New photographers, here are five things you should never buy

Nov 16, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

New photographers, here are five things you should never buy

Nov 16, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Ah, buying new camera gear. The most exciting moment in every photographer’s life. When you’re just starting, you sure need a bunch of stuff – but don’t rush! There are some things that you should never buy, no matter how tempting they seem, and in this video, Miguel Quiles gives you five of them. Let’s see if you agree.

YouTube video

1. UV filters

If you’re a first-time buyer of a camera and a lens, a salesperson will often offer you a UV filter to protect your lens. But the thing is – you can use a lens hood to protect your lens, and it normally already comes with a lens. Sure, a UV filter can protect your front lens element if you shoot on the beach or anywhere where sand or salt can cause scratches. But other than that, you can easily go without it.

2. AI retouching programs

AI-based retouching features have been all the rage these days. When you’re completely new to editing, it sure sounds tempting to retouch everything in a single click. However, it’s not the best solution. First of all, the results from AI editing programs are not acceptable in commercial photography. There’s still no AI that can make artistic decisions that only you can make. So, rely on yourself, start learning, slowly grow your skills, and develop your eye to see what a good portrait should look like. It takes time and patience, but it’s worth it.

3. Presets

Like the AI editing program, presets can stop you from developing your own skills and style when you start using them as a beginner. The truth is: you can’t just click a button and get a nice photo. When you buy presets from other photographers, your photos will not look the same as theirs. I mean, they could, but only if you shot exactly the same type of photos, in the same lighting, with the same gear, etc.

So, once again – learn how to edit photos first and buy presets later. Buy them when you’re sure about your own editing skills. This way, you’ll know how to tweak them, how to create your own, or you may even decide that you’re better off without them.

4. Cheap memory cards

Buying a camera and a lens (or two) is already expensive, so you may want to save some money now. I mean, it’s just a memory card. Well, no. Not all memory cards are the same. Their physical quality is different, but so are their read speed and write speeds and the overall quality. So it’s better to take your time to explore your options and invest in a decent SD card right from the start.

5. Camera bundles

Camera bundles can seem really tempting. However, take some time to research what comes in the box and pay attention to each of the items offered in a bundle that caught your attention. Oftentimes, the “bundle” will include the stuff that already comes in the box with the camera anyway, such as the battery, the charger, the lens caps, the USB cable, and so on. The rest of the items are often cheap knock-offs or a bunch of useless knick-knacks you most likely won’t use. Of course, if you find a bundle with products you’ll use and from the brands you respect, go for it. But make sure to think twice before falling for marketing tricks.

Have you bought any of these five things? I only bought a cheap SD card when I traveled to Athens and realized that I forgot mine back at home. It’s one of those silly screw-ups I believe we’ve all done. When I do spend money on unnecessary things, it’s something like this.

What about you? Do you agree that these things aren’t worth buying? What else would you add to the list?

[5 Things Beginner Portrait Photographers Should NEVER Buy | Miguel Quiles]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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36 responses to “New photographers, here are five things you should never buy”

  1. Africashot Avatar
    Africashot

    Agree on everything except the uv filter, true the lens hood can make a difference, but personally I do not use it all the time, uv filter just stays on. I dropped my 5dii with 24-105 L from about 3 ft on stones and it was the uv filter that shattered, not the front element, and the lens hood was on – I prefer that outcome. also, I am less worried about cleaning every dust particle now, for example if I want to shoot perfect sun stars I know I can just take the uv filer off and have a pristinely clean front element ready to shoot at small apertures, I find them extremely useful…

    1. Mueller Avatar
      Mueller

      meh… some lenses don’t play well with UV lens especially the Canon 100-400 L. Took me ages to get my lens adjusted until I stumbled upon that fact. A week of my life crying and praying I hadn’t wasted my money.

      1. Africashot Avatar
        Africashot

        Yes, that is a good point, probably the longer the lens the bigger impact on IQ, or at least that is what I experienced with variable nd filters, there are also big quality differences and price points, I suspect most people think it is just transparent glass and don’t mind buying a cheap one, the good ones like B+W are actually quite expensive…

      2. anthony marsh Avatar
        anthony marsh

        meh???????

        1. Mueller Avatar
          Mueller

          say it like it sounds. imagine yourself as an bitter old woman hunched over an even older yellowed keyboard squinting sharply at a flickering 10 inch green screen whilst attempting to decipher someones’ latest textual abomination…. have fun with it… )

    2. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      “it was the uv filter that shattered, not the front element”

      Chances are, the front element would have been fine anyway. All you did in this instance was spread glass dust from the filter all over the front element, which is arguably more damaging to it. :)

      1. Africashot Avatar
        Africashot

        trust me, there is no way the front element would have withstood that impact without at least chipping, especially against the rough stone it fell, the glass dust did absolutely no damage whatsoever, the biggest challenge was to remove the filter threat because it got bent by the hit, but once that was done after basically cutting out it only took a brush and a rocket blower and the lens was like the day I bought it

        1. Kaouthia Avatar
          Kaouthia

          If it hit that hart that there’s “no way” the front element would’ve withstand the impact, then there’s probably internal damage in either the camera or lens that you don’t know about that should probably be seen to. But ok :)

          1. Africashot Avatar
            Africashot

            For someone who wasn’t there you seem to have some pretty strong opinions about my lens, but I have continued to use that lens for another three years professionally for real estate photography and video and it rendered frames that were sharp from edge to egde at any focal length, I only retired it after I dropped it into salt water while on a shoot on sandbank on the island of Lamu. Even then, I actually took this lens apart on the same day during the lunch break, I cleaned all the salt water and sand out and put it back together – I didn’t think it was possible but there are videos on youtube – all but the core of this lens is of very simple construction, I confess I did screw the autofocus because I forced the ultrasonic motors, but I this point I didn’t care as I really only used it for video and the main reason I opened was that I had to finish the job and there is no replacement in a place like Lamu – I still own it though (too damaged to sell, to good to throw away…) long story short, I like the convince of an UV filter and having it has saved me money, I respect your opinion of them being useless but have had a different experience while you’re only trying to belittle me by pretending I don’t know what I am talking about, you run a fine site, but maybe you should be a little more open minded.

          2. Kaouthia Avatar
            Kaouthia

            Ok, you win. Happy? :)

          3. Africashot Avatar
            Africashot

            It wasn’t a competition to me, I was expressing an opinion, btw. are you John Aldred or just using his profile pic to troll?

          4. Kaouthia Avatar
            Kaouthia

            And I expressed mine. You took it personally. :)

          5. Africashot Avatar
            Africashot

            ? I could not possibly take it less personally, have a good day mate!

          6. Stoffers Avatar
            Stoffers

            You had a 24-105L that was sharp corner to corner across the range?

            Did you have a magical copy? Are you certain this magical front element would have sustained damage if it did not sustain any damage from broken glass shards, which are generally harder than most weathered stones.

          7. Africashot Avatar
            Africashot

            …well admittedly it was as sharp as it was before the impact and yes this lens has its shortcomings but that is completely beside the point, and no there is no reason the glass shards would damage it because you know, they didn’t impact the front element with the weight and momentum of the camera and body falling head on, that is because the nd filter absorbed the impact. The difference in hardness between granite and glass had very little to do with it, but you can always try bouncing one of your lenses of a rock, maybe the front element wouldn’t shatter, but it would at least chip or scratch, which would equally ruin it

  2. Albin Avatar
    Albin

    My reservation’s also about filters, though agree UV is useless, I’ve generally kept a CPL (circular polarizer) on the lens and taken it off when indorrs or otherwise not wanted, rather than bag it. As well as protective of more expensive lenses, It’s the filter than can’t be replicated in post, and makes a huge difference for sky, water or glass surfaces. I’d throw in that many new photographers aren’t very aware of how different “film stock” or other presets look so come with their own limiting “presets”, being narrow, post card, travel or conventional studio portaiture notions of “good” photography, When NIK came out as free a few years ago (since then retracted by a new owner) I learned a lot from its quick color and b/w presets.

  3. Mueller Avatar
    Mueller

    Don’t buy a 50mm f1/8 lens even with full frame. 35mm is a much better choice and a 17-35mm is even more versatile.

    1. Africashot Avatar
      Africashot

      Probably the worst photography advice I ever heard of… 35 vs 50 has a distinct aesthetic difference and there is not one that is better than the other, they’re just different – 17-35 is a totally different workhorse that to my knowledge doesn’t come with anything faster than f4, show me a frame were you can throw the background out of focus as you could with a 50

      1. Mueller Avatar
        Mueller

        Tamron 17- 35mm f/ 2.8 – 4 DI LD … $125

    2. Seth Moyer Avatar
      Seth Moyer

      That’s pretty terrible advice, Mueller. People can have different preferences and there are great uses for both focal lengths. Personally, I would definitely recommend trying everything you can and figuring out what you like. The 50mm f/1.8 is a no-brainer if you’re a beginner because it’s cheap and you can figure out whether you like 50mm or not. There are plenty of inexpensive 35mm lenses too.

      I personally found a 28mm and a 55mm lens and I really love both of those focal lengths. But I didn’t discover that I liked these two focal lengths by listening to internet comments like yours that proclaimed that one focal length is bad and evil and another one is good. I discovered I liked them by trying as many different lenses as I could get my hands on from friends.

      1. Mueller Avatar
        Mueller

        The overwhelming consensus is 50mm. I’m a very lonely dissenting voice but there it is. Most images I’ve seen aren’t even shot with 50mm but, then again, my lone voice won’t break the internet. Most people buy the cheap 50mm for a crop sensor camera ending up with a minimum automatic crop of 75mm on Nikon and 80mm on Canon which is completely unusable in many situations. Zooming with your feet isn’t that big a deal between 35mm vs 50mm and 35mm will give you shots the 50mm just can’t get. 35mm on crop sensors also delivers your nifty 50 “cropping up” to 52.5mm on a Nikon and 56mm on a Canon. A cheap alternative that’s sharp and works on full frame as well is the Tamron 17- 35mm f/ 2.8 – 4 DI LD … $125

        1. Seth Moyer Avatar
          Seth Moyer

          That Tamron was sharp for the time but if you look at its performance now it doesn’t really compete. I almost would think of that as a vintage lens. Not really something you will keep as your skills improve.

          Also, I am not arguing against 35mm. I’m just saying that it’s not smart to tell a beginner what focal length to get at all. It’s also kind of silly to just straight out say that a zoom is always better than a prime since primes have many advantages over zooms that shouldn’t be overlooked. Also you say that 35mm gives you shots that a 50mm just can’t get, but by that logic I could tell you that you should get rid of your 35mm lens for a 28mm lens for the same exact reasons. And yet I don’t, because I’m happy that you found a focal length that you like.

          You’re also kind of ignoring background compression and lens perspective which I find to be very noticeably different between 35mm and 50mm.

          1. Mueller Avatar
            Mueller

            All true but I bet I’ll never get you to to admit 1: Most newbies buy crop sensors which gets your 50mm with a 35mm… 2: The 50mm is OVERWHELMINGLY propagandized to be “THE VERY FIRST LENS YOU BUY AFTER A KIT LENS”. Article after article after article after article after article. It’s NON-STOP PROPAGANDA. If I’m to be alone in putting my foot down then so be it.

          2. Seth Moyer Avatar
            Seth Moyer

            I’d say that for someone who is a beginner and is theoretically buying a camera with a Canon EF mount, and they said their budget was $125, I would certainly be recommending the 50mm f/1.8 STM (or if they’re on a crop sensor camera and don’t want to buy a portrait lens, the EF-S 24mm pancake) over a 15 year old Tamron zoom lens. Canon’s 35mm f/2 on EF costs $600 for some reason, so it’s not really a good starter option and I would argue not really a good option period since at that point you can just save up a little more and buy a nice Sigma.

          3. Mueller Avatar
            Mueller

            Tamron 17-35mm, Canon 85mm 1.8, Canon 300mm f/4 L and a 1.4x extender. Real estate, landscape. astrophotography, portraits, wildlife. Bank ain’t broke and the beginner can expand from there. The 50mm at f/4 is available on the 55-250m stm. F/1.8 is available with the 80mm. Done and done.

          4. Seth Moyer Avatar
            Seth Moyer

            A cursory glance at astrophotography performance of the Tamron lens shows that there is a TON of coma until you stop the lens way down. Also I’ve used and enjoyed the 85mm f/1.8 for portraits, but it isn’t wide enough to be useful for traditional night photography.

            Recommending a $1300 lens that was released in the 1990s with a $350 teleconverter on top of that to a beginner is not good advice since at that point you’re encroaching upon the price of a 100-400 II, which has much better image quality and a faster aperture. Plus the price takes it firmly out of the reach of all but the most committed beginners.

            I have a sneaking suspicion that you just happen to own all of the lenses you are recommending and you enjoy them, which is great! But let other people figure out what they like the same way you did. Unless the way you figured out that you liked these lenses was that someone arbitrarily forced you to buy them.

          5. Mueller Avatar
            Mueller

            Sorta right. I owned/own every Canon 70,75-300mm along with 2 different Canon 100-300 versions and and find all of them to be trash at 300mm. The 55-250 wups all of them and yes I use one on my full frame cameras. (don’t even say it) For 300mm there is basically no other option available, There is nothing else TO recommend. I don’t buy any sigma or tamron lens above 100mm as I found all of them to not even come close to matching Canons at those greater lengths even the 150-600mm that so many people swear by. My 400mm and 300mmm kick both their butts. Just crop on down. This isn’t a guess. I find Sigma’s stabilization to be seriously lacking and certainly don’t take the time to “let it wind up”. The 300mm f4 L is $700 used not $1300. A used 1.4x mk ii is well under $200. I also recommend NEVER buying a Rebel since they don’t have autofocus adjustment and yes, people argue with me about that as well. ALL THE TIME. Those people are wrong as well. I have the original Rebel. The Xi. The Xsi. The t3. The 7D. The 7D II. The 5D. The 6D. The 40D (in my truck right now) The 80D. The 5DsR. The R6. I even have a ring adapter. I have the original 100-300mm L which I would NEVER recommend anyone buy since I find it slow and worthless below f8.. etc. etc. etc. etc. I have Fujinon, Olympus, Leica, Nikon, lenses etc etc etc. I have the Olympus EM1 and adapter for Olympus DSLR lenses (Yes Olympus DID make DSLRs and I have 2 and, yes, people have argued with me about that as well) I have a rare manual focus Tokina 500mm 5.6 with drop in filters…. etc etc etc. … Pretty sure I know what I’m talking about. But that’s just me.

    3. Stoffers Avatar
      Stoffers

      “Don’t buy a focal length because I think a different one is better”
      “Zoom is more versatile than prime”

      Why buy a $125 nifty fifty when you can buy the $3000 11-24L

      1. Mueller Avatar
        Mueller

        True

      2. Mueller Avatar
        Mueller

        But then again there’s always a well respected full frame lens alternative… Tamron 17- 35mm f/ 2.8 – 4 DI LD … $125

        1. Stoffers Avatar
          Stoffers

          Again, saying one range is worse than another? Asinine.

          Telling people not to buy one of Canon’s most beloved cheap lenses? Why not have the nifty fifty? I see no reason for it NOT to be a starter lens, it was the kit lens for decades for a reason. Not too narrow, not too wide.

          1. Mueller Avatar
            Mueller

            The 50mm is WAY too narrow on the crop sensor cameras most newbies buy. NEWBIE is even IN THE TITLE. A 50mm ends up being an 80mm on a crop sensor. That’s almost useless in MANY situations. I bet I’ll never get you to to admit 1: Most newbies buy crop sensors
            which gets your 50mm with a 35mm… 2: The 50mm is OVERWHELMINGLY
            propagandized to be “THE VERY FIRST LENS YOU BUY AFTER A KIT LENS”.
            Article after article after article after article after article. It’s
            NON-STOP PROPAGANDA. If I’m to be alone in putting my foot down then so
            be it. It’s MY opinion. And you’ll notice I never once called you a horses’ ass. Don’t need to; your words speak for themselves.

  4. Justin Case Avatar
    Justin Case

    There are many occasions when I’ve been out in the wilds or around a city with my camera and have cleaned the front glass with my wet finger and polished it on my shirt. Obviously I had a filter on. the point is that you can get away with treating the front of your expensive lens with rough hands when you’re out and about if you’ve protected it with a filter, rather than being a slave to keeping it clean while on the go.

    Also you can get arrested and taken away to newbie prison for walking around with the lens cap on a working camera. You want your camera ready to shoot.

  5. anthony marsh Avatar
    anthony marsh

    The first thing to never buy if a beginning photographer is a digital machine. One should buy an inexpensive film camera, lots of black and white film and practice composition, lighting, exposure, the fundamentals of photography. I have read many articles and viewed many videos in which beginners are urged to buy a digital machine, program a few settings and allow the machine to do most of the work, the remainder edited by PHOTOSHOP, LIGHTROOM or other gimmickry which is in my opinion rendering the prospective “photographer” merely a bystander who learns little if anything regarding photography.

  6. KURT D GREGORY Avatar
    KURT D GREGORY

    the only caveat to this is the camera bundles at B&H. I called them to order my camera and they let me customize my bundle. I guess they have a certain allowance set aside for the items that come in the bundle so as long as it stays within that allowance you can have whatever you want in the bundle. instead of the throw away camera bag and cleaning kit I got 2 spare batteries and a charger.

  7. Steve Slate Avatar
    Steve Slate

    Is the point of putting a uv filter on your lens to protect it? They are cheap and will save you a lot of pain if you scratch your expensive lens. I’ve been using them for over 20 years. It saved two lenses. I keep it attached to the lens cap. When I shoot I take it off, shoot, then put it back on when I put the lens cap back on. I used the lens hood to protect while shooting. For the price of a uv filter, I think this advice doesn’t belong in the top 5. A few bucks to protect your lens glass is well worth it.