Rof photography hedz

Decided I need some new hobbies and I’ve always fancied learning more about photography, so starting to look into this.

Anyone got any suggestions for:

  1. Good books on the subject
  2. Starter cameras
  3. Regular magazines worth getting
  4. Basic equipment worth having


Not really planned any budget for this and if I give it up after a few months I don’t want to have wasted thousands so just ideas of what’s needed to get up and running to test the water.  Loads of beauty spots and wildlife stuff around here so I shouldn’t be short of subject matter.

Thanks in advance gang!  

Do not get a DSLR. Don't get a zoom lens. 

Get a mirrorless system camera (Olympus, Fuji and Sony are good places to start) and a single standard lens (50mm equiv.). You'll need a memory card and probably a bag to carry it in. Don't bother with flashes and tripods.

Not many magazines worth reading. They all deal more with selling camera gear than they do with teaching photography.

If you really want to understand what you are doing then read the first two of Ansel Adams' Ansel Adams Basic Photography Series books. Otherwise Michael Freeman's The Photographer's Eye is a good book that isn't too technical.


Or you could just use the camera on your phone...



Well I have a slight tremor to my hand (nerve damage) so phone pics are always dreadful, hence why I was considering looking into a tripod.  

I’ll order those books, thank you for that.  

Am confused about the no zoom advice, if I want to go to the wetlands and take piccies of birdies, wouldn’t a zoom be necessary?

Thanks for the advice on mirrorless, just read up a bit and looking into different models.

What supes said.

These days cameras do all the work.. teach yourself composition if you must. 

avoid buying a big chunky camera at all costs you just won’t ever use it. 

I have the Fiji film x 20 and would definitely buy another from that range if I needed another camera. 

A zoom makes you lazy teccers... having a single focal lense forces you to think more creatively about your shots. 

The other alternative is a rangefinder, so if you feel the need to go khuntstyle then a Leica M10 will sort you out.

At best part of £6k I think I’ll skip that one until I’ve decided I’m more committed to the hobby!

DP Review likes it. I can't say that I am familiar with it.

If you have a tremor in your hand then I'm not sure 'birding' is for you.  Tremors get worse the more zoomed in you are and you would need very co-operative birds to stay still long enough to line them up on a tripod and lock it down (and if you aren't going to lock the tripod down you're just shaking around a pivot point).

The non-zoom (prime) advice is as much about a certain type of photography.  It also assumes you're fully mobile and able to 'zoom with your feet'.  A good prime can be nice but it can also just lead to the temptation to shoot lots of blurred background portraits of people.

I reckon you'd have some fun picking up:

Fuji XT20 with the (relatively) dirt cheap 15-45mm (or 16-50) lens (or second hand XT10 with a second hand lens as its as much about messing around and learning).

I love my Sony but I don't like the ergonomics of the cheaper Sonys (not enough dials).  Olympus 10 mk? is an option but I don't like the lens selection as much.  The 15-45 / 16-50 is a cheap lens but its a really versatile range to mess around with.

I'd then get an Amazon Basics travel tripod and a Gobe ND1000 52mm filter.

Go out and mess around with some long exposure photography down by the coast and learn to properly use your camera.  Then you can decide what you really want to do and find out what you do and don't like about the Fuji.

For me the only thing that matters is ergonomics. Is it comfortable to hold? Can I use it without having to think about too many menus and dials and buttons? The only way to tell if a camera is good for you is to use it.

There are plenty of camera hire places where you can try stuff out. 

Oh and definitely not to the Canon.  No dials and its pretty much a dead system now Canon have moved onto their new full frame mirrorless system.

Well the bird idea was because there’s a huge bird sanctuary near me with a nice cafe that has little hides and stuff so I thought it might be a fun way to pass an afternoon.

And you guessed right, I’m not fully mobile.

Thank you for the advice, I’ll look into the XT.

Panasonic Lumixes are a great hybrid range - infinitely better than an iPhone or point and click but not as cumbersome as a full on DSLR. Reasonably priced and have good range of lenses.

I can remember a couple of ace photographers on here. An Aussie bloke up in Yorkshire and Tuscan. They both posted whole collections. Very impressive.

I don't think either post anymore.

Have a think about macro photography - plants, insects,  textures etc. Relatively finite amount of kit needed and a tripod/remote shutter will help avoid the shakes issue.

Opens your eyes to a whole new (natural) world or a different way at looking at things.

Wot wilfredrostron sed about the Panasonic Lumix - highly recommended.

The 'no zoom - just use your feet' thing - 100% nah - that's just absolutely nuts given some great shots you'll only get with a zoom when seconds or position count and if you don't have more time then you lose the chance. Otherwise they're lost forever. "Zoom with your feet" is just sh1t advice, imho. Presumably Supes is Superman and faster than a speeding bullet, obv.

Depends what you want to shoot, but if you want just one all-round camera that can cover all potential situations where you might want a shot then:

1. definitely have the option to zoom whatever you go for; and

2. Personally I'd recommend a Panosonic Lumix every time.

*PanAsonic on the second one, obv, before Superman comes in*


with a few exceptions you'll never get much in the way of bird pictures without telephoto. pretty much the minimum for even hobby bird photograpy is a fixed a 400 or 100 - 400 zoom. and fwiw most (although I am sure that there are exceptions) serious bird photographers use Canon.

but most hobby bird photographers are annoying twats so I recommend against taking that up anyway. 

for general photography I would deffo listen to supes and scylla

I hired the Canon 100-400 f4L when I went to the Monaco GP and have to admit it was a lovely piece of kit. Heavy as fuck though and really needs a tripod. Who can be fucked to lug all that gear around as a matter of course.

50mm, f8 and be there.


Long time lurker - I'll pitch in. I used to shoot weddings and dance shows professionally. My two pen'orth:

As to DSLR or mirrorless - both are great systems. DSLR heavier. I prefer DSLR - just a personal choice; I find the weightier camera body and lenses reassuring and easier to steady. Also the controls tend to be less fiddly. That said I currently own a Fuji XT-1 which is fab.

Glass, glass, glass. Spend your money on the lenses. On my DSLR set up all my zoom glass is f/2.8 throughout the range of zoom 14-24, 24-70, 70-200. f/2.8 allows beautiful bokeh and also makes focusing and shooting in low light much easier. But if you're into shooting birds and you want glass beyond the 200mm range it gets prohibitively expensive at f/2.8. In Nikon kit you can couple their FX (full-frame sensor) glass (which is the f/2.8 stuff I'm on about) with a cheaper DX (cropped sensor) body and add about 50% to the zoom range - just be aware that you only get the middle portion of the lens so the wide-angle effect of a 14-24 is lost somewhat. DX bodies are cheaper and you can always upgrade to an FX body in the future - the lenses will still be good in 20 years' time.

Most good glass now has stabilisation (VR in Nikon-speak). I think sometimes 3 or 4 stops of stabilisation.

If you can get over his schtick a guy called Jared Polin has made some very good video guides - 'Getting out of Auto' is excellent - - well worth the cash.

Hope that helps, and hope photography brings you as much joy and sanity as it has brought to me!


as an unashamed thread hijack - would that Fuji be good for taking pictures of, mainly, flowers and plants in the field? I use my phone at the moment but it has its limitations 

One of the good things about the smaller sensor sizes of the mirrorless systems is that the depth of field tends to be greater at any given aperture.


I've always been a Canon person, but I envy Nikon users their ability to use vintage film lenses. 


On the image stabilisation, Olympus (and i presume Panasonic/Lumix) have in body stabilisation, which means that it works with any lens you use. This gives me IS on Leica glass when I use it with my OMD. #winning

The XT-1 is a good all rounder although the increased depth of field is something i'm not a huge fan of because it limits subject isolation from the background.   It's good for landscape and family stuff. 

Thanks to everyone who has contributed.  Ordered some books and looking for prices on the xt20 15-45 kits online.  I figure it seems like the best all rounder and if I do decide to go the telephoto route later nice to have as a secondary.

Anyone with more advice and opinions please keep it coming, as a complete noob I know literally nothing so don’t worry about sounding patronising!

Don't forget to spend time looking at the work of others. If you are into portraiture then look at the works of Avedon, Liebovitz, McCurry. Landscape: Ansel Adams, Michael Kenna. Street: Winogrand, Helen Levitt, Cartier-Bresson. And so on and so forth.

I’m thinking landscape wildlife.  So wide shots of flocks in the sanctuary as they fly over or land to feed.  Some spectacular views from where I live as well, coastal with beautiful sunsets etc.  Would really like to get some good stuff of that.

Rather excited about this now actually, I realised I can combine it with fishing (meaning two tripods but meh) and it’ll hopefully get me some nice personal artwork for the walls eventually.

Teclis. I bought a couple of Polin's guides for two of my kids who are into photography. Just located the online folder. If you wish to 'borrow' them for a while, I can send you a link when I get home. Conditional on you keeping my name private!

Very kind offer but I have got a fair bit of reading material to keep me going flying here from amazon shortly so I don’t want to bamboozle myself with too much info.

Also, I don’t feel hugely comfortable being the only custodian of your real life info, lol, so thank you but I shall politely decline on this occasion.

Much appreciated though and very thoughtful of you.

I will second Flag's recco for Polin - albeit he is very marmite and grates after a bit (the video guy Todd Woolfe(?) he works with is great though).

The "exposure triangle" is the real building block for photography.  Stick "3 shots or less" into a youtube search and you'll get some quick, easy to follows examples of how to get a camera to take the photo you want it to rather than the one its Auto mode wants it to.

I should have also mentioned Creative Live. They do reasonably priced online photography courses of all kinds. If you use their iPad app you can watch one free lesson every day, and you can also watch any num her of live classes for free.

No worries Teclis. If you change your mind...

Arbiter's point on the 3 shots is spot on. Really good practice.

Also sunny 16 rule helps with the exposure triangle - on a sunny day at f/16 at 100th second on ISO 100 you should be perfectly exposed. Or 400th at ISO 400 at f/16. You can work it out from there. So at f/11 you're letting twice as much light into the camera and you need to change something else to retain prefect exposure: halve the length of time the shutter is open for, or halve the ISO number. Good game. Go out on manual settings only with a good guess for pic #1 and get perfect exposure in two more shots. No cheating...


If you have time on your hands why not see if Plymouth Art College has any courses. They're supposed to be quite good area apparently.

Will futz around with it a bit myself before I go signing up to anything longer term but it’s not the worst shout tbf, albeit Plymouth is about 80 miles away from where I live.

There's some good advice on here. I am also currently drooling over new cameras, specifically Fujis.

What is most appealing about the X series is that with most of them you have actual physical controls for the three elements of the exposure triangle, which is the meat and potatoes of photography. There seems to be less need to futz about in menus, making them more like film cameras, and more intuitive.

To kick off, I recommend this playlist from the You Tube channel, The Art of Photography. He has a pretty approachable style.




Thanks mate, I’ll take a look.

FYI - best price on the x t20 with 15-45 lens kit that I could find was £700 on good old amazon.  Some people are charging that for the body alone!

Amazon are doing a 5% discount on it and I had an unused £50 credit so went ahead and ordered it a little while ago.  

Good stuff Tecco! Sweet camera, I may bite the bullet this weekend myself; also v. tempted by the X-E3. Enjoy it when it comes... and once this weather eases up so you can get out to shoot with it :)