I use a JVC GR-DX25EK digital video camera (very rarely as I normally use my point-and-shoot or mobile phone now) and a Sony Alpha 100 DSLR still camera with a 18-70mm zoom lens, Sigma 70-300mm F/4-5.6 APO DG Macro zoom lens, Sigma 10-20mm F/4-5.6 EX DC lens, and Sigma EF 500 DG ST flash. My backup point-and-shoot camera is a Sony DSC-HX9V (which has become my primary camera for now). I carry my camera equipment in a Tamrac Adventure 9 camera bag (I no longer print at home, but publish online and when required I print a few select photos at a photo printing outlet). I use Spyder2 Suite to calibrate my LCD monitor’s colour.
I am also using a GoPro 3 Black Edition action cam for video and stills whilst on my motorcycle. I like this camera not only for its good resolution, but also its range of accessories and its great WiFi remote control with LCD screen.
Some useful utilities I use:
- Digikam – free photo editing software for Linux, Mac, FreeBSD and Windows and with does batch geotagging, captioning and also uploads to various photo sharing sites. This is my “go to” photo editing app right now.
- Piwigo – excellent self-hosted photo album software I started using after Flickr imposed some harsh limits on their free accounts (like only 1,000 photos and I had over 12,000). There is a plugin that imported all my albums and photos directly from my Flickr account to Piwigo. You can view my own Piwigo site as an example of what it looks like.
- Useful Flickr shortcut URL’s:
- Keep an eye on replies to comments you have left on other people’s photos
- Flickr Inspector – quickly check available details on any Flickr user.
- Flappr – fast flash based Flickr searcher with some useful features. Only pity is that the Interesting search only seems to work on random dates.
- Flickr Leech – use it to display the global most popular photos, or photos from a particular user or set, etc.
- Portable Flicka – Portable Flicka is a utility that lets you download photos from flickr. Download from your photostream, photosets, groups, favorites, or from your contacts or the user you want. Now handles photo licenses.
- Flickr Set Manager – allows you to automatically create new sets on Flickr based on various criteria such as interestingness, date posted and tags, or even from a random set of photographs.
- FlickrFly – a script that can be linked from the description or comment of a geotagged Flickr Photo to fly you that location in Google Earth to see where the original photo was taken. To input the geotags to your photos, use GETrackr from within Google Earth. See some of my photos that have been Geo enabled on my Flickr site.
- Mosaic Maker – create mosaics of your photos.
Books on Digital Photography:
- Digital Photography Pocket Guide by Derrick Story ISBN0596100159 – a pocket size guide to take with you, with quick reference on how each common feature works on digital cameras (A-Z of what does it do) and also a How Do I section with tips for different types of situations. Average customer review at Amazon 5/5 stars.
- How Digital Photography Works by Ron White ISBN0789733099 – detailed information on the hidden workings of digital cameras and photo editing software. Some quite technical topics covered in easy to read language and clear diagrams eg. how autofocus works, how compression algorithms work, how digital lenses manipulate space, how photographers control depth of field, etc and contrasts how these work on traditional film cameras as well digital cameras. Average customer review at Amazon 4,5/5 stars.
- Digital Photography All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies by David D. Bush ISBN0764518003 – 7 books in 1 covering taking great pictures, basics of image editing, editing with Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, restoring old photos, printing and sharing your digital photos. Average customer review at Amazon 4,5/5 stars.
- Gary Friedman’s Complete Guide to the Sony Alpha 100 DSLR camera is an excellent compliment to the user guide as it explains each and every knob and function on the camera, and more importantly, why and when you would use them. Really recommended as the user guide is a bit bland on this important information. It is available as a PDF download. Average customer review at Amazon 5/5 stars.
- The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby is a book full of useful advice and tips for digital photography. Average customer review at Amazon 4,5/5 stars.
- Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson gives an in depth exploration of exposure and the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO sensitivity for all situations. Average customer review at Amazon 4,5/5 stars.
Buying in South Africa – try these places that have great prices on cameras:
- Foto Discount World – great service and lowest prices and are open through the festive season
- Orms Pro Photo Warehouse
- Cameraland – well known in Cape Town for their excellent advice on cameras and accessories over the years. Have never had much luck with e-mail queries to them though. Better to walk in and visit them in Long Street, Cape Town.
- Before selecting a camera have a look at DPReview for excellent user reviews