What camera do you use? Our Recommendations Part II

Q: What camera do you use?

A: Probably the most frequent question we receive. In this new series we will brave the digital frontier. After all, We suffer so you don’t have to™ is our motto and our mantra. This is Part II of the series.

The Nikon 3400 is a DLSR camera that can do it all.

This is the camera for you. The optics and software are the same as more expensive and complicated options that will follow. You are going to take great photos with this camera. Get one.

Positives: Light and easy to carry. Easy learning curve. Great price for the great photos you will be getting. Having a good tool like this makes everything a pleasure. Many lens options, but you only need one (or maybe two). More on that in a moment.

Not for: No real downsides, but the menus are a little slower that the dials and buttons on more expensive options. They are laid out logically, and will be more than fast enough once you practice switching between options.

Get the camera body in RED,  or in BLACK.

Order it with this lens if you want to go fast and light or this lens if you want to do it all.

Choose one lens or the other for now. Come back and get the other one when you want to give yourself options. You won’t be carrying both at the same time. Put one on the body and go!

I recommend starting with the fast 35mm. It lets you learn the body of the camera with a lens that mimics the eye, is fast enough to arrest motion, and will capture your image in available light without a flash.

Then swap it out for the real throughbred, the 18-300mm. This lens is going to let you go long, go wide, and go macro. There is literally nothing else like it. You are buying a Nikon so that you can slap this lens on the body and go take photographs for a year without ever removing it. Landscapes, flowers, tiny insects, your dog, your kid, your partner, everything and anything you want to point it at, is just a twist of the wrist away.

I have had photographers who are dragging a wagon of gear behind them start drooling when I explain it to them while I nonchalantly stroll along capturing everything in sight handheld. I feel bad for them as they heft their many thousand dollar lens onto a tripod and struggle to get it pointed at something that is long gone. I am already shooting something else, and quietly snickering to myself.

The 18-55mm lens that comes with the body can be sold immediately to help cover the cost of one of the recommended lenses. Don’t even take it out of the box. It is not as fast and light as the 35mm, and you will be constantly slamming it into the 55mm peg as you try to reach out with it. It is the worst of both worlds, and you have two amazing choices that are the best at what they do.

You also need 2 big honking (a technical term) Memory Cards and a good lightweight camera bag or case and this filter pack.

Yes, you really do need them all.

Here are the good work habits you want to acquire to make using your camera a pleasure.

Put on the UV filter and forget it is there. It will save your camera from almost anything, think of it as cheap insurance. Use the polarized filter for dramatic sky contrasts and for whale watch photos. Just screw it on right over the UV filter. The case will save your camera in a rain shower, again think of it as cheap insurance. Make sure you have a light rain jacket that you can wear over the case for even better protection.

Download your photos at the end of each day, delete bad ones and sort the good ones into relevant folders. Run the backup to an external drive on the whole thing.

I like the  Western Digital My Passport Ultra 4TB drive or the Pre-formatted for a Mac Western Digital My Passport 2TB drive.

Now you have two copies of every photo.

Reformat the card and recharge the battery while you are running the backup and you are ready for the next day.

Happy shooting!

More on troubleshooting problems and cropping your photos for professional results in a future post.

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-Kevin

Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That's how we're gonna be -- cool. Critical is fine, but if you're rude, we'll delete your stuff. Please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name and do not put your website in the comment text, as both come off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch and Tim Ferris for the inspiration)
who we are:

Backyard Ecosystem began as an expression of my determination to make a difference in our own backyard. Literally and metaphorically making a difference at the micro level of my yard and to operate at macro level of treating the entire planet as something I am an integral part of and whose destiny is shaped everyday by what I do in my corner of the world.

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