How to Choose Your Proper Gear ?

This article is an expansion of my previous article “Your Gear Does Matter“. If you have read that article (I hope you agree with my statement on that article), you may think how to spend money to buy the “suitable/proper” gear (notice that I never mention to get expensive gear). In this article I like to use the term “proper” instead of “best” or “expensive”.This article is written based on my experience (sorry if some statements are subjective ^^).

Previous I have posted statement in my Facebook wall: “you just need to use proper gear instead of expensive gear…..” then there is a comment saying that “the best proper = expensive….”. I just think that it’s not always. Proper is not the same with expensive. In my opinion, getting the most proper gear doesn’t mean getting the most expensive gear.

Now we go into the main topic, how to choose your proper gear?? (note: gear doesn’t mean only the camera, but the whole equipments that I use such as: lens, flash, tripod, reflector, etc….)

In order to choose my proper gear, I have some criteria: (I called them “4P”)

1. Purpose (What kind of photo you want to shoot ?)

If you like to shoot bird then you need telephoto lens, tripod, remote timer, etc…

If you like to shoot insect then you need macro lens, extension tube, diopter filter, macro ring flash, etc…

If you like to shoot landscape then you need wide angle lens, tripod, remote timer, etc…

Of course you can use wide angle lens to shoot insect but I believe the result maybe not good^^. Or you want to use macro lens for shooting wide panorama, that’s just unbelievable (except you want to stitch many photos ^^). You can understand the key is using the right equipment for the right purpose.

2. Personal Style (What’s your preferred style?)

I believe that every photographer has their own style. Because I like to shoot portrait so I will give an example (regarding personal style) in portrait photography. There are 2 on-location photographers (let’s say A and B) ~  A likes to shoot model with wide angle lens (a bit strobist style with fully lighting equipment) and B likes to shoot model with tele lens (a bit natural style, only with natural light and reflector). From this example you can see that personal style gives different opinion about gear selection. I always like to use “gear” that helps me to get photographs based on my personal style.

3. Priority

In order to choose the proper gear you need to separate “what you need” and “what you want”. About two years ago, I confuse to choose the new camera to replace my EOS 5D. There are many options I can choose, but in the end there are 3 options: Canon EOS 5D II, Nikon D700, Canon EOS 7D. I read many reviews and comparisons for those cameras but still it’s difficult to choose one of them. Every camera has their advantage and features. So in order to choose one of them I must have reasons to eliminate the others. Then I ask myself, what I really “need to have” ? Then I choose EOS 5D II without any doubt. Then when EOS 1D mark IV comes into market, I don’t have interesting to sell my EOS 5D II and buy EOS 1D mark IV. I am not saying EOS 1D mark IV is not good, but I have setting my “own priority” and EOS 1D mark IV can’t fulfill it.

4. Price

Just remember that the proper one is not the same as the expensive one. As I mentioned previous, I don’t have interesting to buy EOS 1D mark IV (proper for me is not always the expensive one.). In other case, I also can buy Leica M9 with Noctilux 50mm f/0.95 but in my opinion I don’t think I need them.

I know there is a case that you need to buy specific camera or lens that you can’t afford…. Previous I also have the same situation like this one, but I just think that “the gear that I have on that time is the best for me”. I know it’s hard ^^.

Well, I hope this article give you some idea how to choose your proper gear ~ comments are really appreciated…


17 thoughts on “How to Choose Your Proper Gear ?

  1. I generally agree with your article, especially the 4th P –> don’t buy something you can’t afford :D…

    BTW, I’m curious to know… You said:
    “If you like to shoot bird then you need telephoto lens, tripod, remote timer, etc…”

    Well, I don’t shoot birds, so I don’t have any experience on this. But, why would you need a remote timer to shoot bird?

      • Ah, you meant remote shutter release. Well, I can understand that remote shutter release will help eliminate camera shake. I was confused with the term “remote timer” — I don’t think you would want the camera on timer to catch a bird, as the moment can be gone in split seconds (as also explained by the article you linked).

        On another case, I would associate “remote timer” with intervalometer. But that also doesn’t really make sense for “bird photography”, I think.

        Anyway, thanks.

  2. I would like to buy lens filter for travelling (landscape) with my family, please advise which one is better:
    – GND or
    – CPL

    • Hi Ben,
      This answer is based on my personal experience…
      For travelling (like documentary shoot), I usually just use UV filter (just for protection) not really need GND or CPL.
      But if the place is really special, and I want to shoot good landscape photo then I will choose GND filter (over CPL). CPL filter is good for removing reflection (like you want to shoot fish in the pond without showing the reflection). GND filter is good for balancing the exposure between sky and earth ^^(usually sky is brighter then I need GND filter to reduce the light on upper part of image, during sunset also can be used). In addition if you want to shoot waterfall, maybe you can try ND filter. Now it’s depend on you ~ what you want to shoot….

  3. Thanks for your valuable information… my experience only using UV filter, I couldn’t capture the beautiful sky, and if I captured the sky, the object became under. So I decided to buy GND to blance it… beatiful sky and brighter objects. Have a nice weekend. GBU

    • Filter can help, but for me it’s depend on the condition…. If the sky is blue, even we don’t use any filter ~ the camera also can capture it (example: In that case if I want to make the people (in the lower part of photo) brighter then the sky will be brighter (less blue). But If I use GND filter for that photo then I can get brighter detail on the people on lower part of photo but still keep the blue sky….

  4. Halo Edwin…sy mau nanya nih…menurut Edwin bagus mana memakai filter GND untuk mendapatkan ekposure yang tepat (langit dan landscapenya) ato memakai teknik exposure bracketing kemudian di combine di CS….sebab beberapa merek filter justru menghasilkan kualitas yang tidak sesuai dengan yang kita mau…thanks before..

    • wah pertanyaan yang bagus nih…. klo buat saya sih memakai tenik bracketing kemudian dicombine di CS lebih gampang dan bisa diadjust sesuai kemauan kita (apalagi klo motonya pake RAW), trus klo misalnya mau diedit HDR biar dramatis pake photomatix jg bisa…

      Jujur memang memakai GND lebih agak repot, kita mesti meter dulu perbedaan langit dan landscapenya, GND kan jg macam2 perbedaan stopnya (jadi mesti pas atau mirip2 dengan kondisi yang ada) nah jadi wajar kadang exposurenya gak pas… (kecuali kita punya satu set, dan itu pun tidak seenak kita ngeadjust di PS). Tapi klo kita seneng moto landscape mgkn disinilah seninya, proses buat menghasilkan sebuah foto bagus itu gak gampang.

      Trus klo untuk merek saya pake Lee filter buat GND, kualitasnya bagus, ya cuman harganya agak mahal hehe… klo mau yang sedeng mgkn bisa coba Cokin…

      Nah hampir lupa menjawab pertanyaannya, klo hasil yang lebih bagus mgkn agak sulit dijawab tapi menurut saya hasil paling baik dengan memaximalkan semuanya mgkn foto pake GND + bracketing (foto pake RAW), trus diadjust kemudian di post processing…

      • waaah thanks ya buat penjelasannya. detail abis deh…jadi lebih paham nih…..

    • 400D gue masih ada Ndra, masih gue simpen jg sayang kamera pertama hehe….. wah klo mau ganti nunggu 5D mark III aja Ndra hahaha…

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