Liam Photography Podcast: Episode 10 – Where to get Gear on a Budget & More…

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In this episode I talk about the best places to get Photography Gear on a Budget, Getting Quality Glass for Little Money and in segment three What Lenses Should I Buy????

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Best Places to Buy Photography Gear on a Budget

Frequently I hear students say that they don’t have much in the way of photography gear due to cost of ownership. It is true that photography gear is not cheap, unless it’s cheap quality and hence gives cheap results. I’ve had quite a few students ask me how I have acquired so much gear in the last 18 months and I tell them all the same thing, you have to know how to find the deals.

Craigslist – Craigslist can be one of the best places to get a good deal on most anything, especially camera gear and lenses. I have bought numerous pieces of gear on this site, but you have to watch out for scammers and always meet people in public places like a coffee shop or store parking lot during the day.
eBay – eBay is handy for buying items too as you can find more sellers on there since they are world wide. The problem is you also run into more scammers. Also since you are buying on-line, there is no way to check out the item in person and you can get burned.
Pawn Shops – Pawn Shops are a great place to buy used gear and they often have no clue what they have. A person goes into a Pawn Shop to pawn their gear and the shop looks at what the gear sells for on eBay and then offers the seller like 25% of the actual value. If the person forfeits and the Pawn Shop can then sell the item, it is usually months later and the shop doesn’t really keep track of the value, they just price it to make a profit.
Local photography clubs – Often times you can find local photography clubs and there will be members selling gear from time to time.
Warehouse stores – Another good place are warehouse stores like Sam’s or Costco. Here you are buying new and getting a warranty and you get the better pricing offered by someone that can leverage volume pricing.
Amazon – Amazon is another great place to get camera gear and anything else. They have a wide selection of lenses from Canon’s FD to EF and Nikon, Sony and others as well.

The big thing to remember buying used gear is that you can get burned if not careful. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is but sometimes you do get lucky and the person has no idea what they are selling. I personally bought a Canon EF 70-300mm IS USM lens at a local pawn store for $200 in mint condition. This lens new retails for $900. I also bought a Manfrotto tripod at the same store for $50 and it was missing the release plate that attaches to the camera. I bought a new plate for $7 on Amazon, the tripod with the fluid movement head turned out to be worth $500. Just remember, if you buy used, test it good before you part with your hard earned money. Meet them somewhere public for safety and test the lens or whatever it is on your own camera body to make sure it is fully operational, NEVER take the seller’s word for it.

Getting Quality Glass for Little Money

I have spoken with a lot of the new students lately that are on tight budgets but need good quality glass. This week’s post is one of the best ways to accomplish this for the absolute least amount of money.

In 1987 Canon switched from their FD lens mount system to their current EF mount system for their current line of cameras. Now, how does this benefit you the student? Well FD lenses are easy to find and some of them are as good quality and image creation wise that they are still useful today.

How do you as a photographer make use of this information, well for one thing, you can find old Canon FD lenses in a lot of places, yard sales, pawn shops, old camera shops, even Craig’s List or eBay. The problem I am sure that you are asking is what good does an FD lens do me on an EF mount camera body? Enter the Fotodiox Pro Lens Mount Adapter, for Canon FD lenses. This little adapter allows you to mount your FD lenses on your EF camera body and the adapter only costs $32.95 on Amazon. One thing to remember is FD lenses are manual only, so you need to be comfortable shooting manually, which is something you need to be doing only for some of your future classes.

The sample image I have included here is a white rose I shot on my neighbor’s rose bush and I shot this using my Canon EOS 6D and a Sigma 28mm F/2.8 FD lens and mounting it on my 6D using the Fotodiox adapter. Another thing to take into consideration is these lenses don’t register on your camera so your aperture will show as 00 and you will need to know how to calculate your ISO, and shutter speed to match up with your manually selected aperture on the lens and accounting for the available light to get a perfect exposure.

I personally think all this manual work is worth it as it makes you a better photographer in the end and makes you more of a master of your gear. F/2.8 lenses are generally not cheap, but now you are armed with the knowledge on how to obtain all the F/2.8 glass you want with little money, the Sigma 28mm F/2.8 that I used for the rose cost me $7 at a local pawn shop and they usually have tons of these lenses and are usually not able to sell them as everyone else wants EF mount lenses as they have no idea how to use an FD lens on their EF body. So get out there, find those cheap wide aperture lenses and make some great images.

What Lenses Should I Buy?

One of the questions posed frequently to myself as well as to the professors at AI is this one. The question is a tricky one to answer because there are a couple of factors to consider, such as how much money you can afford to spend and what your photographic style is.

If you shoot landscapes, then you want to buy a wise lens such as a 10-20mm or 17-40mm. Both Canon and Nikon offer a decent 18-55mm as one of their standard kit lens. Although the 18-55mm is a inexpensive one, they make very good images from my experience. Of course if money is not a major concern and you shoot Canon, you can go with either the EF 16-35mm or the 17-40mm L lens. On the Nikon side you have the 14-24mm which is an excellent, high quality lens that makes fantastic images.

For those that want to shoot wildlife or anything else that requires more reach, you can look at 70-200mm, which is an extremely popular zoom used by many professional photographers. At 70-200mm you have the most popular focal lengths in a single lens. Both Canon and Nikon make very high quality lenses in this range, as does Tamron if you are budget minded. This lens is also available in both a less expensive F/4 aperture and the faster, more expensive F/2.8. If you want the F/2.8 without spending $2,000-$3,000, then look at the Tamron, which runs around $1,000 and from every review I’ve read by pros say that it takes every bit as soon an image as the more costly ones made by Canon or Nikon.

Your bread and butter will be portraits, then you want to get a prime portrait lens. The most common lenses for portraits are the 50mm, also known as the Nifty Fifty, 85mm and 135mm. When it comes to Canon, there are three of each the 50mm and the 85mm to choose from and again, it mostly depends on how much you want to spend. The 50mm F/1.8 is inexpensive at around $100 and makes really good images, the 50mm F/1.4 USM is around $400 and is much better build quality and takes even better images. The third is the 50mm F/1.2 L which is very expensive but also makes the best images. In the 85mm, Canon makes the $500 F/1.8, the 85mm F/1.2 L original and the newer 85mm F/1.2 L Mark II. The L series lenses are expensive, running around $2,000 and believe it or not, the less expensive F/1.8 makes much better images. The original L series 85mm had lots of issues with color fringing and the Mark II edition has AF issues. The third and final really good portrait lens on the Canon side is the 135mm F/2 L.

Regardless of what you are going to shoot primarily, it is always a good idea to have 3 or more lenses as you never know when you might need another focal length or prime. I love to shoot landscapes, but like most photographers, I know I need to shoot portraits as well as that is how most of us pay the bills. Since I need to do portraits as well, I own the 85mm F/1.8 USM and the 50mm F/1.4 USM. I am also planning to at some point down the road to buy the 135mm F/2 L so that I have a little more reach.

I hope this information helps you to make some choices on what you want to carry in your camera bag, now get out there and make some images!

Transcription by

Liam Douglas: 00:01 You’re listening to the Liam photography podcast. This is episode 10, and today’s episode I’m going to talk about the best places to buy photography gear on a budget, what lenses should you buy and how to get quality glass for little money. All this on episode 10 of the Liam photography podcast.

Liam Douglas: 00:33 Welcome once again to the Liam Photography podcast. I’m your host Liam Douglas and this is episode 10. I want to thank all of my listeners for subscribing, rating and reviewing and iTunes, Google play, Spotify, stitcher, and any other pod catchers that you might be using. Now, our first subject for this episode of the Leon photography podcast is best places to buy photography gear on a budget. I frequently get presented with this question by, uh, uh, new photographers on Facebook groups and I’m on as well as via email, um, tightly affiliated with the college where I got my bachelor’s degree in photography. And I was also the school’s only alumni ambassador. So I wrote weekly blog posts for their website and I also was available for new students to come to you and ask me questions. I’m classes, software, uh, photography gear. You know where they can get the most bang for their buck and so on.

Liam Douglas: 01:37 So that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. Now, one of the, there’s a few good places where you can get photography gear on a budget, and I’m sure most of you are probably already familiar with some of these sources, but we’re going to talk about them again anyways. Uh, the first one is Craig’s list. Now, Craig’s list can be a great place to get photography gear on a budget. A lot of times you’ll see, especially if you live in a larger market, like I’m in the Atlanta area. It’s not uncommon to do a search on craigslist for photography gear. Even if you narrowed down the search to a specific, uh, maker such as Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, whatever the case may be. But it’s not uncommon to do a search on the Atlanta area craigslist site and come up with listings for photography gear.

Liam Douglas: 02:30 Now, sometimes they may sound a little bit too good to be true, and there’s always that possibility. But the big thing that I, that I, the point I want to make about this is when you’re in a larger market, like I am and you know, there’s other large markets like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and so on, is it’s not uncommon to find young filmmakers that we’ll buy a bunch of photography, uh, gear that can double as videography equipment and they might buy this gear to shoe, you know, a few music videos for a band or something like that. And then when they’re done with the project, they need to recoup the money they spend on the gears so low, put the stuff on Craig’s list and sell it off. And so that can be a great source for finding good quality photography gear, both camera bodies and lenses as well as lighting and accessories, uh, for reasonable prices.

Liam Douglas: 03:22 Now, as I mentioned a moment ago, I mean, if you see a $5,000 camera, the enlisted on craigslist for $1,200, then yeah, it’s probably somebody trying to scam you out of your money. Which leads me to the next point about Craig’s list. If you want to make sure you’re always a safe buyer or seller, either one. So it’s always a good idea to meet the other person in a public place. And in a lot of areas these days because of the prevalence of craigslist and people getting scanned or attacked and stuff like that in the past, um, a lot of areas like where I live in the Atlanta area, the local police departments will have an area of their parking lot. This specifically for people to meet up for Craig’s list, let go off for up, stuff like that. And these parking lots are well lit.

Liam Douglas: 04:09 It’s right outside the police station there. Security cameras in every corner of the parking lot and they’re high res cameras that’ll get license plate numbers and all of that good stuff. The camera’s are tied into facial recognition software and all of those things. Um, so they can, it can provide you a much safer place to do business if you’re meeting up with somebody from an online medium, like I mentioned, like craigslist offer up, let go, and all these other ones that are constantly popping up. So, you know, I do want you to be safe when you’re going to meet somebody for the first time in person to possibly buy or sell gear or any other items that you’re trying to get rid of. You know, I don’t want any of my listeners to get attacked, especially women. I always recommend women be as safe as possible.

Liam Douglas: 04:54 Uh, take a husband, boyfriend, brother, uncle, your dad would ever with you. Um, and then still meet someplace safe, uh, a public place to be as safe as possible. Now, as I mentioned, you can find some really great deals on craigslist, on photography. Uh, you know, bodies, lenses, um, lighting, light stands, all kinds of assessory. Sometimes you’ll find people selling Bob backdrop systems they no longer use on there with different colored backdrops or maybe theme backdrops that, you know, cause it could be somebody that was a, a professional family portrait photographer and they did family portraits for 30 years and now they’re retiring, they’re getting out of the business. So they might have a lot of really cool theme to backdrops, like ones for Christmas or one’s for, you know, senior portraits. And stuff like that that you can pick up for a really good price and you get the backdrops and the frame system and the whole whole ball of wax altogether.

Liam Douglas: 05:52 So you can find some really great deals there. Now the next that I’m sure most of you are aware of is Ebay of course. Um, Ebay’s been around for many, many years and being that Ebay has partnered with paypal is their payment system. You’re, you’re fairly well protected there. They offer buyer and seller protection and you can find some really good deals on Ebay. Um, and in mostly it’s because on Ebay it’s a much wider audience. It’s a much larger marketplace. Uh, not, I’m not saying that craigslist isn’t large, but most people are looking to buy and sell off a subsection of craigslist that’s specific to their area, their city, town, county, whatever the case may be. You know, if you’re in a small state, it might be just a, there might be only one craigslist page, a sub page for your whole state. If you’re from a really small state like Rhode Island may be.

Liam Douglas: 06:46 And I’m not saying I had to pick on Rhode Island, so I don’t want to get a bunch of hate mail about that. Um, but Ebay of course, it, you know, they’ve been around for a long time and it’s an international platform. So if you’re, if you’re totally fine and comfortable with buying gear from, uh, foreign sellers or selling to people overseas, that can be a great way to, uh, buy your gear. A, and again, I’m trying to focus on mostly buying gear, um, and getting the most bang for your buck. Um, and the, and the great part with that is, is like I said, you could be on the east coast and you might find, you know, a, a Nikon d eight 50 or a canon five d mark four that’s gently used. Now sometimes they’re going to have really high shutter accounts cause, uh, you know, the seller, you know, use the daylights out of it, you know, as part of their full time Gig.

Liam Douglas: 07:35 Um, so you want to, you’re probably gonna want to steer away from that because if it’s got a really high sugar count, then more than likely you’re going to buy it, use it for a little bit. The shutter is going to go out in it. You’re going to have to send it off to Canon or Nikon to get the shutter replaced. That’s going to cost you a few hundred bucks, whatever the case may be. But again, the nice thing is you can be on the east coast and you can buy from a seller on the west coast. Now, one of the reasons why I generally don’t recommend buying camera bodies and lenses from foreign sellers is you don’t know what you’re getting. So in other words, when you buy from a seller here in the United States, for example, um, depending on how old the a piece of equipment is, you could still get a portion of the original manufacturer’s warranty as the second owner of that camera body.

Liam Douglas: 08:24 Um, just to give you an example, and the other thing you can run into is when you buy from foreign sellers, they can be selling gray market stuff. Now, gray market gear is gear that wasn’t originally meant to be sold in the United States market. It was meant to be sold in Australia or Japan or China or wherever on the planet, but basically not here in the u s now what that means is, is you don’t get any kind of us warranty. So especially if you’re buying new stuff, you want to stick to stuff that was actually intended to be sold on the u s market or better yet, the North American market is definitely how most of the manufacturers do it. Um, I know Canon, when you buy a brand new gear from them and you open up the box and pull out the warranty paperwork, it says to be sold in the United States and Canada only.

Liam Douglas: 09:15 So then it’s more of a matter of, it’s in North America warranty, but you get my point. So ebay is another great way that you can buy a photography gear for a reasonable price. Eh, you know, and you could stretch your dollar a little bit farther. Now, another place that you might not be aware of, and again, it’s gonna depend on where you live. If you’re in a larger market area or a smaller, small town area, you know, that’s more rural versus urban, you know, it’s going to vary. So maybe you know about this, maybe you don’t. You may have these in your area and you’ve never really thought of it before. But another great source of used photography, deer on a budget can be local pawn shops. Now, as I mentioned earlier, and you already know from previous episodes, I lived in the Atlanta Metro area and in Atlanta we have thousands upon shops.

Liam Douglas: 10:08 Um, and as a matter of fact, when I moved here from Pennsylvania almost 14 years ago, I started out working in the it department for a small chain of corporate pond stores. And the nice thing about going and browsing at your local pawn shops is sometimes these pawn shops don’t realize what they have. So, and they’re getting a little smarter about it in some areas and other areas, not so much. Um, you know, where they will, they’ll get the serial number off the camera body. They have to write down the serial number anyways and file it with the paperwork in case it comes back as is a stolen. Um, but they don’t always, they aren’t always the best at looking up that particular camera body or that particular Lens. And then even if they are semi successful looking it up, they don’t always come to the right conclusion as far as its value.

Liam Douglas: 11:02 Um, so when somebody pawns photography gear and then four fits it, basically they never paid the interest or redeem it by paying the pawnshop back what they borrowed plus interest, that equipment becomes forfeit. So then after a certain amount of time, the pawn shop owns that gear. And after the legal requirements, however many days they have to weigh, whether it’s 30 days or 60 days or 90 days, that equipment now belongs to them and they can put it out in their display cases and they can sell it to try to recoup the money that they’d loaned. You know, Joe Smith who originally ponded and uh, frequently there’ll be successful at recouping all of their money, but sometimes just because pawn shops aren’t always where somebody is going to go to look for photography dear, you know, a camera body, a Nice Lens, Mike sit in that display case and that pawn shop for quite a long time before there’s any serious interest from somebody to buy it.

Liam Douglas: 12:02 And what happens is the longer that piece of equipment sits for sale and that pawn shop and it’s taking up counter space or display case of real estate, if you will, the more they’re going to lower the price. Gradually over time, like every 30 days or every 60 days, they’re gonna lower the price by a certain percentage to try to finally get that item out the door, recoup most of their money or, or you know, sub suffer as minimal a loss as possible and get that out of their display case. So they have room for other, other items that are going to be coming out upon, you know, that were forfeited. So pawn shops are another great place that you can buy a decent photography gear on a budget. And I have scored some real real bargains at pawn shops in this area. Uh, as a matter of fact, I went to a pawn shop one time and I was just looking around.

Liam Douglas: 12:57 I went in there and I like to go into the ones in my area frequently and you know, a couple times a month and look and see if they have any decent, uh, photography gear that’s been forfeited. And I’ve picked up some GoPros that way. And, and camera bodies, lenses and in various things as well as mono lights and stuff like that. But I actually went into a pawn shop one time a few years back. And this particular pawn shop had a mint condition. Canon 70 to 300 I s Usm Lens. Now this lens, like I said, it was mint. It didn’t have the original Canon box, but the thing was in immaculate condition, it had the original front and rear caps with it. And this was a lens that at the time retailed for $1,000. And I picked it up at a pawn shop in mint condition for $200 and I didn’t have to worry about it being stolen because like I said, when pawnshops take things in on pond, they have to document the item thoroughly, take pictures of it, the whole ball of wax, take down your information, take a picture of you, get your driver’s license, all of that.

Liam Douglas: 14:06 And then they have to send that information off to local law enforcement. And then the police departments will compare the list of items they get from the pawn shop to stolen goods, a repo police reports that they have and at the serial numbers match up. Then, hey, they just found an item that was stolen, you know, two weeks ago during a home invasion or whatever, and now it was pawned at this pawn shop and they can get it back for the victim. So you don’t have to worry about that. If it’s been in the pawn shop long enough that it has been forfeited, you don’t have to worry about it being a stolen item. Um, so you don’t have to worry about that. So I got this lens that was $1,000 lens. I bought it for $200, and it was precisely a combination of the pawn shop, didn’t realize exactly what kind of Lens it was or how valuable it was.

Liam Douglas: 14:58 And it’s sad. Um, after it was forfeited by the original person that pulled it, it had said, and their display case for like six months and nobody had bought it. So I came upon it when I walked into the store to browse looking for photo gear one day I was like, holy cow, I can’t believe they’ve got one of these lenses mint condition. And they originally had it marked, um, I believe for like $290 or something like that. And like I said, I buy from some of the stores in the area on a regular basis. So, uh, I, uh, asked to see it out of this Blake case and I checked it out and I hooked it up to one of my body’s, because I always believe even when you’re buying from like a pawn shop, take your camera body with you, have one of your camera buddies in the car with you, grab it, put the lens on it.

Liam Douglas: 15:45 If it’s a lens you’re looking to buy and test the Lens right there in the store and make sure there’s no issues with it. So I did that. The Lens work perfectly. The image stabilization was, was a fantastic, uh, the lens was still nice and tight. When you did your zoom in and zoom out, it didn’t make any rattling or any noise is it didn’t have a scratch on the glass or any issues, many kinds. And a, I looked at the manager and I said, what’s the absolute best price you can give me on this? And he’s like, I can let you have it for $200. And I played it. Cool. I didn’t want to let him know. He just, he just did me a huge favor. Um, so I paid for it and I took it home. And you know, I scored a great deal and I still have that lens to this day.

Liam Douglas: 16:28 Um, it’s one of the low telephoto lenses that my girlfriend Janice currently uses with her a canon cameras. And I’ve since moved up to the 100 to 400 mark, two additions. So, but the lens is still being used today and it’s still in great shape and it still works beautifully. So there’s another avenue, local pawn shops where you can get a great deal on photography equipment. The next place I want to talk about, and again, this might not be something that you’ve thought of. Our local photography clubs. Now, again, depending on whether you’re in a larger population area, like a fairly major city or a decent size, smaller city with a population of like 50,000, or whether you’re in a rural area, you know, out in the boonies, you might not have these around. But what has made it easier to find photography clubs is some of the various social media sites, whether it’s Facebook.

Liam Douglas: 17:27 Um, and there’s a newer one that’s called meetup that’s specifically for like clubs and organizations like that. So that’s can be a great way to locate other photographers in your geographic area. Um, and you can not only, you know, build relationships with these people, go out and do like group photo shoots on a weekend, you know, like what we call photo walks, where you go out and walk around, um, say maybe a, a small country town on a Saturday afternoon, you know, a bunch of you go out together with your cameras and you just walk around the area and, and take pictures of whatever catches your eye. So it can not only be photography clubs and meetups can only be a great source of used gear, but also a great way to meet other photographers in your immediate area and get some networking going on and a little camaraderie and stuff like that.

Liam Douglas: 18:25 So you definitely don’t want to, I’m not think of that as a possibility of where you can get good used camera gear. Uh, next is another place to consider are your warehouse stores. And I’m talking about like Sam’s Club, Bj’s, Costco, stores like that. And now you’re going to be buying new gear from the stores. But because they are big retail, a big warehouse chains I should say, and they’re usually nationwide chains, you know, like Sam’s club and Costco and stuff like that. They are able to buy new photography gear for a much lower price than a smaller retail store because they’re buying in bulk. So it, these places, you’re not going to get used gear, but you might be able to get that used. Uh, or I mean that new, um, Canon or Nikon body and Lens Kit Combo, you know, for a hundred, $150 cheaper than you can find it at a smaller store.

Liam Douglas: 19:31 Um, whether it’s a local electronics store or whatever the case may be. So that’s another possibility is that you might be able to get a great dear deal there. And those warehouse stores. Now, the last, um, source I want to talk about is another one that most everybody’s familiar with in this day and age. I mean it is 2019 and that of course is Amazon again is a global marketplace, pretty much like Ebay. They’re massive and they can also leverage volume buying discounts that other stores can’t get. And I know there’s going to be people that are going to say, well, Amazon’s what’s wrong with the world or killing the moment pop businesses. And I agree with that, you know, as far as that goes. But if you’re looking to get used gear or new gear, you can find some great deals on Amazon. And a lot of times you might find a new piece of Kit that has a rebate that you didn’t know about and you just find it as you’re casually browsing Amazon.

Liam Douglas: 20:34 And if you frequently, if you just do what I call electronic window shopping on Amazon or the same kind of things, you know, camera bodies, lenses, lighting equipment, speed lights, light stance, light modifiers. Then each time you go back to Amazon, it’s going to give you these little blocks on your homepage that it’s like, this is what you most recently looked at. And here are some other suggestions based on what you’ve been looking at on here. So it can be handy that way because as I said, as you build up a browsing history on Amazon, then let’s say you go back two months from now after you’ve been looking at, you know, Fuji Camera bodies on there for a while. Um, and you pull up Amazon one day and all of a sudden food Jay’s running a rebate on one of them, new camera bodies that you had no clue what was happening, but Amazon knew about it and they let you know about it.

Liam Douglas: 21:28 And Bam, you just saved the, you know, a couple, $300 or whatever the case may be. So Amazon of course is another great website. Where are a great source to buy new and used photography gear so you can really, you can really save yourself some money when you’re buying gear for your photography, whether it’s a hobby, whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, you can definitely save some money by going any of these avenues that I mentioned in the first part of this episode. Now getting on to part two of episode 10, I want to also talk about getting quality glass for little money. And the reason why I bring up this section is like I said, I finished my bachelor’s degree in photography. I went to the art institute of Pittsburgh Online Division

Speaker 2: 22:27 and

Liam Douglas: 22:28 I was the school’s only alumni ambassador. So I was there for new students or existing students. Anytime they had a question they could feel free to shoot me an email and message me on Facebook, whatever the case may be. They could call me if they want it on my cell phone, um, and present any questions or concerns they had. And, and of course I got a lot of questions about gear, especially lenses. Cause if you know anything about photography, it’s more about the glass or your lenses than it is about the camera body, camera, bodies.

Liam Douglas: 23:05 It can be great. You know this camera buddy is older, this one has the latest technology, the latest bells and whistles, but the glass is the most important part and any photographer worth their salt will say, well tell you the same thing, that the glass is the most important thing. And if you invest in good glass, good glass isn’t something that you need to replace every year or every two years. The camera manufacturers come out with new bodies pretty much on a yearly basis. They’ll come out with one or two or three new models each calendar year and as I said in a previous episode, you don’t need to run out and buy the latest and greatest camera body that Canon or Nikon or wherever your new, whatever system you use. You don’t need to run out and buy their newest body every year just because they released a new body.

Liam Douglas: 23:57 I mean that’s crazy. You’re going to be wasting money by doing that instead. It’s far more important to get yourself quality glass and this segment, I wanted to talk about this in this way because as I mentioned a moment ago, I would get a lot of students that were still in school full time. It would come to me and say, Hey Liam, where can I get a good deal on glass? I need, I want to have good quality glass. I don’t care if it’s you know, prime lenses or zoom lenses. I just want to be able to get decent glass. I don’t want to be stuck using the cheap low end kit glass that came with my camera body kit that I bought through the school as part of my financial aid package. And so, and I would always tell the students the same thing.

Liam Douglas: 24:48 There’s several different places where you can get good glass for a reasonable price. Now of course you have the places that I mentioned previously and I’m going to expand on those a little bit more. So let me give you an example. I’m a canon shooter. As I’ve mentioned before, and if you know me in the real world, you know I’m a canon shooter, had been for a long time in 1987 10 and switched from their previous lens mount, which was called their FD lens mount to their current ETF blends mouse system. And when they did that, all of a sudden as Canon started going forward, release a new bodies starting in 1987 there are newer bodies had this new Lens Mountain, the eff mountain, and of course they split off and did efs for crop bodies, F for full frame, which can be used on both bodies and then they later had f m further mirrorless aps, see bodies, and now they have RF, which is for their full frame mirrorless.

Liam Douglas: 25:53 I don’t want to go into all of that. Again, we’ve, I’ve talked about it before, but the reason why I wanted to mention this, a little piece of history, especially on the part of it, Hannon is because again, getting back to one of the sources I mentioned in the first segment of this episode, Pawn Shops, I guarantee you that you can go in any local pawn shop in your area to where they would ever display case. They sell camera bodies and lenses in and I can almost guarantee you will always find old glass. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying old glass. That’s garbage. I’m talking. I’ve gone into pawn shops in the greater Atlanta area and I have picked up cannon, Fd, Mt. El glass for a little bit of nothing because the amount is considered obsolete technology and the pawn shops didn’t know any better a lot.

Liam Douglas: 26:56 Like I said, a lot of times they don’t know this kind of equipment the way they should if they’re going to take it in on pawn, so they would just, Oh yeah, it looks like you know, high end photography equipment. We’ll take it, we’ll take it and they see dollar signs, but they don’t know that the equipment they just took in is absolutely technology that’s being phased out by the manufacturer as far as an a lens mouth in this case, so it’s not unusual to go into a pawn shop or you can even go on Ebay and Amazon and find high quality canon lenses. Even el Lenses that were FD males that, yeah. Okay. You’re thinking, wait a minute, Bill. Oh Liam, why would you tell me to buy this if it’s obsolete? Why would you tell me to buy this? Because I’m trying to help you get quality glass for as little money as possible and even though Canon phased out the FD melt doesn’t mean that glass is useless and you’re thinking, what the heck are you talking about?

Liam Douglas: 28:05 It’s an obsolete now how am I going to possibly use that lens unless I buy a camera that’s 35 40 years old and now I’m stuck with a film camera. I need to be shooting digital. No, no, no. This is where you go to a third party manufacturer and you get an adapter. And to give you a good example on Amazon, you can find lens adapter. There’s from a company called photo Dayaks. Now photo Dayaks makes a lot of different camera photography related items. They do studio light kits, they do strobes, they do soft boxes, but they also happen to make Lens adapters and you can get a photo dioxin pro lens adapter for Canon FD lenses. And this adapter will cost you 34 95 now it’s been a couple of years since I priced it, so it might be even cheaper now, but you can get that adapter for 34 95 and it will allow you to melt FD mount lenses onto your eff body.

Liam Douglas: 29:10 So now you can get yourself a high quality prime lens. Let’s say a of old school, 50 millimeter, 35 millimeter, you know, 2.8 1.8 whatever the case may be. You can buy that lens in a pawn shop that they had not been able to get rid of because absolutely technology, and I personally gone into pawn shops and bought six FD lenses from the same pawn shop and a single transaction and only paid 20 $20 for all six of them. So you’re talking a great bargain there. And especially if you’re buying a set of six prime lenses that are high quality glass, they, they’re not all scratched up. They’re not banged up, they’re not, you know, destroyed. They can be an immaculate or reasonably good, you know, with minor wear and tear and blemishes. But as long as that glass is still clean and scratch free, you can still get life out of that Lens.

Liam Douglas: 30:09 You just need an adapter. So what’s not the end of the world and with that adapter. Now the only caveat is with using an adapter like that and you’re using a manual lens, your digital body is going to show zero zero for your aperture because it’s not going to be able to translate what app the true you’re at. Because in those days, most all camera lenses had a mechanical aperture ring on the Lens itself that you adjusted to your aperture, but that doesn’t make the lunch useless just because your body doesn’t know what happened. Sure. The Lens is set for because if there’s no electronics talking to the body, you can still tell what happened through the lens is set forward by looking at the physical markers on the barrel or the aperture bring is so you could still get use out of those lenses and that is a great way that you can get low cost, high quality glass when you don’t have a lot of money, especially if you’re a photography student who’s going to school full time and you don’t work at all or you were only able to work part time delivering pizzas or something like that, or you work part time at Walmart or best buy.

Liam Douglas: 31:23 It can be a good way for you to get good quality glass while you’re still in school when you don’t have a lot of money, but you’ll be able to go out when you’re shooting your assignments and get amazing images because you will have high quality glass. It’s just glass. That’s old school, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t still have life. A lot of times this gear, we’ll still have life for many, many, many decades to come, especially when it’s the old school mechanical glass.

Liam Douglas: 31:57 And that is the end of segment two for episode 10 the last part I want to move on to today is the question, what lenses should I buy? And now this is a question that can be tricky. It can be a tricky one to answer because there’s a few things to factor in when you’re considering the advice you’re gonna give somebody, when they ask you what kind of lenses they should buy, you need to have an idea of how much of a budget they have, how much money can they afford to spend, and what’s your photographic style? Are you going to be shooting portraits? Are you going to be shooting landscapes? Are you going to be shooting? Are you going to be doing astro photography, Star trails, timelapse you know, there’s all kinds of genres in photography. It’s a very, very broad artistic medium. So those are some of the things that you have to find out first.

Liam Douglas: 32:57 I have to find out from a young photographer that’s just starting out before I can give them a decent answer to that question. So as I mentioned a moment ago, for example, if you shoot, if you love to shoot landscapes, if that’s your thing, and especially if you’re mostly a hobbyist, um, this day and age, it’s, it’s fairly hard to make money as a landscape photographer unless you’re already world famous. And then you can sell massive brands and still make money at it. But it’s kind of hard to get into that as a pain genre. So a lot of times even professional photographers, they will do portraits or something else that pays the bills and puts food on the table. But maybe they like to shoot landscapes just for themselves because they like to be out in nature, which is something I liked to do. So there again, and I’m gonna use Canon is the example, um, an icon.

Liam Douglas: 33:54 I can interchange the two salt somewhat. Um, because here we’re talking about lenses. So if you shoot landscapes and you’re using a full frame Canon camera, one of the best landscape lens as you can get. And it’s also an l lens, which is Canon’s luxury line of lenses but won’t break. The bank is the 17 to 40 f four. It’s a great lens. It’s a wide telephoto, so it goes from 17 millimeters to 40 millimeters. It’s an f four fixed aperture. Um, so what’s not made for low white, but generally if you were landscape shooter, you’re either shooting long exposures or you were in heavy sunlight where you don’t need to worry about only having an f four aperture versus a 2.8 or a 1.2 or 1.4. Okay. So that’s not a concern. Now if you’re on the crop body side of things and the cannon family, uh, one of the most popular landscape lenses in the APC cannon bodies or to use with the Canon bodies on the crop factor bodies was the 10 to 22 millimeter. Well, that is now been phased out, discontinued by Canon, and they actually replaced it with a much better

Liam Douglas: 35:19 10 to 18 millimeter.

Speaker 2: 35:22 Okay.

Liam Douglas: 35:23 And that new lens is really inexpensive. It’s, I think, barely 300 bucks. It’s considered one of Canon’s lowest end lenses. In other words, it’s a kit lens that you can sometimes get with the body for free, but it makes amazing images and it has their newer STM, silence, stepper motor for the auto focus motor in it. So it makes very little noise when you’re using it. So you can get great landscape images with either the 17 to 40 f four or the 10 to 18 f 3.5 to 5.6. They’re both fantastic lenses and you can pretty much find lenses in this similar focal length ranges and all the manufacturers. So it doesn’t matter if you’re shooting canon or Nikon or Sony, you’re going to be able to find a similar focal length range for shooting landscapes. Even if you go to sigma or Tamra on it, but you know by third party lenses, you’re going to be able to find something in that vernacular.

Liam Douglas: 36:24 Now if you like to shoot wildlife or anything else that requires more reach, you can look at getting a 70 to 210 for example, makes a 70 to 200 in both an f four and an f 2.8 model with and without image stabilization. Of course, the 70 to 200 f 2.8 with image stabilization is the most expensive of those lenses and it also weighs the most. But you can oftentimes find a use 70 to 200 f four l without him. It stabilization for a little bit of money. I, this is a lens that I’m talking, you can probably pick up today used for four or $500, maybe, maybe even less. It depends. Um, as long as it’s not beat up too bad, like you know, cause you don’t want to get one that’s badly damaged and got ac issues with the glass. But the other nice thing about 70 to 200 is you have the most popular focal lengths in this single lens.

Liam Douglas: 37:27 So when you got 70 to 200 millimeters, well guess what? The most common focal lengths for portraits are 85 and 135. Now some people will say, especially the Nikon shooters will say, well I liked the one oh five Nikon Portrait Lens. That’s a great length. And it’s true. I’m not saying it’s not a good lens, but my point is if you own a 70 to 200, you’re covering 85 one oh five one 35. Those are three of the most common portraiture vocal lengths. And so you’ve got three of the major portrait of the three major portrait focal lengths cupboard in one piece of glass. And again, it doesn’t matter if it’s an f four f 2.8 sure the f 2.8 is two stops wider. So it allows me to stops more light in then the [inaudible] model, but especially if you’re shooting outdoors, you’re doing outdoor portraits or you’re doing portraits using studio lighting or speed lights or whatever the case may be, you’re still going to be able to live, make amazing portraits.

Liam Douglas: 38:34 Even with the [inaudible] model. And again, if you go to Tamarind Tamron or sigma, you can buy they’re 70 to 200 f 2.8 for quite a bit less with when their version of image stabilization, whether it’s called vibration reduction or wherever the case may be. You can still buy a 70 to 200 f 2.8 with image stabilization brand new for a lot less money than you can buy it from Canon, Nikon or Sony. So we also got to consider that. I mean, if you want an f 2.8 lens and you’re going to buy from Canon or Nikon, whoever is the manufacturer of the body use, you’re going to be looking at spending, you know, two to $3,000 maybe $4,000 just depends. But again, if you go with the [inaudible] model or if you go with a third party builder, F 2.8 you’re going to save quite a bit of money and of course you’re going to say it the most.

Liam Douglas: 39:28 If you go with the f four version, um, but f 2.8 you know it’s a cannon f 2.8 with image stabilization is cheese thousand dollars and Tam Ron is currently selling, there’s 70 to 200 f 2.8 with image stabilization Jeetu which is their latest model for 1200 bucks and you just saved $800 and you still got a brand new 70 to 200 f 2.8 so you definitely got to look at that as well. And now if you want a little more flexibility you can go with a couple of other telephoto lenses. Short, shorter, medium telephotos. Another extremely popular Canon Lens. And my girlfriend absolutely loves this one. I bought this lens a number of years ago. Got It for a great deal used and we recently sent it off to Canon cause I’m a CPS gold member and I had canon disassemble the Lens, clean the glass because it was starting to get specs inside on the inside of the glass that you couldn’t clean out.

Liam Douglas: 40:31 And it was starting to show up in her images. So she was getting frustrated. But anyways, I sent it off to Canon and CPS and they tore the lens apart, cleaned the glass, polished it up, replace the seals and the Lens Barrel Assembly, you know, for the zoom and all that stuff. And she got it back in the glasses. Natalie crystal clear, like brand new again. But the Lens, and don’t get me wrong, the lens wasn’t worn out to begin with because it hadn’t had a tremendous amount of use even though it’s a discontinued model that she was so happy when we got it back from Ken because it’s as tight as a brand new lens now. And I told her, I said, look, you’re going to get another 20 years. You cited a Sullins easily now that canons cleaned it and basically rebuilt it for us. And you know, with my discount is a CPS member, it costs me less than 90 bucks to get this lens, which at one time brand new sold for, I don’t know, 500 bucks, cause it’s one of their USM gold lenses with image stabilization.

Liam Douglas: 41:29 You know, it’s sold for five, six, $700 at one, whatever the case may be. I got it originally a few years ago for less than 200 bucks and I spent less than 90 to get it rebuilt and she’ll be able to continue to enjoy in that Lens for another 20 years. So that’s another thing to consider. Now, if you’re going to be mostly a portrait photographer, then as I mentioned earlier, there’s specific lenses in the prime category. And what I mean by prime or lenses that are fixed focal length, they don’t have zoom. It’s the same focal length all the time. Then there’s going to be certain lenses that you’re going to want to buy as a mostly portrait photographer. Now different people have different opinions on this. Nobody’s right, nobody’s wrong. It’s whatever works for you, get you the look or feel that you want and make your clients happy.

Liam Douglas: 42:25 And the reason why I say that is because as I mentioned a little bit ago, uh, 85 millimeters, hundred and five millimeters, hundred and 35 millimeters are common portrait, focal lengths. And in the Canon world, Canon has a 135 millimeter f two l portrait Lens. That’s a fantastic lens. I’ve got that Lens. Oh, it makes beautiful portraits and it’s got a bit of a reach to it so you get stand back from your subject and get a nice tight shot of them and fantastic Bokeh in the background with the F two aperture. So that’s a fantastic lens. Um, but some photographers, they like to shoot their portraits at 50 millimeters and no matter who the manufacturer is, again, most manufacturers will have more than one version of a 50 millimeter lens. So again, in the world that can, which is what I shoo canon currently makes swelled.

Liam Douglas: 43:29 Actually. Now I should say they officially now make for 50 millimeter lenses. And I’m going to explain here, so you have the 50 millimeter lens that maybe you’ve heard it before, it’s called the nifty 50 or the plastic. Fantastic. This is cannons, least expensive, 50 millimeter prime lens. It’s mostly plastic. It’s like one of the inexpensive kit lenses. It’s an f 1.8 so it’s got a really wide aperture so it’s great for low light situations and it does make really, really good images and it’s the lens that you can buy brand new for like 120 bucks or something like that. Then their next 50 millimeter lens up from that one is one I had a number of years ago, which is their 50 millimeter 1.4 USN. So this is one of their cannons gold band lenses. And if you’re familiar with cannons lenses at all, Canon basically has silver is their low end lenses and he’s in with a silver band.

Liam Douglas: 44:34 If it’s got a gold band, it’s their medium range lenses as far as build quality and price and cost and all of that. And then Elle of course, is Canon’s luxury lenses and they’re the ones that people are familiar with. They have the bright red ring around them. So the eff 50 millimeter, 1.4 is one of their USN lenses. So it’s a gold band. Knew the Lens will run you probably around 325 to maybe $350 although I’m pretty sure you can find that I’m regularly on Amazon for maybe even as low as 300 bucks or maybe just a little bit under 300 bucks today. But that is a great 50 millimeter lens and a lot of people like to use, as I mentioned a moment ago, 50 millimeters for portraits. Um, especially if you’d like to also do street photography. A 35 millimeter 50 millimeter are very popular prime lenses for street photographers.

Liam Douglas: 45:35 So now you have the 50 millimeter 1.4 I know it’s only point for wider aperture, but that can make a lot of difference and you’re going to get even more delicious Lee Creamy Bokeh background board. So then from there you had the Canon 50 millimeter 1.4 or 1.2, excuse me, at 1.2 l and Canon has made that lens for quite a long time. I’ve got that one. It’s a great lens. Um, and some people complain that it’s that sharp enough, it’s not tack sharp or than it has slight chromatic aberrations and I don’t have that with mine. So I’m thinking it’s possible. Maybe even though Canon hasn’t released a second generation or a second or a mark to have this lens that maybe over the years because they’ve been making it for so long, maybe they made little tweaks to um, later production runs of the Lens.

Liam Douglas: 46:35 But they didn’t change it enough or ma or replace enough of the glass elements to call it a mark two version. But it was more refined than the original production run that maybe had some of these issues because I don’t seem to have those issues with mine. But, so then you had the 50 millimeter 1.2 l the eff mount, which is what I have. And now because Canon has recently gotten into the world full frame mirrorless cameras, they’ve actually released an RF 50 millimeter 1.2 l and the reviews are that it’s a phenomenal lens and it does look like a fantastic lens. It’s the luxury lines. So the build quality is excellent, but it’s also got what I mentioned in one of my earlier episodes, a ridiculously high price tag. So you can go on Amazon or even on canons website and you can buy a brand new e f 50 millimeter, 1.2 l four 1299 $1,300 and you can buy them used for eight, $900 frequently.

Liam Douglas: 47:45 Um, but there are new RF, 50 millimeter, 1.2 l which is the same mountain diameter, the RF and theF or the same melt diameter. Um, but it has, of course the RF version has a control ring and it’s got maybe a new glass, a new set of glass elements they came out with. But to me that doesn’t denote the $1,000 higher price. So yeah, you’re, you’re not hallucinating. You heard me correctly, the e F 50 millimeter, 1.2 l brand new is 1299 $1,300 and the RF 50 millimeter 1.2 l is $2,300. That’s a major jump in price right there. But again, there you go. So as I mentioned briefly a little bit ago, um, Canon now technically has four 50 millimeter lenses. Um, so you’ve got the nifty 50 or a plastic fantastic at f 1.8 you got the f 1.4 USM gold band and then you’ve got two versions of the 1.2 l luxury lens in either ETF mount or RF Mel.

Liam Douglas: 49:06 So, and it’s the same with all of your other manufacturers, Nikon, you know, Sony, Fuji and most all the manufacturers offer like a low cost f 1.8 50 millimeter lands. And then they also have a, a 1.4 or 1.2 more expensive, better quality model that has better lens elements, you know, better glass in it and better coding and all that good stuff. So that’s the other thing to look at if you’re going to be doing mostly portraits. And then of course you can also look at getting an 85 millimeter, a portrait Lens. I have one of those. I had the 85 millimeter f 1.8 USM gold Dan Lens. I’ve always wanted the B l Lens and 85 millimeter, but I’ve read a lot of articles and talked to a lot of photographers at Camden has released two versions of the 85 millimeter, 1.2 l and both of them had issues.

Liam Douglas: 50:06 They had issues with chromatic aberrations and they had issues with the, with being soft, um, and the auto focus in and was kind of slow and sluggish for an l lens. Um, it got a little bit better in the mark t version but not significantly better. And then just in the last year, I think Canon released a new 85 millimeter f 1.4 l lens that also has image stabilization. And of course it’s not a cheap lens, so I haven’t bought one yet. Um, I get, I don’t do a ton of portrait photography. And when I do, I get fantastic results from the 85 1.8 USM. And I’ve even had other photographers tell me, you know, hey, to be honest, for the amount of money you spent, you can’t get a better lens than the 85 1.8 USM. So I stuck with that one. So I’ve got that one. And then I’ve got the, the 135 millimeter f two L and as I said a little bit ago, a little bit earlier in this segment. Um, a lot of Nikon shooters like to use the hundred and five millimeter f 1.4 g I think it is Lens, if I remember it, it’s, it has the g designation to it. And so that’s an extremely popular portrait lens to has a little bit of reach, um, for Nikon shooters.

Speaker 3: 51:27 So

Liam Douglas: 51:29 there are a lot of different things to consider. Like I said, mostly what your photographic style is and what you want to shoot are going to be the biggest determining factors in what lenses I or anybody else you can recommend that you buy.

Speaker 3: 51:45 So

Liam Douglas: 51:47 keep that in mind. The next time you know, you reach out to somebody like myself or, or any other photographer or any of your photography professors, if you were in school to get your photography degree or certificate. Keep that in mind. You know, before you bring up that, that posed that question to them. And like I said earlier, feel free to reach out to me. You can reach out to me. Um, I’m on Facebook under Leanne photography podcast, Facebook group. Um, I also have the website, Liam,, so you can comment on there or contact me via the podcast website and you can also find me on Twitter and Instagram at Liam Photo Atl. So don’t be shy, feel free to shoot me a message and, and ask me for recommendations on lenses. But as a, you know, as I said, keep in mind that you want to have an idea of what your style is going to be.

Liam Douglas: 52:41 Or maybe you want to shoot a little bit and two or three different styles or genres, whether it’s landscape and portrait. And then astro photography, you know, or maybe you just want to do landscapes and portraits or you want to do portraits and um, product photography in a studio. Um, keep those things in mind. Um, when you reach out to me or anybody else to ask for Lens Recommendations and myself and I’m sure most anybody else in the photography community would be happy to answer that question. Just like I said, make sure you keep in mind you don’t have an idea of what your style is, what genre you want to, you want to specialize in and what your budget is and then you’ll be able to get a sincere answer and good recommendations, whether it’s from myself or anybody else that you know that that is in photography either as a profession or as a serious hobbyist.

Liam Douglas: 53:36 Alright. And with that I’m going to wrap up episode 10 of the Liam photography podcast. I want to thank my listeners again for subscribing, rating and reviewing in iTunes, Google, Spotify and stitcher. Any other pod catchers you might be using. And again, you can reach out to me via de Liam photography, website, as well as listen to past episodes on the website. You can also do a search for Liam photography podcast, Facebook group on Facebook and request to join. You do have to answer a question in order to join, but the question’s a simple one. You just have to know the first name of the host, which is me, the m Douglas. So it’s fairly easy to join that, that private group, and I will love see you next time. And episode 11.