Hello! Rife Magazine ceased publishing new work in July 2022.

We've kept the magazine online as an archive and hope you'll still continue to enjoy all of its contributions from the last 8 years.

The Rife Team

Buying lenses and knowing your equipment

Photo credit: Ryan Francis

Photo credit: Ryan Francis

I’ve noticed a lot of young aspiring photographers and filmmakers are on a mission to buy a high-end DSLR. This is fine if you know how to fully use your current camera and need to up the quality for professional use.

My advice is, when you’re first starting out, it’s not the camera… it’s the lens.

I know it looks cool when you are out there with your high-end DSLR taking pictures or making films. Just remember – you need to know how to fully operate it and you need a variety of lenses rather than using the same lens over and over again. You need a variety of lenses for certain shots. For example, If you want a really crisp head-shot, you would use a 50mm. If that’s not the case, buying an expensive camera is  a waste of money.  What’s the point in having such a great body if you only have one lens? It’s all about the lenses! You must invest in your glass before you even begin to think about different camera bodies. If you don’t believe me, then kiss my glass.

Most beginner photographers/filmmakers usually start out with low-end or mid-ranged camcorders/DSLR’s , such as the 60D, 550D, D7000 Etc. It’s completely acceptable and super understandable. It’s okay to have a low/mid ranged DSLR. In fact, you’re expected to have one, and gradually, you build on your equipment and understand the different types of lenses for different types of shots. But a year or so after using your camera and just getting used to it, (assuming you know about F-stop and ISO etc) and having had a tiny taste of the photography/filming world, this complete myth about buying a really expensive DSLR, suddenly appears. As if it’s a rare Pokemon that you must catch.

Here in Bristol, that DSLR is a 5DMK3. I guarantee you, if you speak to any person who is just getting into photography, especially film, they will be raving about how their next camera will be a 5D. Who made this myth up?

Even I was one of those people who worshipped this myth when I first started out as a film makers a few years ago.

I was so focused on getting the 5D, that I didn’t buy any other lenses or equipment, because I thought I needed it to be cool and to be a better filmmaker. This is where so many young people get it wrong. It slows the process down in the long run and you wont be learning anything by having the best equipment.

In the end I never bought a 5D, because I was taught that there are far more important things I needed to improve on and understand. Such as, I’m a filmmaker, so focusing on making better content, camera angles, investing in lenses that are made for certain shots, different cameras, the list goes on. Not to diss the 5D, because it is a beast of a camera, especially in low light shooting conditions. But we are completely brain washed into this foolishness. The body alone costs an eye watering £2,000 and with the 24 – 105 lens, it will be almost £3,000, and that’s before people even begin to think about buying extra battery packs, high speed SD/CF cards, insurance and all the other stuff that goes into buying such a great camera. If you chuck a £10 SD card into the 5D, that SD card will probably blow up. You will be spending at least £80,00 + on just one SD card, and over £100,00 on a CF card so that you can get the best quality images/footage that the 5D can produce. And that’s even if you know about SD/CF cards and their classes.

The interesting thing about it is, no one in the industry really raves about the 5D, especially in film. So it’s not from the industry where this hype has come from. There are certain cameras for different things. Such as, for landscape and nature photography, people often use a Canon 7D or a Nikon equivalent. Once you make it into the industry, and you show up with a 5D or a super expensive DSLR with one lens, eyebrows will be raised. When you get asked about other cameras, people will ask you about other lenses and all sorts of questions will be asked.

People will assume you know things about cameras because you’re holding such a bowse of a camera.

You don’t even have to have it on you, people will ask, “What do you shoot with’” and if you don’t know what you’re talking about, this can be a major turn off to people who you’re essentially trying to network or collaborate with. It’s a killer question. You’ll be standing there like a lemon, because on the streets, you’re cool for having a 5D. Fair enough if you’re not serious about photography or filming, in which case, a very expensive DSLR is a no. Just no.

So back to Earth, my advice is, if you have, lets say a Canon 60D, or a mid ranged DSLR, please, please, please invest in your glass, and educate yourself properly before you jump on the random myth hype. Once you have your lenses, you can start looking at upgrading your camera body to a high end DSLR. The thing you have to ask yourself is, why do you think high-end lenses cost more than a mid-ranged to high-end DSLR’s? How would you take a picture or film something without a lens? This may be why people never buy any lenses, because they think the camera is better than the lens.

Check out my camera equipment you can buy with £500

Follow me on Twitter: @LittleRyan92