Have you ever bought a piece of kit that really changed the way you thought about your photography?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by david_eagle, Feb 5, 2009.

  1. Strange question possibly, but along the way, have you bought an item of equipment that really made an impact on your photography (excluding the camera!)? If so what was it and what changes did it make to your photography?
    Seems to me that a lot of equipment is bought on a speculation that it will make a difference, it would be interesting to see just what kit has inspired what changes.
    My purchase? Not kit, but a photography course, the chance to take different pictures with different people that could offer advice/guidance/critique.
    What was yours?
    Ps. posting this in the Nikon forum, because I am interested in Nikon kit!
  2. I changed when I met Monte Zucker.
  3. A Nikkor 300mm 2:8.
  4. The first item that changed how I "see" things was a Canon FD 17mm lens giving me a whole new view beyond 24mm. (Since changed to a Nikon 14/2.8).
    The second was a Canon FD 400/2.8 L which simply provided the best telephoto image quality that I could get having gone through a 200/2.8, 400/4.5, and 300/2.8. (Since changed to Nikon 400/2.8 AIS).
    These two lenses have completely changed my photography and made my hobby all that much more rewarding. Of course purchasing a 4x5 body and 65mm superwide is right up there too.
  5. Other than my most recent camera (D300), I would probably go with my first really, really good tripod and ballhead (with an L-bracket for the camera)--all told, over $600, but it has been an amazing investment and one I use almost all the time when I shoot.
  6. Well, that just happened to me last year. I was just to shoot with 35 mm and longer on full frame cameras (film) and I had never thought about anything wider. Then on digital it seems than zoom lenses start at 17 or 18.
    When the Tokina 11-16 came on sale I wasn't sure about it but since it was NOT ridiculous expensive I gave it a try.
    I don't think it has improve my photography but it let me discover what a wide angle lens can do and how much fun it can be.
  7. Back when I had only 28-80 and 70-300 lenses, I wanted to go wider. Common wisdom at the time was that 24mm was as wide as anyone really needs, and any wider is difficult to use well. I ignored that and bought a 20mm lens and it turned me into a wide angle junkie. That was followed by a 17-35 a couple of years later.
    Eventually I'd like to have the 14mm or 14-24.
  8. .
    Earlier: "... Have you ever bought a piece of kit that really changed the way you thought about your photography? ..."
    Yes, a camera at all.
    Having a camera AT ALL changed my experience of photography.
    Then, having my own printer, and seeing my images printed big on the same day informed my next day's shooting decisions.
    Now, a screen with a perpetual slide show fading from tone- to-chrome (grayscale to color) for each image is totally changing, saturating, and enhancing my own photographic view.
    So, in that order, these three things changed my experience of photography, MY photography:
    - a camera -- to capture images
    - a printer -- to blow images up contemporaneously on demand
    - a slide show -- to present my images constantly changing every day
    Thanks for asking, David -- provoked a surprise awareness on my part.
  9. The SB-800. Nikon's iTTL/CLS flash capabilities completely changed the way I use flash. For decades I avoided on-camera flash and used it only grudgingly and when absolutely unavoidable. Now I use it routinely with the D2H.
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Perhaps I am merely pointing out the obvious, but the two items that really changed my photography are digital SLRs (the D100 being my first) and earlier auto focus in the mid 1990's. My first AF body was the N8008 from 1989, but AF finally became really useful to me with the F5.

    Among photographers, I probably learned the most from John Shaw, starting with his books in the late 1980's to his VHS videos in the 1990s. My wife and I felt that we knew him quite well, but we didn't meet him in person until 2003.
  11. There have been a few. The F2 and motor drive completely changed the way I was shooting. The 500mm mirror lens showed me reach and compression but it was an MF 28mm/3.5 that truly opened my eyes and forced me to get close. It was an epiphany and I've been pissing off editors with wideangles ever since. Rick H.
  12. My first rangefinder camera: a Canonet G-III QL17. It was the first time I ever used a fast lens... and I discovered
    available light, Leica cameras and lenses, fast glass, professional gear...

    Of course, my long time with rangefinders kept me away from SLRs. The accidental purchase of an F5 at the auction site
    (felt sorry for the seller, who hadn't received a lot of bids for this body), got me back to them. And led me to digital stuff!

    But definitely, rangefinder cameras.
  13. My second lens made me realize what I needed for the future. The 50/1.8 introduced me to fast glass and quality pictures.
  14. 85 1.4 changed things a lot for me, going from a fastest aperture of 2.8 previously... the D3 changed my life also, though... it leaps far enough ahead to take high quality photographs under incandescent light without flash, where previously that wasn't really possible.
  15. A 24" ink jet taught me the value of being able to everyday enjoy big beatiful prints, matted and framed hanging on the walls and not just have tens and hundreds of thousands of images on my harddrives that I occationally would view or print and put in a photoalbum or just store in a drawer. Ironically it has also allowed me to see the real beauty and soul of B&W film as well.
  16. I second Peter's comment.....having a camera at all did it for me...
    I had Brownies, Polaroids, and just pure junk....but the day I bought a 35mm film cam (back in 1973) my whole experience with photography completely changed. Not so much what the camera could do, but that it gave me total control over my images. And that was when they changed from being pictures to being images. I was creating them, not just snapping them.
    but, to abide by your request and make this NOT about the camera itself..but other gear...
    ...a film scanner.............changed my whole photography world.....of course this led to another camera..........DSLR....
  17. The first big change was buying my first F2 many years ago. It opened up so many worlds to me.
    The next big change was two parts......... Moving into digital SLRs and working with PS and now NX2. Instant imaging and total control over the finished product has been completely liberating.
  18. A good tripod.
    A cable release.
  19. I guess mine's the opposite of Shun's post. Getting my first all mechanical and medium format camera, a Mamiya RB67, really shaped my photography. I am now processing my own B&W film, and I will start printing in a darkroom this summer.
    And I just got an F3 which feels so nice in my hands I can't put it down.
  20. The 24mm Nikkor I acquired back about 1969 or '70. A 28mm was the widest lens I had ever seen and the 24mm gave me a whole new perspective on the world. Even today if I could only own on lens for either DX or FX, it would be the 24mm.
  21. Taking a photograhy course on design and composition ..and reading my camera manual over and over.
  22. For me it's more recent, and still impacting my way of thinking.
    The 85mmPC Nikkor tilt-shift lens. The ability to align the plane of focus with the subject to achieve a desired result is revolutionary (yes, I hear the large format guys chuckling in the background).
  23. In high school, the first time that I saw an image that I took with a Mamiya double lens reflex, appear in the developer...I was hooked!
    In 1980, when I bought my first SLR...a Canon A-1.
    But, without a doubt, on Christmas 2007, when my wife bought me a D300, 18-200 VR and Sigma 30 mm, f1.4 prime...WOW! Joining this site was the best thing that I've done for my photography after that.
  24. I've owned over a dozen cameras, everything from APS or 35mm point n shoots, Nikon F5, Bronica 645, 4x5 field camera, and Nikon D300. No camera has ever made much difference. A camera is just a camera. What has made a huge difference for me has been the radio remote flash triggers (Skyport, CyberSync.) I use these with my 14 portable lights. This have given me the ability to actually create the single most critical thing in any photo--the LIGHT! I don't have to work around the light given me at the scene; I am now in control. This has in turn given me the most in-depth understanding of LIGHT I've ever had, after 25+ years of taking photos. The difference it's made in my photos is like the difference between night & day. Literally.
    Kent in SD
  25. When I upgraded from an OM1n with 50 1.8(still in use) to a Nikon F4S with an AF 80-200 2.8. It was like going from a muzzle loader to an Uzi in one fell swoop. I am doing a lot of digital now with a D300, but the finder in DX is a wimp compared to the F4s. I am still to find a camera with the size or clarity of the F4s's finder. No wonder it was the Press's favourite during its production.
  26. bms


    After D80, D300, yes... an enlarger a used F3 and a Leica M4. Taught me to think first again, before pressing the shutter... :)
  27. Ditto Lex - Nikon's CLS changed my view of speedlights completely.
  28. bmm


    My first fast lens - a 50mm f/1.4 prime. Even in the early days when I used it in a way I now recognise as being very crude, that level of control over depth of field was a total revelation. And of course while secondary to the DOF amazement I was experiencing, also amazing to me was the low natural light option that such apertures offered.
  29. Same as Lex and Paul, Nikon CLS
  30. I bought a used Nikon FA with a 55mm 1.2 on her...
    This combo has made me want a darkroom.
    I played around in one a lot when I was younger, and having this great camera and fuggin' beautiful lens just makes me yearn for that red-lit room o' magic.
    It has also opened my eyes to the limitations and conversely, strengths of the digital format, and how to work around them, or with them.
    I think everyone should own a nice 35mm camera. :)
  31. When I started getting serious about wedding photography, I made the purchase of a Hasselblad 500CM, without really knowing anything at all about the format or the idiosyncracies of that system. It was perhaps the most eye-opening photographic learning experience of my life. Yep - even though my college years were spent learning photography on an all-manual Honeywell H1a with a Luna Pro meter, and I had been shooting with a Nikon FTn, this was totally foreign - the paradigm of framing and composing was all new - I actually had to re-think every shot. Eventually, it became automatic, and I yearn to hold that immaculate camera in my hands yet again - maybe soon. --Rich
  32. <p>I added one simple item that doubled the number of keepers I get when shooting in golden light. Without this item, fully half of all available golden light was not visible to me. The best part is, that the least expensive of these items is as effective as the most expensive. If I should forget one when I travel, a replacement is available at almost any store, but there's most likely a very serviceable one in my hotel room. A few people don't need this, but I, and most others do. The item? An alarm clock.<br /> <br /> Closely related is my 5AM filter.<br /> <br /> Thanks to Boston-area photographer Jacob Mosser (http://www.psaphoto.org/gallery/mosser.htm) for the clock quip, and Hatteras Island photographer Scott Geib (http://www.lightkeepergallery.com/) for the 5AM barb.<br /> <br /> Dan Beauvais in Kitty Hawk<br />
  33. The basic kit for developing: two-reel Paterson tank, changing bag and one liter bag of Xtol powder. The ceremonial that surrounds the act of photography in b&w, from chosing the film to hanging the neg to dry, both made me feel like I was doing the real thing, and humbled me. And even more so now that I'm slowly returning back to it, after a long digital hiatus. I just scanned and retouched a few Tri-X shots tonight, and there is really nothing that compares to it. I've had, and still have, the cream of the crop in terms of digital equipment, but it never gives me the same joy as b&w film. Convenient, beautilful, at times spectacular, but never really moving. B&w makes me feel I'm a much better photographer than I actually am :)
  34. The first time I looked through a Single Lens Reflex camera, (Nikon F), I was hooked. After selling my Leica M bodies and buying into the Nikon F2 system, my image compositions improved dramatically. Not nearly as much cropping needed in the darkroom.
    The next epiphany I experienced was in printing my first 4x5 sheet film, (Kodak Super XX). Mein Gott, what amazing detail I saw popping off the enlarging easel after focusing for a full frame 16x20 print!
    However, I sure wish I had that Leica equipment now! :)
  35. My first DSLR changed my photography because I can now afford to take as many shots as I want. I've shot 35mm film for over 35 years but had to limit my shots because of the expense of processing and printing. For the first time I can now experiment to my hearts content. I am finally able to try all the different views, settings, and lighting that I've always wanted to do. It's a very liberating feeling. I have always gotten good photos but went for the "money" shot. Now I can go for the experimental shots!
  36. Yes.
    I think the purchase of a good digital SLR and a good photo editor (initially PS Elements and later Paint Shop Pro Photo.) The move from analogue to digital allowed me to do a few things. First I got immediate feedback on my photos. I was prepared for that. The thing I was not prepared for was the fact that it facilitated me doing some serious post processing work and this in turn brought me to the realisation that more than 50% of an excellent photo lies in how well it was processed after it was captured.
    Image capture is one part of the equation but to my thinking the value added by digital manipulation is huge. It made me realise this.............Photography is not just about accurately representing on the screen / page what you saw in real life. It is about creating an emotion.
    Many of my photos are turned from a simple image into an impressionistic image and sometimes and abstract piece of art. This is much more powerful than just capturing a "true" image that is representational. My goal in image making is now to make people feel something and think when they see my photography, something more than "my isn't that a pretty picture."
    For this reason I have now taken much more to black and white photography and where I use colour it is less and less the real colour I saw in real life.
  37. A tank with reels, a bag of D-76, a bag of fixer, two bottles, a thermometer, a graduated flask, a changing bag, and a stirrer.
  38. My interest was piqued after taking an online photography course offered by AOL; which led me to join my local camera club (PSRI); which led me to befriend an important mentor who opened my eyes to equipment, composition and other skills toward making a good photograph; which led me to photo tours/workshops with nationally/internationally significant photographers for landscape, wildlife, and macro photography; which led me to making many photographs that someday will be shown on my website (hopefully soon but dunno when - LOL!)
  39. when i was in 2nd year college and bought my darkroom kit to process my own tri-x exposed from my F Photomic. that was the start of my photjournalism career.
  40. For me it was when I bought a loupe and built myself a light table. This allowed me to manage my slides far more effectively. The second was a professional 35 mm slide projector and a screen.
  41. acm


    Nikon 18-200 VR.
  42. The first camera that changed how I "see" things was a 197... , Zenit E , my first SLR (Russian). Then commes the Canon D20 my first DSLR , and now the D3 with amazing low light performance and speed. Oh..., I almost forget the tool I'm using right now : my computer...; who gave me a whole new perspective on the photography.
  43. I know you said 'excluding the camera' but in my case it was a Nikon D100. After nine months I thought to myself 'why the f*** did I spend £1500 on this?!!'.
    I then started buying medium format film cameras which I couldn't possibly afford ten years previously.
    Upgrading back to film was the best decision I ever made.
  44. Seems to me that a lot of equipment is bought on a speculation that it will make a difference, it would be interesting to see just what kit has inspired what changes
    The Adams "trilogy", and a bit later a Canham 4x5". A Linhof Technika improved my shooting speed a lot, shooting easily in any place, even hand held. Definitely large format lenses. A Sekonic multi mode hand held meter.
    A Jobo developing system. A "really dark" darkroom. Stroebels`"View camera technique". "Post exposure" by Ctein. "The film developing Cookbook" by Ancholl and Tropp. A Peak magnifier. A densitometer. Studio strobes and light softeners. More books.
    All this changed myself from being a weekend snapshooter to a photographer in an endless learning process, I think.
    Nikon items speaking, the biggest one in this digital era... a D700. Some lenses, too, but only for improved sharpness on my photos, usually the lastest the better (most of the times is the only interesting issue on my work, I`m afraid). Perhaps the SB-80DX were my first flash heads that improved my results seriously. SB-800`s CLS simply made things easier.
  45. Double post (?), my excuses.
  46. "... I probably learned the most from John Shaw... " Shun.​
    It`s obvious! :)
  47. 1.- A lens: Sigma 180 5.6 - it opened for me a brave new world of close-up pictures
    2.- Another lens: Nikkor 50 1.8 - it helped me to discover the simplicity of going just 1 lens
    3.- A book: 'Mountain Light' from Galen Rowell - there I learnt that shooting while mountaineering could be much more creative than showing countless summits and tired faces...
    4.- A tool - OK, it's a camera :-D but it is the only one that I've found acceptable when I run across the mountains: Canon (oh my God I said that) IXUS 70 - fits my pocket, focus is fast and reliable enough, the zoom range is perfect for me (35-105) and allows for decent macro shots.
  48. My first Nikon F opened up the world of photography for me. I never became comfortable with the rangefinder systems (Leica, Contax) I used before the "F" system. For many many moons thereafter, whilst working with computers, I had a dream that photography would venture into the digital domain so cameras also became computers. That happened for me in 1997 and since then, I hardly use film anymore. Looking back, I only wish digital photography had entered the arena earlier. But the gestation period presumably helped me form my own approach to making pictures.
    I sill use some of the Nikkors from those early years on my D3 and D3x. Even some of the rangefinder lenses from the '50s see occasional use today, on a DSLR.
  49. (...) I apologise for double posting and trapping master Bjorn Rorslett into my jaws :)
  50. Yes, this happened to me just recently. I got a Pentacon 6 as a gift from my dad. It's a whole new approach. Blogged about it here: http://darktopography.blogspot.com/2009/02/arrival.html
  51. I would have to mirror the darkroom comments above. For me, the whole process from bulk loading B&W film through final printing, rather than taking the store bought and processing route, really drew me into photography. This experience changed me from a snap shooter into a serious amatuer. Although I shoot mostly digital these days, my daughter has recently developed an interest in film so I have the added joy of sharing this passion with someone close (yes, that's our cat on her shoulder).
  52. pge


    Two things for me

    My own enlarger after renting darkroom space for years.
    A d200 in the spring of 2006
  53. If you can call education "an item of equipment" as the OP and other people have decided to do, I'd have to say that my most important piece of kit ever was a one week workshop with Jay Maisel, who now leads workshops out of his studio: http://www.jaymaisel.com
  54. Tripod. Ballhead.
  55. Wow....we might think we are all individuals, but isn't it awesome to find out how much we share with each other in our common photographic experiences. Awesome thread!
    Like others....
    - Nikon F - I will never forget the reflections on the lens coatings, and the view through the finder!
    - Photoshop and digital in general - During the film days I developed film, but never had the luxury of a darkroom and pretty much hated what the labs provided to amateurs. Now that I can afford the funds, I still can't afford the time for darkroom processing. With PS I can finally produce what I saw and imagined.
    - I thought I had a brilliant flash of an idea about Nikon CLS, but looks like Lex has stolen my thoughts.
  56. Actually not a piece of equipment but way more strong, Adams` work at the Sierra Club was the spark plug (mountaneering and photography, large format, etc.), but my approach to photography changed decisively after visiting a gallery exhibition about Duane Michals (what photography really means to me, gear goes to a second stage since then). Perhaps also Richard Avedon`s work have switched something inside my brain, I think.
  57. For me, it was software. Getting the trial version of Aperture 1 back in the day made shooting with my little coolpix so enjoyable - from image to library to tweaking quickly and modelessly. I couldn't wait to get back and see what I shot, up there on a big display. The limitations of the coolpix led to a D200 and a bad case of NAS.
  58. Kit -- no.
    For me it was the $85 Intro to Photography class I took -- 3 Friday nights and 2 Saturday a.m. "field trips" -- at a community college 10 minutes from where we live.
    There was a related gear purchase, though. For that class, I bought a used FM2 even though we owned a more full-featured slr at the time. I did it because that left absolutely no way for me to 'cheat' by allowing the camera to determine exposure and focus. And we used only 35mm slides for the class, so again whatever we shot we got.
  59. Upstrap
  60. Laptop computer. I can now lie on my back and read photo.net
    No, seriously I'd say it was my Pentax spotmeter which enabled me to get properly exposed pictures with a range of cameras.
  61. For 30 years I had two F2 Photomic bodies, a Nikon 35mm f2, 105mm f/2.5 and Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5 Macro, all manual indexing. I minored in photography in college, and for 10 years I also had my own darkroom.
    Two and half years ago I traded it all in for two D70s bodies, Nikon 24-85mm f/2.8-4 Macro, 70-300mm VR and Tokina 12-24mm f/4 after a 10 year hiatus from photography. The change to digital and all the automation, especially motor drives, changed everything. I'm shooting more now than ever I did in my hayday in the mid 70s.
  62. First time was the Nikon FTn with its 50mm f 1.4 lens, and Tri-X film. I could shoot in any situation without flash. Later, scanning my negs and inkjet printing was a real leap in "process," giving me the control of the color image for the first time. More recently, the DSLRs and PS.
  63. Off-camera hand-held flash.
  64. Peter Monahon,

    "Now, a screen with a perpetual slide show fading from tone- to-chrome (grayscale to color) for each image is totally changing, saturating, and enhancing my own photographic view."
    Can you give some more detail i.e. how do you create your image from "tone-to-chorme". Sounds like an intriguing way to view photos. How do you have your perpetual slide shows running ... a digital photo frame or on your comptuer screen??
  65. Pocket wizards and some manual flashes. My entire concept of photography has changed. Now it's not only about the composition, but also all about the light.
  66. .
    Hi Paul,
    Originally, we just used the free http://Picasa.google.com/ screensaver to make a slide show. Now we hightlight all photos and add them to the screensaver, then we highlight all photos and convert them to black and white and add them to the screensaver. We make sure the photo's filenames are blah-blah-BW and blah-blah-C so they sort in alphabetical order, then the screen saver shows the BW version first, then washes the C color version on screen next. Free software like http://www.irfanview.com/ has batch capability to convert image contents (green or red filter) and names to make us happy, and http://www.1-4a.com/rename/ makes renaming entire directory contents into patterns very easy.
    Even on the Internet, free http://www.flickr.com/ allows their slideshow to do the same. For example, see a series of images I did on an interior study fading from (1) green filter grayscale, to (2) red filter grayscale, and finally (3) color for the same scene. I was amazed at the presence of the chair, for instance, in the living room that shows such a difference as a light tone or dark tone chair -- all done with filders over the same chair! See:
    ... and the slideshow:
  67. like Shun, John Shaw's books were great for me. His photos and his explanations were great for learning how to meter, compose, and just get familiar with the camera. I recommend his books to anyone who asks about photography books. I never got to meet him though.
  68. Browsing flickr and viewing other photographer's work has been a great source of learning and inspiration for me. Best of all, it's free.
  69. one last game changer from me:
    The internet.
  70. Good answer - the Internet.
    Also a good answer - Elsa Dorfman. It's about the subjects, not the equipment. Capture the humanity...
  71. A sony digital picture frame. Finally, I can have my favorite images on permanent slide show, instead of buried on a hard drive somewhere. A more elegant solution would be perhaps a 21" OLED mounted on the wall and I'm sure that will come in the next few years. Eventually I'm sure the OLEDS will be window sized allowing us to wake in the morning to whatever landscape we choose.
  72. A quality tripod, which enables most macro shots, and unlike a crap tripod is not frustrating to use.
    Macro lenses, not necessary but they do enable more macro shots per outing simply by reducing the amount of time spent fiddling with extension rings.
    An old all-manual Pentax SLR, which is both smaller and lighter than modern DSLRs (and thus I'm more likely to carry it on hikes) and which lets me use inexpensive (so I can more easily aquire them) used manual-focus prime lenses which are smaller and lighter than modern autofocus lenses (again, so I'm more likely to carry them).
    A good camera bag so I can carry the tripod, lenses, and body on long hikes without suffering unduly.
    Very recently, a fun old medium-format folder, which serves as a source of interest to others and conversation starter as well as a camera, and thus has helped me (desipte my normally awful mingling and people skills) to actually take _good_ pictures of people.
  73. My Nikon FM-10 w/35-70mm lens. I had used a Canon Rebel K2 for years and even took a landscape photogrpahy class with it but never understood anything other than how to get a perfect exposure. That camera was stolen and a friend gave me her FM-10. I remember getting it and realizing I knew almost nothing about photogrpahy. Trying to understand how to use that camera to paint with light is what led me to photo.net and both have served as my inspiration and instructors. It was quite ironic that when I picked up my first digital kit (D90 w/18-105) I had my FM10 loaded with film and slung firmly around my shoulder.
  74. .
    Earlier: "... A sony digital picture frame. Finally, I can have my favorite images on permanent slide show, instead of buried on a hard drive somewhere ..."
    Yeah, exactly what we wanted, but our picture frame IS a computer -- a laptop computer (available used for cheap) that we can move around and put in view anywhere in the house. And the slideshow software is free http://picasa.google.com/ and the screen size file copies are inside that computer, or on a cheap USB drive, or via newtork (wireless, too). We update the images frorm our master editing on other computers around the house daily.
    Or slideshows over the web by uploading 200 images to http://www.Flickr.com/ free for a slideshow anywhere ($25 per year for more than 200).
    We plan to dedicate a wall-size display or projector to a perpetual slideshow now that we are adicted to actually SEEING as many of our photos as possible.
    It just keeps running 24 hours a day, and we walk by and say, "Oh my, we've been to some wonderful palces and seen some fantastic things."
    Then we argue who's pictures are best! ;-)
    These are the pieces of kit that really changed the way we think about our photography most -- 24 hours a day!
  75. Since this is a Nikon forum... My first Nikon many, many moons ago... an FE2.
    Otherwise, my first SLR - a Pentax K1000.
  76. After re-reading the OP, I guess I got distracted by everyone elses' answers and didn't really answer the question properly.
    So - aside from the camera, I'd have to say the the equipment that has made the biggest impact on my shooting has been the combo of an SB800 and a Gary Fong Lightsphere. Totally improved the look of my event and wedding flash photography.
  77. My first set of studio lights. too long ago to remember ant spec or maker (that was around 1970)
  78. A waist level finder (WLF) really opened up the world of street photography to me. You can really get those candids and other great shots.
  79. my bionic eye. yes it cost six million dollars but at least i'm never without a camera.
  80. also my nikkor 200-400 f/4 VR. i don't just love it, i take it to bed with me.
  81. Easy. Like Shun, Conversion to digital- able to experiment extensively at no cost, immediate feed back, great post processing. Made my images light years (pun intended) better than if I had been shooting film.
    Second, like Kent who has been so helpful with all his lighting advice over the last couple of years, is off-camera lighting. Teaches to really "see" light, learn to make it yourself and maximize what you find if not altering it.
  82. Oh, and should add this site and its members. You can learn which gear to select, how to use it, places to shoot from people that have a great deal of experience. The experienced posters on this site who take the time to pass on their knowledge know who you are. Thanks for all the help and inspiration.
  83. A Speed Graphic allowed me to shoot 4x5 and appreaciate for the first time how extreme sharpness can be surreal. Before, I had thought large format's sharpness and detail would make things look more real, not less.

  84. Jacob Deschin's 1959 "35 mm Photography: approaches and techniques with the miniature camera".
  85. My nikon D70.....My nikon D200.....My nikon D300! Haha....but really the D70 revolutionized and substantially shorted my learning curve. Also....Sigma 300 2.8. Simply amazing. (Cost vs. Performance).
  86. My very first SLR, a Practica LTL-3 I bought for like $199 out of a catalog, including three lenses and a flash unit. How times have changed.
  87. Old medium-format twin-lens reflex camera(s), with all manual controls.
    It taught me to slow down, really compose, meter, think about what the light is doing, and the reflectance of the subjects, instead of just relying on modern automation.
    Benefit: my percentage of photos (in tricky lighting) that were keepers improved - regardless of what camera I used.
  88. The Nikon D40. It only lasted about 9 months before I upgraded to a D300, but it was affordable enough for me to take a chance on. Before I had a DSLR, I'd never much enjoyed taking pictures. I had a few compacts, but never bothered to take them anywhere. For all its flaws (the lack of an AF motor was the deciding factor for me to upgrade), the D40 was fun, easy to use, and let me learn a lot.
    After the D40, the game-changer was the D300. It's taken a few months to learn how to use it properly, but it's amazingly powerful and exudes engineering excellence.
    In terms of lenses, the Sigma 30 mm f/1.4 taught me a lot about low light and depth-of-field, and about composition, being a prime lens.
  89. OK, this is going to sound mooshy but here go's. I started taking pictures seriously in 1996 two years later my first daugter was born. I soon learned that photography was not just taking pictures but capturing a moment that would be gone otherwise. Now my daughter is nine and has her own p&s. I take her with me on shoots like recently at the lake to photograph birds. I watched her capture a shot that she thought was her best ever. The look on her face and how excited she was, was the most thrilling moment I've had in photography. This just proves to me that every time I pick up the camera and look through it I will see something whether big or small that is worth saving.
    Have fun & shoot often Joe
  90. OK, this is going to sound mooshy but here go's. I started taking pictures seriously in 1996 two years later my first daugter was born. I soon learned that photography was not just taking pictures but capturing a moment that would be gone otherwise. Now my daughter is nine and has her own p&s. I take her with me on shoots like recently at the lake to photograph birds. I watched her capture a shot that she thought was her best ever. The look on her face and how excited she was, was the most thrilling moment I've had in photography. This just proves to me that every time I pick up the camera and look through it I will see something whether big or small that is worth saving.
    Have fun & shoot often Joe
  91. 1. A 28mm E lens. I had no experience of shooting anything wider than a 45mm, and I had decided I did not like the highly distorted (as they seemed to me then) wide angle shots common in US photojournalism in the late 1960s through the 1970s. Making my own wide angle pictures made me appreciate the possibilities (artistic and technical) of shooting wide.
    2. A little "sling" handstrap for my Leica M, made by Lutz Konermann. It made me appreciate how simple I could make the kit I carry around most of the time. 1 camera, 1 lens, two fingers...
    3. An SB600 flash. I'd studiously avoided using flash but learning to use sideways bounce flash for spontaneous indoor portraits was a revelation.
  92. When I began shooting black and white with a Rolleicord camera, having been shooting 35mm with my FE2. That really opened my eyes to the possibilities of medium format film and the way a scene could be rendered differently. It's didn't change the way I thought about my photography, but it allowed me to further explore my vision and I enjoyed the challenges of composing in a square.

    More recently, my new D700 has given me new possibilities in shooting with natural light that I didn't have otherwise with my D300 and older digital cameras. ISO 6400 looks great to me and I have my Auto-ISO set up to max out at that setting.
  93. I guess I would have to agree with those who say the Internet is the biggest change. Before the Wide World Web about the only way anyone got any news on what other photographers outside their local communities were doing was through the photo magazines. Now photographers and collecters communicate daily, exchanging ideas and information.
  94. The D3, and some good glass. I moved up from a D70. The visual world shifted. Now it's up to me; I can't hide behind the limitations of the equipment.
    • TTL flash! ...Although I do fine now without it, using SB22 on D200/300..
    • F3. It cannot do a lot, feature-wise, but it does (did..) all I need. The TTL-adaptor completed it. The motordrive is a bonus.
    • 24/2.8. My most used lens. Until DX came along..
  95. 2 things.
    a) Prime lenses. It made me wake up in regards to what perspective really is vs "zooming".
    b) DSLRs. I can experiment like mad.
    c) Pano software. My world. Is panoramic.
  96. .
    Earlier: "... Prime lenses. It made me wake up in regards to what perspective really is vs "zooming". ..."
    I'm curious. All zoom lenses do, if we're standing in one place, is crop in-camera so we don't have to crop afterwards. Are you suggesting that prime, or single focal length, lenses reminded you to move around to change your perspective? Was your prior thinking that zooming from one position without moving around changed perspective (which it does not)?
    So, if I get your appreciation of prime lenses, you see them as forcing you to move so you can change the size of the image of your subject, thereby changing perspective. Before, you only zoomed from one position, thereby not changing perspective as you changed the size of the image of your subject. Have I got it?
    There's so much to learn in the science and art of photography. I find everyone's posts have been provocative to me in that they make me go back to my own experiences and force me to relearn what I thought I knew. Thanks everyone -- great thread!
  97. The AI 24mm f2.8... the DP-20 finder in the F4.
  98. I had already been taking pictures for many years mostly with Konica equipment when I started buying Minolta equipment in the late 1980s. The Minolta X-700 didn't seem very special when it came out in 1981. I didn't like the aperture priority automation and I thought the horizontally running cloth shutter was a step backward from the XD-11. What changed my mind was the very bright viewfinder combined with interchangeable focusing screens and TTL flash metering. These were especially good for macro work and I wound up getting the whole Auto Bellows III system. I only recently added a 360PX flash to the three 280PX units I already had. I now collect and use many systems but I still prefer the X-700 cameras for flash work.
  99. A shoulder stock liberated me from using long lenses on a tripod.
  100. The biggest impact for me was the purchase of a 50mm f/1.4 AI for my FE. I really started getting into close up and available light candids. Next biggest impact was photo.net. Finally, the D300. I think I really, really, really need the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 for the D300.

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