Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Photo Tip – Extra Equipment

Canon Macro Lens Tips #photography
Last week was the first photo tip shared (see here) about the camera I personally use to take all my shop and blog photographs. Today I'm sharing the extra gear I use to get my shots. First up, my extra lens. The lens that came with my camera is a zoom lens. You can take photos almost like a normal point and shoot camera with it because it will do well with objects 5-6 feet away or whole scenes like landscapes. You don't have to purchase the package, you can actually buy the camera body alone if you already have lens that will be compatible with the body. I did not, so I got the zoom lens with the body when I bought it. 

Now, this lens is a great everyday workhorse. You can take almost all your regular shots of buildings, people, and such with ease. However, I have a shop full of itty bitty buttons that I have to somehow take photos of in great detail. The zoom lens will not do this. It cannot take clear photos of anything less than 5 feet away from it. Try taking a photo of a button that is less than one inch big from 5 feet away and see if you can figure out what the hell you're looking at! Sooooo, I would clearly need another lens. Which means another rather large purchase. But, 'tis life. I want my shop photos as clear as possible or I'm not going to sell anything. I had to think of it as an investment in my shop. 

The lens that I needed to purchase is called a macro lens. After talking to the sales staff at my local camera shop, we determined that a 60mm macro lens would probably be the best bet for what I would be photographing, mainly jewelry. So the macro 60mm can shoot anything up to 5 feet away. This takes some getting used to as I have never had to switch lens before. The sales clerk let me test out the 60mm and it was plain as day that this would make a world of difference. The macro is magic, people. It hones in on the smallest item and produces the prettiest image while blurring out the background. Okay, I'm sold, so what is the damage? Yikes! Turns out buying an extra lens can cost the same if not more than the camera! I freaked out a bit when I realized this. We went ahead and bought the camera and the zoom lens that day at the shop but, I needed a breather before I could buy the macro lens so we called it a day and went home with my new camera.

After some research online, I found the lens that I needed (a Canon Macro Lens EF-S 60mm Ultrasonic) on Ebay. Now, normally, this would scare me. I don't think of Ebay when I want to make a large purchase as there is some risk that you will be swindled. However, the seller we bought from has sold over 100,000 items and has had over 40,000 positive reviews. This made me feel a lot more secure. Plus, it seems like they just bought a ton of these lens (probably at a steal when they first came out or in bulk or at an early deal) and were just re-selling them at a marginal profit. They had already sold well over 100 of these when I bought mine and there were many buyers that left great feedback for the lens I was buying. Plus, the lens was nearly $300 less than in the store. I took the chance. It proved solid and I have a kick-ass macro lens now. Yippee! 

So the macro is how I take all my close up photos. Every photo you see in my shop is done with this lens and every close up of me or an outfit accessory on my blog is done with this lens. I love it.

My Tripod Tips #photography

The only other piece of equipment I use for photoshoots is a tripod. Every single photo you see of me and my shop items is done with a tripod. Literally, every one. We learned early on that my husband cannot hold the camera still. Not if his life depended upon it. Every photo, no matter how fast the shutter speed, would be blurry with him at the helm. We needed a solution and luckily a tripod is a really easy fix. Yes, it can be annoying to lug the tripod around, but until I can clone myself to take my own photos, this is the only option. We bought a Sunpak 6000PG for under $30. It is very lightweight, adjusts to something like 1 to 5 feet high, and is easy to maneuver. The top has a little piece that screws into the bottom of my camera (most cameras) and snaps in and out of the tripod, making it easy to secure the camera in place. Then you can tilt and turn the camera with ease. There is also a level on the side but I've never used it. I just eyeball it myself. 

I would say the tripod (after the camera of course) is the single most important thing that made my photography possible. Now, we can just go out to wherever we want to shoot and I can set up the tripod and camera exactly how I want it and my hubs can just take a few clicks for me. Then I will readjust the camera and tripod for another shot and he will click a few more. On and on it goes. This also saves my husbands back and knees. He is 6'1" and I'm 5'4". If he had to take the photos sans tripod, he would be constantly be bent and hunched to be at the level I want the shots taken. 

I use the tripod and macro myself for my shop items too. I take very close (just a couple inches away) photos of my jewelry and need to be extremely still in order to take a clear shot of the minute details of the buttons. This has helped tremendously and I don't get as tired because I'm not having to balance the camera for extended amounts of time. I just situate the item, adjust the camera, click a shot, and repeat. Before, I would have to take several shots for one to come out, but with a tripod and the macro, I only need one. Saves an enormous amount of time. 

Last Week's Friday Photo Tip:

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  1. Almost all my photos are done with a tripod as well, I'd say it's probably the most important thing for me too. I'm still trying to get to grips with my new camera before I go ahead any buy any more lenses etc, but I have the basic camera and lens to practice with. My photos with the new camera definitely don't look like yours, I'd say a lot more practice is in order for me!

  2. I have a tripod, but have yet to use it! Must remember too :) Super post doll xx

  3. Thank you for posting this review, we have a portrait lens but I am on the hunt for more of a lens that can take close up shots. I'll certainly have to look at this one more. Your pictures are always so lovely.

  4. Thanks for this info. I never thought of purchasing a camera lens via Ebay. Your photos are always fantastic.


  5. Wonderful and very useful post! Talking of heights and tripods… What height do you usually set yours at? x

    1. I actually always set mine so that I "look it in the eye". The lens is at about my eye level so that it makes the photos feel more connected with the person viewing it.

  6. My oldest (25) son loves purchasing and really getting to know his camera equipment. For Christmas he used one of the gift cards we gave him to get a tripod much like the one you have pictured here. It was fun learning about how he gets his great picture, but I know you guys are putting a lot of work into it (well worth the time investment too!).