This is tip nine in a series about photography called, “Ten Things All Photo Geeks Must Know.” It is for the more serious amateur photographer who shoots with a digital camera. These ten tips are the basis for a solid foundation in photography. Once you have these skills in your proverbial camera bag you will be able to advance quickly. Some of the posts will apply to film cameras as well but I am writing this series with an aspiring digital photo geek in mind.

Tip Nine- Must Have Equipment 

If I were stranded on a desert island and I could only take five pieces of equipment, this is what I would take:
–       a digital SLR camera body able to shoot RAW images, preferably the Canon 7D.
–       a 28 to 70 lens, f/2.8 macro
–       a flash with a swivel head
–       a tripod
–       a step stool


Digital Camera Body Able to Shoot RAW Images With a CF Card
I prefer to be able to capture images in a RAW format. (The next part of this series will be about shooting a RAW, uncompressed file versus a jpeg, which is the most common image file.) Your camera body should be sturdy and quick. As far as Canon versus Nikon, I don’t have a dog in that fight, but rather think each person should pick one brand that is easy for them to use and then learn everything they can about how that particular body works.

I also highly recommend a good strap! I shoot thousands of images per week, typically, so I spend a lot of time with a camera slung around my neck. I bought this cute and comfortable strap at Southeastern Camera in Carrboro. I had selected it in my article about great gift ideas for photo geeks
28 to 70 Lens, f/2.8 Macro
It is very, very hard to choose just one lens. But if push comes to shove I would choose a 28 to 70 lens, f/2.8 macro so I could go from a wide angle to a slight zoom and also be able to do macro, or close-up photography. The aperture is 2.8 so it is reasonably quick. I am more of a people photographer, so if one were really just into nature, wildlife or sports photography I bet a 200mm or 300mm lens would be the lens of choice.
Flash with a Swivel Head
On my imaginary desert island, I hope there are rechargeable batteries! I would need them for my third must-have, a TTL (through the lens) flash that can swivel the head 360 degrees as well as flip up vertically. I almost never point my flash right at my subject so the swivel is a must! And the “through the lens” means that the flash talks to the camera and turns the flash off once the correct amount of light has reached the subject. This is soooooo much easier than the manual way of doing it, which meant guesstimating distances and manually stopping the flash up and down.
A Tripod
I have become more reliant on my tripod. I used to see it as yet another heavy thing to lug around. But now I love how it helps me to slow down, be a bit more deliberate about what I am shooting and it also ensures I get sharp, focused images, even during long exposures.  This particular tripod was a recent present to myself. It is light and easy to use, even when things are moving very fast!
A Step Stool
When I am shooting I like to try out many different angles. Just because I am 5 feet 7 inches doesn’t mean I always want to photograph from that height. I am often shooting from my belly on the ground. For a higher perspective I love my little, white step stool that gives me a couple more feet of height. Plus, if my subjects are standing I prefer photographing from a little bit above them. Everyone looks better from that angle versus shooting from below, which tends to make even a thin person look pudgy.
If you missed the eighth part of this series, read it HERE. Please be sure to ask any questions you may have! I am also always open to suggestions for photo stories. You may write me at If you don’t want to miss any Snapshots from the Hill posts, please subscribe to the RSS Feed.

Thanks for reading!