probably buy a pair of these for the price of one D300. If your main goal is photojournalism and you're sure the limited resolution will be suitable these are fine cameras. More than good enough for newspaper or web reproduction, and good enough for some magazine illustrations (tho' it's best to check first).

    Noise characteristics at higher ISOs differ significantly between these five models and should be considered carefully in light of your goals and needs.

    The D2H/s and D2X/s *might* be more durable and rugged in the long run, but that may never be a factor. Specs for the D300 are very impressive and it appears to be well suited to most pro use, including photojournalism.

    My only personal curiosity about the D300 concerns some of the reports of difficulties with satisfactory autofocus performance. I suspect it's due to unfamiliarity with the camera, but I'd want to try one personally first to be sure it met my needs. In which case, I'd be obligated to buy where I tried it, assuming the price was remotely reasonable. Price we pay for such convenience.
  11. If you plan to "go the professional route" I would suggest that you put in several hundreds, perhaps a thousand hours into Photoshop.

    I'm not a pro - yet - but the hours have already been put in, and I know there's still several thousand hours to go before I will consider myself at professional level.

    By all accounts the D300 is a great camera (I have a D70, F50, FE2 and an Hasselblad 500CM), but my next camera will most likely to be the Canon 5D.

    The gear you need depends on what you are trying to do.
  12. I use two D70s bodies and consider myself a professional, having been paid for
    most of my jobs the last couple of years since getting back into photography (and in
    the 70s and 80s before I left photography). The D300 is certainly not a 'consumer'
    level camera, it's does so much more than the 'pro' F2s I used for 30 years. I'm
    looking forward to replacing my two D70s bodies with D300. I also use a Nikon AF
    24-85mm f/2.8-4 D macro and AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR, which are not
    considered 'pro', but again, the photos I make with them make me money.

    You could certainly do very well with a D80, Sigma 18-50 f/2.8 HSM, 50-150 f/2.8
    HSM, and SB600 flash, which would cover 80-90% of a photojournalist's needs and
    not cost an arm and a leg.
  13. "...Also what film cameras would be great? The nikon F6 looks great however are there more budget friendly cameras in the semi-pro category? ...."
    The Nikon F5 can be found in the $400 - $500 range and it is definitely one of the best 35mm film camera bodies on the planet.
    I shoot the Nikon D3 and D300 for our professional wedding work, yet I still enjoy picking up the F5 and shooting for my own pleasure/personal shooting.
  14. The D300 will handle professional work. I was involved in Nikon film photography for at pro and amateur levels for more than 30 years but given today's equipment I can see absolutely no reason for investing in a film body. There may be a reason for medium and large format film equipment at the pro level for a few years yet but 35mm film is all but dead in commercial work.
  15. Also, what Andy said about learning Photoshop. That's the graphics industry standard and in digital photography knowledge of computer image processing is an absolute necessity.
  16. On the post processing side of the business - I find myself using Capture NX for about 90% of my image processing and using photoshop for just a few things that Capture cannot do.

    But with the new Capture NX - version 2.0 - I can see myself spending even less time in photoshop in the future.

    Before you spend $600 plus on Photoshop CS3 - try the free Capture NX that comes with the Nikon D300 and D3.
  17. I don't think Capture NX still comes with the D300. That promotion has ended. But I agree, NX is indispensable if you want to get the most out of your photos.
  18. As a working photogrpaher who does some newspaper and magazine work ,as much as I strongly believe the F6 is the best film SLR camera ever made, you need to concentrate on digital gear.

    And yes the D300 will be fine unless you are covering things where you really need 9-11 fps.
  19. If you're interested in photojournalism as a profession, then film simply isn't an option these days. I work in Washington around newspaper, wire service and magazine photographers virtually every day. I haven't seen a film camera in over five years, probably longer. On very rare occasion you might find somebody working on a long-term book or magazine project shooting film. But I haven't actually seen anyone doing it and in any case that's not the bread and butter daily journalism that puts dinner on the table for most working news photographers. The D300 is by no means a consumer camera. People here are shooting with everything from a D1 to a D200 to a D3. It's getting paid for your pictures that makes a camera "professional."
  20. What are you shooting with now? I'd speak with your advisor at the journalism department about what gear to get. I worked for newspapers and got by very well with a 24mm and a 105mm, pulling out a 300mm to cover sporting events.

    BTW, I was going to get an MA in photojournalism at one time at one of the two more prestigious photojournalism schools, but the advisor candidly told me that the previous year's 12 grads were all still looking for jobs. (I'd still have done it if I could have afforded it, but for me it wasn't worth going deeper into debt for.)
  21. Hello Michelle. It is better to spend time sharpening your axe before you attempt to cut down a tree. The quality of your work is not a reflection of the equipment, but rather a reflection of the knowledge and skill the photographer has aquired. Great photos have been produced with average cameras or lesser. My advice is very simple. Gain knowledge and skill and the wisdom how to apply it. Then you will be able to become proficient with any type of equipment in any given situation. Cheers.
  22. ^ Very well said !
  23. I'm going to break off a little here. Listen. You should aim to get a full-frame DSLR. In a month, you will know what the options are. You may see a Canon 5D MkII, or a Nikon D10. But you shouldn't rule out a D3. Here are the reasons why and how --

    1) With a full-frame DSLR, you can get lovely images up to ISO 25,600, and stunning results at ISO 6400, something nobody else can match. Part of learning to be a professional is learning how to take advantage of what competitive technology is available to you.

    2) With a full-frame DSLR you can use legacy manual focus lenses, many of which are beautiful and can be bought for $150. For $400, you can have a lovely 28mm, 50mm, and 85mm. For another $350, you can have a lovely 24mm and 200mm. Buy the expensive autofocus zoom glass when you graduate. Invest in a full frame body now.

    3) Why should I think you could buy a D3? Here it is: cost of use. The purchase price is high, but the cost of use is not proportionately as high compared with the D300. Look for the D300 to depreciate about a thousand dollars in two years. The D3, by comparison, I estimate will be still worth ~$2500 in three years (in E+ condition), plus or minus 10 percent. The equity in the D3 is high because (i) it has high-end materials and mechanicals, which don't become less expensive to make, and (ii) it has a full-frame sensor, which should still command a premium.

    In addition, you saved buying the manual focus glass [buy the 50mm af-d f/1.8 if you need AF for some situations]. In the first two years, there is only $300 per year difference in the depreciation of the D3. You can easily make $300 more per year with the D3 by being able to shoot in situations where the light is so low, that every other photographer in the room has to pack up. That is a good, realistic and instructive challenge for you.

    All you have to do is find a way to finance the price of the purchase. You can afford the cost of using it! What you are asking for is a loan to be repaid $800 per year for the first three years, at which point you can either sell the D3 or keep it and pay the remainder off.

    I would question going to J school for an MA in photojournalism. I'd say if you want to be a straight reporter or editor, you might get to J school. But for photography, you might want to take the tuition money and give yourself 18 months of intensive study on your own. Photography school is a way to end up looking like everyone else, and it seems to make everybody dull. Music school is the same way. I can tell you that the greatest musicians in the world, many of them, dropped out of music school. Nellie McKay got an F for writing "won't u please b nice?" as an conservatory she dropped out and soon landed a contract with Columbia Records and made a hit song out of it. She was smarter by far than her professors, I can tell you.

    The sooner you learn to tackle the entire thing independently, the more successful you will be. Are you willing to eat, sleep, and breathe the art of photography? Then everything you need is out there. You can plan out your own curriculum, approach people, ask for lessons, ask to audit a class (for free), visit the galleries, and get critiques. Hell, at this point, you pretty much have to reinvent the game in order to succeed at it. School will just hold you back.
  24. Luke Kaven! power to you :) Excellent response.
    Everyone on here is focusing on the gear, rather than the issue. It is sort of asking the race driver what car to buy in order to start racing professionally. The obvious answer for both the racer and the 'grapher is the best you can afford!
    Will that make you a professionally photographer? Yep you guessed it - it would make you as much a pro lens [person] as a fast car will make you a pro racer.
    To become a pro photographer you need to earn your keep with your gear. That is business know-how, not camera experience (also important).
    So before ask people what gear to buy (easy), find out where you can sell your pics, and how much people will pay for it... You will quickly realise what you need to do...

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